Stone Money—Splash

P1. When I was listening to the story of about the island of Yap in class I thought to myself he was making this story up. Why would people take the time to make such large limestone coins to be their representation of money? It seemed absurd to me because you couldn’t even move them easily or use them for little things life food for the house, it had to be spent on something big like building a new house or as said in the Planet Money Prologue if one of your warriors died in war you could use that stone to buy back the warriors body. It was also crazy to me to know that only if you had one of these stones it would make you considered to be wealthy, which was weird because you could have tons of gold and other forms of money but you weren’t ever considered to be as wealthy as someone who owned one of these stones as stated in the story of stone money. Also, something else I found interesting was that there was no form of documentation on this island of Yap, they have such a strong faith in each other’s word. Someone could say they wanted a house built, a contractor would come out build a house with no upfront pay but know that the fei was his once the house was completed. Even while reading Friedman’s essay the thing that stood out the most to me was when he talked about the magnificent fei that was being delivered over sea. A big storm aroused and the fei sank to the bottom of the ocean, and the people on the island of Yap were perfectly fine with that. They said that even though it is at the bottom of the ocean it still has its value, just as if it were leaning against the owner’s house. To me this is ridiculous because if that were my fei that sank I wouldn’t be as calm about it as they are and it wouldn’t seem valuable to me anymore.

P2. Then that has me go into thinking why is money so important to people, and what is the point of money in the first place? The NPR broadcast I was listening to talks about all the stages of money and how it has changed over the years. It first started as the stone fei, then to gold, and bills, off to checks, and now it is as simple as just a number appearing in your bank account. I really enjoyed how they were talking about the differences in how payments work now a days, they said that when they pay their phone bill it’s not like someone goes and delivers a hundred dollars to their phone company. It is almost as if they are just sending numbers back and forth to one another and it is a game that doesn’t even feel real. They even said in the NPR brodcast that most of the money that exists is just the idea of money.

P3. Which then brings me to the Lie That Saved Brazil, and what they had to go through. When I was listening to the story it made me feel so bad for the people of Brazil. I couldn’t understand why people had to be living the way they did when there was so much money in the world to be shared. I say this because there was apparently no money for the people in Brazil and they were really struggling to get by. Chana Joffe-Walt talked about what the stores were like and how the prices of things would go up or change every single day. How there would be a sticker guy that would go up and down the aisles changing the prices each day, people would even try to get in front of the sticker guy so they could pay the old price. It was sad when she told us that even when people would get paid, they’d have to spend it before their money wasn’t worth anything anymore. She said you could put your money in a drawer and each day that went by the clock would be ticking on the value of your money. There was even a point when the government just threatened to take everyone’s money, people went into panic and some she said even committed suicide. But then one day four men came along to help Brazil’s situation so they wouldn’t have to live like this anymore. Hero’s was what she described them as, they proposed a way to make people think their money had value again. Not long after things started to change because this new idea seemed to make such a difference in the way people just “lied to themselves” so to speak. Even though there was no physical money all they needed was for people to believe there was and that made all the difference.

P4. This story just easily helps me flow right into Weekend at Bernanke’s, listening to this story just gets me thinking about all the different ways the Federal Reserve could have helped let’s say Brazil for example, because in the brodcast they said the Fed can create money at and given time. Why they wouldn’t think to give some to Brazil during that crisis, I don’t exactly know. They were saying that the fed can just make money out of nothing and just lend it out and if they should do this. The process is so easy as they explained, all you do is add a few numbers, click a mouse and alas money is created. Also on top of that they even exclaimed that banks don’t just like to sit on load of money they like to lend it out, so why not use all of this money to help countries in dire need of it? It is interesting to think if the Fed screws up then the people stop believing in the dollar and the dollar loses value as they explained.

P5. Thinking about all these different ways money is transferred and the money people have and how much they have can put them in the category of being wealthy, but why?  Some things these days don’t really have a good representaion of money, the an ATM recipt for example. What is the point or meaning of money? Money is just something that holds value, but there are so many different things that hold value to different people and if you really think about the dollar and how it is just a piece of paper with a guys face on it, it doesn’t make sense why people go so crazy over it. For example with me I have a ring I got from my grandparents and I wear it every day and it holds so much value to me, but to someone else it would just be some old ring. Money is just another materialistic thing that people think they need to be successful in life when there are far greater things, like knowledge for example. Now a days with how high tech money as gotten it’s just a game of sending numbers and not physical money, so it’s as if the money isn’t even real to begin with.

Works Cited

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

Joffe-Walt, Chana . “How Fake Money Saved Brazil.” NPR.org. 4 Oct. 2010. 30 Jan. 2015. <http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2010/10/04/130329523/how-fake-money-saved-brazil&gt;.

“The Invention of Stone Money.” 423: The Invention of Stone Money. This Is American Life, WBEZ. Chicago . 7 Jan. 2011.

