Bestseller The History of Money By Jack Weatherford is a Kindle Jack McIver
Bestseller The History of Money By Jack Weatherford is a Kindle Jack McIver Weatherford is the former DeWitt Wallace Professor of anthropology at Macalester College in Minnesota He is best known for his 2004 book, Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World His other books include The History of Money Indian Givers How the Indians of the Americas Transformed the World and The Secret History of the Mongol Queens How the Daughters of Genghis Khan Rescued His Empire.. In his most widely appealing book yet, one of today s leading authors of popular anthropology looks at the intriguing history and peculiar nature of money, tracing our relationship with it from the time when primitive men exchanged cowrie shells to the imminent arrival of the all purpose electronic cash card 320 pp Author tour National radio publicity 25,000 print.FromIn his most widely appealing book yet, one of today s leading authors of popular anthropology looks at the intriguing history and peculiar nature of money, tracing our relationship with it from the time when primitive men exchanged cowrie shells to the imminent arrival of the all purpose electronic cash card 320 pp Author tour National radio publicity 25,000 print.From the Hardcover edition.. The best Book The History of Money THE BEST THINGS IN LIFE ARE FREE BUT YOU CAN KEEP 'EM FOR THE BIRDS AND BEESOn the second page of the first chapter of this book about money, Jack Weatherford is talking about human sacrifice in the Aztec religion ("up the long flight of steps to the altar where the priests ripped out his heart") – later on p 64 we get a description of the Templars being burned to death in 1310 (I'll spare you a quote) – and anyone might think that our author is trying desperately to jive up his boring subject with regular bursts of ultraviolence. But the subject of money (where did it come from? What does it do? Where does it go?) is fairly wild, unlikely and in no need of gimmicks. Money itself is a gimmick. It's a trick. Cash is a metaphor! Visitors at the US Mint at the end of 14th Street, Washington DC, can buy sheets of uncut dollar bills. The tourists use it as cute wrapping paper.This book lurched from being great (explaining stuff I always wanted to know about, joining a lot of puzzling dots together) to being very aggravating (e.g. not explaining – okay, WHY did the Romans allegedly not produce anything and make such a cock-up of their economy, they had a badass empire for a long time, no, I don't get it).THAT CLINKING CLANKING SOUNDLydia was a kingdom in Greece before Greece was Greece and they invented coins. Everywhere else they had local currencies like cowrie shells or goats or bags of lettuce or human heads. All these were impractical in terms of transportation and there were cultural difficulties – you sling your bag of heads on the merchant's table in York or Marseilles and ask for three slaves, a silver bracelet and a packet of Marlboro and the merchant will likely tell you to bugger off and take your smelly bag with you. That's if you've got the heads through customs.Anyway the use of coins that had been weighed and stamped in the royal workshop made it possible for commerce to proceed much more rapidly and honestly, and it allowed people to participate even if they did not own a scale.Because gold itself was used as money before coins, but you had the hassle of weighing it and figuring out if it was good quality gold or had been cut with baking soda. So King Croesus of Lydia solved that. Well, probably it was some sharp slave kid who pointed it out, not the King. History does not record such a detail. But because of the innovation of lovely coins the focus of economic life shifted from the palace (where tributes had been paid and grants had been made) to the marketplace (where you could make a fast buck). As soon as the public marketplace became a reality, the first public brothels and the first public casinos followed very swiftly. Ha ha, I bet this does not surprise you either. WE GOT A LOT OF WHAT IT TAKES TO GET ALONG So coins were durable, were standardised, were easy to use and were revolutionary, the sparkly little things. Money made possible the organisation of society on a scale much greater and far more complex than either kinship or force could have achieved. The use of money does not require the face-to-face interaction and intense relationships of a kinship-based system. Money became the social nexus connecting humans in many more social relationships, no matter how distant or how transitory, than had previously been possible. ...Work and human labour itself bcame a commodity with a value tht could be fixed in money according to its importance, the amount of skill or strength it required, and the time it took. As money became the standard value for work, it was also becoming the standard of value for time itself.The creation of cash magically simplified complex transactions – now you could convert fines, taxes, dowries and wages into cash values. The economic energy unleashed by the invention of cash created in turn the public market which demanded in turn more skills in quickly figuring all these new transactions which meant that people now needed mathematics and to be able to think in abstractions. Cash created a brain revolution.Humans have found many ways to bring order to the phenomenological flow of existence, and money is one of the most important. Money is a strictly human invention that is itself a metaphor : it stands for something else. It allows humans to structure life in incredibly complex waysWell, the Greeks flourished, passed on the great invention to the Romans, they had a time of it too, but they finally lost the plot, and exactly why their economy unravelled is one of Mr Weatherford's several weak spots, he doesn't really explain it. He says "the Romans produced