Re: The Economy Of Plenty

Eric Watt Forste (
Tue, 16 Sep 1997 13:50:24 -0700

I see I should have read through all of today's arrivals before
resending that.

Eliezer Yudkowsky writes:
> Yes, I anticipated something like that happening. Food, medical
> supplies, certain consumer goods, and other things that change
> hands quickly and rapidly are likely to become...

> "Exchange nexuses."

> Such items will probably become the 'units' by which the price of
> something is explained. Their existence will greatly simplify the
> computational work of cyclic debt cancellation.

Well, their existence will solve the "double coincidence of
wants" requirement which plagues all pure barter systems.
That's why money comes into existence spontaneously in every
fluid barter system, and it's why I'm still unclear on why you
want to "get rid of" money (as if such a thing were possible).

Getting rid of government counterfeit is another thing
altogether, and something I favor. But that's just one
particular (flawed) monetary system, not at all the same thing
as money in general. Money in general is just the most
marketable good (or goods) in a given market. It serves a
valuable function as a communications medium.

> But it still isn't a monetary system.

I don't see why not.

> Here's another way to look
> at it: Before the existence of commodities exchanges, grain got
> dumped into the harbor.

Well, not exactly. It depends on what you are willing to recognize
as a commodities exchange. Any ordinary street market where the
traders trust one another well enough to extend credit to one
another can function as a commodities exchange. In this sense,
commodities exchanges are probably as old as literacy.

> Another benefit is that if everything is barter, maybe somebody
> will take a look at the economy and say: "Hey, these 5 hours a
> day of paperwork aren't actually producing anything!" But that's
> the question of dispensing with the simplifying, information-losing,
> stultifying abstractions called "corporations"... which will wait
> for another day.

Five hours a day of paperwork is a chunk of computation going on
in a distributed computational system called "the global economy".
It produces new information, the value of which cannot be determined
independently of the context in which the information is being

Corporations are just voluntary associations like clubs or sewing
circles, except (usually) with a profitable business activity as
the aim of the group. I'm still not sure about the way personal
liability of actors acting on behalf of the corporation seems to
evaporate under legislation currently regulating most corporations,
but I really don't see how or why one would want to get rid of
them. Avoid them, perhaps, but not get rid of them. The economic
theory of the firm is not something I've mastered yet.

Eric Watt Forste ++ ++ expectation foils perception -pcd