Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/216

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

themselves, and this contributed to make unpopular an administration which put itself away from the wants and the reach of the people, violently broke with their usages, habits, and customs, as a Greek or Tartar conqueror might have done, who with uplifted rod intended to compel obedience to all his desires based upon his own prejudices and interests, regardless of those of the conquered.

The new system of weights and measures will be a subject of embarrassment and difficulties for many generations; and the first commission charged with the verification of the measure of the meridian will probably find that there are some corrections to be made. This is tormenting the people with caprices.


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THE MONETARY PROBLEM.

By LOGAN G. McPHERSON.

AS has been perceived, it is by the constant exchange of bum an effort that human welfare is promoted, and therefore is necessarily a means whereby each portion of effort contributing to the total welfare may be measured and rewarded. This means or medium of exchange is money, and its development has been as follows:

First, there was barter, or the direct exchange of commodity for commodity. Next, there was the disposal of commodities in exchange for a generally acceptable and readily disposed of commodity, the first form of money. By reason of their suitability, one or another of the metals becomes generally used as such a commodity, and as commodities are exchanged in larger volume, metals of the greatest value are coined. Then, there is the use of paper promises to pay coin issued from various sources and accepted to the extent that their security is believed in. Then these representatives of coin gradually pass into paper representatives of value, as evidenced by the result of effort, and by means of banks paper representatives of value are offset against other paper representatives of value without the intervention of coin at all.

But the progression through barter and the use of metals as money to the use of paper representatives of value has not been uniform either in time or place. There are still tribes in out-of-the-way regions who make rude exchanges by barter, and there are races between the individuals of whom the exchange of effort is uncertain and irregular, whose currencies are composed almost exclusively of lead, tin, copper, and iron. There are not only marked points of difference between the monetary systems of different nations, but in many instances one and the same nation still uses coins of different metals, of different weights, and different degrees of fineness, the values of which are not in definite