Stars Edge Redux
The transitional economy is a far more stable and easily maintained system than the old economy. Transitional economies blend old and new economies, and habitats using this system feature both private ownership of cornucopia machines as well as public fabbers and makers that are freely accessible. These public machines are strictly limited in the goods they can produce. In addition, the raw materials for various complex goods are also strictly regulated. Mars, Venus, and Luna are all examples of transitional economies, as is most of the rest of the inner system.
For the inhabitants of a transitional economy, creating food, non-smart clothing, furniture, and most other simple, non-formatible objects is a trivial matter. However, the public nanofabrication machines can only create objects that either contain no electronics at all or contain only simple circuits that report on the object’s condition and location. Manufacturing any of these items requires little more than the machine and a supply of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, silicon, iron, aluminum, and tiny amounts of various trace materials. All of these materials are sufficiently abundant that acquiring them is easy and inexpensive.
Using the elements that are freely available to all tax-paying citizens, nanofabbers can produce a vast array of goods like exquisite suits of silk clothing, tables with the appearance of nely polished ebony and mahogany, beautiful colored glass goblets, or painted porcelain tea cups. They can also create a gourmet dinner and a set of ne plates and cutlery on which to eat the meal. To pay for the small amounts of energy and resources needed to create these goods, all inhabitants pay a small tax.
Once the usage tax has been paid, food, clothing, furniture, and similar goods are all free. Raw materials, old, worn-out or unwanted goods, and various waste products are recycled into new goods. Residents of transitional economies need never experience hunger or any of the many other sorts of deprivation that much of humanity faced before the mid-21stcentury. Additionally, basic medical care is free in almost all transitional economy societies, to help insure that the populace is healthy, content, and productive.
While many goods are freely available, there are also goods that residents must purchase from corporations, their government, or other producers. Smart clothing and smart furniture that can change shape, color, and pattern, depending upon the user’s wishes, cannot be manufactured in any of the personal nanofabricators. Any goods made from highly durable composite materials, batteries, electrically-powered devices including all augmentations, and all nanotechnology must be acquired in the same fashion. These goods are considerably less common as they require access to an unrestricted nanofabricator and exotic raw materials.
Transitional economies tend to be relatively safe places, since inhabitants cannot manufacture weapons more dangerous than knives, clubs, or similar primitive armaments. Everything from rearms to plasma weapons requires restricted cornucopia machines and exotic materials to manufacture. The proliferation of these items is strictly controlled.
Despite these differences in perception, both economic societies have a great deal in common. Food, clothing, and similar goods are easily available to all residents. An individual’s status, taste, wealth, and reputation are measured by the kinds of clothing, food, and furnishings they possess. While there are a vast number of templates for different styles of food and consumer goods, forward-thinking designers develop new designs every month and use copy protection on these designs to keep them from being pirated for at least a month or two (and often longer). As a result, for the rst few months after their release, the only people who can gain access to new designs in clothing, tableware, food, or similar goods are those who pay a premium to the designer to download the templates that allow their cornucopia machine to manufacture the item.
Since one way of de ning a transitional economy is a system where both reputation and money are in widespread use, most have developed ways to accommodate both forms of payment. While residents primarily use money for purchasing goods, purchasing cornucopia machine templates involves rep, especially among residents who regularly visit new economy societies or have signi cant contacts there.