On the economic costs of space travel

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Naïve mind
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On the economic costs of space travel

Postby Naïve mind » 03 Jan 2013 01:52

As Anathema wrote in this post:

Anathema wrote:- space travel is expensive, and makes it unpractical for the rank-and-file members of the Landsraad to travel for every other issue.


I have to disagree. While there are many instances in Dune where the Guild is cursed for its extortionate practices, it almost always relates to the price of transporting (military) personnel. As a contrast, this quote from Duke Leto:


"Few products escape the CHOAM touch," the Duke said. "Logs, donkeys, horses, cows, lumber, dung, sharks, whale fur -- the most prosaic and the most exotic . . . even our poor pundi rice from Caladan. Anything the Guild will transport, the art forms of Ecaz, the machines of Richesse and Ix.

-- from Dune


I see two possibilities. Either items like lumber, dung and rice are exported to barren planets that cannot possibly produce these items themselves, to be sold at extortionate prices.

The second one, which I like better, is that Heighliner transport is very cheap, comparable to cargo ship transport of the 21st century, and it supports a densely interlinked network of galactic commerce. It's simply cheaper to import Caladanian rice than it is to grow your own, just as in Western nations, it's cheaper to import rice from East-Asia than it is to grow our own.

From this, it would follow that the Guild intentionally charges extortionate rates for troop transport. This makes it difficult for a conflict to spill over from one planet to another, which encourages stability, which in turn is a great benefit for everyone—except for that nagging human genetic drive to spread out across the galaxy and plunder and burn and screw.

Of course the Great Houses curse this policy, because it gets in the way of their petty conquests, and there's always the possibility that the Guild may choose to favour one of them over the other.

Does anyone else have thoughts or quotes to support one view over the other, or perhaps a third possibility?

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Re: On the economic costs of space travel

Postby Freakzilla » 03 Jan 2013 07:26

The Guild lowered military transport prices for the Laandsrad Armada to assemble over Arrakis.
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Re: On the economic costs of space travel

Postby Freakzilla » 03 Jan 2013 08:41

"Protecting us! The Guild itself caused this by spreading tales about what
we do here and by reducing troop transport fares to a point where even the
poorest Houses are up there now waiting to loot us."


That was a special case, of course.
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Re: On the economic costs of space travel

Postby Ampoliros » 03 Jan 2013 12:03

The guild's prices were oppressive in order with the goal of assisting CHOAM in maintaining its dominance. It was too expensive to set up a black market (other than for spice, which the guild bought directly from the smugglers)
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Re: On the economic costs of space travel

Postby Freakzilla » 03 Jan 2013 12:16

You are right about the Guild enforcing peace by normally keeping its rates for troop transport high, though.

"Have you any idea, Rabban, how much we spent to bring such military force
to bear on the Atreides? Do you have even the first inkling of how much the
Guild charges for military transport?"
"Expensive, eh?"
"Expensive!"
The Baron shot a fat arm toward Rabban. "If you squeeze Arrakis for every
cent it can give us for sixty years, you'll just barely repay us!"
Rabban opened his mouth, closed it without speaking.
"Expensive," the Baron sneered. "The damnable Guild monopoly on space
would've ruined us if I hadn't planned for this expense long ago. You should
know, Rabban, that we bore the entire brunt of it. We even paid for transport of
the Sardaukar."

ASSASSINS' HANDBOOK: Third-century compilation of poisons commonly used in a War
of Assassins. Later expanded to include those deadly devices permitted under the
Guild Peace and Great Convention.

TUPILE: so-called "sanctuary planet" (probably several planets) for defeated
Houses of the Imperium. Location(s) known only to the Guild and maintained
inviolate under the Guild Peace.

WAR OF ASSASSINS: the limited form of warfare permitted under the Great
Convention and the Guild Peace. The aim is to reduce involvement of innocent
bystanders. Rules prescribe formal declarations of intent and restrict
permissible weapons.
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Re: On the economic costs of space travel

Postby kindjal » 03 Jan 2013 15:16

I think that the guild and CHOAM shall stop the growing of pundi rice on other planet others that Caladan to allow them to sell the rice to higher prices.
Umma tamut wa-umma tanbut - one nation dies and another is born

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Re: On the economic costs of space travel

Postby Freakzilla » 03 Jan 2013 15:24

They wouldn't have to stop it, just refuse to transport it.
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Re: On the economic costs of space travel

Postby Bronso » 03 Jan 2013 20:37

I agree with Naive mind, the conversation between the Baron and Rabban especially points it out in my eyes. This bit here:

Dune wrote:Always, the exorbitant demands rode upon military ventures. "Hazard rates," the oily Guild agents explained. And for every agent you managed to insert as a watchdog in the Guild Bank structure, they put two agents into your system.


