COMMUNICATION FROM ARKAY OF KORENDOR
Date of reception: 10 Jan 1991
Love and light, my Terran friends. In reviewing the text of the first of this series of messages, which I wrote on September 15th of 1989, I made the closing observation that it would be an interesting year to come. To say the least, that prediction was certainly an understatement.
The total failure of Communism and the fascinating series of events in the Middle East have given new meaning to the concept of the End Times that make up the book of Revelation in the Bible.
This message will not be devoted to that topic, but I will cover it in detail as the need arises. The subject of this communication is the Universal Economics system. This will be a basic introduction, with the possibility of a more complete study at some later date.
To begin, UnEc (yoo-neck) is based on the almost universal principle of free enterprise and profit. The system called "socialism" that your world is seemingly enamored of is an aberration. Its premise is excellent, but it fails because it relies on human perfection for its success, and we are imperfect human beings.
Socialism does not work because it invites abuse, and the invitation is readily accepted by those who "look out for number one", as you say. It is an ideal society looking for ideal people.
Returning to UnEc, this economic system is the standard for the Alliance and all of its worlds. Similar methods are used by the Confederation, but they do not call it UnEc.
The unit of exchange is the Tara. Note that it is the same term used in Taralingua, and means "common". Multiples of it are referred to by our standard prefixes, which I will provide in a later communication on our system of weights and measures. If we were to compare it to your dollar, as of the time of this writing it would be valued at 57.3 cents.
The first important consideration about UnEc is that it is computerized. There is no "currency" as you use it. All transactions from the smallest of personal purchases to the largest-scale economic dealings of the Alliance are handled electronically. "Pocket change" and a wallet full of bills don't exist.
Since your world is moving slowly but surely to a "paperless" economy, it might be interesting for you to reflect upon a quote from your Holy Works: "No man might buy or sell, save that he had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name."
This reference to the omninous "666", found in Revelation 13:17, is given immediacy when you consider how very simply a computer-based economy could exclude from the market anyone who did not have a card coded with the digits "666" as part of the account number. Sleep well tonight, reader!
The UnEc master computer is sited in a facility on the planet Egan-Dra, in the system of the star Egan, unknown to you except as a number in the larger star catalogs. The Alliance's entire economy revolves about that complex.
Lest you wonder, the entire system has two backups on two other worlds in widely-separated sectors of the galaxy, which do not process day-to-day data, but are updated at regular intervals by the central complex. The loss of the Egan-Dra computers would be a serious situation, but not a disaster.
The main complex is fed by two-way sub-space data links from every world of the Alliance. The transactions for each planet are handled by the world's CEC, the Central Economics Center. The computers record all financial activity for the planet, and ten times each day relay their accumulated data to the Egan-Dra system.
In turn, the CEC is the the focal point of a planet-wide network of area computers that process what you would call the "busy-work" of the economy. They link all the data terminals accessed by "end users", from the customer accounting systems of huge retailers to the home terminals with which citizens handle their personal financial business.
Personal activity is ordinarily confined to the area computer that the citizen is connected to, with updates to higher system levels only when the account exceeds a "trigger level" of change, or when the citizen utilizes his account outside of the coverage of his own area computer. This minimizes the amount of data that must be transmitted at the network level. It makes no sense to bother the machines on Egan-Dra for the purchase of a pack of gum, so to speak.
It can be seen, then, that the UnEc network has progressively higher levels of priority based on the nature of the business being transacted. In the end, of course, Egan-Dra gets the data about even that pack of gum, but at intervals that might extend to many days if the degree of activity is high for long periods. The system is, after all, working with the data from about 750,000 planets in the Alliance, and some things take precedence.
Let us consider an average citizen whom we shall call Kal-Thar - perhaps in a future contact I will reveal the significance of that name, which I also used in an earlier message. This man is employed by Wonder Widgets Inc., of Vrell City, and earns a base pay of 2000 taras per week. We will consider what happens as he goes through his daily routines, and look at how his various economic affairs are handled.
To begin, all pay is via salary. UnEc does not recognize hourly pay. At the appointed time on "pay-day", his employer's computer transfers to the area computer a credit equal to his salary. This becomes his new balance.
It is also possible that if his balance goes negative or if he desires it for any good reason, the employer can transfer an advance on his week's pay, or on pay for any period up to twenty pay periods ahead. This may be a full advance or just a percentage. It is not a loan. It is his pay obtained early.
If he leaves his job before the pre-pay amount is covered, he will make good the difference. This seldom occurs because in our society an occupation is entered with the full expectation of a life-long career. There are changes, of course, but they are uncommon.
I must point out here that basic items such as staple foods, standard clothing and shelter are provided free of charge as part of the fundamental rights as a citizen of the Alliance, and are underwritten by the Alliance itself. Poverty and hunger do not exist in our system, because the individual's health and welfare are the foremost concerns of our society.
