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Author Topic: What drives the Klingon Economy?  (Read 18226 times)
Klythe
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« on: 10 15, 2003, 04:11: AM »

In "House of Quark", Gowron tells us that using money to bring down a rival House is dishonorable.   If you are not allowed to use money as power, why would anyone work to increase thier wealth?

    What is considered a wealthy house?  Lots of Servants?  Land?  Ships?  Spican Flame Gems?   Barrels of Bloodwine?  Just what is there to spend your money on in the Klingon Empire?
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« Reply #1 on: 10 15, 2003, 08:59: PM »

I have often pondered this myself. Not just the Klingon economy, but the whole Trek economy thing.

Disclaimer: I am not an economist. I have never seriously studied economics. The opinions stated below are just my own uneducated guesses.

I seem to recall being told that what drives economics is the desires of people, specifically their needs and wants. Money came about because people wanted a way to trade without having to carry around a herd of cattle or a large block of salt. They wanted to trade in order to get the things they needed to live, food, clothing, etc, from the people who produced these things, who would in turn need something that is produced by them.

In First Contact, Picard, when asked where all the money to build the Enterprise came from, answered "The economics of the future are different." Indeed. In the ST universe, anything can be replicated (except life.), and I recall reading somewhere that replicators transmuted matter. (e.g., took matter apart, and reassembled it.) If indeed this level of control over matter is ever attained, everybody's needs could be filled, so long as there is enough matter/energy to go around. And so, no single form of matter would be valuable. You want gold? Silver? Diamonds? Just a sec, and you can have all you want...
So this would effectively cause the collapse of economic systems all over the world. No one would have to work to get the things they needed, it could all be replicated. If life is comfortable without having to do anything, what's the incentive to work and create wealth?

So people's needs are taken care of, but what about their wants and their gottahaves? There are examples throughout Trek of certain items being regarded as more valuable than others. In "The Way of the Warrior" (DS9), Sisko presents his {parmaqqayHey} (apparent romantic partner) with a "tholian silk" scarf, and Riker is known for cooking, using "real" (not replicated) ingredients. In "Day of Honor, Treaty's Law", Kerdoch is a farmer. He obviously grows something that people like Riker want, like a cash crop.

These things together paint a picture of an economy based not on the needs AND wants of people, but just their wants, one where one's income is essentially 100% disposable, used only to buy the finer things in life, and only if you want it.
Another thread running through this is the fact that all of the things marked as valuable are alive, (or at least, once were) or could conceivably have come from a living being. While details were not given in the DS9 ep referenced above, "tholian silk" could come from "tholian silkworms". (I'm not saying it does. I don't know where tholian silk comes from). The ingredients Riker uses undoubtedly came from a plant or living animal, and Klingons regard {targh tIq} (Heart of Targ) as a delicacy.

So the drive to create wealth could derive from a desire for more of these living things. An "organomy", if you will.

I realize that none of this addresses "gold-pressed latinum", and there are probably holes in my theory large enough to pilot a Bird of Prey into.

None of which actually answers the original question, "What is there to buy in the Empire?", now that I think about it.

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« Reply #2 on: 10 17, 2003, 06:16: AM »

The Federation's economy is certainly a social liberals utopia, no wants, no needs, but every one has a drive 'to improve themselves' instead of what we all know would happen, everyone would sit around all day seeking nothing but entertainments amd pleasures.   Most humans don't understand that there must be wants and needs to drive society forward, otherwise society stagnates.  And if there is a constant theme in Star Trek, it is that one day, a captain like Kirk will bumble by your planet, destroy whatever it is that sustains your culture as it was hundreds or thousands of years ago, and set you back on the untamed overgrown trail to progress whether you wanted him to or not.

    Still Service related industries will still be in demand in the Federation.   Doctors, Teachers, Scientists, Starfleet Officers...  They are compensated with credits (despite Kirk's claim that there is no money in the future, perphaps he was talking about paper money?)  They only thing to spend your credits on are other services and what few things can't be replicated (as determined by the plot).  

    I do not believe the Klingons have deployed replicator technology except as needed in specialized fields.   We see how Kurn appeared to view the idea of replicating food, but this of course could just have been a show for the Feddie yokels... Most likely this is the same reason deployment of soft mattress technology and cooshy pillow technologies have had tremendously slow progress trough the empire.  Such things take away wants and make Klingons soft.

