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Once upon a time, ponies didn't use money. They didn't have it. They weren't even aware of the concept. They just traded goods and services, helping each other out and owing each other favors. They built big houses because they felt like it, ate grass because they could, and slept under the stars almost every night. Those were better times, simpler times.

Whatever happened to those times?

Well, one young pegasus mare has just concluded the most extensive research project of her life so far, and she believes she has found the source of the economic evolution that Equestria has gone through.

The answer lies in the gold.

Written as a birthday present for Carapace

Chapters (1)
Comments ( 99 )

I maintain that the childlike simplicity and matter-of-fact tone of the essay fits perfectly, given the perspective and subject. It's unapologetic, lacking in any sort of grace, and makes me wonder if a bit of the heatedness might come from her home environment, or that of her school.

And I greatly enjoy the process you show in how Celestia goes from "I'd love to curbstomp this line of thought" to "how can I avoid being heavy hoofed." While her distaste for such opinions is noted for the reader in her own thought processes, having her adjust to address her young subject with all the patience of a teacher who has suffered through centuries of this sort of thing cropping up on occasion comes across beautifully, and avoids using taking her out of character to verbally berate the filly with "THINKING LIKE THIS IS ABSOLUTELY WRONG."

Once I found out who the narrator was, everything became wonderfully clear. Thank you for a truly singular perspective on the history of Equestrian economics.

I feel like 70% of the story is contained within the last two paragraphs.

I was imagining this being presented as a dissertation, and thinking of the ways I would tear it apart. It was extremely gratifying to have Celestia call out how atrocious it was.

Yes, I think I'd like to know what her teaches thinks of this as well.

I imagine the academic review board may also be interested.

AAAAAAHHHH SILVER GLOW you can't be the same one though so i will cancel my hype

All we need now is someone to shout "They're on to us! Shut it down!" and it'll be a perfect story.

this was...
rather good
yet oh my oh my, dat filly
or rather that fillies teacher, I question there teaching credentials.
And then there is her name...
Is she the same as that one with the journal or is she a different one?

You know, I sometimes wonder if that's how the whole thing with money in our world started. :rainbowlaugh:

Wow. I have some food for thought here.

Well, this is probably​ why she gets that year in college after they discover a stable Earth portal... Hehehe.

Pffft! Okay, very cute and certainly succeeded in brining a smile! :pinkiehappy:

at least the little one has the excuse of being a child.

happy birthday

Someday this kid will either be an economist or a storyteller. Either way, I hope someone saves this essay for her to look back on.

Also, I feel bad for the teacher who's about to be interrogated for producing a student capable of expressing nonconformist thoughts.

In the middle of reading this is thought it looked like a child's essay. Glad I wasn't proven wrong lol very good

The twist at the end was my favorite part.

Ah, makes me remember the fic about filly Twilight writing a report on many nobles and such lying. I laughed so hard while reading this my lungs hurt, man.

Glorious, simply glorious. A merry laugh, and a beautiful twist at the end.
Also, nice to see someone notice that economic development was a bit more complicated than "everything was wonderful until money."

I take it that this is some other pegasus filly named Silver Glow, not Admiral Biscuit's one. Becuase if it is her she definitely had some form of education put in her skull.

So some unicorn decided to make tiny little bits of gold that were easy to move around. And that's how the bit was born.

Fictional etymology! Yay! At the very least, it makes more sense than...

"So what should we call the unit of our fiat currency? Oh! Why don't we name it after the horrific metal gag we jam in the mouths of particularly unruly ponies and use to control their behavior?"

"Well, uh, the earth ponies did stick the coins in their mouths to try to eat them, and they are willing to change how they do things to get more of them. Makes as much sense as anything else, I guess."


I was ready to dislike this story until the end. At that point, I loved it. Well done.

It occurs to me that in most fics I've read (at least ones set in the "present day" of the show rather than the founders' era), the unicorns are the tribalist ones. This was genuinely interesting (and disturbing).

It doesn't really strike me as a comedy story, though.

This was cute. Racist as fuck and just as simplistic, but completely in character. Bravo, it was beautiful :twilightsmile:

The filly just stared up at Celestia. "I thought you'd like it." Her face shifted just a little, going from a curious filly who doesn't understand her situation to a confused filly who's about to cry. "Do you... not like it?"

I'm going to be honest -- she could have just denied the holocaust and I would have given her a hug. This is heartbreaking.

8111608 Not really. Money for us got started around the same time of the earliest population booms, when trade became more likely to happen between strangers than acquaintances. Before that, we mostly traded favors, with barter being reserved for cross-tribe trade. You only need something that's difficult to fake (such as pure coins of a rare metal) when the trustworthiness of your trade partner is in question.

