Notes On How The Verse Works
Notes on the 'Verse
Why do you see people running around the 'verse with 19th, and 20th century guns? Simple. While mass production is more efficient, a lot of people get their firearms from individual gun shops on border and rim planets. These gunshops don't keep a large stock of weapons, they use a microfac to make guns one at a time. A microfac (short for micro factory) is an advanced form of today's CNC (Computer Numerically Controlled) machining tools. As long as it has the computer plans and instructions for the design, it can create any machine needed from just the raw materials. For some reason, firearm technology has not advanced a huge amount since the days of Earth-that-was. There are some good new designs, such as Mal's Frontier Model B, but if you're having the pistol made from scratch anyway, would you pay the royalty fee for a recent design, or would you rather use a royalty free program that you can get for free because it was brought to the 'Verse on one of the Arks? The Alliance makes sure all microfacs, minifacs, and facs have Digital Rights Management built in. That's why so many guns are recognizably from around the 20th century. Okay, so why so many single action revolvers? I think I can answer that too. When a new world is terraformed, there is a full, working ecology set up. Any functioning ecology has to have apex predators. On inhabited planets the apex predator is human. The terraformers have to include tigers, or wolves, or mountain lions, or some such carnivore to fill this role until people start colonizing the new planet. When the Alliance Colony and Settlement Authority sends out a new group of settlers, it arms them so they can defend themselves against the local apex predators and eventually replace them. Do they send them with Glocks? No, of course not. They could not afford to send enough ammunition to last until the colony is sufficiently advanced to be able to trade for more. Instead, they send them out with single action black powder cap-and-ball revolvers. They include a replaceable cylinder that will take normal brass cased ammunition, and enough ammunition to last a few months. Single action revolvers are dirt-simple and any blacksmith will be able to keep them running. By the time the normal ammunition runs out, the settlers should be able to make their own black powder, and cast their own lead balls. This will keep them going until they are productive enough to have something to trade. Eventually they will have enough money saved up to send one of the children back to the Core to buy a minifac, and get training on how to use it. At that point the settlement is on it's way to being a thriving colony. Of course, who's going to want to change to an autopistol now, since they were brought up on single action revolvers? The wolves/cougars/tigers/bears are getting pretty scarce by now, and generally a revolver is plenty for any two legged predators that might show up.
In the Serenity game that I run, I even have a reason that the guns don't sound the same as they do today. They use an advanced propellant I refer to as two-stage powder.On ignition, it works like any other propellant, but after a certain number of milliseconds (tailored to the typical length of barrel for that cartridge) it undergoes a second chemical change that cools the gasses. The pressure drops drastically, decreasing the noise as well as cooling the firearm. Automatic and semi-automatic weapons are much less prone to overheating when using this ammunition. That's why it has become the standard across the 'Verse.
One other thing that bothered me, why was natural food scarce in the 'Verse when there were so many planets where farming was possible? I think I've finally figured that one out too. I saw a reference in The Firefly and Serenity Database online that mentioned that Londinium imported 60 percent of it's food. Suddenly the battle of Serenity Valley on the "breadbasket" planet of Hera makes a lot more sense. But why would protein paste from Blue Sun be cheaper? After all, doesn't it use the same crops to produce? That would just add cost, not make it cheaper. Actually no. It does not come from the same crops. Blue Sun (and a few other smaller producers) have set up complexes that float in the upper atmosphere of the five gas giant planets in the 'Verse (Heaven, Zeus, Djinn's Bane, Fury, and Dragon's Egg).
These installations run pipes down to layers in the atmosphere that are rich in methane, in carbon monoxide/carbon dioxide, and in ammonia. With these three main ingredients you have everything you need to synthesize proteins and carbohydrates.(1) With a little more processing, carbohydrates can be merged into fats. A byproduct of all of this is pure hydrogen, so Blue Sun can fuel up the megafreighters that come to haul the product away to market. This high protein product feeds the poor, while the "real food" goes to those that can pay the higher price. This also explains the compressed blocks of vitamin supplements the crew of the Serenity went after in the pilot episode. No doubt the military is a big user of the protein packs, and would need those supplements to add in to keep the ship crews healthy.
The Alliance government has no taxes in my version of the verse. They use a modified version of the social credit system as described in Robert Heinlein's book "For us the Living". Here's what Wikipedia says about it:

"The Heritage System in "For Us, the Living" can be summarized by four major actions:

A required end to fractional reserve banking. Banks must always have a 100% reserve for
any loan they give out.

New money is printed only by the government, and then, only enough to counteract the
natural deflation that would occur in a system without fractional reserve banking.

The government uses this money (and only this money), divided among all of its
necessary roles. Any extra is divided evenly among citizens and businesses that over-produce,
to offset the loss of not selling their over-production (the government buying the over-production
for its own use, which can be bought by citizens later if they so desire at the same price.)

Goods bought by the government are later sold by the government (or used by it), and
normal governmental services (such as postage) are sold. These goods and services
provide the standard backing for the currency, similar to how gold is used to back
the gold standard.

Dealing with government funding in this way is theorized to stabilize an economy,
and deals with the production/consumption problem that Heinlein claims to exist
with more conventional economic systems:
"A production cycle creates exactly enough purchasing power for its consumption
cycle. If any part of this potential purchasing is not used for consumption but
instead is invested in new production, it appears as a cost charge in the new items
of production, before it re-appears as new purchasing power. Therefore, it causes
a net loss of purchasing power in the earlier cycle. Therefore, an equal amount of
new money is required by the country."
In addition to stabilizing the economy, it is theorized to have the added benefit of
being a system where Federal taxes would not be needed for Government function,
and only be needed for regulatory measures (e.g. enforcing environmental standards,
corporations being taxed for not meeting government requirements, tariffs that exist
purely to discourage buying from certain locations, wealth redistribution, etc.)
The system also makes note of the fact that government spending and government
taxing are not only not related, both can happen in the complete absence of the
other , and that as far as market effect, taxing causes deflation and Government spending
causes inflation. He notes this, and that as a result, the value of money can be completely
and totally controlled, making the currency as stable as it is desired to be."

This is why the credit notes are all digital and, theoretically, trackable. The Alliance needs to track the economy closely to know how much new money it needs to create to keep the economy in balance. Also it helps explain why so much money is going to the military in peacetime. The new money has to be put back into the economy. That's not to say there aren't tariffs and such to regulate trade, but that serves a different purpose. Also local governments, especially on rim planets tend to have their own taxation.

Kevin Flanagan 8-29-2017

(1)Due to a lack of CO/CO2 in the atmosphere of Fury, formaldehyde is used as an alternate source of oxygen.

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