fort government

levinea-yuki  asked:

In the 17 and 18 hundreds, what was the value comparison between silver coins and their face values among countries and provinces? I cannot find a proper link to teach myself the variations in purity levels and merchant strategies to indulge in the shift of the metal content so I chose to ask you, seeing as you have had many years of experienced in making a profit. All I have learned through personal experience is that American pennies are worth less than Canadian pennies due to copper amount.


Oh dear.

Well, please allow me to give you the reason why you cannot find links and do so in a simple and accessible way for my other gentle readers;

Originally, the currency value was determined by the amount of metal in the coin itself. However, that was subject to grievous manipulation. When you put all your gold out in the open market, your fortune out the door, it becomes ripe for…well, theft! People would devalue coins by creating their own molds and cutting the metal with junk. They would melt down the original coin, cut the gold with brass and then make two coins from one, both with the original appearance and similar weight - which was the only way to determine the coin legitimate.

You’ve seen in pirate movies and the like, when a person bites the coin? This is because they are testing the softness of the metal. If the teeth can sink, or the coin flex, it is likely purer gold or silver, because these metals are soft.

Can you imagine the havoc of having suddenly two times as many coins with the same essential value? It would quickly cause disruption and inflation, as traders would begin raising prices to obtain the same value. With no standardized or centralized banking in most countries, it meant that there was no stricture on currency trade/value/and so forth. Traders would demand whatever coin was considered the safest and in whatever amount they chose.

For a long while, particularly during the time you name, that was the Spanish Piece of Eight! Why? Because Spain had access to the rumored gold of South America, so their coin was likely exactly the amount of gold it seemed to be.

But there was no standard of value, not at all! Even now, when appraisers are trying to assess the presumed value of old coinage, they are basing much of their calculations on “purchasing power”, which is only recorded via old ledgers, journals and so forth. So allow me to give you a scenario!

You live in London of the late 1600’s/1700’s. You go to market. You wish to purchase an animal to butcher. You have English coin (this was before the articles of union and so you have ENGLISH coin, not BRITISH). But English coin is devalued, because both the common man and the government have been slowly cutting the metals in order to deal with war. The merchants won’t take it. You ask how much they want. They offer to take so many Eight, but you don’t have any. They bargain with you and say “Well sirrah, Ill take 2 pound for every Eighthead. Best price you’ll see in ‘ere!” And you bargain them around.

Long story made short: Your devalued English money has less purchasing power than its actual metallurgic value, and its intrinsic value is arbitrary and completely dependent upon the merchant and his competition. These fluctuations occurred with every moment of every day, and very seldom did governments interrupt to stop this. For example, during famine or currency devaluing, the King might put out a proclamation declaring that the price of a loaf of bread may not rise above a certain amount, or the merchant would be punished. This has certain side effects: that the merchants would decide not to do business, that the other governments would get involved in price regulation (they would have to to compensate for the lesser amounts of money their countrymen were bringing back). So you can see, I think, what a morass this was.

Banks begin to develop. Groups of merchants who dump their gold in stockpiles and then begin using “notes” or “bills” or “cheques”. Essentially, “I am not giving you my gold. But instead will hand you an official bit of paper that designates an amount. The amount will allow you to remove the gold if you wish, but you may also simply leave the gold in the safe house and use the paper to indicate it. With this combined “capital” banks could bargain for things like land, because they could demonstrate in a real way that “they were good for it”. “Speculation” begins, wherein a bank takes a property by promise alone, or by borrowing a small amount from the stockpile to buy the property cheaply, then a farm is built or a bunch of houses built, rents are charged to repay the borrowed bit of gold, and suddenly the BANK is making money off of the money it stockpiled from you and yours. It wasn’t theft. You agreed to it. When you joined a bank it was with written understanding that some portion of your stockpile would be money for speculation, with a promised return on investment (insured by the bank owners, meaning that if the speculation failed, they paid you back from their own money). You also got a return on investment, because after the bank had paid you back for the speculation, they also paid you interest! Meaning they gave you a cut of the rents they charged off that farm or house.

This, as you imagine, was a revolutionary concept. It turned modest merchants (like yours truly) into wealthy men. But it all relied upon the honesty of the bankers, their skills at investment and speculation, stricter currency minting rules, and the safety of the Bank.

What happens to all the rich men and companies who bank, if the bank say…burns down in a horrible fire…or is raided by a suicidal monster…or both?

