In the movie "In Time," they live in a universe where Time is money and life. You age normally until a specific age, where your 'timer' starts and you have 1 year to live. But you can work and get more time, or spend it and die. You can steal it from others, etc. Naturally, this leads to the rich living forever since they never run out of time. The poor are forced to produce more and more for less and less so that the rich can live in comfort in their fancy blocked off cities.
I have a similar universe where your life-force is bought using a currency (essence). But to prevent a similar scenario to the movie, there are a few limitations.
How essence works:
- It is stored inside of you and only you can remove it from yourself.
- It takes no space and has no weight.
- There is a limited amount of essence in the world. Any essence not in a person is in the atmosphere.
- As long as you are alive, you are consuming essence and returning it to the atmosphere.
The essence cycle
- When a person runs out of essence, they die.
- If a person dies prematurely, all their remaining essence is released. It decays quickly and returns to the atmosphere. If you're in the immediate vicinity and you're fast, you can probably collect about 1/4 of what they had before it vanishes
- When a child is born, they take a small amount of their mother's essence and begin consuming their own once the cord is cut.
- You naturally absorb a little atmosphere essence naturally, but the rate decays with age. All other things irrelevant, you can live to about 30 years old before your expenditures overtake your absorption.
- Essence in the atmosphere is difficult to harvest. Each major country has a technique to harvest it, and the central government of each country controls that harvest and disperses it. They have various efficiency levels, but globally they harvest about 50% of the atmosphere essence a day. How rich your country is depends on how efficient you harvest.
Some limitations to living forever.
- As you age, the amount of essence you absorb naturally decreases exponentially.
- As you age, the amount of essence you need to stay alive increases at a small exponential.
The only way to increase your life expectancy more is with technology. If a person wants to live longer, they need to live long enough to see medical tech improve. As technology progresses, they develop better harvesting techniques, better use of essence (so instead of 1 year for 1 globe, maybe 1 year for 0.99 globes) or better diminishing returns (0.91 instead of 0.9).
So you have the following:
- you need to hold onto money to live, so I doubt banks will be as popular
- holding too much essence becomes a detriment to your country as you age because you'll consume it too fast
- hoarding it can literally cost other people their lives
I can imagine a more communist-like government running these countries since it becomes everyone's best interest to share and stay alive.
What kind of laws would develop to ensure maximum efficiency of a country? I'm looking specifically towards criminals, immigrants, warring, and any general loopholes people may try and exploit.
You wouldn't want to waste a criminals essence. You'd either reform them or get rid of them.
Would you want more people to immigrate? They have essence, but it's only yours for so long, and your country only has so much.
Do you want to war continually to push more and more essence into the atmosphere? Wars can be an easy way for strong countries to gather more resources.
All lifeforms have their own different types of essence, so you can't go around killing all the animals and trying to take it. If they're similar enough, it is possible to use it, but not as effectively. (We can probably use monkey essence but it would have something like 10% the efficiency.)
If you want some math, your absorption/expending ratio drops below 1 at age 24, so you can't die from being broke before 24. You're overall net hits 0 (with their modern technology) at age 79. So if everyone shared perfectly and everyone would live to just about 80. I had specific numbers if it becomes relevant.
You still have to eat and sleep and such. Essence is just an additional requirement to staying alive. You can starve to death and have your essence released to the atmosphere.