quadibloc on November 04, 2010, 12:41:48 pm
This is shocking! Little Babette stole a whole ten dollars from her parents!

Of course, stealing is shocking. And I cheated a little when I said that. I didn't mean ten dollars in today's money.

And so in today's money, I suppose that is well over a hundred dollars. A pre-1933 dollar was worth approximately 15.3 grams of gold.

However, while using gold as currency in an AnCap society on Earth would make sense today, I would have thought that gold would be so common as to be almost worthless out among the asteroids - even if it's still a very useful metal for electrical contacts.

NeitherRuleNorBeRuled on November 04, 2010, 01:09:08 pm
This is shocking! Little Babette stole a whole ten dollars from her parents!

Of course, stealing is shocking. And I cheated a little when I said that. I didn't mean ten dollars in today's money.

And so in today's money, I suppose that is well over a hundred dollars. A pre-1933 dollar was worth approximately 15.3 grams of gold.


When I started posting this, the spot price for 1gm of gold is USD 44.40 (44.54CDN).  That makes her claim of 150-160gm of gold equivalent to  $6660-7104 in 4-Nov-2010 USD.

J Thomas on November 04, 2010, 02:14:41 pm
This is shocking! Little Babette stole a whole ten dollars from her parents!

Of course, stealing is shocking. And I cheated a little when I said that. I didn't mean ten dollars in today's money.

And so in today's money, I suppose that is well over a hundred dollars. A pre-1933 dollar was worth approximately 15.3 grams of gold.

However, while using gold as currency in an AnCap society on Earth would make sense today, I would have thought that gold would be so common as to be almost worthless out among the asteroids - even if it's still a very useful metal for electrical contacts.

The belt probably doesn't have any gold from earth -- why would it get shipped up?

And it might often be more practical not to refine small quantities out of other metals in the belt. On earth one way is it dissolves in seawater etc, then melted with silicates, and extruded through cracks in other rock. Easy to separate gold from quartz. Maybe not so easy to separate gold from nickel-iron.

The value of gold today might be less relevant than the value of gold in 13th century china.

She said she wasn't sure she could pay it back, and Reggie looked shocked. That's two clues that it might add up to a lot.

Say it amounted to a significant amount of money today. Say, $50,000. Why was that much available for her to steal over a period of a few years? Why didn't anyone notice? What did she do with it?

jamesd on November 04, 2010, 04:34:42 pm
This is shocking! Little Babette stole a whole ten dollars from her parents!

Of course, stealing is shocking. And I cheated a little when I said that. I didn't mean ten dollars in today's money.

And so in today's money, I suppose that is well over a hundred dollars. A pre-1933 dollar was worth approximately 15.3 grams of gold.

However, while using gold as currency in an AnCap society on Earth would make sense today, I would have thought that gold would be so common as to be almost worthless out among the asteroids - even if it's still a very useful metal for electrical contacts.

Over the past several thousand years, gold has roughly retained its value - improved technology for extracting gold being matched by increased monetary demand for gold.  Its labor value has fallen considerably, but its value in goods has remained roughly constant - our ability to produce goods improving at roughly the same speed as our ability to produce gold.

Today, 150gau is worth around $4000, which is a lot of stealing for a little kid.

The depicted society has a much higher standard of living, but on the other hand, much higher monetary demand for gold, since they seem to rely largely on actual gold coins, rather than bits of paper representing promises to deliver gold, so it is reasonably plausible that 150gau might be roughly as much to a kid in the depicted society, as a kid in our society

SandySandfort on November 04, 2010, 06:29:17 pm
150 gau is not worth $10, $4000 or $50,000. Apparently, only NeitherRuleNorBeRuled had the good sense to actually look it up. (Kudos, NRNBR.) Just assume for the purpose of this exercise, that the kid stole the equivalent of about 7 grand in today's dollars.

For those of you who would like to observe the inflationary destruction of the dollar, you can check this site, and its sister sites, to see the price of precious metals go asymptotic:

   http://goldprice.org/gold-price-per-gram.html

NeitherRuleNorBeRuled on November 04, 2010, 08:06:42 pm
150 gau is not worth $10, $4000 or $50,000. Apparently, only NeitherRuleNorBeRuled had the good sense to actually look it up. (Kudos, NRNBR.)

Thanks, Sandy.

The thing that really surprised me was that those who frequent this forum don't seem to be gold investors.  That's somewhat disappointing (but perhaps to my advantage  8))  since I'd like to see more AnCap prosperity, and it's difficult to find investments that even keep up with the rapidly eroding currency in the US (and many other places).

Then again, maybe they are, and just don't want anyone to know.  ;D

ZeissIkon on November 04, 2010, 08:10:53 pm
I can easily see how a kid, in a society where "we do what we can, when we can", could rack up 150 grams over three years -- that's just about a gram a week, or less than 150 mg (equivalent to about $6.50) per day, pretty easily skimmed if she had jobs where the cash wasn't watched to the milligram.  And assuming a continued near-constant ratio of goods to gold, that's within the range of a moderate espresso drink habit (2-3 drinks a day), a weakness for arcade video games (ten or twelve plays a day), or a secret addiction to weekly pedicures -- all stuff an eleven year old girl might get involved in, and find it hard to quit.

