AStone Money – alivewit55

The idea of money has evolved over thousands of years; beginning with the simple process of bartering goods between merchants, and now to the belief that dollars, cents, francs, and euros have an identifiable worth to them. I have sometimes questioned how our dollar bills came to be and how we announce their worth. “Money, in and of itself, is nothing. It can be a shell, a metal coin, or a piece of paper with a historic image on it, but the value that people place on it has nothing to do with the physical value of the money” (Beattie). We can all walk into a store with a few pieces of paper and buy an item that does not exceed the amount we have in our pockets. But we do this without ever wondering who says that what we have is worth what we think it is. There does not seem to be anything to gain from questioning the idea of money, we simply go on about our days and carry the bills we believe have worth attached to them. It is interesting, however, to trace our beginnings and see how far we have come, and see how we have actually become rather lazy with our wealth. From trading goods, to exchanging metals of value for products, to developing paper money that everyone in the world believes has worth, just because we have some people in positions of power that say what is actually worth a certain amount.

An interesting take on the beginning of our seemingly irresponsible valuation of money is brought up in the NPR Broadcast titled “The Invention of Money”, they discuss the history of the Yap people of the Caroline Islands and their “stone money”. The Yap developed  a system of carving huge stone wheels out of limestone for large purchases between islanders. However, since the large stones weighed thousands of pounds, and there were no roads or carts to move the stone between people, it was simply known and trusted to be owned by that certain islander. Pretty preposterous how an islander could have wealth that is made true by a stone that is on another man’s property. How could such a system work, when there is no actual piece of worth behind the stones? But it is eerie how we question the simplistic monetary values the Yap people had, while we have established our own make-believe system of money in the present day. We have our dollar bills and our pennies and quarters, as do other countries with respect to their own currency, but we have not had a backing to our money since the gold standard was eliminated in 1933. It has been 82 years since our money has actually had a material worth attached to it, yet our economies and monetary systems have been kept in tact for the entire duration. There has been ups and downs in markets, but eventually, the “dollar” gains its worth back just because some computers on Wall Street say it is so. “Money is like Tinker Bell in the final scene of the play, Peter Pan. If people do not believe, it will fade away. But, of course, people do want to believe and the spot-light on Tinker Bell brightens with the loud cheering of the audience” (Livingstone). We have surpassed the point in time where we can question the system in place, and we must carry it on for as long as we can because there is no way to attach values to the dollars and cents we speak of. It is very interesting to look back and see similarities between our society and societies in early history, but it is even more exciting to evaluate and hypothesize what our future holds for us. Hopefully, our imaginary money can outlast all of humanity, before we reach the point of no return and have to go back to building stones of limestone to express our worth, as if our monetary policy isn’t as “cavemen-like” as it was then.

Works Cited

Beattie, Andrew. “The History Of Money: From Barter To Banknotes.”Investopedia. N.p., 17 Apr. 2007. Web. 07 Sept. 2015.

Livingstone, Zuerrnnovahh-Starr. “Money, a Belief System.” Money, a Belief System. N.p., 15 Oct. 2002. Web. 08 Sept. 2015.

“The Invention of Money | This American Life.” This American Life. N.p., 7 Jan. 2011. Web. 08 Sept. 2015.

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3 Responses to AStone Money – alivewit55

  1. alivewit55 says:

    feedback was requested

    Feedback provided.
    —DSH

    Like

  2. davidbdale says:

    My method for providing feedback, alivewit55, is to respond as I read rather than first reading all the way through. I do so to provide you with a paragraph-by-paragraph reaction to your writing the same as any reader would respond. I hope you find this method helpful.
    P.S. I am very critical of all writing; harsh comments are common. I will praise your work only when I find something truly commendable. If you prefer gentler guidance, you only have to ask. I can be kind.

    P1. This first paragraph is a good start, alivewit55. Your personal reflection (I have sometimes questioned . . . .) adds little if anything, but it does provide a link to the valuable quote. Your further reflection that “there is nothing to gain” from examining money is probably disproved by the insights you gain into reflecting on it. (Let’s hope so.) Your musing about the pleasantness of musing almost discourages us from continuing since you seem to offer us so little. Finally, the last claim that powerful people “say what is worth what” is certainly untrue. No person determines what is worth what. Only buyers do that, all buyers, collectively.

