Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Little Star Wars Economics

What occupations exist in the Star Wars universe? Let's count them off:

Government (lots and lots of it)
Military (Stormtrooper, Jedi, palace security, assassins, body doubles, undersea cops, and of course the cloners)
Bartenders and entertainers at bars (possibly one greasy spoon chef/informant, I'm not sure whether it's a diner or a bar)
Subsistence farmer - 1
Used car salesmen
Nomads and hermits
Criminal elements - Mafia, gamblers and their jockeys, smugglers, presumably some slavers

Anybody else? In the entire far far away galaxy?

One might think that there is a middle class keeping everything running. At least finance. After all, the prequels *spit* tell us right from the outset there is an Evil Trade Federation that allies itself with shadowy groups like Merchants and Commerce. Gotta be a few pin-striped bankers in there somewhere, right?

Well, what do these supposed industrialist financiers do? They order military around, vote in the senate, and use force to get sovereign governments to sign treaties. ... They sound a lot like governments, actually! We never see any financing, never hear of anything being produced other than military units (and those are produced by machine - no factory workers in the universe), never meet salesmen or mid-level managers, no engineers, no scientists, no attorneys (clearly an oversight by Lucas - how can you have an evil Empire without lawyers?) or CPAs to help you avoid paying taxes to the various federations and the Empire, no education facilities except for Jedi Younglings, no media, no fashion industry (insert snarky comment here) ... no film makers. Any medical work I recall was done by droids.

Actually, there is one Legitimate Businessman in the entire double trilogy: Lando, legitimate businessman. What does his legitimate business consist of? Mostly bribing the government to not regulate him. ... Oh dear.

Who makes the ships? Who repairs them? We only see people buy used parts but no assembly. There is some work for translators, but droids do that too so the wage is probably really close to 0. WHAT GOES ON IN THIS ECONOMY?

Is there anyone more familiar with the extra-canonical literature who can recommend some other occupations? Wookiepiedia is not much help. It's largely about the economic history: there is trade between planets, but no people who are making the products and no one trading them except smugglers. No technological progress over time, furthering my assertion there are no engineers, inventors, scientists, or even app writers.

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