"Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world." — Archimedes
When dropped in a particular way, real gold is known to make a specific sound.
Thus, the origins of the term 'sound money'.
When the world was on the gold standard, it was a technique to verify the authenticity of your money.
I have been on a monetary bender the past few months. Diving much deeper into the world of Bitcoin fundamentals, monetary policy, history of money, soundness, scalability, and whatever happened in 1971.
In my apartment and throughout the innumerable coffee shops of Buenos Aires, Argentina, a country experiencing ~48% annual inflation and devaluation of their currency, I find myself inhaling The Bitcoin Standard, a book by Austrian Economics professor Saifedean Ammous about Bitcoin, money, and the fundamental importance of the gold standard in our collective history.
It is impossible to overstate the magnitude of the impact this book has had on me. It has dropped a nuclear bomb on my framings of the problems we are up against and laid waste to preconceived and idealist notions of what the world needs.
I have written previously about humanity's existential need for a Regenerative Renaissance, and that two of the substantial levers we have in this endeavour are Cultural Architecture and CryptoPsychedelic Sovereignty.
As I have come to discover, there is something more fundamental the world needs. Indeed, it may be the only thing the world needs to get its collective sh*t together.
Sound money is imperative for the functioning and flourishing of civilization.
This is because sound money profoundly alters time preference — the degree to which someone values and orients towards the present over the future.
A high time preference means you value the immediate present, lean towards impulsiveness, and do not invest much for the future. A low time preference means you value the future, tend towards saving, planning, and deferring gratification for a future date.
A global monetary system rooted in sound money fundamentally lowers collective time preference — allowing for deep, comprehensive, and sustained investment into individuals, projects, societies, and civilizations.
To get a sense of just how profound human development and flourishing is on a sound money standard, look at what was built in only a century, the last time the world used sound money via the gold standard:
“The majority of the technology we use in our modern life was invented in the nineteenth century, under the gold standard, financed with the ever-growing stock of capital accumulated by savers storing their wealth in a sound money and store of value which did not depreciate quickly. A summary of some of the most important innovations of the period is provided here:
Hot and cold running water, indoor toilets, plumbing, central heating: These inventions, taken for granted today by anyone living in a civilized society, are the difference between life and death for most of us. They have been the main factor in the elimination of most infectious diseases across the globe, and allowed for the growth of urban areas without the ever-present scourge of diseases.
Electricity, internal combustion engine, mass production: Our modern industrial society was built around the growth in utilization of hydrocarbon energy, without which none of the trappings of modern civilization would be possible. These foundational technologies of energy and industry were invented in the nineteenth century.
Automobile, airplane, city subway, electric elevator: We have la belle époque to thank for our cities' streets not being littered with horse manure, and for our ability to travel around the world. The automobile was invented by Karl Benz in 1885, the airplane by the Wright brothers in 1906, the subway by Charles Pearson in 1843, and the electric elevator by Elisha Otis in 1852.
Heart surgery; organ transplant; appendectomy; baby incubator; radiation therapy; anesthetics, aspirin, blood types and blood transfusions, vitamins, electrocardiograph, stethoscope: Surgery and modern medicine owe their most significant advances to la belle époque as well. The introduction of modern sanitation and reliable hydrocarbon energy allowed doctors to transform the way they cared for their patients after centuries of largely counterproductive measures.
Petroleum-derived chemicals, stainless steel, nitrogen-based fertilizers: The industrial substances and materials which make our modern life possible all derive from the transformative innovations of la belle époque, which allowed for mass industrialization, as well as mass agriculture. Plastics, and everything that comes from them, are a product of the utilization of petroleum-derived chemicals.
Telephone, wireless telegraphy, voice recording, color photography, movies: While we like to think of our modern era as being the era of mass telecommunication, in reality, most of what we have achieved in the twentieth century was to improve on the innovations of the nineteenth. The first computer was the Babbage computer, designed in 1833 by Charles Babbage, but completed by his son Henry in 1888. It might be an exaggeration to say that the Internet and all it contains are bells and whistles added onto the invention of the telegraph in 1843, but it does contain a kernel of truth. It was the telegraph which fundamentally transformed human society by allowing for communication without the need for the physical transport of letters or messengers. That was telecommunication's zero-to-one moment, and everything that followed, for all." — Saifedean Ammous, The Bitcoin Standard
From medicine to telecommunications, global logistics and transportation to agriculture, electricity, and sanitation.
The fundamental building blocks of modern culture are rooted in and originated within a global sound money standard.
Anyone who is talking about 'changing the world' without an emphasis on the reintroduction of global sound money is missing the mark.
Sound money is the common denominator of every cultural innovation worth its salt in the last two centuries. The world went off of the gold standard in the 20th century (yes, this is wtf happened in 1971!).
The movement away from sound money to inflationary fiat economic policy has fundamentally altered the time preference of the world's population, leading to an erosion of health, beauty, savings, attention spans, product quality, business ethics.
