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Monday, August 22, 2011

Honey Buns in Prison----- Bartering as an Economy


I am always amazed at how anything of value can develop into a currency and this was shown in a report that I heard on the radio.  The original story was from the St. Petersburg Times on Honey Buns in state prisons and even in one of our local prisons.  According to the report,
Inmates in the Florida prison system buy 270,000 honey buns a month. Across the state, they sell more than tobacco, envelopes and cans of Coke. And they're just as popular among Tampa Bay's county jails. In Pasco's Land O'Lakes Detention Center, they're outsold only by freeze-dried coffee and ramen noodles.
Not only that, these honey buns — so puffy! — have taken on lives of their own among the criminal class: as currency for trades, as bribes for favors, as relievers for stress and substitutes for addiction. They've become birthday cakes, hooch wines, last meals — even ingredients in a massive tax fraud.
Inmates at the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women used honey buns as the base for a Christmas apple pie. Inmates at the Robeson County Jail in Lumberton, N.C., mixed in honey buns to sweeten a wine they fermented from orange juice.

This brought back memories of swapping baseball cards as a kid and how a currency of cards was based on the how good a baseball player was or if another kid was a fan of a certain team.  The negotiations among kids could make the Congressional negotiations look mild.

I even remember trading an early video camera for a Gore-Tex running suit from my brother.  I still have the suit and use it running every winter but I know my brother long ago gave up the video recorder for a newer one.

Probably the most famous example of bartering is the story of a blogger names Kyle McDonald who in less than a year bartered a red paper clip up to a house.  As explained in Wikepedia,

MacDonald made his first trade, a red paper clip for a fish-shaped pen, on July 14, 2005. He reached his goal of trading up to a house with the fourteenth transaction, trading a movie role for a house. This is the list of all transactions MacDonald made:[1]
·                     On July 14, 2005, he went to Vancouver and traded the paperclip for a fish-shaped pen.
·                     He then traded the pen the same day for a hand-sculpted doorknob from Seattle, Washington, which he nicknamed "Knob-T".
·                     On July 25, 2005, he traveled to Amherst, Massachusetts, with a friend to trade the Knob-T for a Coleman camp stove (with fuel).
·                     On September 24, 2005, he went to San Clemente, California, and traded the camp stove for a Honda generator.
·                     On November 16, 2005, he made a second (and successful) attempt (after having the generator confiscated by the New York City Fire Department) in Maspeth, Queens, to trade the generator for an "instant party": an empty keg, an IOU for filling the keg with the beer of the holder's choice, and a neon Budweiser sign.
·                     On December 8, 2005, he traded the "instant party" to Quebec comedian and radio personality Michel Barrette for a Ski-doo snowmobile.
·                     Within a week of that, he traded the snowmobile for a two-person trip to Yahk, British Columbia, in February 2006.
·                     On or about January 7, 2006, the second person on the trip to Yahk traded Kyle a cube van for the privilege.
·                     On or about February 22, 2006, he traded the cube van for a recording contract with Metal Works in Toronto.
·                     On or about April 11, 2006, he traded the recording contract to Jody Gnant for a year's rent in Phoenix, Arizona.
·                     On or about April 26, 2006, he traded the one year's rent in Phoenix, Arizona, for one afternoon with Alice Cooper.
·                     On or about May 26, 2006, he traded the one afternoon with Alice Cooper for a KISS motorized snow globe.
·                     On or about June 2, 2006, he traded the KISS motorized snow globe to Corbin Bernsen for a role in the film Donna on Demand.
·                     On or about July 5, 2006, he traded the movie role for a two-story farmhouse in Kipling, Saskatchewan.
Going on vacation and want to swap your home for one in the city you are visiting?  There is now a few home swapping websites.  Obviously not for everyone but being able to stay in a house rather than a motel is a big plus.  Living near DC makes a home in our County attractive for a swap. 

Service exchanges are set up to exchange a service you can provide for credits to use for services you need.  Think of an accountant trading preparing someone’s taxes for someone to landscape his yard.  By building credits you don’t have to exchange with the person who uses your services.

Of course all this raises the IRS question and do you have to pay taxes on bartered items.  While no one is likely to go to jail the IRS does expect you to pay taxes on services and gifts you receive.  I am never sure why or how you would report any of this.

Now does anyone have something to trade me for this nice yellow paper clip? Anyone having trouble selling their house?

P.S.
I am always looking for ways to get rid of my grass lawn and saw a nice example of what to do in Clemens Crossing this past weekend.


1 comment:

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