I am a Star Wars geek. I know far more trivia about the Original Series, Prequel Series, and Expanded Universe than is healthy for me. And Wardo, CRChair, and Sean can attest that we've had more than our share of conversations about the minutiae of George Lucas's universe. But I am not sure we have ever had a discussion quite on the level of this analysis of the economics of the Death Star (WARNING! There's some salty language in spots) which uses various economic and political theories to analyze whether or not the Emperor's pet project - THE DEATH STAR - really makes sense on a macro-economic scale.
The more you spend on bureaucracy, the less control you have directly over your Empire. The less you spend on bureaucracy, the more you have to tighten your grip, and the more star systems slip through your fingers.If you love Star Wars, I must say this article is a must-read piece.
So, the Emperor and Tarkin focus on making one really huge, high-impact investment: The Death Star. They throw in Alderaan as part of that investment. This doomsday weapon will supposedly free up their resources to spend less on administration, personnel and infrastructure, and continue to function without a Senate. It seems like a big investment until you realize how much they save by not actually having a functioning government.
This is an attractive option even today, as politicians look to pay for tax cuts and handouts to core constituencies by laying off or cutting salaries and benefits for bureaucrats and government workers, as well as by skimping on infrastructure.
The problem, of course, is that it doesn’t work. The underpaid, undermotivated, poorly managed stormtroopers can’t even track down the Empire’s most wanted fugitive androids in an extremely sparsely populated area where they have undisputed control. If Tatooine still had meaningful senatorial representation and local government, Luke never would have gotten off the planet.