2010.05.05 A chicken for your thoughts

Written by David Green.


The exchange of services known as bartering was a lot more common in days gone by. The downtown of every little community was lined with an array of stores that were owned by someone in town.

It was easy to make arrangements to bring a dozen eggs to a hardware store owner in exchange for a new saw. (Prices were quite different, too.)

You might build a garage in return for a car or a tractor. I don’t know a good exchange rate. I’m just making up some examples.

There’s still a lot of bartering going on and I presume it increases in difficult economic times like the present.

There’s a state senate candidate in Texas who talks of bartering as a simple way to control health care costs. This is Sue Lowden’s health care reform:

“I think that bartering is really good. Those doctors who you pay cash, you can barter, and that would get prices down in a hurry. And I would say go out, go ahead out and pay cash for whatever your medical needs are, and go ahead and barter with your doctor.”

She says that in the “olden days” before health care, our grandparents would bring a chicken to the doctor, noting that doctors are very sympathetic people.

I don’t know how well Louden thought this thing through. Sure, bring a chicken for an office visit. I actually went to the doctor recently trying to shake a lingering respiratory thing and I would have needed more than a chicken, unless my doctor was a very sympathetic person. A $65 chicken would have cut the deal.

Suppose I would have needed some blood work done. Now you’re talking about...what...$300 worth of chickens? And at this point I would no longer be dealing with the local doctor. Now I’m offering chickens to a large medical company. Maybe it would work. Perhaps they could use them in the hospital food service department.

When I reported this on the Observer website, I had to place it in the Gone Crazy category. So many people seem so very nuts these days. Sure, there’s more to bartering than chickens and the approach could help some people with some medical costs, but this isn’t health care reform. Are you crazy?

Before long, a person would need a very large chicken farm. Fortunately, the people at Buzzbomb.it created the Lowden Plan Medical Chicken Calculator so you can figure out just how many chickens are required for an honest exchange.

A visit to the emergency room? 257 chickens. A colonoscopy? 514 chickens. Every ob/gyn visit will run you 41 chickens, followed by the 2,166 chicken birth. Four times that for colon cancer.

The fine print on the calculator recommends bringing extra chickens for an office visit because prices vary among doctors. In addition, consider other livestock since not all physicians accept chickens.

Besides, for major surgery it’s going to be a lot easier to pay in head of cattle.

DELIVERY—Let’s change the conversation from the delivery of babies to the delivery of newspapers.

I received a few surprises this past winter when I heard from some Florida readers that their paper arrived the same week it was mailed. I can’t remember ever hearing that statement in past years.

Those were the surprises. I also heard the usual, that delivery took a week or more and occasionally two issues would arrive on the same day.

Now back to the surprises. I think Brent Heximer’s delivery set a record. He wrote over the weekend to let me know that his Dec. 9 edition finally arrived—nearly six months late.

Brent lives in the dangerous delivery land known as California. The worst stories always come from that state, although like Florida, some subscribers have surprisingly good delivery. Think about it, each issue of the paper has to somehow travel 2,281 miles to Brent’s home in Culver City. Google Maps provides instructions for reaching Brent’s house via bicycle. That adds 250 miles to the trip and would require nine days. This might provide a clue to the weekly delivery problem. The trip is also listed as a 30-day walk, but even that fails to explain the six-month delay.

Brent said his long-lost edition was “pretty grubby on the cover.” I looked back and sure enough, that was our annual Grubby Cover edition.

“I’m just excited to learn that Santa will be in Fayette on Saturday,” he said.

  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
  • Front.chat
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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