Today’s prompt says ‘how would you fare in a world run on the barter system’? Fucking terribly, I think is the answer.
This feels like a particularly pertinent question to me at the moment, money is looming large in my consciousness, making me feel very small in my comparative poverty. Imagine it: there I stand, unwashed and slightly dazed, filthy pocket linings turned out and hanging flaccid at my corn-fed hip, a look of meek despair on my fat face, ‘where has all my money gone?’, I ask. What an image.
I think that playing around with imaginary money is a bad thing, it distances us from the actual worth of what we’re paying for, and how many man-hours actually make up its price. Debit cards are very bad. Bartering does, in many ways, seem a healthier and more sensible way of dealing with the exchange of goods and services. I have in fact found that the times I have been without money have been some of the easiest. Until I have to go somewhere, or eat, or do pretty much anything away from the bubble of poor habit.
At the moment, M and I are trying to find somewhere to live. It is a chore. Every listing follows the same script; ‘no smokers, no pets, no DSS’. No dogs, no Irish. No income tax, no VAT, etc. ad nauseum. How are we supposed to live if landlords won’t accept money that has been doled out specifically for the purposes of helping us live? We are having to barter, not to reduce prices, but with our dignity, and the representation of how many countless others who stand by us, side by side (and uncomfortably close) as the Great Unwashed. We are having to barter with the facts. Yes, we are existing partially off housing benefit, but yes, we both work in the voluntary sector. Oh yeah, and sometimes both of us get ill. And can’t work. So that’s why we’re ostensibly benefit scum. There it is again, that image of the barrel shaped woman with her pockets turned out. ‘Please sir…’
What a strange position to find oneself in. I think bartering is the right way to do things. I also think bartering is the wrong way to do things. From a purely cultural and economical point of view. If we went around being lenient to every run-down lower-middle-class 20-something who asked for mercy, where would we be? ALL broke! That’s right, where do they get off, these people, asking for something they don’t deserve for less than it’s worth? That’s the way economies and empires crumble.
Why can’t we all just have everything all the time? I think that’s all I want.
I do, however, have beef with people (of all cultural backgrounds, I should add) bartering in high street shops. It’s just not how shops work, get some decency, you pig heads.