    P2. Why irresponsible?
    —Periods and commas ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS go inside the quotation marks.
    —Weak phrasing threatens your credibility: How could such a system work, when there is no actual piece of worth behind the stones?
    —Hmmm. You seem to have skipped a step. I don’t want to slow you down (you take your own time as it is), but you don’t acknowledge that our money used to be actual gold, exactly as “valuable” as the equally rare and inaccessible polished limestone. THEN it became money backed by gold. THEN it became the abstract instrument it is today. THEN it will dispense with the physical instruments altogether?
    —WOW! This paragraph is much too long, not in number of words but in number of main ideas. You’re trying to contain too many topics here, to your detriment. Divide into several paragraphs, one per topic; produce a topic sentence for each to keep yourself honest, then examine each paragraph to assure that it is well developed. Currently, you’re moving on before you’re finished with each idea.
    —You do not redeem your observation that other countries also use abstract currencies. Readers will wonder if those currencies are “backed” by reserves of something inherently valuable. If not, how do we convert from one currency to another?
    —Hmmm. In what way do computers on Wall Street determine what the dollar is worth? Do they declare that a certain amount of goods and services can be exchanged for the currency? No.
    —The Tinkerbell image is nice, but accentuates that the values are determined by the audience, not by the author of the play or the actors.
    —No way to attach value to dollars and cents? What value do they require? Don’t we instead attach artificial “values” in the form of prices, to goods and services?
    —You have good rhetorical skills, alivewit55, but you’re depending too heavily on them to sound as if you’re making an argument. The last several sentences contain no information. They’re not worthless, but they would be more persuasive if they contained specific speculations. For example (but just an example), you never get past bills and coins. You haven’t begun to express how much more abstract our “money” has become since we mostly abandoned physical cash. That would help illustrate what “the future holds,” and might approach the fear of the “point of no return” when a simple computer glitch could deprive us all of our “wealth.”

    Did you find this feedback helpful, alivewit55? Overwhelming? Overly critical? I can afford to spend the time on extensive feedback only for students who respond well to it. If you need less, or don’t revise extensively, I’ll adapt. Please reply.

    Like

  3. alivewit55 says:

    An interesting take on the beginning of our seemingly irresponsible valuation of money is brought up in the NPR Broadcast titled “The Invention of Money”, they discuss the history of the Yap people of the Caroline Islands and their “stone money”. The Yap developed a system of carving huge stone wheels out of limestone for large purchases between islanders. However, since the large stones weighed thousands of pounds, and there were no roads or carts to move the stone between people, it was simply known and trusted to be owned by that certain islander. Pretty preposterous how an islander could have wealth that is made true by a stone that is on another man’s property.

    How could such a system work, when the only evidence of worth the stone has is the stone itself? But it is eerie how we question the simplistic monetary values the Yap people had, while we have established our own make-believe system of money in the present day. We have our dollar bills and our pennies and quarters, as do other countries with respect to their own currency. We started off the same way as the people of Yap, using the precious metal gold instead of nearly inaccessible limestone as our monetary value. Eventually when we saw how our gold supply was running out/being misused, we evolved the system and instead instituted paper bills and coins that were backed by the worth of gold. However, we have not had a backing to our money since the gold standard was eliminated in 1933. It has been 82 years since our money has actually had a material worth attached to it, yet our economies and monetary systems have been kept in tact for the entire duration.

    There has been ups and downs in markets, but eventually, the “dollar” gains its worth back just because, for some strange reason, we believe in it. “Money is like Tinker Bell in the final scene of the play, Peter Pan. If people do not believe, it will fade away. But, of course, people do want to believe and the spot-light on Tinker Bell brightens with the loud cheering of the audience” (Livingstone). We have surpassed the point in time where we can question the system in place, and we must carry it on for as long as we can. We have surpassed the days of limestone-money trading and our own history with gold. It is very interesting to look back and see similarities between our society and societies in early history, but it is even more exciting to evaluate and hypothesize what our future holds for us. We can physically see and touch and smell the money that we have, but we cannot see its worth. We know what it is worth in our heads, because we speak and communicate the value behind each dollar. We cannot see it, and yet we still believe in it.

    The dollar is sort of like Santa Claus. We see the presents under the tree, the half-drank milk and the devoured cookies from a festive plate, but we never see Santa. There is all this evidence that he exists, there are stories and songs that tell tales of his history, but we never see him. Even if we never see a jolly, fat man in a big red velvet suit, we are going to believe in him. Just like money, we have evidence it exists and we attach worth to it, but the real value is our belief in the system, and that will never fade away.

    Like

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