How you barter is important. : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

While I have seen some threads that talk about barter, they have been mainly focused on trying to identify what would be good barter items. I have not seen any discussion regarding how to barter, although I may have missed it. The information below is based on something I read about a year ago from the Sunset Research Group. The words and examples I use are my own, but the ideas are based on what I read and remember. Any mistakes in logic, if any, I presume to be my own. Anyway, here goes.

Barter is basically exchanging goods or services. You have something they want, and they have something you want. How you do this is important. You can barter from a position of strength or weakness, as well as be a "barter trader". An example of bartering from a position of weakness would be where you give a lot more than you get in return, probably because you are desperate and in no position to get a better deal.

Bartering from a position of strength is where you store up a lot of what you think will be in demand and trade those things for even more valuable items. Lets say you had 50 top-brand rolls of Duct Tape :) but needed water and firewood. You could trade a precious roll of Duct Tape each day to someone for some drinking water from their well, and another roll for a days worth of firewood. While this is a vast improvement over bartering from a position of weakness, the problem here is that you will run out of Duct Tape.

As a barter trader you would act differently. You would trade 5 precious rolls of Duct Tape to the person with the well in exchange for being able to pump 10 gallons of water. The person with the well thinks this is a great deal since they can always find a use for Duct Tape, and they have all the water that they possibly could use anyway. You pump the water and keep half for yourself. Next you go to the person with the firewood, who could use some Duct Tape too but needs water as much as you do. You can offer to trade them 5 gallons of your water in return for a cart load of fallen wood that is just laying around on their wooded property. You suggest trying this everyday for awhile. Sounds good to them, so now you go back to the person with the well and tell them you will trade them half a cart load of firewood every day for being able to pump 10 gallons from their well each day. This makes them even happier than when they got the Duct Tape since they need firewood too. So by being a barter trader you have got yourself 5 gallons of water everyday and half a cart load of firewood everyday, for only 5 rolls of Duct Tape. The others also all benefit by getting things they badly need without paying much of a "price".

Naturally, the best part of the deal is you still have lots of Duct Tape.

-- Rob Michaels (, May 05, 1999



Betty had a bout with bad barter

which made Betty bitter--

Betty didn't barter butter

but it didn't matter--

Betty's batch of bounty

bade a barkers banter--

But the barker bet he bought her

with his better barter--

So betty bantied with the barker

whose phony bounty bit her--

But I bet he couldn't bite her

If but only Betty bantied better

by mikeymac "Beware the Bard"

-- spun@lright (, May 05, 1999.

spun@lright: LOL, thanks.

I intended that the post was supposed to be helpful yet fun to read. Oh well, guess I should have used something other than Duct Tape to make a point. Live and learn.

-- Rob Michaels (, May 05, 1999.

I have given some thought to the need for barter. My only exposure came from a friends membership in a barter club. It did not turn out well. The format called for those belonging, to issue and receive *credits* which they coulddraw upon from any member of the club. On the face of it it seemed to have merit, but the nature of the participants quickly took over. It seems many attempted to bring the disparity of earning potential to the forum.

You can probably extrapolate the rest from there. Negotiations soon became heated, feelings were hurt (as well as friendships), those that had banked some credits wanted their due, or else! Ken, the bookkeeper, became arbitrator, sounding board,receptionist, and eventually MIA.

The other curious thing that happened, the local government heard of the clubs initial success', attempted to require registration, levee fees, taxes etc and was soon followed by the State government and all that goes with that. Fortunately for them, it broke up before it found any more palms up bureaucracies at the door.

The only possible solution that I could see, would have a 1 for 1 hourly estimate. agreed upon by all, and I mean ALL,

(husbands, wives, signifant others etc.) that would define the scope of work, time frames involved, oath to secrecy,

release of responsibility (for injury, workmanship, collateral damages,) be free from usuary, legalities, politics. Sounds

possible but it would take a leap of faith to get there. Or is that a heap of faith.

-- spun@lright (, May 05, 1999.

Probably both a leap and a heap! I hadn't heard of this type of barter 'club' before - they get some 'credit' in my book simply for trying something different, even though it didn't work out.

Barter may be a way of life for some, depending on what actually happens. In this post I really didn't go into services, but I have posted before that a person's skills and knowledge will be very important, just as they are now, but even more so since they can't be stolen, they go where you go, don't take up storage space, and can be used to barter for tangibles.

-- Rob Michaels (, May 05, 1999.

Unless you're bartering at some community- source area or store where the general value of things has been determined, barter is a one-on-one individual issue. As such, it is more relevant to consider the human facet than the economic one.

If I have to haggle over every item I own with a stranger, I am going to be hard pressed to come out on top, or to do so without offending somebody else who doesn't get the best deal. If I have to bargain with a friend, that's a different story. If I give him a can of coffee it's because he tells me he really likes coffee. Maybe he'll give me a big can of peanut butter. Not because the economics of the situation drove it; because we are neighbors and friendly.

