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.

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