Oh, I'm absolutely sure not everything is fine in the Betan "paradise". On the other hand, for most I'm sure it's a pretty open and free life — but because such a "nice" society's control mechanisms have a little more finesse doesn't mean they aren't there.
I suspect, politically, they probably have a legislative body with lots
of factions and weak, coalition governments. This is probably why you can't find many voters for the president; his faction isn't huge, but he's good at the backroom dealing that builds governing coalitions.
What happens to people uncomfortable with the sexual mores of Beta Colony? If they're foreigners, they don't have to follow them, just not be intolerant of them. If they're a citizen, though, I suspect it's considered a deficiency in need of a psychiatrist to "get over those archaic inhibitions" or the like. We already saw with Cordelia that they're a little over-keen on psychiatric intervention.
I don't buy that sex tourism is a big industry — it's just one that fascinates visitors from prudish cultures such as Barrayar! So we get more attention on it than it probably really deserves.
I suspect they do get by mostly on tech and trade, as stated.
I suspect that the quotas on Betans in the Survey are specifically to prevent it being majority non-native; Betans are rather risk-averse and happy to exist in their safe bubble, for the most part.
edited 26th Sep '12 4:01:09 PM by Morven
A brighter future for a darker age.