David Louis Edelman
Infoquake
'Infoquake' mass market paperback cover

On the Fiefcorp System

Rarely in the history of human enterprise has there been a more controversial entity than the fiefcorp. Conceived as a means to empower workers, many now complain that it has become an instrument of social ills.

History

Fiefcorps were made possible by the actions of Par Padron, who spent most of his tenure as Council High Executive battling big business. Padron believed that governmental regulations and tax structures had come to favor larger companies, creating a climate in which smaller entrepreneurs could not succeed. Over the years, he succeeded in leveling the playing field among businesses and in democratizing the Prime Committee.

It was this latter action that triggered a populist resurgence on the Committee several decades later, and the subsequent votes to approve the business structure known as the fiefcorp. In order to spur innovation, fiefcorps were given substantial tax breaks during their initial decade of existence. In order to spur employment, the fiefcorp structure was modeled after the feudal master-and-apprentice relationship of ancient times.

Although the beginnings of the system were chaotic, the rapid formation, innovation and dissolution of fiefcorps soon contributed to a beneficial effect known as “carbonization economics.”

Carbonization Economics

The short time window of reduced taxation, combined with low start-up costs, made fiefcorps a hotbed of innovation. Small companies were encouraged to come up with new ideas and bring them to market quickly. A fiefcorp master could bring in a number of apprentices, pay them only room and board to start, turn a very good profit in a few years, and then sell off his assets before taxes increased and start again. If the master needed additional funding to get the company off the ground, he could seek that money from the secondary market of capitalmen at relatively low interest rates.

With hundreds of thousands of fiefcorps formed, an economy based on efficiency and powerful ideas moved quickly. Pundits likened the effect to that of carbonized soda water, where bubbles quickly form, burst and are replenished.

The rewards of running a successful fiefcorp were considerable. Profits from the greatest fiefcorps were extensive, and often allowed wily fiefcorp masters to leap into the more lucrative realm of real estate. But even in failure, the fiefcorp structure proved beneficial, because the labor market was constantly running a deficit of fresh talent. It was not unusual for people to found two or three failed companies before finding a winning formula.

Ethical Problems of the Fiefcorp

The biggest problem of a laissez-faire structure such as the fiefcorp system was its rampant lawlessness. Zest for profit often trumped rules of government, creed, and community. It was originally hoped that the low penalties for failure in a fiefcorp would discourage rule breaking, but this proved not to be true.

In an attempt to rein in the lawlessness of the fiefcorp sector, many in the industry turned to the Meme Cooperative. The Cooperative, founded a hundred years earlier by big business as a buffer to Par Padron’s populist reforms, had since become mostly a lobbying organization to the Prime Committee and the L-PRACGs. Fiefcorps voluntarily ceded strict authority to the Cooperative to regulate their industry and act as a watchdog organization. Few believe that the Meme Cooperative has been successful in its mission, however.

Another third-party organization, Primo’s, arose to provide an overseeing capacity to the fiefcorps. Founded by the fervent libertarian Lucco Primo in 291, the company’s objective rating system has acted as a huge deterrent to fraudulent programming practices.

Still, many consider the problem of fiefcorp ethics a problem to this day. As a result, grumbling consumers typically turn to the L-PRACGs and the drudges for redress.

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Excerpted from “Infoquake” by David Louis Edelman. Copyright © 2006 by David Louis Edelman. Reprinted by permission of Pyr, an imprint of Prometheus Books. Excerpt licensed under a Creative Commons License.