So Futurestan, that most curious of nations established in the far far away, has created a post scarcity utopia where everyone definitely has enough food and it is always summer (snow is a myth perpetuated by the west's nuclear winter propaganda). The problem is that, with the near constant beach parties that are definitely not government mandated, the Minor-Deity-Supreme-President-King is having trouble motivating people to do his bidding/provide the basic goods and services needed/send dissenters into low earth orbit. So he sat down in his thinking chair with his notebook to think and realized that there was, in fact, one thing that was not post-scarce: time. So he established a cabal of between 5 and 50 bureaucrats to determine his currency: The Standard Bureaucratic Hour (SBH) (they tried the second, but the number of zeroes on the bank note grew impractical).

The Standard Bureaucratic Hour works like so: a bureaucrat does W amount of work per hour. In order get their job they require X amount of schooling, and Y amount of studying for the bureaucrat test. The also do an amount of on the job training per work hour, Z. So the value of one hour is W-Z weighted by some function of X and Y. The result of this formula is then set to 1. So the average bureaucrat in the government of Futurestan earns 40 BSHs per week based on a 40 temporal hour work week.


Would this currency realistically function as a currency? Basically, would it serve the purpose of what we currently consider currency? Would it work on a national level? An international level?


  • Futurestan is a nation that has to import and export goods in order to maintain the facade of a normal country (albeit with no territorial water rights and a surplus of designer pets)
  • AI is completely off the table. The state religion of Futurestan is based on the Matrix and Terminator movies. So people still have to be involved in anything that Elon Musk believes AI would become an existential threat in.
  • A bureaucrat, in 2017 terms, can be anyone with a 4 year degree from an accredited university. The amount of time to obtain the degree can be considered standard. If someone got there degree in 2 years, it counts the same as someone that got their's in 8. Then they have to pass a test after taking a number of classes teaching them how to bureaucrat.
  • They have a government mandated amount of OJT they have to do. It is equivalent to about a week a year. They are paid for it but for the purposes of the above function it is counted as negative hours worked.
  • The value of the BSH is adjusted once a year. On Secretaries' Day.
  • As for what a bureaucrat does: think Hermes on Futurama.
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ You seem to be mixing two questions here: 1) Role of currency in post-scarcity society and 2) Time-based currency $\endgroup$ – Alexander Aug 18 '17 at 0:24
  • $\begingroup$ So the Futurestan Hour (FUH) will be traded on the forex markets like any other currency, with the initial value of 1 FUH = 10.5 EUR or something. The market will very very quickly indicate what's the actual value of the FUH with respect to EUR and USD. This may be or, much more likely, may not be in line with what the Minor-Deity-Supreme-President-King dictates; trying to dictate the value of a monetary unit by law has never ever worked. For an ancient example, read the sad but edifying story of Diocletian's Edict on Maximum Prices. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Aug 18 '17 at 0:30
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexP it's the bureaucrats that determine the value of the hour. Not the God Leader of the Revolution $\endgroup$ – Jake Aug 18 '17 at 0:48
  • $\begingroup$ It's actually the forex market which determines the value of the FUH with respect to foreign currencies. What the bureaucrats in Futurestan decree is irrelevant and can potentially lead to the reintroduction of scarcity, unless the country is so large and rich that it can ignore the rest of the world. In that case, there is no reason for it to play the import/export game. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Aug 18 '17 at 1:38
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexP I would love if your comment was expounded on and made an answer. Possibly addressing how Futurestan is a post scarcity society but still playing import-export and how that would affect the currency. Especially since they want to appear normal to non-post-scarcity societies. $\endgroup$ – Jake Aug 18 '17 at 2:35

First of all, see the movies The Price of Life and its modern remake, In Time, which explore the idea of the personal use of time (the number of seconds we have on Earth) as a currency.

Stories like this have trouble (other than as morality tales for "use your time wisely") because you need to establish a fair trade? An engineer's time is more valuable from a productivity point of view than a burger-flipper. From a morality point of view they're equal. A politician will always believe his/her time is more valuable than everyone else's. Everyone else will always believe a politician isn't worth a plug second. Further, what does it mean (and how do you do it) to get "more time?" Something must change in physiology to allow an intrinsically intangible idea to extend life.

  • $\begingroup$ You know I knew I forgot some things. I was trying to formulate this question while otherwise indisposed. When i get home I will try to fix the question up. $\endgroup$ – Jake Aug 18 '17 at 0:52

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