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October 13, 2008

As the world's financial system crumbles about our ears, many people are wondering how to survive, how to transact business, how to engage in trade, which is of course a prime human social action and requirement. It is just because of this that the idea of mandated "legal tender" is so devastating to freedom. As Joseph Stalin said, "The people who cast the votes do not decide an election, the people who count the votes do." So it is with money. As long as the bankers control the value of money, they control our very lives, for money is but a representation, a token, of the life force itself.

For years ' decades even - I've heard all sorts of economically ignorant people pine for a reversion to the barter system as some form of utopian panacea whereby we could take back the power of control over our lives from the bankers and their evil cohorts, the politicians. But the idea is just plain dumb. I want a hamburger. So now what? I have to try and find someone with a hamburger who is simultaneously interested in trading for my used lawn mower blade? I don't understand why the ludicrousness of this is not self evident, but then . . . well, never mind.

But here we are, the entire world has gone to one brand or another of totally worthless paper as a legally enforced means of exchange of value. We are finally reaping the rewards: trade is shutting down worldwide as people are coming to finally understand that they cannot trust that any "paper" they are given will actually have any value when they go to use it for trading with someone down the line. The centuries of trust that society has slowly and painstakingly built has been destroyed, and now we must begin again.

So what will we do? Eat we must. Have fun we must. Love we must. Life will go on, and there is no reason not to live it to its fullest. What else would you do? Now is not the time to whine, now is the time to do what we do best--create!

Trade is all about stuff. I need a hamburger. You need a lawn mower blade. She needs . . . whatever. It is not about shuffling paper. We've become confused. Paper is about control, it is not about the free flow of stuff from people who make it to those who need it. Wealth is stuff, paper is not. All the paper in the world is meaningless if there is nothing to buy with it. Paper is only good for writing promises upon. And a promise is only as good as he who makes it.

Since I can foresee that this thing the conspiracy people are talking about, the "Amero," may in actual fact come to be the next "legal tender" to be shoved down our throats and used to suck the marrow from our bones. I'm wondering if there is another way. The "Liberty Dollar" was one valiant attempt at creating a form of actual value-based, standardized medium of exchange. It apparently was starting to look like it might succeed, and then the government goon squads moved in in full jack-booted glory and stole all of the assets of the creator and customers of this alternate currency. Boom. Gone. No charges, just a pure power play of literal legalized plunder to destroy freedom and fortify the king's position on his throne. That's what you get when you vote, you give them your life to play with.

What now? I had a thought. I'm not the guy to implement it but I want to throw it out there for anyone who might be able to see if it can work. I do this as an act of love for the good that is so much of humankind.

Cell phones and such are getting pretty ubiquitous. High computing power is virtually free. What if we could make and end-run around "legal tender"? What if it were possible to make barter actually work? As I see it, one of the prime benefits of money and likewise prime deficits of barter is that the use of money allows us to evaluate almost anything in relation with almost anything else almost anywhere in the world. Money truly is what makes civilization work. But only if we can trust it, which, obviously we no longer can. But what if I could know with reasonable certainty that my lawnmower blade was worth "x" units on some universal scale, and that your hamburger was worth roughly "y" units. Then each of us would be in a more knowledgeable position to trade, to barter, our stuff with each other as we would have more confidence in our ability to use the bartered material elsewhere in the world for other transactions.

So here's the idea: If it were possible for there to be a worldwide, open-source, Wikipedia-like value tabulation reference (but more highly interactive) - constantly up to date with data from all (well, many) of the voluntary transactions which people freely enter into--at that point we would have duplicated the primary function of money without actually using money. Let us say that you and I seek to trade. I enter my lawn mower blade data into the cellphone data screen along with the hamburger data and out pops a current evaluation of the relative worth of these items. You and I can then confidently agree on a more-or-less even swap, or we can add or subtract some pre-1964 90% silver coinage, perhaps, or maybe more onions or some fries, to bring the exchange into balance. Or whatever. This exchange data then goes out into "the cloud" of cyberspace to become more relevant data on the current value of stuff being traded in the world, and so we have the market evaluation mechanisms of money while not having to use that "legal tender" by which the international banking and government cartel strips us insidiously of our life force, day in and day out.

This would be a huge endeavor, but then, look at Wikipedia. This could happen!

Free trade. Honest trade. Trade with no permission needed, no paper trail, no taxes, no theft-by-insidious-inflation. Dealing with others as equals. (What a concept!) Maybe the French would be so inspired they'd create a huge statue we could mount in the harbor in celebration of the humanity of it all.

David Friedman, are you listening? What do you think? Is this a potential "Machinery of Freedom?"

(This article proudly written on one of the market's mistaken failures, the marvelous Psion 5mx, and was inspired by Sunni's quest for greater trust.)

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