Stone Money—LifeisSublime

P1. The first time I was exposed to this topic of money, my first thought was that money ruled the world. It has the power to give authority,  power to provide a desirable lifestyle, and is the one thing, that I believe, separates society.  So when I heard about the Island of Money and the concept they have on it, I was very intrigued to look deeper into it. I wanted to find the answer to the question, ‘is money just a concept?’ and compare it to the way that Americans see this “concept” or actuality of the paper dollar bill we all pass around. The first thing I looked into was the currency for a small island on the Pacific Ocean called Yap. Then I listened to a podcast of Brazil’s economic downfall and what they did to save it. After that I looked into the economy for America and compared it to what I have learned in order to answer the question while also relating it to what I know as an American.  Through all this research I was able to open my mind and see what money is really all about.

P2. The island of Yap is a small, barely visible island located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It gets a lot of attention, despite it’s size, because of their currency and how they operate their exchanges of money. People of this island don’t hold wallets with paper money on them, but instead use big carvings of rocks in the shape of circles as money. These rocks are carved from limestone and have been the islands currency for decades. No one when it started, but the people of this island have been using the possession of the stones to rank the wealthy. One story in particular comes to mind when discussing whether or not this may be something physical, like giant stones being traded throughout the island, or if it is in fact a concept that we can learn from Yap. There was stone, so beautiful and big that is was considered the nicest stone the island had. Apparently, on the way back to the land, from carving it, the men on the boat dropped it overboard and the stone suck to the bottom, unretrievable by anyone. The family that had this stone made did not fret over not having the stone in their possession, for everyone in the village knew it was theirs. This stone has been traded and owned many times, without actually being present to stand it’s own in these trades and payments. That’s where the concept part comes from. The fact that these people on this island are able to still use this currency without actually having the proof, because it’s at the bottom of the ocean, makes the question come alive. For this particular situation I would have to give it to the idea of money/currency rather than physical possession. “Yes I have the money, not with me, but you know I have it because I said so and all the people in the village know I do”. It honestly makes you think in depth about what money, whether it be a stone or paper, has to do with our society and everyday living. For the people of the island of Yap, money is no more than knowing what you have and what you don’t and to me that is a powerful point/concept to have.

P3. Very different from the people of Yap and their stone currency, Brazil was facing an economic downfall with 80 percent of inflation making it unbearable to support oneself/a family with the currency. It wasn’t until four men from graduate school came together and came up with a way to change the game of money exchange in Brazil. They came up with a way to literally trick the system and in the end saved the economy and stopped the inflation, allowing 20 million people to rise from poverty. The inflation was making all the prices rise on almost everything from essentials to groceries. The URV’s were created on a virtual base, valuing to the cruezeiros whenever the value went up. One URV could equal 10 cruezeiros or 20 depending on the inflation, but people didn’t know that. This system was created in order to install faith back in the currency in the people living through the inflation, and it worked. The URVs values eventually became stable and they became the new currency for Brazil. This was interesting because these people still had money in their hands, but they didn’t know the value of what they had. Like the people at Yap, they just knew that they had money to spend and pass around, focusing more on the trade concept and having faith in what was being exchanges. I took this as a concept as well because the value wasn’t always there, but they were worth the same every time. People grew to accept it, going off of something that wasn’t real. Brazil used a fake currency, that rock was on the ocean floor, same thing.

P4. To make this more relatable I looked up the economy that America has been facing for the past decade and tried to compare it to both Yap and Brazil. In America we pass around paper bills that supposably are worth, or were worth gold (gold being the most valuable thing on the Earth at one point). Paper versus gold. Then it occurred to me that not everyone gets paper dollars, physical, but paper checks that claim that money is known as yours, non-physical. That is the same as having a URV that is claiming to be something when you never actually see the physical worth of it, it’s just numbers on a piece of paper, or more recently, digits that change when you check your bank accounts. Having money “known as yours” sounds very similar to having that rock in the water but still knowing that the worth of it is yours. Comparing what I know from the island of Yap and Brazil, this isn’t an uncommon thing. I do believe that money is a concept.

