Unseen Passage: Money

Tell someone that you are going to a convention of accountants and you might get a few yawns, yet money and how it works is probably one of the most interesting things on the earth. It is fascinating and almost magical, how money appeared on our planet. Unlike most developments we enjoy, which can be traced back to a source, civilisation or inventor, money appeared in places then unconnected all over the world in a remarkably similar way.

Consider the American Indians using Wampum, West Africans trading in decorative metallic objects called Manillas and the Fijians economy based on whale’s teeth, some of which are still legal tender; add to that shells, amber, ivory, decorative feathers, cattle including oxen and pigs, a large number of stones including jade and quartz, which have all been used for trade across the world, and we get a taste of the variety of accepted currency. There is something charming and child- like imagining primitive societies, our ancestors, using all these colourful forms of money. As long as everyone concerned can agree on a value, this is a sensible thing for a community to do.

After all, the person who has what you need might not need what you have to trade. Money solves that problem neatly. Real value with each exchange, and everyone gaining from the convenience. The idea is really inspired, which might explain why so many diverse minds came up with it. Once money is accepted as a form of exchange, those who produce, loan out and manipulate the quantity of money are obviously in a very strong position. They are the “Money Changers”.

“History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments by controlling money and its issuance,” said President James Madison.

Money, money, money, it’s always just been there, right? Wrong. Obviously it’s issued by the government to make it easy for us to exchange things. Wrong again!

Truth is, most people don’t realise that the issuing of money is essentially a private business, and that the privilege of issuing money has been a major bone of contention throughout history.

Answer the following questions:

  1. What is fascinating and almost magical?
  2. Which currencies did the American Indians and West Africans use?
  3. What is something charming and childlike to imagine?
  4. What problem does the money solve?
  5. What do you understand by ‘Money Changers’?
  6. What is meant by the word, ‘convention’?
    1. conference
    2. fair
    3. wave
    4. competition
  7. What is meant by the word, ‘fascinating’?
    1. beautiful
    2. valuable
    3. attractive
    4. republic
  8. What is meant by the word, ‘convention’?
    1. comfort
    2. escape
    3. clown
    4. transport
  9. What is meant by the word, ‘intrigue’?
    1. plot
    2. interest
    3. interval
    4. fear
  10. Most people don’t realise that the issue of money is __________ business.
    1. personal
    2. private
    3. social
    4. none’s


  1. How money appeared on the Earth is fascinating and magical.
  2. American Indians used Wampum and west Africans used metallic objects called Manillas.
  3. Primitive societies using colorful forms of money is something charming and child-like to imagine.
  4. When a person who has what you need does not need what you trade,money solves the problem nicely.
  5. People who produce, loan out and manipulate the quantity of money are called ‘Money Changers’.
  6. conference
  7. attractive
  8. comfort
  9. interest
  10. private

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