Re: The Economy Of Plenty

Lee Daniel Crocker (
Tue, 16 Sep 1997 15:27:00 -0700 (PDT)

> > "Money" is nothing more than an agreement among individuals to abstract
> > some valuable for convenience of trade. Those who oppose the idea are
> > just being stubbornly anti-social.
> Anybody who wants to continue using 'money' could do so under my new system,
> which is a superset of the old. More possibilities, not less. Complex barter
> doesn't have to be mandatory, just possible. The situation for holdouts would
> be loosely analogous to someone in our current society refusing to use money.
> Holdouts will lose (money)/(resources) until they give up and join in.
> I'm not saying that complex barter is necessary for the common good, although
> it is. I'm saying that complex barter is as much an improvement over money,
> as money is over simple barter.

I can see the attraction of a system such as you propose, but even if we
assume that you can make the transaction costs and accounting costs of
a complex barter system so small that instantly trading any commodity
is trivial, it's still not as useful as some forms of money. For example,
in your economy, there will be data somewhere on "things I want" and
"things I have to trade". What happens when I'm asleep? Those things I
have to trade are productive assets even in my absence, so I will likely
contract with some other entity to trade them on my behalf so that I get
maximum benefit. I'll want to pick a trading proxy business (let's call
it a "bank") that is most effective at producing more of what I want
from what I have, and it needs some unit of measurement for its ads,
because everyone wants different things. Some common bartered item may
serve adequately, but technology changes; yesterday's precious gems are
tomorrows cheaply-manufactured diamondoid. If I want to borrow some
things from that bank because I have an interesting business idea, they
will want me to pay them back with whatever they want /at the time of my
repayment/, not at the time of the loan, so they'll have to contract for
some measure of worth that won't risk being devalued by technological
changes. They'll probably issue their own "currency", which is just a
promise that all dealings with this bank will be measured by these units
whose value depends only on the reputation of the bank. They may want to
back it with named commodity bundles, but it would be even safer if it
were backed by contracts that specified commodities and services with
contingencies for technological change, or methods by which members
can revalue it by later agreement.

"Money" that is explicitly decoupled from actual valuable things--that is
nothing but a relative measure of worth among traders who agree to use
it for that purpose--is just too convenient for making long-term deals,
financial deals with no specific commodities involved, and other free-
trade uses, that I do not see even your instant-complex-barter being as
useful or as productive.

Lee Daniel Crocker <> <>
"All inventions or works of authorship original to me, herein and past,
are placed irrevocably in the public domain, and may be used or modified
for any purpose, without permission, attribution, or notification."--LDC