That would seem to fit, most folks in this universe are on that level of earning power.
On the cost of the Plasma Gun, what is wrong with 40k? (Hurr) It is absurdly expensive still, especially when THE finest SP pistols only run to a couple hundred thrones (a couple thousand USD). The real problem for folks getting them is the RARITY, even if you have the cash you can't necessarily buy it, see the Nomad for example, in the entire sector, about 10 are made each year. There may be some used ones floating around on the market here and there, but a new one is extremely hard to get. But anyways, of course the exchange rate isn't perfect around the super fancy rare and stuff that doesnt exist in either setting. But does the common gear match up?
But at 10$/Throne a super-rare plasma pistol is only 40.000$. About the same as a car. And everyone has a car, some have more than one. It is an expensive item, but it isn't as expensive as prohibiting normal people from owning one (or more). And rich people could have as many as they wanted.
There are about a hundred million motor vehicles on Earth — among seven billion people. That is less than 2% of the world's population owning a car - and if you take into account that the commercial vehicles, buses, and rental cars which aren't owned by any particular individual as well as the fact that some people own more than one, you get less than 1%. That's right, if you can afford to drive you must hand in your Occupy badges because you are no longer part of the 99%.
Furthermore, $40000 is vastly more than what the typical driver pays for his car. That's the price of a 2012 Lincoln MKS, 2012 Audi A6, or 2012 BMW 3, and I assure you that most people are not driving freshly-minted BMWs, Audis, or Lincolns. The average price of a new car in the States is $30,303 (by cars sold, not cars listed), and that's unusually high — five thousand higher than in Canada, for example, and certainly higher than in the rest of the world save for some places in Europe. Furthermore, many drivers do not buy a new car at all, purchasing a used one instead. Basically, if you can afford a $40000 car you aren't just the one percent, you are an unusually wealthy one. The one percent of the one percent, if you will.
Comparing the purchase of a car to the purchase of a gun is rather incongruous. A car is typically the second-most expensive item a person owns, after their house. $40000 guns do exist, however, those guns are that price not because of their utility as a firearm but because of their value as a collectible — they're conversation pieces, historic artefacts, or works of art. When it comes to buying guns to actually use, the most expensive ones hover around ten thousand, and that's not a pistol but a brand-new brand-name 50-cal sniper rifle, and even then one of the more expensive ones. To most people, buying such a weapon would be unthinkable — they buy ones that cost a few hundred instead, if they own a gun at all. A weapon four times as expensive as some of the most expensive personal firearms in the real world is a staggering, and it is no surprise the plasma gun is so unusual among ordinary servants of the Emperor.
Additionally, there's also the fact that the plasma pistol you are referring to is the worst of its class — a generic knockoff from no Forge World of note. We do not know how much a Ryza or Mezoa plasma weapon costs in Thrones as they're listed only in Rogue Trader and Ascention, but that alone suggests they are as arbitrarily expensive as you might imagine plasma pistols should be.
In conclusion, your premise is flawed. Ordinary people are not as rich as you think they are, ordinary 40k citizens are even poorer than that, and the price of a plasma pistol in Dark Heresy suggests that $10 to 1? is actually too high rather than the reverse.
The average wealth of an emperial citizen is indeed interesting.
How poor / rich are different worlds, and how is the wealth distributed - and does it compare to any nations on earth today?
I assume that the wealth is very unevenly distributed in 40K, and that most people don't have much to spend. Hence there income is low - but also that their cost of living is likevise. (In large parts of todays world people survive on 2$/day, but that is because things in these countries doesn't cost much either).
If we have 10$/Throne, a 2$/day would give 6 thrones a month for really poor people (which would be a lot of people). The inquistion gives "pocket money" of 20 thrones a month to "lvl1 scum", indicating that either…
a) The Inquistion pays good money
b) The 10$/Throne is a bit low
c) The average slummer in 40K, is a bit better of than in todays world (living for 6.67$/day).
However, the 1% community should earn at least 100.000 thrones/month and easily far beyond that. Still there will be billions of those rich people in the imperium.
The problem with pricing in RPGs is that they never take the economy of their worlds into consideration, but instead price everything based on what they suppose the standard PC will be carrying on their person. As such, no commoner ever makes enough money to survive in a campaign setting - at least none that I've ever seen.
