Page 740 - Capital Schism

19th Apr 2016, 6:00 AM
Capital Schism
Average Rating: 5 (2 votes)
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Author Notes:

Newbiespud 19th Apr 2016, 6:00 AM edit delete
It's a common enough tabletop phenomenon. You mention a bit of worldbuilding, and some of the players take it and run with it, speculating wildly. Some people do it because they want to know more about the world they're inhabiting.

Some people do it because they want to figure out how to break it. How to "win" it.


Digo Dragon 19th Apr 2016, 6:04 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
Recently in my Ponaria 5e campaign the party discovered a trap that creates ice. The zebra druid began to study it for ways he could possibly make money off this idea-- like an ice vendor service as this campaign takes place before refrigeration. :3
Freemage 19th Apr 2016, 1:30 PM edit delete reply
Breaker of Rules
Freemage 19th Apr 2016, 1:31 PM edit delete reply
Whoops, that was for the next one down. Sorry!
Digo Dragon 19th Apr 2016, 1:37 PM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
No worries. You can just say it's part of the rule-breaking characterization. ;)
Guest 20th Apr 2016, 2:53 PM edit delete reply
Magic traps are pretty useful as a work around to how expensive magic items are for more mundane purposes. In 3.5e, for example, a Decanter of Endless Water costs several thousand gp, a not insubstantial investment for a magic item with some admittedly fun uses.

Just want the infinite water? Get a self-resetting Create Water trap. 500gp, if you don't have to hire a spellcaster to do it for you. Just set it to a tiny waterwheel such that it creates water above itself on one side when turned, sitting below the top of the container; it'll keep going until the water level goes above the wheel (and endlessly if you hold it upside down). Boom, town has a water fountain that never goes dry, or you have a pocket canteen you never need to refill.

If you wanna get creative? Add in Prestidigitation for a few hundred more. You can make the fluid produced hot or cold, and taste like anything, for zero calories. Only thing it can't mimic is texture.

Tada, fantasy soda fountain that fits in your carriage that has a built-in Endure Elements self-resetting spell trap for travel in the worst temperatures imaginable comfortably. A lot of this is more 'for fun' stuff than functional in-combat, and your DM can easily say 'no', but it's fun to think about.

Trick out the party transportation's reins with a pair of Mount spells to get two magic horses on demand, and a magic lock spell to ensure nobody gets inside. Put Cure Minor Wounds on a book set to whenever you turn the page to keep you topped off as you prep your spells (one of the most abusive uses). If full on attack spells can be set up in the traditional trap sense, well... let's just say it's my greatest regret that a group of friends and I never did our Wacky Races in D&D one shot.
ProfessorHawke 20th Apr 2016, 4:09 PM edit delete reply
(Sorry, forgot to put my preferred name up there.)

But yes, there's lots of fun to be had finding new uses of spells; including breaking the game with it.

Did you know that Summon spells didn't originally include a line about "Creatures cannot be summoned into an environment that cannot support them."? It has to do with gravity and the option to summon whales; it's why 3.Xe is dominated by casters when you start optimizing enough.
Winged Cat 20th Apr 2016, 4:35 PM edit delete reply
Winged Cat
And bowls of petunias that think, "Oh no, not again"?
ANW 19th Apr 2016, 6:17 AM edit delete reply
In three words, describe your main character.
Me:Blind Element User
Bootleg 19th Apr 2016, 6:24 AM edit delete reply
Cocky little Shit
Digo Dragon 19th Apr 2016, 6:26 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
Heroic Adventuring Doctor
Newbiespud 19th Apr 2016, 6:40 AM edit delete reply
Relevance to comic?
Crystalite 19th Apr 2016, 7:23 AM edit delete reply
Curious. What kind of character would that be? :P
Digo Dragon 19th Apr 2016, 9:22 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
Screen cap cosplayer?
ANW 19th Apr 2016, 7:42 AM edit delete reply
D&D like poll.
Toric 19th Apr 2016, 6:46 AM edit delete reply
Not Right Now
albedoequals1 19th Apr 2016, 8:51 AM edit delete reply
Stubborn Sword Mare
Venseyness 19th Apr 2016, 9:18 AM edit delete reply
"Joyous Bardic Necromancer"
Winged Cat 19th Apr 2016, 11:08 AM edit delete reply
What "Main" Character?
Specter 19th Apr 2016, 11:40 AM edit delete reply
That one guy.
Freemage 19th Apr 2016, 1:31 PM edit delete reply
Breaker of Rules
lilystar6 19th Apr 2016, 1:48 PM edit delete reply
heretical paladin nerd

Or Needs more explosions

depending on which character I consider main
Nine 19th Apr 2016, 3:25 PM edit delete reply
Unexpectedly Greedy Priest
Moonlight Shadow 19th Apr 2016, 4:31 PM edit delete reply
Unappreciated Leatherwing Paladin
ZhonLord 19th Apr 2016, 4:50 PM edit delete reply
Irritating Knowitall Mage
Ted the saiyanwolf 19th Apr 2016, 6:13 PM edit delete reply
Ted the saiyanwolf
Unknown Stealth Monk
emmerlaus 19th Apr 2016, 9:39 PM edit delete reply
All not humans :3

( I almost never play human character in roleplay if I can do otherwise)
Guest 19th Apr 2016, 10:09 PM edit delete reply
Yeah, humans are boring. We've all seen lots of humans.
Sliverbrony 20th Apr 2016, 12:39 AM edit delete reply
Telepathic Timberwolf Zebra
Archeo Lumiere 20th Apr 2016, 6:18 AM edit delete reply
Wields a Honedge
Ace Jackson 20th Apr 2016, 7:33 AM edit delete reply
Ace Jackson
Cash strapped cleric.
Someone 20th Apr 2016, 2:22 PM edit delete reply
Are other three words to describe him Dead Pretty Fast?
Blueblade 20th Apr 2016, 6:51 PM edit delete reply
Okay these three words have more to do with my character in relevance to the rest of the party...
Only sane one.
CocoaNutCakery 20th Apr 2016, 7:56 PM edit delete reply
Lucky drunk wizard
Stranger 23rd Apr 2016, 12:54 AM edit delete reply
Three words?

