The origin of energy accounting

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Thermodynamic Interpretation of Social Phenomena
By Howard Scott 1933

Technocracy Inc. Est. 1933 is a research organization founded in 1920, composed of scientists, technologists, physicists, and biochemists. It was organized to collect and collate data on the physical functioning of the social mechanism on the North American Continent, and to portray the relationship of this Continent, and the magnitude of its operations in quantitative comparison with other continental areas of the world. Its methods are the result of a synthetic integration of the physical sciences that pertain to the determination of all functional sequences of social phenomena.

Technocracy postulate:
The phenomena involved in the functional operation of a social mechanism are metrical.

It defines science as `the methodology of the determination of the most probable.' Technocracy therefore assumes from its postulate that there already exist fundamental and arbitrary units which, in conjunction with derived units, can be extended to form a new and basic method for the quantitative analysis and determination of the next most probable state of any social mechanism. Technocracy further states that as all organic and inorganic mechanisms involved in the operation of the social macrocosm are energy-consuming devices, therefore the basic metrical relationships are: the factor of energy conversion, or efficiency; and the rate of conversion of available energy of the mechanism as a functional whole in a given area per time unit. Technocracy accordingly establishes a new technique of social mensuration, that is to say, a process for determining the rates of growth of all energy-consuming devices within the limits of the next most probable energy state.

The Energy Survey of North America has been conducted by Technocracy in association with the Industrial Engineering Department of Columbia University and the Architects' Emergency Committee (1932) has found that employment of this method has not only yielded new data but has endowed already existing data with a new significance. As the above method is one of measurement, it follows axiomatically that all processes of evaluation are excluded. Value has no metrical equivalent.

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Value is defined by the economists as the measure of the force of desire. It has its physical manifestation in any one commodity unit by which all other commodities or services are evaluated. Any society using a commodity method of valuation shall herein be said to be employing a Price System.

Social Change
A `social steady state' is a social mechanism whose per capita rate of energy conversion is not changing appreciably with time. Social change, on the other hand, may be defined as the change in the per capita rate of energy conversion, or the change from one order of magnitude to another in the social conversion of the available energy. All social history prior to the last century and a half, viewed technologically, may therefore be described as the record of a steady state. Only within the last hundred and fifty years has there been introduced a technique that has specifically caused social change. Technology, as the executor of physical science, is the instrument for effecting social change.

During the 200,000 years prior to 1800 the biological progression of man in his struggle for subsistence on this earth, had advanced so far that the total world population in that year reached the approximate number of 850,000,000. During the subsequent 132 years world population has attained such heights that it now exceeds a total of 1,80,000,000; in other words, the population increase in that 132 years was greater than it was in the previous 200,000. Most of this increase in the human species has been made possible by the social introduction of technological procedures, that is, change in the means whereby we live as brought about solely by the introduction of technology.

A century ago these United States had a population of approximately 12,000,000; by 1933 had a total of over 122,000,000--a tenfold increase in the century.

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One hundred years ago in these United States we consumed less than 75 trillion British Thermal Units of extraneous energy per annum; whereas in 1929 we consumed approximately 27,000 trillion British Thermal Units--an increase Of 353-fold in the century. Our energy consumption now exceeds 150,000 kilogram-calories per capita per day;

DFRs addenda:
1997 over 175,000 kilogram-calories per capita per day.

whereas in the year 1800 our consumption of extraneous energy was probably not less than 1,600 nor more than 2,000 kilogram-calories per capita per day. As derived from the food one person could consume in a day.

The United States of our forefathers, with 12,000,000 inhabitants, performed its necessary work in almost entire dependence upon the human engine, which, as its chief means of energy conversion, was aided and abetted only by domestic animals, and a few water wheels. The United States today has over one billion installed horsepower. In 1929, these engines of energy conversion, though operated only to partial capacity, nevertheless had an output that represented approximately 50 percent of the total work of the world. When one realizes that the technologist has succeeded to such an extent that he is today capable of building and operating engines of energy conversion that have nine million times the output capacity of the average single human being working an eight hour day, one begins to understand the significance of this acceleration, beginning with man as the chief engine of energy conversion and culminating with these huge extensions of his original one tenth of a horsepower. Plus this 9,000,000 fold acceleration 8,766,000 has occurred since the year 1900.

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Stated in another way, if the total one billion installed horsepower of the United States were operated to full capacity, its output would be equivalent to the human labor of over five times the present total world population.

