Friday, May 26, 2017
  Gresham vs Graybill vs Bitcoin, reprinted.

Looking at the latest shit about Bitcoin, I thought "Hey, I should write about this in terms of Economics As A Verb." Then I realized I'd already done it. So I'll just republish or pop the earlier item as is.

= = = = = START REPRINT:

Returning again to Graybill's Law:

The people of Free-Trade countries are therefore driven into the few occupations which are left, by reason of the destruction of their formerly more varied pursuits. Hence those diversified talents with which men are endowed are not developed but remain latent and unused, an incalculable detriment to the prosperity of their respective countries.

Let's try to expand the notion of skill-estate.

News item about the alleged developer of Bitcoin got me thinking about Gresham's Law.

The last time we had two INDEPENDENT AND COMPETING currencies was before 1870. Since then we've had one currency .... until Bitcoin. I had a hard time grasping Gresham until Bitcoin.

What Gresham really says is this: If two items both claim to be currency, and one of the items becomes much more valuable, the valuable item will NO LONGER BE A CURRENCY. It will become a COLLECTIBLE like vintage wine or classic cars. And that's Bitcoin. It claimed to be a currency until its value rose quickly. At that point it became Picassos.

But the current Bitcoin system doesn't even qualify as a collectible asset, because it requires ALL OF THE HOLDERS of the asset to give permission for every transaction. The permission is automatic through computers and nets, but it's still permission.

Bitcoin is not a thing you can buy or sell openly and freely. Thus it's not even PROPERTY. More like a trust-based inheritance.

= = = = =

Now think of currency in a dynamic way.

A coin represents a DELTA of value. If you have HONESTLY acquired a coin, it means you have INCREASED THE VALUE of something. You have cut down a tree, or turned the tree into paper, or helped to print a book with the paper, or arranged books attractively in a store to raise the sale price.

We can apply Gresham as a verb to the Graybill world of SKILLS as delta-makers.

The skill that yields the greatest number of coins for a given amount of effort will become a collectible, no longer freely transferred.

What's the highest-value skill? Counterfeiting. Money as pure numbers. What's the SKILL or EFFORT that creates counterfeit money? No skill at all, just access to the treasury. If you belong to the correct tribe you have access to counterfeit money. It's an inherited trust from the start!

Among other traditional skills, what's the lowest-value? Farming. Requires long ownership of property and generations of skill development. Payoff depends on weather, speculators, and the actions of other farmers. BUT farming is critically important to the existence of civilization, so a sane civilization takes steps to subsidize farmers.

Most other skills are in the middle. Pottery, welding, weaving, programming, cooking, selling. These are available to anyone with some innate talent, but the genetic aspect is non-exclusive. Doesn't depend on your name. You can learn them in a year or two of apprenticeship.

These skills qualify as currency. They can be transferred freely to anyone who can use them, and they can be used freely by the recipient. The resulting delta of value depends on all sorts of internal and external factors that don't apply to simple coins, but the basic idea is still the same.

Because these skills can be acquired (comparatively) easily, they don't need subsidies... BUT a sane civilization will take steps to maintain their value, just as it maintains the value of coins.

And there's the link between Gresham and Graybill. Our insane "civilization" is depriving ordinary skills of all value. Hyperinflation of skill currency, leaving ONLY ledger money, aristocrat money, vintage money, with any value. The only skill that counts is the skill of being born into the correct ethnic group.

= = = = = END REPRINT.

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Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.

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