Sep 29, 2008

Credit, Debit, Cash and BARTER

I've never taken an economics class, but seventy years on God's good earth gives me a little knowledge of how things work. So let's rank them from worst to best, from apparent moral and economic standpoints:
  1. Credit means borrowing, with a promise to pay later. The result is that someone is a debtor and another is the debt holder. This system facilitates greed that motivates consumption. Clearly, most borrowers spend more than they should. The sin of usury may be involved (although reasonable interest is allowed because of money inflation and taxes on savings).
  2. Debit means paying with a card that automatically subtracts money already deposited to a bank account. A key reason for debit cards appears to be ease of payment and fear of theft of cash. Debit cards involve more risk than credit cards and also mean the buyer pays more for goods and services. Both credit and debit cards can lead to a totalitarian society where the state keeps track of who purchases what.
  3. Cash means paying with money/currency. This medium allows the easy and anonymous exchange of many different kinds of goods through an intermediate value established and valued by the government. Virtually every country in the world robs its citizens of their cash by printing more and more money and causing inflation.
  4. Barter means directly exchanging/trading goods and services, without the use of credit, debit, or cash. Barter establishes the true value of material, because both sides agree on what and how much to exchange. Barter usually replaces money as the method of exchange in times of monetary crisis.
Comparisons can be made with our current economic problems and bad economic situations in the past that were followed by a barter economy. The first barter exchange system was the Swiss WIR Bank. It was founded in 1934 as a result of currency shortages after the stock market crash of 1929.

In the difficult 1990s, Russians reacted by using barter (veksels and zachety were the main money surrogates). As a percentage of industrial sales, bartering steadily increased from 5% in 1992 to nearly 55% in 1998. For more information on the relatively recent Russian barter experience, see here.

I also recommend that the reader examine "Barter" in the Wikipedia Encyclopedia. You'll learn that:
  • Organized barter has grown to conduct third party bartering throughout the world to the point now where virtually every country has a formalized barter and trade network of some kind. A barter exchange provides the record-keeping, brokering expertise and monthly statements to each member. "Barter dollars" are the exchange medium.
  • Complex business models based on the concept of barter are today possible since the advent of Web 2.0 technologies.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've always wondered if Catholic parishioners could do far more for each other than most of them typically do. As the times continue to get worse, I'm willing to bet that the Catholic Church in America will only get stronger.

For example: Pot-luck dinners could become a nightly or perhaps a thrice-weekly affair, which would certainly cut down on most folk's grocery bills. Work on parishioner's homes could be done in return for gas and oil bills; and parishioners could get together to homeschool each other's children. A rotating staff -- some, perhaps, with CNA or RN backgrounds -- could be put to use to watch over the elderly in the parish, and could also be used to watch each other's kids while the parents are still at work. Also, a parish or a group of parishes could request group rates from the local hospitals for medical care, and group rates from the local pharmacies and medical equipment businesses. Also, if a family has a particular need for something or some service, they could post a 'ticket' on a bulletin board, and when someone has some thing or some trade they need in return that the first family can provide or perform, their 'tickets' could be exchanged and taken off the bulletin board.

And if all that sounds too good to be true, or if it doesn't sound like that would ever happen in your parish, you might want to take a look at how the Mormons, or the Baptists organize themselves. All of these things are already being done in other faith communities.

Catholics, I believe, need to start acting like family more often. It should be a source of a very strong identification to belong to a certain parish. Once that happens, all of these things are possible.

I have witnessed far too many ugly things happen amongst Catholic parishioners than I care to mention here; and I'm afraid that it is true that most of us have a long way to go before ever realizing such things in most of our parishes. But it can be done; and as the crisis in the economy worsens, our parishioners should really start looking out for one another, to the point that we begin to act like a very strong, united community.