Stone Money—Yoshi

P1. In the little island of Yap there were the wealthy that would travel 400 miles to get these big limestone discs, also known as fei, to exchange as currency. In order to move these big stones there is a hole carved in the middle of it, so a tree can fit through it and roll the fei around. Despite the hole in the stones, the stones for the most part didn’t move around from one person to another. Instead they stay put, and the people of Yap just know who it belongs too. They will usually trade the fei for big purchases according to NPR’s Broadcast of “The Story of the Stone Money”. I thought the concept of the Yap’s money was dumb. I didn’t understand how they believed that a big unevenly shaped stone made them rich even if it wasn’t even in their possession. That to me was the most illogical thing ever. As I started listening to NPR’s Broadcast of “The Story of the Stone Money” and reading Milton Friedman’s “Island of Stone Money” I began to realize our economy and our visual of money is not too far off from those that live in Yap. Both, the Yap and us Americans, believe we can be wealthy and gain wealth by not actually physically moving anything.  

P2. In Milton Friedman’s story, “Island of Stone Money” Friedman explains how the French didn’t think the USA would stick to their gold standard of $20.67 an ounce. Therefore, according to Friedman, they asked the NY Federal Reserve to convert their dollar assets into gold, and set it aside for them instead of shipping it overseas. The Federal Reserve then put aside gold for the french. They separated the gold, and put it in drawers so it wasn’t touched. This way everyone knew that belonged to them.  After reading that I realized money is just knowing what you have, it is nothing physical. For example, you do not need the physical cash in your hand to determine your wealth. In Yap they determined their wealth by others knowing how many fei they owned, and not much different us in the USA determine how wealthy we are by digital numbers raising in our accounts.

P3. After reading, “Island of Stone Money” I began to questions why do so many people have the faith in others to determine their own wealth. For example, how is it that I deposit money into my bank account, and a digital number, a machine gives me, determines my wealth. How does money from my account get taken out, and put into the car companies account. But nothing physically is exchanged? That flimsy green piece of linen is barely used anymore, it is all about the plastic card with a chip in it. How is it that France has the faith in us to put aside gold for them that they bought, but they never physically saw? How is it that there is a fei at the bottom of the ocean near Yap that no one has seen for years, but yet it is still being used as if it was physically there.

P4. I continued my research on how people put their faith into other with their money, and I came across an article by NPR’s Broadcast called “How Fake Money Saved Brazil”. Just twenty years ago inflation in Brazil reached 80% a month according to NPR. Brazil’s inflation began when Brazil’s government printed money in order to build Brasilia, Brazil’s capital. They created a new currency and it improved their economy rapidly! People would still have cruceros, but everything was listed in a URV, Unite of Real Value. One URV would equal 7 cruceros, and the next week one URV would equal 14 cruceros. According to NPR broadcast this idea was created so people would stop thinking prices would go up. After a few months the prices began to equal out, and that’s when they decided the URV was the new real currency. After this change 20,000 people got out of poverty!

P5. After reading these articles I came to think, what actually is money? To the people in Yap money is a big rigid limestone that doesn’t have to be in their possession. To us money is fake, it isn’t that green rectangle linen with pictures on it. It is numbers we see in our accounts, and we use plastic cards to make purchases. To Brazilians money was virtual, it didn’t exist it was just a unit of measurement to control their inflation.  Throughout the years money has developed many different values. Now a days it is hard to survive without money, even though we might not even physically see it. I believe money is what makes the world go around. Even if no one actually has a definition of what money is.  Money all around the world is physically different, but the actual use of it is all the same. What connects everyone’s money value to all others are their concept of money. The concept of money is just the trust you have in each other. Whether you live in the US and put your trust in a bank. Or whether you live in Yap, and put your trust into other people knowing what is yours, or even trusting 4 men you have never met before to create a new currency and help inflation. Money is different everywhere, it is the trust that makes it the same.

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. 9 Sept. 2017. <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.

