stone money rewrite- haveanelephantasticday

Today i was surprised to learn of that the Yap in Micronesia use limestone rocks called fei that they polish to a shine as a form of currency. These shiny rocks are only found on an island four-hundred miles away. The people of Yap own small pocket-sized fei for smaller purchases and large car-sized fei for larger purchases. I learned of a Yap man who had a group of miners, by makeshift raft to the island where the limestone money is mined. The miners retrieved a a fei unlike one they’ve seen before, remarkably large and shiny as if it were coated in a satin blanket. Unfortunately there was a treacherous storm and the fei had to be cut from the dainty raft. Unlike the glorious fei, the mines returned to Yap safely. The miners spoke of the tremendous fortune that had been harvested and they took his word for it. Without question, they believed the tale and he is considered to be inconceivably wealthy. Despite never actually seeing the enormous fei, the people of Yap are trusting in their system. It is remarkable that these people who live on such a small and underdeveloped island have such an effective and honest economic system. On Yap, if a fei, is too large to transport after a transaction, the people simply verbalize that the fei now belongs to someone else and all the people are comfortable and trusting in that system. This is incredibly refreshing because we live in a society where such trust would be inconceivable. In retrospect, the fei itself is just a rock. It is the idea of the fei that holds value amongst the people.

I came to the conclusion that money is worthless. When Germany held control of Yap, they requested that the natives construct roads for easier transportation. The people of Yap were happy with their unpaved gravel roads and did not meet the commands of the Germans. To retaliate, the Germans claimed the large fei in Yap by painting large black x’s on them. The Germans didn’t value the money they took from the Yap. They just knew that the natives were so honest and trusting in the system that the Germans were able to manipulate the people of Yap into doing what they wanted. When the people of Yap finally paved the roads, the Germans went around and scraped the black x’s.

The concept of worthless money is also similar to an experience we shared with the French. When the French were afraid that our bank wasn’t going to stick to the gold standard they requested that their money b exchanged for gold. Shipping mounds of gold back to France would be a very difficult, so France and United States decided the gold would stay in the Federal Reserve. The United States would just put a little name tag on the French gold drawer. Even though the French didn’t have the gold in their possession, they were perfectly fine believing the gold being theirs.

In Brazil, there was a point in time where the people stopped believing in their economic system. Inflation was so high that prices on goods were rising each day. They tricked the people by introducing a fake money system known as URVs. The URVs gave people the idea that they weren’t spending outrageous amount of money because the URVs always kept the same numerical value. They used conversion table to equate URVs to their actual money system known as a cruizeiro. The amount of cruzeiros changed but products remained the same amount of URVs. This gave the illusion that people weren’t spending more money. The people of Brazil just valued the idea that their money was worth more so they were able to save and spend better.

After listening to the radio broadcast “Weekend at Bernanke’s” I found out that the Federal Reserve is not actually part of the government. They are an independent institution that is given the task of withholding the nation’s money. I never realized that creating money is such a delicate balance. If we produce too much, money will lose its value but if we don’t produce enough it is also not a good thing. I didn’t realize that circulating the new money was such an extensive process. The Federal Reserve buys bonds from banks in order for the banks to lend out the newly created money. There is also a large amount of money in our system that isn’t physically present. In these days, people do a large amount of banking and bill paying online. Many times money doesn’t actually switch hands, numbers are just moved around in a computer system.

Bitcoin is an online currency system that is entirely new to me. Until recently reading articles on it, I had never heard of it. It’s exceptionally interesting because essentially, it has no value. According to the article there is not a central bank behind bitcoin so they have no monetary value. But according to another article there are some driving forces that will move the company forward this upcoming year.

In just two days my idea of those green pieces of paper has changed completely. After all the articles I’ve read and the broadcasts I listened to, money just isn’t the same. It just seems like an idea and not so much a physical asset anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I still appreciate carrying a bill with Andrew Jackson on it, but it’s still just a piece of paper with an idea attached to it. However, I really enjoy the concept that the people of Yap use when it comes to trusting their friends and neighbors when it comes to exchanging currency. Even though it’s not physically in their presence, they respect that it belongs to them. I’ve also learned that wealth is just a concept and that carrying a lot of money around doesn’t necessarily mean that you are wealthy.

Works Cited

Friedman, Milton. “The Island of Stone Money.” Diss. Hoover Institution, Stanford University , 1991.

Phillips, John. “Bitcoin: What to Expect in 2015.” CNBC. N.p., 15 Dec. 2014. Web. 04 Sept. 2015.

Reeves, Jeff. “Bitcoin Has No Place in Your- or Any-portfolio.” Market Watch. N.p., 31 Jan. 2015. Web. 4 Sept. 2015.

“The Invention of Money | This American Life.” This American Life. N.p., 7 Jan. 2011. Web. 04 Sept. 2015.

