Run on The Neopoint: Part Three
Chad straightened his tie and took a good look at the approximately one hundred-and-fifty students sitting in front of him. This was a bit larger than he had expected, but was otherwise no problem. Seeing as this was the first lecture for the term, he had to finish a few formalities first such as introducing himself.
He could quickly tell that the crowd was varied in their enthusiasm. There were some Neopets who were all but snoring in their seats while others seemed to be hanging onto every single word that he was saying. Most of them fell in-between though, and it was those that he was mainly focusing on. Those who were enthusiastic were already fine, but he had learned quickly that he couldn't do much about those almost sleeping in their chairs. The ones who were neither though, those were the ones whose attention he really needed to capture. Those were the ones who were unsure about what to pursue, and he needed to show them what economics was really about.
"And now, our first topic will be about the foundations of any healthy economy: its currency," Chad said. "And to begin with this, I'd like to start with a little story that some of you may have heard. Now, I'd like those of you who already know this little tale keep quiet so as not to ruin the surprise for the others."
"Our story starts out much, much before modern Neopia, in approximately 4000 B.N. regarding the Noxalial Tribe which lived on the area now known as Krawk Island. Whatever records and other things that we can recover or excavate can tell us interesting facts about them, and especially about their currency."
Chad turned his attention to a Yellow Grarrl who seemed to not be paying attention. "You there, sir, why not take a guess at what they used for money?"
The Yellow Grarrl straightened up in his seat. "Neopoints?"
"No, Neopoints were not even invented at that time, and neither were dubloons," he said. Chad looked up at the rest of the students there. "Any other guesses?"
Several hands immediately shot up. "Anyone who doesn't already know the answer?" he asked and the hands went down. "Come on now, I'm not looking for a right answer."
A Blue Lenny raised her hand. "Rocks? Or maybe feathers of some kind of petpet?"
"Hmm, that does sound reasonable, but does anyone else have any other ideas?" he asked. No more hands went up, so he guessed it was time to tell them.
"You may not be ready to believe this," he said, "but these people used the stars as their currency."
"The stars?" the Yellow Grarrl asked incredulously. "How would they carry those around?"
"Yes," Chad said, smiling. "It does sound a bit unbelievable, but it is true. Let me explain, clearly all of you were thinking of things which would fit the ideal picture of a currency, something easy to carry, which wouldn't erode, and everyone wanted."
"The Noxalial Tribe were Neopets who lived with nature. The soil was their bed, the forest their roof, and the stars things they bartered among themselves. Sounds poetic, doesn't it? Nevertheless, I think a small example is necessary here," Chad said.
He pointed towards the Yellow Grarrl. "Now, let's say that I wanted to purchase something from you, a rather big purchase, let's say a paint brush. So, let's say that the rest of the class is the rest of the people on our Island. What would happen would be that we would invite as many people as we could, as well as three officials to keep official record, and in front of them we would make the deal. Quite simply, I would point out the star in the sky that I apparently owned, and I would say that it passed on to you."
"And that quite simply, would be it. As long as everyone agreed on this and remembered it, the star would pass on to you and was now yours to take and trade to someone else. Now, obviously to do so these people would have had to have a very good knowledge of astronomy, which we know that they did and they recognized over eight thousand different stars and their positions," Chad said.
"But wait," the Yellow Grarrl said, "the star didn't even change position, so how could I be sure that it was mine?"
"It doesn't have to," Chad said. "As long as everyone agreed that it was yours, and everyone was willing to accept it in exchange for material goods, it didn't matter where it was as long as everyone agreed on it. And we have to think about it, as these people were avid stargazers this would make it easy for them to remember whose star was whose, and though they were eight thousand of them, they were often traded as constellations and groups and official records were kept. Not to mention of course, the star's positions would not change over time, so they were secure that way," Chad said.
He paused to see his students' reactions. Some of them looked bored, as they were either uninterested or had already read about what he was talking about. Most of them were stupefied, this was clearly something they had never thought of.
"Amazing, isn't it?" Chad asked. "It is almost unbelievable, but it is true, and it is where we are going to start off with today's lesson. Now, what we can learn from this little parable is that money, or a currency, can be almost anything as long as everyone agrees on it. Now, the main reason that I'm telling you this is because I believe that most of seem to take the neopoint for granted. In reality though, the neopoint is one of the greatest economic achievements in the history of Neopia."
"Just think about it for one second: almost everyone accepts neopoints. That includes the Faeries, Altador, a kingdom lost for over a millennium, even Moltara which is just a recently discovered place has been using the neopoint for ages. With the small exception of Krawk Island, neopoints are accepted everywhere, even in the Virtupets Space Station. Dr. Sloth himself needs neopoints to fund his activities. With such a far-reaching influence, you would think that people would ask more questions about the neopoint," he said.
Chad then went over to the board and wrote in big letters, 'History of the Neopoint'.
"One of the greatest mysteries is where exactly the neopoint started. No one is sure exactly when, but we can only estimate that it was sometime around 12000 BN. Now, from various excavations and thanks to the fact that neopoints are nearly indestructible, the oldest ones have been found in Neopia Central, probably from some other tribe or community that lived here at the time. It soon spread quickly, and since we can see that all communities in Neopia save for perhaps Krawk Island, even those discovered later like Shenkuu and Tyrannia use neopoints, we can guess that at some time, all of these communities were connected with each other and traded neopoints, and then for some reason at some time they separated," Chad said.
"So, the neopoint went on to safely conquer all of Neopia, and only the dubloon emerged much later on to challenge it, though the dubloon hasn't even come close to holding a candle to the neopoint, especially since the recent drop in the price of the dubloon," Chad said.
It was at that moment that Chad suddenly had an eerie feeling. He turned around and saw a Pirate Krawk sitting in the front row and she seemed to be staring at him... with hostility? Chad was sure that she was one of those students who had been paying close attention before, but what was that about? He had felt various things while giving lectures, but threatened was definitely not one of them.
He almost lost where he was before he picked up, "And so you see, one also has to wonder as to why no one else in history has ever tried to challenge the neopoint. One would think that perhaps with King Skarl's and King Hagan's big egos, one of them would definitely try to issue coins with their own faces on it, but none of them do. No one ever moves to challenge the neopoint. I think that should give you all some things to think about. Now, the..."
He continued onto what he thought of as the boring part of the lecture, which was really just some technical introductory stuff that he had to talk about. After an hour of this, the lecture was over and he dismissed the class. Most of the students left, but two of them stayed behind.
One of them was an Ice Bruce who had a question about one of the books Chad had wrote.
However, the other one was that Pirate Krawk from before, and though she appeared friendly, her gaze sent a chill down Chad's spine. The Ice Bruce had left the lecture hall and now the two of them were alone.
Professor James Chadwick felt truly scared for what was perhaps the first time since he was five.
To be continued...