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Sue Loudon may be a bird brain, but the fact remains that barter, or to update matters, local exchange trading systems, or LETS, can help people and communities where there is little cash, but people with skills.

The baby sitter earns community credits that can be spent on the housepainter.  A carpenter earns credits so that he can get some groceries at a participating merchant's.

Local, democratic, non-profit, and in times of economic hardship, an attractive model.   My granddad was a local doctor who in the Great Depression saw patients pro bono, or took services in kind.  Of course that was when office visits where $5 and house calls!! $7.   That world is long gone.

Let us enjoy ridiculing, of course, but let's also face the fact that absent cash people, communities are going to have to find a way, especially because for many  low wages and high unemployment is going to be with them a long long time.

There are of course tax implications, though less so on the trading of services in kind.  The LETS community, and it is global, has a set of best practices.

And these days, as in any downturn, they are growing.

Originally posted to organize on Tue Apr 27, 2010 at 03:52 PM PDT.

Also republished by Changing the Scrip.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (4+ / 0-)

    All of Us are Smarter Than Any of Us

    by organize on Tue Apr 27, 2010 at 03:52:11 PM PDT

  •  Do you really think the poor or unemployed (5+ / 0-)

    ...are likely to have much to barter with in such a proposed economy?

    This isn't really a solution to healthcare, and while it's a wonderful thing in some places and circumstances, it's not likely to make any real inroads in our modern economy, IMO.

    I'm not an economist and I don't play one on DKos, though.

    "Certainly the game is rigged. Don't let that stop you; if you don't bet, you can't win." Lazarus Long

    by rfall on Tue Apr 27, 2010 at 03:56:32 PM PDT

  •  All of the Let-Them-Eat-Cakers (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SarahLee, organize, psilocynic, janmtairy

    would be laughing out of the other side of their conservative pie holes when the middle class stopped using US currency, banks, and lending institutions and just started investing in pole barns.

    Catholic Church: Example of Religion thats TOO BIG TO FAIL

    by Detroit Mark on Tue Apr 27, 2010 at 03:57:35 PM PDT

  •  Local and closed systems, sure. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SarahLee, millwood, Cassandra Waites

    For help around the area it works. When you start going into things with longer logistical chains, not so much.

    You can swap a used car for something once, and you are fine. You can not make new cars out of barter. There is too much variety of resources you need.

    In regards to medicine, I'd think there was a large difference in modern supplies from a century ago. I'm not a dr. but I have worked making heath care products, and you need to track supplies and batches, and may not just have some local person whip you up a batch of whatever...

  •  Fidel - Is that you? (0+ / 0-)

    This is America. Money talks or people walk.

  •  It is illegal (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    to barter.  Also you deal with a lot of diffrent people for one medical problem.

    You can pay a small debt with a few watermelons or chickens but you can't pay for the dreaded big operation with anything but money since there is no room for all it would take to store the watermelon or chickens.  You can not even keep them in the same room because the chickens would eat the watermelon.  

    We didn't say Wealth Care, we said Health Care

    by relentless on Tue Apr 27, 2010 at 04:16:27 PM PDT

  •  No one is attacking the CONCEPT of bartering! (3+ / 0-)

    When it costs over $1000 out of pocket to set a broken arm without insurance, however, it's a RIDICULOUS suggestion.

    Then again...


    "We will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist" --- President Barack Obama, 1-20-2009.

    by tier1express on Tue Apr 27, 2010 at 04:44:19 PM PDT

    •  And context is important (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SarahLee, tier1express

      She said it would bring costs down. Which is complete BS.

      Bartering will work for small things, but what about surgery? That's thousands of dollars.

      But I do understand the point of the diary. And when we make fun of Chicken Sue, we should point out that some people may be forced to barter because of the economy - because of the policies that her Republicans friends pushed on us.

      "Nothing is more important in the face of a war than cutting taxes." - Tom DeLay Republican House Majority Leader, March 12, 2003

      by bay of arizona on Tue Apr 27, 2010 at 05:06:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Ithaca Hours for all! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    organize, jlms qkw

    But I don't think Cornell Med will take them for your heart surgery.

    "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

    by tardis10 on Tue Apr 27, 2010 at 04:48:40 PM PDT

  •  There are a few communities that set up systems (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    catdevotee, SarahLee, organize, tardis10

    like that. It works like a sort of local currency. Of course, its application is extremely limited (e.g. a merchant has to pay for supplies in cash and can't run the store based on these credits alone). Of course, medicine is about the worst area where it can be applied (other than maybe physicals and routine doctor visits).

  •  Yes, I have a broken down piece of crap (0+ / 0-)

    lying around the house to pay you with. Happy now?

    I know this is a nice alt community structure thingy along with clothes swap parties, bicycling 60 miles daily to commute to a job, quitting your job so your kids are hungry and will never go to college but at least you're at home, and that's nice for the small community of folks, often young, who can afford it, but not for the rest of us who aren't evil for not being able to do that.

    The Great Recession is a happy happy joy joy time to drop your obsolete skills and train for new ones.

    by doinaheckuvanutjob on Tue Apr 27, 2010 at 05:13:58 PM PDT

    •  Clothes swap parties aren't so far-fetched (0+ / 0-)

      I have a friend, a woman, who semi-regularly hosts what she calls "naked lady parties" and has been doing so for well over a decade. It started with her own clothes and has grown considerably among her friends (and she has a lot) and their friends. Women hear about them by word of mouth. They'll bring clothes in good condition (and clean) that they are no longer wearing and things get sorted by size. You don't have to bring something to take something away, and you don't have to take something away to be able to empty out half your closet (if, for example, you've lost a lot of weight and need to get rid of your "fat clothes" or if you've gained weight or had body changes that mean you can no longer wear what you used to wear). Clothes are well cared for among these women and something that is terribly trendy isn't likely to be taken away by someone else. The rule is that if you bring it and it isn't chosen by someone else, you have to take it back. No money ever changes hands.

      Women come to these parties from all over the greater Puget Sound area. I have a couple of things I was given by her years ago that I still wear, and they serve as examples of what you might find at these parties: a lovely black velvet jacket with a bow in the back, well tailored, and a black fringed-all-over party frock that reminds me of something from the flapper era. A lot of business clothes changes hands, too; how else is a woman supposed to keep her wardrobe fresh in a down economy? Many of the women work in high tech and it's been a down economy there since about 2001.

      Living kidney donor needed; type B, O, or incompatible (with paired donation). Drop me a note (see profile).

      by Kitsap River on Thu Apr 29, 2010 at 10:51:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Brilliant! (0+ / 0-)

        A lot of this stuff just ends up going to The Salvation Army  - an organization I support, btw, but those in need do not need a lot of what is donated.  Not practical.

        You need that trusted circle of friends and acquaintances, and those 'in the loop' for this to work.  You have to overcome the barrier of wearing someone else's stuff.

        I love consignment shops -- this is better.

        All of Us are Smarter Than Any of Us

        by organize on Mon May 03, 2010 at 02:11:10 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Please contact me (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jlms qkw, tardis10

    I'm selling synthetic credit default options on securitized medical care debt obligations valued in livestock.

    It is a bonanza!

    Dawn is breaking everywhere Light a candle, curse the glare We will get by. We will survive.

    by MikeBoyScout on Tue Apr 27, 2010 at 07:34:12 PM PDT

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