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Posted: Jul 17 2010, 05:15 AM
100% Armaments Designer
Member No.: 203
Joined: 13-November 07
Le Marché Noir
Par Eric Schneider
©TV12 Monde Anglais
Translated by Norman Jospin
The music plays gently in the background as officers of the Royal Military dance with local girls of the upper society. Their uniforms, as always, impeccable, their sidearms and sabres excessively expensive looking, and their hair immaculately trimmed. All of this is very impressive, yet entirely within the norm of the officer corps. In fact, since the revolution, the transition from the House of Armance to the House of Norheim, and the opening of of democratic rule in La Yanitarie, not much has changed for the Royal Military. While the rich man sees his taxes eaten up and turned into welfare, healthcare, and education for the poor, and while overall the poor have benefited from an benevolent government and king, the officers have, if anything, become richer.
As I sit with my contact, a captain of Yanitarien decent (of the Norwegian speaking ethnic majority, as opposed to the French and Occitan speaking minority of Arcadiens, and the small percentage of Prussian and Western Dienstadi Spanish speakers. Though one should note that in modern times, more Yanitariens speak Norwegian as a family language, and primarily speak french), he explains why. As we chat quietly through the night, he illustrates the major source of income for the higher ranks.
"Lets say, for instance, that after the war, you were Mattias Norheim, and you were faced with a sizable and unhappy minority of Arcadiens, many of whom had a vested interest in the military. While peace had been secured on paper, and Yanitariens like myself could join the military, a good portion of our trained and experienced officers were Arcadien. Facing the threat of neighboring powers, it's quite certain that perhaps the new government would come under attack and quickly be swallowed up if it could not quickly rebuild it's military. To that effect, one would absolutely have to appease at least the officer corps of the new nation. And that's what we did.
"Notice that the average rich Arcadien saw his income drastically reduced, while the average Maréchal or Amiral saw his wealth increase to levels we haven't seen since prize warfare was the norm. Why do you suppose that is?"
I can only shake my head as my contact continues speaking, "You see, my friend, there was a system in place during the last regime that worked, but was entirely small scale. During raids and military enforcement of taxes, the military would be called up to occupy areas that became unruly. This was only occasional, but if you look at the army ledgers, more equipment was 'lost' in a year of raids than all the equipment destroyed in 7 years of warfare. Now, where did this lost equipment go? It certainly wasn't swallowed by a black hole, or by a voracious Pennsylvanian*.
*Among the upper class, Pennsylvanians are often the butt of racist jokes, among them the fact that they will eat anything, no matter how disgusting.
"Of course one can find the answer if you look closely enough. Tax receipts show that the number one producers of grain for export were by military officers, officers who didn't even own land capable of growing grain. Furthermore, Yanitaria, for the year of 1965, was the leading exporter of coconuts. Tell me, my friend, have you ever seen a coconut being grown anywhere in la Yanitarie? No.
"Officers were writing off their equipment as being stolen, and selling the old stock overseas, masking it as agricultural export. They even go so far as to pay their taxes, so as to not raise suspicion."
I raise my eyebrow at this, and proceed to ask, "Wouldn't customs officials have noticed something was wrong? I know the do ran-
Before I can finish, he interrupts. "Of course, of course they would. But wouldn't they also notice that billions upon billions of Marques in equipment happened to be lost? Wouldn't they have complained to the big firms like Rochefort that their equipment kept breaking in only the lightest of breezes?"
Seeing what he is getting at, I allow him to continue. "In 1992, when Mattias Norheim took power, ending the reign of terror that those who had been left in charge after the end of hostilities, but he also brought with him another legacy. Whereas in the Kingdom of Arcadien-Yanitarie, the sale of arms was a passing thing done when possible, in the PRUY, it is now a mainline source of income.
"For instance, take the average Colonel in our military receives as pay about sixty thousand marques per month [Editor's Note: the exchange rate between the Marque Royale Yanitarien and, for instance, the NSD, is approximately 4.9:1]. Now first of all, the colonels in Wanderjar, though I am not 100% on this, earn something on the order of 10,000 marques more. But a Brigadier in our nation, only one rank higher, only earns 500 marques more. Now, let me ask you, on their tax reciepts, how much more does the average brigadier claim, with his salary of about 60,500 marques per month? Around three million marques, barring investments.”
I am floored by this revelation, but later as I fact check his statements, I find them to be completely true. In fact, the numbers for maréchals and amirals above the rank of brigadier (or contre-amiral) was exponentially greater. “How can this be?”
