We all often wonder what our hard earned dollars are worth. What drives people to do such bizarre things or labor for seemingly endless hours just for a piece of paper that has value to buy us a house, or a car, or a college education or even a bag of chips? Take the people of the Yap for example. They use massive stones called fei, as currency and use it as a way to trade for goods. Some of the stones are so big that they usually will stay on the original owner’s property but it will just be understood by the village that someone else owns it. There is also story about one great fei stone that was lost at sea, but the people still use it as if everyone could see it and owned it. Its concepts like this that make us realize that for as ridiculous as this method seems its not all that crazy when you step back and take a look at our own economy.
Money is an interesting concept because it helps us satisfy our need to participate in consumerism. The main thing to remember with the concept of money though is that its just that, a concept. Currency, to anyone other than us, is nothing more than green paper and more recently nothing more than numbers in a computer that represent money you have in the bank. Its essentially an abstract concept (credit/debit cards) inside of the abstract concept that is money itself. Outside of the human culture, money means nothing more than paper with no more value than what physical means it has. Being consumers in our economy we are compelled to buy our goods with these concepts of credit such as a credit or debit card and no actual money is physically exchanged, but it allows us to obtain goods and help the economy grow. Money gets a negative connotation as the root of evil or that it is not a means to buy happiness, but in reality, the concept of money and credit/debit cards is simply a means to an end. The concept of money allows for the idea of consumerism which allows us to get the goods required for life, and help generate a cash flow that stimulates our economy and in return, our society as a whole. In the end how much more different is our idea from the Yap when the reality is that the idea of currency is just a means to simply survive in the modern day.