P5. The way I thought of money has changed. I still think that money has power and does provide a certain social status, but after learning what I now know I believe money is a concept. The concept of money was created to replace physical trade making it more convenient and “reliable”. The people of Yap show us that no matter where the money is, in the ocean or in the bank, as long as we know it’s ours it’s worth something. The Brazilian people showed us that the value isn’t important unless you make it about that; that money is set but goes up and down so often that it might as well all be fake. I have changed my mind on money and do believe that the concept was something we as humans have created in order to set social status and property ownership.  

Works Cited

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

“The Invention of Money.” This American Life. N.p., n.d. Web

Thomas, M. (2014, October 13). What a stronger dollar means for the economy. Retrieved September 10, 2017, from https://www.cbsnews.com/news/how-will-a-strengthening-dollar-affect-the-us-economy/

5 thoughts on “Stone Money—LifeisSublime”

  1. I added a little more details in two of body paragraphs: the one about Yap and the one about Brazil. I decided to add more detail to the Brazil paragraph to make it easier to follow and understand.

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    1. Sublime, you said in your Preview Survey the first week of class that you’ve had good experience with feedback, have received helpful advice, and enjoy the prospect of improving your writing. You also hope to receive grammar instruction (corrections), praise for what you do well, and corrections that will improve your overall effectiveness. I’ll do my best to provide everything you need. How are we doing so far on the one-on-one version of useful feedback?

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  2. I’ve numbered your paragraphs to simplify referring to them in Notes. I hafta say, P3 looks REALLLLLLLY long. Is it possible it contains more than one main idea? My first recommendation is to break your work into paragraphs that neatly contain a single primary point and its support.

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  3. You’ve hit your Word Count, Sublime, which is a good start. Next we’ll need to see how well you’ve used your 1100 words. If they’re tight, you’ll hear no more from me about wordiness, rhetorical excess, or padding. And if you’ve managed to pack 1100 words so full of ideas that they do the work of 2000 words, then I’ll stand and applaud you in class and exempt you from Word Counts altogether.

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  4. I’m going to take this one paragraph at a time, Sublime. We may have time for just the first paragraph right now, but I promise I’ll spend just as much time on all the others if you need my help with them. My hope is that you can apply the advice I offer on P1 to the others.

    First, the good news. Your grammar is, for the most part, fine. You are unsure about single and double quotation marks to be sure. And you might be misplacing some commas. But your sentences are grammatically sound and intelligible. (That won’t stop me from picking at them, but take my advice for what it’s worth. You’ll be understood whether or not you follow my recommendations.)

    More good news. You write sensibly, logically, intelligibly. You introduce a premise, follow it through recognizable sequence of steps, and guide your reader through the process. Already above average!

    Even more good news! The shortcomings in your writing are easy to fix for a writer of your ability. As I see them, they are:
    1. You assume your reader knows what you’re talking about.
    2. You assume that your reader is interested.
    3. You believe that your reader has nothing better to do.

    That sounds harsh, but it’s ridiculously common and easy to fix. You already have all the skills you need to write better; you just need to understand your reader.

    With your indulgence, I’ll approach this one sentence at a time.

    P1. S1. The first time I was exposed to this topic of money, my first thought was that money ruled the world.

    If I were your audience, I’d get this. I’d know that you were in a thinking class that called itself a writing class and that you’d been assigned a reading about the ephemerality of money. But I’m just one reader of the billions of readers who might stumble onto your blog post, Sublime, and I’m the only one who knows what you’re talking about. If you want to make sense to the other billions, you need to recognize they don’t know you.

    If your thinking has advanced past the initial notion that “money rules the world,” say that. Or, if you still think “money rules the world,” but you now have a deeper appreciation for how it does so, say that. But don’t refer to the class you took or your personal experience unless they inform the ARGUMENT you are making. Maybe:

    Everyone knows that money rules the world, but few of us understand how.

