Money is more than a piece of paper with a political figurehead on it. Money is currency and currency doesn’t have to be paper. Like the aforementioned title of my piece, money can be something like a stone. Currency can be goods or services. That’s why we as a society can accept doing a favor or service as an appropriate form of a payback. The concept of “Stone Money” isn’t too far fetched considering we as a society today are moving towards things like Bitcoin, NFT’s and property in the Metaverse.
While reading “Island of Stone Money”, Milton Friedman discusses the value of currency and how different groups and nations recognize it. Talking of the 1933 Banking Crisis and the Western culture’s fetishization of gold made the value of a dollar in countries like the United States and France shift to give France a financial advantage over the American dollar. With all of that happening you have the tiny island nations and cultures like that of the Caroline Islands. The juxtaposition of the way these cultures trade goods and services with each other and the way the modern West does is still routed in the same principles of fair trade.
The way of showing wealth to fellow members of society is far more prevalent today than the societies before. Our fixation on money and way of looking to obtain as much wealth for as little work is perfectly demonstrated by the modern fixation of cryptocurrency and NFT’s. Money has gone from a demonstration of work and wealth to now just a demonstration of wealth by means of social status. You may not be as in tune with the current Crypto social status but according to Google’s search statistics Cryptocurrency has had almost several instances of having one hundred percent increases in searches. With it now averaging around a thirty two percent line with spikes here and there.
Going almost ten years back and reading the Yahoo piece The Bubble Bursts on e-currency Bitcoin Anne Renaut recognizes the “threat” of “private money” to governments. Like discussed in the NPR stone money discussion from the Planet Money team, governments provide the backbone for everyday economy. Like the old tales of Gold in Fort Knox and other treasures housed by the government something has to support the currency we use every day. Our world revolves around money and being the government, they want to control the way we use that just like everything else in our day to day lives. The modern governments are perplexed by crypto and the swampy senators and representatives we elect on both sides don’t like their power threatened. Regular people breaking away from traditional currencies and giving a middle finger to elected officials just proves that paper currency is only a social construct.
Moving off of that, it is easy to see how other cultures in other times used different currencies to portray their social wealth statuses. The modern fetishization of the green piece of paper that we work for every single day is just another way that culture has evolved. We’ve gone from farm land and food to show wealth to how many Rolls Royce’s and Lamborghini’s are in your garage. But they all revolve around inanimate objects that we place value onto. If it’s a big limestone wheel or a tiny portrait of Ben Franklin in our wallet, it’s still going to represent someone’s wealth. It doesn’t seem crazy that they used wheels just like how we use paper today. Humans as a species need order in way of social structure. No matter what time period, any civilized human society will have a currency just like the ones I’ve discussed.
(I could only do the links to the articles for sole reason Word Press was giving me a hard time with everything)