Stone Money- reesespieces

The Abstract Idea of Money

For the past week I thought more about money, and what I viewed it as. I began to watch others with their money too. I began to see people who struggled with money and watching every penny they lost, or working extra hours because they were unsatisfied with the amount they had. I know that we all love money, and we are never satisfied with how much we have. Everyone is always striving for more money. But why are we striving for this meaningless piece of paper? Some love to go out and spend all they can, while others choose to value and save their treasure or even invest it. I personally hate spending money. I always feel guilty as soon as I spend too much. I say I am a saver over a spender. I began to notice the friends and even myself doing the “I owe you” tactic, but failing to hold their end of the deal. I never dove deeper into what money is, where it came from, and why we had it. That was until I began reading Milton Friedman’s The Island Of Stone Money. I began to visualize what the true meaning of currency is and why it has always had such a big impact on our society. Also in the broadcast The Invention Of Money by NPR, I began questioning my own views. 

I first began thinking it’s a mindset, and simply fiction. We have such value in an imaginary concept. The islanders of Yap had their own view and value of their money made from giant stones. The story of stone money dates back to 1899 to 1919, and how islanders used their money and did transactions. Which is quite different to our payments today. The Island Of Stone Money used marks to represent transactions on the large stone, so the coin would not be moved and would stay with the former owner. How do they keep track of the value they had? The stone had a new owner, yet it never relocated to that owner. Today we either will write a check with an exact dollar amount, give someone cash, or see the numbers in our bank account decrease when using a card. I feel that it has become something we need to physically have or we are not satisfied that it is in our possession. I guess you could live a more simple lifestyle and not be hyper fixated on values of money and having your worth. Money in my perspective has transformed into a symbol of power, this with more clearly has advantages to those with less. But how come? Money is just abstract, we don’t even know how much money is in the world because of how it circulates. 

The abstract idea of money led me to my new observation and new point of view. As I listened to NPR’s The Invention Of Money I came to the new eye opening idea that money is constantly circulating and has lost its true value. We have no idea how much money we truly own. The Invention Of Money discussed online banking and how loaning our money works when we give our savings to our bank. They will give that money to someone else who may need it for a new house or vehicle, but when we need it how do they get that money for ourselves? They will take it from someone else and circulate it to us. I believe that all it money has become is numbers increasing and decreasing and we devote our lives to attempt to constantly increase that number. NPR stated “money was worth something when there absolutely no evidence to support that claim.’’ What defines worth? Is it the amount or the quality? This led me to my thoughts about inflation. I previously was the person that would debate that since our nation is in extreme debt, how come we just don’t print more money and pay it back. But Once I heard about Brazil’s catastrophe in The Invention Of Money regarding inflation I realized that is quite impossible if we want to keep the value of our money. In the podcast Chana Joffe-Walt made the point that for the economy and the idea of currency to succeed all they need is for the people of that country to believe in it and it will succeed. In our own country we suffer from inflation, prices rise and we lose the value of our dollar. My dad tells me all the time about when he was a kid in the 1960s and a gallon of milk cost only 95 cents. Money is becoming an abstract concept that can be altered to get people to spend more and lose more.

Money can drive people crazy, it is always something that is in the back of our minds. Worrying if we have enough to get by. When in reality it doesn’t exist. The islanders of Yap had lines on a stone to represent their transactions and how much they have, we now have numbers on a screen we track to see how much we have. Online banking and crypto currency has become the biggest thing. My familiarity of Bitcoin was slim and I began researching the basics of what this online currency is. What I realized is that there is no real money behind it. In the article “The Bubble Busts on E-currency Bitcoin” expressed that crypto has such craze and power because creators persuaded people to believe in it. This goes with banking systems and credit cards. We purchase items with our credit card, a piece of plastic and say we will pay for it later. The idea of money is almost foreign when using credo cards because of the “I owe you” idea. Companies will then rely on getting the money at a later time. 

Online banking and money became an agrevating topic for me, when I recently had a thousand dollars hacked from my bank account. It created a large ordeal to get it back from my bank because they did not have the money to give me my money back immediately. I have come to feel unsafe with our currency system and online banking, it is truly not as secure as we think it is. Overall I have come to terms with my belief in money being abstract, and our society values with great passion even. 


Goldstein, J. & Kestenbaum, D. December 10, 2010. The Island of Stone Money. Washington, D.C. NPR

Glass, I. Walt, C. Blumberg, A. Kestenbaum, D. January 7, 2011. The Invention of Money. Chicago, Illinois. This American Life

Renaut, A. April 13, 2013. The Bubble Bursts on E-currency Bitcoin. New York. Yahoo News–finance.html

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4 Responses to Stone Money- reesespieces

  1. I would like feedback regarding expressing my ideas more clearly, I feel as if I repeated myself many times, but couldn’t figure out how to rewrite it. Also any other areas I need to work on.

  2. davidbdale says:

    The first thing I notice is that you’ve violated a core principle of good essay writing: assuming that what’s interesting to ME will be interesting to my readers. If money is fascinating and the story I have to tell is full of surprises, the last thing I should be using to capture my readers’ attention should my personal feelings about money. UNLESS . . . unless my personal specific experience of money is a clever and fascinating window into the mystery of money.

    Such an opening you will find in your experience of having had 1000 dollars hacked from your bank account. Why you saved it for the last paragraph, I don’t know.

    To avoid repeating yourself, leave yourself out of the story UNLESS your specific musings about money reflect directly on what you can SHOW readers about the fiction that keeps our economy going.

  3. davidbdale says:

    One way your Introduction might have made good use of your personal experience:

    Until recently, I would have sworn money was a real and tangible thing and that the narrators of “The Invention of Money,” who called it a fiction, were out of their minds. But then I had a thousand dollars hacked from my bank account, and I was forced to reckon with the fact that nobody had broken into the bank vault and stolen 1000 dollar bills that had my name on them. “My money” wasn’t in a special place. The bank didn’t have a stack of cash for me one minute and then find it missing from my special stash. In fact, they apologized that for awhile they “didn’t have the money to give back” to me right away. I’d been robbed of something that didn’t actually exist and that nobody could find to return to me. The idea that money might be fictional didn’t seem so strange after that experience.

    As a general rule, I would discourage students from making their essays about themselves as much as you have done in your draft, Reeses, and I do think you should concentrate much more on the wealth of subject matter available in the podcast, and Friedman’s dissertation, and all the anecdotes in the sidebar, but if you’re going to incorporate your own point of view and experiences, be sure they relate to the material of the assignment. Not whether we’re consumed by and obsession with material things, but whether money itself is a “material thing,” which is the basis of all the sources you’ve been given to consult.

    Is that helpful?

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