Auto-Transcript for S&P and NFSC Submission
EP:61:12 : “Economic Imbalance …”
ERIA QUINT: Hello and welcome to Showdown, the political program that tackles pressing issues from different perspectives. I’m your host, Eria Quint. Today, we examine a recent report from the Senate Committee on Interstellar Commerce (CIC) that highlights the increasing economic disparity around the Empire. Though UEE prosperity reaches far and wide, there are still far too many who struggle to eke out a living.
Various government programs and non-governmental organizations have tried and failed to properly address this issue individually, leaving many to wonder if a combined effort — careful orchestration between private and public sectors — is what’s really needed to raise the living standard for billions around the Empire.
My first guest has spent much of her career dealing directly with these issues. Senator Octavia Beate represents the Ferron System, which has known its fair share of economic hardships, and she is a senior member on the Senate committee that released the report. Senator Beate, we appreciate you taking the time out of your busy schedule.
SENATOR OCTAVIA BEATE: Of course. The government is doing a lot of good work on this issue that goes unnoticed. Glad to be here to outline some of the actions we’ve taken.
ERIA QUINT: And offering a perspective from the private sector, we have with us Kavan Aarset, the CEO of Economic Advancement for All (EAA), a non-governmental organization focused on ensuring economic equality. Welcome, Mr. Aarset.
KAVAN AARSET: Looking forward to a spirited discussion on a problem we can all agree deserves more attention.
ERIA QUINT: Let’s start with you, Senator Beate. It’s been about one hundred years since most major mining operations abandoned the Ferron System, a move that your home planet of Asura is still reeling from. The report from the CIC claims that two-thirds of the system’s residents are unhappy with their current economic condition. What does the government need to do to provide your constituents with more economic opportunities?
SENATOR OCTAVIA BEATE: The unfortunate truth is that this issue isn’t isolated to Ferron. This issue affects people everywhere from Hyperion to the blocks of Terra. There are billions in the Empire that are in need, and the government has to be creative to try and change things. A problem of this magnitude demands an equally big solution.
ERIA QUINT: Are there any “big solutions” that you’ve found to be particularly effective?
SENATOR OCTAVIA BEATE: Absolutely. I’ve been an outspoken supporter of large-scale military and infrastructure expenditures. Projects like the Retribution and Synthworld require resources and labor from across the Empire. These government expenditures not only generate economic growth that trickles down to the people who need it most, but also help improve and protect the fabric of the Empire that we all hold so dear.
ERIA QUINT: Mr. Aarset, how would an NGO like the EAA address the economic distress in Ferron?
KAVAN AARSET: Not with platitudes, which is unfortunately so often how Senator Beate chooses to respond. This is an issue-
SENATOR OCTAVIA BEATE: I beg your pardon.
KAVAN AARSET: These so-called “big solutions” only serve as a bandage. To really address the root of the issue, we need to take specific action based on the careful examination of a system’s population, economy, resources, infrastructure and a myriad of other factors. Solutions must be tailored to the individual system to guarantee results. So that’s what we’d focus on first and foremost: truly understanding the people we’re trying to help.
SENATOR OCTAVIA BEATE: Mr. Aarset’s goal of personally diagnosing and addressing the specific issues of every system is, well, it’s an admirable mission, but also an infeasible one. Not even the UEE government can accomplish it, which is why we instead compile reports like the one just released.
The people of the UEE need help now. These people need jobs and opportunities, not to be the subject of another academic research paper. That’s why I’ve worked hard to direct government resources to these disadvantaged systems, and to do it now.
ERIA QUINT: Mr. Aarset, what specific actions has the EAA taken to help those being left behind?
KAVAN AARSET: We have a strict policy that any credits spent in a system must go directly to local businesses. The problem with Senator Beate’s massive spending plans are that they’re nothing more than a huge payday for mega-corporations. A small, family-run company in Ferron doesn’t stand a chance of landing a Synthworld contract when up against multi-system conglomerates like Shubin or ArcCorp.
SENATOR OCTAVIA BEATE: Mr. Aarset is being deceptive here. He knows that most of these massive projects require large corporations to hire local contractors and mercs. That pumps a huge amount of credits into the local economy. That’s in addition to all the credits their workers spend in the system going out to eat or catching a game at the local Sataball arena.
ERIA QUINT: Let’s move on. Also included in the report was a list of systems in need of the most economic help. The list is strikingly similar—
KAVAN AARSET: I’m sorry, Eria, but mega-corps hiring contractors isn’t a recipe for economic success for those most in need. It only makes the economic disparity worse. You don’t need to look any further than the planet of Hurston to see an example of this.
A recent investigation by the Terra Gazette revealed the insultingly low pay and deplorable conditions contract workers on Hurston experience. Large corporations like Hurston are interested in their bottom line, not in helping the economically underserved. Actually, it’s in their interest to keep wages depressed, so they can hold onto a greater percentage of the profits.
SENATOR OCTAVIA BEATE: Using Hurston as an example is nothing more than a red herring. As we all know, the planet of Hurston is owned by the corporation and completely under their control with its own labor laws, rules and regulations. I may not agree with all of their policies, but the company is well within their rights to govern their planet as long as they adhere to the Common Laws of the UEE.
KAVAN AARSET: Which haven’t been updated in how long?
SENATOR OCTAVIA BEATE: If contractors on Hurston aren’t happy with their pay, living conditions or whatever else, it’s completely within their rights to move someplace else.
KAVAN AARSET: Except many of them can’t afford to because of the suppressed wages and the strong-arm tactics of local company security. The last military expenditure Senator Beate sponsored included billions in contracts that were awarded to Hurston, so don’t go saying there’s nothing the government can do to apply pressure. Denying government contracts to companies that treat their workers inhumanely would be a great place to start.
ERIA QUINT: This is a fascinating discussion, but we need to take a quick commercial break. When we return, I’ll challenge Senator Beate and Kavan Aarset to set their ideological differences aside and see if they can agree on a way the public and private sectors can work together to help those that are economically disadvantaged.
That, and more, when Showdown returns.