It's looking like rank auctioning is not a popular option, based on feedback here and on Google+. I do *not* want to force this down anyone's throat, but in this game, older means more skills and lower stats, and higher rank means older. I want to give players a chance to come in at the rank they want, without crippling them, and without putting jealousies and anger into play.
In my many military games, I have found no one gets jealous of another player character getting a higher rank if they think that player earned it. Up til now, I have been tending to bring PCs in at the same rank, and letting them earn their rank, but I was hoping to get a shortcut, so I can have a submarine start out with a PC in charge, rather than an NPC. The sub's skipper gets to "squeeze the pickle" - i.e. aim and fire the torpedoes - so starting out with an NPC skipper sort of cuts down harshly on the fun.
Maybe I should just use point buy points, cut out the optional random generation, and chalk the stat loss up to aging. i could do that, but that's boring... :D