This is NOT socialism. We consider the necessities of life to be as much a right of the citizen as air to breathe and water to drink. As well, there is no unemployment, because we have more work than workers on most worlds, and we are raised from childhood with the "work ethic" firmly ingrained in us. It would be unthinkable for us to accept the rights without the responsibilities that they carry.
Because of that, the basics are not handouts, but rather a part of the rewards of being a contributing member of Alliance society. In that respect, we consider ALL occupations as equally important. From the CEO of a large industry to the home-maker (housewife, to use your demeaning term), every man and woman is a vital part of society. We have no "class distinctions", no elite or common people, no snobbery or social "upper crust". Equality is our way of life.
Note that the basics are available to every citizen of whatever economic station, but it is usual for a person of good financial standing to waive the rights to the basics, preferring to purchase them and thus free the basics for more needy individuals. This is not mandated except by personal concern for the welfare of the less fortunate. Returning now to Kal-Thar, his account balance may be accessed by both his home terminal and a "debit card", so to speak, that carries his UnEc file number and other information for use away from home.
The home terminal will be his most common method of financial transaction. From there, he can link with everything that Korendor has to offer a citizen. He can order the week's "groceries"; purchase new clothing tailored to his precise measurements as stored in the terminal's database; register for an entertainment event across the planet and automatically be provided lodging and round-trip transportation; request a new home in a certain location, be provided a listing of all that conform to his specifications and price range, and with a password have the entire transaction completed in seconds.
This gives just the barest sample of the economic power that the citizen has at his fingertips without leaving home. The UnEc card allows this same freedom of access at any terminal in the Alliance, and is his "cash" at any retail or commercial establishments.
In short, Kal-Thar's control of his finances is vastly improved over what your primitive economic system affords your people. You are headed in the proper direction with "paperless" finances, but this is merely the first step. UnEc is far more than computers and convenience.
One of the major headaches that plague your people is credit, the act of borrowing against future earning and repaying with burdensome interest. This is a foolish and financially deadly way of doing business.
The major use of credit is buying those things that are too costly to obtain with cash, and in many if not most cases the items so purchased are luxuries without a trace of real worth or usefulness. This illuminates another fundamental difference between our two cultures.
I speak of my own world now when I note that unlike Terrans, we are not "thing-oriented". Our philosophy is that material possessions are to be our servants, not our idols. We do not go on quests to amass material wealth, no matter what the cost or consequences.
It is not uncommon for your people to go into debt to possess items of no value beyond the satisfaction of owning them. The pleasure of having replaces the joy of using, and the value is in the cost rather than the function.
The definition of "rich" in Terran culture is the possession of vast wealth. It seems to be a noble goal to become a "millionaire". Your "lotteries" flourish because of the foolish dreams of people who want an instant road to wealth, when in many cases they are unable to justify the expense of the ticket needed to enter. It is wisely said by your people that lotteries are taxes on the mathematically incompetent.
What, then, is the value of being "filthy rich", as you say? Do most who say, "If only I had a million dollars!" really stop to consider whether this would be a positive experience in their lives? If wasteful spending on costly, meaningless trash is the Terran idea of happiness, then a reordering of your priorities is overdue. In the end, all the person will have is an amassing of expensive junk, and will be as unhappy and unfulfilled as before, perhaps even more so because of disillusionment.
As for those who are wealthy, what is their goal in life but to possess even more? It is a truism that when one values wealth over contentment, then he will never be content with wealth. I point out such notable people of wealth as Donald Trump, who vast fortunes all but vanished amidst a life of personal disaster and emptiness, and the late Howard Hughes, whose life was a sheer nightmare of paranoid fantasies and irrational phobias.
The possession of wealth is not a guarantee of happiness. It is possible to be happy despite wealth, but almost impossible to be happy because of it. The loneliness of the very rich, their frantic searching for new sensations to sate their jaded appetites, and the all too common ruination of their lives is more than ample proof that, as you say, "money can't buy happiness".
Yet, the insane seeking after the elusive phantasm of wealth continues. The UnEc system cannot function where the goal of the individual is to become rich. Its very nature presupposes the desire of the citizen to conduct finances with wisdom and responsibility, and to be the master of his material world rather than its grasping slave.
This discussion began with the mention of credit as an evil. The UnEc system, although it permits borrowing, is not oriented to it. Borrowing is almost always for business reasons, and is from a pool of Alliance funds rather than from lending institutions. There is no interest on such loans, and the repayment schedule is established by Alliance UnEc representatives and the economists in the borrowing company, based on projected income.
Credit cards, one of your most disastrous inventions short of nuclear weaponry, are unknown in UnEc. Your people are mired in major financial difficulties precisely because of the ready access to "cheap" credit that invites exactly the flagrant spending that I cited earlier.
