The Continued Dependence on Currency
One of the most important aspects to our society continuing is the existence of money as a concept. Wherever a structured intelligent society exists money will follow because it has to. Constantly quantifying goods and services based on the inherent value of some other good is a nearly impossible task to keep up for an extended period of time in society. Eventually needs extend past that of immediate inherent value and evolve, which is the point in society that money finds its place. Something within society with a non-inherent value seems almost necessary to run correctly, as The Island of Stone Money shows off.
As seen with the island of Yap, the need for an item for the exchange of goods that is inherently valuable existed when the islanders found a need for it. In their case, fei, which “consists of large, solid, thick, stone wheels, ranging in diameter from a foot to twelve feet,” Is often used in the exchange of larger goods. While the Islanders on Yap did not have access to any sort of metal or other material that seemingly would be effective in the use as currency, the solution of transportable large stone tablets shows the constant and necessary need of money for a productive society to prosper.
When a human society first begins to develop, one of the immediate creations is that of trading and bartering, the exchange of goods for goods or services. These goods will often begin as things like crops or services known only by a select few, giving those an inherent worth that is sought for by others with their own to give. The society that creates this establishes the worth of things by comparing them to other things, and while this works at a simplistic level, as development occurs in this society, the exchange rate becomes less binary. Further development breeds change, and this change comes in the form of non inherent value, which changes exchange for the complicated but feeds and supports the exchange process by allowing trade to become more freeform.
As our current society has developed and changed, a form of currency became more and more of a necessity to exist as now more jobs exist on a large enough axis of differences that there is no feasible way to give people their worth as workers in anything besides a nearly universal currency, especially with how consumer driven our society has become. Even without looking at consumerism, exchange without inherent value exists as a necessary and prevalent part of intelligent society. One of the most important parts to our society continuing to work is this currency to continue to work. We are far enough in our line of development that the dependence on money has become nearly one of the top priorities of our government and the world as a whole. Our currency has integrated itself into nearly every faucet of life and into nearly every part of the world. We have used our stable currency as a continuous way to take other struggling countries in the face of financial collapse and bring them more into the world economy.
The use and the importance of money became exponentially greater with the increase of colonization. As seen with the island of Yap, one of the things the Germans who purchased the island did was to bring them into a more civilized way of society with their own currency. They saw the fei as an archaic way of exchange, even those on Yap were perfectly contemptuous with it and fei was what helped their society develop further. The way that currency works in terms of the development and progress of societies has changed over time with the increase of the globalization of the economy. Sprouting from the need to exchange goods and services without that of equivalent goods and services was the need for everyone to accept and use this currency with a value that is not inherent but has stood the test of economic development.
We currently have the need and the desire to get the global economy to function together as smoothly and efficiently as possible, so the need and dependence for money grows, as does the need for it to continue to be worth what we say it is worth. There is an inherent stability that comes from a simpler society where the function of a currency is to fill in the gaps that trade and bartering can’t achieve, but as we have progressed far past that point, the importance now is keeping the complicated stability that we currently have. Often when it comes to global trade, currency is almost like a buffer zone that exists between the trade of countries, as somehow countries owe each other exorbitant amounts, yet things continue to function. As our society continues to evolve, the money we have and use evolves with it, but the need we have for it to continue to function persists. Our dependence on this system we have working is at an all time high, and we need the worth of our currency to continue to stay stable as the world develops around it.
“The Invention of Stone Money.” 423: The Invention of Stone Money. This Is American Life, WBEZ. Chicago . 7 Jan. 2011.
Milton Friedman, Money Mischief, pp. 3-7. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1992
NPR. (2018, February 19). The invention of money. This American Life. https://www.thisamericanlife.org/423/the-invention-of-money