Five-Fold Path towards a Robust Economy
Page 2 of 4

First Path
Hit "barter" on almost any search engine these days and you will be taken to the sites of a good many different trading concerns whose main process involves some sort of barter exchange.

So what? Wasn't that barter the cumbersome old anachronism we did so well to leave behind, centuries and millennia ago, in favor of currencies of exchange more easily handled?

Originally currency, around which market mechanisms evolved to become the present system with accumulated advantages to some and accumulated disadvantages to others, was a simplifying short cut from the more basic exchange system, barter. It got to be too complicated holding two chickens, three pounds of flour, seven cords of firewood, a screwdriver and three knit sweaters not for their own sake but in pursuit of further trades with various other people. So everything became expressed instead in terms of money, which is far simpler and more convenient to carry around and exchange for various goods and services.

Because a currency has to be backed by a system in which people have reflexive or automatic confidence, the money system becomes in effect the prisoner of many other dominant structures and institutions. Many of these in turn are themselves pursuing worthy purposes—but their net overall effect often clouds or deranges the directory aspects of a market economy.

Today there reportedly exist computer software programs sophisticated enough to handle the complexities of barter. Through some of these, a very high level of sophisticated economic activity can be maintained in even the worst general economic conditions.

Make no mistake about this: I am not an expert here; I am in no position to compare and evaluate the various softwares involved. But with the Internet being what it is, a little determined researching should go a long way toward providing you access to what you need, and toward some sort of reliability basis.

Reportedly, several major cities in the northeastern United States, among them Ithaca, New York, have used such computer-coordinated bartering systems to restore prosperity where poverty was dominant—and apparently with less concept to guide the process than you find in this one brief. Here is how the system they've been using reportedly works:

One puts into the system whatever one wants to, for whatever others in the system are willing to pay for it, and draws from the system whatever products and services one desires within the systematized price of the values one has put in. In the deepest inner cities, I've been advised that at times and in some neighborhoods the U.S. dollar currency has in many instances become only a secondary basis of economic activity, people having managed to build enough value from what they've put into the system to trade wherever they please to advantage.

All this simply means that, based on the competence of the software and the prevalence of networked computers, and the competence and integrity of the people supervising the largely automatic system, a kind of electronic currency under whatever name has grown up to provide a more even playing field to the participants than they had been finding from accumulated disadvantage in the national and world economy.

Most of the existing companies engaging in barter appear to have "global" in their names but not in their operations. (Nor am I in a position to evaluate adequately the relative merits of the existing companies currently pursuing some sort of barter system.) You may need to pull people together locally to comprise your own system in order to appropriately address local needs and resources, whether or not you link up with one of the existing companies to give your exchange capabilities greater clout. This is a system which, like conventional currencies and national economies, can be abused and can damage people. This first of the "five-fold paths" seems simple in principle and actually is, but also may require the utmost attention in terms of how well you select the people who will supervise it initially, and who and what will comprise it.

Even if most of the information on this one path, as compared to the other paths, has yet to be developed, one thing is clear: this bartering approach allows even the most poverty-stricken or recession-stricken region to focus, not on what it doesn't have but on what it does have, and so can immediately start building from there. Again:  what's crucial in a down economy is not what people don't have but what people aren't doing. Get people doing, get them producing things, and the economy heads upward.

A computer-coordinated barter system allows people a potentially far wider range of options wherein to pursue their most productive value and to exchange some of that for other things they desire.

There are certainly problems to overcome, the main one that of safeguarding the system and the values it will contain. But it allows people to no longer have to depend upon the systems and institutions which have left them at cumulative disadvantage. As wealth is created, they can re-enter the main system but from strength instead of from dependent weakness.

You can get away from what you don't control, by refocussing from what you don't have, to what you do have and thus do control. What you do control, you can do things with immediately. When you don't control, it can take you a long, long time to achieve desired things.

Your local economy doesn't have to have "money." You do have to have people producing—producing what they can do well, and exchanging for what they need. In a marketplace, money and barter are two alternative methods. Throughout the world, there are some regions where money is effective and appropriate ... and there are all those places in the world where it is not. But there is no need for poverty to prevail there. In all those places where money is inadequate, a good barter exchange system is another way to steer people and resources to productive and more productive uses.


Regions mired in poverty
I keep seeing reports and analyses with 5-year plans, 10-year plans, and the general tacit understanding that, in some regions of the world, twenty or a hundred years could elapse and the people there would be no further out of poverty than they are now. That just is not acceptable. Nor should it be acceptable to the advantaged regions of the world, because they need good trading partners far more now than they ever needed cheap labor. We are now all the poorer for it when anyone is poorer—for partial explanation of this phenomenon, please see the article on Abundance and Scarcity in the Inventions section of this website.

Pretty clearly, people in poor economies are focussed, not on what they have and therefore can do immediate things with, but on what they don't have, and that keeps them from being in control of their own lives.

It's what people are not doing that keeps those economies poor.

It certainly appears that a well-run barter system can let people become productive immediately, and in control of their own lives. Once people are productive, that economy is no longer poor.

This effect can be within months or even weeks, not awaiting the five-year or ten-year or hundred-year pleasure of outsiders with only a bureaucratic stake in the outcome or who are following the agenda of those whose vital stake isn't right there with you.

Get your first advice from people whose immediate vital stakes are right there with you. Entertain a wider range of ideas, including from outsiders such as myself and even from those bloomin' advisors, but depend first upon those whose stakes are your stakes!

Finally, as regards this first of the five-fold paths: moving toward a world where a number of exchange systems exist in parallel at different levels, and in different locations, means moving toward a world in which people and corporations, finding themselves remorselessly disadvantaged in one system, can find an alternative which permits them to perform at or near their highest, which in turn creates more of the wealth in which we all variously seek to share. I don't expect bartering systems to replace most existing national currencies, but I expect them to parallel these and to help cause the existing main systems to perform better.

I can be much briefer in presenting the other four of the "five-fold paths," because in many instances I can just refer to existing resources already in hand or widely available, simply putting these into the context in which they answer the issue of the economy and level of well-being.

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