What sort of legal and penal system might develop on such a colony?
This is a pretty broad question, so assume the following constraints and requirements:
- The colony has a hybrid democratic/republic & military government structure
- The colony has a hybrid capitalistic & socialistic economic system
- The colony establishes laws regarding minimum colonist contribution to society
- The colony permits exceptions to the minimum required contribution for certain socially desired/encouraged activities (raising children, security services, defense forces, etc.)
- The colony permits colonists to "bank" their excess contributions as a reserve against unemployment and disability.
Essentially, I'm looking for how likely the colony will actually mete out a death penalty to colonists who consistently fail to meet their minimum required contribution. You can consider this minimum as "earning your air" type of problem. It really equals the minimum tax regardless of occupation.
OTOH, the colony guarantees certain positions will always earn the minimum and the people in those positions will always get the minimum necessary to survive. As long as there is enough work to do, there's no problems.
The problems will occur when either someone in one of these minimum pay positions fails to meet employment standards, someone has long-term disabilities, someone refusing to do even the minimum pay positions, or other issue like that.
On one hand it seems extremely cold hearted to execute a person for this failure to perform. However, on the other hand the survival of the colony is at stake. If too many people flout this law, then the entire colony could fail.
How likely is a space colony going to stick with capital punishment to rid itself of colonists unwilling or unable to "earn their air?"
I envision the colony as being a Lunar or Martian colony early in its establishment. They're doing just well enough to not need a military governing structure but they're still living on the razors edge of having enough resources for everyone to survive.
It may be possible for one to a small number of "lazy" people to not pull their weight, but they really can't afford a welfare state. There's not enough excess production of the essentials (air, water, food, power, etc.) for them support even a small but substantial percent of the population who can't or won't work.
I really intend for this to be a social experiment. I'm looking for reasons in favor of supporting them - with justification or killing them - with justification.
I think the level of commitment by the officials to executing those who won't or can't pull their weight to be on a graded scale. Clearly someone who is sick or hurt and has a high likelihood of recovery is worth keeping. So are children.
- What about someone with high prospect of surviving but a low prospect of ever contributing to the colony again?
- What about people perfectly capable of pulling their weight but refuse to do so?
- What about people who are destructive of property (especially life support equipment) and or violent?
But they have to draw the line somewhere. Where is that line?
I am also viewing this question as a societal one - not necessarily as a dictatorial ruling form on high. The punishment for the crime of not working was set by the citizens of this society. I suppose I could see it working like this:
- If you don't "earn your air", then you're assigned to a work detail. The assigned work detail does the scut work that has to be done but no one wants to do.
- If you fail to appear for your assignment or don't get enough done, then you're demoted to a work detail that does dangerous work that has to be done.
- If the detail to which you belong doesn't meet its quota then they entire detail must continue doing these jobs until it does meet its quote.
I suspect then it is in everyone's advantage in the dangerous work detail to get the job done. And people who don't adequately contribute suffer "unfortunate accidents" at the hands of the others in the detail.
Such a system is obviously going to suffer from abuse and morph into something it was never intended to. But it may be quite an interesting transition.