Hand Over Hand: Barter and American Black Dollar

Many outside of the American Black Urban community have fallen hook, line and sinker for the white American propaganda campaign that the “hustler” must be involved in illegal or illicit pursuits. With possibly the exception of the acquirement of a tax id to and license to sell one’s wares this couldn’t be further from the truth. If you venture into the community with one of the children on a warm summer’s day, after a game of kickball and begin to feel overheated, you will be immediately and graciously escorted to the home of a candy lady. This cultural establishment that I have witnessed in St. Louis, Mo., E. St. Louis, Ill, Memphis, Tn, Biloxi, Ms, New Orleans, La, and Jacksonville, Fl is as enterprising and legal as the paperboy! Why we have not ever seen this sociological establishment in any of Tyler Perry, or Spike Lee’s movies is very strange, but I can definitely vouch for her existence in most of the southern regions of the country that I have been blessed to visit.

That method of securing a portion of income can only be enhanced more by a system of trade that skips the middle men. As the dollar sinks further and the degree of inflation increases, causing more paper dollars to exist, thus reducing the actual value of them, you in the American Black community will need to consider the immediate danger of dependence upon those rectangle illustrations of your former slave masters.

The hustlers skill set is as a master of the barter. Barter being an immediate compensation for one’s talents and produce. What you see in the person who is able to spend money on items in bulk, and sell them at a higher price is that they are able to avoid the pitfalls of the check and the overdraft. If you need the money, you simply go and procure it through your own efforts. There are varying usages of the term ‘barter’ however, that I would like to look at very briefly.

In Thomas H. Greco, Jr.’s book, succinctly entitled, “Money”, he makes mention that,” barter is frequently used to describe any exchange that does not utilize official money, but this is grossly inaccurate and misleading. An actual barter transaction involves only two parties, each of whom has something the other wants. When party A gives item X to party B, and receives item Y from party B in return, then a complete barter transaction has taken place…but something other than official money may be offered…This can be a personal IOU that must be ‘made good’ or redeemed at some later time…” My personal concern with this example is that the original intent of the dollar, or US legal tender, was to work as an IOU for those who owned gold and silver. It was exchanged for such value as printed, and yet these IOU’s began to proliferate as the rate of exchange grew. Now they no longer represent anything other than what we imagine them to.

The term “barter” is defined by “The American Heritage Dictionary” as a verb that means, “To trade goods or services without the exchange of money.” The book “Contracts in Trade and Transition” researched and written by Dalia Marin and Monika Schnitzer already denotes the usage of the barter system by countries when they write, “Barter trade has received much attention lately. But it is not a new phenomenon. In the 1980s, in the aftermath of the international debt crisis, barter became prevalent in international trade with developing countries and Eastern Europe. Since the 1990s, with the domestic debt crisis in transition economies, barter has continued to be a dominant phenomenon in domestic trade in these countries…Barter in the strict sense of the word refers to an import that is paid entirely or partly with an export from the latter country without using foreign exchange…”

What we are discussing is the age old practice of trading a good for a service, a service for a good, or a good for a good. The most important thing to consider through this discussion is what? It is the phrase “without using foreign exchange” in one sense, and “without the exchange of money” in another. If the dollar is short-circuited, then reroute your current (currency) of exchange. From my days as an aviation electronics student I recall that the flow of the current seeks the path of least resistance. Well, I’d say the dollar is the biggest resistor in the land! I’m no economics major or expert, but I would bet the house that any unit of exchange that loses value you the longer you hold on to it is a bad medium of trade. What say you?