Maybe later I will talk about microeconomic philosophy, and needs vs. wants...  
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« Reply #3 on: 01 24, 2004, 10:11: PM »

Money is nothing more than a tool (-aase), or a means to an end.

Quote
In "House of Quark", Gowron tells us that using money to bring down a rival House is dishonorable.
*disdainful snort* That story I do remember. Gowron was not particularly well-grounded in reality and did not take into account the mundane necessities of life in the Empire. He obviously had enough material wealth and servants to see to his basic everyday needs and need not concern himself with such trivialities. I doubt he even knows what it takes to see that they are met, and thinks that is what kuvei are for.

Money is frequently used to bring down Houses.  Not to mention individuals.  There are always agents, advisors, and assasins to be hired, and those people must obtain the tools of their trade somehow. Unlike the lesser peoples who pursue money as an end in itself, Klingons see it as a means to an end: power, influence, and control. Is that not the ultimate goal of the komerex zha? To be in a position to do unto others instead of being done unto? Nal komerex, khesterex; if one is not expanding one's sphere of influence and degree of control, one loses.  An either/or proposition. The fuel necessary for this expansion is what fueled the ecomony.

That is, until the establishment of the alliance following the destruction the Empire's key energy processing center on Praxis. Both of the above posts fail to address the key element of any economy: the form of government (or lack thereof) under which it operates.  With the possible exception of zan Klythe's mention of Spican Flame Gems, the economy addressed so far in this thread takes place after both The Great Revision (TGR) and the Praxis disaster, following which Chancellor Gorkon ate his honor and independence by "suing for peace".  

It was then that the Klingon Empire submitted to ideological and economic blackmail in an updated version of the Marshall Plan: the Federation would save the Empire from collapse in the form of economic aid -- with the implied stipulation that "If we don't like what you do with it, don't forget that we have the power to destroy you altogether, and there is nothing you can do about it."  Thus the Federation was able to impose its own economic practices upon the Empire and "conquer" it with very little military action.  Employing economic imperialism proved much cheaper and more effective in the long run than the military imperialism utlilized by the pre-Gorkon Empire.

Is this dishonorable? Perhaps. But those defeated in the komerex zha are likely to cry foul out of reflex.


Quote
quoth ngabwI' In the ST universe, anything can be replicated (except life.), and I recall reading somewhere that replicators transmuted matter. (e.g., took matter apart, and reassembled it.) ... *** ... So this would effectively cause the collapse of economic systems all over the world. No one would have to work to get the things they needed, it could all be replicated. If life is comfortable without having to do anything, what's the incentive to work and create wealth?

(Disclaimer: I am not a physicist. I have never studied physics at all. The opinions stated below are just my own uneducated guesses. Feel free to rip them to shreds.)
(I second ngabwI's disclaimer.)

It takes power to run a replicator.  Regardless of the rest of the physics involved, this power has to come from somewhere.  Otherwise the First Law of Thermodynamics (conservation of energy) is violated.

Furthermore, there are some necessary components such as Dilithium Crystal (used in current MARs) and Monocrystal Cortenum and Polysilicate Verterium (both components of warp coils) that are unsuitable for replication because: "Elements that come from the 4th extended scale of the periodic table (such as Latinum Ditensenide) have high false-vacuum energy potentials.  This means that no replication technology is able to detect the exact proportion of matter in a samples present four-space."

Quote
If indeed this level of control over matter is ever attained, everybody's needs could be filled, so long as there is enough matter/energy to go around.
But this brings us back to the First Law of Thermodynamics.  There is not an infinite amount of energy and therefore matter for the taking.

Quote
And so, no single form of matter would be valuable. You want gold? Silver? Diamonds? Just a sec, and you can have all you want...
Thus they lose their value as currency. This is one reason that latinum is acceptable as hard currency just about everywhere: it must be mined, and one cannot replicate more as needed.