I'll choose the last time I was actually a character in a campaign years on years ago: "bearer of sorrows".
MWS 19th Apr 2016, 6:28 AM edit delete reply
"Where does Cloudsdale get water? That is the question."

Hamlet was wrong.
Zuche 19th Apr 2016, 2:56 PM edit delete reply
"Whether 'tis nobler of the sky to buffet the sprinkled air blown with nimbostratus' boons..."
Pablo360 19th Apr 2016, 4:17 PM edit delete reply
"...or to take wing against a sea of water, and, by rotating, capture it."
Hawkflight 19th Apr 2016, 7:19 AM edit delete reply
So, remember a couple of weeks ago when we had the story time about players breaking out into song? I didn't have one then, but I do now.

It wasn't actually in-character though. During a Golden Sky Stories game, we were doing character generation and someone was taking a nap. One of us nudged her, and she started and said something like, "....Is this real, or am I dreaming?"

So naturally, I said, "Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?" And of course one of the other girls took it up and said, "Caught in a landslide, no escape from reality~" And suddenly we were all singing the Bohemian Rhapsody.
Digo Dragon 19th Apr 2016, 9:24 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
My old D&D group did that once, but it was the Muppet parody version. XD Your group has good taste.
Winged Cat 19th Apr 2016, 11:15 AM edit delete reply
It's often nice when song can be injected. Did you get through the entire song, or just a few verses?
Hawkflight 21st Apr 2016, 10:32 AM edit delete reply
Sadly, we had to cut it off before we got to "so you think you can stone me and spit in my eye".
XandZero2 19th Apr 2016, 9:33 AM edit delete reply
In a Pathfinder home game I'm running, my players recently found a sacred shrine in an abandoned cemetery. The shrine had a bowl built into it, and said bowl was blessed by the goddess of luck and travel. It could turn any water dropped into it into holy water.

-Of course, the moment the players found out about this sacred shrine's powers - they immediately began theorizing how to turn it into a holy water money-making machine...

They seriously considered uprooting the entire shrine and carting it around in a wagon, just so they could sell sparkling holy water anywhere they went.
Chris 19th Apr 2016, 7:53 PM edit delete reply
Did it ever occur to them how bad an idea it could be to desecrate a shrine blessed by the goddess of luck?
Bootleg 19th Apr 2016, 10:08 AM edit delete reply
I've had the opposite situation happen to me actually. The party was attacked by this large bird in a pathfinder campaign I'm running. The bird was described as being adorned with strange metal armor, which turned out to be made from moonstone (The hawk was supposed to be the companion of the god Ketephys.)
So instead of wondering why the hell some giant bird had impossibly rare metal attached to its body, they just stripped all of it they could from its corpse and sold it without a second thought. The entire situation has yet to be brought up again by the players.
Winged Cat 19th Apr 2016, 11:17 AM edit delete reply
They didn't even think to make a cannon out of it?
Bootleg 19th Apr 2016, 11:28 AM edit delete reply
Nah, they're terrible at getting silly references like that. I can safely spell words backward and use them as names and nobody gets the joke until I explain it later. They're coming around though.
SRP 19th Apr 2016, 12:27 PM edit delete reply
I don't get that reference. :/
Bootleg 19th Apr 2016, 12:32 PM edit delete reply
The MoonStone cannon is a big ass laser from Skies of Arcadia.
CocoaNut 19th Apr 2016, 10:28 AM edit delete reply
>Not full-blown capitalism
>Local town markets

Do... do you actually know what capitalism is? Because all signs point to "no" right now.
Winged Cat 19th Apr 2016, 11:21 AM edit delete reply
Some people make a distinction - of the "sufficient quantity creates its own quality" between local town markets versus continent-spanning chains of retail operations with coordinated logistics, privatization of every possible conceptual thing, and entrepreneurship being widely conceived of and taught as a skill in and of itself. Thus the GM's "full-blown" qualifier.
Anvildude 19th Apr 2016, 11:45 AM edit delete reply
To add to that- Barter Markets, though they do adhere more strictly to the 'supply and demand creates value' idea of capitalism, also engender a more communal transaction environment. People may lower a price due to friendship or circumstance or other things that have no actual bearing on the transaction. Vendors might give away candy to young enough children, or charge an out-of-towner a ridiculous price because it's funny, rather than because they think it'll be paid.

Introducing money into an equation like that starts to... solidify things, veering closer to the extreme of Capitalism and further from Communism.
CocoaNut 19th Apr 2016, 1:16 PM edit delete reply
@WingedCat That's corporate function and globalism, not capitalism. While they can overlap somewhat (corporations not so much because they're a creation of the government and are therefore not capitalism), they are not the same.

@Anvildude Your entire post was an argument about why you don't understand capitalism. Customer relations is a key feature of capitalism. In a free market society, it is absolutely impossible to screw over customers and remain in business. You absolutely HAVE to push for positive customer relations. Sometimes that means doing things that have a temporarily negative effect on your profit margins. Furthermore, you're confusing voluntary "communal transactions" with involuntary ones. Communism is entirely involuntary. What someone does at a local town market to encourage good relationships with their customers is voluntary. That's the distinction between capitalism and communism.