About Dev

I'm short and awkward and I love America more than any 20 year old girl should.
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4 Responses to stone money rewrite- haveanelephantasticday

  1. haveanelephantasticday says:

    feedback was requested

    Feedback provided.
    –DSH

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  2. davidbdale says:

    I have preserved your September 05 version here, haveanelephantasticday. Since you’re already calling this post your Rewrite, I have updated it to reflect the changes you made during the Cows and Chips exercise. But I didn’t want to lose the earlier version. It’s here:

    Today I was introduced to a concept unlike one I have heard before. I learned of the Island of Yap and their currency system. Needless to say, I was very interested and surprised when I listened to a radio broadcast highlighting their very unique currency system. The natives to island use limestone rocks called fei as a form of currency. This limestone is only found on an island four-hundred miles away. The people of Yap own small fei for smaller purchases and large fei for larger purchases. The broadcast spoke of a man who had sent men to the island where the limestone money is mined and his men retrieved an enormous rock. Unfortunately there was a storm and the fei was unable to make it to Yap. Fortunately for the man who had sent the miners, the miners spoke of the tremendous fortune that had been harvested and they took his word for it. Without question, they believed the story and he is considered to be extremely wealthy. Despite never actually seeing the very large fei, the people of Yap are trusting in their system. It is rather remarkable that these people who live on such a small and underdeveloped island have such an effective and honest way of exchanging currency. It’s intriguing that their entire economy is based on trust and honesty. On Yap, if a fei, is too large to transport after a transaction, all the people do is verbalize that the fei now belongs to someone else and all the people are comfortable and trusting in that system.. To me, this is incredibly refreshing because I feel as though we live in a society where such trust would be impossible. In retrospect, the fei itself is absolutely worthless. It is the idea of the fei that holds value amongst the people.

    After reading an article by Milton Freidman, I came to my own conclusion about money and its monetary value. Money is worthless. When Germany held control of the island of Yap, they requested that he natives construct roads for easier transportation. The people of Yap were perfectly content with their road system and did not meet the commands of the Germans. To retaliate, the Germans claimed the large fei in Yap by painting large black x’s on them so the natives would pave the roads. The Germans didn’t value the money they took from the people of Yap. They just knew that the natives were so honest and trusting in the system that the Germans were able to manipulate the people of Yap into doing what they wanted. When the people of Yap finally paved the roads, the Germans went around and removed the black x’s. The concept of worthless money is also prominent through the experience we shared with the French. When the French were afraid that our bank wasn’t going to stick to the gold standard they requested to have their money exchanged for gold. Shipping all that gold back to France would be a very difficult task, so France and United States decided that the French would keep the gold here in the United States in the Federal Reserve. The United States would just put a tag on the drawers that specifies that it belongs to the French. Even though the French didn’t have the gold in their possession, they were perfectly fine with the idea of the gold being theirs.

    In Brazil, there was a point in time where the people truly stop believing in their economic system. Inflation was so high that people stopped believing that their own money was worth anything. It got so bad they had to introduce a new form of currency that would help bring value back to the money system. They tricked the people by introducing this fake money system, a system known as URVs. The URVs gave people the idea that they weren’t spending outrageous amount of money because the URVs remained at one stable price. It’s extremely interesting because this money was just a state of their imagination. They used conversion table to equate URVs to their actual money system known as a cruizeiro. Even though the amount of cruzeiros changed, products remained the same amount of URVs. This gave the allusion that people weren’t spending more money. This is truly just another demonstration on how money itself is worthless. The people of Brazil just value the idea that their money was worth more.

    After listening to a radio broadcast entitled, “Weekend at Bernanke’s” my mind was completely blown once I found out that the Federal Reserve is not actually part of the government. They are an independent institution that is given the very large task withholding the nation’s money. I never realized that creating money is such a delicate balance. If they produce too much, money will lose its value but if we don’t produce enough it is also not a good thing. I also didn’t realize that to circulate the new money into the system it was such an extensive process. The Federal Reserve buys bonds from banks in order for the banks to lend out the newly created money. With that being said, there is also a large amount of money in our system that isn’t physically present. In this day in age, people do a large amount of banking and bill paying online. Many times money doesn’t actually switch hands, numbers are just moved around in a computer system.

    Bitcoin is an online currency system that is entirely new to me. Until recently reading articles on it, I had never heard of it. It’s exceptionally interesting because essentially, it has no value. According to the article there is not a central bank behind bitcoin so they have no monetary value. But according to another article there are some driving forces that will move the company forward this upcoming year.

    In just two days my idea of money has changed completely. After all the articles I’ve read and the broadcasts I listened to, I won’t be able to think of money the same. To me, it just seems like an idea and not so much a physical asset anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I still appreciate carrying a twenty dollar bill around, but it’s still just a piece of paper with an idea attached to it. However, I really enjoy the concept that the people of Yap use when it comes to trusting their friends and neighbors when it comes to exchanging currency. Even though it’s not physically in their presence, they respect that it belongs to them. I’ve also learned that wealth is just a concept and that carrying a lot of money around doesn’t necessarily mean that you are wealthy.

