Not for Granted
Lyon Glider School Campus, 3rd Tridi of Vendémiaire, 378 (October 14, 2169)
For my new course in multiversal comparative economics, Professor Schroeder asked us to take notes on all our major purchases over the last month. At the end of our next class period, we’ll be comparing our results with other students in the class, and we’ll even tune in to a broadcast from similar students in a different universe to compare notes.
Alright, so here goes – I’ve decided to organize my recent major purchases by price, from lowest to highest. Ok, what was first… That’s right – at the end of last month, I spent my remaining basic income money after all my bills were paid on a few new outfits for the new school year. I figured since I had the money leftover, I might as well indulge in a creative pursuit for its own sake! Overall, I’d say I’m happy with my purchases – although a pair of jeans is already more expensive than just a few years ago when I was wrapping up high school. I only had 3000 Supers Francs left, and some jeans go for over 1000. Of course, there are other, cheaper options, but I decided to splurge a bit since I’d already covered my other monthly expenses. New clothes were kind of a borderline major purchase, but I figured I’d include them as the lower bound.
In addition to those new clothes, I also recently purchased this new audio recorder for 1,500 Supers Francs and a new computer for about 7,500. Of course, these purchases were a lot easier to budget for since the annual allotment for university students (including post-graduates like me) includes an income enhancement of up to 10,000 Supers Francs per semester for education-related technology purchases. I’m pleasantly surprised with the quality of audio I’m getting with this voice recorder. Of course, the university and the local government both offer computer rentals for just 20 or 25 Supers Francs a month that would save me a bunch of money and mean I wouldn’t have to own one, but I feel like I’ll like having a little more autonomy and flexibility to record interviews on the go while I’m collecting data for my thesis.
Next, of course, the most expensive thing most people are purchasing right now is housing. In my case, my housing costs are pretty low – just 8,800 a month, and I’m living near the center-ville and right next to the Glider School campus. But fortunately, and thanks to the success of our student-worker unions, graduate students have been able to lobby the government to increase basic income to make sure even graduate students aren’t getting left behind economically. I still remember my grandmother’s stories about her time in school, when it was common for students to spend upwards of 70% of their post-expense stipends on housing, but those numbers are more like 20% now. Grandma was determined to study physics no matter what, but it was a much more difficult choice for her. I think I inherited my love for science from her! I still can’t fathom her having to take a job on top of her studies to afford tuition and living expenses, as if studying wasn’t enough work already. Or as if her work after her studies wouldn’t benefit society as much as it did, making her studies a social investment in the future. Where would we be today without grandma’s macro-relay energy transmission technology?
But I digress. The last, and most expensive aspect of my monthly budget in the last month is tuition, which comes in at 10,500 Supers Francs a month. And since health care is covered, that just leaves transportation and food costs to round out my budget, which are both modest – renting a city bike, taking transit, and even auto shares are all extremely reasonable here. So on a monthly income of 50,000 Supers Francs, I have plenty of extra cash in each month’s budget to enjoy Lyon’s unparalleled restaurant scene and get away to the countryside on the weekends. And about that tuition – my rate is only so high because I’m studying here in the Rhône-Alpes region of France rather than back in the state of Deseret (where I last had established residency back in my home country of the United States). That’s common, though – a lot of regions and countries have different rates for students from different places. It’s all part of an incentive structure that allows students to save a bit of money from their guaranteed income if they stay local. But given how generous basic incomes tend to be, many students opt to study abroad, even if only for part of their studies.
So that’s about it! We’ve only just started scratching the surface of economies in different universes, as well as at different points in history in mine, but I feel incredibly fortunate to live in a time and place of abundance. I’m not sure I ever would have contemplated leaving my last job and returning to Glider school, and certainly not Glider School in France, if it weren’t for basic incomes generous enough to provide a good quality of life while I study.