And as far as the "extreme of Capitalism," well that's it. Local town markets, entirely voluntary exchanges of goods and services, no government involvement. That's the "extreme of Capitalism." The government getting involved (IE creating a fictional entity known as a "corporation" or providing benefits, stolen from taxpayers, for political contributions) is not the "extreme of Capitalism." That's more on the involuntary side than the voluntary side. Capitalism is purely voluntary. That's all it is, really: Voluntarism.
Digo Dragon 19th Apr 2016, 1:43 PM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
Does investment and stock markets factor into the difference? Ponyville's little shops are probably just personal "mom & pop" shops run by individuals and have nothing like investors or a stock-market system in play for them.
Newbiespud 19th Apr 2016, 2:12 PM edit delete reply
Well, this got interesting all of a sudden.

I subscribe pretty heavily to the theory of colloquialism: That we generally don't use words as they are precisely defined, but as we understand them through connotations. The DM here is trying to express the idea that, even though the nature of the economy is provably capitalism, it's not "as" "capitalist" yet as we understand it in our world - where we mentally tie it to corporations and globalism - though it might be only a matter of time.

Not the most sound statement in the world, and I'm definitely guilty of accidentally dipping into a subject beyond my depth. But I'll stand by the written line of dialogue as is, because it conveys the basic idea as successfully as a backpedaling DM would convey it.
Pablo360 19th Apr 2016, 4:26 PM edit delete reply
I agree. Really, if the DM actually used the terminology correctly, it would raise more questions, as most people probably don't know that.

Also, although Equestria in MLP:FIM is clearly (by technical standards) capitalist, with legitimate (fiat? I don't know a lot about it, tbh) currency and everything, but FID has been seen to... deviate. The distinction comes down to whether "peasants" really own what they have or rely an all-powerful ruler to organize everything and grant them the land and resources over which she eminently presides.

The question I have is: Can it be said that this Equestria's market is demonstratably free?
Guest 19th Apr 2016, 8:30 PM edit delete reply
Besides, just because money's involved doesn't mean that it's recognizably capitalist. Projects like the Winter Wrap-Up could well be a form of polite corvee labor, and historically there was quite a bit of transition between feudalism and industrialization.

I don't think we've seen Rarity complain about guild dues or someone changing Ponyville's apple-based local currency for Manehattan Bits, but that could just be because this isn't Spice and Wolf.
Wyvern 19th Apr 2016, 9:30 PM edit delete reply
There's a huge difference between 'free market' and 'Capitalism,' and it doesn't matter for most RPGs. It's not even clear in the show that Filthy Rich, Ponyville's wealthiest citizen, is in any meaningful way a capitalist rather than just a successful merchant.
reynard61 20th Apr 2016, 2:01 AM edit delete reply
"In a free market society, it is absolutely impossible to screw over customers and remain in business. You absolutely HAVE to push for positive customer relations."

Then please, PLEASE explain Comcast; which seems to see this rule as a bug rather than a "feature" -- and with great success I might add!
Pablo360 20th Apr 2016, 2:52 AM edit delete reply
It's the plight of the market ogliopoly. High (and I mean astronomical) startup costs mean little competition. It's still capitalism, but it's not truly a free market because an ogliopolic market isn't truly free. The control isn't really in government hands, but the concept is still the same.
CocoaNut 20th Apr 2016, 4:27 AM edit delete reply
Okay, I couldn't sleep so I'm going to be typing up my reply to Reynard61 anyway. But in case you're wondering, Pablo360 is flat-out wrong. Incredibly and unbelievably off the mark. This is what happens when you try to reason out an answer to something that you have no knowledge of.

Response coming... probably in an hour or two, and in multiple parts.
Digo Dragon 20th Apr 2016, 5:50 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
Some places have no choice other than one provider, so there really isn't an alternative to pick from if you don't like the service.
CocoaNutCakery 20th Apr 2016, 6:31 AM edit delete reply
@Reynard61 I assume you're in an area served by Comcast, and that that is your ISP. So here's a question: Why don't you switch to another one? Why don't you switch to a different cable internet provider? If Comcast is so terrible, what's stopping you? Is it perhaps because it's the only cable internet provider in your area? Interesting, that. In fact, if you look at a map of California cable internet providers, you'll find that different areas are served by different providers. San Francisco has Comcast, San Diego has Cox, Eureka has Suddenlink, etc. Very little to no overlap.

You'd think that a startup with the business model of "Don't screw over customers" would be pretty quick to out-compete Comcast, wouldn't they? Heck, you don't even need a startup. Why doesn't Cox offer cable internet service in San Francisco? Charter serves the area just South of San Francisco. Why don't they extend themselves into Comcast territory? I'm sure they'd look like the Second Coming to Comcast customers.

So why don't they do that? Simple: Legally, they can't. Cable TV and internet providers run government-mandated local monopolies. That means that the only company allowed to run cable lines in San Francisco is Comcast. And this is true for most regions. Comcast is able to get away with screwing over customers because the local governments in the areas that they do business have made is so that only they can do business in that area. That is not free market. That is not capitalism. It's actually more akin to the economic aspects of fascism, which involves government control and support of private industry, often creating government-mandated monopolies. This whole idea that the government is better than the free market at who can do the best job is a key tenet of fascism.

