Ahhh the Galactic Empire, the single greatest force in the Star Wars franchise. It’s military might unchallengeable it’s leadership well trained and it’s men amongst the most elite in the galaxy. Surely there this ultimate evil has no obvious flaw, weakness or threat…
OR DOES IT!!!???!!!???
Well, let’s think about this. The Galactic Empire stretches across thousands of systems, and comprises of at least a trillion people. Do you have any idea of how much money it takes to hold a city, let alone an entire friggen planet? The Empire has to pay for shipyards, ships, weapons, training, materials to build forts, food for the storm troopers this is no cheap endeavour Now multiply it by several thousand and then, taking into account the fact that they need some sort of mobile army, add 35% to your total. The Empire is already spending billions of credits every month just to maintain control. Now, I know what you’re thinking, “why can’t they just build these things for free, aren’t they in charge anyway?”. The answer to this is simple. Palpatine is not idiot, this is the guy whose spent a good couple of decades manipulating hundreds of politicians and several high-ranking and influential business people, as well as instigating a war, he isn’t going to risk leading his Empire to ruin by skimming a bit off the top. The problem for the Empire for this point, pre New Hope, is that they have to deal with local rebellions and the actual rebel alliance, plus the fact that the only measures that they have to deal with these are the star destroyers and Storm troopers and they aren’t exactly cheap. The need for some sort of financially secure way of ruling and deterring rebellion results in the creation of the Tarkin Doctrine (a piece of legislation drawn up by Governor Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin which states that the Empire should rule through fear of force rather than force itself). This is why the Death Star is made, because the Empire needs a cheaper (at least in the long run) way to rule.
There are various estimates as to how much the Death Star actually costs and none of them predict a cheap purchase. The financial magazine, Forbes, says that the Death Star would cost:
“$852,000,000,000,000,000. Or roughly 13,000 times the world’s GDP”
Yeah. That’s a lot. Despite the immense cost of building and maintaining a Death Star, the Empire obviously felt that it was outweighed by the cost of deploying troops across the entire Galaxy. Nevertheless, the financial issues the Empire so obviously faced are clear in some of the design choices made during the construction phase. Firstly, the Death Star is only destroyed because of a narrow shaft that leads straight to the structure’s core. The argument (and it is a common one) is that the Empire easily could’ve provided a cover or done something to protect their most vulnerable area, but because of the dwindling finances of the Empire, corners are cut. The arrogance of the Empire, combined with the lack of funds means that they leave an opening which the rebellion takes advantage of. The same can be said of the railing issue. Why didn’t the Death Star have secure railings around the platforms in the super-laser chamber? Because they needed to save money wherever they could. The fact that there are giant chasms just screams unfinished room. The Empire simply couldn’t afford to fully afford to finish the thing, God knows what it could’ve been.
£50 says Starbucks
These cost cutting strategies aren’t just limited to the Death Star itself. The entire army is downgraded in some way. The prequels show the clone troopers to have a reasonably good aim,not perfect but hardly God-awful. The amount of jokes made about the aim of the Imperial storm troopers on the other hand? There are hundreds of them and to be honest they kinda have a point. The original clone troopers were created on Kamino and must’ve cost millions. Either the Empire has decided to opt for a less capable, and thus cheaper, clone type, or they’ve abandoned clones altogether and started recruiting normal humans, in which case they’ve cut back on any and all training expenses. The Empire is so desperate to save money that they are spending less on troops now than they were when they were at war.
Perhaps the only silver lining to the destruction of the Death Star is that the Empire now has to support 250,000 less people and now don’t have to maintain a space station the size of a moon. The must’ve saved a small fortune, how do I know this? Two things, firstly, the Executor, Vader’s personal ship. It’s 19,000 metres long and dwarfs anything that’s come before it. It’s nothing you’d find in the bargain bin. How could the Empire afford it? They’ve saved money after the destruction of the Death Star. The second example is the second Death Star. The Empire still has the issue of rebellion and the Death Star, for all the flaws of the original, still stands as a sutible, albeit expensive, answer. The Empire is obviously quite desperate by this point. The rebel alliance has proved to be a pretty capable pain in the ass that doesn’t show signs of leaving anytime soon and the new ships and troops it trains cost money. The problem that the Empire faces comes with the construction of the second Death Star. It’s bigger, which means more expensive, and requires a shield generator which, again means more money. In Return of the Jedi, Vader and eventually the Empire himself turn up because the Death Star is taking forever to build, hell, in the final battle the thing still isn’t finished. It’s entirely plausibly that, had the backbone of the Empire not been destroyed then the thing would’ve just collapsed under the economic pressure of maintaining power.