I believe that space travel was likely the kind of expense that everyday people couldn't afford easily, but that a great house (who essentially owned one or more entire planets) could afford fairly easily with the exception of the "hazard rates" for military.

I also agree with the reasoning suggested for this. The guild sought the sort of stagnation that Paul/Leto II fought. They knew they couldn't openly forbid war, but using those hazard rates as a tool to minimize interplanetary war seems perfectly in line with the way Frank characterized the Guild and their motivations.
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Re: On the economic costs of space travel

Postby distrans » 09 Jan 2013 04:40

the power the guild displayed revealed the great difference between what space travel actually cost
and what they were able to charge for a long time

it takes store house planets worth of spice to remain aloof during the god emperor year well yoou reamin in definition of

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Re: On the economic costs of space travel

Postby Freakzilla » 09 Jan 2013 06:05

It looks like your post got cut off early there. :?
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Re: On the economic costs of space travel

Postby distrans » 09 Jan 2013 10:55

looks like i had a stroke!

heh, to many windows open. didnt noticed id posted this unfinished.
i was trying to mention how much wealth the quide had saved over the years. it allowed them to think they could buy the honored matre's off

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Re: On the economic costs of space travel

Postby Freakzilla » 09 Jan 2013 11:28

The Spacing Guild was also the main bank. I'm sure that helped.
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Re: On the economic costs of space travel

Postby distrans » 10 Jan 2013 18:58

id forgotten that note of them being the bank,

ya, frank walks circles around the denomination of medium of exchange and the energy used for production.

whats a no-ship suck down when it nuzzles up to the gas pump?

spice only steers its, what keeps the lights on?

frank boles over time and again explaining what this or that regionally exclusive gem is valuable enough to shake the choam and allow a single individual with an attache case

to gamble whole planets

but we never get a picture of what was the money these actions were super sue-ming

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Re: On the economic costs of space travel

Postby Naïve mind » 11 Jan 2013 01:23

kindjal wrote:I think that the guild and CHOAM shall stop the growing of pundi rice on other planet others that Caladan to allow them to sell the rice to higher prices.


Hmm, I think it's too easy to paint the Guild in the role of a corrupt multinational. There is much to envy about the Guild system. It obviously facilitated trade as best it could. And it required the feudal lords to fight out their petty wars by killing each other with assassins and poisons, instead of allowing them to brutally slaughter their subjects on a regular basis.

The Guild could see some of the alternatives; if the alternative to enforced stagnation was a genocidal explosion of Jihad, what would you do? If you could foresee a war that would kill many billions, wouldn't you do anything in your power to stop it?

I think we (myself, at least, and I think many of us) have fallen for one of the many bits of conscious misdirection in Dune. Everybody complains that the guild is oppressive and corrupt, including the characters we like, so we assume that they are.

Who are the people who complain about the Guild? Mostly the aristocrats, because the Guild spoils their plans for galactic domination. In a lesser degree the Bene Gesserit, because they exercise power by manipulating said aristocrats.

The only ones with a warranted complaint are the Fremen, because of the enormous spice bribes they have to pay the guild. And even then …

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Re: On the economic costs of space travel

Postby distrans » 12 Jan 2013 08:46

war is peace eh?

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Re: On the economic costs of space travel

Postby Eyes High » 12 Jan 2013 14:48

I just always viewed them as greedy SOBs who held a monopoly and could charge whatever they wanted, so they did. Like some people today.
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Re: On the economic costs of space travel

Postby Naïve mind » 12 Jan 2013 15:00

That perspective does not necessarily exclude the other. You could compare the relationship between the guild and the rest of humankind to that between a dairy farmer and his cows. While the farmer still gets rich and fat squeezing milk out of his cows, it's in his best interests to keep his cows healthy and safe.

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Re: On the economic costs of space travel

Postby Freakzilla » 13 Jan 2013 10:45

Of course, the Guild was parasitic to the host society. They only last as long as the society does.
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Re: On the economic costs of space travel

Postby distrans » 16 Jan 2013 21:10

the richest participants in the system
found the greatest value in not taking direct control of the resource they were dependant on


we forget economics isnt a science
there was no relationship between the cost of space travel and the price travelers paid

its was simple extortion and nepotism


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