Acquired Value

When I was a little kid — around 7, I suppose — I made a bargain with my stepsister, who was the same age. I'd noticed that she was charmed by some lovely clinky bits of money I had. She, on the other hand, had a dollar bill.

I proposed that we swap my 45 cents for her dollar. I knew that I could buy more stuff with a dollar, and she knew that the coins were pretty and tinkled together with a sound she liked. We made the deal.

My parents later found out and reversed the trade. I did not protest. I wasn't even upset. To me this was just another one of those rules the adults teach us.

They said the rules made sense. I took them at their word. I was just a kid.

In case you've forgotten, this is what money looks like:

Anyway, I'd received a piece of paper worth about a hundredth of a cent. My stepsister had received sparkly coins made of pure Canadian nickel, shiny copper, and a smidgen of silver.

Did I cheat my sister? Did she cheat me? Was anybody cheated at all? It turns out that it depends on those rules the adults teach us.

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