Many of the barter issues that become problems become problems with money, as well. And in the end, this usually boils down to a different way of thinking in modern society than was had once upon a time by frontier/country folk. It's a little more laid back in a sense; people help each other not because it was worth a cent extra, but because that's what good people do. Someday you may need help and they'll be there. Someday one of you may have nothing and the other one will give out water or food or duct tape or firewood -- or a place by their own fire -- because that's what friends and friendly neighbors do. I had an interesting experience recently. Hang in there, this relates. I went out to meet this fellow I'd met via email in this forum. We were out on this tract of land about as close to the middle of nowhere as you can be without moving to Nebraska. :-) Literally it's wilderness. He and his wife and son are chainsawing their way through a 5- acre forest, preparing to do some clearing so they can live there. And while I was there we talked about the land.

I was concerned about building permits. Naw, not a problem, he says. I was concerned about zoning laws. Naw, not a problem, he says. I was concerned about what other neighbors might think if somebody chopped up a totally dead tree on their property (which they haven't even visited in 25 years and isn't fenced), because after all it's theirs. And so on. And I realized at one point that I'd been living in the city too long. I was neurotic. Everything I thought of related to the ASSUMPTION that people were uptight, that everything was fiercely owned and not shared without express permission, that there was almost certain to be a million bureaucratic reasons why nobody could actually just buy some land and go live on it and raise animals. Laugh if you will, but where I'm from, finding any rental property that will let you have a cat is nearly impossible, so the idea that it's okay to have cows in your lawn was a little beyond me.

So fast-forward to the next day. I tell my coworkers how excited I am about this land out there, and about the remote but hopeful possibility that maybe, somehow, I could get a teeny little piece of it for myself. They immediately, without even hearing me out, began jumping in with negative comments. No way could I build my own house, there's too many permits, and there's probably zoning laws against it. Or against having animals. And if people hunt out there, hey bullets travel and they might shoot me. And it's not safe because of coyotes and mountain lions. And, and, and.... and I sat there wishing I had never brought it up. I thought gods, they are so uptight and negative!

And then I realized that, to a lesser degree, I had been the same way. This guy was, I think, trying to get me to understand that living in the country like that is a lifestyle, not just a location.

Now I think I'm getting it. And I realize how far we have diverged from basic LIVING and government (local or major) intrusions, that all those assumptions would be automatic for us.

Well barter is in the same category. Because in the end, if I trade somebody a few cups of flour for a big fish they caught, it isn't just because we calculated the greenback value and agreed. It's because he's a neighbor, he's got a fish I might enjoy for supper and he needs some flour that I've got for baking. If he needed the flour and didn't have anything I'd offer it anyway, but if he's a decent human, he'd eventually make it up to me one way or another.

That's a human element; a level of trust; a level of cooperation. Barter without that is no different than using money for purchases. It's just replacing money with credits, or just agreeing to 'skip' the money and yet still operating on the basis of its value. I guess the lesson here is that learning to barter is really a great idea. Learning to be a good neighbor and friend would be even better.

PJ in TX

-- PJ Gaenir (, May 05, 1999.

PJ: You have come right to the heart of the matter, in more ways than one. The whole point of looking at barter in the light of not only helping yourself, but at the same time helping others just as much, is that it really works best. That is the another major difference between what I referred to as bartering from a position of strength as opposed to barter trading. The "strength" isn't really that strong after all.

-- Rob Michaels (, May 05, 1999.

One of the people that I do freelance art for recently did a rather major piece of bartering. She traded website work for a new roof. Barter happens all the time in the art field. It works rather well.

-- d (d@dgi.old), May 06, 1999.

Barn raisin's and rendezvous' YAHOO!!! Git fiddles, 'n honey dews. Respect and integrity, family and Sunday worship, OH OH here comes the blight and hail storm crew!!!

-- spun@lright (, May 06, 1999.

I have been without heat and a neighbor brought me wood. When my power was out for a week in the winter, another neighbor took my children in while I stayed at home to keep the pipes from freezing. I have been without food for my children and a neighbor brought me venison. I have been stuck in a ditch and a neighbor pulled me out. I have been flooded and a neighbor helped me move furniture. I never had to tell or ask, they knew and just helped. If the initial brunt of y2k is severe, anything I have my neighbors are welcome to share.

As for barter, I recently exchanged art lessons for a professional service. I really think it was his way of allowing me to keep my pride and dignity. I don't think he really needs the lessons.

Country people are like that, if you become part of them. When I lived in the suburbs for ten years, I never even knew my neighbors.

