Most economists will tell you there’s no such thing as a free lunch, and in a way this is true. Even if one receives an item or service without paying, the other person likely payed for the item, accounting of course for time and work.
But what if everyone exchanges items and services with each other, a sort of ‘pay it forward’ mentality? Wouldn’t this negate the price it costs for everything?
Maybe I’m just being an ideological anarchist here, but it seems to me that communities, especially smaller ones like downtown Ithaca, would be quite receptive to the mentality of ‘freeness.’ It’s true that towns and cities have their own forms of specialization; based on their specific geography and populace, some communities have certain strengths while different places have others. With this logic, however, entire cities could engage in commerce with each other, rather than having individuals paying each other within their own community.
I’m just saying, this would streamline the process entirely.
Take the greater Ithaca area, which is equally abundant with apple orchards and trained scholars. In economic terms, we could sufficiently function as one financial body, trading our particular services with a city further south for their distinct skillsets and agricultural resources. In this way, we could exchange the word ‘free’ for ‘communal.’ Strengthened by symbiosis, we would be able to really look around, realizing our individual as well as collective potential. And that would be pretty rad.
Your radical Sawdust Editor,