Quote
...there are probably holes in my theory large enough to pilot a Bird of Prey into.
The one has confused the state of the Klingon economy with the plot of ST4. }}; )

Quote
[/i]quoth Klythe[/i] Service related industries will still be in demand in the Federation. Doctors, Teachers, Scientists, Starfleet Officers... They are compensated with credits (despite Kirk's claim that there is no money in the future, perphaps he was talking about paper money?)
I believe he was speaking of physical currency. The Federation has many member worlds, most of which have multiple cultures and economies.  To try to make any single currency the default one for such a complex alliance would be impossible. In an attempt to consolidate those economies, at least to an extent, a new "universal currency" must have been created.  At the beginning of the twenty-first century, disparate nations on Earth took a similar approach with the creation of a new unit of curreny, "The Eurodollar".  Though it's birthing was a difficult one, the system did catch on and was ultimately successful.

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quoth Klythe I do not believe the Klingons have deployed replicator technology except as needed in specialized fields. We see how Kurn appeared to view the idea of replicating food, but this of course could just have been a show for the Feddie yokels...
You would base an entire people's philosophy on the personal tastes of one  member of an Empire that consists of billions of individuals?  Especially one who is a full sibling to that most inadequate representative of Klingons, whose single contribution to Klingon society is that of the chronic identity crisis?  

Perhaps Kurn is just a picky eater or a snob. I suspect those Klingons of means have plenty of "foodies" in their ranks. This would also go toward supporting ngabwI's "orgonomy" model.

Quote
Most likely this is the same reason deployment of soft mattress technology and cooshy pillow technologies have had tremendously slow progress trough the empire. Such things take away wants and make Klingons soft.
:rolleyes: Zan Klythe, you really do take the Kult of Klingon Masochism to extremes. Soft matresses and cooshy pillows do not promote weakness.  On the contrary, they contribute to strength in that they help to keep body mass properly distributed so that sleep is not unnecessarily disturbed.  A sleep-deprived individual is not operating at maximum efficiency, and may prove to be a liability.

More to the point, simple bedding usually needn't cost, but can be improvised from discards and supplies that one will not be awake to use otherwise.

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« Reply #4 on: 02 12, 2004, 02:00: AM »

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Money is nothing more than a tool (-aase), or a means to an end.

     Yes, but a tool can be used honorably or dishonorably.

Quote
Money is frequently used to bring down Houses. Not to mention individuals. There are always agents, advisors, and assasins to be hired, and those people must obtain the tools of their trade somehow.

    Yes, but buying a sword to kill someone is different than buying up all the swords to prevent your opponents from being able to buy them, preventing them from being able to fight you effectively.   Using money to fight better is wise and honorable.   Paying to win without a fight would be considered cowardly and weak.

Quote
Nal komerex, khesterex; if one is not expanding one's sphere of influence and degree of control, one loses. An either/or proposition. The fuel necessary for this expansion is what fueled the ecomony.

   Very well said.  I agree with this on a macroscopic (cultural) level.  But on the microsocopic (transactional) level there are still many questions.   In Power Klingon  Okrand and Dorn list three main industries in the Klingon Empire.   One was weapon sales...  (edit- add the other two, discuss)

Quote
It takes power to run a replicator. Regardless of the rest of the physics involved, this power has to come from somewhere. Otherwise the First Law of Thermodynamics (conservation of energy) is violated.

    Actually I was thinking of the Second Law which says that the disorder in the universe always increases in a closed system.  In order to create more order inside the replicator, you have to create more disorder outside of it.   I guess this is the why, in case anyone asks if it has to be true that replicators use a lot of energy.

Quote
You would base an entire people's philosophy on the personal tastes of one member of an Empire that consists of billions of individuals? Especially one who is a full sibling to that most inadequate representative of Klingons, whose single contribution to Klingon society is that of the chronic identity crisis?

     It's not just Kurn, that was just the most blatent example that most people would be familiar with...   You just do not see klingons using replicators very much on screen.   Klingon food is prepared by hand, even on starships if the "Star Trek: Klingon" interactive movie/game is to be believed.

Quote
Zan Klythe, you really do take the Kult of Klingon Masochism to extremes. Soft matresses and cooshy pillows do not promote weakness. On the contrary, they contribute to strength in that they help to keep body mass properly distributed so that sleep is not unnecessarily disturbed. A sleep-deprived individual is not operating at maximum efficiency, and may prove to be a liability.