-- gratefull (, May 06, 1999.

and then there is the question of profiteering...when does profit become exploitation?ya don't want to get shot because your prices are too high,but coming from a capitalist society,it's natural to want to profit as much as and demand can become viscious if there's no supply

-- zoobie (, May 06, 1999.

gratefull is right, country people indeed do tend to be very up front about bartering, as well as buying/selling. Where I have moved here in Northwest Arkansas, it is quite common for people to ask if you are using something or not -- they would like to buy or swap something for it. Likewise, if you mention that you are interested in something, they may know of so-and-so who has one, they will ask. And so on and so forth. It took a little while for me to get used to, but it does make a lot of sense (and why buy something new when you can buy the same thing cheap?). And this is exactly the kind of community to have when Y2K comes knocking.

-- Jack (, July 09, 1999.

Helping others without expecting anything in return reminded me of this story:

: Joe was driving home one evening, on a two-lane country road. This : small mid-western community, was almost as slow as his beat-up :Pontiac. : But he never quit looking. Ever since the factory closed, he'd been : unemployed, and with winter raging on, the chill had finally hit :home. : : It was a lonely road. Not very many people had a reason to be on it, : : unless they were leaving. Most of his friends had already left. :They had : families to feed and dreams to fulfill. But he stayed on. After :all, this was : Where he buried his mother and father. He was born here and knew the : : country. He could go down this road blind, and tell you what was on :either : side, and with his headlights not working, that came in handy. : : It was starting to get dark and light snow flurries were coming down. : : He'd better get a move on. You know, he almost didn't see the old : lady, stranded on the side of the road. But even in the dim light :of day, : he could see she needed help. So he pulled up in front of her : Mercedes and got out. His Pontiac was still sputtering when he :approached her. : Even with the smile on this face, she was worried. No one had :stopped : To help for the last hour or so. Was he going to hurt her? He :didn't : look safe, he looked poor and hungry. He could see that she was : frightened, standing out there in the cold. He knew how she felt. :It was that : chill that only fear can put in you. He said, "I'm here to help you :ma'am. : Why don't you wait in the car where it's warm. By the way, my name :is Joe. : : Well, all she had was a flat tire, but for an old lady, that was bad : enough. : : Joe crawled under the car looking for a place to put the jack, : skinning his knuckles a time or two. Soon he was able to change the : tire. But he had to get dirty and his hands hurt. As he was : tightening up the lug nuts, she rolled down her window and began to :talk to him. : She told him that she was from St. Louis and was only just passing : through, she couldn't thank him enough for coming to her aid. Joe :just smiled as : he closed her trunk. : : She asked him how much she owed him. Any amount would have been all : right with her. She had already imagined all the awful things that : could have happened had he not stopped. Joe never thought twice :about the : money. This was not a job to him. This was helping someone in :need, and God : knows there were plenty who had given him a hand in the past. He :had lived : his whole life that way, and it never occurred to him to act any :other : way. He told her that if she really wanted to pay him back, the next :time she saw : someone who needed help, she could give that person the assistance :that they : needed, and Joe added...and think of me. He waited until she started :her car and : drove off. It had been a cold and depressing day, but he felt good as :he : headed for home, disappearing into the twilight. : : A few miles down the road the lady saw a small cafe. She went in to : grab a bite to eat, and take the chill off before she made the last :leg of : her trip home. It was a dingy looking restaurant. Outside were two : old gas pumps. The whole scene was unfamiliar to her. The cash :register : was like the telephone of an out of work actor-it didn't ring much. :Her : waitress came over and brought a clean towel to wipe her wet hair. : She had a sweet smile, one that even being on her feet for the whole :day : couldn't erase. : : The lady noticed that the waitress was nearly eight months pregnant, : but she never let the strain and aches change her attitude. The old : lady wondered how someone who had so little could be so giving to a : stranger. Then she remembered Joe. : : After the lady finished her meal, and the waitress went to get her : change from a hundred dollar bill, the lady slipped right out the :door. She : was gone by the time the waitress came back. She wondered where the :lady : could be, then she noticed something written on a napkin. There were : : tears in her eyes, when she read what the lady wrote. It said, "You :don't : owe me a thing, I've been there too. Someone once helped me out, the :way : I'm helping you. If you really want to pay me back, here's what you :do. : Don't let the chain of love end with you. : : Well, there were tables to clear, sugar bowls to fill, and people to : serve, but the waitress made it through another day. That night when :she got : home from work and climbed into bed, she was thinking about the money : : and what the lady had written. How could she have known how much :she and : her husband needed it? With the baby due next month, it was going to :be : hard. : : She knew how worried her husband was, and as he lay sleeping next to : her, she gave him a soft kiss and whispered soft and low, :"Everything's : gonna be all right; I love you, Joe."

-- Anita (, July 09, 1999.

Better have a wheel barrow or wagon to haul all this barter stuff around.

-- Y2K, ` la Carte by Dancr near Monterey, California (, July 11, 1999.

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