[MUD-Dev] Curtailing the 'Super-Rich Effect'

Matt Mihaly the_logos at achaea.com
Wed Apr 11 18:58:27 New Zealand Standard Time 2001


On Tue, 10 Apr 2001, Lynx wrote:

> At 06:27 PM 4/9/01 +0000, you wrote:
 
>> 1) I'm a realist and I like to see an /appearance/ of reality -
>> although yeah, 'real' reality is impossible - in MUDs.

So you want most of your playerbase in poverty then?

  
>> On the other hand, there are few super-rich in RL, certainly fewer
>> per capita than in MUDs. I would guess that the reason is simple
>> enough: RL, it costs a lot to be rich.
 
>> Think about it. Rich people have to guard their wealth. They have
>> to hire staff to clean their mansions and take care of minor
>> affairs.  As a general rule, they have to be generous and give
>> money to this and that foundation for sick puppy dogs. They have to
>> throw elaborate parties to maintain the impression of being
>> rich. Hell, in many societies, all the costs of being rich have
>> driven the rich into debt and poverty (Victorian europe, Tokugawa
>> Japan are two examples I can think of... but in Tokugawa Japan, the
>> samurai could always kill the moneylenders. (More often they just
>> unilaterally declared their debts to be gone.))

I think you've seen too many movies. What is this "guard your wealth"
nonsense? If you wish to be rich and virtually eliminate your risk of
losing your money, invest in the safest investment in the world: US
Treasuries. The only money-related hassles that mega-rich people
experience are self-inflicted.

And as for all this about throwing parties etc etc, I have to say,
bollocks. I know a couple families/individuals worth well over 100
million (one 5th generation family worth half a billion), and they
would laugh at what you're saying. They don't throw big parties, and
they are some of the most lovely, down-to-earth people I know. Being
ultra-rich is not a burden to them, I assure you.

> The problem there is that MUD living expenses generally take one of
> two forms:
 
> 1) Taxes. If flat rate, players that *don't* money farm are slammed
> hard, whereas those that do are still richer...it's just now instead
> of being 1000 gold to 10,000, it's 100 to 1000. Still unpleasant. %
> based taxes, on the other hand, hit everyone equally, however if you
> have 10000 gold, you still have more after the taxes than the person
> with 1000 gold; in effect, you just amass wealth x% slower.

What? First, you need to specify what kind of taxes you're talking
about. You seem to be treating taxes as if there's only one possible
kind of tax on one kind of income. The way you envision taxes is
draconian enough that if any country in the physical world started
taxing that way, the result would be that all the investment would
flee the country overnight, unless the country was offering investment
opportunities with astronomical returns, or had imposed barriers to
transferring money out of the country.

In your first example, you say "....it's just now instead of being
1000 gold to 10,000 gold, it's 100 to 1000." I'm not sure exactly what
you mean here actually. Do you mean that someone imposed a 90% tax on
your assets? Do you mean that the incomes of people A and B last year
were 1000 and 10000 and there is a 90% income tax on both of them
(that's a flat rate tax incidentally, though you seem to imply it's
not).

In any case, you have to quantify what you're taxing, and how you're
going to tax it. In the physical world, there are various categories
of income, all taxed potentially differently, and generally there was,
at least originally, a reason for it (I'm not sure you can reasonably
say that a tax system with as many laws as the USs is that logically
organized on systemic principles anymore, but luckily, we aren't
dealing with environments anywhere near as complex as a real economy
with 280 million people). For instance, you've got earned income,
which is things like wages from a job. Unearned income, which could be
flow-through profits from a partnership. Capital gains (possibly a
form of unearned income, I'm not actually sure, but taxed at a
different rate), which are generally triggered as a taxable event upon
sale of the asset, are a tax on capital appreciation of an asset
(selling stocks at a profit for instance).

You can place taxes on transactions, such as buying something, or even
giving something away (most states in the US have a sales tax, for
instance). You can tax the mere possession of something like
property. You could tax all property, investments, etc (which is what
you seemed to be proposing) but any significant tax on principal, for
instance, as opposed to interest or capital gains, would be a disaster
I'd say.

In any case, my point is that there are innumerable ways to tailor a
tax system to do what you want. For instance, in Achaea, we have
property taxes on player-run shops. The tax is defined by the city
government, and they appraise the value of each shop. The tax is a
yearly tax on the value of the shop, ie a property tax. Shop revenues
are not taken into account. The reason we tax the property rather than
the revenue, is because a) We didn't wish to drive trade underground,
ie player to player instead of player-shop-player, and b) The
stockrooms of shops prevent most items from decaying. We wanted to
make sure that people who were just using shops as storage (ie
generating no revenue) had to pay something for it. In the future,
we'll also let cities benefit (without revenue taxation) somehow from
the trade conducted in their player shops, to create an incentive for
cities to evict owners who aren't actually conducting business from
their shops.

 
--matt

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