The Economics of Westeros (and Essos)

I’m going to assume that everyone who wanted to see the Game of Thrones season finale has already seen it. If not, PERSONAL FINANCE RELATED SPOILERS AFTER THE JUMP:

So, does Westeros (and Essos, ’cause I know Mereen’s in Essos) not have the concept of jobs and wages?

The whole time the (unnamed?) man is begging Dany to let him go back to being a slave so he can tutor children and restore meaning to his life, I kept waiting for Dany to tell him to sell his skills on the free market.

Instead, she’s all “okay, you can go back to being a slave on a year-to-year basis.”

It’s like nobody knows how capitalism works.

So now I’m really, really curious about the economics of the Seven Kingdoms. Who do we know who has a job and gets paid a salary or wage? There are plenty of people who have titles — Hand of the King, Master of Coin — but I think they just get to hang around in King’s Landing and have their basic needs taken care of in exchange for their labor.

And what about people like Hot Pie? He gets paid in “food” and “a bed,” right? There’s no scene where the innkeeper offers him a monthly salary and vacation days. Same goes for Gendry, anyone involved in Littlefinger’s establishments, even Davos, right?

Nobody in Westeros is getting paid, unless it’s Tyrion throwing Bronn a bag of gold in exchange for saving his life.

On the other hand, we know that money is necessary to buy goods and services, both because the Lannisters are in debt up to their body-parts-that-do-not-actually-excrete-gold, and because Arya has to steal bowls of rat soup when she doesn’t have any money.

So how does this work? Is it just a fantasy economy for a fantasy land? The only actual coin we’ve seen in use functions primarily as a magical business card.

And why did Dany compromise her integrity and tell that man he could go back to being a slave when all she had to do was single-handedly develop a free market-based system of labor exchange?

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