Where Did The Money Go?
What really is “Stone Money?” After hearing the term, I was confused and questioned what it actually was. I pictured a literal stone. I pictured someone breaking down a huge rock and making it into smaller pieces, and these pieces end up having value. I also questioned the fact if this was a real story or just fiction. Furthermore, to my surprise, Stone Money is a real thing that happened at one point in history. According to Milton Friedman’s, “The Island of Stone Money” essay, what I pictured Stone Money as is exactly what it was. However, I imagined it to be similar to our money system in the United States. It has its similarities, but it definitely has its differences.
While I was reading Friedman’s essay, I was amazed at some of the information he provided. After going on about how they did not use metal, he mentioned that they had to turn to stone to make their currency. Hence the name “Stone Money.” However, this is not what surprised me, what surprised me really was when he said that these stone wheels they call “fei,” can range from one foot to twelve feet. How are you supposed to carry something like that around? It is essentially a twelve-foot coin, and what are you supposed to do with that, strap it to your back and drag it around the grocery store? Actually, the coin is just left with a certain marking indicating it has been used for “trade,” let’s say. It then is left on the property of the former owner. It is probably hard to transfer a twelve-foot coin from one property to another without an automobile. To get these stones to the island of Yap, they had to transfer stone from another island that was 400 miles away.
In the NPR podcast, there is a question of “Where does the money go?” The money that is lost during the collapse of the housing prices. Where does it all go? Why does money disappear? There is always that one person that’s like “Why can’t we just print more money?” Why doesn’t it work that way? Why do we live in a world where there is so much debt but we have the capability to erase that debt? Jacob Goldstein said when he was with his aunt and asked the question of “Where does all of that money go?” She replies with “Money is fiction.” After hearing this I had to pause and think, what could this possibly mean? Our world revolves around money. We need money to buy essentials to survival, but why? Why are we being charged on the basic things of life? Why are we being charged for things that we can’t control? We’re being forced to pay the money that we had to work for just to buy the thing that keeps you working that job. It truly doesn’t make sense to me. I truly do believe that if this world didn’t have money, obviously things would be very different, but maybe in a way better.
Back to the statement of, “Money is fiction,” it still makes me question what this actually this means. It turns out, the money was in fact never there in the first place. So, if it was never there, it couldn’t have anywhere to go. To make it easy for someone to follow, the podcast uses a scenario where person A takes a loan out from person B to buy a house from person C, so you can clearly see where the money from person B is going. Person A no longer has it. Now person A has to pay person B back but how are they going to do that if they gave the money to person C, and if the money isn’t really there. Money can disappear, its value, to be more specific. As time goes on and say you don’t touch your bank account at all, all of the money you have in there will eventually not mean as much as it did when you first put it in the bank. It’s honestly scary to think that one day, and it could very much be one day very soon, the dollar bill will be worth just as much as the penny does now. Inflation is scary, there has to be something someone can do to stop it, so we don’t find more lower middle-class people eventually falling into the deep end and losing everything. It isn’t fair, and all for what? In my opinion I feel like there is no benefit to anyone if inflation occurs, it makes everyone feel like their making less. This world is so money hungry that there are people who will have the need and the undying want to make more just so they will not be considered middle, or low class. Now that I am done ranting, it is easy to tie debt into the idea that money is fiction and isn’t actually there.
Back in August of 2011, the national debt was $14.4 trillion and counting. Now, in 2019, it is climbing its way up to very soon be $22 trillion dollars. Our country owes that much money. Why? Well, because money is fiction, and it was never actually there in the first place. It is so interesting that a country that now has a business man as a president, continues to climb up the national debt scale. What even is debt? Why does it exist? It is hard to understand. There is no point of debt because, I am going to be “that guy” can’t we just “print new money?” I do not understand what is so difficult about this, if I am being honest.
To reiterate, money is fiction. Money is basically fake. The question, “Where does all of the money go?” can easily be answered with, it was never there to begin with. It is a hard concept to understand, I don’t even get it myself. What makes it the most confusing is how are we able to get paid and go shopping and do certain things if the money wasn’t actually there. Money is fiction. People get so caught up in being materialistic that it blinds them from the fact that there are so many people who wish that they could fill their shoes, because it seems as if their money is there. For most people, it really just isn’t fair that their money isn’t there.
Friedman, Milton. “The Island of Stone Money.” Diss. Hoover Institution, Stanford University , 1991
“The Invention of Money.” 423: The Invention of Money. This Is American Life, WBEZ. Chicago . 7 Jan. 2011.
Weeks, Linton. “The Trouble With Trillions.” NPR, NPR, 22 Aug. 2011, http://www.npr.org/2011/08/22/139846133/the-trouble-with-trillions.