This is one of the reasons why Google has been having such trouble making inroads with Google Fiber. They go to local governments and ask to lay down fiber lines. The cable company that has control of the market in that area lobbies against it, and Google is turned away. There are federal regulations that help to encourage local governments to enact these policies as well. It's interesting, though, how quickly some cable companies are rolling out cable internet services that are as fast as Google Fiber. Funny coincidence that they'd just happen to develop this technology at the same time that a competitor enters into the market and they actually might have to compete.

True monopolies are actually pretty rare in a free market. Oftentimes, examples of free market monopolies are not monopolies at all. What you see is an argument whose equivalent would be if LCD TVs were only produced by one company anymore. Well, if you want an LCD TV, you have to go to that company. But there are options for TVs (or entertainment in general) that aren't LCD. So when thinking of an example of a monopoly that the free market might have, ask yourself if that's actually a monopoly.

The other example people often come up with are in small markets, like what you'd find in Ponyville. Confession time: I actually haven't watched past the first couple of episodes of season 4. It's not because I stopped liking MLP, but rather because I'm... well, I'm just behind. But as far as I know, Applejack and the Apple family run a monopoly on apples in Ponyville. While this could technically apply to the above paragraph, there's another reason why this monopoly doesn't work as you'd think: The communities that can support a monopoly like that (where nobody wants to try to compete) are small enough that life can get VERY difficult for the owner of the monopoly if they try to abuse it. Has she decided to start charging 50% more for apples? Well, as the community is small and she's therefore known, she'll soon find herself paying double for any goods or services she tries to buy. Is she pulling a "no soup for you"? Well, good luck in her ability to actually buy any soup. She'd soon find that the only thing she had to eat was apples. And, more than that, social ostracism actually produces a reaction that is worse than torture. There's a VERY strong incentive to not abuse the power of a monopoly. So a small community monopoly (like the kind found in Ponyville) is self-regulating simply because of the size of the community.

When a company gets close to a true monopoly, it becomes very difficult for it to hold onto its power. Essentially, it gets fat on power and stops doing the things that gave it such great market share in the first place. The moment that a near-monopoly (or true monopoly, in rare cases) gives up on those things, a competitor appears to capitalize on the situation. I explained it better in my previous incarnation of this post, but oh well.

Anyway, two examples of how this works in a market that should be very friendly to monopolies. The first is with Internet Explorer. Microsoft grew fat over its internet browser near-monopoly. This allowed its old competitor, Netscape, to re-establish itself as Mozilla. It also allowed Opera Software, a newcomer to the field, to enter and establish itself. And, of course, Google, an already-established company, expanded into the internet browser market. Because of the corporate culture that develops when a company grows fat on a near-monopoly, Microsoft found itself unable to compete in the same way that it did with Netscape and it's been bleeding market share in that area. IE and Edge just aren't competing at the same level, and it's because the habits and practices that a near-monopoly encourages makes it very difficult to recover. Microsoft will eventually, mind you, but it's highly unlikely that it will be able to regain its market share back to where it was before.

The second is how near-monopolies can collapse thanks to new technology. The introduction of smartphones meant that Microsoft's near-monopoly on operating systems hit a brick wall. Once again, the inefficiencies that came as a result of not having to compete means that Apple and Google were able to outmaneuver Microsoft in the smartphone market with the iPhone and Android. Both of them then leveraged this to gain market share in the laptop market with MacBooks and ChromeBooks and Apple leveraged their gains in both of these to expand their desktop market share.

Both of these happened because Microsoft grew fat on its power and adopted somewhat of a "screw the customer" model.

Of course, there's also the simple fact that monopolies find it hard to fit every customers' needs. Even when Microsoft was dealing with anti-trust inquiries, people were using their Macs and Linux boxes.

The only way for a true monopoly in a truly free market to survive is to maintain the same business model it had when it had to compete. In other words, the same business model that caused customers to flock to it in the first place. There have been a few monopolies in the rare places and times when there's been a relatively free market, but these monopolies never deviated from their original business practices (in one case that I won't go into, this caused bitter competitors to file anti-trust complaints and spread lies about the owner that still persist to this day... which is why I won't go into it, as I'd have to dispel those lies). Really the only way to gain a monopoly in a free market is to have excellent business practices, far beyond those of your competitors (offering the same quality item for a massively reduced cost, paying your employees well, etc). Once the monopoly stops being a benevolent one, competitors can easily step in.

A good case study that combines the concept of government-mandated monopolies with free market competition (especially in the case of startups) is the rise of Uber. To respond to Pablo's claim, Uber was very quickly able to raise a million and a half dollars as a new company (to say nothing of an existing company expanding its interests) and tens of millions of dollars not long after. It's now worth over 1,000 times that amount because it's competing with government-enforced collusions that operate under the guise of benevolent regulation. This sort of explosive rise is what you see from these situations. The argument about the cost of a startup becomes flawed very quickly when you realize that investors will flock to startups that challenge monopolies that are abusing their power.

Cable and taxi companies aren't the only companies that run government-controlled monopolies, however. I don't know how closely you've been paying attention to the presidential race, but a major issue for a couple of the candidates is the way health insurance works. One of the main problems mentioned in this regard is the fact that health insurance companies run either intrastate monopolies or else have limited competition within a state. Insurance companies are also heavily regulated and supported by the government.

But it can get far worse for people and the nation as a whole than just higher insurance premiums or cable service that utterly sucks.

