Stone Money– Namastebean

P1. “The fictional quality of money is inherent in the very idea of money itself, in any form of currency, no matter how simple.” Reporter Jacob Goldstein came to this revelation after learning about the invention of money by reading a book titled “The Island of Stone Money”. Written in 1910 about the island of yap and their form of currency, rather shocking comparisons can be made about our economy today with the economy of Yap. Community members would literally use huge stone sculptures as a form of currency, hence the “stone money” reference. These unnecessarily large forms of currency always stayed in the same spot and were never moved; even if the owner changed, it was always understood whose money was whose by a simple mark made on the stone. It wasn’t until one of these sculptures fell to the bottom of a body of water that the idea of the fictional quality of currency first came about. Even though the sculpture was no longer visible, it was still considered to have value. Sound familiar? Money is nothing more than an idea, currently backed by nothing but our belief in its existence.

P2. The reality of money relies solely on us and for our sake, we must keep the faith. If we didn’t believe in our form of currency, we would not be able to function as a society. There was a time when the society of Brazil, now the 8th largest economy in the world, lost all faith in money being real. Inflation was at an all time high and although many attempts were made, nothing was able to be fixed, and so the ambivalence continued. It was like living in an economic twilight zone, where the second you received your check from work, the clock of its value immediately begins ticking. Imagine getting a check for $1,000 and knowing that if you didn’t spend it by the end of the year, it could be worth as little as $250, only a quarter of the value that you worked so hard for. The longer you waited to spend, the less money you had to do so. It wasn’t until the idea of “virtual money” was presented by four college buddies to end inflation and better yet, restore faith in the Brazilian currency. This virtual aspect of money is now vital to most societies today.

P3. The United States is definitely one of these societies; our faith is based on this same virtual aspect of money. As a matter of fact, everything about money now is completely digital. We are able to go online and see our balance, our checks that have been directly deposited into our accounts, but this not actual, tangible money. All it really is is just information that is being transferred to and from your bank. It is simply not real or backed by anything, at least it hasn’t been since before 1933, a time when money in the United States was backed by gold. The year is now 2018, where mass consumerism has spread like a disease and all your money is all you’ve spent it on.

P4. For something that is in reality not real at all, it is anything but simple. To keep a stable society, changes most consistently be made. Changes every six weeks, to be exact. Our federal reserve holds a meeting every two and a half months to decide whether we need more or less money in our economy. Too much money will lead to inflation, while not enough could put the breaks on the economy. The decision is extremely important, but the task can be done by the push of a button. It really might as well be magic. Between the years of 1933-2008 the United States went from 8 billion to 2.4 trillion in money produced. That’s a lot of imaginary cash.

P5. One of the newest forms of currency today is Bitcoin. It has been argued that Bitcoin is a fictional form of currency, which leads one to wonder when the true concept of money and its origins will be understood. The goal for bitcoin is to eventually have a more stable relative price compared to other currencies. The privacy that comes with bitcoin and its irrelevance to actually have to spend it is what makes it so unique. However, it is clear that without keeping a strong following base or “believers”, it will simply disappear as many forms of failed currencies have done so before.

P6. Comparing money to religion on a social level can give one a much better insight on how we perceive things to be real. When something is socially constructed, like an economy or religion, the importance is found in that belief system itself, not in the dollar or in the worship of a god. Your paychecks and your prayers would mean nothing if you did not belong to the society or community that holds them to be so sacred. That is where the existence lies.

P7. It proves very interesting to see how many different forms of currencies are made up, changed, and used when none of them actually even exist. The complications that come along with practically every form of currency is difficult to understand when we are the makers ourselves. The reality is, money controls every aspect of a person’s life, but is not in reality factual itself. The most frightful thing of it all is how unattentive or if not, then uninterested society seems to be about it. The system works, so why question it? Let’s face it, nobody wants to deny the actuality of money when they need it to survive.

References

Renaut, Anne. “The Bubble Burst on e-Currency Bitcoin.” Yahoo! News, Yahoo!, 13 Apr. 2013, sg.news.yahoo.com/bubble-bursts-e-currency-bitcoin-064913387–finance.html.

Glass, Ira, et al. “The Invention of Money.” This American Life, 7 Jan. 2011, www.thisamericanlife.org/423/the-invention-of-money.

Friedman, Milton. “The Island of Stone Money.” Working Papers in Economics, E, no. 91, ser. 3, Feb. 1991. 3, counterintuitive2015.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/stonemoneyessay.pdf.

 

6 thoughts on “Stone Money– Namastebean”

  1. You have an appealing style, NamasteBean. I like the way you blend your scholarship into your commentary without having to tell us that you’ve been reading new material. I don’t have time during the class day for comprehensive Notes, but I did want to acknowledge that I have seen this post. You’ll need to build it up to 1000 words to meet the assignment requirements, but your draft here gives me confidence you’ll be doing good work.

    Regarding irony, it works better when you don’t have to spell it out. Can you rephrase this to let readers recognize the irony for themselves?

