A Little Philosophy: The art of bartering

An August 2019 podcast by the BBC World Service discussed “America’s Hospital Emergency,” where hospitals are closing in small towns across America.

This, like many other bad news reports, closed without offering solutions. It did, however, say that the lack of money was central to the problem.

This left me to wonder how we could function with little or no money at all. Well, over 60,000 years ago, the lack of money as we know it today, was exactly the case and people figured out how to get along.

While barter has never been a 100% efficient way to support trade, it can sustain it when there is little or no money to be had.  The smaller the afflicted community, in fact, the easier it is to use barter because almost everyone knows each other.

While the community does not need to turn into a formalized collective or kibbutz, there are many things you can do together, such as:

  • Health care assistance: You and your friends can familiarize yourselves with first aid practices and offer assistance. There is plenty of information on the Internet if you need to sharpen your knowledge. Today, in fact, many medications and medical appliances can be purchased inexpensively online, bypassing expensive “professional” markups and chain drugstores.
  • Communal meals: Share your food. Instead of eating in isolated environments like your own home, share evening meals at community centers.
  • Yard, home, and building care: Take care of one another’s property as an exchange of services. If you have cash, pay the help. If not, figure out how to barter your expertise with others to get your home fixed.
  • Home services: This includes aid for shut-ins and house cleaning for those who have jobs.

While barter isn’t an all-encompassing answer, it can take the pressure off of providing for some. Simply get together with friends and determine what you can do for one another, then start doing it!



Article by Karen Little, first published for Littleviews.com on August 3, 2019, all rights reserved by Karen Little and Littleviews. You may re-publish this article in a non-commercial site with permission from Karen.

Questions? Ask Karen at info@littleviews.com. Do you have an article you’d like to see in this series? Karen would love to hear from you.