How To Barter For
Things We Can't Barter For
James Harvey Stout (deceased). This material is now in the public
domain. The complete collection of Mr. Stout's writing is now at
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can never completely replace money.
- Our water bill.
- Our electric and
- Our telephone bill.
can never completely replace money. It can merely supplement our
cash. So we can't expect to live entirely by bartering, even if we
are a member of a barter club; Business Exchange's president, M.J.
McConnell, has joked, "Uncle Sam, the State of California, and the
waiter are not members." However, if we are imaginative, we can
barter for some of the goods and services which are usually not
available by bartering.
Our water bill. The water company
doesn't barter, but we can reduce our water bill by these
means, in one-to-one deals, or by spending a barter-club's units:
- Reduce your water usage by bartering for these goods and
- A plumber to fix our leaky faucets. The plumber can also
install a shower, which uses less water than a bath.
- The parts to do those jobs ourselves, instead of using a
- A well-driller, so that we won't have to use the city's
- Use bottled water for drinking.
Our electric and
heating bills. The electric company doesn't barter, but we can reduce
our electric bill by bartering for these goods and services:
- Alternative means of home-heating: a passive solar addition on
our home, storm windows, a more efficient home-heating system,
coal, a fireplace (and firewood to go into it), a kerosene or
propane heater, home insulation.
- Alternative means of water-heating: a solar hot-water system,
a propane water-heater.
- Alternatives to electrically powered devices: a propane stove.
- Means of generating our own electricity: a hydroelectric
generator, a windmill, a solar generator.
- Other goods and services: books regarding energy efficiency
and alternative energy, a consultant to help us with these plans,
the privilege of cutting firewood on someone's property, a co-op
with friends to buy a bulk quantity of heating oil at a discount.
Our telephone bill. The phone
company probably doesn't barter for the phone bill itself, but we can
barter for these items:
- Telephones, car phones, phone repair, phone installation.
- Supplemental goods and services: an answering machine, an
answering service, a fax machine.
- Alternative means of communication: a ham radio, a CB radio,
email (if the Internet Service Provider is a member of a barter
Insurance. We can barter for:
- Insurance. In many barter clubs, some of the members are
- We can barter for the things which prevent the disasters for
which we buy insurance. For example, we might get a smoke
detector, a brake repair for our car, a medical checkup from a
Postage. The Postal Service doesnt' barter,
but we can barter for some of these goods and services:
- The private companies which provide post-office boxes.
- Local courier services.
- Local distribution of flyers. Instead of paying cash for the
postage in a local mass mailing, barter for someone to deliver the
- Envelopes, mailing lists, envelope-stuffing services, envelope
- Other means of communicating. We can avoid the Postal Service
altogether by using email, faxes (with a fax machine and paper
which we got by bartering), and other means of communication.
(Refer to the section on bartering for our phone bill.)
People. Generally, we do not consider human
beings to be barterable items. But we can find many instances in
which they are traded:
- Slaves. Until modern times, slaves have been available for
cash or trade.
- Government agencies. They frequently trade personnel.
- Wives. In the early 1600s, about 150 "young and uncorrupt
girls" were imported, to be the wives of settlers who paid at
least 100 pounds of tobacco for each.
- Sexual partners. In San Francisco, a prostitute offered her
services to an attorney when she needed his representation after
an arrest; he declined.
- Prisoners of war. After the Korean War, 3,500 American POWs
were exchanged for 100,000 Chinese and North Korean soldiers.
- Spies. In 1962, U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers was traded for
Soviet agent Rudolf Abel.
- Students. These "exchange students" have an opportunity to
learn the language and meet the people of a foreign country during
a year-long visit -- while someone from that country stays in
their own home.
- Human sacrifices. People have been bartered to the gods in
exchange for good crops and military victories. When you go to
that extreme, it's time to be stopping your swapping.