Bits champed at

Last year, in a piece on Equestrian currency, I noted that one bit was “not an enormous sum.” No official exchange rate has ever been quoted, a fact which didn’t deter EqD’s Cereal Velocity from attempting to determine the dollar value of the bit.

Cereal notes, correctly, from “Putting Your Hoof Down”:

[I]t’s established that a tomato can either be one or two bits worth of value. For the ease of calculation and to eliminate the possibility that the shopkeeper is simply ripping Fluttershy off, we will assume that one tomato is worth one bit.

He then goes into a complicated exposition that ends up, if you ask me, nowhere useful. I suspect he’s never actually gone to the market and bought a tomato. (And if he did, he didn’t pay a cent and a half for it.)

By comparison, this is what happened in The Sparkle Chronicles when Twilight Sparkle, visiting the human world, saw for the first time a Large Automobile:

“What does something like this cost?”

Dollars obviously meant nothing to her, so: “How much for three tomatoes?”

“About two bits,” she said.

“Then this was about twenty thousand bits.”

At the time I wrote that, three tomatoes, smallish, were running about a buck and a half. (I rather suspect that Equestrian tomatoes are not like our humongous hothouse-raised supermarket spheroids grown for anything but flavor.) This is a tad cheaper than the market sequence in “Putting Your Hoof Down” implies, but I got the distinct impression that prices in the Ponyville marketplace are anything but, um, stable.


  1. JT »

    5 March 2013 · 8:06 pm

    I get the impression that the Ponyville marketplace is closer to a barter system than our traditional supermarkets.

  2. McGehee »

    5 March 2013 · 10:47 pm

    I hold to the traditional valuation: one bit is 12½¢.

  3. fillyjonk »

    6 March 2013 · 8:06 am

    I tended to figure (based on Putting Your Hoof Down) that it was more in the spirit of something like a bazaar, where bargaining was expected, and you were a doormat (or an idiot) if you didn’t.

    Though I do have another question: where do some of the ponies GET their money from? Applejack and Rarity sell useful things, Twilight might come from money (be a trust-fund filly?), but what about the Pegasus ponies? Is there much income in shoving clouds around? (Or is it a protection-racket sort of thing: “Nice picnic you’re planning. It would be a shame if someone were to RAIN on it….”)

  4. McGehee »

    6 March 2013 · 9:35 am

    The Equestria Weather Service is a public agency, is what I think.

  5. CGHill »

    6 March 2013 · 10:21 am

    McGehee is correct. The government maintains a Weather Patrol, run by pegasi; Rainbow Dash works out of the Ponyville office. (Evidence from “Hurricane Fluttershy” implies that she’s in charge of it.) One of the reasons the Everfree Forest is feared so is the fact that it’s outside the Weather Patrol’s jurisdiction.

    Fluttershy’s source of income is not disclosed in canon, but since she is for all intents and purposes the local veterinarian, this is presumably how she earns her keep.

    Twilight Sparkle earns a salary as the librarian; it is believed that she has had a small student stipend — and, due to her close association with the royals, a substantial expense account. As a Princess herself, she will of course be able to mulct the serfs.

    All of the above are subject to change at Hasbro’s whim.

  6. McGehee »

    6 March 2013 · 12:31 pm

    So how does Pinkie Pie earn her oats? IIRC she’s neither unicorn nor pegasus.

  7. fillyjonk »

    6 March 2013 · 12:34 pm

    So there are taxes in Equestria, if there are publicly-funded agencies? (“Applejack vs. The 1040”?)

    (I get it: it’s a show for kids, kids have an incomplete understanding of how economies work. Consistency, hobgoblin, small minds….)

  8. CGHill »

    6 March 2013 · 1:10 pm

    Pinkie Pie has a day job: she’s the kitchen help at Sugarcube Corner.

    I’ve alluded to the Equestrian tax system in some of my own non-canon writings; others have gone into frightening detail about it.

  9. McGehee »

    6 March 2013 · 2:03 pm

    Without a tax system, Fiscal Cliff wouldn’t have had anything like the cash flow he seems to have had.

  10. CGHill »

    6 March 2013 · 4:25 pm

    Oh, absolutely. Changeling courtesans do not come cheaply, so to speak.

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