Arranged in a Circle

Transcript

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Forty – a 100 word story

Forty butterflies are dancing on my grave. Forty red flowers are arranged in a circle on the cold stone. Forty paid maidens are mocking me. I scream “I’m alive, let me out,” but no voice comes out. The earth tastes sour in my mouth. I’ve been here for forty years. Still, there’s no sign of me becoming hungry or tired. I’m forever doomed by a spell to stay alive in my grave, a spell whispered by the woman I betrayed. The walls of my grave disintegrated long ago. I’m now part of the soil, here forever, paying the bitter price.

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Hi there and thanks for stopping by. I’m Guy, and you’re listening to my surreal sketchbook of reality.

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Episode 19, Arranged in a Circle

Money is the most agreed-upon symbol of exchange. This episode Is a semi-philosophical look at money and the monetary system. I’m not a professional philosopher by any means and my approach can be quite absurd, illogical and not at all that serious, so – you’ve been warned. Do not take this podcast too seriously. If you tend to take things too seriously, this might not be the podcast for you. Seriously. I mean it. Find another podcast to listen to.

You’re still here? Good. Let’s talk about money. From the dawn of time, people exchanged stuff. You had a cow, you needed five chickens. Your neighbor had five chickens but he needed a cow. You exchanged your cow with your neighbor’s chickens. There was a problem though. No one knew how many chickens a cow was worth. As roaming tribes turned to city dwellers and then collections of cities turned into countries, a method was devised by the rulers of those countries for the exchange of goods. This method is called the monetary system and it evolved from something called a debit note or the “I would give you later what I promised you” note.

Sometimes, you just didn’t have the cow to give to your neighbor in exchange for his chickens at the moment. You would write down “I owe you a cow for five chickens” on a piece of paper. That was held by your neighbor as proof that you got the chickens but didn’t yet give him the cow and he could come to you at a later time with that piece of paper demanding his cow. That piece of “I owe you” paper evolved into a law binding document called a debit note and that, in turn, evolved into money. You didn’t have to actually own a cow anymore. All you needed was a piece of paper symbolizing the idea of a cow as an exchange unit. You could get that cow later. In time, the cow was forgotten altogether and that piece of paper called “money” took up a life of its own, becoming a symbol of the exchange of goods. You can still buy cows and chickens with money, but it’s not attached to them anymore. Money has become a thing of itself, it’s own entity. I’ll take a moment to count all the money I don’t have. I’ll be right back.

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Pod – a 100 word story

I live in a pod. The smell of peas drives me crazy, but the rent is good. The landlord is reasonably flexible. The living space is a little dense, but I get along. It’s amazing how spacious a place can seem if you organize the furniture just about right. Still, one day I hope to buy my very own carrot. Sure, it’s long and a little thin, but I like the space better and anyway, green is not really my color. Another thing, if I forget my keys, I can eat my way in. Try doing that with a pod.

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Welcome back. Money is changing, evolving. As a symbol, it was always attached to physical objects. As the monetary system evolved, it was decided to attach the value of money to metals that were considered rare at the time, such as gold and silver. The amount of money distributed was decided by the amount of metals the country had stored. Some of the money was then made of those metals. That’s why we actually have coins. As time passed, the amount of money far exceded the amount of metals it represented and money became even more of a symbol then a representation of real tangible objects.

When computers came alone, a means of virtually storing money as numbers was devised, and a means to access that money was created, called a credit card. Money was now stored in banks in the form of numbers. Today, the amount of printed or “real” money is greatly reduced. While some money is still getting printed, the amount of it is shrinking considerably as time goes by. Money as a physical thing is on its way to disappearing altogether and as it does, new forms of money that are completely virtual from the get-go are starting to appear.

The Bitcoin appeared at the beginning of the 21st century as one of the first cryptocurrencies, a money exchange system that is completely based on computer encryption systems and artificial scarcity. This points to the problem with the monetary system. It depends on scarcity. Abundance is the enemy of monetary value. Money is moving to the virtual world, becoming mare numbers on a computer screen, and as it does it needs to find a new form of scarcity if it is to survive as a symbol. The value of money depends on the fact that there is a limited amount of it. This means it might not survive the move to the digital world. The ability to copy and paste numbers that is inherent in computing might finally kill money altogether, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. We might be heading for the end scarcity. Things won’t exist in limited amounts anymore when the printing of physical objects would become commonplace, but this is a topic for another episode. For now, let us just remember that one cow might be equal to five chickens. This concludes episode 19 of this podcast. Close the door on your way out and don’t forget – I’m just a figment of your imagination.

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