comparatively little" Reg :All right, all right, apart from better sanitation and medicine and education and irrigation and public health and roads and a freshwater system and baths and public order... WHAT have the Romans done ever for us?TIME PASSEDAfter the Romans, we get 1000 years of feudalism when "money played only the wispy shadow of the role it had held". The clinking, clanking sound was replaced by the mooing, baaing and bellowing sound. However, fortunately for everyone, horrible massive violence was just around the corner to jump-start the economy again. This was : The Crusades.As the Crusades progressed it became painfully clear that they needed better security for the flocks of tourists who were now keen to visit Jerusalem and Tyre and so forth. (In those days they were called "pilgrims"). So a special task force was established called the Knights of the Temple of Solomon – the Knights Templar, much beloved by tinfoil hatwearers the world over. They were chaste young men who were encouraged to channel their repressed sexuality into limitless violence against Moslems. They quickly got very rich because they were the Group Four and the Fedex of the Holy Land and they were allowed to keep all their Moslem spoils of war, and people back in France and Germany liked the cut of their jib and gave them donations, and some people donated instead of having to go to the bother of actually crusading themselves and getting all dusty and ill. And because the Templars protected the roads from France and Germany to Palestine, they became bankers by default. They were able to take 1000 ducats from a guy in Dusseldorf, and give it to him when he turned up in Jerusalem, without physically transporting it. Because they had money everywhere, by then, and because people trusted them. They had over 800 big castles and all that. So then they went into banking big style, before it even had a name, and were making loans to kings and nobles here there and everywhere.So then King Philip IV of France went broke (kings did in those days) and decided that a good way of getting his hands on piles of dough was to denounce the Knights Templar for every sort of abomination (read : homosexuality), abolish them, and collect the loot. Which he did, and few tears were shed, just like we seldom boo hoo when the odd banker throws himself from the 86th floor these days. IT'S NOT YOU, IT'S ME – NO, WAIT A MINUTE – IT'S YOU, NOT METhis book bounces along in a very readable way but hits the buffers and fails, alas, to do some crucial explaining. When people discuss the subject of money, banking, economics, this whole nexus of ideas, there are a couple of holy grail notions that pop up all the time that never get properly explained, and maybe it's that they do get explained but all the explanations can't penetrate my expensive haircut and get through to my actual brain. That is a possibility i have considered. One of these crucial ideas is this thing about THE GOLD STANDARD. One minute it's there because it absolutely has to be, next minute it isn't and everything's still okay. It's like an economy is Wile E Coyote chasing the Roadrunner over a cliff. In the cartoon he's still running in the middle of the air. Then he looks down and realises there's no ground anymore. At that point he falls. But when economies abandon the gold standard they know there's no ground under their feet anymore, they do it consciously, and running in the middle of the air is not a problem. So Mr Weatherfield was able to describe WHAT happened but never explained why or how it was all able to continue or when it didn't work out, why. Then there was hyperinflation, which is when money develops a laughing sickness and goes stark staring mad. It happened in various places at specific times – Germany in the 20s, Bolivia in the 80s. At the end of the miserable couple of years when everyone is going broke, there's no more credit anywhere and cash is worthless, at this point, not before, some big talking suit swans in and says "Okay boys, the new currency will be issued tomorrow, and it will work because I say so" and it does. (Happy days are here again, tra la la - roll another number for grandma). Okay, why didn't the previous financial suit do the same trick?REAL MEANING OF THE YELLOW BRICK ROAD, SERIOUSLY Okay, I bet you all know this like forever, but I didn't. All those times (are they gone forever?) when me & daughter Georgia watched Wizard of Oz together, never once did I realise I was seeing a clever parable about the American economy of the 1890s. But so I was. Innocent Dorothy is on a quest to find out the truth about those eastern bankers who are causing such tornadoes of economic chaos in the Kansas heartlands. On the way she meets representatives of the farmers (Scarecrow), factory workers (Tin Man), and Willian jennings Bryan (Cowardly Lion – the satirical humour is now lost). They form a partY of four which represents the 1894 march of Coxey's Army on Washington (Jack london was involved in similar protests). Marcus Hanna was the financial guru of the Harding administration, he was the Wizard of Oz – Oz is the abbreviation of ounce, we're talking ounces of gold here – the stuff the Yellow Brick Road is paved with, yes, it all makes sense now. As we see, the doughty band of protesters is able to expose the smoke and mirrors of high finance and take the self-imposed blinkers off everyone's eyes – everyone discovers that they already have the economic wherewithall to make a happy and sucessful life. Even the wizard is rehabilitated, once he abandons his lever-pulling and big boomy imprecations. Yes, we're all in it together. We could go back home any time we wanted to. We just didn't know but we always had the power because we are the people. All we have to do is to close our eyes and tap our heels together three times. Oh, Toto!
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