    One of the newest forms of currency today is bitcoin. The ironic thing about bitcoin is that it has been argued that it is a ficitional form of currency, which explained above, all currency is.

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  2. Sure can! Sorry about the word count, I’ve never been a fan of having a minimum or limit of words needed to complete my thoughts; always throws my writing off. That’s probably why I’m not an avid user on Twitter. I didn’t mean to disregard any of your requirements, just a simple mistake on my part. II’ll have this updated A.S.A.P.

    Thank you 🙂

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  3. P1. You write beautifully, Bean, which encourages me that with some guidance, which I hope I can deliver in a way you’ll hear it, you can tell your story more effectively.

    By starting with the claim that money is fiction instead of helping readers come to the conclusion, you remove a useful element of persuasion. Readers who begin to think something is wrong with their perception are much more likely to accept your solution than if you tell them something’s wrong before they’re ready.

    No reader coming to this topic is ready to accept the premise that money is fiction without being pushed out of her comfort zone. You say too soon that there are “shocking comparisons” to something we don’t yet accept as shocking. We don’t even know what you mean.

    You explain that “it wasn’t until one of these sculptures fell to the bottom of a body of water that the idea of the fictional quality of currency first came about” as if THE YAP had a sudden revelation. But we don’t see our own systems as weird, and the Yap most likely never gave a thought to the fictionality. WE do because their acceptance of the soggy stone as real is counterintuitive to our reality. The shock comes when we realize how peculiar OUR use of money would look to the Yap. But since you haven’t made that comparison yet, your reader will say, “NO. It doesn’t sound familiar” when you ask “Sound familiar?”

    There might be a way to ASSUME THE SHOCK in the first paragraph, but it’s not here in yours, good as the paragraph is.

    P2. A pattern is emerging here, Bean that you can’t see because you’re a Yap living on Yap but which is obvious to visitors. You draw your conclusions first, lay them out for approval, then explain why your reader should agree with you.

    Here in the 2nd paragraph, you insist that faith floats our economy, then say that somewhere in the mythical Amazon the people once lost faith, and then ask us to put ourselves in their place. Would you be willing to try the reverse, where you first put us in that faithless place, let us feel the discomfort of faithlessness for ourselves, and then offer us the salvation of believing?

    If our paychecks lost value so fast that by the end of the month they lost half their value, we would spend as fast as possible. Money would circulate so quickly that prices would continue to rise out of necessity and the spiral might never end. Faith in the banknote to buy anything of value tomorrow would force us to spend it today.

    If you introduced the Brazilian story with that proposition, readers would want to know your solution. And they’d be in a much better position to FEEL the insecurity of an unreliable currency or medium of exchange.

    P3. You’re conflating two sorts of unreality here, Bean. Our money is mostly virtual now, it’s true. A smaller percentage of our economy every year relies on folding banknotes. But the fact that it’s “not based on anything solid like gold” is a different sort of disconnection from the physical. Those digital transactions we engage in when we swipe our debit cards COULD STILL BE BACKED BY GOLD if that’s how we wanted our economy to work. If they were, you’d see the difference between money being “fictional” and money being “backed by nothing.”

    As you can see, many of my remarks will not suggest that you change your sentences so much as change your thinking. You know how to make sentences. Writing well is thinking clearly and expressing your complex ideas in good sentences. I’ll always try to help you with the first once I know you can handle the second.

    If that’s enough help for now, I’ll move along to annoying your classmates for awhile. But I’d be delighted if you responded and asked questions about your paragraphs 4, 5, and later. Or if you applied my advice to your later paragraphs FIRST and then asked me to look at your post again. Either way, this process works better as a feedback loop.

    Your responses, please.

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  4. “You draw your conclusions first, lay them out for approval, then explain why your reader should agree with you.”
    Yikes, I don’t want that . I will have to keep that in mind. It is important for the readers to come to the conlcusion themselves. I know this is vital for my White Paper as well, so I wont make that mistake again.

    I appreciate you making sure I get the most out of this class, I’m open to continue accepting your feedback and working with you, as I want the exact same for myself. This class has proven to be my most demanding, but I mean that in a good way.

    I am a little confused on what you are asking in your final comment, your feedback was mostly on my earlier paragraphs, are you saying the same pattern is in the entire summary and I should change the entire thing or just the last few paragraphs? My brain hurts.

    Thank you
    🙂

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    1. Full disclosure: I haven’t read your last few paragraphs. I have no idea whether they exhibit the same triumphs and challenges. I react as I read, just as readers do. My goal is to report to you how your writing affects a sincere and attentive reader in the act of experiencing your argument.

      Of course, I will proceed through to the conclusion and comment on it as I find it if that’s what you want me to do next. But it might be more constructive for you to anticipate my reactions to the material I haven’t read yet and alter it accordingly—or not.

      Either way, you’ll need to instruct me. Put the post into Feedback Please when you need my attention.

      Thank you for accepting the challenge, Bean. I want to be your most demanding course, but I also want to be your most rewarding.

      Like

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