The Value of Skills in Venezuela’s Barter Economy (and For Those Who Bug Out)
By J.G. Martinez D.
You can’t overestimate the value of skills in a barter economy like the one in Venezuela. Those with skills survive, and those without are suffering terribly.
Plenty has been written about the economy since writing itself was invented. However, this basic aspect of our daily lives is not taken as seriously as it should be. The reasons, I could not explain them; however, at a young age, I took some interest, because I noticed very quickly how it affected my wellbeing and my environment.
The more employment in a city, the less crime, generally speaking. And you could start an independent side business, and make it thrive. This is not possible any longer in Venezuela, of course. The distortions (artificially generated by the government mafia) are too strong and have been there for too long. The only possible outcome is a full reset of everything: government, police, military, and economy.
Once this is done, THEN we will proceed to rebuild our republic, and the society will come back to our former ethical background.
In recent weeks, there has been another devaluation of our currency. This is incredible for those who never lived in Venezuela. It was expected for those of us who, having done a proper research, could see exactly what is happening, and why they do what they do. Depopulation, that is the key for them to survive. For the rest of us, survival depends on something different entirely.
Services, not products
This said, I have received reports about bartering increasing in frequency. My dad regularly receives payments in eggs, flour, pork meat, or a chicken (raised on a small farm, not those industrial ones with poultry filled with hormones).
Not being a professional of the economy, I needed to read a lot to learn as much as I could. Thankfully I know about math and that was pretty useful. The economies have to be based in one of this functioning premises: or a service-based economy, or a production-based one. This is the big picture, and I am not an expert nor do I pretend to be one.
The special perception about this is that, under a survivalist/prepper approach, it is much more valuable if your skill set allows you to provide some sort of service, rather than some type of product. Even if this is food or some kind of medication, and you must produce plenty of it.
The reason is simple: most of the time you will be able to bring with you the “service” you provide. If you are a translator, or a mathematics/chemistry/physics teacher, or a good mechanic, or are a dentist/surgeon with some basic instruments, and unless wrenches, screwdrivers, and other tools are banned in some part of the world, you will have something to sell: your skill and knowledge.
If, for whatever reason, you have to leave your headquarters, you won´t be without a dime, and the possibility to overcome financial obstacles will be there, as you have something useful to bargain with.
For those of you that like drinking, and are thinking about stashing alcohol, please DO so. You will have a great source of wealth is something goes bad. And even better, if you know how to produce sustainably some kind of liquor, and have the equipment, your future is secured. Even if nothing happens, and your business is legit, it is a good idea as a side business.
Music is surprisingly useful
The good part of having discovered this is that my younger kid loves to sing, and after a few classes in his new school he seems to have some future on that line of work. That is entirely thanks to his mom, and I must acknowledge this, with God as my witness!
I had to study because of the general lack of any kind of special capabilities, in most of the areas: mechanics, welding, woodworking, painting, etc. LOL. Oh, I could play some very simple songs in a guitar, but I doubt that “Dominique,nique,nique” will be again a huge top ten hit like was back there in 1964.
Music has always been a part of the society. It brings us to a pleasant mood, relaxes, and allows us to keep the juice flowing by dancing, and having fun. Even refugees must have fun once in a while. It is part of the survival: entertainment is paramount to allow the brain some relief and find again the reasons that made us embrace our choices, as hard as they can be.
If someone in your family has an ability for this, encourage them to do so. Every member should have able to develop their vocation, as far as they can. One of the girls I grew up with, is a wonderful country singer (Venezuelan country) and, albeit she got her degree, she made a lot more money singing in the weekends than what she would have made with her salary.
And the expat community in Australia (the only place farther away from Venezuela after Australia is the moon) gathers every weekend in a place where those who play music (we have a 4-stringed instrument of our own, just like your banjo and it is called a cuatro or Spanish for “four”). There are plenty of videos of Venezuelan typical music for you to enjoy. Most of it is happy and talks about love, country living, and the simple things. There is a wonderful metaphor, written by an artist called Reinaldo Armas, one of the big guys in Venezuelan typical music. It talks about the conversation between an airplane and a vulture. Yes, a vulture. It is a wonderful lesson about being humble, but not losing the dignity, and make others respect you. If you want some links or the translated lyrics, please let me know. I will be more than pleased.
The more we learn about our cultures, the better we will understand each other. For me, using my language skills to be able to communicate with wonderful, supportive, appreciative people is a big thing. And I give thanks to God every day for people like you that read my stories and encourage me to keep going.
Skills are important when you leave, too.
Depending on the particular traits of the disaster that made you leave, you may or may not have something to offer. Plumbing, painting, most manual labor that needs some degree of expertise will be a valuable asset. There is a lot of work around here for people who know how to laminate MDF boards. But as I know my woodworking skills, and I need all my fingers in their place to keep typing for you, this is not an option for me.
If you happen to be in a strange place and have some mechanics knowledge, great. You will be able to get together or even receive as a gift some tools and collect enough money for renting a place. This will allow a good degree of freedom and independence.
I know, as I mentioned probably already some knowledge of motorcycles, and it is something that I am considering. We bikers are a very supportive community with each other. I myself have helped bikers in distress on the road while traveling by car with my family and some group needed help. I will find some time to go to the Harley dealer and see how things are over there. The only leather jacket I have with me is for motorcycling, so this will allow another fellow biker to recognize a similar. And it is already with some wear that means I am not a rookie neither.
Things continue to get worse in Venezuela
These last few weeks there has been a lot of protesting, but you won´t see that on the government web pages. You will see how the “socialist” prisons have “reeducated” inmates, and all the wonderful handmade stuff they have “produced”.
But you won´t see the nurse who wears sandals made from cardboard, nor the doctors dressed in their white robes, stethoscopes and all over a truck, protesting because of the lack of medicines.
The worst part is the repressive methodology, systematically executed, and that the rest of the countries seem not to care. People, there is a medical doctor, last name Marulanda, who lost hearing in one ear from being beaten at a protest. He was one of the protesters in the largest public hospital: the Hospital of Universidad Central if I recall correctly. It is in the social networks, like Tweeter.
These thugs are not playing. They don´t care to beat and kill professionals and students. They encourage the brutality in the treatment of their “security” forces. They are merciless. The chubby from Utah was untouched just because they thought they could (and probably did) get some dollars in cash. But my homies Venezuelans have no money to bribe anyone, and they have suffered a terrible destiny.
I want to give special thanks to those who have been able to send some kind of very needed support, especially these days.
God bless us all people, and I ask a special blessing for you, as my readers, but at the same time, you have learned how to get a place close to our hearts.
See you next week!.
About the Author
Jose is an upper middle class professional. He is a former worker of the oil state company with a Bachelor’s degree from one of the best national Universities. He has a small 4 members family, plus two cats and a dog. An old but in good shape SUV, a good 150 square meters house in a nice neighborhood, in a small but (formerly) prosperous city with two middle size malls. Jose is a prepper and shares his eyewitness accounts and survival stories from the collapse of his beloved Venezuela. Thanks to your help Jose has gotten his family out of Venezuela. They are currently setting up a new life in another country. paypal.me/JoseM151