So I spent some time yesterday drinking good coffee and reading the ValueLine reports on all the companies in the Dow 30 Industrials. (This is the popular Dow index all the news program report on.) It took me several hours, but it was time well spent. (Plus it was the CostPlus Island Blend which is damn good coffee. (Cue Twin Peaks music.)) [more]
I was thinking about the problem of money and was trying to find something that was less debaseable than a fiat currency, but didn't have the problems that metallic currencies have. What I specifically wanted was something that we had enough of to actually back all the money we need, that was not counterfeitable, and would grow in rough proportion to the growth in goods and services, so that we didn't have the crippling deflation you would get when the supplies of goods and services grew faster than we could mine gold.
So what I came up with was an electrical energy backed currency, the Zorch. The smallest unit of the Zorch is the Shock. A Shock is 1 megajoule. (A kilowatt hour is 3.6 megajoules for a reference.) A Zorch is 100 Shocks. This makes the Shock around a penny, and a Zorch around a dollar. It is a fully convertable currency in that you can go to a bank and arrange to take delivery of the energy. (Or you can deal with an energy provider directly if that is more convenient.) Since electrical energy is more useful than thermal energy, there is a ratio for delivery. If you presented 1000 Zorch you could receive 100,000 megajoules of electrical energy or 200,000 megajoules of thermal energy. (This is a guess at the ratio, it will probably be somewhat different in practice.)
This is nice on a lot of levels. First, energy usage underlies our entire civilization. So you have something that is used and that isn't just useless metal that you have to guard. Secondly, it isn't counterfitable. You either create Zorch by producing joules, or you don't. The energy can be measured and independently verified any time this seems useful. Thirdly, energy production grows roughly with growth in goods and services, so general price levels should be reasonably stable.
In practice this will work much like money today. You don't have to take delivery if you don't want to. For 99.99% of all transactions, you just want to use it as a medium of exchange. So when I go to McDonald's and give them 6 Zorch, 57 Shock (written usually as Z6.57) and get my McBurger and McFries, they won't take delivery either. They'll just send it to their suppliers and employees and it will just circulate around. Enterprises that actually need energy (Aluminum refiners, steel mills and the like) will take their Zorches and present them to their energy supplier who will cancel them.
Second, this makes a great unit of account. A joule is a joule no matter where you live fool, so we can use it to compare things and keep track of things the world over.
Finally, this fulfills the third use of money as it serves as a way of storing purchasing power. You work hard and save up a pile of Zorch when you are young. You can then exchange them for goods and services when you are old. You can save your Zorch and give them to your children when you die. The value of the Zorch will vary over time as energy production methods change, but this variation will be slower and more gentle than changes of fiat currency, which will make this a much better store of value.
The Zorch bills and Shock coins can have portraits of famous electrical pioneers such as Tesla, Edison, Westinghouse, Galvani, and Benjamin Franklin. (We can even have him on the 100 Zorch note and it is still all about the Bejamins dawg!) The coins can have various electical symbols and lightning bolts on them to show the power behind this money. [more]