The question popped in my head since I got to the part where shopkeepers wait in line before the store house to get goods for their store.

Here is some background story: The city of Ember has a large store room system which contains all commodities (including food ...) the City needs for 200 years.

So, at first, I wondered: Who owns those goods in the store rooms. Who does the shopkeeper pay?

Then, I wondered:
if there are enough commodities (including food ...) needed for 200 years, then there is no need for production.
If so, how does the economy work and how would money flow ?
Why is Ember not a Subsidized economy and Communist ?
What stimulates people to work when you have 200 years of supplies ?

What I see:
Money exists: Messenger get paid 20 cents each message.
Shops exist: Shop keepers wait in line to get goods for their shop.
Storeroom clerk. Small Items Shop where Loris Harrow (Doon's father) works.
Production exists: there is a greenhouse (although there is canned food in the storeroom) ...

So, in summary, my question is:
How does the economy work in the city of Ember ?


It's not difficult to see how economy works in City of Ember.

What stimulate people to work when you have 200 years of supplies ?

City of Ember isn't autonomous city with robots doing all works. The works people do are real and critical works which someone needs to do. If people wants to sit and eat, who would transport canned foods or other items to them and why can't someone misuse the system by hoarding the items (if money isn't involved)? The most important work is maintenance. If the generator fails, game is over. If bulbs fuse, someone has to replace it. If drainage system or water supply system malfunctions, someone has to fix it.

Who own those good in store room. The shopkeeper pay to whom ?

Government owns the store rooms and shopkeepers pay to government. Government needs enormous money to run the city. Government pays the employees who do maintenance works and lots of other important stuff like security, administration etc.

From where did people get money to begin with?
I believe each family was given equal amount of money to begin. Now, this money is in circulation: Citizens to government to citizens.

When kids turn 12, they are alloted a government job based on luck (lottery system). If you get better paying job or you spended your money wisely to save a lot, you can open a shop upon retirement from government jobs or if your parents already had a shop, you can stock it better and hire employees and so.

Now, you can see economy flow is similar to that of real world.

Involvement of money ensures that:

  • people would work to stay alive (food, doctor) or live better life (colored pencils, better foods).

  • stored items really run for 200 years. With limited amount of money, only limited items can be taken out of the store room at a time. People would also not waste or misuse or abuse items (you know, people can play cricket with light bulbs).

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