J Thomas on November 04, 2010, 10:05:40 pm
150 gau is not worth $10, $4000 or $50,000. Apparently, only NeitherRuleNorBeRuled had the good sense to actually look it up. (Kudos, NRNBR.) Just assume for the purpose of this exercise, that the kid stole the equivalent of about 7 grand in today's dollars.

For those of you who would like to observe the inflationary destruction of the dollar, you can check this site, and its sister sites, to see the price of precious metals go asymptotic:

The value of gold in the USA in current US dollars has nothing to do with the value of gold in the asteroid belt a long time from now.

But for your story you can set it however you want.

SandySandfort on November 04, 2010, 11:34:35 pm
The value of gold in the USA in current US dollars has nothing to do with the value of gold in the asteroid belt a long time from now.

Actually, it does. A gram is a gram is a gram. What changes is the dollar, yen, euro or any other fiat currency. Just as there is no such thing as different gold prices in different countries, there will be no difference in the value of gold anywhere in the future solar system. The likelihood of tons of new gold being found, is essentially non-existent.

But for your story you can set it however you want.

Exactly, but do you know why it is what it is? It is a convention in science fiction to make "credits," "tokens," scrip or whatever "space money" to be in parity with whatever dominant currency exist when the story is written. The reason this is done is obvious. So too, with gold or silver. Unless you are writing a story in which the value of the currency is a serious plot element, you just KISS, by assuming that the value of the asset is close to what it is now.

quadibloc on November 04, 2010, 11:57:44 pm
It is a convention in science fiction to make "credits," "tokens," scrip or whatever "space money" to be in parity with whatever dominant currency exist when the story is written. The reason this is done is obvious. So too, with gold or silver. Unless you are writing a story in which the value of the currency is a serious plot element, you just KISS, by assuming that the value of the asset is close to what it is now.
Makes sense. Sometimes, for greater realism, the credit might be worth 53 cents in current currency or $2.59, or money could be used so little in the story that it wouldn't really matter if a credit was 10 cents or 10 dollars.

But making currency a plot element makes sense. Thus, one could have an economy in which there are two currencies. A soft currency - called "credits" - which is what the proles get paid in for their jobs, and a hard currency - "dollars", which are worth gold at the pre-1933 rate. The proles get Foreign Exchange Ration Coupons, paid for by the taxes paid by the people with good export-oriented jobs, that let them buy bananas with credits as if they had dollars (not at 1 credit = 1 dollar, but at a rate somewhat better than the free-market exchange, from 2x to 10x).

I would expect that among asteroid miners, non-monetary gold would be dirt cheap. But space transport would still be too expensive to make it worth selling to Earth, where gold is expensive. But a gram of gold could be valuable still, if relations with Earth were amicable, and a "gram" meant not an actual gram of gold, but a credit in an Earth bank for a gram of Earth gold.

Obviously, you can't do it this way in this story.

dough560 on November 05, 2010, 01:18:17 am
There was a book series about fifteen-twenty years ago describing asteroid mining using reflected sunlight.  The author postulated different materials cracked from an asteroid when the concentrated energy reduced asteroid material to a gaseous state.  Said material would be processed through a centrifuge.  His theory was for every hundred ton of refined steel, there would be X tons of copper, gold, platinum, silver, etc.   Essentially the "monetary" metals were impurities.

This author postulated early shipments of "precious metals" would be greeted with open arms.  Eventually Terran governments would  realize the "precious metals" were depressing world monetary standards and bar their import.

This would not limit "precious metals" used as monetary units off planet.  There's a lot to be said for accepted norms and habit of "accepted value".


terry_freeman on November 05, 2010, 02:38:15 am
Historically, there have been periods of inflation in hard metals when supply outstripped demand, but not to the degree that is experienced with faith-based paper currency. Spain suffered a terrible bout of inflation due to imports from the Americas, for instance; this contributed to the downfall of a once-great empire.

Over longer periods of time, the technology for gold or silver tends to stay at par with the technology for producing other goods.

In an AnCap society, I'm going to assume at least a "free banking" rule where banks are not protected by law against bank runs, and therefore must have much higher reserve standards than are the norm today. An educated populace would demand - and get - 100% reserve banking. In a 100% reserve banking system, every transaction would be backed 100% by gold, silver, or some other acceptable medium of exchange. This would increase demand for gold and other precious metals. I'd expect a fair number of transactions using actual physical gold, for a variety of reasons: the joy of handling such beautiful coins, a desire to keep bankers honest, a preference for anonymity, and/or to avoid the fees of 100% reserve banks. ( A 100% reserve bank cannot possibly offer "free checking." )

People seldom think about how much pocket change they accumulate over long periods of time. I would guess anywhere between 5 and 10 dollars worth of change per week is typical. In a society where coins are preferred to paper, the amounts might be considerably larger.

If you haven't already done so, you ought to purchase some gold and/or silver. Compare these coins to the cheap junk now distributed, and you'll be amazed.