    Friedman, Milton. “The Island of Stone Money.” Diss. Hoover Institution, Stanford University , 1991.

    Phillips, John. “Bitcoin: What to Expect in 2015.” CNBC. N.p., 15 Dec. 2014. Web. 04 Sept. 2015.

    Reeves, Jeff. “Bitcoin Has No Place in Your- or Any-portfolio.” Market Watch. N.p., 31 Jan. 2015. Web. 4 Sept. 2015.

    “The Invention of Money | This American Life.” This American Life. N.p., 7 Jan. 2011. Web. 04 Sept. 2015.

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  3. davidbdale says:

    For purposes of grading, haveanelephantasticday, I will consider this version here, the one beginning: “Today i was surprised to learn of that the Yap in Micronesia use limestone rocks called fei ,” to be your A01 assignment, even though you’ve revised it once and had a chance to “Cows and Chips” it. I’ll provide you with feedback beginning now and you can take a week to revise this Rewrite before I will grade it as A03.

    Now, down to the business of exhaustive feedback.

    Like

  4. davidbdale says:

    \Thank you for your patience haveanelephantasticday. I’ll do as much feedback now as I can fit in between classes. If necessary, I’ll return later to finish. If I’m not complete, or if I’m unclear, drop me a Reply. I will be abbreviating your username in feedback to phantastic.

    Paragraph 1 (P1). Your technique here will call for too much reader patience, phantastic. We have no idea why the story of the Yap and their money would be useful or meaningful, so we most likely won’t read unless we are deeply intrigued by the narration. Ask yourself how far you would get if you were the reader. Could you begin with a specific surprising claim that sets the hook first before launching the story? Your paragraph touches on several themes without settling on one. Therefore, it rambles. They use stone of different sizes for money. They send expeditions to produce it. They trusted the story of the unseen fei. Their system works because of their honesty. They have a purely verbal, memory-based system to track ownership. That system is unavailable to us (because we don’t trust each other?). The seemingly valuable fei are “just rocks.” The value of the fei is an idea. Those claims simply stack up without your guidance, phantastic. You can’t blame readers for wondering why you’re writing.

    P2. Again you tell us a long narrative, but in this case you open with a bold claim that should advise us what you will accomplish in the paragraph. To some degree you succeed, but you’re not precise. You say “money is worthless,” but you also indicate that “the Germans didn’t value the money” on Yap, which clearly indicates that to the Yap, the money had value. Frankly, it doesn’t matter much whether the Germans valued the money or not, so long as the Yap prized it. What you could be proving are different claims than those you make. The story demonstrates that different cultures value different currencies, all of which have value (are not worthless) within their cultures. It also demonstrates that the Yap, who never had to mark their fei to indicate ownership, considered the marking of them by an authority a very serious matter.

    P3. I don’t see how this paragraph in any way proves what you say it will. Is the gold worthless if the French preferred it to dollars? Of what use was the gold to the French? They wanted to use it to back their francs, most likely. Francs backed by gold were not worthless, but they were worried that dollars not backed by gold might become so, meaning once again that as long as everybody had faith in the dollars or the gold behind them, the dollars were not worthless.

    P4. You don’t indicate at all why you’re telling the story of the Brazilian real, phantastic. It does, however, appear to be about belief. “People stopped believing,” followed by “tricked the people into believing,” followed by “gave the people the idea,” followed by “gave the people the illusion,” leading to “the people of Brazil valued the idea that their money was worth more.” Allow me an anecdote. Mr. Ringling believes that shards of broken pottery are valuable, the more geometric the shapes, the more valuable they are. He tries to use them to pay his hotel bill, but the hotel refuses. His shards are worthless. When he sails to Bap, however, he finds an entire economy based on the value of pottery shards. The shards have no intrinsic value anywhere, but on Bap they are not worthless, just everywhere else in the world.

    P5. What is the purpose of this summary, phantastic? Does it indicate that monetary systems are insane and not trustworthy? Or does it indicate that modern economies don’t trust entirely to market forces to keep the values of currency stable? What would be the effect of mining and introducing huge additional numbers of fei into the Yap economy? Would it devalue all the existing fei, driving up costs? What is the purpose of the summary?

    P6. When you keep insisting that currencies “have no value,” you must eventually come to the conclusion that either they all do or none of them do. Your claim here seems to indicate that Bitcoin is different in that is “has no value,” but you’ve been saying the same thing of every currency. What makes Bitcoin different if in fact it is different? The presence or absence of a central bank? Not clear. What does the presence of the bank offer?

    P7. You’ll have to come to a more specific conclusion than, “with an idea attached to it,” phantastic. After all the examples, it’s your job, not the readers, to elucidate that idea. You’ve established that the physical presence of the currency is not where its value resides. Where, then, does money get the value that makes it worth working for?

    You responded well to the first round of feedback, haveanelephantasticday. You altered your narratives to provide readers the background to understand the anecdotes. Now you need to provide what the lesson the tales tell. Helpful? Please reply.

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