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#1 2002-06-19 16:03:20

Byron
Member
From: Florida, USA
Registered: 2002-05-16
Posts: 844

Re: Economic systems on Mars - -What will Martians use for money?

I've just thought of a new topic...the role of money and economics on human-inhabited Mars.  KSR brought up some interesting ideas in his Mars books, like a "gift" economy, in which people bargain by "gifting", instead of spending.

What do you guys think what will happen on Mars?  A similar monetary system like we have here on Earth, or something radically different like KSR suggested?  How will early Martian settlements establish a common system of value so people can buy, sell or trade goods and services?

One thing I've thought about this subject, is somehow tying the value of money to units of time, i.e., 1 hour = 10 credits.  I'm not sure how it would work, but I've seen an example of this in Ithaca, NY, called "Ithaca Hours," in which people trade their time for services by exchanging scripts.  That would ensure everyone's time is valued equally, especially when it comes to taxation, as everyone could pay their taxes/common dues with their time instead of dollars...with everyone paying the same amount by putting in the same number of hours(wouldn't that be a novel idea!?!)

Of course, this system would only work if everyone works at their best, and I'm certain that various bonus and incentive programs would have to be put in place to encourage everyone to produce more.  What I [i:post_uid0]don't[/i:post_uid0] want to see is a class of managers and politicians taking over the show and sitting on their butts, doing little or nothing, raking in the cash, while the "peons" slave for minute sums of money. (sound familiar??)  The people that work the hardest should make the most money, not the other way around...let's hope the Martians get this part right!  wink

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#2 2002-06-20 12:49:07

Pat Galea
Member
From: United Kingdom
Registered: 2001-12-30
Posts: 65
Website

Re: Economic systems on Mars - -What will Martians use for money?

As Ludwig von Mises pointed out, you don't have to do anything special to create a thing that you call 'money'. In a free-trade bartering society, money is simply the most exchangeable commodity. We can't say beforehand what that will be; on Earth it has historically been things like gold or silver, as they are relatively rare, metallic (so physically resilient and stable) and fungible.

It may be that Martians will trade warehouse receipts for water, air, grain, aluminum or whatever.

I can't see a money supply based on hours catching on. Who would want to trade an hour of their own time with an hour of some lazy bum's time? Not a good trade.

A system of 'bonuses' and 'incentives' is an attempt to reinstitute capitalism by the backdoor. As Che Guevara noted, such a hybrid capitalist-communist system will either collapse or have to be converted to full capitalism.

If there's a better way to satisfy people's wants and needs [i:post_uid0]without[/i:post_uid0] simple free-trade (i.e. capitalism), I'd really like to know what it is. As far as I can tell, there [i:post_uid0]is[/i:post_uid0] no better system; but in the spirit of open-mindedness, I'm willing to listen. wink

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#3 2002-06-20 15:45:27

Byron
Member
From: Florida, USA
Registered: 2002-05-16
Posts: 844

Re: Economic systems on Mars - -What will Martians use for money?

Some good points there...I suppose it'd be nearly impossible to make an "hour-based" system work, for instance.  But as for having bums not doing their share of the work on Mars, they'd probably be pushed out of the airlock, as everyone's efforts would be needed to ensure the survival of the community.

I do believe that a free-market system will eventually be the way to go on human inhabited Mars...once the population reaches a 'critical mass,' in which there's enough speciallization of products and services to support a traditional economy.  I have no idea of what this level is...but I imagine it'd have to be at least in the tens of thousands, probably more like hundreds of thousands.

In the early days, however, I think the pioneers will stick with the "big happy family" model (like a commune) and everyone will be expected to pull their own weight, or else...  Facilities such as the air and water plants, energy generation, food production and management of common living areas, would all be under common ownership, and everybody would have to chip in for the cost of those things equally, whether it be in actual physical effort or some sort of credit exchange.

One thing I do think, is that early human-inhabited Mars will be a "worker's paradise," as the first generation of children won't be raised for quite a while, and as a result, there will be more work/jobs than there will be people to do it.  There will be no paper shufflers on Mars, that's for sure...lol.  Menial tasks that are typically handed over to low-paid workers here on Earth will have to be performed by robots, simply because there won't be anybody to do them.

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