    Is that what you’re thinking? I don’t know. I’m reacting one sentence at a time. Notice this sentence doesn’t say “I.” It conspires with the reader with “we,” giving you and your reader a common cause, inviting participation, avoiding a lecture or sermon.

    P1. S2. It has the power to give authority, power to provide a desirable lifestyle, and is the one thing, that I believe, separates society.

    A little wordy. Having the power to do something is weaker than doing something. Does it AUTHORIZE or does it merely HAVE THE POWER to give authority? Does it PROVIDE a lifestyle, or HAVE power? I notice you don’t say it HAS THE POWER to separate society. That you truly believe. It SEPARATES society. Clear?

    Your first sentence says it RULES. You must also therefore declare that it AUTHORIZES, PROVIDES, and SEPARATES.

    You (I) promised to explain HOW it rules the world. That should come very soon. Let’s see if S3 provides an explanation.

    P1. S3. So when I heard about the Island of Money and the concept they have on it, I was very intrigued to look deeper into it.

    Nope. We don’t know what to make of your allusion to the “Island of Stone Money.” You don’t drop a clue what “concept” they might have,” and, sadly for writers everywhere, we readers are disinterested that you were intrigued. If you intrigue US, we’re interested. Could you have intrigued us? Certainly. The story of the Yaps’ use of money is deeply intriguing. Need examples?

    So when I heard that the Yap of Yap island can transfer wealth without the slightest documentation, and without handing over any currency, I was intrigued.

    So the idea that on the island of Yap money no one has ever seen could be passed to future generations without ever changing hands was deeply intriguing.

    You need to share the intriguing detail that insures your reader will continue. If you’re worried you’ll give away the entire essay in a sentence,
    you’re discounting the innate value of the subject matter.

    P1. S4. I wanted to find the answer to the question, ‘is money just a concept?’ and compare it to the way that Americans see this “concept” or actuality of the paper dollar bill we all pass around.

    Americans are a practical people who believe in the money we hold in our hands, but increasingly we carry less cash and rely on cards, magnetic swipes, and “app” transactions to substitute for paper dollars.

    P1. S5. The first thing I looked into was the currency for a small island on the Pacific Ocean called Yap.

    To be at all effective in coercing your readers to read the next sentence, you need to pique their interest in the currency of that small island, Sublime.

    The huge limestone coins of Yap are surely physical, but the ones at the bottom of the sea no one has ever seen are just as valuable as those that stand outside the rich man’s house.

    P1. S6. Then I listened to a podcast of Brazil’s economic downfall and what they did to save it.

    Similarly, without a detail or two about the Brazilian miracle, you haven’t pulled your reader along.

    The entire population of Brazil was convinced that a fictional currency invented by four Americans was more real than their own money.

    Another sentence in which you say that you have noticed and are going to share something interesting about money but instead withhold anything. This sort of tease tires readers almost immediately. We have other things to do.

    After that I looked into the economy for America and compared it to what I have learned in order to answer the question while also relating it to what I know as an American.

    There’s literally no information in that sentence, Sublime. The one after contains very little as well:

    Through all this research I was able to open my mind and see what money is really all about.

    You have all the skills you need to fix this paragraph, Sublime. Give your reader a reason to read further. Trust yourself to share the themes without “spoiling the surprises” of your conclusions.

    What you noticed about the American economy was that “it’s every bit as ephemeral and faith-based as the economy of Yap?” Maybe, maybe not, but whatever the specific conclusion, share it. The “specifics that don’t spoil the surprise” are much more effective than suggesting that an insight is coming later.

    Were you able to open your mind to “what money is really about”? or did you open your mind to the concept that “money is as fragile as our belief that it can buy us a bag of chips”? One gets readers to move along to P2. One invites them to bail.

    Do you think this advice will help you improve your already good writing, Sublime? Is it the sort of advice you were hoping for?

    This is a dialog. Students who respond seem to perform better overall. I’d be very happy to hear your reactions.

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