Invention of Money- Kailee Whiting

Looking back I see that I was brainwashed from a young age.  And that most of us in our society has have been brainwashed as well.  At five years old I was given brown and grey plastic discs and green pieces of construction paper.  At first I stared at it, confused to what it was until my Mom explained, “Kailee its like money!  A pretend version of what Dad and I have.”  It was not until she clarified that I became obsessed with the discs and paper.  I would hoard them inside my piggy bank and would not let anyone else see or touch them.  At eight years old I would tie dental floss around my loose teeth and link the other end to a slamming door.  A lot of pain, a few drops of blood, and a sore mouth were worth getting my hands on real money that I would find under my pillow the next morning.  At nineteen I work a part-time job and earn $7.45 an hour.  Every payday I check my TD Bank app on my cellphone and see that the digits in my checking account have grown a little larger.  From little plastic discs, to paper money, and then even to some digits that flash up from the screen of my iPhone, we have been brainwashed to think all of these things hold value.  That if I have a bunch of those green pieces of paper can I can exchange them for new textbooks.  That if I have a large enough number showing in my TD Bank app, I can swipe a card and receive a coffee at Starbucks.

Before being “awakened” by the broadcasts and articles, I looked at the people of Yap and laughed thinking, “they must be so primitive and stupid to believe rocks hold value,” But isn’t that exactly what we are doing here in the United States?  Sure we have more abstracts, like bank accounts and coins and such, but our pieces of paper, coins, and digits in our bank account are the same thing as the Yap people’s stones.  Why did I think that our currency held more worth than the Yap’s?  It is because I was raised to believe paper, coins, and cards are the only currency.  But Yap people would probably think I was crazy too if I opened up my wallet and took out my debit card to purchase a loaf of bread.  They would wonder how, with a swipe of my card, I purchased the bread.

It is a bit crazy, but since our society agrees that these flimsy strips are linen are valuable, then they become valuable.  The same goes for the people of Yap.  If the people of Yap agree their enormous car sized donut stones have value, than the stones have value.  When a society collectively decides that certain things hold value, they become valuable.  It might be blind faith and a tad bit of crazy that we are relying on.  But it works, and it has worked for hundreds of years.

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6 Responses to Invention of Money- Kailee Whiting

  1. kaileewhiting says:

    My dearest professor, I haven’t received feedback and don’t know how to start on a rewrite. I would greatly appreciate your harsh feedback.

  2. kaileewhiting says:

    Professor! It’s Sunday night and my rewrite is due on Tuesday and I still have not received feedback on my Invention of Money. Could you help me out? I’d greatly appreciate it.

  3. davidbdale says:

    Hey, Kailee! Here we go.
    P1. As you remember from class, or have read in your classmates’ feedback, you’ll be concentrating more on the underlying concepts of money and currency, value and worth, than on your personal reactions to the readings. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use some of the material you’ve gathered here; you only need to depersonalize it. For example, you could open by saying:

    Many of us first learn to handle currency by playing Monopoly, a peculiar abstraction in that it so closely resembles the “real” money our parents use, at least compared to poker chips or other game markers.

    I’m surprised I can’t think of a video example of a culture that uses Monopoly money as legitimate currency; it would be useful on a desert island, or a post-apocalyptic world, or a dark comedy in which kids run numbers rackets or bootleg operations.

    Your personal reflections about early jobs and tooth fairy scams can be similarly generalized using the first person plural we if you find them useful in advancing your argument. In fact, you’ve already begun to do so in: “we have been brainwashed.” But recognize the misapplication of your comment. There’s no brainwashing involved in the transactions that actually occur. You can in fact trade those digits for textbooks. For as long as others also value what you have to trade, there is value in them.

    P2. Please eliminate every rhetorical question you can possibly do without, Kailee. They are too often poor substitutes for bold, clear, positive claims. Yours are not terrible offenders, because you immediately answer them for your readers, but they’re a dangerous habit and can easily be reworded into declaratives: “We only think our currency holds more value because we have been raised on greenbacks which, until recently were “worthless” on Yap; that is, until the Yap too adopted US coins and bills as their preferred currency in order to trade with the wider world. Now they too are under the spell of the green.”

    P3. Please note that there is nothing new in your conclusion, Kailee, but that you sing it three times like a song:
    Since we value linen,
    linen becomes our money;
    Because the Yap use stones,
    stones become their money;
    Whatever people decide to value
    becomes their money.
    Plus a chorus:
    We’re a little bit crazy,
    but everybody does it,
    ever since there’s been money.

    A stronger rewrite would use more of the available material (the French, the Brazilians, the Japanese) not only to reinforce the concept of our ability to invest value in inherently worthless materials, but to investigate other concepts as well.

    I hope this is helpful, Kailee, and I am sorry it’s coming to you so late. (Fortunately, you are more than welcome to continue revising your essays throughout the semester in response to this and additional feedback that, though it may not always be prompt, will always be thorough and free of charge.)

  4. kaileewhiting says:

    I like the idea of using Monopoly money in my rewrite, but I instead rewrote the entire first paragraph to center around an abstraction. I did not particularly like my first paragraph looking at it again, it seemed to almost drone on about my life and how I deal with money- I’m trying to move away from that more personal type of writing. Also, you make the claim that I wasn’t brainwashed, because money actually does buy textbooks. Which is right, I was trying to make some sort of argument that pieces of linen are just that, that they shouldn’t hold value. But when we grow up we are conditioned to learn that these dollars has such an astronomical value. I just did not build my argument correctly. I agree with the rhetorical questions being weak, but I think mine are done in a way better than most. I actually answer them, not like some people who never answer them. This advice was helpful cause it really showed where my writing was going, and it wasn’t going the place I wanted it to go. So I rewrote it, a lot. And the advice in here helped me not fall into those same traps i did before.

  5. davidbdale says:

    I’ll have more to say, I trust, when I’ve read your rewrite, Kailee, which will have to wait until I conclude some other business.

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