"Plastic money" will destroy your country and your people through ruining America's economy. Personal debt in your nation rises at an outrageous rate while saving money, which used to be the way to obtain funds for major purchases, is all but passe. The lure of immediate ownership overwhelms the reality of the cost of instant gratification.
As you say, "The piper must be paid", and rest assured that it will be at 18% compounded interest. That is too big a price for the dance.
Whereas your society is killing itself with credit, UnEc is based on the time-honored principle of saving to provide for the future. One means to saving is with the very same personal account that the citizen uses for all his needs, and is as simple as spending less than one earns. As such, there is no interest paid on saving in this way.
A second method involves assigning income to a savings program managed by the Alliance. This is done through the home terminal. A percentage of one's pay is transferred to the program at intervals chosen by the citizen, much as your people purchase "Savings Bonds" on a regular basis. This money is then used as a loan by the Alliance, and it pays interest for the use as long as it is in the program.
Program savings can be withdrawn at any time without penalty, and the interest will continue to be paid until the moment of withdrawal, which is a transfer of the program savings back into the standard UnEc account. The rate of interest paid makes this a very attractive proposition for those with funds that can be invested for a long period.
This question is no doubt arising in your minds: that is good for usual purchases, but what about the huge cost of purchasing a home, a new vehicle, or some other "high-ticket" item? How can UnEc possibly avoid credit for those things? Once more, we will extol the value of UnEc as the Alliance-wide economic system, and the power that it provides for all of its citizens.
I mentioned earlier that a pool of funds is maintained by the Alliance for the purpose of loans. While this pool is typically used by business, it is also available through the planetary CEC to individuals. Let us consider the purchase of a new home.
If it is a new home, it is offered through a commercial vendor similar in function to your real estate agentry. If it is one presently occupied or in the possession of an individual, that person will place it on the listings that we discussed earlier, a service that, like every other on the network, is free of charge.
The prospective buyer finds a home that he wants, but determines that his account cannot provide the cost of the home. Enter the Alliance pool. By logging in through the CEC, he is able to transfer a copy of the home listing to the pool controllers, who evaluate the listing based on a rating system of up to a hundred different points. If it within their criteria for the quoted price, the rest is handled in a few seconds by the CEC.
If not, the seller is contacted immediately via the network and asked whether the quoted price is firm or is negotiable. If it is flexible, the deal is made at that time. If the seller is not in a negotiating mood, the CEC will politely notify him that the pool is closed to prospective buyers for the home, a lockout that usually puts a big dent in their armor of stubbornness.
Assuming that the price is proper to the CEC, the computer then quickly evaluates the financial status of the buyer, and suggests several options for payment to the pool. The buyer chooses one, and in seconds the purchase price is in the seller's UnEc account, all legal transactions for the transfer of ownership are accomplished, and the buyer owns a new home.
As with business loans, there is no interest charged for pool funds. The repayment schedules are very flexible and open to change at any time through the CEC. The Alliance views the pool as a service to be gladly rendered to its citizens in honor of their continuing contributions to the Alliance. Access to it is made as simple and liberal as possible, so that the citizens can benefit from the Alliance even as the Alliance gains from them.
Thusfar, we have dealt only with the personal aspects of UnEc, and there are many more that haven't been covered at all. However, I wish to spend a few moments on the way that UnEc is run on the Alliance level, to view the "big picture", as you say.
One critical factor in UnEc is that, under the system, taxation is not used to finance Alliance government. If this seems to be difficult to accept, bear with me. Let us reason together. Terran governments are uniformly financed by taxation of the people, on the theory that if one wants a service, one should be willing to pay for it. In principle, this is quite proper, but in practice it fails because of the error in assuming that all the people should pay for the services that not all use.
Another misconception is that the government should be expected to offer a wide range of services. For example, the federal government in your nation operates the Postal Service, and no greater an example of inefficiency and waste can be found than when a national government seeks to do something best left to private business.
It is not my intention to fill the text of this message with ways to put the U.S. government on an even keel. I mention this only to say that the many services often thought appropriate to government are in fact utterly alien to that environment. The U.S. mails are just one example of an operation that could be far better handled by private concerns. Indeed, the proliferation of "fax" machines in America proves that business can no longer put their faith in the mail service. The Alliance government oversees just three concerns:
• Legislation and enforcement of laws;
• Maintaining and deploying an effective military force;
• Administering the Universal Economics system.
These functions are obviously in the realm of government control. In our view, that is the extent of involvement that a government should possess. There is no other activity that cannot be dealt with equitably and efficiently by private resources. In our society, with its foundations on principles long ago given by God to us, those three things are all that our governments need do. We the people will do the rest.
We suggest that you study the information presented very closely. Your computer technology will soon be capable of handling every detail of the Universal Economics system with great ease and speed.
You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. I am ArKay. Va I luce.
© 2008 Robert P. Renaud -- all rights reserved