8111468 Well the incredibly racist tribalist (Gotta cut Biscuit off in advance) undertones are a perfect fit. I say it's canon!

What she wanted to say was that she hadn't heard something so clearly charged with unfair tribalist undertones in two centuries.

Oh please. You're a politician in a city stuffed with old-money nobles. This can't possibly even rank in your top ten. :duck:

Well. This will certainly be an interesting exercise in compare/contrast once I finish my "libertarian screed" fic. :rainbowhuh: (Did you know that Equestria is a perfect capitalist utopia with no taxes? Or coercion of any kind? :derpytongue2:)

8112483 no taxes? its at best an ad hoc parlamentary system with a very large monarchy, at worst its just a slightly more modern feudalist system, either way you got piles and piles of nobles and aristocrats, so theres gonna be taxes even without celestia's input. maybe not sales tax but probably lots of railroad taxes and little "processing fees"

at least thats my 2 bits about it
(im writing a fic about making money in equestria too...)

8112539 I think I once saw it suggested somewhere that the reason the CMC are able to get on the train unsupervised is because there's no actual train tickets, and transportation is just paid for out of taxes.

8112529 Why the unsolicited reciting of a child's innocently tribalist essay on economics that contains no questions is being compared to Job asking the question of "God, why have you forsaken me?" (roughly speaking) so many times in your comment is more than a little surprising. Then again, I am an agnostic, so I will fully admit to not being fully aware as to the presence and form of certain religious themes that may have seeped into my work.

Because it's clear the filly is going to get punished by her teacher. And that Celestia is going to see to it that she gets punished if by some chance the teacher is not inclined to do so.

Is it really so clear? Because if it were that clear, I'm pretty sure someone other than you would have said something by now. Because, based on what other people have said, the only thing that's 'clear' about the immediate future is that Celestia is about to ask some very pressing questions to that filly's teacher. Questions like "Did you teach this child to say these racist things?" or "Are you actually teaching your students anything?"

Celestia on the other hand remains cold and untouched by the filly's love.

So... carefully choosing one's words to avoid hurting a child's feelings or call her a horrible person somehow translates to Celestia being cold and unaffected. Somehow. Apparently.

That coldness that you actually opted to go with is why the story ends with the sense the filly is going to regret ever writing anything at all. And will almost certainly never write anything more than the bare minimum to avoid failing ever again.


if you think that inadequately rational ponies (and people) need to learn to sit down and shut up unless they can be sufficiently intellectual

I really want to know how a story where nobody talks down to this child, and the child is carefully asked questions to try and determine why this is happening, and the incredibly racist nature of the essay is only commented on internally, read by an audience who live in a world where our first instinct on encountering a child innocently spouting hurtful words is to assume that they are mindlessly parroting those words from either their parents or their teachers or other adults and then take steps to help them, could possibly be pushing the agenda you claim it is.

Unlike you, I think saying unfair and inaccurate things sometimes has a place in learning.

Did someone insert a paragraph where Celestia beats the child when I wasn't looking? Is there a second story written in invisible ink in the margins of my story that's just full of comments like 'this child should never have even opened her mouth, she's a complete idiot'? Did someone just message you and say something like "KingMoriarty wrote this story to criticize children for being children"?

The closest that Silver Glow gets to a comeuppance in this story is being discouraged from reciting her essay a second time, and perhaps realizing that Princess Celestia didn't really care for it. Literally the closest that any part of the story gets to the agenda you claim it's pushing is pointing out that the theories behind complex economics are a little too advanced for this child's current grade level, and that she doesn't really know how to construct an essay at that level yet.

Here is what the author of the piece, myself, was trying to say with this story: This is an essay written by a child who has been raised in a racist environment. I have hereby proved I can write such a thing believably. Happy birthday, one of my best friends.

8112314 In my defense, the person for whom I wrote this story as a gift suggested the Comedy tag.

Yes, I know it's not a good defense.

8112314 To add to his defense, I made that call because I figured the simplicity in the essay and Celestia's initial reaction would make for a few giggles. So feel free to lob your rotten fruit thisaway.

8111824 Thanks :D

*Sits to wait for Admiral Biscuit to come comment on this* :pinkiesmile:

You know you've written something great when it turns into a debate about political agendas and the main character is compared to both a holocaust denier and a transphobe. Not to mention referencing David Chapman as a source...


I can't help but feel like this is an extreme example of facetiousness, exemplifying your story in a way of "just enough of the wrong kind of education."

I had many laughs reading the story, and the comment thread. +1 for entertainment today. Thank you for this!


AAAAAAHHHH SILVER GLOW you can't be the same one though so i will cancel my hype

I'm willing to accept that it is. That's how filly Silver Glow would think. Although to be honest, meeting with Princess Celestia is probably AU. . . .


yet oh my oh my, dat filly
or rather that fillies teacher, I question their teaching credentials.