10 thoughts on “Stone Money—Yoshi”

    1. This is a good start, Yoshi. You describe the French gold anecdote well (and I’m sure you’ll find ways to purposefully summarize other anecdotes as well for the benefit of this essay). What you don’t quite nail down is the analogy. That re-labeled gold most closely resembles the “seizing” of fei by the Germans with their painted Xs, doesn’t it? Two anecdotes that illuminate one another. Then, as you appear to be doing, you can fold in the contemporary world’s ability to completely eliminate the physical presence of money. Have you ever used an online banking application to move money from one account to another? It’s exactly like swapping labels on some cash.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I think I’ll go at this a paragraph at a time, Yoshi, so I’ve numbered yours to simplify the process.

    P1. Your opening paragraph has an easy, conversational style, which pushes the limit of what an academic essay should be, Yoshi. You don’t need to be formal, but neither should you be chatty. Work for a balance that combines your natural language approach with rigorous academic observations. That way you can painlessly deliver complex or difficult material and serve your readers well. (Milton Friedman does this brilliantly in “Island of Stone Money.”)

    First person perspective is fine, but the right choice for anyone other than famous columnists is the First Person Plural: We. “We learn something about American money from the story of the huge stone coins of the Yap.”

    Details make the story come alive, Yoshi. Your stones are huge, they’re fitted with holes, they’re discs, but in another sentence they’re irregularly shaped, they are made to be movable, but they don’t get moved. They come from 400 miles away, but Yap is a small island. How can there be a 400-mile distance on a small island? In other words, make those details count for you. At the moment, they mostly confuse readers who haven’t read the source material.

    The shaping of the stone requires intense labor (that’s what makes them valuable). The holes are used to move the stones to their FIRST location; after that, they don’t go to the trouble to move them. They’re too heavy to transport comfortably on a raft (Oh! 400 miles away by boat!); hence, one gets lost at sea but retains its value. See my point?

    Grammar: Your subjects need to agree in number. You have STONES that you refer to as IT.

    these big stones there is a hole carved in the middle of it

    Grammar: Then you refer to the STONES that stay put again as IT

    they stay put, and the people of Yap just know who it belongs too

    Grammar: You mean TO, not TOO

    who it belongs too

    Punctuation: Periods ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS go INSIDE the quotation marks. Not:

    “The Story of the Stone Money”.

    But:

    “The Story of the Stone Money.”

    In the spirit of tending toward less casual language and using informality to ease the delivery of tough intellectual material, how about if we replace something like:

    I thought the concept of the Yap’s money was dumb. I didn’t understand how they believed that a big unevenly shaped stone made them rich even if it wasn’t even in their possession. That to me was the most illogical thing ever.

    with something like:

    The idea that huge, hole-drilled stones from a remote island quarry could make the Yap rich (no matter how highly polished they were!) does sound peculiar. That the stones are still a source of wealth when they’re not in the physical possession of their owners sounds even less reasonable. But if wealth no one has seen, at the bottom of the sea, is odd, then our modern American bank accounts that don’t require tellers, or paper currency, or gold buried in vaults, or anything more than a magnetic stripe or a few keystrokes to move wealth around should make our heads swim. But they don’t. We take them for granted.

    Does that illustrate well enough the technique I think would best suit your writing skills, Yoshi? If you’re comfortable with the style, I’d like you to try to incorporate it into a draft of your Rewrite.

    If you’d like an in-depth critique of another paragraph, just tell me which one you want shredded. I’ll be happy to help.

    As always, this is a conversation we have here on the blog. It’s most effective when you respond.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think I can try to incorporate the different language into my rewrite. If I get stuck in the process I will ask for your help on another paragraph! thanks!

    Like

    1. I’ll be happy to. Thank you for responding. You said in your Preview Survey the first week of class that you wanted extensive detailed feedback, help in all areas of writing, and a chance to choose your own topic for research. Does what we’re doing here so far satisfy your needs, Yoshi? And, have you done anything yet to focus your attention on a topic for research? We’ll be settling on those choices very soon.

      Liked by 1 person

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