What is so special about Utah that places the state at the top of the “Best States for Business” on any list? The governor of Utah, Gary Herbert, and forty ambassadors from around the world, convened at the Meridian International Center to explore business diplomacy. In a panel moderated by the Meridian President Stuart Holliday, the governor explained how Utah has created a friendly economy for enterprises through its active engagement with world players.

Utah has been trying to build a multilingual environment to be better prepared for global business. A government report shows that Utah’s dual-language immersion program has covered around 200 schools, so children in Utah start to learn at least one foreign language during elementary school. The governor shared that all of his family members can speak at least two languages, and this is what a typical Utah family looks like. “The multilingual environment is part of Utah’s culture,” said the governor. This makes the state competitive in attracting international business because its multilingual environment is well prepared for a healthy and diverse economy.

International trade is critically important for Utah’s economy. The governor used “planting a garden” as a metaphor for international trade. “Doing international trade is the same thing as planting a garden,” the governor said, “it has to start from visiting each other, building mutual understanding, and finding opportunities to cooperate.” Even if the “crops” do not come out during a governor’s tenure, future governors will enjoy the harvest. And since it is better to do business with friends, the preparation for the soil, and initial connections, are extremely important. The annual Utah Global Forum, which has been around for five years, prepares Utah for an international conversation on business.

When asked about his view on the sustainability of the current economic expansion, the governor said: “Utah does not believe the R-word (reverse) for economy.” Although the business cycle can be true, he has faith in the garden which Utah plants—the good policies and a healthy economy. Utah in the past decade revised its tax code to create a business-friendly environment. The state also aims to build a dynamic market by encouraging more enterprises to grow, become wealthy, and create more jobs.

The governor also shared his understanding of the governor’s role and the importance of the NGA (National Governors Association).

Herbert believes that it is the governors’ job to promote trade and expand business opportunities for their states because states are their frontlines to fight. What’s more, it is important for governors to consider the unique characteristics of their states. Former governor of Michigan (1983-1991), James Blanchard, also contributed to the conversation explaining that governors act like ambassadors. According to Blanchard, partisanship and ideology no longer matter for governors when it comes to dealing with state business, because governors look at things in a practical and pragmatic way—“they just want to get things done.”

Governors matter not only because they promote education, build roads, and negotiate trade deals, but also because they have a huge influence. In U.S. history, there have been 17 governors who eventually became the president of the United States. “The governor is the president of the state,” said Blanchard, “governors execute laws, represent people, engage in real world dialogue, and promote international involvement.”

Both governors view the NGA as a necessary and useful platform for states to share experiences and unite voices. According to Herbert, the NGA is a place where governors can come together and learn from each other’s failures and successes.

It is easy to focus on diplomacy and affairs between countries and to forget the importance of state diplomacy and the important role governors play. Just as a top-down method, a bottom-up approach conducted by governors can also promote globalization and build up business success, which is exactly what is happening in Utah.

But it’s difficult to think about value when we have no buoy for understanding it outside our traditional lenses: for example, our time, our job, and what others tell us they are worth in cash. This, largely, is the world’s paradigm for value so far. But understanding what value really means changes everything—and will be at the center of the decentralized revolution in global coordination that will unfold over the next decade. So, where do we begin?

Let’s start with gold.

Gold is an inherent value. When backing a market, gold allows us to grow a balanced economy well into the trillions. But why does it allow for massive stable markets to form around it? It is gold's permanence that creates stability. We understand that gold will always have value, because it is inherent in all of us, not just in one part of the world, but everywhere, not just today, but tomorrow and for the long haul.

In the 1930s when the gold standard was removed, we learned that the U.S. dollar didn’t need gold to back its economy to flourish. We learned that it was just a symbol for U.S. citizens to decentralize their coordination around the United States economy.

It turns out, common agreement is a philosophy for building shared economy.

And so it seems inherent value is a marker for us to begin exploring what the future could look like—a future beyond gold and the existing realm of credit. And so what else has inherent value? Is education as valuable as gold? What about healthcare? What about a vote that can’t be tampered with? What about an ID that can’t be stolen or erased? What about access to nutrition or clean water? You will find value everywhere you look.

It turns out, we’ve already done the legwork necessary to uncover the most elemental inherent values: The Sustainable Development Goals are commitments grown out of the drive to bring to life basic tenets of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights—the closest possible social contract we have to a global, common agreement.

We’ve already agreed, as a global community, to ensure inclusive and equitable access to quality education. We’ve already agreed to empower all women and girls, to ensure pure and clean water access for all, to promote health at all stages of life, and to end hunger.

