Stone Money – Sunflower

Ridiculous Money

Money is something all of us are familiar with, we use it in our daily lives to buy everything, both things we cannot live without and things that simply make us happy. Money is the very reason we get up every day and work a full-time job, we truly cannot live without money! However, despite how important money seems to be in our daily lives, most of us have never stopped to truly think about the concept of money and see how truly ridiculous it is. 

When we think about the concept of money it is important to think back on examples of currency from the past and compare it to our own. One truly baffling concept of money was highlighted in Milton Friedman’s “The Island of Stone Money”. On the Island of Yap their means of currency were large stone wheels called fei which could be anywhere between a foot to twelve feet in diameter. Learning about the concept of using these giant stones as a form of currency seemed ridiculous to me. I could not imagine trying to keep track of who owned what stones. If the idea of having giant stones for money is not crazy enough, what happens when they actually spend the stone will make this whole idea sound even more insane. Once the fei is spent on something the new owner is fine with leaving the stone on the buyer’s property and simply knowing that they own it. While the whole idea of fei seems ridiculous the thought comes to mind of whether our own system of money is really any different.

The NPR Broadcast brought up a very interesting point when talking about inflation in Brazil. When you truly think about it the concept of inflation truly makes no sense. The idea that a thousand dollars can be worth that value one day and the next day it could be worth half that amount is truly a scary thought. Now add that in with the prices of goods going up and now you have a real nightmare. Brazil tried various different methods tor try and fix inflation but it all resulted in people trusting the government less and in extreme cases even caused some to commit suicide. After so many failed attempts to try and fix the problem of inflation Brazil’s government brought in four economists who had a plan. Their plan involved URV which was basically just a fake virtual currency. This completely fake version of money single handedly fixed inflation in Brazil. This leads me to think that perhaps money truly is a ridiculous concept given the fact that we seem to be able to make up whatever form of currency we need in order to fix a certain situation. 

The NPR Broadcast also put into perspective our money today and how even that is fictional. When you get paid you never actually are handed over dollar bills, instead the money is sent straight to your bank account. When you need that money to pay bills you do not even have to go to the bank and get it instead you simply pay it online. By this logic it is safe to say that money is not much of a physical thing anymore but is increasingly becoming digital. However if money is digital does that make it a real thing at all or is it simply just numbers on a screen? Nobody actually has the physical money, it simply does not exist. We just exchange numbers that now count as currency. When putting it this way money starts to seem as if it has no real purpose and the only reason it means anything at all is because we as people put so much value in it. 

Continuing on with the idea of fake money, the idea of Bitcoin as spoken about by Anne Renaut in her article “The bubble bursts on e-currency Bitcoin” is truly mind boggling. Bitcoin was created in 2009 by an anonymous programmer who simply wanted a currency that was independent of a bank or financial institution. Now a question that instantly plagued my mind was how could somebody simply make up their own currency? It sounds absurd really thinking that you can wake up one day and just create a whole new form of currency to better suit your needs. However, when you stop and think about it, every form of currency that has ever been in the world was made up by someone including our own system of the dollar bill. Bitcoin itself seems like it could cause a lot of problems. The high degree of anonymity that Bitcoin allows makes it a good alternative when it comes to drug dealing and money laundering. Now with this information another question that plagues me is that if all of this is just made up how can it carry that many problems? Can’t we just shut it down without any real consequences in order to prevent these problems? It seems plausible that any form of currency could just be thrown away if need be. Perhaps the only reason we have currency at all is to help us feel somewhat secure in a world full of problems. 

After thinking about all of these forms of currency and how they were created it really makes you question money and why we even have it in the first place. Money holds no real value, it’s only worth anything because we as people put so much value in it. The whole concept of money from every aspect is truly ridiculous and it begs the question of if money will become obsolete. The physical sense of money has already become almost entirely obsolete. We certainly do not use giant stones anymore and not many people walk around with physical money either. Instead, we tend to put all of our faith in plastic cards that hold digital currency. It truly makes you question as money evolves what will come after digital money? Will the idea of money just one day cease to exist? It is certainly a possibility and perhaps will become even more of a possibility the more that people see how truly ridiculous the whole system is.


Friedman, M. (n.d.). 1991 island stone money – hoover institution. Retrieved February 10, 2023, from

Renaut, A. (2013, April 13). The bubble bursts on e-currency bitcoin. Yahoo! News. Retrieved February 10, 2023, from–finance.html

423: The invention of money. This American Life. (2017, December 14). Retrieved February 10, 2023, from

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3 Responses to Stone Money – Sunflower

  1. sunflower0311 says:

    This is the first time I have ever written a paper like this so for feedback I am really just looking to find out if I am on the right track and if there is anything I need to improve upon.


  2. davidbdale says:

    You tell four stories, Sunflower, and the point of each one appears to be, “Isn’t that ridiculous?” Money is truly a peculiar invention, but there’s more to say about it than that, I think.

    Your first anecdote concludes that money doesn’t have to physically change hands to change owners. That wasn’t the case for gold coins, when they replaced barter as a means of exchange. It’s a step in a process. You ask “whether our own system of money is really any different,” instead of explaining how ours is the same: Even when we physically deposit cash into a bank, a check representing that money might be given to someone else when a loan is made. There are several other ways our money has evolved since the need to put coins or bills into another person’s hands, but you don’t name any of them. Instead, you move on to inflation.

    Ask yourself if your reader, having read your anecdote about Brazil, would be able to explain how the Brazilians came to trust their new currency to someone else. Granted, the explanation is tricky, but your readers wouldn’t have a clue how to start.

    You return in your next paragraph to musing about money’s intangibility without connecting the dots as you could, SF. The Yap employed a system like ours long before computers. Stones could stay put as long as everybody “knew” who was rich, and even how rich. Without so much as numbers on a screen, society kept track of whose stones were whose.

    Of course, anybody can make up a currency. Inmates use cigarettes. Even nonsmoking inmates know that cigarettes are valuable as a means of exchange because every prisoner will accept them as currency for goods and services because every prisoner will accept them as currency for goods and services because every prisoner will accept them as currency for goods and services. See what I mean? All a currency needs is “acceptability.” Bitcoin became acceptable BECAUSE it’s not sanctioned by a government, issued by a country, or tracked by banks. That makes it good for drug transactions. But as soon as it became valuable (and because it’s scarce), its value started to rise AS IF it had intrinsic value, which, of course, just like slips of linen with pictures of presidents, it does not.

    Does that help you understand how to make substantial observations, SunFlower?

    Always Reply to Feedback, please, SF. It’s the primary value of the course, and I love the conversations, but I tire of them if they become one-sided. Thanks!


    • sunflower0311 says:

      Thank you so much for the feedback. Your feedback is very helpful, and I will keep it in mind when revising. I liked your point about having to connect the dots I did not think about that much while writing.


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