In the early 20th century, the major banks realized that a great way to maximize their profits would be get together and set down rules for how each would operate. The only problem is that collusion doesn't work in the free market. The first to break from the collusion will gain massive market share and the reputations of the others will be damaged beyond repair. Worse yet is that you'll always have some guy that's sick of the BS going on coming in and starting up something that can out-compete. Again, massive market share for the one not involved in the collusion and damage to the reputations of the ones that are. So how do you ensure that everyone follows the rules and any newcomers do, too (bonus points for the fact that following these rules makes it more difficult for the smaller guy to compete)? Have the government enforce it. So representatives from the major banks met on Jekyll Island to draft legislation that would lead to the formation of the Federal Reserve. And before you go calling conspiracy theory, this is well-documented, known, and just not really ever discussed outside of those that discuss the origins of the Federal Reserve or the history of Jekyll Island. Among those, it's well-known as just a part of history.

So for over a hundred years, the Federal Reserve has functioned as a government-mandated bank monopoly, with the various banks as little more than subsidiaries. There's no real competition because banks have very little in the way of options in how they compete. The banks are effectively controlled by the government. So when people talk about hating bankers, where does that anger belong?

So banks suck, but does it end there? Unfortunately, no. Part of the job of the Federal Reserve is to influence the market via monetary policy (which is why the idea that we've had anything resembling a free market for the past 100 years or so is laughable). How this works is that, in the free market, certain market indicators would create incentives for investors. Again we see the self-regulation of the free market. When they see these indicators, they borrow and invest. When those indicators fade, they save.

Monetary policy is all about fabricating those indicators, essentially. Creating incentives to invest or save based not on where the market stands, but rather because of the government's desire to have people invest or save. Since borrowing and investing looks better for the politician currently in charge, that tends to be the monetary policy that banks follow. Because the Federal Reserve essentially fabricates incentives to borrow and invest no matter whether the market can sustain such activities, that means that people over-invest and over-borrow.

Also, banks over-lend. Normally, when the reserves of a bank start to dry up, the incentives start to go away and people are more incentivized to save and less incentivized to borrow. This leads to a self-regulation of bank reserves, which is important to note in the overall discussion.

What this over-investing and over-borrowing does is create bubbles. The politicians generally don't understand it, but let's be honest: How much would they care? If the bubble makes them look good at the expense of their successor, that's no skin off their nose. Especially since the US tends to switch parties for POTUS every 8 years, this will make their party look better at the expense of the other.

So what's the scale that we're looking at, here? Well, the Federal Reserve was formed in 1913. Not long after that, the stock market began to rise fairly considerably, and it continued to rise all throughout the 1920's. But there was a problem: People were over-investing. Banks were over-lending, and worse yet, much of this investing was fueled by said lending. In 1929, the markets crashed. People panicked and tried to withdraw their savings, only to find that they weren't there because the self-regulation of bank reserves died when the Federal Reserve started running monetary policy. This began a downward spiral that led to a massive recession. And let's just say that government interventionist policies into the market didn't exactly help with a quick recovery, though that's probably a story for another time.

And all of this because, throughout the late 1910's and the 1920's especially, the government liked the policy of easy money. It made the politicians in power look good and they didn't understand that they were creating a bubble. Remember that when you hear about an "era of easy money." That policy creates bubbles time and again that lead to catastrophic crashes.

By the way, feel free to run a news search on that term if you're not familiar with it.

And that's the result of government-mandated and government-controlled monopolies. The incentives for good business practices disappear under what the government wants to promote, whether it's the interests of the businesses that encourage these monopolies or just policies that make them look good in the short term without concern for the long-term damage. This is the cause of "screw the customer" policies that don't cause a business to invite competitors, but it's far more dangerous than that. And there's more to discuss in that regard, specifically regulatory capture and I was able to explain it better in by previous attempt at posting this, but then that didn't work so well.

I might reply to some other comments later. I especially want to reply to Digo's first comment when I'm better able to think (IE not sleep deprived). In the meantime, I'll probably just sleep.
The Fish King 20th Apr 2016, 7:46 AM edit delete reply
@CocoaNutCakery I find your knowledge of economics fascinating and your explanations are well thought out. However, you are rather rude. There is no need to be so churlish when expressing your views. When you were simply explaining the economics you were eloquent and interesting, but when responding to other comments (as well as your original post) your mean-spiritedness simply got in the way.
Teatime42 20th Apr 2016, 2:17 PM edit delete reply
I'm an economics major, and I must say that your post CocoaNutCakery is very well thought out. I don't agree with all of it (More conclusions in some minor areas, not the mechanics of it), but it's well written and a great summary.

The most important thing I have to say though, is to re-iterate what Fish King said.

You have a great message, but you're doing yourself a dis-service by prefacing parts of it with insults and general rudeness. Telling people that they have no understanding of economics does nothing other than drive them away from you.

If you just want to be right, and be seen as being right, that's fine to do. I'm not saying that's what you're doing.

If, however, you wish to show people how things work, and perhaps convince them to change their views, you need to be able to approach them with empathy.

Approaching someone how yourself wants to only makes you feel better, approaching someone as their friend, accomplishes your goal.

And I would urge you to do this.

There's a story (That I am horribly butchering) about an economics debate at a US university. A professor from the Political Science department challenged the head of the Economics Department to a debate about a subject that involved both their fields. Economics shows that the political policy is a horrible idea for the economy, and nation-wide, most economists agree. The Economics Professor asked that his students and colleagues show up to support him, as the debate would allow questions from the audience. But come the debate, no one did. Only the Political science students and professors showed up, and the Economics Professor was subjected to a flood of questions that placed him on the defensive, while the political science professor received softball after softball, and the economics professor lost the debate. When asked later, the Economics professors and students stated almost universally, that they hadn't seen the point in comic. They all knew that the policy was wrong, there was no controversy, they hadn't seen the point to the debate. They knew they were right.

