Many people have drunk tweeted, but I’m going to try something new … drunk blogging. Okay, maybe I’m not entirely drunk, but I do have quite a buzz working for me right now. This isn’t the height of professionalism, but, then again, this isn’t a professional blog. It’s the fevered dream of a man who thinks the world can be a better place if we actually gave everyone an equal opportunity at success and set the minimal baseline for working hard and following the rules at a comfortable, dignified existence. I’m sure there are plenty of free market capitalists who are willing to explain in gross detail why it’s right that some people suffer and starve to death because they are just too lazy and stupid to succeed in the current paradigm. To all of you guys … fuck you.
That being stated, I’ve been thinking about whether a better money is even possible under the current circumstances. I know there are quite a few Bitcoin fans out there and I definitely know that it has quite a deal of support in Silicon Valley and anywhere else someone thinks they can make a buck. Unfortunately, Bitcoin isn’t the answer when it comes to a better currency. In the event of catastrophic collapse, who’s going to care about Bitcoin? Can you eat it or drink it? Can it provide warmth or shelter? It’s simply bits on a computer network. It’s likely that any serious catastrophe is going to affect power grids all over the world; having a currency dependent on our power grids is a major weakness.
Let’s look at the characteristics of an ideal currency:
- Good medium of exchange – people should be interested in actually being willing to trade it for goods and services. In an ideal situation, the currency itself should have high intrinsic value. In other words, it should be worth something in and of itself;
- Great store of value – An ideal form of money should be able to be stored indefinitely. It should be immune to degradation and have value regardless of how long it is stored;
- Efficiently transferred or exchanged – In a world in which currency can be represented in bits, the ability to transfer or exchange it over computer networks with smartphones, PCs and other computing devices is not only essential, but expected;
- Redeemable – In the worst case scenario, you should be able to redeem your money for a commodity that has real world value, so much so that people can continue to use that commodity as a medium of exchange under the worst of circumstances.
- Expandable – There should be enough money to easily meet the overall demand for it. Ideally, it should be very difficult for a money to be accumulated in such a fashion as to be controlled efficiently by a small minority. It should be such that there is a significant motivation for it have a high exchange velocity.
While being a unit of account is also essential, I think that will be a natural result if the above criteria are met.
… does an item exist in the current paradigm that could effectively meet all of those criteria?
Believe it or not, the answer is “yes.”
Ethyl alcohol, also known as ethanol. More colloquially known as “drinking alcohol.”
Why? It’s simple … in the worst case scenario of a complete catastrophic collapse, ethanol, particularly the kind derived from the natural process of fermentation, would have tremendous intrinsic value. Not only is it a great intoxicant, but it is also an excellent solvent as well as an effective antiseptic and fuel. When created from the fermentation of natural sources, ethyl alcohol preserves those resources in a form that not only has a great amount of utility, but also can be stored indefinitely. Ethanol could easily be traded for goods and services, particularly in a world in which critical medical infrastructure was significantly degraded.
Even better, there exists in most parts of the world a comprehensive infrastructure which facilitates the production and trade of products containing high amounts of naturally-derived ethyl alcohol. Alcoholic beverages are easily traded all over the world. In a catastrophic event, the likelihood that a “credit” representing a quantity of ethanol could be redeemed would be very high. That physical ethanol could then easily be traded for goods and services or utilized for a variety of purposes.
Yeah, it may seem unorthodox and I may be a tad biased as I am currently under its influence. But, in today’s world, there may be some sense in creating a currency unit based on ethanol. Ethanol is produced in large enough quantity that control of it by a minority would be difficult, particularly because it can be accumulated easily in significant quantity by practically anyone. Enough of it is produced every year for it to be sufficiently expansionary and it is versatile enough that its intrinsic value can be easily recognized even under the worst of circumstances. It stores indefinitely and would have high value in a world in which there was severe degradation of critical infrastructure.
If anyone out there agrees and wishes to discuss this in greater detail, contact me. As for now, I’ll probably go to sleep. Maybe this is a good idea, but maybe it is simply the alcohol talking … err … writing.
Good night 😉