Re: The Economy of Plenty

Keith Elis (
Tue, 16 Sep 1997 14:27:56 -0400

Eliezer wrote:
> Essentially, you have to get rid of money and replace it with
> a barter system. We *can* do this now because we have enough computing
> power to institute "complex barter" systems. [...]
> Complex barter is too hard to keep track of - without computers,
> heh heh heh - which is why we have money, to transform every transaction
> into a simple barter. By "money", we here mean something with artificial
> value, rather than universal units of exchange. A complex barter system
> can still have standardized units of valuation.

Then Anton rejoins:

> So you'd abolish money *and* keep it. Wonderful.
> Or did you just mean abolish fiat money? No argument here.

Then Eliezer comes back:
> No, I'd *obsolete* money. By money, I mean not merely gov't fiat money, but
> any unit of exchange which is declared, by public or private authority, to
> have non-intrinsic value, or value pegged to a product which fluctuates in
> demand. A unit of exchange has substance; a unit of valuation is simply a
> measuring tool.

A unit of valuation is a measuring tool, like a meter stick?

> Compare a meter-stick and a meter. Do you really want to
> measure a building in "meter-sticks", or speed in "kilometer-sticks/hour"?
> And every time you want to find out how tall something is, you can *only* use
> meter-sticks; and if you want to tell someone else how tall something is, you
> have to give him a bundle of meter-sticks. Don't forget that the meter-sticks
> shrink and expand at random!

Wait a minute. I thought you were saying that a complex barter economy
can still have standardized units of valuation? Are you mixing up your
metaphors? So far all you've suggested is that standardized units of
valuation are *more* difficult to work with than actual units of
exchange with artifical value.

I'm also interested in how a unit of valuation would begin to perform
its function. It seems that the initial decision to use a unit of
valuation requires an arbitrary statement by someone, or an agreement
among many, to say that 1 wooglestrat has X value. There are several
ways to compute value, but all of them are relative to something else.
What would you make your units of valuation relative to?

Though I don't label myself a libertarian, I do like Harry Browne's
description of why money becomes necessary. It can be found at
and I think it is salient here.