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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
A brief history of the value of money

I've been studying the nature and value of money for awhile now, and I've only begun to scratch the surface of what the stuff is.  Here in the United States, and perhaps elsewhere, philosophical and economic discussions about money are hopelessly entangled with political philosophy, which makes it all the harder, but I think I have a grasp of what American currency is, and how it got there.

Barter was the first way humans exchanged things they had for things they wanted.  It works well when two people each have something they other wants and they value it equally.  Otherwise, the trades can become inordinately complex, such is the stuff that fiction writers love to illustrate, because wacky hijinks ensue.

That kind of trade can be simplified if there's a medium of exchange which both parties agree has value.  Early media of exchange were things that, if you didn't exchange, you could use yourself, like a sheaf of wheat.  Cigarettes are often used for exchange in prisons, where money isn't permitted, because you can always smoke your extras.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    I'm no survivalist, and we'll be in as much peril as everyone else once the game of kicking the [fiat money] can is no longer poss
  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    "I don't care if its dirty, moldy, or soggy, just so its money," Bart Maverick from the 1960s TV series. Gold isn't money, gold
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Enjoyed this, Terence. Reminds me of my friends who invest in the stock market, when I try to point out that it's based on nothing

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