     As unrealistic as it is we are still asked to believe it, so I thought I would include it in this argument.   Canonically, gravity works instantaneously instead of being bound to the speed of light like everything else in the known universe...  It is flavor to underscore the values of a warrior culture are different that those of the Terran viewers.  
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« Reply #5 on: 03 04, 2004, 11:54: PM »

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As unrealistic as it is we are still asked to believe it, so I thought I would include it in this argument.
Quote
posted on 3-25-2003 at 01:32 PM
Ah, you like it for no other reason other than they needed you to like it more... That is intensely unfortunate.
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« Reply #6 on: 03 10, 2004, 03:00: PM »

I have always thought of the Empire as a strange mix of what humans would call Capitalism and Socialism. I know you are thinking that these can not be merged, and normally I would agree but think of this.

The Empire, like a great many militaristic societies, is not a democracy. One of the ways this is accomplished is by supporting those who work towrds he common good. In Flag Full of Stars we saw that there is mandatory Military Service but that one may then retire and seek out other fields, such as school teacher. One example would be the (non Klingon) movie Starship Troopers which had the concept of citizenship being a reward for service. Now I have often thought that the level of support you get tied to rank, after all the Chancelor probably lives in a Palace but the enlisted folks probably live in Barracks. The greneral citizenry probably lives in something lioke the public housing we have in this country. Buildings with little comforts builty very quickly by low bid (or in the socialism case by government workers). Moving up to the next level of housing would be tied to service, like military promotion.

Now here is where the Capitalism comes in. I think that families being as important as they are in Klingon society are probably able to have nearby housing or at least better pick of housing as the family grows in prominence. This would lead to family houses/compounds where one of a certain social status could bring relatives to move out of the government housing. This would require money. Money to build and money to maintain. I think that salry at least on the military level is tied to conquest. If a fleet takes a new star system or planet they are rewarded, possibly with land grants in that system or a percentage of the ore rights, ect. Perhaps there is a bonus system for ships that are victorious in battle. I am sure that any award or medal a Klingon Earns would come with a monitary bonus.

Money is what allows the finer things in life, and this is seen by Klingons as growth. Remember the old saying That which does not grow, withers and dies. Failure to grow would be dishonorable. So a basic Klingon citizen is entitled to a basic level but as Klingons do more the earn more entitlements. I also think that the status that comes with entitlements may play into who gets a seat on the High Council, as it would be tied to family status.

I'm not sure how this would work with non military Klingons, but I think there woudl be equivilant bonuses tied to rankings/certifications (like master carpenter) as well as awards (like a distillers medal). PErhaps being a chef entitled you to a small apartment, owning a restaurant might let you buy up to a small house. Family status might let you have the house next to your Brother the Ship Commander, and your cousin the Doctor, with a nice fence arround your "compound". Land grants from military conquest might allow you to have a yard around your house where as a standard government house of the same size has none.

Just some thoughts.

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« Reply #7 on: 06 18, 2008, 11:13: PM »

    I have a somewhat different view of the Klingon Economy, based more off Krenn's suprise(in TFR) that Maxwell Grandison III as powerful as he was was not powerful enough to prevent the government from taking his money.      Also harking back to Gowron's complete disinterest in Quark's economic analysis.   

    I don't believe the Klingon Government has any control over the Klingon Economy beyond the minimum necessary to support the obvious executive, diplomatic, military and judicial roles.   I don't think that the High council concerns itself with economic planning, production of goods, Agriculture(beyond the acquition or conquest of new worlds), Regulation of trade(beyond securing the borders), Retirement benefits, Health Care(beyond responding to the odd empire-wide epidemic), Education, housing, and many other functions Terran governments have decided they should be involved in.

   Pawns and Symbols shows us a young girl(I believe her age was given as 11) who was theld-barred (disown by her House) and thus had no economic support.   There was no government housing.  No right for health care or basic sustenance.   Granted this was during one of those odd empire-wide epidemics where food was rationed for everyone, but without support of a theld the child was required to fend for herself to earn her ration ticket, through hazardous or otherwise inappropriate labour for a child.

    I believe that it is the House that manages and provides economically for it's members as well as their overall welfare.   Thus a Founder of a new House is such an important feat...  A linefounder is cutting all ties of support, economic, civil, and familial, rather than merely a band of allies who would presumably avenge his wrongful death.

