Which is itself a joke. Normies think “economics” majors must study tons and tons of math. Hah. Most of them cannot add or subtract. I would trust astrology and reading bird entrails before any PhD of Economics. Politicians get crosses; I’ll give econs a clean death at the drop of a rope, just because I’m a nice person.
It seems that Prince Edward has twigged to this fact. Race > Culture > Politics.
The Board of Trade, befitting its very junior status in the Texan government, was headquartered in what had been an early 20th-century home a few blocks west of the Capitol Building. Three men stood on the front porch enjoying a late-afternoon cigar. Edward had only read the file on two, and a missing third, but their boss…
“Director Boyd!” the young prince called from the sidewalk along the tree-lined lane. “Looks as if this day finds you well!”
Expecting his guest, Boyd smiled and waved back with the cigar still in his hand.
“Prince Edward! I know you’ve already heard it, but allow me: welcome to Texas! I hope you had a pleasant trip?” the Director called back.
“Absolutely!” he replied, joining them on the veranda. MacDougal stayed in the yard and began to look about for possible threats. Edward introduced himself to the other two and looked a question to Boyd.
“Ah. My other employee is still inside,” the Director explained. “He’s not one for cigars; prefers his spreadsheets, instead. Speaking of which…”
Boyd made to reach into his suit coat pocket but was stopped by Edward shaking his head.
“I appreciate the offer and will take you up on it after, but I would like to get business out of the way, first, please,” he requested.
What had once been a parlor just to the right inside the door had been repurposed into a small meeting room. A circular table was in the middle with five chairs about it. In one of those chairs, staring at an electronic tablet’s screen was –
“This is our fourth, Ben Rubin. Joined my team about six months ago,” Boyd said by way of introduction. “Amazing head for numbers!”
Rubin looked up.
“Who’s this kid?” he muttered before looking back down.
“People skills?” Boyd continued. “Not so much.”
Taking the place indicated for him, Edward noted a middle-aged woman take a chair in a corner near the window with a notepad. A man no older than he came in to ask if anyone needed drinks. Boyd asked for coffee and Edward for water.
“To skip some of the minor points of our agenda,” the Director began, “what I want to drill down on is the use, of both our nations, of the unregulated lands of what was called Missouri to end-run tariffs on each side.”
“It is something of a gray area,” Edward began with a smile. “Our thoughts – ”
“Why not just eliminate all tariffs?” Rubin suddenly asked. “Free and open trade is best for business!”
“That you think there is such a thing as free trade makes me doubt your education and knowledge of history, Mister Rubin!” The smile was still on Edward’s face but his tone was sarcastic. “Non-coercive trade only works on the microeconomic level. Nations have a duty to their people. A multi-generational duty. If that impacts some quarterly balance sheet, that is of no concern to the imperium. Nor, I think, to your republic.”
“That’s stupid,” Rubin replied tactfully. The hiss of Boyd taking a breath was very audible. “As economic units, humans are best treated – ”
“As subjects of my mother, the empress, humans are left alone to organize their families and communities as they see fit, not what some regional or international corporation might think is best for them,” Edward continued, giving a tiny motion of his left hand to Director Boyd. “The imperium is its children and grandchildren. Not a tally on a ledger.”
“That gray area,” Edward faced away from Rubin who was about to argue, “Director Boyd, is that we have three nations, mine, yours, and now the Canadians, fleeing the ice and snow, mixing in a region that, because of what happened ten years ago, has no local government. You know full well that the imperium has said nothing about Texas de facto control of the Rocky Mountain’s front range, as well as former Kansas and lower Nebraska. Why, in square miles, you might be larger than my country!”
“Your country,” Boyd said with a wry look, “has access to technology we can only dream of. Texas cannot make territorial claims on the moon or Mars, Prince.”
“Which is another reason to keep trade free!” Rubin exclaimed, finally breaking back into the conversation. “The goods from off-planet are very destabilizing to national and international business! In conjunction with free trade, if technology is regulated – ”
“Mister Rubin!” Edward stood. “There are three powers on this Earth with reactionless motors, my imperium being one of them! To speak so casually of ‘regulation’ is to ask us to fit our necks for a noose! Empress Faustina has publicly sworn to lead our people off-planet! It would be a collective shame to all if she had to lead ten legions into Texas, first!”
Rubin sat back, slack-jawed and uncomprehending.
“That,” Boyd said, also standing, “is a good place for a short break. Prince? That cigar?”
Edward nodded at everyone but Rubin before walking back outside.
“I hope,” Edward began after getting his cigar lit, blowing a cloud of smoke toward the street, “that Rubin’s as good as numbers as you say and that’s what you want because if anyone in the imperium ran their mouth like that, they’d be lucky to just be fired!”
“Prince, I admit he can be a little rude…” Boyd began.
“I don’t care if he’s rude! Recall who my mother is! I’m appalled that you hired someone so stupid! Free trade? Regulations?” He took another pull at his cigar to calm down. “If these ideas are not just an outlier here, perhaps we should be readying an occupation force once Texas implodes!”
“That is, I hope, a joke?” Boyd tried again.
“Is he?” Edward pointed back into the house with his left. He noted that his man, MacDougal wandered around a tree into his field of vision, concerned at his charge’s tone of voice.
“Back to your point,” Edward tried again. “About Missouri. One of my brothers is assessing things all along the Ohio River Valley, and that will likely include matters down to the Mississippi. I think once that is complete, that our governments made a de jure settlement about that land.”
“You want me to… pass that up, then?” the Director of the Board of Trade asked carefully.
“Shall we conclude this little meeting, then?”
Gently tapping out his cigar – he would retrieve it shortly, once this was over – Edward nodded and followed Boyd back in. Just before returning to the parlor, he wondered why Rubin had not been evacuated. These people have their own nation, after all.
“As much as you’re puffing on that cigar, Prince,” MacDougal asked an hour later as they walked east and south, bearing on the hotel they’d been assigned to, “should I fall in behind you and make ‘choo-choo!’ noises?”
Edward stopped and couldn’t contain his laughter. Several others on their way out of the Capitol Building stared at them. The young prince slapped his retainer’s back and continued his walk.