Well, sometimes I wonder about Cheerilee's, as well.

And then there is her name...
Is she the same as that one with the journal or is she a different one

I'm willing to go with the same. IMHO, meeting Princess Celestia is a bit of a stretch (although it works quite well in the story, and to be honest, that's probably exactly how filly Silver Glow would act in that situation). Everything else is totally the way she thinks.


Well, this is probably​ why she gets that year in college after they discover a stable Earth portal... Hehehe.



I take it that this is some other pegasus filly named Silver Glow, not Admiral Biscuit's one. Because if it is her she definitely had some form of education put in her skull.

She's reasonably close to the real one, I'd say. Sure, she's had some more education since she was a filly, and now knows that the concept of money isn't quite as simple as she thought back then, but I bet most of us would cringe if we re-read our essays from elementary school.

Growing up in Chonamare, with most ponies just bartering and trading for goods, would certainly lead her to believe that money was an unnecessary, stupid invention.

Plus. I like her idea that peagasi would keep raising their prices for the weather, if they thought that the unicorns were happy when things cost more.


It occurs to me that in most fics I've read (at least ones set in the "present day" of the show rather than the founders' era), the unicorns are the tribalist ones.

I think that all three tribes are, but that the pegasi and earth ponies figured out first how to work with each other, since their two talents are so symbiotic.


Well the incredibly racist tribalist (Gotta cut Biscuit off in advance) undertones are a perfect fit. I say it's canon!

I officially approve of it. :heart:

And yeah, totally tribalist, not racist.


*Sits to wait for Admiral Biscuit to come comment on this* :pinkiesmile:

Here I am!

I love it. It's so the way filly SIlver Glow would think. :heart:

8112826 I have to ask, where do you see Celestia ignoring the racist angle? Also, Godlestia isn't being applied here, so stow the headcanoning. In fact, one can take a look at her actions here and see quite clearly that there is a part of her that does want to take this line of thinking out behind the woodshed and put two in the back of its head, but she knows that it would be better for her ponies to teach them another way rather than just screaming her head off about how it was wrong. As for the bit about the teacher, yeah, Celestia's probably about to pull her aside and ask "what the actual shit is going on in your classroom" because that is a very valid question when a little filly comes up and says "I wrote this for class" and presents something dripping with tribalism to the freaking immortal ruler of the land. And given how peeved by this Celestia is, I highly doubt she's going to just go "lol, I wash my hooves of this, toodle loo~" if the answer is anything less than satisfactory.

Also, regarding your point on people who have ideas and yada yada: that is literally the freaking point of Celestia not just screaming and slapping a bandaid on the situation. Her last line implies that she's going to find the root of the issue—bluntly, those who have immediate influence on the little filly before her. It's a rather rational step to take when someone who shouldn't be so cynical and jaded openly pulls out "unicorns are the problem with everything" with all the delightful innocence and matter-of-fact tone as a child telling someone "this is the way the world works because mommy/daddy/teacher said so."


I am guessing Silver Glow in the other story has some...oddities.
I'll have to read it sometime. No spoilers please.

I'm reluctant to give any spoilers here, due to your warning; however, I will say (and I hope that this isn't too spoilerish) that this is a reasonable interpretation of something she'd think she would have thought when she was a filly.

I did not. I typed exactly what I intended, and as far as I'm aware committed no sin. Did you do the same? ;P

But seriously. I did think you were joking. If you're serious... well... okay then. I had other plans today, but internet arguing can be fun too! Bear (yes, bears. The grizzly kind.) in mind, I don't feel like any party has been offended yet, I'm just ridiculously amused by the situation. It's gonna take me a while to type this up.

Felt this was appropriate.

I would like to thank thee for allowing me to partake in this gracious offering.
Fear not the dark, my friend. And let the feast begin.

I think the big thing here, is that Celestia would find the ideas being expressed as horribly unfair and tribalist... but that the child had said them in a matter of fact tone. These are things the child is either taught to accept as true or has determined over the course of her own interactions among the three tribes.

"No, you're wrong" doesn't help, and would crush the child. A lengthy discussion on economics would go over her head. A lecture on tribalism and how it's not right also requires Celestia to see where she's gotten this first. If her parents are the ones filling her head with this, or even a trusted teacher... having her 'goddess' correct her might lead to an instant defense of those people. Surely they wouldn't be wrong, they're the ones who she's supposed to listen to in the first place.

