wtf is this….How Are Jellyfish Used as a Global Reserve Currency?! – How Money Works
This is a humble jellyfish. A slimy floaty blob, of… not much really. But this ocean going Jello can teach us a lot about how money works, and since that’s why I’m here, let me explain. You see zoo’s and aquariums around the world display all sorts of fancy creatures for a whole bunch of reasons. They offer scientists a controlled environment to study wild animals, they can host breeding programs for species on the edge of extinction and of course they offer a fun day out to people who just want to look at animals. That last part is particularly important to these zoo’s, because even the ones that are not run for profit need those visitor dollars to pay for the first two functions. Now the best way to achieve all of these three things is to have a diverse selection of animals. Back in the day this was pretty easy. Zoo’s became popular in the 19th century, as royal menageries (or exotic animal collections) were made available to the public for a modest admission. This is why a lot of zoo’s around Europe are still called “royal zoo’s” to this day. The success of these early establishment led to for profit zoo’s springing up over Europe and America to get a slice of this profitable little past time. Kitting out the zoo’s with animals was merely a matter of finding an exotic animal dealer and placing an order. The animals were just a business asset to bring in money, no different from the gift shop or the land the zoo was on. Unfortunately for our would be Zookeepers, America passed the endangered species and wildlife act in 1973, which expressly forbid the sale or trade of wild animals for money. Around this same time period most other advanced countries passed similar laws This meant that zoo’s looking to fill out their enclosures could no longer just pay to win. Of course for existing zoo’s this wasn’t a major issue. Animals are great because they have an inbuilt copy an paste function. But this law did massively slow down the opening of any new parks, especially those that were to be run for profit. Even still, the existing parks did need to set up a system of trade to ensure that they got a fair chance at achieving these three main goals. So they had to figure out a system of exchange that didn’t involve money. Now there were two different approaches taken to this. Regular zoo’s from around the world established the most simple form of exchanging good and services. The don’t be a dick approach. Basically zoo’s will openly trade their animals for nothing but good karma, amongst other zoo’s to ensure that healthy populations are maintained, research can be conducted, breeding programs facilitated and of course tickets sold. This is the medium of exchange that served early humanity before more sophisticated systems took hold. It’s a common misconception that bartering (as in trading one goat for 10 bales of corn) was the standard before currencies came along. In reality there is actually no historic evidence of batering being a widespread medium of exchange in any culture at any point in history. Before currencies people simply tended to exist in small communal groups that simply shared stuff equitably amongst themselves, just the same as you would with your friends and family, which was entirely what these early groups were made up of. Of course as soon as these groups got large enough that not everybody knew everybody else like say early cities, then this honour system quickly broke down. That is why in many ways the adoption of currencies was just as vital to human development as agriculture, the wheel and domesticated animals. Now speaking of domesticated animals, you might be asking this is great but what has that got to do with jellyfish economics? Well you see while the zoo’s were content to adopt this very easy breezy system of good karma, their aquatic counterparts the aquariums, decided to take a more capitalistic approach. Now they couldn’t trade the animals for money or anything else of value, because of course that would break the various laws around the world, and encourage people to hunt live animals for profit. So instead they traded animals for animals. Now you might say well isn’t that just bartering? And you would be right, but there is one key difference, aquariums have a reserve currency… The Jellyfish.