Welcome to Liminas

Liminas is a small subtropical region in the northern part of the Free Federation, a fictional society.

A number of core public services are handled by a planned, communalist, equal labour system (li = C/n)[1]. This includes healthcare, childcare, transportation, the electricity and water provision and a number of education services. Therefore, every working citizen in Liminas must contribute a minimum of C/n labour-hours. They do this by choosing a task from a list published by the assembly every year (each production cycle lasts a year). The task-choosing process takes place towards the end of a production cycle and generally involves only minor alterations to the previous plan. The system also asks for some people to volunteer to be available for additional duties should the need arise. If someone cannot choose a task because all the tasks they are capable of doing are already claimed, then the system flags this up as an issue and gives other people an opportunity to swap tasks. If some people have not chosen enough tasks at all by the deadline then the labour quota increases and everyone else must pick up the slack.

If a person’s chosen tasks actually take them less than C/n hours to complete, because they are an efficient worker, then they are deemed to have completed their quota and the actual time taken is recorded to improve the planning process for next year. Conversely if they think they will not complete the task in C/n hours, then they must appeal for help as soon as possible and the remaining hours are taken up by the people who volunteered for this purpose in the planning stage. Again, the data is updated so that the next planning cycle more accurately reflects the amount of hours this task requires.

People who are unable to work are centrally registered as non-working citizens and so do not get included in the labour distribution system. They remain full voting members of the Assembly. Like all citizens in Liminas, they can use the communalised services without restriction.

Unlike some parts of the Federation, food provision is handled distributively in Liminas. People must register with farms of their choice and their labour quota increases accordingly. They can fulfill this labour quota in any of the communalised services or in agriculture. The reason for this is that there are many vegetarians and vegans in Liminas, and the Assembly voted that it was not prepared to communalise the labour necessary to provide some people with animal products. Therefore, animal products are produced separately and people who want them end up with a somewhat higher labour quota.

Most of the provision for clothing and other consumer goods in Liminas is handled by the dynamic equal labour system li=∑c/n. People simply put in an order for the clothes, shoes, furniture, pillow cases and so on that they need. Each person then receives an equal labour quota. As a result, people are not disadvantaged by having a large dress size or a large family to clothe. However, because the system is dynamic while most public services are planned, it is not possible to fulfill this labour quota by working in a communalised service like, say, railway maintenance. That labour is already handled. To fulfill this quota you can only contribute labour in the unplanned sector of the economy.

The Guild of Consumer Goods has a limit on the quantity of each good you are allowed to order. You may not order more than 10 pillow cases a month, for example.

Construction and building maintenance work for communal facilities as well as plumbing and electricity maintenance for all buildings are handled by the same sort of system. People or guilds request work as necessary and the dynamic labour quota increases accordingly. Again, this means no one is penalised for having faulty plumbing, as the labour is shared equally among everyone.

The unplanned sector also includes consumer electronics, toys, musical instruments and a variety of other luxuries. These are handled distributively and dynamically by the li = α∑c system. That means that if you want to have your own television, games console, double bass or something of this nature, then you must contribute a corresponding amount of labour to the unplanned sector. Unlike with clothing and plumbing, you are considered responsible for contributing the labour necessary for your hobby. For people who cannot work, a certain amount of planned labour is set aside in the care system to provide them with such products. A guild can also make orders for these things - if, for example, it needs a communal stereo system. In that case, the necessary labour is generally distributed equally among members of the guild, or if there was a disagreement in the guild about this expense, the labour is distributed among those people who actually wanted it.

The Liminas Guild of Film-Making handles its labour using li=C/n distributively. This means that as a member of the guild you are obligated to contribute an equal share of the labour. The guild votes on film projects that it wants to handle meritocratically. A grand and complicated film project is only likely to be accepted if the entire guild feels particularly enthusiastic about it. Big projects from unknown directors never garner enough votes, but small projects from promising directors often do. Only members of the guild (i.e. film-makers) must contribute labour. Once the films are finished, they are uploaded to the Network and are free to consume by anyone. This contrasts with the totally communalised (and long-time friendly rival) Xesh Film Studio, where the entire citizenry votes on the film projects it wants to see and communalises the necessary labour among everyone. (Xesh is a separate region from Liminas but is also a member of the Federation.)

As a result of the division between planned and unplanned services, everyone in Liminas has at least two jobs, at least one in the planned sector and at least one in the unplanned sector. There is always pressure in the Assembly to amalgamate the two systems but they have so far found it impossible to come to an agreement on this issue.

Everyone in Liminas has an “approval” rating. Acts considered harmful to society, such as violence and theft of personal articles, results in approval being deducted. Approval also decreases if someone is registered to work but fails to complete their planned labour quota. Failure to complete an unplanned labour quota does not result in approval loss, but usually means that you won’t get the goods (because they have not been produced). Guilds in the unplanned sector are however authorised to refuse requests from people whose approval is particularly low. Particularly dangerous criminals are rare, rare enough that the Liminas Assembly has no formal position on how to handle them. Therefore, when this case arises, the person in question is turned over to the Federal Court, which considers their case and usually then puts them into specialised rehabilitation centres.

As a member of the Federation, Liminas’ planned economy also includes a quantity of Federal Labour Hours which are reserved for Federal projects. At the time of writing this includes disaster relief services, some specialised care services, the space program, the infrastructure for the Network (an ultra-high-speed telecommunications system) and the magnetic levitation transport system which connects together the various regions of the Free Federation. These projects are voted on by all citizens of the Federation. The Grand Assembly recently voted to expand the space program, for example, which consequently increases everyone’s labour quota. This means there is a renewed effort to find other planets with life on them - and I hope they will find Earth soon so they can get in touch with us - but it also results in some grumbling from people who have no interest in the space program, resent the fact that they have to work a few extra minutes just for the sake of “those crazy cosmonauts” and mutter about the pitfalls of majority decision making.

  1. See Which Production System? for details on what these formulas mean.  ↩