September 27th 2016
Welcome to another episode of Kaizen. My name is Aaron Schere and I’m here to help guide you through the jump point to financial solvency.
Today, we’ll talk to Vladimir Millar about the rise of militias across the Empire and discuss if this is a long-term trend worth investing in or just a momentary spike. But, before that, let’s take a look at the latest news — time for Market Breakdown.
Yesterday, Aciedo announced a series of modifications they’ll be making to the construction pipeline of their comm relay stations. The new design won’t look much different from the stations currently seen across the Empire, but the company insists the changes will be well worth it. The relays will be constructed with new alloys to make the frames both lighter and more durable, as well as incorporate a more modular fabrication technique. Though the updated method does cost more per relay, Aciedo claims it will allow for faster assembly of stations, quicker repair and reduced long-term costs. If it works, Aciedo comm stations may become an even more common sight around the Empire.
Now to the Vega System. Even though the system’s overall economy has lagged since last year’s Vanduul attack, there are growing glimmers of hope. First and foremost, Kastak Arms: the Selene-based personal weapon and armor manufacturer has seen profits surge the last few quarters.
Yesterday, the company announced a handful of initiatives that show the company is not one to simply sit on success. Instead, Kastak revealed that it has bought multiple properties in industrial sectors of Aremis that were heavily damaged or completely destroyed in the Vanduul attack. The company has pledged to use local workers to build and staff their new factories at these locations. This appears to be a win for the company, which has suffered product shortages due to high demand, and the people of Aremis, who desperately want to get back to work.
Kastak Arms also announced a six month extension of its “Homegrown Heroes” initiative. The program deeply discounts their weapons and armor to residents of the Vega System. Their newest ad campaign, which features survivors explaining how they used Kastak products to protect themselves and their family during the Vanduul attack, has been testing extremely well. Residents of the Vega System have bought their products in record numbers due to the deep discounts and reported all-time low confidence in the government’s ability to protect them.
That last sentiment is not reserved for Vega alone. Across the Empire, militia membership is on the rise, eclipsing Navy recruitment numbers in some areas. Here to talk about this trend, and how it’s already affecting the market, is Vladimir Millar. As a research fellow at the Kilian-based Empire Defense Initiative (EDI), he specializes in the intersection of public policy and private security forces. Thanks for joining us, Vladimir.
Vladimir Millar: My pleasure.
Let’s jump right into it. What do you think is responsible for this trend? Many seem to ascribe this to the recent Vanduul attacks.
Vladimir Millar: There are definitely many who are signing up to do their part defending the Empire, but in my eyes, citing the Vanduul as the only driving force oversimplifies the situation. It absolutely is a factor, but so were many other things leading up to the attack, such as the Polo Initiative. The prospect of reduced military spending got a lot of people worried about how the UEE would protect their homeworld. Even though the initiative ultimately failed, many still joined or established militias out of concern that the government would nevertheless reduce funding to the military at some point in the future.
Of course, the opposite has happened since the attack on Vega. Military spending has increased, now becoming a bigger percentage of the UEE’s overall GDP than ever before. Wouldn’t that have alleviated private citizen concerns about their system’s protection?
Vladimir Millar: Not at all. Those in systems behind the lines that already saw the military’s efforts as ineffectual have been able to dismiss the higher budget by claiming that military resources are leaving their system for places like Vega or Elysium. The most extreme segment of the militia movement even believes the extra funds aren’t being spent on protecting the Empire and are, instead, lining the pockets of corrupt businessmen and bureaucrats.
Meanwhile, militia membership in systems on the Vanduul front has also increased dramatically. So, even those seeing an increased military presence are following the trend.
Any clue as to their motivation?
Vladimir Millar: Some are just anxious to help. They see the Vanduul and crime as the main threats to the Empire and are devoted to helping stop them. The Navy itself has been actively cooperating with these militia groups and many in the military see them as another asset in the ongoing war effort.
Others militias simply see the military as ineffectual or incompetent. They point to the sharp rise in Vanduul aggressions last year as proof that the military isn’t up to the task alone.
To follow up then with an obvious question —
Vladimir Millar: Why not join the actual military?
Vladimir Millar: In many cases the hurdles for joining a militia are significantly lower than for joining the Navy or the Army. Outside of physical standards and other skill requirements, signing up for the military is often seen as a major commitment. You have to leave your home, train for months, if not years, and you may be assigned to serve anywhere in the Empire. With militias, people can serve, maintain their home life and even have another job.
Then why not join security contractors or another type of mercenary group?
Vladimir Millar: For many of these people, even if they’re receiving a salary, they are fighting for an ideology rather than for profit. They’re not interested in protecting some mining outfit’s shipment of ore, but rather making sure that people like them can live safe and secure lives.
This is fascinating stuff, but let’s pivot to how the uptick in militias could affect the market. Earlier, I mentioned Kastak Arms’ soaring profits. It’s not hard to see why they’re doing well in the current climate. So, the question I want to ask is if we’ve enter a personal security bubble? Do you believe this enthusiasm for militias is a short or a long term trend?
Vladimir Millar: As a researcher, I’m not in the business of making predictions. I collect data, analyze it and try to contextualize it. That said, in all my years at the EDI, I’ve never seen people so eager to take security into their own hands.
Obviously, in the short term, this benefits companies like Kastak Arms that provide those products, yet it could also have long terms effects on how companies sell their products to the public.
Vladimir Millar: Take RSI as an example, and their newest line of capital ships, the Polaris. The ship’s size would normally mean that the Navy would be its primary purchaser, but RSI realized very early on that it would also be ideal for militias. They brought in consultants from various militias to consult on the design of the ship. RSI wouldn’t do that unless they believed there’s a significant civilian market out there for a ship this size.
Investors certainly think so too. RSI’s stock has been on the rise since the recent reveal of the Polaris. One last question, how long do you see this surge in militias lasting?
Vladimir Millar: That’s a complicated one. There are people joining militias because they don’t have faith in the UEE to protect them, and there are people joining because they want to help and support the military. Since there’s significant pro-militia momentum on both sides of this issue, I’ve got a feeling they’ll be here to stay for a while.
Thanks to Vladimir from the Empire Defense Initiative for joining us today. We need to go to commercial. When we come back, we’ll see if microTech’s latest line of mobi are meeting investor expectations. That and more when Kaizen returns.