I’m really glad all of the state-run industries are in the mix, and while I have general feedback on all of them the Postal Service has really caught my eye.
I’m not seeing any effects other than the standard state-run stuff, but a few could make sense:
It should increase productivity. Think about how much the retail world depends on the postal service! Sure, private companies help, but the low cost of a state system makes Amazon or Etsy work so much better, not to mention mailed offers and the like.
A strong economy should increase profits/reduce revenue. Unlike, say, power or water, Postal Services are tied to the economy
It could have a slight impact on congestion.
Should impact trade unionists, too!
This might be a stretch, but the USA situation shows that a postal service is important to democracy, too, with mail in ballots (maybe another policy option to allow, unto itself)
Thanks for reading! Love any thoughts on these ideas.
Imo, providing almost any utility at high funding ought to increase productivity.
Like, if you have rail, and you heavily subsidize it, you are effectively paying not just for travellers but also for big coorps and traders to ship their goods for them.
Same for postal service or state aircraft.
In case of electricity and telecom, you are offsetting their electricity and telecom bills as well. And guaranteeing (again, at high spending), a service that’s gonna be more stable than most private companies can accomplish (because they have to remain profitable)
Water is a different matter I guess.
I mean, I guess it increases the productivity of farmers? Fewer negative health consequences from polluted water, maybe?
That being said I’m also not quite sure how that policy is thought to work. Like, sure, you can just produce more water for less money? But the reality of that is gonna vary wildly from place to place.
It could mean you invest a lot in recapture and recycling, which is definitely a very environmentally beneficial take on the issue.
It could mean you’re actively importing water from places that have more.
Or it could mean you’re increasing the pumping of local aquifers beyond natural replenishment rates, which initially seems like totally free water, but eventually, after decades of this practice, will end up depriving your local resources, causing increased droughts and other terrible side effects. But anyway…
Additionally there might be cross effects. Most of these utilities would probably help each other:
- Being in charge of both water and electricity might mean it’s cheaper to do any kind of water-based power plant.
- Providing electricity and telephone/internet service seems pretty closely related so there should be small cost savings from overlap.
- The postal service is gonna benefit from both rail and air travel. (Faster, cheaper deliveries, and therefore more productivity overall, as essential goods reach their destination more quickly)
I do see the logic of getting a little bump n productivity from the massive costs of high funding on state services. (There’s really not much reason to put all that money in at the moment beyond socialist zealotry). But they probably shouldn’t turn a profit or aid the economy (beyond state rail influencing freight efficiency)
You could argue the private industry equivalents should get a bump too by that logic, but they help the GDP. There definitely ought to be a reason to do it. The state post should certainly influence democracy too.
Imo that should simply be disambiguated. Right now, at low “funding”, you end up making money. But that’s not how that ought to work.
You ought to be able to do two separate things:
- Invest in these utilities
- ask for usage fees
You could but don’t have to make any of these utilities free.
Technically you could also be selective about it. Like, here most rail would not make a profit, so it’s subsidized to make it viable. But there is a couple lines that are profitable and those aren’t subsidized. I understand that kind of nuance would be very hard to fit on the current model though.
Also it still seems silly to me that any of these are all-or-nothing in terms of state-ownership. Certainly, school, healthcare and pensions don’t work that way and neither ought these utilities, unless you not only get yourself such services but also outright forbid private companies from existing (as is possible for schooling and healthcare)
The reason basically is this: If you invest without having to worry about costs, you can provide these services to far more people (and, since these are utilities, also companies). You don’t have to keep costs down. If you want to build a rail station in Nowayr (Population 3), you can do that. Is it sensible? Probably not. But while a company would never do such a thing, an extremely wellfunded governmental railway program just might.
I’d not be against, in exchange, bumping up the ceiling of possible spending. - Perhaps using a similar idea to the fusion policy. Precisely replacing private sector services should probably be about in the middle of the slider and if you move past that, cost starts really exploding, but you ought to see benefits as well.
