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How To Barter For Things We Can't Barter For

By James  Stout, Writer for BarterNews

Bartering 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, once  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:

  1. Reduce your water usage by bartering for these goods and services:
    • 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 plumber.
    • A well-driller, so that we won't have to use the city's water.
  2. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. Alternative means of water-heating: a solar hot-water system, a propane water-heater.
  3. Alternatives to electrically powered devices: a propane stove.
  4. Means of generating our own electricity: a hydroelectric generator, a windmill, a solar generator.
  5. 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:

  1. Telephones, car phones, phone repair, phone installation.
  2. Supplemental goods and services: an answering machine, an answering service, a fax machine.
  3. Alternative means of communication: a ham radio, a CB radio, email (if the Internet Service Provider is a member of a barter club).

Insurance. We can barter for:

  1. Insurance. In many barter clubs, some of the members are insurance agents.
  2. 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 physician, etc.

Postage. The Postal Service doesn’t' barter, but we can barter for some of these goods and services:

  1. The private companies which provide post-office boxes.
  2. Local courier services.
  3. Local distribution of flyers. Instead of paying cash for the postage in a local mass mailing, barter for someone to deliver the ads door-to-door.
  4. Envelopes, mailing lists, envelope-stuffing services, envelope printing.
  5. 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.

People. Generally, we do not consider human beings to be barterable items. But we can find many instances in which they are traded:

  1. Slaves. Until modern times, slaves have been available for cash or trade.
  2. Government agencies. They frequently trade personnel.
  3. 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.
  4. Sexual partners. In San Francisco, a prostitute offered her services to an attorney when she needed his representation after an arrest; he declined.
  5. Prisoners of war. After the Korean War, 3,500 American POWs were exchanged for 100,000 Chinese and North Korean soldiers.
  6. Spies. In 1962, U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers was traded for Soviet agent Rudolf Abel.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.