And since they had abandoned the Professor at the debate, all that was aired well was the opposing view.

The point is that being right isn't enough. It's never enough. You have to convince others as well.

And by insulting people or acting "rude", all you do is divide, not convince.

Aside from that, again, well done. You are substantially better at summarizing than I am. XD
CocoaNutCakery 20th Apr 2016, 5:04 PM edit delete reply
@Teatime42 I'm glad to have input from an economics major. I probably didn't explain things as well as I could have and my knowledge of economics is almost certainly not as good as yours, so I should definitely defer to you. Of course, I am aware of the problem in the economics field that there are a lot of economists out there preaching the exact wrong thing (and teaching it at universities). That said, I would assume that that's not the case with you and that you know and understand the topic better than I do.

I'm an autodidact in a lot of areas. I'm able to pick up essential issues quickly and I have pretty good knowledge in multiple fields, but that comes at a cost of less knowledge in the field as well as more erratic knowledge. I have no doubt that you could bring up a number of economic topics that would just cause me to sit and stare at my computer screen, a blank expression on my face and a trail of drool coming out of my mouth. I am versed in common misconceptions, though.

As to the story, I'd argue that most people can see debate bias and that would cause them to give preference to the person that is facing the short end of the stick, but the point itself is 100% valid. All I can really say in my defense is that I didn't really expect this to turn into a debate about free market capitalism. A better approach would be to have explained from the start the difference between capitalism and corporatism/globalism.

I guess I can also claim autism. And I mean that I've actually been diagnosed. They didn't give me a certificate or anything, though. Bastards. In all seriousness, I consider the autism argument to be more of an excuse. I'm good at recognizing patterns and it's a pretty common pattern that I get called out for making comments like that, so stopping and thinking would probably take the autism issue out of the equation.

@Newbiespud Speaking of my original comment, I'm going to bring you into things to respond to your reply. Wouldn't it be likely that one of the entrepreneurial characters (Rarity and Applejack's players) or the nerd (Twilight's character) know the difference and that globalism or corporatism would be a more accurate descriptor?

As someone that's done some fanfiction writing myself, though, I understand the issues. It would needlessly and pointlessly extend this scene for them to debate this issue. And, added to that, it's natural to have misunderstandings about this sort of stuff and it's a problem that almost always comes up when writing for characters that have expertise that you don't share. Often, this is exacerbated because media creates certain assumptions about things and then writers remember the assumptions that the media created. The result is an endless misrepresentation in media and writing and it's really impossible to correct. What are you going to do, try to become an expert on every single thing your writing touches, by dialogue or descriptions? It would be an impractical expectation of writers.

Though I should point out that Ponyville obviously isn't full-on capitalist because of the simple inclusion of public works. In a purely capitalist society, when you buy land, you buy the airspace and can buy rainclouds and hire pegasi to move it into the airspace. Essentially like what Rarity was talking about, but less "nobles on vacation" and more "farmers growing crops." The issue, of course, is the fact that nature doesn't actually seem to be able to do anything on its own without help from ponies (sans the Everfree Forest). Which... is actually pretty weird, TBH.

Usually, the capitalist solution is that private companies tend to take better care of land than the government does (endangered species tend to do better on private grazing land and migratory birds prefer to roost there), and if there's land without significant economic value (which is hard to imagine, TBH), then conservationist groups can step in and it's a lot cheaper for them than trying to get the government to actually do their job. They can usually find a way to use the land to pay for the expenses as well (such as using it for camping ground or some such). I suppose that might work in Equestria, but the fact that every part of nature has to be micromanaged... I'm not sure how viable that would be. Of course, it's less viable for the free market to handle it, the government isn't going to do too well. Gnome Saiyan?

Once again, I'm faced with more responses that I want to make than time I have to make them. I've got quite a few things that I'm currently about an hour late in doing. You guys have been very kind in spite of my rudeness, and I appreciate it a lot. <3
Someone 20th Apr 2016, 2:22 PM edit delete reply
That escalated quickly...
Blueblade 20th Apr 2016, 6:55 PM edit delete reply
And the award for longest comment goes to...
Guest 20th Apr 2016, 3:17 AM edit delete reply
Well. Crap. My comment was longer than 1,000 characters and I spent about 45 minutes typing it up. It didn't save my comment, so it's all gone now. It was specifically in response to Reynard61. It's 3 AM and I'm not re-typing it right now. I'll see how I feel about trying to type it up again in the morning, but right now I'm rather pissed.
Winged Cat 20th Apr 2016, 4:31 PM edit delete reply
Winged Cat
@CocoaNut: the big thing you're missing, is when "completely free market" means that anything can be bought - including other peoples' freedoms. For example, the ISPs invest capital in creating regulations that give them monopolies. From their point of view, that's just another purchase, another thing that can be bought.

Applejack makes the same kind of point: "buy" the airspace itself. Who would you buy it from? The government, presumably - whether as a straight-up purchase, spending capital on legislative construction (bribing legislators) to enable such ownership, or both.

More simply, a rich enough corporation could buy its own private army and enforce its own practical circumstances - maybe not actual laws since they're not formally part of the official government, but they might as well be. For example, it could buy out all the suppliers for its industry, and have them not sell to its competitors, who must then go out of business. ("But wait, then people could just start more suppliers and sell to everyone else" - true, but only so many people actually start businesses, and active suppression efforts can lower that for an industry until the competitors are gone. Once there aren't any surviving competitors to sell to, you'd need to start a competitor and its supplier at the same time, which is even tougher. New technology can only do so much to offset that.)