At max cost it should be like, you attempt to provide (in case of rail) every single household with a station connecting it nationally with, say, hourly trains, such that the station isn’t further away than a 15min walk by foot. The cost would be utterly insane. Probably no amount of taxes could offset it unless you also cut other high cost policies (like pensions or healthcare) completely. But the game should allow you to do that.
Its a fair point, and TBH one I had not thought of, that exceedingly high spending on state utilities should affect productivity because of the service they provide, I can definitely see that argument…
I also remember (just about) a lot of state run industries in the UK when I was way younger, and the word ‘productivity’ certainly does not come to mind. It definitely meant much stronger unions, very commonplace strikes, and some very weird working practices. (only a designated screw-fitter could use a screwdriver etc).
I guess you could argue that the economy-wide productivity boost from having a well-funded and invested industry would outweigh the productivity-reducing effects of a stronger and more powerful union. We already model the effects (IIRC) of state indystries on union membership, and through that, the chances of striks, so maybe I do need to add productivity boosts at high investment levels…
Great thoughts! I had the same hesitations about productivity, but I think you’re right that the other pro-labor elements would serve that purpose.
Another thought I had about this would be to have higher and higher levels of funding feed corruption, the idea being that as monye pours in it’s harder to keep track of (the American Department of Defense is a gold-start example!). This would give more juice to the corruption factor and the policies that fight it. So spend away, but at some point you’ve gotta check it.
Then does corruption on its own also impact productivity? Maybe, to counteract the improvements to productivity reducing unemployment brings, which would be in turn heightened by the funding levels. But now are we too circular?
Corruption upsets people, makes voters think the president cant be trusted, and affects the level of stability…which will affect investment etc, but I think it is a fair point to say super high state funding likely causes some corruption…
Returning to the original point though, while I agree and would advocate that all public systems would provide the productivity benefit, I wanna again highlight that the post office has a unique feature in making an economy hum. Even if it is inefficient or even corrupt internally, the more days of sertive, the longer offices are open, and so forth, all aid the economy greatly.
I’d argue a very (like, ridiculously) well funded state run industry is gonna also have the ability to give in to worker demands pretty quickly, thereby quelling strikes sooner rather than later. Strikes tend to be associated with spending cuts. And they also happen in the private sector. (Something the game mostly ignores right now)
If, say, a private flight company steers towards cutting all costs radically, and suddenly “pilot” goes from being a coveted job to one that’s actually getting rather crummy pay given the amount of work being put in, people will strike. A lot. And flights will be cancelled. And despite this being a private company, it will have big effects on the public.
Would perhaps be more of an event than a situation though, because short of privatizing air travel or seriously slashing worker and/or consumer rights, you’ll have little control over these strikes.
Good point about the private sector! Strikes in any of these industries could be solved but a well funded public replacement.
As much of a socialist I am, I do feel the game ought to model some degree of unionized corruption under the correct circumstances. Perhaps the productivity hits of labour rights, workers on boards, maternity leave, work safety etc could be rolled back and poured into a red situation that pops when unions are overindulged?
Those increase trade union membership.
So maybe this could feed into corruption simulation.
I feel like the policies themselves shouldn’t natively cause corruption, otherwise there’s literally no reason to have them. Besides which, the concept of unionism isn’t by its nature corrupt, unchecked power is. I’m saying if unionised corruption is going to be modelled it ought to be this ugly tipping point moment.
In the new version, corruption does increase.
It only happens at very high levels. I think the logic is that at extreme levels of funding there is more power and thus shenanigans.
It was state stuff increasing corruption.
So amount of trade unionists also increase corruption?
Corrupt leaders still get elected and have big followings, so I imagine there could be something which you do in game which makes people happy even though you’re real corrupt?
What are your thoughts on emulating a private postal industry? What do you think Cliff?