Skip to comments.The new economy (gas,cigarettes,beer and Mississippi)
Posted on 09/03/2005 7:27:30 PM PDT by smoothsailing
Posted on Sat, Sep. 03, 2005
The new economy
Gas, cigarettes and beer are the preferred currency in devastated areas
BY STEPHEN MAJORS
HANCOCK COUNTY Hurricane Katrina has taken the local economy back in time.
Cigarettes and beer will get you far in the barter system ruling these debris-strewn streets. Gasoline is gold, the coveted item that can bring you anything you want.
Cash for now is useless. It is a relic of the 21st-century economy that ceased to function Monday.
The new ATM is a place like Todd's Mini Mart, which sits on the side of the road on the outskirts of Waveland.
Todd's co-owner Susan Saucier was at her store on Thursday evening, combing through the debris to see what remained. She said she tried to keep looters from taking items that weren't needed to sustain life. But the busted cash register just a few feet from the store's entrance showed the difficulty in enforcing that policy.
Saucier was offering ''something that will help anybody get through it.'' Packs of cigarettes lay strewn about the broken window. For many, they are a calming force after a horrible storm. They are part of the lifeblood of the streetlevel economy.
In a post-Katrina way of life that Hancock County Sheriff's Deputy Anthony Gambino said is a little ''like 'Lord of the Flies,' '' a pack of cigarettes can go a long way and can even get you a ride down the road.
''This right here can get us the hell out of Dodge,'' said Barbara Winch, holding up about 10 packs of cigarettes. Transportation is also a hot commodity in Waveland's new economy.
The cigarettes had come from Todd's.
As Winch sat in front of her printing business Thursday evening just before sundown, the barter economy showed an ability to diversify.
A woman came up with a little bit of food. In return, she would be able to watch television on a set that Winch and her friend had rigged up.
''It's food and cigarettes for television,'' Winch said. ''Money ain't no good.''
A parking lot outside a Kmart that had been looted bare was filled with hundreds of the dispossessed. There, too, bartering is spreading its wings.
It all started with goods from Kmart. The people now living in the parking lot said officials had told them to grab what they needed to survive.
Vicky Strong and about 10 of her family were living under a large canopy courtesy of some socks and underwear.
All of the items had come from the Kmart, but Strong only had time to grab the clothes. After trading some of the items for a canopy, everyone had what they needed. After Hurricane Katrina, the concept of comparative advantages was alive and well.
''We're just going to take it one day at a time,'' said Strong.. Ask people about the barter economy, and they immediately recognize the new phenomenon.
''It's beer for cigarettes, and cigarettes for beer,'' said Gary Illig, who was standing in the Kmart on Friday morning.
Officials at Wal-Mart, a little way down the road, were happy to play a role in the nascent economy. According to Jessica Lewis, a co-manager, the store was letting people take what they needed.
There was a truck of supplies turned away once, but it was going to try again, she said. It would be a vital boost to the local trading patterns.
Several shopping carts worth of canned goods had been cordoned off. After sitting in the sun too long, officials said they might pose a health threat.
The barter economy will suffice as long as there are items to be looted. But increasingly, empty stores suggest even harder times may be coming.
''If you don't make a joke about it, you just want to sit down and cry,'' Illig said.
© 2005 SunHerald.com and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.
YES! Power came back on today. I was so tired of my nightmare camping trip from hell...lol.
Thanks, nothing like the truth, huh? :)
Looks like your novel "Enemies..." was prophetic.
You can ping the MS list by going to either bourbon's page or wkb's page. Both have the lists posted.
Lots of MS threads tonight, b, and also Chief Justice's death. I "had" planned and hoped to sleep early. Now I'm wide awake. Must be the cool A/C.
The best news is that Tommy T's Tigers are losing now. I hope the Yellow Jackets keep it up!!
I'm staying up w/ Baby Bourbon #2 while Ms. Bourbon gets some much-needed rest.
Of course, it's not too hard to stay up when college football is back on TV!
(Why wouldn't I laugh? I'm an Alabama fan!)
Yeah, husband watched the Colorado teams today. Up with young BB2 huh? That's sweet.
Actually, BB2 just fell asleep. zzzzzzz.....
I met a guy from biloxi yesterday taking supplies back to the area. He rode out Camile in 69 and had to swim/wade in the water for 5 hours before finding shelter. He said Katrina was much worse.
I didn't sleep a wink when our power was off. The first night it was back on, I was sure I'd go to bed early and sleep soundly. Instead, I was still awake at 2:00 a.m. I guess you have to get used to the a/c again.
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