(Besides, all monopolies seem to be temporary. ISPs, let alone ISP monopolies, largely did not exist 30 years ago, and there's some question whether they'll exist 30 years from now as anything other than regulated utilities, for the same reason water, electricity, and sewage are now regulated utilities. Even such temporary monopolies are bad enough that people tend to call them the opposite of free markets. Imagine what a 1,000-plus year old like Celestia, having seen many such monopolies come and go, would think of the matter if she did not consciously try to relate to the viewpoints of younger beings - that is, of almost everyone else she interacts with.)

So, sure you can make an ideological point about what constitutes "pure" or "free" or "true" capitalism. But when attempting to obtain a certain ideal consistently results in the same pattern of failure - as you pointed out, we've had over a century of results here - common speech tends to conflate the ideal with the (as the public sees it) inevitable result of attempting to implement that ideal. (And as NS notes, this was a backpedaling GM, not someone who had ample time to pick exactly correct words.)

Thus, it is entirely correct to state that "true capitalism" leads to, and in a sense is, government-created monopolies, even though that is exactly what "true capitalism" is supposed to stand in opposition to. It's just like pointing to the USSR, China, and Cuba as the best examples of what "true communism" become: thinly veiled excuses for dictatorships that discourage most people from attempting to improve their lives and that of those around them (despite, or rather because of, the fact that all efforts are supposed to be spent improving the common good).

If you want an ideal to defend, you'd do better to find one that actually produces the results it tries to.
Raxon 19th Apr 2016, 10:34 AM edit delete reply
It's a wonderful thing to have players interested in the setting. However, sometimes it's fun to sqeculate.
Lyntermas 19th Apr 2016, 10:33 PM edit delete reply
...Did you misspell speculate, or is this some strange word that we're about to learn the definition of?
Pablo360 20th Apr 2016, 5:55 PM edit delete reply
Sqeculate. n. chiefly Raxon

To speculate, but in a stranger, more seemingly irrational, or otherwise more humorous manner. "When it comes to the stock market, I'm a sqeculator. It's finny how much debt I'm in."

Etymology: from Spanish "secuoya", referring to a type of tree.
Winged Cat 19th Apr 2016, 11:42 AM edit delete reply
I have been accused - rightly - by one of my fellow players (sometimes GM, sometimes one I GM for) that I tend to try to break settings. To take a couple of my current characters:

A D&D 5E cleric, who doesn't worship any god, but instead the abstract concepts underlying Good, figuring that in the long run, Good does indeed always triumph because of what Good is: the best outcome for the most people, which naturally gets the most force on its side eventually. (So naturally he's venturing in the Underdark, where slavery is taken as a fact of life and insanity appears common.)

In Ryuutama, a "mage-farmer", whose parents use magic to accelerate and enhance crop growth, basically introducing the mechanized agriculture side of the Industrial Revolution to a standard medieval fantasy environment. Direct applications to what PCs do is difficult, and the PC himself is just a journeyman (far from the power levels of his far), but the precedent is very much there for practical applications of Ryuutama's mostly-whimsical spells. (Before the first session even began, the GM ruled that my PC couldn't whip up enough for rations with a single casting of the "make flowers" spell. Medicinally useful herb doses, though, sure. Besides, there's another spell that could convert the flowers into rations.)

Said fellow player pointed out that when I GM, I expect my players to try to break the setting. That is also true - and when my players rise to the challenge, the results have been glorious. In the campaign I'm running right now, we're near the end, and they've run a standard space opera setting into verging on multiple near-simultaneous Singularities (which are likely to happen shortly after the final session). One of the PCs is even setting up a quarantine so this won't affect the rest of human space in case post-Singularity civilization burns itself out quickly (by pre-Singularity human time scales).

The biggest downside: I'm going to need to think up a similarly exploitable scenario for the next game I run. (Among my thoughts: what if some pokemon trainer - likely some Team member - extends Triple Battles to a full team, allows humans to be "challenged" alongside pokemon, and introduces squad tactics? I'd need players capable of tactics - beyond just "I roll the die and my commander comes up with some plan that gives a bonus" - to fully realize the potential.)
Specter 19th Apr 2016, 12:23 PM edit delete reply
Winning at this kind of game via economy is really hard. More so then Civ_5 in my opinion, but I found a way with some helpful allies.

Equestria was split three ways in a war. The forces of Celestia, Luna, and Chrysalis. Each had their own problems with the economy, and it was an absolute hell to get any bearing on what goods were worth in each individual town. Our group (consisting of four from the Solar Kingdom, three from the Lunar Dominium, and myself from the Change(l)ing Hearts) found an elder dragon who had some interest in Equestria, and asked us to do something that would make it faster for the three forces find peace. We agreed (knowing that it's probably going to make our lives a living nightmare). So we planed out every possible action we could take.

In agreement with the dragon, we used his hoard to flood all of our economies with treasure, breaking the already fragile scales. In the end, we could have gotten different leaders to make a peace, but this was the most entertaining for us. Our GM told us that, in a little segment he calls the credits, the dragons from the Farlands came to Equestria to help rebuild our lands under the conditions that 1) No more war, 2) The land be rules equally between the three matriarchs, and 3) Our characters may no longer live in Equestria, but in the Farlands as a kind of celebrities that saved Equestria, their favorite neighbors.

In a way, we 'won' our economy by breaking it, and while being hunted by virtually every guild and faction that was profiting from the fragile economy.
redwings1340 19th Apr 2016, 12:48 PM edit delete reply
Has anyone ever managed to either break the game or create amazing/impossible stuff based on worldbuilding aspects their DM gave them, and justified it by using the DM's own logic?