The Arrival of Certainty
Physical science has outdistanced present social institutions to such an extent that man, for the first time in history, finds himself occupying a position in which a complete utilization of his knowledge would assure the arrival of certainty in a continental social mechanism. Man, in his age-long struggle for leisure and the elimination of toil, is now at last confronted not only by the possibility but by the probability of this arrival.

But the pathway to that new era is blockaded with all the riffraff of social institutions carried over from yesterday's seven thousand static years. The law of the next arrival is depicted by the Gaussian curve of probability, or the next most probable energy state. North America faces the threshold of the new era with the greatest total debt load ever carried by any social mechanism, a debt of over $218,000,000,000 (210 billions) against her physical equipment and its operation.

DFRs addenda:
By 1997 U.S. of A. total debt was over $27,000,000,000,000 (27 Trillions)

With the number of unemployed greater than the total population of a century ago; with one of the most providential geologic set-ups of any continental area; still possessing more energy and mineral resources than any like area on the world's surface; having more than one billion installed horsepower of prime movers wherewith to degrade available energy into use-forms ; possessing a personnel of over 300,000 technically trained men in many varied engineering fields and more than 4,000,000 men partially trained and functionally capable of operating the greatest array of productive equipment ever at the disposal of man-with all this, we have nevertheless, failed to profit from technological advances, and accordingly find ourselves, for the first time in history, with an economy of plenty existing in the midst of a hodgepodge of debt and unemployment

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North America and Europe
North America can expect no help in the solution of this problem from any current social theory. What has the world to offer toward such a solution? Europe discovered America in 1492. Today North America is further away from Europe than she was when Columbus sailed. The North America of tomorrow will necessitate a rediscovery by Europe. European culture and traditions have nothing of worthwhile importance to offer North America in this twilight period preceding the dawn of a new era. No European importations of social or political theory can have the slightest value in solving the operational problems facing North America today. Arising out of areas that lack adequate physical equipment and trained personnel, areas in which only a low percentage of the population is disciplined in engineering thought processes, European socio-political philosophies and theories are the natural outgrowth of a more classified division and orientation of the entrepreneur sectionalism of the Price System. No theory of social action or governance now existing or proposed in Europe would in any way be endemic to that unique set-up of geologic conformation, technique, equipment, and personnel peculiar to North America.

Russia, of whose population 92 percent were tillers of the soil under the ancient regime and which had meager technical facilities and more musicians than technologists, found itself in the position of being compelled to inaugurate an industrial era under a communistic Price System of production. Soviet Russia was forced to call upon the outside world for technical assistance in order to perpetrate reproductions of factories already obsolescent from an obsolescent Price System. Russia, in its retreat from capitalism mistook the name tag of one phase of the Price System for that system's entirety; it abandoned the tag, but retained the essential mechanics. social phenomena by substituting Hegelian for Aristotelian dialectics may be an interesting intellectual pastime, but it has no functional importance: it is but one more recrudescence of the philosophic futility implicit in European tradition.

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The England of the Black Prince, with its population of 5,000,000, its wealth of oak timber, its hearty people drinking deeply of ale (made not from hops but from barley malt), its original resources of copper, lead, tin, iron ore, and coal--this England developed under the Price System of production. Inevitably, like the prodigal son, England went forth into the world and squandered its inheritance among the harpies of world trade and debt creation. The United Kingdom, with an area of 121,000 square miles and a population Of 49,000,000--or a density Of 400 inhabitants per square mile--with arable land amounting to only 23 percent of the total national area, finds itself in the physical position of possessing only a single energy resource, and that a declining one. Its tin gone, as well as its copper and lead, its iron requiring 56 percent foreign subsidy in order to produce steel, its coal becoming more and more difficult to mine, the United Kingdom is fast retrogressing from its position as the possessor of easily available energy to its next most probable energy state as two islands off the coast of the European continent. A valiant race, fighting a losing battle, is displaying an admirable fortitude in the crisis that is resulting from excess population, declining resources, and obsolescent equipment operated by the antiquated methods of a Price System.

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The United Kingdom will be forced by internal pressure to adopt measures even more extreme than the flight from the gold pound. It may be compelled by the growing disparity between its own industrial operation and the world trade balance to such extremities as abandonment of monetary currency and the accompanying credit structure. In that event, a British currency of pure fiat power might be attempted as a last desperate resort. The present deflationary program may be reversed in the near future to one of inflation, a last straw grasped at in England's struggle for the export markets of the world. Sooner or later, in spite of British imperialism, the United Kingdom, under a Price System, will be forced to meet a situation that will be increasingly grave in its internal operation.

