Economics, Leisure and Crime


I’m going to use GURPS $ as the common currency purely for my convenience.
In your civilian life: the basic dole payment runs around $1,620 per month per person. Standard cost of living takes up $1,260 per person, which is enough to pay for a comfortable house somewhere fairly rural, a new vehicle every few years if you want it, perhaps a small boat or other expensive toy. It probably won’t get you more than a broom cupboard in a dense urban area, but there’s less pressure to be in an urban area than there used to be.
A typical “normal” job pays around $8,100 per month.
An adjustable double bed costs $700.
A basic housekeeper robot costs $1,000. Most households have one.
A suborbital shuttle between major cities costs $500-$1,000.
There are promises of a world-wide maglev network using evacuated tunnels, but it’s a huge project and nobody really seems to have the will to go beyond a small test setup.
A ticket to orbit on the beanstalk costs $500 each way. Rental of an armoured space suit and jetpack to come down the “fun” way is about $7,000 (plus ten times that as deposit).
A basic ground car costs $20,000 and runs off electric power. A supersonic air car costs about $50,000 plus nuclear refuelling every five years. (So you see it’s cheaper if we use it a lot...)
Crime looks different from the way it did for most of human history, because nobody is starving. And high-tech forensics can do a pretty good job of working out what happened at a crime scene (in real or computer space).
Which isn’t to say that there isn’t any more crime; it’s just not for that reason. You can have a drug habit that costs more than you can afford (it would be a pretty heroic drug habit, and there would be cheaper alternatives, but people are still people). You can be getting to the age where increasingly expensive and radical medical procedures are needed to keep your body going, and as you go beyond the reaches of established medicine the government will stop paying for them. Or you can be the sort of person who constantly wants more stuff and doesn’t feel like working for it.
But with small needs taken care of, crime tends to be big; the potential criminal either thinks that the risk of getting caught is low (maybe even correctly), or believes that the reward of success is worth the risk. Lots of criminals start as children who believe they’re invulnerable, and the few who don’t get caught carry on with the habit. Others have a mental break later in life: the most pervasive mental illnesses are the consequences of not having anything to do or the ability to choose a task for oneself.