I've done that a lot on my game, but it helps that there are no rules to play around with. When my character, who was living without a body, was teleported in another universe to begin the rp she was in, another one of my characters realized that it must be possible to create matter in the spaces in between universes, because otherwise why would the body have suddenly existed? Then he abused this and later in the campaign, learned how to create objects out of thin air (so long as the object he was creating was in another universe), mostly creating full restores and ultra balls with that knowledge. Luckily the GM went with it, and our foes were so op anyway that we actually needed all the help we could get to win.
Grant 19th Apr 2016, 3:35 PM edit delete reply
The body could have just been created in that universe out of local materials. Which might still result in the same thing, but originating from different sources.
Apostate 19th Apr 2016, 1:06 PM edit delete reply
I'm not sure why, but I could only think of Bioshock videos explaining the powers...
Capitalism 19th Apr 2016, 1:14 PM edit delete reply
Money Money Money Pasta Pasta Pasta... *Evil Laugh*
j-eagle12212012 19th Apr 2016, 1:56 PM edit delete reply
The DM in this story is sounding more like Spud all the time.
Grant 19th Apr 2016, 3:32 PM edit delete reply
Good way to shut down any attempts to break the game with privatized weather magic would be to just say that the princesses have a monopoly on its usage because they're the only ones who can keep it from turning the forests and rivers into one great big desert.

Lots of gamers tend to forget that people in charge might not be so willing to let you get away with anything.
Kaze Koichi 19th Apr 2016, 5:08 PM edit delete reply
My team never just let the worldbuilding go. They question every part of it. Even the part that is "it's magic, I don't have to explain it."
Tsvorla 19th Apr 2016, 8:22 PM edit delete reply
I *almost* hate to be that one guy, but doesn't FMA's equivalent exchange principle follow in MLP to a degree? I don't recall Twilight or anyone else conjuring something out of nothing- that talking orange started out as a frog, and the Ursa Minor was calmed through manipulating previously existing items. (Don't include Discord's magic... chaos doesn't follow logic).

I'm curious to see how this plays out with the development in the penultimate panel.
Wyvern 19th Apr 2016, 9:32 PM edit delete reply
Twilight seemed to create a door just for the sake of slamming it, but she sent it away again almost immediately.
Lyntermas 19th Apr 2016, 11:00 PM edit delete reply
Let's see...Twilight is capable of summoning mustaches (even on animals without hair like Spike). In "Magic Duel", Trixie did some conjuration with the Alicorn Amulet, like the city-sized fishbowl she used to cover Ponyville. In "Inspiration Manifestation", Rarity was able to conjure dresses at will (along with MASSIVE amounts of transmutation). And Pinkie Pie...well, it might be fairer to put those possessing the Power of Party in the same category as Discord.

In short, I wouldn't hold conservation of mass as a hard and fast rule in Equestria. Of course, some of the sources of power used may count as "Philosopher's Stones", so make of it what you will.
Winged Cat 20th Apr 2016, 4:42 PM edit delete reply
Winged Cat
Eh. Condensation spells, as their name suggests, just gather up the water that's already in the (possibly thin) air. Extremely dry air, over time, absorbs moisture from surrounding less-dry air and/or nearby water sources (such as lakes or oceans). So that would totally follow equivalent exchange: water over there for water over here.

Presumably it's theoretically possible to lift a lake into Cloudsdale wholesale with magic. But that requires powerful magic; perhaps massive hurricanes, for all the effort they require to set up, are in fact easier.
Ishidan 20th Apr 2016, 1:07 AM edit delete reply
Great. Now I'm seeing Cutie Marks as the Transmutation Circles of this setting, amd the Elements of Harmony just waiting to be used to create Homunculi.
Maybe with the elements creating a sump for their respective inverses, although the Elements don't seem to all have exact inverses to the Homunculi.

You are, however, now imagining Fluttershy as Fuhrer King Bradley.
Digo Dragon 20th Apr 2016, 5:52 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
...I wasn't until you just mentioned it. :3

Bradley Fluttershy? Scary.
Toric 20th Apr 2016, 8:12 AM edit delete reply
However...Rarity as Lust sounds like something that would be totally badass.

And I'm kind of terrified of Pinkie as Gluttony...
Ishidan 20th Apr 2016, 9:31 AM edit delete reply
And AJ would be Sloth.
(Misnamed if ever there was one. Lust is sexy, Wrath is a warrior, Gluttony is obese, Envy likes to play mind games, and absolutely RIPPED? What?)
Winged Cat 20th Apr 2016, 4:44 PM edit delete reply
Winged Cat
Sloth doesn't have to try hard to accomplish anything he cares about, so he doesn't. He is, however, slow.
Specter 20th Apr 2016, 11:12 AM edit delete reply
Good or bad idea, Dash and the other pegasi find a way to produce chocolate rain (panel 10)?
Winged Cat 20th Apr 2016, 4:46 PM edit delete reply
Winged Cat
Very, very good - if you're Pinkie Pie.
Evilbob 21st Apr 2016, 10:55 PM edit delete reply
The former applies to me: I do like learning ore about a world. Unfortunately the latter hits a bit too close to home... I'm like that more than I would like to admit.

I dunno. There's just something fascinating about something particularly interesting catching your fancy, and wanting to take it to its logical conclusion...
Kinda like how since Pipbucks and robotics in FOE are maintained by magical matrices, it'd make sense that a grenade that disrupts the magic of the robots would also affect any enchantments or spells.

In this regard, it's probably not trying to "break" or "win" it so much as exploring unthought-of-potentials. Kinda in the same vein of how learning about lysogenization might excite some people about the prospect of gene therapy, for example.