Stone Money and the Cows
To think that the monotonous day in and day out effort it is to get a paycheck deposited into an intangible place. To think that the number projected on the screen or the print out the size of a gum wrapper holds everything we have in this world. All of these actions are such eerie thoughts. I did not think about any of this until I once sat through a lecture that informed us on how society looks at monetary value today, but compared to other nations and in the past it was not always like that.
There is an Island called Yap, in the Pacific Ocean, that utilizes their own way of currency in their daily lives. They used these stones that were called Fei. Fei are not originally on their island so small teams of workers would have to cross over 400 miles of rough water in order to mine them. According to the essay The island of Stone Money by Milton Friedman, Fei were these doughnut shaped stones that varied in size depending on the owner’s wealth. The workers would mine these Fei, carve and shape them, then stick a rod through the middle and transport them back to the ship in order to be brought back to the island. If these Fei were too large to constantly be transported they would remain in one area and the title ship would be transferred by word of mouth. These Fei were used in the Islanders day to day transactions. Fei would be used to buy food, houses, materials, or could even be used as a dowry. One time while a team of workers were traveling back they faced a mighty storm. They were carrying the largest Fei anyone had seen. The storm was so bad that they had to cut the rope and watched as it sank to the ocean never to have eyes lay upon it again. When they got back they told the whole village of its size. It was as big as as a cottage and smoothed as baby’s skin. Everyone in the town understood and believed this Fei existed and that the other was of a prestigious standing.
Times and society has changed, so no longer can a person go the store with a full grown cow sized stone and expect a weeks’ worth of groceries, there are new ways of currency that are different than the traditional dollar bill. The new is titled Bitcoin. In the article Bitcoin: What to Expect in 2015, Bobby lee states that “it has small circulation value now, but theoretically, with wide adaption, the circulation value should be 100x or 1,000x what it is today”. With this speculation, it is understood that Bitcoin will become increasingly popular. While bitcoins are completely digital, their size may compared to that of a U.S nickel. In another article, Bitcoin has no place in your- or any- portfolio, the author flat out states that “Bitcoin should not be on your radar”. The author states this in reference to the lost profit over the years. While this statement is presumptions, companies, such as Dell, Microsoft, and overstock.com now let consumers use Bitcoin in their transactions.
While the idea of bringing a stone the size of a potato chip to the store to purchase a can of pop is intriguing, I think it is safe to say that even through the lecture my views on the abstract idea of money have not changed. I will always put my money in the bank and watch over that number on the printed screen.
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. 07 Sept. 2015.
Reeves, Jeff. “Bitcoin Has No Place in Your – or Any – Portfolio.”MarketWatch. CNBC, 31 Jan. 2015. Web. 6 Sept. 2015.