Fascism, that strange but natural partnership of the Italian political state and vested interests, is a process of consolidating all the minor rackets into one major monopoly. Such a condition brought with it the sequel of discipline and sanitation that necessarily accompany complete trustification. Italy, which is insufficiently supplied with energy and mineral resources, which possesses only a limited amount of water power and volcanic heat, which has some mercury and sulphur but no coal, oil, or gas, no iron ore, copper, tin, lead, or zinc, and which lacks a high enough percentage of arable land to grow sufficient foodstuffs for its own needs--Italy belongs to the geologic order of areas that cannot create and operate an industrial energy civilization. Fascist Italy is rapidly increasing its dangerous overload of population by granting national bonuses to large families in furtherance of its mare nostrum policy. Fascism is an attempt at a last-ditch defense of a Price System, an effort to maintain an unbroken front against oncoming social change; but this unbroken front is spurious in that it is being temporarily maintained by foreign importation of energy resource materials, supplemented by the manna of the Lord.

Now, A New Civilization
Egypt, Assyria, Greece, Rome, and, in the Victorian age, Imperial Britain have all led the world in their day; each in turn has been the vanguard of civilization. The past is strewn with ruins of empire. Now there is but one continental area that from the standpoint of its geologic set-up, equipment, personnel, and the state of its technology is competent and ready to inaugurate a new era in the life of man.

North America stands on the threshold of that new era, but she will have to leave behind all the wish-fulfilling thought and romantic concepts of value that are the concomitants of a Price System. So, too, all philosophic approaches to social phenomena, from Plato to--and including--Marx, must functionally be avoided. Economics, that pathology of debt, not containing within itself any modulus or calculus of design or operation, must likewise be discarded with the other historical antiquities. No political method of arriving at social decisions is adequate in continental areas under technological control, for the scientific technique of decision making has no political antecedents.

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Wealth and Income under a Price System
Wealth arises solely through the creation of debt. In other words, Price System wealth consists of debt claims against the operation of the physical equipment and its resultants.

Physical wealth, on the other hand, is produced by converting available energy into use-forms and services. The process of being wealthy is the degradation of the resultants of the above conversions into complete uselessness-in other words, total consumption.

To be physically wealthy is NOT to own a car, but to wear it out.

Technology has introduced a new methodology in the creation of physical wealth. It is now able to substitute energy for man hours on the parity basis that 1,500 foot pounds equals one man's time for eight hours. National income under the Price System consists of the debt claims accruing annually from the certificates of debt already extant.

Physical income within a continental area under technological control would be the net available energy in ergs, converted into use-forms and services over and above the operation and maintenance of the physical equipment and structures of the area.

Individual income under a Price System consists of units that are not commensurate with the quanta by which the rate of flow of the physical equipment is measured, and upon which the social mechanism depends for its continuance. Individualism is therefore favored under a Price System, since individualism can obtain a monetary equivalent proportional to the individual's ability to create debt. Individual income under such a system therefore depends on the extent to which advantage is exercised by means of the interference control that is dominant throughout the whole system of debt creation.

Individual income with technological control:
would consist of units commensurate with the quanta by which the rate of flow of the physical equipment is measured throughout the entire continental area. The unit income of the individual would be determined by the period necessary in that area to maintain a thermodynamically balanced load, that is to say, the time it takes for a complete cycle of the operating and production procedures to be completed.

Any unit of value under a Price System is a certification of debt. Any unit of measurement under technological control would be a certification of available energy converted. Such units of certification would have validity only during the balanced load period for which they were issued. (For North America 2 years.) This method of producing physical wealth and measuring its operation precludes the possibility of creating any kind of debt. It also eliminates the entire domain of philanthropy. Furthermore, all bonds, financial debentures, and other instrumentalities of debt would cease to exist, since they do not have one iota of usefulness in the physical operation of such an area under technological control.

The Force of a Social Progression
Technocracy, as a body of thought, poses the problem raised by the technological introduction of energy factors in a modern industrial social mechanism. Continental North America possesses all the essential qualifications for such a mechanism-sufficient energy and mineral resources; adequate water precipitation; more than enough arable land of proper chemical stability; highly developed technological facilities backed by a trained personnel; powerful research organizations. All these things are entirely sufficient to assure the continuance of a high energy standard of livelihood for at least a thousand years, if they are operated on a non-price basis with the technological means known at present.

The progression of a modern industrial social mechanism is unidirectional and irreversible. Physically this Continental area has no choice but to proceed with the further elimination of toil through the substitution of energy for man hours. There can be no question of returning to pre-machine or pretechnological ways of life; a progression once started must continue. Retrogressive evolution does not exist.

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Listen to this man's first public lecture on a coast to coast radio hook-up; this was history making