There is a common saying, attributed to Benjamin Franklin, “nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Besides acknowledging the mortality of human beings, Franklin made a point that echoes on centuries later, continuing to echo on as you read these words. That point is that we need money. And though there is no biological necessity for humans to have money, there are things that we need that we cannot practically obtain without it. Our society is shaped around money and so it is seemingly inevitable that we will be fined, charged, taxed and robbed until we die. But is there a better alternative to our current monetary system?
Enter the Barter. Bartering is the default transaction method for human beings. To simply exchange one thing for another is to participate in a human tradition that has been practiced across the vast majority of human history. Of course, humans came to develop a monetary system which created a middleman, known as money, for these transactions. Instead of simply exchanging something for something else, we now exchange something for a certain amount of money and then exchange that money for something else. While this system has its advantages, it suppresses the relevant advantages of bartering.
One of these advantages is simplicity. Most people don’t barter because they aren’t familiar with it as a mode of transaction. However, when they give it a try, they are often shocked at how simple and easy it is. By removing the middleman, bartering allows two people to instantly get what they need while getting rid of something they don’t. Neither person has to go and execute another transaction, their needs are already met.
Another advantage of bartering is avoiding waste. In our current economic system, consumption is one of the main ways that big companies are able to generate billions of dollars of profit over long periods of time. This system relies on consumers to dispose of their old things and buy new things and a large portion of the population plays along with this. Instead of gifting or trading things that they don’t need anymore, they throw them away and look to buy the next thing. Bartering still allows individuals to get rid of things that they don’t need but simultaneously provides others with things that they need. It creates more sustainable, eco-friendly cycles.
Yet another advantage of bartering is that it is an open system that is not dominated by a small group of privileged individuals. Bartering is a grassroots movement that is a sanctuary away from the never ending rat race that our economic system throws us into. Unlike the dominant economic model of the world today, it is not gamified in a way that only benefits a small group of wealthy people or corporations. It allows individuals to define value on their own terms and leaves the power in the hands of the people.
Perhaps most important to our day to day lives and overall well being is the fact that bartering helps build community. In our world today, you can go about your day without interacting with a single person. You can order things to your door, go through the self check out at the grocery and wear your headphones so no one will talk to you. Community is actively becoming less and less relevant in our daily lives. Bartering is the counter to ordering items online, going through the self checkout and wearing headphones. Bartering encourages new relationships, conversations and opportunities. Whether a simple transaction is completed or a new friendship formed, bartering fosters a sense of compassionate community that is severely lacking in our isolated worlds today.
Many of these examples have focused on physical objects but bartering can extend beyond the material world. Services can also be bartered and have the same benefits as material objects. It is simple, affordable, efficient and nurturing. Alset’s platform gives service providers like plumbers or landscapers the opportunity to exchange their service for a service they need, like perhaps a service from an electrician or dog-walker. And with the paid aspect of the app, there is always the option to charge for a service with traditional money.
Although bartering is not currently a mainstream practice within western culture, it is becoming increasingly practical and realistic as our world continues its trajectory into isolation and waste. So the next time you need a new set of wheels, consider giving your neighbor that blender you never use in exchange for her old bike instead of tossing the blender into a landfill and spending more of your hard earned cash.
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This post was written by Rc Diedrich. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.