Energy certificate

Energy certificate (1938)Technocracy_Technate_ID_Card
Left: a 1938 energy certificate. (Ѻ) Right: a mock futuristic technate ID (Ѻ), supposedly, embodying some type of energy certificate idea.
In hmolscience, energy certificate is a theoretical unit of value, in ergs or joules, proposed to be a replacement for the dollar and money in North America. [1]

The energy certificate was conceived by the Technocracy group under the leadership of American engineer Howard Scott in circa 1930, following the stock market crash of 1929.

In 1933, Scott presented the argument in the following form: [2]

“It is the fact that all forms of energy, of whatever sort, may be measured in units of ergs, joules, or calories that is of the utmost importance. The solution of the social problems of our time depends upon the recognition of this fact. A dollar may be worth—in buying power—so much today and more or less tomorrow, but a unit of work or heat is the same in 1900, 1929, 1933 or the year 2000.”

By introducing energy certificates, the technocrats argued that “apolitically”, rational engineers should be vested with authority to guide the nation’s economic machine into a thermodynamically balanced load of production and consumption, thereby doing away with unemployment. [1]

In 1934, in their Technocracy Study Course, energy certificates were described as follows: [3]

“Energy Cer­tifi­cates are issued indi­vid­u­ally to every adult of the entire pop­u­la­tion. The record of one’s income and its rate of expen­di­ture is kept by the Dis­tri­b­u­tion Sequence, so that it is a simple matter at any time for the Dis­tri­b­u­tion Sequence to ascer­tain the state of a given customer’s bal­ance… When making pur­chases of either goods or ser­vices an indi­vidual sur­ren­ders the Energy Cer­tifi­cates prop­erly iden­ti­fied and signed. The sig­nif­i­cance of this, from the point of view of knowl­edge of what is going on in the social system, and of social con­trol, can best be appre­ci­ated when one sur­veys the whole system in per­spec­tive. First, one single orga­ni­za­tion is man­ning and oper­ating the whole social mech­a­nism. The same orga­ni­za­tion not only pro­duces but also dis­trib­utes all goods and services. With this infor­ma­tion clearing con­tin­u­ously to a cen­tral head­quar­ters we have a case exactly anal­o­gous to the con­trol panel of a power plant, or the bridge of an ocean liner.” [Tech­noc­racy Study Course, Hub­bert & Scott, p. 238 – 239]

Two key dif­fer­ences between price-based money and energy cer­tifi­cates are that a) money is generic to the holder while cer­tifi­cates are indi­vid­u­ally reg­is­tered to each cit­izen and b) money per­sists while cer­tifi­cates expire. The latter facet would greatly hinder, if not alto­gether pre­vent, the accu­mu­la­tion of wealth and property. (Ѻ)

1. Berndt, Ernst R. (1982). “From Technocracy to Net Energy Analysis: Energineers, Economists, and Recurring Energy Theories of Value.” MIT: Studies in Energy and the American Economy.
2. Scott, Howard. (1933). “Technology Smashes the Price System”, Harpers Magazine.
3. Scott, Howard and Hub­bert, M. King. (1934) Technocracy Study Course: an Outline of those Elements of Science and Technology Essential to an Understanding of our Social Mechanism; an Analysis of the Price System; Technocracy’s Social Synthesis (pgs. 238-39). Technocracy Inc.

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