Invention of Money – Rory O’Connell

Looking back I always thought of money as a solid, tangible object. I’ve now come to realize that a large majority of the worlds money is purely imaginary. No one ever sees their money anymore, they just trust that their bank can safely store their digital wealth. This way of thinking is no different then the people of Yap and their monetary system. They put value into large limestone boulders that don’t even need to be on the same property as the owner, their money doesn’t physically change hands but they know who owns what boulder. The same goes with us in America, most of our money stays in our bank accounts but simply changes hands. We are taught that the money changes hands and one person pays the other, but all that really happens is some digits in this account changes and some digits in that account changes.

Money for the most part doesn’t exist. It is a system of trade and trust that many people agree on. The term money doesn’t define a physical object but rather a way of logic. The only reason physical money exists is because its easier on our minds visually, and previous limits in technology. Eventually money will lose it’s physical form and be solely online.

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4 Responses to Invention of Money – Rory O’Connell

  1. oconne92 says:

    please give me some feedback on how to improve this.

  2. gorbig17 says:

    You could say “Money is a seemingly non-existent system of trade and trust that people agree on.”

  3. davidbdale says:

    Rory, for this class I will provide feedback for you here on the blog post as I read each paragraph rather than read it first all the way through and then make general comments. That way, you’ll know how a reader feels about your argument as it unfolds.

    P1. First of all, you understand that for your rewrite you’ll ignore your personal attitudes about money and the ways in which your mind may have changed, concentrating instead on our common understandings (or misunderstandings) about how this nutty system works. So, for example, your first sentence might begin: Money is imaginary. We don’t see it; we don’t use it, except for trivial transactions. Even parking meters don’t take it these days. But wait! I’m talking about currency, not money, and there’s an important difference between the two.

    At some point there I stopped writing your paragraph and started to realize I couldn’t continue without resolving the different ways we use the term money: to mean coins and bills; to mean our bank balances; to mean our buying power; to mean our future earnings.

    You and all your classmates will write better rewrites when you’re very careful to distinguish these many meanings.

    When you way people trust their banks to “safely store their digital wealth,” you’re talking about which meaning of money? What’s the difference between my bank balance and my “available funds”? Suppose I ask my bank to calculate my “pending payments” through the end of the month. I still have that “money” today, but how wealthy do I feel if I know it will all be gone before the 31st?

    P2. How is modern banking unlike the Yap economy? You say everybody knew who owned what fei and that the same is true for us, but who in your community knows what boulders you own, Rory? Suppose you never asked your banker to look at your statements or verify your balance and you never looked either. Your paychecks go in, your payments go out, fully automated at your instructions, but for years no human reads the numbers. The system pays no attention to smooth transactions; the only notice anyone takes is when a payment doesn’t get made. Are we still in Yap? I’m just asking to get you thinking. This is more of a prompt than direct feedback.

    P3. I see you’re grappling here to define the word money, just as I urged you to do above. I’m glad to see it. Of course we do use the word money to talk about currency as in “The waiter’s here. Give me some money.” So be careful how you speak. What is a “way of logic”? It’s funny that a week after first thinking about the logic behind money, we’re ready to abandon it immediately: The only reason it exists! 🙂

    I’d be very happy for you to use the opportunity of your rewrite to defend your compelling thesis: soon we will not use currency at all. How soon? What has to happen first, if anything?

    Grammatically, you make the wrong choice with both “its” and “it’s” in your last paragraph, Rory. Learn the difference and don’t repeat those errors. You can’t pass the course mistaking it’s for its.

  4. davidbdale says:

    Looking for your feedback on the feedback, Rory. I give it willingly, but only if it’s helpful. If you want less, I could save myself an hour. 🙂

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