To this end what I tend to do is adjust prices based on social class and availability. Thus, rare items or items only available to higher social classes maintain their price in "Gold" or "Thrones" and the lesser objects, which have no business being priced in the same ballpark have their cost sliced by an entire degree and I decide a name for the lower coin if one isn't given, "silver" or "sovereign". In the case of DH, 10 Sovereign = 1 Throne, things like a cup of coffee are repriced as Sovereigns; thus instead of the cup costing 4 Throne (effectively 40 dollars USD for example) it costs 4 Sov (effectively 4 dollars). This allows me to keep the same base numbers and simply reduce the value of the coin to something that makes more sense.
For flavor I actually change the name of the lower valued denomination from world to world or system to system … so on a Pleasure Planet renowned for its beaches they'd be called "shells" instead of "sovereign", for example. Throne remains the standard used for interplanetary trade and in large purchases, most common people don't handle Throne on a daily basis.
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"I assume that the wealth is very unevenly distributed in 40K, and that most people don't have much to spend. Hence there income is low - but also that their cost of living is likevise. (In large parts of todays world people survive on 2$/day, but that is because things in these countries doesn't cost much either).
If we have 10$/Throne, a 2$/day would give 6 thrones a month for really poor people (which would be a lot of people). The inquistion gives "pocket money" of 20 thrones a month to "lvl1 scum", indicating that either… "
Actually, the cost of living in Warhammer 40000, as presented by the core book, is pretty high. Low grade accomodation costs 5 thrones a night, and low grade meals cost 1 throne each. Which means, essentially, that to eat three (crappy) meals a day and have a (crappy) place to sleep every night, you need 230 thrones every month. And that's before additional expenses come up such as medical care, which is charged separately.
Of course, for the typical Imperial citizen this doesn't matter. They're either indentured and sleep in whatever their master provides, whether as factory workers or as agri-slaves or as ship ratings or soldiers, or they live in a feral/feudal world and do not deal in Thrones. Or they live in the underhive and nobody can charge them rent. But the point is, the low cost of living presented in some parts of the world today is not the cost of living in your typical middlehive or imperial world. To be a reasonably free human, you need a lot of money. On 20 thrones a month, a Scum would starve to death. The limited benefit of the low-cost societies on Earth is not the benefit a Scum has. If he wants something, he has to either steal it, make it himself, or buy it at not-third-world prices.
As for the 1% community, they would need 37440 thrones for food and lodging (that is, of course, only if they eat fine and lavish meals three times a day, which many rich people do not in real life).
In summary, the cost of living in WH40k is usually high, and the only reason the Acolytes can survive on their income is that it is covered for them. Free employees, on the other hand, would earn however much they are paid but much of it would go to pay the high cost of living.
Not sure how you calculated the High-grade food+shelter, I came to 6600 thrones a month. ((100 + 3 * 40) * 30).
If you are filthy rich you may absolutely use 66.000$ on food and shelter a month - however, it will probably be most "shelter" (and shoes for the wife).
With 230 thrones / month, or 2.300$/month - for living and eating shitty - then you need to compare yourself with an expensive industrialized country in our world. And if that is the baseline, then I guess the Inquistion pays crap in "pocket money".
All in all, I don't think the prices/income matches particularly well - but 10$/Throne isn't half bad estimate (I guess you can defend anywhere from 1-30$/Throne, based on different measurements).
At that exchange rate (10$/Throne) any resonable developed world would easily have millions of people owning more than 100.000 Thrones, and tens of thousands more than 1.000.000 Thrones. And any large organization would be good for billions of thrones (wealthy noble houses). Then of course the Inquistion, Adeptus Mechanicus, etc would probably control countless trillions of thrones in assets.
You're absolutely right, it is 6600, no idea how I calculated either. Must have mixed it up with another calculation I was doing. But yes, I think we all pretty much come into an accord here.
Elijiah, great point on the gun prices. To add some extra comparison:
Nomad, handcrafted by master gunsmiths, limited number made = 20,000
Fatebringer, a very nice revolver, very accurate, fancy = 2,000
A good solid revolver = 400
Desert Eagle = 950 (a bit on the low price, but then again, the 40k economy is more weapon focused)
AK-47/AR-15 = 1000 (again, mass produced and easier to obtain than on the modern market)
For a cheap (relatively) low-quality knock-off plasma pistol, 40k doesn't seem that bad and does work. Besides, the average person won't be packing plasma
And Jack, I really like the Sovereigns idea, it helps to fix that one real incosistency with the prices in DH, food, lodging and other minor items