I'm sort of seeing this as something that was a petitioner, and Celestia was expecting, if anything, a little fluff piece on a child's hero that she could offer them some relatively unknown tidbit, make their day. Instead, she got an extremely complex retelling of economic history from a child which was so horribly fraught with inaccuracies that she was lost trying to catalog them all. Where does she even begin? She can't accuse the filly of not doing research without first finding out if she had; that seems like the bibliography thing. Celestia wants to know where this came from. She can't praise the filly for the attempt or the creativity because then it looks like she's offering approval of this sort of thinking.

Celestia's in a bad position. The concept of money and the idea that unicorns have nothing to provide to society is terrible. Even the suggestion that pegasi don't actually control weather but let the unicorns think they did, and that earth ponies build houses because they're just so nice? There's a LOT of bias here on display, and openly so. Anything positive she says is going to be used as reinforcement of these terrible ideas. Honestly, the only reason I don't see Celestia having stopped it early on is because it just startled her. She's used to children getting a detail or two wrong where a minor correction can help. Having the entire essay be what it is, there's just too much. Whereas a fluffy piece on a childhood hero can have a few details wrong and get the gist right, this essay started with a negative idea and then twisted events to fit it. Even the idea that earth ponies eat metal and gems came out of nowhere, to Celestia's knowledge.

It'd be like someone writing a lovely and heartfelt essay on why the entire sky was a beautiful lime green, followed by conjecture as to why it was true, with all sorts of science to back it up... but the basic premise is wrong.

A proper answer is gonna be even more spoilery, but if you want I'll go ahead.

8112676 Oh, I'm hardly offended. I enjoyed the story quite a bit. I just found it more disturbing than funny. Like, "wow, Silver Glow seems reasonably intelligent but somehow doesn't grasp the benefits of fiat currency, especially after beginning with an example like Brickwork that should make them particularly obvious."

...Come to think of it, I'd been meaning to read Silver Glow's Journal for quite some time but still hadn't gotten around to it and...good heavens there are how many chapters? :pinkiegasp: At least I've got something to do for a while.


I wouldn't write a martial arts scene without studying how the forms I was citing worked. I wouldn't write a ship to ship combat scene without reading up on naval combat of the era. So I just think given how important to immersion it is for Celestia to come across as having uncanny skill, some acquaintanceship with governance is in order. And thus all I'm trying to do is point out more research needed to be done to make Celestia's actions not merely "not ooc" but "appropriate and plausible.")

Celestia is holding court. She is surrounded by the cream of the crop. The aristocrats, the business owners, those who make the machines of government and business and just plain old people spin. Her every movement, her every word, is being watched and taken note of. She is in the room in Equestria where her actions have the most consequences.

And...you consider the most appropriate action in this context to be immediately prioritizing the emotional welfare of this single child, as opposed to confronting the problem at its most probable sources, preventing even more children from being messed up by a toxic worldview, and in all likelihood initiating an educational reform that leads to a more all-inclusive curriculum that teaches children about all facets of history, not just the ones that serve a particular agenda.

I'm sorry, which one of us needs to do their research about what actions would be appropriate and plausible?

It's not like I'm nitpicking over some meaningless technical detail. The most emotionally powerful part of the story is when Silver Glow is confronted with the fact she her speech is not well received. The intended power of the resolution after that point rests on the assumption that Celestia is doing exactly the most correct thing in all ways. Which reminds us of the value of wisdom. And of the tragedy of childhood that our experience cannot let us anticipate so many different types of trouble we will get ourselves into. And have to survive the deep wounds from.

Now, this is all pretty much subjective, and it doesn't really...

Wait a minute.

The intended power of the resolution after that point rests on the assumption that Celestia is doing exactly the most correct thing in all ways.

No. You aren't seriously doing this.

Do not presume to know the author's intent. You don't know what the 'intended power of the resolution after that point' rests on. You have literally no idea what power the resolution was intended to have. Never mind the fact Celestia is not doing exactly the most correct thing in all ways, and I never tried to even imply an infallible character.

Let me lay it on the line: The actual intended power of the resolution is a spit take on the part of the audience that this tribalist amalgamation of inaccuracies was being read aloud to Princess Celestia of all ponies. Because this isn't some super-serious story about how ideas are totally more important than individuals.

It's a great. Big. Joke.

And yes, you're allowed to not find this joke particularly funny. Even for incredibly subjective reasons that you really shouldn't be advertising to the Internet. But don't just assume that you know what I was setting out to do with this story. Because you don't. You blatantly, horrifically don't.

I found this very entertaining, especially Celestia's reactions. I'll check out your other stuff as a result.

...The comments here are pretty entertaining too, at least in a "what the hell" kinda way.

8113229 I'd honestly like to apologize for the comments. Well, more for the fact that you have to scroll past a few very large comments to actually see any of them.


This short series gives a nice overview on the subject.

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