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Minecraft Economics: How the Nether Update uses the Subjective Theory of Value

What is an emerald worth in Minecraft?


An emerald is the currency used in the popular game Minecraft for trading with NPCs called villagers and wandering traders. Emerald ore is an extremely rare resource in the sandbox world, yet every employed villager has quite a few to trade with the player. However, players have wondered how the emerald compares with real world currency. One YouTube Video by GameTheory tried to find this answer. First, they tried to convert it by comparing the USD cost of bread with the cost of bread in the game, but found that conversion does not translate to other goods. Next they used the labor theory of value to try to determine the USD to emerald conversion, but again came up with a nonsensical conversion. Finally, they tried to assume emeralds have an inherent value in real life and work backwards to determine the in-game USD cost. After using all of these methods, they come to the accurate conclusion that it's not really possible to convert emeralds i…

Glimmer of (Gray) Hope





Three club owners have a meeting with the local press in the Norwegian town of Fredrikstad, airing their brewing troubles to an eager journalist. The year is 2009 and two things have collided with each other that changed the behavior of their clientele: The aftershock of the 2008 economic crisis and a change in local alcohol serving hours.



When nightclub-goers still have the need to keep the party going but have less money in their pockets and the clubs can’t stay open as long as they used to, there’s a unique pocket in the market for someone that can offer alternatives. Someone who doesn’t care about state-mandated opening hours and deal in smuggled booze: The illegal nightclubs.

That was the topic of discussion the three club-owners had with the press,[1] those pesky competitors not playing by the rules. It’s almost impossible to compete when you are handcuffed to regulations and everything you sell has an automatic 25% extra costs attached to it straight out of the gate (and that is only at the sales point, the top of the iceberg), so I totally understand the three bar-owners frustrations.

I even understand that they want to nip their common problem in the bud and picked the path of least resistance by asking the Norwegian officials to do something about their “problem”. You can’t have a slice of that delicious Cronyism pie without the Cronies. Makes sense, right?

What I don’t understand is why those party people using the unlicensed establishment didn’t get a voice. They already showed, through action, what they appreciated: Affordable drinks and the ability to dance all night!




If those two wishes are a crime, you might as well lock me up in the dungeon right now.

But, it is not about the wants of those people, it's about control. It isn’t profitable for the state apparatus to allow people to do as they please, they thrive on their cut. How are state-sponsored professors going to spend 500,000 Kroner ($50k) of taxpayers' money on cab fares [2] if people stop paying taxes on their liquor consumption and dancing? Would nobody think about the poor professors! 

One Strong Market Supports an Eco-System

What is fascinating about the story about the three bar owners having to battle a bit of uneven competition is that they spilled the beans on some of the market solutions the illegal clubs used: They use private security for protection and bootlegged liquor behind the bar.

Organized and regulated security companies are an expensive affair by the very nature of how they have to structure themselves according to the rules involved [3], so it is only logical that those working in a gray area is going to be less expensive and can compete more freely on salary. Reputation and capability to handle situations get to become bargaining chips in your payment, instead of which mandatory course you have taken and which license you got. Real experience rather than diplomas.

Stocking your illegal bar is far cheaper too because you don’t have to go through the state monopolized[4] channels. You are instead free to tap into the source you want and when it comes to alcoholic beverages there are plenty to pick from. More on that later.


As the Norwegian government raises taxes and adds special fees on alcohol, sugar, and tobacco, their Swedish neighbor mysteriously hit new record sales [5]. The trade between the two borders is a multi-billion Kroner business - and it is mostly a one-way street in the form of goods. The artificial costs of running a white market business are rampant and the entrepreneurs that want to serve their fellow Norwegians on their home field, so to speak, are out of luck.

A frustrated Norwegian man took to social media to vent a little bit on camera about how the system back home is so full of parasitism that he has to take his car and drive a few hours and buy Norwegian food for half the price, in a different country. The social media post garnered so much negativity that he decided to delete the post, not used to getting so much attention. It is a shame he did because the message was valuable - Speaking truth to power has never been more important than now, as the corruption will not stop unless people put a stop to it.

Agorists and other anarchists shouldn’t be unfamiliar with that concept. I tried to reach out to him and check if I could grab a copy of the video and add subtitles to it, but he didn’t want anything more to do with it. But it will get so much worse.

Corona Virus Lockdown Days

A political class so afraid of not taking action decided to shut the country down rapidly. Norwegian prime minister Erna Solberg used a heavy hand and the media world exploded with fear porn and comment sections as far as the eye can see was filled with people angrily yelling at each other about the best approach. Everyone became an armchair virologist overnight.




Predictably, the microbrewery and bar I work for got the government-mandated chains on our door and the future wasn’t looking too bright. It still isn’t. 10% of the population had to sign up for social security program in the span of weeks. We have been expecting compensation for over 2 months now and can only watch as the politicians flip and flop on what to do.

But the party goes on. Police all over the country, and especially in the capital, have to play whack-a-mole and try to break up people having a good time and revealing that people are skeptical towards the mandates brought down upon them.

Even if the mainstream media try their best to paint it as a form of revolt only done by young people [6], my experience as a producer and seller in the gray market gives me a clearer view. I never stopped making alcohol, I just changed the production method and place. I explored this a bit more in detail over at Flote (supporting Floters only-material) along with two other methods.

There is more than a decade between the story in the opening of this article to my personal one, but the spontaneous action and agora haven't changed much in principle. I am very thankful for the gray market that allows me to keep prospering in these hard times. Every time I load my backpack with new brews and head into town to hand it over to a buyer I'm filled with joy that I can continue to do something I enjoy and serve thirsty people, despite the state and her agents doing the darndest to stop us from trading. Thank you and party on!


- Peace and Profit
Alex Utopium


[Blog] [Twitter] [Flote]
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[1] “Utkonkurreres av illegale nattklubber”, Fredrikstad Blad (Norwegian Text)

[2] “Topp-professor tok taxi for en halv mil.”, Verdens Gang (Norwegian Text)

[3] There are plenty of rules, regulations, licensing and fees associated with private protection services; Norwegian law, in regards to this business. goes deep in details on everything, including the design of the uniform.

[4] The Norwegian state have monopoly on sales of wine, spirits and beers above 4.7% alcohol, with their own stores, fittingly named “Vinmonopolet”.

[5] “Norsk Alkorekord - I Sverige”, Verdens Gang (Norwegian Text)

[6] “Politiet Stanset Fester Over Hele Landet”, Verdens Gang (Norwegian Text)

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