A Little Ray of Sunshine

Monday, April 11, 2005

Economics

I was reading over at Insert-Blog-Here: http://haloscan.com/tb/inh765/110667655630877799 Did I do that right? I'm not sure. Anyway, it is in his January archives, if you go there. On economics, part six, on the value of money. I don't really understand economics, at least, I don't think I do. I read Thomas Sowell's Basic Economics, and that made sense, but whatever happens in the American economy is just plain confusing. Maybe it's too complex.
What I do understand is that something in economics is changing, at least where I live. Economics, in my little part of the world, is the exchange of something you have for something I have, in which both of us feel we got the better part of the deal. It always used to involve money, but lately it doesn't.
I teach 'cello lessons, and have half-a-dozen students. In the last couple of months, two of them have come to me, independently, and offered a barter rather than cash. In both cases, the offer is of something of more value to me than to then. The first, new gut strings (very pricey, you can look them up if you like, they are a matched set, silver wrapped) and new rosin, in exchange for five 1 hour lessons. I charge $20 an hour, which is the going rate. That one was a no-brainer. The student is a beginning luthier (instrument maker) and gets such things at wholesale cost. I have to order from a catalog or through a retail outlet. Both of us thought we got the best of the deal. The other student (actually, his mom) is offering a trade of a grand piano for lessons. Recently inherited from a relative, they now have two, which is more than they need or have room for. The offer is under consideration. Should the piano prove to be in generally good condition, I'll take the offer. I couldn't buy one for the value of lessons they're offering to exchange for.
Now, our landlord owns just this one property and lives two hours away. So, we live in an old house, of the sort that constantly needs something done, and usually multiple somethings at once. He was just down last week to work on the plumbing, and when he called two days later to make sure it was working right, I had to report the front steps railing was coming off. There is also a room which needs new paint/wallpaper/something, but half of one wall of paint has come off. A moment of silence on the phone. "If you'll fix that railing and the room, I'll let you take $8 per hour plus supplies off your rent. Just document it for me." "OK." He benefits, we benefit.
Before this year, I never had anyone offer such barters. I looked it up on the IRS website, there's no information about documenting such for taxes, so it must not be something they consider. Doubly valuable to all of us, in that case. Is it just our area that this is happening in? It is a rather poor area of the country, and rural, too. Well, these barter offers really make my day. I just wish we could do more of them, and for more of our basic needs. Look, if any of you are down in southeast Idaho, and you want 'cello lessons and you've got eggs or beef or venison or whatever, or something else I might be able to use, let me know. A barter economy makes great sense to me, and it seems to cost less, too. I'm not sure why that is, but I guess we must be cutting someone else out of the picture, or maybe just cutting the transfer costs of goods/services. Can someone explain this?

Edit: That attempt to link didn't work at all. Okay. Click on this: http://ibh765.blogspot.com/2005_01_01_ibh765_archive.html then scroll down to the post. I am only moderately tech-savvy. That is to say, I know when I should step away from the computer and get help. "Honey! The computer is doing something!" Evidently this is one of those things I do not understand how to make work. I'll figure it out someday.

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