(American Spectator) — Barter is as old as human history. According to a story in the Wall Steet Journal, it is yet practiced as a facet of the 21st century global economy. Germany, for example, “sends coal to Brazil for coffee, and imports cattle from Denmark in return for agricultural implements. Finland sends timber to the U.K. for coal. Argentina trades grain to Spain for railway equipment.” And so on.

Farmers markets and yard sales are certainly popular in small town America. Every summer weekend in Texas features some 200 towns with farmers markets. Here in Salmon, Idaho, three summertime produce markets are a welcome respite from the tyranny of our single grocery store. The local radio station has a morning weekdays show called “Swap Shop,” where goods and services are noted, and listeners call-in with their own for-sale items, queries, and promotion of services. The common theme is the lack of a middleman, and transactions in cash or barter. This time of year firewood is a big commodity. And following a recent heavy snowstorm here, I shoveled an elderly lady’s driveway, walks, and wooden back deck. Roughly one hour’s labor: $12; and since she was pleased with my work, a bonus cup of coffee.

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