Stone Money-Frogs02

Money is a Scam

Money is manipulation. It is a scam. It is fiction. It is not solid and can disappear. It is a belief system. The value of money a year from now can change drastically from the present time even if it is the same amount of money. “Money works this way because we’re a complicated, industrial society with banks and stock markets and financial instruments of all kinds.” Money is information. Money is that set of shared beliefs that is a fiction completely fallen apart. Everyone stopped believing in their currency and of course, that had disastrous results. No money changed hands, no money vanished. 

In NPR’s podcast, This American Life, Kestenbaum’s story highlighted the main point that money is fiction. For example, money is deposited into the bank, it can be loaned out to some guy who wants to open a shoe shining store down the street. So, that is your cash he is holding. The bank that your checking and savings are in is also a bank. The Planet Money team said that this is how the Brazilian economy works. Brazil’s economy struggled with brutal inflation rates that were eventually resolved by four men who creatively “tricked” the people of Brazil into “buying into” a new currency. The fictional quality of money is inherent in the very idea of money. The fictional money can be recognized on an island called Yap in the South Pacific. The currency the people use on the island were unsuitable and counter-intuitive. The people of Yap’s belief in these large stone objects (their currency) is what inherently gave them their value. We are not much different from the YAP. We praise our money that isn’t really considered our money. Brazil’s money each year is worth less and less than before. Is our money true to us if the value is going down and it is being loaned to people other than ourselves? 

In “The Island of Stone Money,” Milton Friedman states that as Yap’s “island yields no metal, they have had recourse to stone; stone, on which labor in fetching and fashioning has been expended, is as truly a representation of labor as the mined and minted coins of civilization.” The stone is equivalent to money. Their exchange is called fei. It consists of large, solid, thick, stone wheels, ranging in diameter. The stone they are talking about was their coins. They were brought up by some native navigators in canoes and rafts. Just like the money in the NPR podcast was fiction, this “stone” is also fiction. It is a bargain. It, “involves the price of a fei too large to be conveniently moved, its new owner is quite content to accept the bare acknowledgment of ownership and without so much as a mark to indicate the exchange, the coin remains undisturbed on the former owner’s premises.” Ownership was only recognized through trade. The only thing that sealed the deal was a verbal agreement. An ancestor of the family lost their remarkably large and exceedingly valuable fei at the bottom of the sea. Everyone testified that the fei was of extraordinary quality, and the loss of this stone was no fault of the owner. “Our own money, the money we have grown up with, the system under which it is controlled, these appear “real” and “rational” to us. The money of other countries often seems to us like paper or worthless metal, even when the purchasing power of individual units is high.”

I have grown up learning that money is worked for and it is not just given out to anyone. I have learned that having money is a responsibility. Gaining money is a responsibility. My parents made me start babysitting and get a big girl job at the age of 15 because they wanted me to learn how to rely on myself rather than having to keep begging them for 5 dollars to go get a pizza and a coke. Although my parents made me work for my money, some other parents are not like that. These kids either steal money from their parents or beg them for money until they have no other choice. Money is a scam. This is a continuous theme in all of these articles mentioned so far. Money and objects are scammed for more money or objects that are scammed to get even more money. I view money as manipulation. For example, I will give you 5 dollars for a unique card (the person doesn’t know that this unique card is going for 200 dollars), so they trade. Now one person is “up” 5 dollars, while the other is up 195 dollars. This is a scam and manipulation. 

“Bitcoin is a decentralized digital currency, without a central bank or single administrator, that can be sent from user to user on the peer-to-peer bitcoin network without the need for intermediaries.” Bitcoin is believed that as the value grows, and the infrastructure around it also grows, the price relative to other currencies will be more stable. Bitcoins are stored on a user’s hard drive in a virtual wallet, and can be sent directly to another person, bypassing banks and remaining largely anonymous. Bitcoin is virtual money. It can not be determined whether it will drop or not. The prediction of inflation will not be known. Bitcoin can be scammed and can try to sell you with a fake digital wallet. If someone sets you up with a fake wallet and tries to sell a bitcoin, it could be a fake bitcoin and you lose a lot of money. “The Winklevoss brothers, known in part for accusing Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg of having stolen the idea for the social network from them. On Thursday, they told The New York Times that they had bought $11 million worth of Bitcoins — that value assessed before the crash — praising it as a mathematical system “free of politics and human error.””

Overall, money is a scam. Most people would do anything for some money. There are places on the internet that people buy products off of. They never get their products. The website takes their card information and buys stuff with that information. Not only are the buyers not getting the product they paid for, they are losing money left and right on their cards. Money can be gained from manipulation. If you don’t tell me where your money is hidden, I will tell everyone your deepest secret. You are gonna give them the money. Right? Money is viewed as a scam. 


Friedman, M. (n.d.). 1991 island STONE money – Hoover Institution. Retrieved September 29, 2021, from 

Renaut, A. (n.d.). The bubble bursts on e-currency bitcoin. Yahoo! News. Retrieved September 29, 2021, from–finance.html?guccounter=1. 

The Invention of Money – This American Life. (2018, February 19). This American Life.

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5 Responses to Stone Money-Frogs02

  1. davidbdale says:

    Frogs, this is so trippy. I read it with complete abandon, as I suspect it was written, and found myself both completely engaged and frustrated. Your refrain that money is fiction is certainly contained in your examples, but readers unfamiliar with the original source material will have virtually no idea what’s so fictional about them. I’d love to help you retain the freshness and invention of your draft while channeling the energy into more grounded explanations. You’ll have a very effective voice if you can manage both.


    • frogs02 says:

      Thanks for the feedback. Are you just implying that I need more examples of how money can be fiction from each source? I thought I included enough information about how money can be considered fiction. Can you go into further detail about how you felt abandoned reading this?


      • davidbdale says:

        “to read with abandon” means to experience your writing as if it were music one could freely dance to without worrying about the rhythm or logic of the song. To give oneself up to the experience and enjoy it without engaging critically. I read it with joy. Only on later reflection did I realize the examples didn’t add up for me. But by then I was doing math, no longer dancing freely, starting to count my steps.

        More later on how to make your examples illustrate what you want them to mean. We have weeks ahead of us. For now you’re fortunate to be able to make music.


  2. davidbdale says:

    Feedback is a conversation, frog. Following even this brief reaction from your professor, I will remove the post from Feedback Please. You can put it right back there, but the cost is a substantial reaction of your own and a fairly specific request for feedback of a certain type. I look forward to the give-and-take.


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