Simple! You make the government the bank. That is where ideas like the silver standard and gold standard originate. Meaning that the government stockpiles all precious metals. (For example, FDR made it illegal for men to own gold during the war. This was how we got Fort Knox) The government then mints worthless coins that have an established monetary value. This coin is then backed by the (hopefully) equivalent amount of gold or silver. These coins are traded “at face value” for some time. But the government comes to realize there isn’t enough money to supply demand that can be backed with gold. This is a problem. They mint more coin to supply that demand, but backed by half as much gold. Now every quarter is worth 13 cents worth of gold.

And now you see the new problem with establishing value.

Easily said, the per ounce metallurgic measurement of a coin (face value) is not equal to purchasing power.

Now allow me to return to the original question:

All currency values, as compared to modern currency (i.e. What would this be in US dollars?) is arbitrary, complicated, and has more to do with purchasing power and all the regulations, trade fluctuations, currency confidences, and interest rates associated in the given moment.

The period of time you are discussing was the beginning of banking. And funnily enough, the American Colonial economy, in the beginning, was based on Pieces of Eight. We also had notes.

This means I really cannot give you any means to establishing a definite value of coin or the purchasing power of that coin.

All I can do is tell you what I bought and for how much given the time, location, the greed of the merchant, and so forth.

Reply if you wish to know those particulars.

I hope this simplistic explanation has made sense of things for you. I know we haven’t really touched upon credit, trade unions, more serious governmental regulations and the like, but I think it does a fair bit to explaining the difficulties.


Hello, I’m teenage artist/rapper/producer/Internt expert Will Neibergall (a.k.a. Glass Popcorn) and I warmly welcome you to the 2012 Fort Project. For the next month or so, me and my friends Julian, Zachary and Matt will be working together as well as turning to others and outside influences to establish a few designs for potential wooden forts to build in my backyard. After we have collected satisfying designs, we will draw structurally sound blueprints up for all of them and hold a vote for the best design. Hopefully sometime in June, we will begin construction on the fort. The central philosophy to the project can be read in the description to the left; basically, we want to build a humble home for expression, collaboration and dreams of the future.

It seems obvious to all of us that one of the first, most basic things to address is the government of a fort. How is a fort best governed, at least for a period following its creation? We feel that this question needs to be answered before we begin drawing out any plans.

On one hand, it seems feasible to create a fort governed by no one, left to be defined by an unregulated and thoroughly public presence, though the foundational principles of the project need to be upheld for a length of time after the fort’s construction, and we have all accepted that some regulatory form of government must be established to ensure that this will happen. We have determined that the fort will be ruled by a council, similar to a “Board of Directors,” constituted of the four of us. We have played with the idea of granting full autonomy to each individual councilman, though we recognized the harmful potential of a system in which there are no checks and balances to the power of the councilmen. Therefore, rules need to be drawn.

At this point, however, we also note that a strong central government based on a clear constitution or list of rules may eventually become irrelevant to the council’s interests or prove to be provincial and ignorant of the fort’s potential role in the lives of those who interact with it. We must develop a system involving a set of rules that change over irregular intervals and by irregular measures; a reactionary constitution, dependent on the interests of the entire council and revisable yet completely binding.

Julian Restrepo, who is already referring to himself as the fort’s “Prince of Darkness,” devised an innovative governing system which has already been affirmed by a majority vote of 3 to 1. “Sneak democracy” will put at its center a list of specific laws written on a dry-erase board. These laws can be changed if and only if councilmen can edit the laws while no one is looking; one of the “irreversible laws” carved into a wooden sign will be that, if caught changing the rules, a councilman may be punished in any way the other three councilmen see appropriate. 

What rules ought to be written on the initial whiteboard, then? This is still a topic of discussion and debate for the initial four councilmen. We have informally decided that a 3-1 vote is necessary for any male outside of the council to be allowed into the fort as a guest. We have gone back and forth between carving an absolute “no females” rule or allowing females after a 4-0 vote and a test of literacy, understanding of conceptual art and knowledge of the interests of the councilmen and the rules of the fort. A “no non-conceptual artists” rule is currently hotly debated. 

Suggestions as to the nature of our government and the content of our initial law guide can be sent in the form of a reply to this post. We will soon be accepting submissions of design suggestions or other topical matters. Check back soon for the first mock-ups. I am extremely excited to be beginning this project with my close friends and sharing the experience of the 2012 Fort Project with all of you out in the blogosphere! This summer will soon etch its place in the tablet of conceptual art history.


North Dakota tribe sees $25M a month in energy royalties

The Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation in North Dakota is in the middle of an energy boom but tribal members say they aren’t seeing any of the benefits:
    Blessed with oil-and-gas-rich shale formations underlying Fort Berthold, the MHA government collects about $25 million in royalties a month. All in all, the tribe has collected about $1 billion in oil ​money since the fracking bonanza took off in 2008.