Imagine a society where all forms of currency were abolished, and instead, you exchanged beer and other booze for goods and services. Who needs paper and coins when you can drink your wealth on a hot day?
Well, thirsty readers, this utopian, beer-sustained community has been found—in Western Australia.
The Australian and several other media outlets report that the residents of Perth, Western Australia's capital, are now preferring to barter alcoholic beverages rather than use Australian dollars for things like Mercedes sedans, kitchen cabinets, and even services such as job placement.
You can thank Facebook for this alcohol-fueled, underground economy revolution, as there are currently over 400 private beer-bartering groups on the network, most of which are invitation-only and cannot be found via search. One group that is public—and happens to be Australia's biggest, with some 50,000 members—is called "The Original Perth Beer Economy." Still, while people flock to the groups' "walls" to post pleas for membership, you have to ultimately be added by a current member to gain access to the immense archives of beer classifieds.
So what will beer get you these days? The aforementioned Mercedes had an asking price of 50 cases of Wild Turkey. And while it's unclear what the seller is planning to do with that ungodly amount of alcohol, Wild Turkey is valued at an average of $55 per bottle, With six bottles per carton, that would be paying the equivalent of $16,500 (not including taxes) for the car. Maybe the fact that you're paying for your luxury vehicle in liquid courage could makes the big spending go down easier, too?
Whatever the incentive is behind trading goods for beer, it's catching on, with more secret group pages opening up in other Australian cities such as Hobart, Sydney, Melbourne, and even in the US. A simple search on Craigslist reveals beer-barter offers for everything from pearl jewelry in LA to chainsaws in NY.
After all, paying people in beer is kind of nothing new. Think about all those times you treated your friends to six-packs and pizzas for helping you move.
While bartering isn't exactly illegal in Australia, doing so without paying taxes on the goods exchanged is. Nonetheless, there have been no reports of government intervention or mysterious disappearances of Facebook groups so far. However, we will check back next year when Australia's tax day comes around.