Money, Demand, and Assumption

From: Corwyn J. Alambar (
Date: Tue Jul 25 2000 - 12:01:58 MDT

Something else to throw on the pile...

Holding my wallet and looking through i this morning, I was struck by the
question of "what is money?" Aside from all the things taught in economics
classes, at its core, money is a measure of value. But in the end, isn't value
subjective anyway?

Or, to put it a different way, what will be valued in radically different
situations? Consider, for example, a manned independent colony on Mars. The
things that would be of value ot the Martians would be MUCH different from
those things of value to people here on Earth. On Mars, one might not think
of paying a week's salary for a month of air - yet here on earth that would
be ludicrous. The changed dynamic of what it takes to survive should radically
change our definition of common concepts such as value, wealth, and money.

Where this really changes things is in industrial economics, however. Consider
a more mundane example - a settlement high in the mountains of central New
Guinea. Due to environmental and social constraints (i.e. headhunters) it is
difficult to get petroleum products up to your settlement, and additionally it
is also impossible to run electrical lines from the nearest power generation
station down in the lowlands. At this point, because of external effects,
power generation may be better performed through "uneconomical" means, such as
fuel cells of photovoltaics, given that the "value" of low maintenance,
continual yield, field repairable (in some cases) electrical generation is much
more important than the raw cost of extracting the fuel source. Thus what
would be considered both expensive and foolish to most would have value, even
in a terrestrial situation.

The point here is the question of what will determine value in an
extraterrestrial setting? Take the Mars situation: Square feet of living
space, cubic feet of air, ounces of water... which of these will be the most
impotant, and which will fuel the medium of exchange?

Additionally, for colonization issues, the industrial economics of the
situation need to be considered. For example, it still might be cheaper in
electrical yield per poun of equipment to bring a propane generator (propane
can be synthesized from waste, anyway), but in terms of sustainability and the
decreased use of air it would be "cheaper" to use more "expensive"
technologies, such as electrochemical generation, fuel cells, photovoltaics,
or temperature gradient induction to do the same thing.


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