So, there's this article in the San Jose Mercury News today called Buoyed by Bartering. They generally portray it as a Good Thing that some small businesses have started supplementing their "income" by bartering goods and services.
Now, let's have a little history lesson. Money, as a concept, started out as a substitute for direct barter. I'd give you an IOU for say, a goat, in exchange for some wheat. Or whatever. Then eventually governments got in on the deal, which made money more trustworthy, and also allowed the government to levy taxes using the money, rather than just trying to collect some of the goods.
In a modern economy, large-scale use of barter is a really bad sign. It basically says that our fiscal and monetary policies are failing to prevent the economy from fraying at the edges; people are unable to acquire enough money in the first place to get the goods and services they want, even though they do have goods and services to provide that should be worth the same amount as what they want. Seems to me John Maynard Keynes wrote something about that...
In case the point needs to me made any clearer: This happened at the start of the Great Depression, too.
So, why isn't the news talking about this in that light, rather than quoting some nitwit flower-girl who says, "I had no idea you could get so much stuff without cash. It's cool." Right, and it'll be even cooler when our entire economy collapses and we have to go back to using IOUs for everything.
Thanks, Dubya! *facepalm*