As our struggling economy bares nasty claws at the securities we feel, many people are looking a bit more closely at just how difficult it may be to live within a barter system. Luxuries have long been absent from some people’s lives; the concern is about managing basic necessities. Bartering has been traced to cultures existing over 6,000 year ago; it has been revitalized in recent years through advanced technologies that make it easier to gain visibility and to better manage the variances in value in the barter exchanges.
The serious question that is being bantered about: “Could I actually exist if our money system failed and I was out of cash or cash totally lost its value?”
Ironically, regardless the vast number of years barter has existed, we still have to find our way through a cumbersome maze, very similar to that which our ancestors dealt with… how to keep trade fair and how to ensure the benefits outweigh the pitfalls permeating exchanges. Fortunately, it is still possible to trade anything; provided there is a common interest in the trade. Barter systems have always transcended language and cultural boundaries, and for the most part can work under any condition – within any infrastructure.
Essentially the same drawbacks apply… it remains difficult to manage fair trade; supply and demand impacts even barter transactions. Money exchange allows for the exchange of smaller units; this is more difficult with barter – for example, the value exchange of a dental service may be difficult to transact with only a portion of the meat from a pig or cow. Mutual desire for the items with the exchange must remain high and time is of the essence; many items cannot be stocked on shelves and exposing your wealth or assets to others could jeopardize your safety. Can you imagine the bulk, were you to save corn or rice for your long-term retirement?
Perhaps it is time we all stop and consider the possibilities… if a good trade were to come your way and you felt you would come away with something valuable… would you? If the circumstances of our economy forced you into a bartering situation – are there friends and neighbors with whom you would trade; others which you absolutely would not? What kinds of goods and services would you be interested in, and how would you determine the exchange value?
I would love to see some activity in the comments!
Don Wooldridge | Author, Speaker
Image attribution: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1415242