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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2001 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

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For the week of January 16 - 22, 2002

  Features

We still live in a 
hand to
hand world


By DANA DUGAN
Express Staff Writer

While bartering is a way of life in many countries, in the old U.S. of A. itís almost un-American. My ex-father-in-law, a World War II veteran, believed it was unpatriotic to dicker with sticker pricesÖ for cars.

The salesmen loved him.

But here and in other resort towns with a high cost of living, bartering is the way many people conduct business if not daily than weekly or monthly.

One gal said she cuts hair for her masseuse, her acupuncturist and her dentist. They donít charge and neither does she.

A contractor has been known to make additions and changes in houses he built, in exchange for free meals at his clientsí restaurants.

Another friend received free radial keratotomy eye surgery in exchange for custom made cabinets. Mechanics and truck owners of the world are always called upon to help their friends because they have the most obvious barterability.

And snow plowing in exchange for food, drinks, or garden care is just plain common, as is tuning skis for a six pack and a pizza.

The practice of bartering is popular among fellow artisans, who trade art work, while sharing the use of studio space or equipment.

Several grateful mothers in town related that they trade services like book keeping, cleaning and fresh farm eggs and other produce for dance, music or art classes for their children is very prevalent.

A graphic and interior designer said that she also has traded services over the years for "endless cool food and drinks from restaurants."

And when children are very young there is an awful lot of baby-sitting for friends, who pay back in various ways such as helping to garden, designing Web sites or even making dinners.

"I have traded with manufacturers for design and products in various areas because I have samples and connections in many manufacturing fields," said one valley resident.

So is it legal? Yes and no. The IRS says that the fair market value of goods and services exchanged must be included in the income of both parties. (And donít forget to claim wages paid to domestic helpers.)

But this is the way the world has been doing business for centuries. Kids often ask, how did money start? It started just like this, services or goods were exchanged for other services and goods. But it was hard to carry a pig around when you went to general store. So, coins were pressed out of metals to represent the pigs.

As most of us vaguely remember, the myth is that Manhattan was acquired through a tradeóbeads for an island. In fact, it was 60 guilders. But never mind.

In that case, bartering is not only American, one might say that itís our right, and our heritage. If our personal relationships donít allow for a bit of bartering, the terrorists might have won.

Hey, Iíll wash your back, if you wash mine.

 


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.