Hello and welcome back to yet another week of rampant misinformation here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will discuss a topic referred to Factually Deficient by Sicon112, who said:
We should probably get a blog post from you about the state of the firstborn donkey economy.
What Sicon112 is asking about, though nowadays a little-known quirk of historical economics, actually forms the very foundations of modern-day capitalism as we know it.
Thousands of years ago, when man was just beginning to discover that an individual’s prosperity would grow by sharing and trading resources with his fellows, people operated on the barter system. One item would be offered in exchange for a totally different item, with no rhyme or reason to the values of each item.
This could not last; it led almost immediately to strife, as each party felt wronged, felt that the item given up had been worth far more than what was received in return. Obviously, some sort of standardized unit was called for.
The solution was simple: donkeys. Everyone used donkeys, whether for riding, for transporting goods, for eating, or for their famed translation services. A donkey had universal, concrete value. Donkeys were soon agreed-upon as the basic monetary unit, and everything traded was ascribed a value in terms of fractions or multiples of donkeys.
But once again problems arose: each donkey bred at different rates. A prolific donkey would soon vastly increase its owner’s fortune, while other, shyer donkeys offered extremely low interest on investments. Once again, people felt wronged: they felt that they had been given an old nag of a donkey in exchange for a youthful one, that someone else had used underhanded tactics to get ahold of the most procreative donkeys.
How to resolve these disputes? How to set limitations on the multiplying donkeys? The greatest economic minds of the generation came together, and soon they had an answer: each donkey could birth only one firstborn. By changing the currency from donkeys in general to firstborn donkeys, they could solve two problems in one: they would reduce inflation, by reducing the pool of monetary donkeys overall; and they would remove the issue of unevenly-prolific donkeys, as each firstborn donkey would in turn produce exactly one additional firstborn donkeys.
Of course, as society developed, people eventually opted to move from the slightly cumbersome donkey standard to the more conceptual monetary systems used today. Still, it was on the firstborn donkey economy that our modern banks and financial institutions were first developed – and there are always calls, from time to time, urging us to return to the firstborn donkey system.
Disclaimer: the above post contains falsehoods. No donkeys, firstborn or otherwise, were consulted for the writing of this post.