Stone Money Rewrite- Themrpublicdisplayname

Rock Dollars and Invisible Cents

The idea of currency is imaginary, a complicated idea to many. However, the value of said money within the our currency system is very real to us all. Who is to say that rocks cannot be money? A NPR radio broadcast  told of people known as the Yap that inhabited an island known as Yap that used polished limestone disks, known as fei, as a currency. These fei ranged in size from coin sized to car sized and were used to purchase everything from food to cattle. The Yap all agreed that these pieces of limestone had a value just as we Americans all agree that pieces of linen with a number on them have value (since out system is no longer even backed by anything), or the same way that those in Spain, or Mexico, or Brazil have their paper currencies.

It gets better however. Banking is a very strange phenomena. We give money to this institution, a few numbers are changed in our accounts to institute a deposit or withdraw, then the paper money is lent back out to others.  We know how much we have to spend, and we spend our money through use of credit and debit cards and do not even see the physical dollar. Well, going back to yap, a fei of large value was lost at sea, but was put into circulation on the island as those transporting the fei were able to describe it in such detail that the residents of the island all agreed on its existence. This is similar to how our money can be in a bank, basically invisible, yet the money can still be spent.

While on the topic on invisible currency, bitcoins are a new up and comer in the realm of currency.  This is a form of currency that is entirely electronic. There are a few issues that some have with bitcoins; this includes the fact that bitcoin’s prices are not very stable, and also that since they are all electronic it would be “easy” to hack and steal someones bitcoins. These people think the bitcoin will die out due to it being, for lack of a better term, made up. However, all currency systems start this way, and once it evens out and becomes more accessible to the everyday consumer, some feel that the bitcoin could become standard use. In the near future this “invisible currency” could become the future. In retrospect isn’t our current system invisible already? Already made up?

Works Cited

Friedman, Milton. “The Island of Stone Money.” (1991): n. pag. The Hoover Institution, Stanford University, Feb. 1991. Web. 7 Sept. 2015.

“The Invention of Money.” This American Life., 7 Jan. 2011. Web. 07 Sept. 2015.

Phillips, John. “Bitcoin: What to Expect in 2015.” CNBC. N.p., 15 Dec. 2014. Web. 07 Sept. 2015.

Reeves, Jeff. “Bitcoin Has No Place in Your – or Any – Portfolio.” MarketWatch. N.p., 31 Jan. 2015. Web. 07 Sept. 2015.

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2 Responses to Stone Money Rewrite- Themrpublicdisplayname

  1. Feedback was requested.

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  2. davidbdale says:

    OK, publicdisplayname, let’s get to it.

    P1. The summary portion of this paragraph makes clear that the Yap use currency as we do: they assign numerical monetary value to otherwise not very useful physical things. That’s fine, but the idea is not well introduced by your first few sentences. 1) Currency is imaginary; 2) The value is real to us; 3) Rocks can be money. These are all true, but they make MUCH more sense AFTER you’ve described the limestone disks.

    More specifically, your first two sentences are extremely abstract. Readers have NO visceral reaction to them at all; therefore, the sentences have little impact. X is imaginary, but the Y of X is real. Huh? The best sentence: Why can’t rocks be money? Imagine instead an opening that said the Yap on Yap use massive polished limestone disks as money, which sounds absurd until we open our wallets to hand over some linen strips in return for a refrigerator. See what I mean? Tease out the abstractions later, once you’ve engaged the reader’s imagination.

    P2. I immensely admire the brevity of your approach to these two complex transactions, pdn. They’re not entirely clear yet, but they are certainly brief, and rightly so.
    —Your paper dollars keep appearing and disappearing. “We give money” doesn’t specify paper, but later “the paper money is lent back out,” indicating that it was paper we gave the bank. But then, we “do not even see the physical dollar.” Confusing.
    —You’re correct that we don’t need to know that the fei never once appeared on Yap, but you’re negligent in one regard: the description established not just the fei’s existence but also its immense value.
    —As for the similarity between those invisible dollars and the sunken fei, I’d say sort of. The bank long ago stopped requiring physical evidence for deposits. It trusts instead in other banks to verify that funds can be transferred. It doesn’t trust customers at all.

    P3. I fail to see how bitcoin’s electronic nature makes them any easier to hack and steal than my online bank account. Can you explain? Maybe you mean that since there’s not FDIC guaranteeing my deposits, I have less faith in the “minters” of Bitcoin than in the US government and its banks. You need another sentence or two about the “made up” origin of all currencies. Is Bitcoin really like all other currencies? Don’t most begin with some tangible underlying “backing” and then gradually evolve to “virtual worth”?

    Are these notes valuable, pdn?
    Reply, please.


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