Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
None of your rant is even remotely connected to anything I've said. Where did I say anything to promote fractional reserve banking or gold hoarding?

I don't care how markets work, because markets don't work. That's Polanyi's point, and it's very much the problem.

So I don't care whether people use gold, bitcoins, joules, or bags full of rabbit pelts to do their accounting.

None of it matters, except as a bit of side entertainment. What matters is how people treat each other, whether social relationships are primarily predatory and exploitative, or primarily collaborative, and how - if accounting systems are used - they either hide and justify, or reveal and challenge the nature of social relationships.

That is all.

Now, when you're done hyperventilating, read what I said, read Polanyi and Graeber, and perhaps we can have an intelligent non-theological discussion about this.

Because right now you're carrying on like a priest who has had his faith challenged, not like someone who's capable of rational argument.

Anyway. Specifically:

Does a metre have backing? Does a kilogramme have backing?

The metre is referenced to physical constants. But the process used to calculate the metre as a unit of length is an entirely arbitrary social convention.

The kg is referenced to a not particularly stable test mass. Even if it were also referenced to physical constants - which is proposed, and may happen soon - the calculation would still be arbitrary.

So yes, both units only exist because they're backed by cultural convention, not because they're objective and independent of convention.

Clearly mass and length exist independent of convention. But that's not the same thing at all.

And trading in metres would be ridiculous.

it's actually possible to measure most kinds of value by reference to a unit of energy in a meaningful way.

No it isn't, because units of energy are also an arbitrary social convention.

In fact energy is a particularly bad way to measure anything, because it comes in so many different forms of different practical usefulness that you'll never find a scientist saying 'a joule' without also specifying, even if only implicitly by context, what kind of energy it's a joule of, and by what mechanisms it can be transformed to and from matter and/or other forms of energy.

If you get irradiated by a slew of 130Gev gamma particles or struck by lightning, do you suddenly become rich in your scheme?

Of course you don't. Not only will you still die horribly, the idea is a nonsense.

So clearly you're not talking about units of actual energy at all. You're talking about bits of metaphorical paper that can be traded and happen to be denominated in energy units - just as they could be denominated in ounces of gold, or casino CFD contracts, or commodity future contracts, or pounds sterling, or dollars, or bitcoins, or renminbi.

You've actually come right out and said these things can't even be redeemed for real energy.

So what are they really worth? No one knows until they try to trade them.

Where? On a market.

And there you go. Same old, same old.

And then you accuse us of not understanding what you're on about.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat Sep 7th, 2013 at 05:53:44 PM EST
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