2010.05.05 A chicken for your thoughts

Written by David Green.

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.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • 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.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.

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