The truly oldest 'profession'

Despite the countless lurid tangents such a title might inspire, I have no desire to talk too much about prostitution. It can be viewed as a survival mechanism, a relatively specialized evolutionary trait the human species has developed and honed to an unusual degree. It too, involves a central element of barter -- that of bodily pleasure (or, if looked at in a more holistic/comprehensive way, even actual procreative opportunity) in exchange for sustenance, protection and (if done right) social status. It is rather the core element of barter itself that has been on my mind quite a bit recently.

As I may have mentioned, I am in the middle of trying to launch a business. The target industry is widespread (my opinion is actually that it’s all-encompassing). Even though there are a handful of similar companies being built and going bust every other week, my specific area is still considered niche.

One of the many challenges facing a startup is that of operating capital. Assuming that everything else is already in place (people, infrastructure/tooling, business plan, product, client), the cost of getting off the ground can be prohibitive. Operating expenses of getting raw material in the door (let alone stocked in sufficient quantity to buffer sudden fluctuations in order volume) can be prohibitive, and can easily squash a small business which does not have sufficient capital to absorb this.

I understand that revenue is a vitally important metric in obtaining funding and/or credit. I also realize that barter units do not pay for overhead, rent, electricity or payroll. I am also cognizant of the fact that our friendly Infernal Retinue Service has extended its tentacles into this realm as well, and is likely to be as favorable in its treatment of anyone caught or suspected to be bartering as if they were a political organization called Constitutional Warriors to Break the Stranglehold of Two-Party Oligarchy and Corporate Personhood.

HOWEVER:

  • Every ‘dollar equivalent’ unit of economic activity that is conducted without the use of debt-based/backed fiat currency reduces society’s reliance on and exploitation by those controlling said currency
  • There are potentially multiple ways to structure commercial agreements whereby the fact of barter becomes more difficult to prove. Why SHOULDN’T one be allowed to perform services for a business partner at a steep (say, 90% or 95% discount)? Why COULDN’T goods and services exchange hands as part of a ‘trial-period’ offer?
  • Businesses – no matter how mature or efficient – will generally have excess capacity / inventory / manpower available at any given time. Creating and maintaining this excess costs capital and effort, minimizing it (or even the NEED for it) is the key to many successful businesses. Think overstock.com, Priceline, the myriad budget-airfare/hotel/car-rental sites. Think of the 30% / 50% / 75% / 90% clearances of select items in your box store of choice. Bakery goods or fresh fruit/vegetables, the cheese aisle at your local grocery. This excess ‘capacity’ (whatever form it takes) creates a pool of resources that makes sense for a business to divest itself of, even at or sometimes BELOW cost.
  • For all intents and purposes, not being federally recognized 'lawful money' or 'legal tender', any transactions in PM terms would automatically fall into this category.
  • A barter system has strong potential to foster LOCALIZED economic activity, keeping capital and ‘capital’ local, rather than siphoning profits (and of course eventually the businesses themselves) outside local communities/states/nations.
  • As a statement of fact, rather than any suggestion, advice or instruction, physical exchange of goods and services can sometimes be viewed as leaving a trail not quite as obvious and trackable as one involving currency transfers via the banking system.

As an item of passing interest, here is a page from the FAQ of our friends at 33 Liberty:

"Is it legal for a business in the United States to refuse cash as a form of payment?

Section 31 U.S.C. 5103, entitled "Legal tender," states: "United States coins and currency [including Federal reserve notes and circulating notes of Federal reserve banks and national banks] are legal tender for all debts, public charges, taxes, and dues."

This statute means that all United States money as identified above is a valid and legal offer of payment for debts when tendered to a creditor. There is, however, no Federal statute mandating that a private business, a person, or an organization must accept currency or coins as payment for goods or services. Private businesses are free to develop their own policies on whether to accept cash unless there is a state law which says otherwise."

Uh-huh. Sure. Just make sure to stand well back from the blast radius of the air-to-surface projectile soon to be dispatched in literal or metaphoric terms at the foolhardy individual or business who actually IN PRACTICE attempts to "develop their own policies on whether to accept cash".

None of this is a panacea, and of course cannot necessarily be applied in all circumstances. The very real danger of big government stepping on the neck of any fledgling initiative of course exists (as it would in any case).

A few years ago, there was a user on the site who had actually proposed a similar schemed to his/her local community council. At the time, I had brought up the example of a local initiative called Northern Colorado Community Barter – an effort whose current fate I have not been able to track down. But other, larger/older/more diverse organizations such as SlowMoney persist. BerkShares appear not only to survive, but actually thrive. There is a long, checkered quiltwork of ‘unofficial’ currencies, both worldwide and in the United States. The most (in)famous examples are of course the still-unsentenced-though-convicted-since-nearly-three-years-ago Bernard Von Nothaus (GATA-endorsed writeup here, NYTimes hit piece here – even the TITLE is grossly misleading) – and our favorite current whipping boys, the cryptocurrencies. For a (relatively recent) TED-talk on the topic of so-called 'alternative' currencies, you can check out this link. The American Open Currency Standard is yet another potential source of information/inspiration (just be aware of possible connections/involvement with Lakota Bank, Mulligan Mint, etc.)

There is, of course, no guarantee that I will be able to make this idea an actual part of the business (assuming one is ever stood up at all --- the siren-song of steady salary paid to the obedient wage-slave has a will-sapping, powerful hold). But I will certainly do my damned best to make it at least a small part of my business model as I can (barter of services, not alternative currencies per se). And of course, once suppliers of critical components, electricity/other utilities and whatever other input channels I can cover are taken care of, potential clients whose trade involves precious metals will be receiving service offers I hope they will find difficult to turn down.

Stay thirsty, keep stacking, and don’t forget the words of United States Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina, Ms. Anne M. Tompkins:

“Attempts to undermine the legitimate currency of this country are simply a unique form of domestic terrorism,” U.S. Attorney Tompkins said in announcing the verdict. “While these forms of anti-government activities do not involve violence, they are every bit as insidious and represent a clear and present danger to the economic stability of this country,” she added. “We are determined to meet these threats through infiltration, disruption, and dismantling of organizations which seek to challenge the legitimacy of our democratic form of government.”

The irony is so thick, you can cut it with a machete. It so happens I could not agree more with the letter of the utterance. So, Ms. Tompkins – when can we expect to see an indictment, merciless prosecution and draconian sentencing of the legions of criminals involved in the creation and maintenance of the FedRes System, instead of those who actually try to adhere to the highest law of land?

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Key Economic Events Week of 11/28

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