Barter critics need historical perspective

To the editor:

A whole lot is being said, mostly critical, about GOP Senate candidate Sue Lowden’s barter-for-health-care comments. May I offer a real-world experience.

When I lived in Massachusetts during the Jimmy Carter stagflation years, when money was as tight as it is now, a barter organization was created by our group of businessmen. Each member of the club had a card similar to a credit card, except it was a barter card. Businesses voluntarily joined the group and sold product for barter credits.

A business could set a limit as to how much it would take in credits each month to avoid going cash broke. The barter organization collected a fee of 3 percent for each transaction, payable to the organization in cash. That allowed them to hire directors to keep order, maintain records and settle any disputes.

Anybody could join as long as they had something marketable to offer. It wasn’t limited to “brick and mortar” businesses, although that was the core of the group that gave it the mass of survivability. But we also had baby-sitting services, home-based seamstresses, small farmers, artists, on and on.

Each business, upon joining, was granted a starting buying power based on the value and potential demand of what the directors thought they could provide in services. So, for example, the baby-sitter got a much smaller starting credit than a fully organized brick-and-mortar store. But by promoting the baby-sitting service, in newsletters for example, it could build up a larger balance of credits to spend as it saw fit. And, of course, they also collected cash from their non-member customers.

I owned a woodworking shop. Someone comes to me to buy a table for $200 in barter credits. I pay a $6 fee in cash to the barter company and, now, I sit on $200 in buying power good toward any other business in the group — my choice as to which business I go to. Then I go and buy, for example, a $200 suit from a tailor. He takes the $200 credit and buys, for example, a doctor’s appointment or, maybe, medicine. You get the idea.

This went on day after day after day. Eventually, in full circle, the person who bought the table from me supplies something to someone else. And, by the way, I didn’t have to spend the whole $200 in one place. I could parcel it out any way I saw fit.

Each of us was able to convert something we wanted to sell, except that the buyer didn’t have the cash to buy it, into something we needed, except that we also didn’t have the cash to buy it. My table was converted into a suit, which was converted into medical aid, which was converted into who knows what. And all that it cost any of us was $6.

I have no opinion about Sue Lowden one way or the other — yet. But those who are criticizing her statements are doing so, in my opinion, for cheap political points and with a severe lack of historical perspective. American ingenuity finds a way around problems, just as we did, above, during the difficulties of the Carter years.

Quit cursing the darkness — light the damn candle.

Richard Pulsifer


Fowl play

To the editor:

I see that your newspaper writes negative editorials about Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, but I fail to see any articles in your newspaper about Sue Lowden and her remark about paying for the doctor visit by bartering. Too embarrassed to publish the article?

One thing that Ms. Lowden fails to mention is that in those “olden days” she so longingly describes, a woman did not have the right to vote, let alone run for public office. In those days, a woman was considered property.

Makes one wonder how many chickens, cattle, sheep or camels her husband, Paul Lowden, had to pay for her.

Lee Beffort

Las Vegas

Wynn gone

To the editor:

John L. Smith barely touched on the Steve Wynn threat in his Sunday column:

If the big casinos spent less time trying to avoid paying taxes in Nevada and building outside it, perhaps Las Vegas would be less threatened by the expansion of world-wide gambling. Mr. Wynn and Sheldon Adelson have spent billions making Macau the place for rich Asians to go instead of Las Vegas. The classic case of biting the hand that feeds you.

Now Mr. Wynn wants to further damage the Las Vegas stronghold by moving his corporate offices? Greed has seldom been more ugly.

William C. Dwyer

Las Vegas

Sad day

To the editor:

I agree strongly that Steve Wynn is right in what he says about the present administration being unkind to business interests. For those of us who are workers, there go the jobs. For those on welfare, who now will pay for all the free perks you get?

It’s a very sad day when China looks like a better place to live and do business than America.

How’s that “hopey-changey” thing workin’ for ya now?

Gayle Parker

Las Vegas

Deep pockets

To the editor:

The hepatitis C outbreak/product liability trial appears to be an attempt by the lawyers to generate fees by any means (“Patient explains personal pain,” Tuesday Review-Journal).

Since the real problem was created by the willful decision of doctors and nurses to reuse syringes, I fail to see how the size of the bottle forced them to spread hepatitis C. If the jury decides against the drug makers, it will be a black eye for the justice system.

I feel very badly for the people caught up it this situation, but punish the real crooks. Don’t just go after parties with a lot of money.

Frank Walker

Las Vegas

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