[edit- Clened up spelling]
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« Reply #8 on: 06 22, 2008, 08:39: PM »

qoSagh´s concept of a mixed capitalism-socialism system seems to describe the United Federation of Planets economy better than the Empire´s one. For what we have seen, within the Federation economic individualism seems to be encouraged in the name of progress, but all efforts are canalized through some sort of planification, isn´t it? Duplication technology is the base of the Federation´s luxurious economy.

On the other hand, I don´t buy the whole big happy federation family thing.

In the Klingon Empire, such planification seems not to exist, and duplication is not a massive production aase. I don´t remember if it was at Memory Alpha´s article about Klingon society that I read about klingon economy described as a permanent warfare state . In any case, I have always though of the Klingon Houses as the real wheels of the Empire.

Ah, second to Weapons, the other two main economic sources for the Empire according to Marc Okrand in Conversational Klingon are:

2)Dilithium Crystal mining, and
3)Tourism
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« Reply #9 on: 06 24, 2008, 09:07: PM »

Tourism...
I can barely imagine that, to be honest, although I'd be one frequent guest 8-)
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« Reply #10 on: 01 19, 2009, 06:39: AM »

I am sure during Period when the Klingon Empire and the Federation are at peace, Klingon Adventure as a Tourist is likely pretty common. Where as the Federation is filled with planets that can apeal to the historial or Sociolist, Nothing screams exotic adventure like the Klingon Empire.

I suck at Economics, my best guess is that the Klingon Economy has a large food base to it. Unlike the Feration that uses a lot of replcation [Recycling at its best] Klingon eat raisse and often live food. The likely underwrites the base of the Econamy and since it all largely to be consumed in the Empire it creates a nice cycle of support.
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« Reply #11 on: 01 27, 2009, 02:19: PM »

Well the theld barred child has done nothing to earn such support. When I speak of Imperial government housing, this is not a handout, but a reward for service. The soldier gets to live in a barracks, but once out of the service, is entitled to housing based on service and rank, but will only advance based on continued service in the new field. The chef who operates a restaurant with no customers, will fail just as much as the warrior who never wins a battle. The chef however must live with his defeat and the fact that he may not advance, or even retreat into lower housing.

The child has no record of service in any field. Houses take care of their young until they can begin to take care of themselves. Without this infrastructure, survival chances are limited. Should she survive, by non-criminal means, she would likely go into military service, as there are always openings, but she would likely never be an officer unless she distinguishes herself early on. On the other hand, she might find a tradesman who is accepting enough to take her in as an apprentice, but that is unlikely, as the stigma of being theld barred would likely keep that from happening.

Cruel by human standards, but no so by Klingon ones.
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« Reply #12 on: 02 05, 2009, 11:38: PM »

(Edited by Author)


There are several questions asked in this thread that piqued my interest. Firstly that of the idea that it is dishonourable to bring down a house using money, that is true but surly it is normal or encouraged to amass wealth to secure ships, warriors and armaments. Other wise there would never have been any drive to grow and develop technology beyond the level required to sustain your self.

The other question being that of Economic Drive, This is a difficult one to fathom on this scale. As current economic theory does not really allow for itself to be expanded to this scale, but here goes…

There are a few things that can be seen as basic building blocks of an economic model one is Supply and Demand (1) Which governs the fact that when there is a need/want for something demand will attempt to rise to the occasion. Its ability to do so governs price, and thusly there is an equilibrium point in the graph. As we have seen evidence of trade and haggling amongst Klingon society in a few of the books (2) there is defiantly commerce especially as several aspects of Klingon society value authenticity (3).
   A second component is that in a matter of speaking in culture and psychology. It depends on what area of society we are looking at and what of there needs are being met by what. One theory that may help is that of the Hierarchy of needs (4) as once all basic needs are met one can advance on to other things and if everything of the lower orders is being provided for you then other things can be sought. The top tier of this framework is that of self actualisation, or reaching your potential/doing what you enjoy. This could be a reason for little emphasis on money in the areas or society we are shown by Star Trek, as we mainly see the more elite ends of society. However this self aggrandisement comes at a price which is why it is in most cases that we are used to in standard economics vital that money is a part of it.