“Well, it's not all arms. For instance, an admiral can't very well sell a ship, although I have reason to believe that a stealth corvette has been sold to a gangster in the Third Spanish State. The drug trade also plays a major role in it. While marijuana and opiates may be legal to produce here in la Yanitarie, but in most of the region and world it's highly illegal. But unfortunately the arms and drug trade makes up for a full 10 and 4 percent of our economy, legally and illegally, and it shows no signs of stopping.”
I nod slowly, before asking the bigger question that this had brought up, “What about the government?”
“Well, it works out splendidly for them, in any way you look at it. First of all, from a tax perspective, they can bulk up the reported salaries of their soldiers, and use that money elsewhere. Generally, though, because politicians come under greater scrutiny that soldiers, it's used for government projects, wet work, the like. Even covertly funding dissenting groups in other countries, without leaving any sort of paper trail, or overcharging for silly things like plungers. From this perspective, one could openly examine their ledgers and never find any evidence of wrong doing. Pay wise, everyone from the highest amiral or maréchal down to even your everyday soldier earn from this scheme. While the officers are the only ones that can officially report missing equipment, and report false cases of missing equipment, I highly doubt you'll see them doing any heavy lifting. Not all enlisted personell are involved, not even most, we usually only pick those that know what's what, or are too stupid to realize that they aren't being made to do something illegal. Even still, enlisted personell who may blow the whistle are threatened with violence, or blackmailed. I'm sad to say that I've seen at least one man viciously beaten for threatening to tell the police. In fact-”
“Wait, now I have an important question,” I said, just realizing something, “You said that the government's budget ledgers were scruitinizable? How can this be if they spend an inordinate amount of money is spent acquiring new equipment?”
“Oh, well, that's really quite simple. Because SNMAE, Yanitarien Aérospatial, and DCNY are all government owned corporations, and have strong ties to the other players in the industry, they are very closely integrated into the military. In fact, with their claims of broken or missing equipment, they also submit a request directly to the appropriate company for the equipment. At any later date, they can cancel their request via computer, erasing their involvement, but the order goes through, and is paid for by the end user, be it a terrorist in Wittenschcau, a criminal in Lamoni, or even a pirate in the New Empire. Paper trail evaporates, the government remains blameless, and the client gets his merchandise. Of course, for the drug trade it's different, of course, but generally the admiralty is responsible for transportation, and most of the drug trade, while the army and aeronautic army control most of the trade in illegal weapons, including aircraft and radar.
“The Gendarmerie Maritime largely ignores them, and as far as benefits go, the additional power granted to the military is balanced by the fact that the parlement at any point has ample reason to arrest most officers in the military and immediately declare them traitors. What prevents a widescale coup is the self serving idea that if one is caught, then it's best not to spoil the good deal that they all have. The status quo ensures that the officers become wealthy, and can live their previous lifestyles in their homecountry. They know that if they were to openly defy the government, as was so common in the ancient times when men in their position had both wealth and military power, the moment that their loyalty came into question, their bank accounts, which under the aformentioned reform by Norheim the elder are required to be done entirely by the Banque Royale, would be frozen, and their wealth ripped away. Restrictions on how they can hold their money, and where, prevent them from being able to use their money.
“Though, there is one question that I never found out, and my superiors refuse to talk about,” my contact said. “I know that they don't actively advertise their black marketeering, so the question remains who exactly is making their contacts, and acting as a go-between for these men.
I left the room with the new information in my head, but I still hungered to learn more. How far could this go? And what were the implications to the security of the nation? I had to figure it out. The next day, I was on the search, hunting for any information I could, and to my surprise, it was easy to come by. However, the mystery remained, as to who it was that was acting as a go between. That is, until, by undisclosed means, I came upon a new contact, who also wished to remain anonymous. The contact could only make two notes, after a brief interview. First of all, that the MdR [Editor's note: Ministry of Intelligence] is indirectly involved, with members of the DGSE and DRM (General Directorate of External Security and the Directorate of Military Intelligence) providing a go between for the military officers and their clients, mostly by finding reliable proxies to work through. Furthermore, the contact stated that the DCRI, DPSD, BRGE, SCSSI, and CNCIS all assist, in one way or another, in monitoring the trade, and that there exists a government accounting office entirely for the taxation and secretive monitoring of the black market.
[Editor's Note: After turning in this first draft of his article, with the ending unfinished, he suddenly claimed to have come down with a very bad case of pneumonia, and had to leave immediately for Sétif. He asked for the piece to be published as is.]
OOCly: Just a little article on the black market in Yanitaria. Feel free to post stuff related to my black market working in your nation.