We’ve already agreed.

Our agreements are grounded in deep value centers that are globally shared, but undervalued and unfulfilled. The reason for this is our inability to quantify intangible value. All of these rich, inherent values are still nebulous and fragmented in implementation—largely existing as ideals and blueprints for deep, globally shared common agreement. That is, we all agree education, health, and equality have value, but we lack common units for understanding who and who is not contributing value—leaving us to fumble in our own, uncoordinated siloes as we chase the phantoms of impact. In essence, we lack common currencies for our common agreements.

Now we find ourselves at the nexus of the real paradigm of Blockchain, allowing us to fuse economics with inherent value by proving the participation of some great human effort, then quantifying the impact of that effort in unforgeable and decentralized ledgers. It allows us to build economic models for tomorrow, that create wholly new markets and economies for and around each of the richest of human endeavors.

In late 2017 at the height of the Bitcoin bubble, without individual coordination, planning, or the help of institutions, almost $1 trillion was infused into blockchain markets. This is remarkable, and the revolution has only just begun. When you realize that Blockchain is in a similar stage of development as the internet pre-AOL, you will see a glimpse of the global transformation to come.

Only twice in the information age have we had such a paradigm shift in global infrastructure reform—the computer and the internet. While the computer taught us how to store and process data, the Internet built off that ability and furthered the conversation by teaching us how to transfer that information. Blockchain takes another massive step forward—it builds off the internet, adding to the story of information storage and transfer—but, it teaches us a new, priceless and not yet understood skill: how to transfer value.

This third wave kicked off with a rough start—as happens with the birth of new technologies and their corresponding liberties. Blockchain has, thus far, been totally unregulated. Many, doubtless, have taken advantage. A young child, stretching their arms for the first couple times might knock over a cookie jar or two. Eventually, however, they learn to use their faculties—for evil or for good. As such, while it’s wise to be skeptical at this phase in blockchain’s evolution, it’s important not to be blind to its remarkable implications in a post-regulated world, so that we may wield its faculties like a surgeon’s scalpel—not for evil or snake-oil sales, but for the creation of more good, for the flourishing of commonwealth.

But what of the volatility in blockchain markets? People agree Bitcoin has value, but they don’t understand why they are in agreement, and so cryptomarkets fluctuate violently.  Stable blockchain economies will require new symbolic gold standards that clearly articulate why someone would agree to support each market, to anchor common agreement with stability. The more globally shared these new value standards, the better.

Is education more valuable than gold? What about healthcare or nutrition or clean water?

We set out in 2018 to prove a hypothesis—we believe that if you back a cryptocurrency economy with a globally agreed upon inherent value like education, you can solve for volatility and stabilize a mature long lasting cryptomarket that awards everyone who adds value to that market in a decentralized way without the friction of individual partnerships.

What if education was a new gold standard?

And what if this new Learning Economy had protocols to award everyone who is helping to steward the growth of global education?

Education is a mountain. Everyone takes a different path to the top. Blockchain allows us to measure all of those unique learning pathways, online and in classrooms, into immutable blockchain Learning Ledgers.

By quantifying the true value of education, a whole economy can be built around it to pay students to learn, educators to create substantive courses, and stewards to help the Learning Economy grow. It was designed to provide a decentralized way for everyone adding value to global education to coordinate around the commonwealth without the friction of individual partnerships. Imagine the same for healthcare, nutrition, and our environment?

Imagine a world where we can pay refugees to learn languages as they find themselves in foreign lands, a world where we can pay those laid off by the tide of automation to retrain themselves for the new economy, a world where we can pay the next generation to prepare themselves for the unsolved problems of tomorrow.

Imagine new commonwealth economies that alleviate the global burdens of poverty, disease, hunger, inequality, ignorance, toxic water, and joblessness. Commonwealths that orbit inherent values, upheld by immutable blockchain protocols that reward anyone in the ecosystem stewarding the economy—whether that means feeding the hungry, providing aid for the global poor, delivering mosquito nets in malaria-ridden areas, or developing transformative technologies that can provide a Harvard-class education to anyone in the world willing to learn.

These worlds are not out of reach—we are only now opening our eyes to the horizons of blockchain, decentralized coordination, and new gold standards. Even though coordination is the last of the seventeen sustainable development goals, when solved, its tide will lift for the rest—a much-needed rocket fuel for global prosperity.

“Let us raise a standard to which the wise and the honest can repair.”  —George Washington
Rong Qin
Rong Qin is a Washington, DC based correspondent for Diplomatic Courier.
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.