It’s interesting. Sometimes you catch a glimpse of how far we’ve come from any idea of there being freedom for people to figure out the best ways to help each other without the state putting the boot in.
Clonakilty, a beautiful town in West Cork, was ravaged recently by flash floods and there’s LOTS of work to do to renew the town centre. The people of Clon have set up an online “favour exchange” to help them do that. It’s barter, basically.
Now this scheme is very clever, but illustrates the distance we’ve come from good sense. A barter scheme avoids having to pay both VAT and income taxes, which would suck a huge amount away from the good people of Clonakilty as they help each other rebuild their town, but barter is dreadfully inefficient in comparison to money AND it makes it practically impossible to get people from outside Clon involved in the rebuilding.
Barter fell out of favour in comparison to money a LONG time ago. Money is far more efficient and makes it far easier to exchange favours across multiple people….or it should. However, if you add in the bureaucracy and dead weight effect of all those taxes that people in Ireland have to deal with today it seems that barter is a better technology than money.
That’s REALLY bad news.
I wasn’t directly aware of the scheme until I saw an amazing article from Stephen Kinsella, who’s an economist in University of Limerick, in one of the Irish newspapers. The article is linked here. Have a read. This is an economist advocating barter as a solution.
I wrote a letter to the paper, which outlines my problems with the scheme and with what it tells us about Ireland today. That letter is linked here.
I don’t expect many people to see it like I do, but if barter is the best solution we can propose then we have worse problems than some water in Clonakilty.
And Clon is a beautiful town!