Cam catches a summons while he's in the middle of Atriama. He's seen it before, it's fine.
"I'm very specialized and so probably less qualified to comment on - general sorts of things like that, sorry. Though I guess I don't know how much economics they teach in regular high school either."
"Couldn't tell you. How do people typically come to be slaves?"
"Some from the Empire expanding, though not really that so much in recent years, some from debt, some from parents selling their kids - like me - and some from slaves having kids."
"What an exciting variety." Sigh. "Score another point for my orient-more-before-ending-material-scarcity approach."
"How long have you been here?"
"Like a day. It's been very exciting."
"Cool. Uh, I support being cautious in general but I'm not actually sure this in particular should very much change your plans? Like it seems a lot less important than death and it kind of seems like if you solve material scarcity slavery would just sort of follow, if it's harder for people to go into debt and they don't have any reason to sell their kids. And even for existing ones it'll be way faster to save up for manumission if everything they need to live is way cheaper."
"I guess if it's you saying that I should take it seriously! It does downgrade my estimate of how well I can expect to be value-aligned with the government. Maybe I should go ask Jesus for help. Does he have a known opinion on slavery?"
"I dunno who that is, sorry, I don't keep up with . . . celebrities? Is he a celebrity."
"A random person had heard of him but I don't know what percentage of random people have."
"Okay. Plus, uh, it would be really bad to collapse society on the way to fixing it, for the record; I live in society too, and like - my situation is not so great right now, but I don't think it's reasonable to have expected anyone to predict my cat would turn out to be a person and things were mostly fine before that?"
"The gold market crashing will probably happen anyway just once I publicly announce the ability to create arbitrary amounts of gold but it is possible to arrange this in a fairly controlled fashion, I did it once. Can I help you in any less drastic ways?"
"I don't just mean the gold. I work at a power plant, and pretty much everyone who works there is a slave or used to be, and the reason for that is that it's pretty technical and just goes a lot better if you can train kids for it without having to worry about teaching them most general stuff, and if you freed all of them right away then the city wouldn't have any power and that would suck! And that's not something you can solve even by making more crystals out of nothing; if we're ever low on crystals that's, uh, let's say it's going to be the absolute least of our worries.
Though - huh - if you have a higher tech level and your universe knows better arrays, then I could suggest those and it'd probably take less people to run and I'd get a bonus about it."
"My universe doesn't use specifically magical crystals for electrical generation because crystals aren't magical there but I can replace the power infrastructure. - can you give me a tour of the power plant so I can get an idea of how hard it will be to replace it with something noncrystalline."
"Iiiiiiiii don't - maybe? Probably not right away; I'd need to like get permission."
"Can I help with that in any way? Bribery is the most obvious but I'm flexible."
"If you wanted to - give me something to be used as bribery and to be returned to you otherwise, you could; it still might take me a couple days to find out."
Cam hands her a bracelet. "Keep it or sell it if it doesn't work, I don't really have any use for it. You can send me a letter any time anywhere by writing down what you want, adding 'letter to Cam', and there are no other steps."
"Stots. - What stones are these?"
"Probably I'll sell it first and use the money instead, but - "
(Mr. Mistoffelees is still sitting on Ellie's knee, but her eyes are closed and her head is diiiiiiiiiiiiping forward, and then it snaps up, in the manner usual of cats too sleepy to properly lay down.)
Ellie stage whispers, "Oh my staaaaars. One second," and starts de-spike-collaring and de-jacketing her.
Awww. Ellie can have another bracelet; it appears surreptitiously on her wrist.
"Thanks." She smiles and deposits the sleeper on a shelf of a bookcase which has been converted to a cat nook via some fabric with a circle cutout stretched over it and a pillow and blanket stuffed inside. ". . . I'm so worried about her all the time. So many things kill outdoor cats but - I can't just lock her in here forever if she's a person - "