One thing that confuses me and causes problems is that of the fact that the Klingon Empire is not one area and differing resources will be present in differing areas, also that of how much the government takes a hand in the economic structure of the empire, In the federation there is indeed talk of credits, and one officer talks about dabbling in the Ferengi exchanges and having moderate success, (5) but in First Contact there is mention that the economy of the future is different and financial gain is not its focus, also that the people don’t get paid. However again this is only in the service of star fleet. As a federation there is possibility of each of the planets being a separate authority allowing for some degree of external control over certain aspects of economic life. A long the line of the European Union (some degree of economic integration and tax uniformity with in a political bodies sphere of influence, cynically speaking it is useful as a way to avoid war fare with in a large sphere of influence by making it cripplingly expensive to do so. This partly is some of the thinking behind modern economic set up and things like Free Trade areas (6) and the World Trade Organisation (7), (although according to lecturers of mine this is rarely alluded to.)

I guess that the Klingon economy is partly that of a “Permanent war economy” [8], Basically the economy being used as an opiate to keep its base populace happy and from rising to topple the supposed elite or at least more favoured parts of society. Whilst as well as this it bolsters the production of ships weapons and the like. Which as far as I am aware the Klingon Defence force doesn’t undertake the manufacture of themselves. So it is possible parts of the economy are aided by government contracts   

Reference:

(1)   Supply and demand - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supply_and_demand

(2)   Starfleet Passport & A Burning house

(3)   You are cordially invited DS9 – Sirella’s reaction to the candles

(4)   Hierarchy of needs - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow's_hierarchy_of_needs

(5)   One of the stories in (I think) Aftermath – Starfleet corps of Engineers

(6)   Free Trade Areas - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_trade_area

(7)   World Trade Organisation. - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Trade_Organization

[8]   Permanent war economy - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Permanent_war_economy
« Last Edit: 02 23, 2009, 04:33: PM by Kvoth » Logged

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« Reply #13 on: 07 10, 2010, 04:51: AM »

I always thought the economy drive for the Klingon Empire was whatever goes to make money to fuel war operations..

But like alot of warrior societies, the warriors forget their is a lower poorer class inwhich who's backs they walk on, and are the corner stone and true makeup of the Empire. Without the miners, and farmers, and Tailors, and Blacksmiths, there would be no buildings, ships, food, clothes, etc. for the warriors to use.

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« Reply #14 on: 07 10, 2010, 06:47: AM »

Within Klingon society, money comes with power but is not in and of itself power, nr does it bring power with it. The Chancellor gets a pallace because he is in power, he does not become Chancellor because he has a nice house.

I think it is less a state of permanent war as a state of permanent expansion. War is in effect the tool of that expansion. Now I also think that the Empire being such a large place, most military needs are met by direct materials acquisition and not by monetary transaction. The government already owns the mines and the mills, so the metal needed for a new battle cruiser is not bought so mush as it is requisitioned.

On a smaller personal level things may be bought, a meal at a restaurant, a new suit of clothes. However these are in addition to what is provided for you. We have seen in the example of the young girl in P & S that there are food rations, however I do not think that was just because of the famine. I think her rations may have been reduced by the situation but rationing is definitely in effect. I expect that each citizen is allotted a certain amount of food. Priority is given to the military and those that need to maintain strength, builders and food producers. A housless child is probably fairly low on that list, and as we have seen may not even get onto that list without working for it. Whereas I doubt that the child of a High Councilor ever has to worry about being hungry.

Take a miner, he works for the government and earns a basic salary. He lives in the housing provided and wears the clothing provided. However the mine has exceeded production quotas this month so there is a small bonus payed out. He in turn is able to buy more food or nicer clothes, or any other leisure item. By earning this bonus, he also contributes to the overall status of his house. This is how a house gains status, by the actions of it's members. This translates into power/status. This may also explain why it is advantageous for a small house to join with a larger house. The small house gets the benefit of more power and the larger house gets the benefit of more earning potential.

My theory extends to the High Council, in that I think it is made up of the 12 most powerful houses. Remember when Worf's house earned a seat, it was perfectly acceptable to have Kurn seated instead of Worf, which means it wasn't an individual honor. We have also seen how the house lost the seat and the effect it had on Kurn, while Worf, living in the UFP was relatively insulated from that dishonor.
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