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Kwid: An Inquiry into Electric Economies

kelson.philo's picture

I want money, and the pursuit of it, and the love of it, and the problems inherent with it to become obsolete. Meaning that it becomes so cumbersome that when the opportunity arises, people will slough it off like dead skin. And hopefully not Goldmember it.

Today's economics is an accretion wrought over time and is still evolving with each boom and bust. But at it's heart, it's still and abstraction of bean counting, and we allow this abstraction to have weight in our lives, partially because we are born into it and have no exposure to other systems, and partially because of the convenience of having an entire subset of humanity that loves to love this abstraction and do 'work' with it.

Money is only as real as we want it to be. I think most everybody understands this to a certain extent, but feels powerless to do anything about it. So, in taking a queue from good ol' Bucky Fuller, if we want to get rid of the system, the best way to do so is to make it obsolete.

Easier said than done, of course. Most proposals I've seen either want to go back to bartering, which probably works fine in a very small scale, or want to tweak the existing monetary system itself, such as the Douglas Social Credit. In my heart of hearts, I'll always be in love with Robert Anton Wilson's RICH Economy idear, though I stopped holding my breath for that one after the Challenger disaster.

All of the systems above still use abstractions to represent intrinsic value. I want to get away from that, get to something that's real, or as real as this universe allows. Enter the Kwid.

Kwid is a mangling of 'kilowatt-hours per day', which is a unit of power usually abbreviated kwh/d. To my mind, it easily becomes 'kwid', which makes for a handy bad joke.

The idea of the kwid came to me after reading David MacKay's Without the Hot Air piece. It's wonderful. It needs to be integrated into every political leader on the planet's frontal lobes. ANYway. It was his discussion of the need for better distribution of energy that clued me in to how such an arrangement might work. The kilowatt-hr is as real as you're going to get in terms of saying, ok, what does it take to do/make/go something/place? It's surprising how little somethings use up energy and how much some other things do. Check out Doc MacKay's work for all the details, if you dare.

So, great. Every physical thing you can do can be represented as taking x amount of kwid to do so. I contend that with a high enough and smart enough distribution of power storage, such exchanges could take place easily. Your account number is on your electric bill already.

How does one add to one's account?

Make energy! Feed the grid. There's a bajillion ways to do this. Low-income folk might just ride a stationary bike for an hour.

There will be lightning harvests.


On the other end of the spectrum, my friend MCvDub pointed out that it was far more likely for The Powers That Be to simply switch everyone over to using their credit score as a vicious form of whuffie that you're locked into at the time of inception, and your offspring are, too. Evil never dies, afterall, and there are a lotta folk that simply love class distinction. That's a dystopian plot waiting to happen, if we aren't already in the midst of it...