following essay was produced as part of my 2013 effort for the
November National Novel Writing Month effort. As such, please
understand that while I did give it a quick review, it has not
gone through the same proofreading and editing I normally try
to give all of the material posted on this site.
always make some mistakes. There are errors to be found throughout
this web site, and many exist despite dozens of attempts to correct
problems. That said, ask that you approach this material in the
spirit intended – a basic thought, slightly worked out and very
informally researched, delivered in the hopes of writing more
than 50,000 words by the end of November.
~ ~ ~
a question for you…
When you visit Mars, how do you plan on paying for a pack of gum?
yeah… sure, sure… you think I’m going nuts.
PayPal is ready for you. Or ready for this. (Or getting ready
for this. (Whatever… here’s
general, I get the idea. Someday soon you may find yourself orbiting
Jupiter… pulled over at a rest area near Neptune… frequenting
a bar several light years away. And you run into Han Solo or Arthur
Dent or the three-breasted woman from Total Recall and
decide you want to buy them a drink. But oh no! This Jupiter moon
base doesn’t take American Express.
will you do?
don’t want to be all embarrassed and such. (Especially not with
thing is… well, the things are:
up -- How does this really involve those of us on Earth? Last
time I checked, most of the people we’re sending up don’t need
their wallets with them. I feel very comfortable saying the International
Space Station isn’t asking people to pay for their own meals.
And, just a hunch, if you’ve paid for a trip into space, they
aren’t going to make you pay for your soda when the beverage cart
comes around. Heck… I feel pretty certain that even Lady Gaga
(who is rumored to be singing in space soon… you do your own search
for the stories on that one) will have made arrangements to get
compensated in advance for her appearance, and she won’t need
a place that can cash a check once in orbit.
up -- Is it our place to decide the space currency? And this is
the important idea here… if we are going to continue and try to
be a bit serious, let’s move over to a new paragraph…
if we’re being realistic, there are two possibilities for needing
money in space… and only two possibilities.
first of these is that we have established a new community… a
space colony for lack of a better phrase… and have hundreds of
people in an organized, civilized, society, where some form of
agreed upon money is needed… where the possibility of linking
to the technologies and resources on this planet might not be
efficient (or even possible).
my knowledge, while I get the premise that at some point we could
have hundreds of people living millions of miles away, we aren’t
that close to sending Martin Landau or Barbara Bain to the moon.
(Go look it up… that’s a pretty decent joke there. Certainly better
that trying to figure out something involving Arnold Schwarzenegger
put, we aren’t closing in on establishing groups that need the
ability to spend money or exchange currency or in whatever way
need a system of value for purchases in space. And, while I certainly
admit that space travel is closer than many of us might truly
be aware of, see the first point, which is that I just don’t see
where those first privatized space pioneers will need to know
what to do if they plan on leaving a tip.
that leads us to the second possibility.
stay with me here.)
need money for commerce with aliens.
really, really want to make a joke about ET needing change for
a pay phone, but I’m going to avoid it. Not because of how old
the movie is… but because we don’t have pay phones and telephone
booths any more. (So there.) However…)
given this a bit of thought, and tried to make sense of the PayPal
scenario. From attachments to smartphones to all sorts of other
concepts, the dynamics of money… how it’s used, how it’s moved,
and so on… are changing all the time. So coming up with something
new isn’t really all that crazy, regardless of my stance that
those we send up are not likely to be considered mass consumers.
for now. At some point though, whether twenty years down
the road… two centuries from today… or even more distantly into
the future… I think most of us believe space travel will be pursued.
And, that might mean needing some way of accounting for monies.
if we’re dealing with people from Earth, then most of this shouldn’t
be much different than how we already deal with each other. A
colony on the moon could, conceivably, simply be like two countries
brings us back to the question I had coming out of reading this
article, and that got me typing -- Why would we need special currency
for space? -- and the response I arrived at was that it would
involve some alien culture.
is really the only option that comes to mind as making sense.
we will need money when we start a colony of earthlings on Saturn.
A full colony… with an interstellar Walmart or such for everyone
to use for buying discount tires for whatever version of a lunar
rover they’re using. Honestly though, for the most part we would
still be dealing with each other. And the same way I can go to
Australia and change currency there, I think we could assume that
whoever establishes Saturnbase Alpha will have a claim for their
country’s currency to be front and center. (See that… we could
take off in a direction where the euro takes over the moons of
Jupiter! But I won’t.)
real reason for developing space dollars doesn’t have much to
do with us and us alone.
would have to do with establishing a way to exchange currency
with those from another planet.
may I be so bold as to ponder… if we develop a space currency,
and figure out a way for all the countries on Earth to accept
what color to make that currency -- that’s a Hitchhiker’s
Guide to the Galaxy joke there… what color to make it --
there is no guarantee that I can figure out where a life form
from another planet will automatically accept it as being the
equivalent of one hundred dollars on their place of residence,
Ben Franklin’s portrait and color shifting bell and an embedded
security ribbon or not.
now… private space race or no… the need for space currency honestly
doesn’t strike me as immediate or daunting.
course, when I start packing for that trip, I may change my mind
when I start wondering where I’ll be stopping when I need to refuel
and grab a snack.