This is what I mean when I say it is hard to overstate this.
Everything — down to the garbage that passes as food, to the get-rich-quick sleazy salesman online, to the attention-whoring TikTok generation, to the hyperinflation and collapse of money like Zimbabwe and Venezuela, to the inane fuckery like one-click check-out that passes for innovation in Silicon Valley, to the cheap plastic trash from China — ALL of it can be rooted down to sound money or lack thereof.
True innovations, true Zero-to-One inventions, happened in the 19th century on a sound money standard.
That's not all.
It's easy to chalk up scientific and economic progress to sound money. But life isn't all about commerce and trade. What about the passions, what about the arts?
As it turns out, sound money is essential for true Art as well.
Sound Money Makes Masterpieces
We begin with the follow-up from The Bitcoin Standard:
“The contributions of sound money to human flourishing are not restricted to scientific and technological advance; they can also be vividly seen in the art world. It is no coincidence that Florentine and Venetian artists were the leaders of the Renaissance, as these were the two cities which led Europe in the adoption of sound money. The Baroque, Neoclassical, Romantic, Realistic, and post-Impressionistic schools were all financed by wealthy patrons holding sound money, with a very low time preference and the patience to wait for years, or even decades, for the completion of masterpieces meant to survive for centuries. The astonishing domes of Europe's churches, built and decorated over decades of inspired meticulous work by incomparable architects and artists like Filippo Brunelleschi and Michelangelo, were all financed with sound money by patrons with very low time preference. The only way to impress these patrons was to build artwork that would last long enough to immortalize their names as the owners of great collections and patrons of great artists. This is why Florence's Medicis are perhaps better remembered for their patronage of the arts than for their innovations in banking and finance, though the latter may be far more consequential.
Similarly, the musical works of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, and the composers of the Renaissance, Classical, and Romantic eras put to shame today's animalistic noises recorded in batches of a few minutes, churned out by the ton by studios profiting from selling to man the titillation of his basest instincts. Whereas the music of the golden era spoke to man's soul and awakened him to think of higher callings than the mundane grind of daily life, today's musical noises speak to man's most base animalistic instincts, distracting him from the realities of life by inviting him to indulge in immediate sensory pleasures with no concern for long-term consequences or anything more profound. It was hard money that financed Bach's Brandenburg Concertos while easy money financed Miley Cyrus's twerks." — Saifedean Ammous, The Bitcoin Standard
What you really need to sit with is the recognition that on a sound money standard, when individuals can deeply trust the fact that their wealth and money will continue to be worth the same years and decades into the future, they are able to buckle down, cultivate their skills, and invest deeply into the future.
Without this foundation of trust in the future, societies and their constituents develop a higher time preference, choosing to spend their money immediately on quick gratification and cheap tricks, as their money isn't going to be worth as much tomorrow.
Sound money ripples into art and architecture, to symphonies and stadiums. It's no coincidence we've moved from cathedrals to glass boxes. It was inevitable given unsound money and higher time preference.
🌱 Global Renaissance
Renaissance is a French word for 'rebirth'.
Humanity desperately needs a regenerative renaissance. A collective rebirth and fundamental phase shift into a more eco-harmonious, soul-enriching way of being with ourselves, with others, and with the entire biosphere that envelops us.
Humans have always gravitated to the hardest, most sound money that was available.
Despite what the spiritual Instagram gurus fresh off an ayahuasca sharing circle will tell you — it's not true that "anything is money." While it's true that anything could become money, very, very few things stand the test of time as a money media and fade into obscurity quickly.
Like Saifedean also says, "You can believe a banana is a spaceship, but it's not going to take you to the moon."
We have explored the necessity for humanity to return to a hard & sound money standard. The best example from history, and indeed the origin of the entirety of modern civilization, was when humanity was on the gold standard.
Whatever it is you think the future needs most: spiritual awakening and cultural enlightenment, massive investment in regenerative energy infrastructure, political upheaval and the dissolution of governments, rediscovering the arts and the beauty of existence — all of these begin with sound money.
Sound money is the Archemedic lever that shifts the planet, shifts the culture, and shifts the future of humanity.
Gold is the best monetary metal we've found. It is exceptional for several reasons that we will cover in future posts.
However — in the century that has passed since our parting from the gold standard, one true innovation has happened: the invention of absolute, digital scarcity.
Humanity has created the hardest, soundest money in our entire history.
Bitcoin may be the sound money standard that humanity needs to get its shit together and create a world of beauty, symbiosis, and regenerative flourishing for all.
This period may indeed come to be known as The Bitcoin Standard. And if we do this right, and we do it quickly, it may very well become one of the greatest periods of the history of humanity.
“I don’t believe we shall ever have a good money again before we take the thing out of the hands of government, that is, we can’t take it violently out of the hands of government, all we can do is by some sly roundabout way introduce something that they can’t stop.” – F.A. Hayek, 1984