Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Apocalypse Profiteering

make or seek to make an excessive or unfair profit, especially illegally or in a black market.

For the vast majority of transhumanity, the Fall is effectively a cultural touchstone. While not all cultures and polities have the same thoughts, reactions or responses to the Fall, nearly everyone was affected by it in some way. Only the most blase of cultures fails to treat the Fall and circumstances surrounding it with due respect - though what "due respect" is differs from group to group (For instance, many a Scum swarm finds the equivalent of "pouring one out" on a swarm-wide scale due respect). The Fall is also relatively recent, and thus most people have a clear memory of it. But, for some the Fall did not turn into an unbelievable tragedy. While some might have comments about the Planetary Consortium, Tharsis League - or even movements like Anarchism or Exhumanism "profiting" from the Fall, this is rarely seen, or more importantly demonstrable, as literal. But for some, literal profit was had - and this has very stern connotations for the surviving transhumans.

"Apocalypse Profiteering", or sometimes just "Fall Profiteering" (though "apocalypse" is often used for stronger connotation) is the term used to refer to gaining vast personal wealth at the expense of others during the Fall; usually through either forewarning (from high level government or corporate connections) or just lucky positioning to take advantage of desperate, endangered people. In many polities, the act of apocalypse profiteering is seen as a war crime, or a crime against transhumanity - which often results in permanent cold storage and seizure of assets. Even the Planetary Consortium has moved against some profiteers who do not adequately participate in their system of government. Some circles of Oligarchs too, are against profiteers as a kind of nouveau riche, and criminal organizations with certain value systems or histories (Such as the Triads or Night Cartel) will refuse business with profiteers, or only work with them for incredibly inflated prices. This means many profiteers, often corporate persons, former government officials, or just people with the right connections, have to either hide the sources of their vast wealth or flee to the fringe where people will still accept their money. The Ultimates have no problem taking money from anyone, as do several of the more ruthless criminal syndicates - such as Nine Lives. Extropian autonomists generally detest working with profiteers, but like with some criminals will accept their money; at well above normal market rates.

Common profiteer schemes go from simple, to complex and sociopathic. Basic methods involved what amounts to insider trading (selling/buying stock based on knowledge of the Fall), extortion (huge price hikes to use orbital spacecraft, egocasters or space elevators), smuggling (arranging the movement of valuable objects such as art, or information off planet to sell), fraud (selling of Earth real estate which is no longer of value), and embezzlement (transferring funds, then allowing the Fall to destroy evidence). These are somewhat commonplace, and the least offensive sorts of conduct - people will disrespect those who did it and may seek compensation, but if there is no proof, most are allowed to continue their existence with their ill-gotten gains. More serious crimes also exist, however: Literal genocides of people for ideological, or more frequently to gain profit by taking the deceased possessions. Forknapping or collecting Egos of persons to trade - knowing about the future rise of the Indenture market. Arranging permanent ego death of rivals to gain money. Patenting or stealing research on valuable information or military technology which could have contributed to the Fall to sell afterward. These are serious allegations, the likes of which will lead to ostracization and exile if discovered. There are several Extropian bank/bounty houses who maintain running tallies of funds (or an equivalent rep or raw material bonus) for the death or capture of these serious criminals.

"Post-Fall" profiteering is also known, though generally not as widely hated. Many persons have abused those forced to flee the Earth, such as buying their possessions for cheap, then turning around to cash in on the "Earth nostalgia" which has since swept the Solar System. Or buying rights to ships or habs to vastly overcharge refugees, and then displace them or seize their assets for profit. This is sadly more common (and some would argue ongoing) but has a much smaller social stigma, as it is disconnected from the Fall directly, and begins to blur lines with some post-Fall "profit" arguments which can be made about other groups - as noted above.

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