As I post this, the current price of gold is $44.56 per gram; little Babette made off with a fair bit of change.

100% reserve banking, zero money-from-thin-air, and no taxes would encourage savings - and most people, I suspect, would have substantial savings of tens or hundreds of thousands of grams of gold.

Tucci78 on November 05, 2010, 04:50:30 am
The value of gold in the USA in current US dollars has nothing to do with the value of gold in the asteroid belt a long time from now.

Actually, it does. A gram is a gram is a gram. What changes is the dollar, yen, euro or any other fiat currency. Just as there is no such thing as different gold prices in different countries, there will be no difference in the value of gold anywhere in the future solar system. The likelihood of tons of new gold being found, is essentially non-existent.

Let's look at microgravity extraction of mineral resources as it will probably be practiced in the asteroid belt, and there begins to be some suspicion that the relative value of any precious metal (relative to finished goods and services, that is) will likely to be nothing remotely near what those metals are worth in the present economy. 

Decidedly non-libertarian SF author Alexis Gilliland wrote a series of novels set in the Rosinante plenum (for which he beat out David Brin in the voting for the 1982 John W. Campbell Award), and in the course of these works he observed - correctly insofar as I recall - that the sorts of very large-scale metals refining that can be managed in a very-low-Torr microgravity setting (employing sunlight focused by enormous mirrors floating in space to heat the metallic masses available for harvest) would blow the hell out of the precious metals market earthside. 

A certain appreciable percentage of any metallic planetesimal in the asteroid belt is going to be silver, gold, and platinum (just to select three of the substances used as "money" in Escape From Terra), and while these percentages are small, the total amounts of readily accessible source materials - and the ready availability of energy out there - is going to result (ceteris paribus) in a whole helluva lot of gold, silver, and platinum entering circulation, substantially devaluing coinage denominated in masses of these metals. 

The value of what Babette the Younger had pilfered over time might not even be equivalent to that of ten Federal Reserve Note substitutes for lawful money of these United States. 
"I is a great believer in peaceful settlements," Jik-jik assured him. "Ain't nobody as peaceful as a dead trouble-maker."
-- Keith Laumer, Retief's War (1966)

J Thomas on November 05, 2010, 06:49:28 am
The value of gold in the USA in current US dollars has nothing to do with the value of gold in the asteroid belt a long time from now.

Actually, it does. A gram is a gram is a gram. What changes is the dollar, yen, euro or any other fiat currency. Just as there is no such thing as different gold prices in different countries, there will be no difference in the value of gold anywhere in the future solar system. The likelihood of tons of new gold being found, is essentially non-existent.

The geological processes that concentrate gold, which result in gold strikes where gold is plentiful, will probably not exist in the belt. Unless they happened once upon a time. There could be other processes that concentrate gold. We don't know. In recent years it has been profitable to mine gold from sand in concentrations of one part in a million or less. It's possible to profitably mine a stream bed for a tiny amount of gold, leaving behind of course a mess. Would it be profitable in the belt to remove gold in tiny concentrations alloyed into iron. Not with current technology, but maybe later....

So the supply of gold to the belt would be uncertain.  Probably not much would come from terra, except in the form of thin films plated on equipment.

The demand would be arbitrary, since any amount could used for money, and an increasing amount would be used to make stuff that didn't get recycled right away.

I could have gotten an idea of the value of gold by watching for prices -- how much for a cup of coffee, for a meal at a restaurant, how much was a decent tip,  how much for 20 pounds of oxygen, for a decent hotel room, etc. But I wasn't paying attention.
 
Quote
It is a convention in science fiction to make "credits," "tokens," scrip or whatever "space money" to be in parity with whatever dominant currency exist when the story is written. The reason this is done is obvious. So too, with gold or silver. Unless you are writing a story in which the value of the currency is a serious plot element, you just KISS, by assuming that the value of the asset is close to what it is now.

Values are not really comparable in a place where air is not free and water doesn't run downhill, but still you're right.

And when a character buys a loaf of bread for a nickel, that gives you an idea when the story was written. I was struck by that last week when I took a new look at The Day the Machines Stopped which was reprinted in The Power of Illusion. Two men are arguing over a woman. One of them says, "And you make what, $5000 a year? I make $10,000. I can take care of her better than you can." The other man doesn't answer. He started at $5000 but his worth was quickly recognized and he was up to $6,500, quite a respectable sum.

bjdotson on November 05, 2010, 08:09:05 am
Heinlein pointed out in one of his books, that the way to get a handle on the local currency is to see how many "tokens" (or whatever) it takes to buy a loaf of Bread. It would be nice to see that in this strip.

As to the gram is a gram is a gram; I really like this. I think the proper way to look at gold is to consider the price at any given time worldwide to be the same. It is the currencies that rise or fall against gold. I think people tend to forget that. Of course, the same can be said for Identical loaves of Bread. Gold has the advantage that it is easier to find identical grams of gold.

The actual worth of gold in this society is more or less irrelevant; the emotional response to the amount stolen is the important part of the story.