Who run Bartertown? Why, Master Blaster run Bartertown. Everybody knows that. or, at least those of us who remember Beyond Thunder dome with Mel Gibson and Tina Turner know that the tiny little man and the giant boy run Bartertown. Set in a post apocalyptic world recovering from nuclear devastation, Bartertown sits amidst the wasteland and has become a oasis for what remains of humanity. While a total work of fiction, the concept of these types of communities cropping up around the world is not without precedent. Many of the worlds outlying communities as society expanded beyond its chains were exactly of the nature that Bartertown possessed. Outposts were places where one could trade what they had with someone else for what they needed. Whether that would be food or weapons, there is no difference when examining the concept of barter.
When you think of barter in practical terms, it becomes nothing more than one person trading an item of value with an item another person has of an equal, or hopefully greater value. Today, we all barter when we use cash and credit to buy things. We trade our labor with to our boss in exchange for a paycheck. The we take the cash from that paycheck and trade that paycheck for rent, utilities and food, gas for the car and so forth. As long as the cash holds a sufficient value for what we receive, everything is fine. But when that cash value declines, it becomes little more than pieces of paper. And the value of our currency is in fact declining in the world market, forcing us to pay more of it for the goods we import to sell to our neighbors.
As we continue to witness the erosion of the free market prior to the coming collapse of society as we know it today, resulting in a worldwide socialist society known as the new world order by some many people will be forced to resort to that barter system that the pioneers knew when this country was founded. Cash will become useless, if not illegal as commercial trade will be carried on through the use of credits attributed to our own personal bank accounts, tracked and controlled by the biometric ID cards we will be forced to carry if we wish to buy or sell.
But enough doom and gloom. What you probably would rather read about are the practical attributes of barter. One of the plus factors of barter is that the government doesn’t have their thumbs on your barter goods, so they don’t really know what kind of wealth you have, and what portion of that wealth is being traded away to another, as well as how much of an increase or decrease in your wealth that you are obtaining. Of course, from the governments viewpoint, this is bad thing as they have no idea how much to tax you, or how to collect those taxes.
In practical terms there are various commodities that you could begin to hoard, or store in preparation for the coming times. Food is one commodity worth stocking, but you have to be careful of what and how you store your food. Things like coffee, tea, powdered milk and eggs and so forth make great long term storage commodities and are well worth looking into. Ammunition is another high value item, but make sure you store a popular caliber, and not something of a really obtuse caliber that many wouldn’t use in the firearms they will have on hand. Check into some of the firearm blogs and magazines to see what the statistics show for caliber ownership in your area and go from there.
Alcohol is something I have read as being a hot barter item, but it comes with some dangers. For one thing, while it has a good shelf life in many cases, it also lures some types of people that would rather simply take it from you, rather than trade for it. But then they would take everything else you have as well. However, if no one knows you have alcohol up the yazoo, they won’t be looking for you either. but long term, alcohol is easy to ferment or distill, and I’m betting it will quickly become a commonly manufactured product leading into, and after the collapse. Which of course will devalue its worth in the barter market.
So, I would recommend that you stick with easily handled long term food stuffs such as those already mentioned, as well as flour and grains. Another thing you may wish to do is develop some skill that would be of value, such as knife making and trading, or gunsmithing. If you have ample land, perhaps you may wish to learn how to raise and trade horses. There is also the meat industry, so raising beef or sheep for meat, and learning to butcher them will become a sought after trade. Natural healing and knowledge of wild medicinal herbs and plants will also become a barter-able trade as well.
When the infrastructure collapses, there will be a marked decline in motorized vehicle usage and ownership, with perhaps the government being the only owners and operators of useable vehicles. The Hollywood film industry keeps hawking these odd looking pieced together vehicles rumbling around the streets in the post apocalyptic world, but they never explain how these people manage to find enough fuel to operate them.
Whatever you decide to do, know that bartering will become the means of trade in the collapse of the worlds currencies. Bear in mind that the things that sustain life will become the currency of tomorrow. Widescreen TVs and I-Phones will become useless and fit for landfill rubble, and nothing more. Gold and silver will retain some value, but at some pint even these precious metals will lose their luster. After all, how many cups of coffee can you make with a roll of silver dimes? Learn to forage and fend for yourself, and learn skills that will allow you to produce more than what you need. That way you will be able to get those things that you may not be able to produce for yourself, and add to your position. Learn to make do, and you will survive the coming times. And remember, Master Blaster ran Bartertown because he controlled the supply of pig feces, and, more importantly, he had the knowledge and skills to survive.