With all the frantic uncertainty about money from the White House to my house I wonder if we could all benefit from the tried and true method of bartering as a fair means of exchange.
Now, I’m not proposing we do away with currency for fear that the hospitals would be over-run with folks on the verge of a heart attack as they see us tottering on the edge of a depression of world-wide proportion. Besides, I know that the good old American capitalist system would never dream of letting little old me tinker with their money pots, but in my secret radical nature I can’t help but dream of a better way to help folks get a fair exchange in life.
So, with that thought in mind I did a bit of research on the bartering system and decided to put it in play in my own household. My she-shed out back is crammed full of 50 plus years of accumulating STUFF. If I owned a truck I could haul all the items to the dump and start all over again, but since I don’t own a truck this is my plan. I told my almost 15-year-old grandson, Declan I would barter with him. If he helps me clear my shed he can take all the scrap metal and sell it. No money exchanged but we both benefit.
That’s the barter system and it has worked well since the year of 6000 B.C. when the Mesopotamian tribes introduced the method of exchange to the Phoenicians. It continued to work as Roman soldiers salaries were paid with salt that was a valuable asset at the time, and later on when Colonial America exchanged musket balls, deer skins and wheat for needed items to make their lives better.
The barter system thrived until currency was invented and then seemed to wane when paying for services seemed easier than trading services or items of equal value. But, low and behold, it resurfaced during the Great Depression of 1930 when lack of money pressed folks to barter for necessities.
I’ve noticed a new interest in bartering and wouldn’t you know it’s done via social media. Childcare is exchanged so parents can get a night out; house-swapping is big on the barter charts right now as folks living in Florida swap houses with folks in Alaska for vacations without the high cost of hotels; and the internet is flooded with items that folks want to exchange with no cash involved. Whereas it once was butter for eggs now it’s laptops for boom-boxes!
There are advantages and disadvantages to the barter system. Let’s begin with the disadvantages. Finding trustworthy folks to barter with can be iffy and your barter item usually doesn’t come with a consumer protection plan or a warranty. If fact, what your barter for may not even be legitimate, so know who you are dealing with for your own protection or you may end up with a hot item that you didn’t bargain to have in your possession.
On the flip side the advantages are you can go into the barter business without a cash flow; you can be flexible by hunting a different barter source if a person’s barter doesn’t measure up in value to yours, and you can find new adventures and meet folks that would not ordinarily cross your path.
There you have it, a tried and true exchange that has worked for thousands of years without emptying your pockets or going into debt to have a project completed. It’s a win-win for all parties involved. As for the case of my grandson, Declan who plays football for the Lafayette Hornets, the workout will get him ready for those hits during a game and he’ll have some cash for his efforts. My benefit will be spending time with him one-on-one to discuss life’s issues without the interference of electronics beeping and dinging every second because part of my barter will be no cell phones allowed until the job is complete.