3 thoughts on “Stone Money—Splash”

  1. OK, Splash, I think I’ll go at this a paragraph at a time, so I’ve numbered yours to simplify communications.

    P1. For starters, let’s consider your audience, Splash. The world can read our blog. 7 billion people on earth probably won’t, but one might open your post who is not a member of our class. Your job is to communicate to that reader who doesn’t already know we’re in a writing course whose theme is Counterintuitivity, a reader who doesn’t know you attended a lecture on Stone Money, doesn’t know who the Yap are. That reader needs your help. Provide that reader everything she needs to follow your argument. Then, of course, be sure to make an argument. EVERY document is an argument.

    You open with:

    When I was listening to the story of about the island of Yap in class I thought to myself he was making this story up. Why would people take the time to make such large limestone coins to be their representation of money?

    Does the reader have any idea what you mean by the island of Yap or who “he” is? Does she get that the Yap use limestone coins as money? Probably. Does she care enough to want to read more? Probably not. Your job is to use Sentence One to compel your anonymous reader who lacks any background information to read Sentence Two.

    The money of Yap is something from a fairy tale. Huge limestone disks carved on an island 400 miles away and transported by boat to Yap can be “spent” by the Yap without ever having to change hands from one owner to another.

    Next, without needing to be overly formal, we are writing academic essays, so personal comments ruin the tone of intellectual, if informal, persuasion we’re going for. See if you can indicate that we are all surprised and intrigued by the peculiarities of life as they reveal themselves to us instead of chatting about your personal reactions. The reader is more likely to be engaged when we include her as part of a “we.”
    You continue:

    It seemed absurd to me because you couldn’t even move them easily or use them for little things life food for the house, it had to be spent on something big like building a new house or as said in the Planet Money Prologue if one of your warriors died in war you could use that stone to buy back the warriors body. It was also crazy to me to know that only if you had one of these stones it would make you considered to be wealthy, which was weird because you could have tons of gold and other forms of money but you weren’t ever considered to be as wealthy as someone who owned one of these stones as stated in the story of stone money.

    At the same time, as an academic writer, you are prohibited from speaking to your readers as “YOU.” To do so establishes an uncomfortable Me/You dynamic in which you adopt the role of lecturer or preacher with a reader who has not agreed to be your student or parishioner. We engage our readers by finding common ground. We are all We.

    The stones couldn’t even be easily moved or, because they were so enormous, used for small purchases like groceries. They were used for big purchases like building a new house or, as explained in the “Planet Money Prologue,” if a Yap warrior died in war and needed to be brought home for burial. The stones established wealth somehow, like ownership of gold would have done in other cultures, but they couldn’t be easily transferred or spent.

    Listing the details you found absurd could be a good way to intrigue the reader, but she’s more likely to care if you help her find the details absurd than if you keep telling her how intrigued YOU were. You do that a lot:

    Also, something else I found interesting was that there was no form of documentation on this island of Yap, they have such a strong faith in each other’s word. Someone could say they wanted a house built, a contractor would come out build a house with no upfront pay but know that the fei was his once the house was completed.

    Here, your reader might be intrigued:

    Common documentation—invoices, receipts, bills of sale, contracts, purchase orders—were nonexistent on Yap. They had such a strong faith in each other’s word that if one Yap islander wanted a house built, a contractor would come out and build a house with no downpayment, knowing that a massive fei would become his fei once the house was completed.

    You’ve hit your word count, Splash, but you might have room for more ideas once we reduce the wordiness. At the same time, you could probably enhance your description of the uniqueness of the Yap’s faith in fei ownership. Here’s how you tell the story:

    Even while reading Friedman’s essay the thing that stood out the most to me was when he talked about the magnificent fei that was being delivered over sea. A big storm aroused and the fei sank to the bottom of the ocean, and the people on the island of Yap were perfectly fine with that. They said that even though it is at the bottom of the ocean it still has its value, just as if it were leaning against the owner’s house. To me this is ridiculous because if that were my fei that sank I wouldn’t be as calm about it as they are and it wouldn’t seem valuable to me anymore.

    Here’s a less wordy version:

    Once, a magnificent fei that was being delivered over sea, sank in a storm, but the Yap declared it valuable despite never having seen it. As if it were leaning against the owner’s house, it continued to convey wealth even to his descendants.

    At the end of the first-draft paragraph, can you identify the topic sentence that the paragraph should be developing? Consider your essay the Large Argument. Every paragraph is a Small Argument that develops just one main idea of the LA. Every sentence is an even smaller argument that makes its contribution to the Small Arguments. Any sentence without argument value must be cut.

    If the thesis of your paragraph is “I thought the whole idea of Yap money was nuts,” you need to reconsider whether that’s the best use of one of your five paragraphs. In the same number of words, you can probably convey that your initial astonishment faded when you realized that EVERYBODY’S money system is pretty nutty, or weirdly abstract, or faith-based, or very fragile, or entirely understandable to every culture but odd-looking to every other culture, or SOMETHING more complex than just nuts.

    Is that enough advice to help you rethink your rhetorical approach to the essay as a whole, Splash? Can you incorporate this feedback as you revise your other paragraphs?

    I’d be more than happy to do an in-depth analysis of a second paragraph is there’s one you particularly want help with. But you’ll have to respond with a request, and I’ll most likely want to see some progress on your part before I offer more help.

    Like

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