100 years ago, Henry Ford proposed ‘energy currency’ to replace gold


In 1921, American industrialist Henry Ford proposed the creation of an “vitality foreign money” that might type the premise of a brand new financial system — providing putting similarities to the peer-to-peer digital money system outlined in Satoshi Nakamoto’s 2008 Bitcoin (BTC) whitepaper. 

Entrance web page of the New York Tribune dated Sunday, December 4, 1921. Supply: Library of Congress

Bitcoin as an vitality foreign money

On Dec. 4, 1921, the New York Tribune published an article outlining Ford’s imaginative and prescient of changing gold with an vitality foreign money that he believed may break the banking elites’ grip on international wealth and put an finish to wars. He meant to do that by constructing “the world’s biggest energy plant” and creating a brand new foreign money system primarily based on “items of energy.”

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Ford, who based Ford Motor Firm in 1903, advised the publication:

“Below the vitality foreign money system the usual could be a certain quantity of vitality exerted for one hour that might be equal to at least one greenback. It’s merely a case of pondering and calculating in phrases completely different from these laid all the way down to us by the worldwide banking group to which we have now grown so accustomed that we predict there isn’t any different fascinating customary.”

The specifics round foreign money values “might be labored out when Congress cares to listen to about it,” he stated.

Though Ford was by no means capable of advance his imaginative and prescient of a fully-backed foreign money, Bitcoin has seemingly vindicated the concept a century later. Since 2009, greater than 18.8 million BTC have been created via energy-intensive mining that requires computer systems to unravel more and more complicated math issues. This proof-of-work mining course of has drawn heavy criticism over its alleged environmental impression — a short-sighted declare that ignores Bitcoin’s abilily to speed up the shift to renewable vitality.

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Changing gold, ending wars

On the relation between gold and struggle, Ford defined:

“The important evil of gold in its relation to struggle is the truth that it may be managed. Break the management and also you cease struggle.”

A few of Bitcoin’s most ardent helps consider the cryptocurrency’s sound cash rules may remove struggle by lowering the state’s capability to fund battle via inflation. Whereas a gold customary makes it tougher for governments to inflate their foreign money, “worldwide bankers,” as Ford defined, managed the majority of the bullion provide. This strategy of controlling and accumulating treasured commodities allowed monetary elites to create an lively marketplace for cash, which thrived throughout wartime.

The remnants of the gold customary have been deserted in 1971 by U.S. President Richard Nixon, who stated his authorities would briefly droop convertibility between {dollars} and bullion. The so-called quasi-gold customary would last till 1973, with all definitions linking the greenback to bullion eliminated by 1976. Nonetheless, in impact, the gold customary system was eradicated by the British authorities in 1931, with the U.S. following swimsuit two years later.

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The New York Tribune article circulated on Reddit’s r/CryptoCurrency web page on Saturday, the place it acquired appreciable upvotes. Whereas Satoshi Nakamoto by no means talked about Henry Ford in on-line discussion board posts, some Reddit customers speculated that Bitcoin’s creator could have been influenced by the late industrialist. Others jokingly stated Satoshi was truly Ford’s reincarnate, given the latter’s obvious perception in reincarnation.