Does it make economic sense for miners to make their annual 10 million isk payment for a mining indulgence, as required by the Code? Yes, of course. But why? And how much sense? We've discussed some of the ways payment benefits the miners, but today we'll look at the subject strictly from the view of economic rationality.
Kamio miner Airon Taiyou will be our guide today. Airon is best known for pioneering the use of a loyalty pledge in his bio to notify Agents of the New Order that he's already paid. As the number of Agents grows, this is becoming a popular option for miners in New Order territory.
On a side note, the loyalty pledge has inspired some miners to get creative. Agent Nanatoa recently informed me of a miner who used her corporation title to declare support for the New Order, since she didn't want to have a bio. Very clever!
Back to the story. Airon was debating a fellow ice miner on the subject of whether it made sense to pay.
The most economically successful miners are people who know their numbers. Airon ran the numbers and quickly discovered that payment refusal just doesn't add up. But what about the principle of not wanting to pay to mine, period?
Airon had the better of the argument once again. All over the EVE galaxy, people pay to mine. A common carebear retort is that the New Order does not technically hold sovereignty over its territory. But that argument doesn't stand up when we look at how renting is done elsewhere. In nullsec, renters often hold the sovereignty themselves, but still pay rent to their coalition overlords. But more to the point, no one holds sovereignty in lowsec or NPC nullsec. Yet territory is still held and recognized.
The New Order does not need to camp gates or even blow up offending ships in order to hold territory. For miners, force is the ability to stop someone from mining. Agents of the New Order wield that power every day. There aren't enough Agents to bump every non-compliant miner every hour of every day, but it's also true that lowsec and nullsec systems aren't permacamped. They are held because the owners can inflict costs upon those who defy them.
Let's briefly consider how this is done to miners in New Order territory. If a bumper can force a miner to lose 10 million isk or more, payment is the only economically rational option. In the past, this wasn't difficult: Knock a miner out of range enough times, prevent him from mining long enough, break enough mining cycles. But the Agents of the New Order gained even greater power when the mining ships got changed. AFK mining skyrocketed, and so did the ability of bumpers to have an impact--no pun intended.
The typical AFK Mackinaw pilot takes about an hour to fill his ship with ice. Suppose he goes AFK right after firing up his lasers. If he's bumped out of range, his mining cycle will be broken, and it cannot restart--even if the ship automatically orbits back into range--until he returns to keyboard and manually reactivates the lasers.
Thus, an AFK miner who checks in on his Mackinaw once per hour can lose an entire hour's worth of mining from a single bump. (For botters it can be even worse: Some botting programs don't take further action until the orebay is full, so if bumped out of range, they'll just sit there for the whole day.)
Most likely, a bumper won't bump an AFK'er immediately after he's left his keyboard. Most of the time it will be in the middle of the hourly routine. Still, on average that's 30 minutes of lost mining time from one bump. If the miner returns and gets back into range, he can easily be sent out of range again. Or perhaps the bumper will leave him alone for ten minutes, and the miner, satisfied, goes AFK; the bumper returns and costs him another 50 minutes worth of mining.
What I've just described is one bumper on one day. Suppose another Agent happens by the ice field and knocks the miner out of range? The number of active bumpers has skyrocketed, and is likely to continue rising. On busy bumping days, some miners have observed Agents unintentionally serving in shifts, with one showing up just after another leaves.
We're still not done--not by a long shot. A mining permit lasts for 365 days. Therefore, the cost of refusal must be measured by the amount of bumping inflicted over an entire year. Maybe a miner will be annoyed by the lost isk today, but still pleased with his own defiance. Failure to pay the mining fee also means potential bumps tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow. Every time he loses ice next week, next month, and all the way until the summer and autumn of 2013--it's all a cost of his refusal to pay the 10 million.
Some miners will say it's worth all the lost money, because their rebellion is done out of principle. I don't buy it. If you're mining ice in highsec, you've already surrendered your pride. And there's no such thing as AFK dignity. If you mine ice in highsec, you're in it for the isk. Paying your dues to the New Order means you get more isk. It's the rational choice.