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Fight Inflation with Community [Economics
Posted on October 29, 2022 @ 06:12:00 AM by Paul Meagher

Rising inflation is one of the biggest issues confronting us now. We are told that to stop inflation we have to increase interest rates to the point where we create a temporary recession that will eventually reduce demand that will either stop price rises or reduce prices back to more manageable levels. That is one prominent macroeconomic view of how to control inflation.

Another way you can help control inflation is through community. I was recently reminded of this when I hired a larger company who I had no personal relation with to deliver gravel to fix a road through my field that got rutted during our last concert at the farm. I hired the company because they were quick and efficient in the past and I wanted to complete the project while the weather was good. The company charged me almost $500 to deliver a 20 ton load of gravel. Luckily for my pocketbook I only purchased one load. There was a 5 day delay in delivering another load. I had to return my father-in-laws tractor which I was going to use to spread out and smooth out the gravel and decided to cancel my order for more loads at that time.

Next to my farm is a business owner who mostly does forestry related work but owns alot of machinery. He approached me after the first load was delivered and mentioned that I could probably do the job cheaper if I got the gravel from my father-in-laws gravel pit. I approached him again after I told the first company I didn't want them to deliver any more gravel. His big excavator was in a pit nearby, not my father-in-laws pit, but I wanted the job done so asked him to proceed with that gravel. He started delivering gravel and brought in a mini-excavator to form the road. He did an excellent job and at the end of the day charged me 200 dollars a load. I believe I got that rate because in this case I interact with my neighbor even if it is just to wave to him as we pass by each other in the morning, his machinery and pit were nearby the job site, and he gave me a neighborly price for his services.

In rural areas you tend to run into people more frequently and the bonds of community are built up from these interactions, sharing the same landscape, and sharing a common culture where you both are knowledgeable of the same news to talk about (like a new golf course that wants to expand into our community and the controversies surrounding it). The community is potentially an inflation fighting resource when you have need of other community members to help you with your projects.

Another case is a 12x16 foot outbuilding that I am putting up to store some farm machinery. I was thinking about getting around 12 pieces of 2 in x 6 in x 16 foot lumber for the roof rafters from a nearby hardware store that would likely charge me 2 to 3 dollars a foot for the lumber. The main reason I was thinking of going that route was because the lumber was a standard width (1.5 inches) and you can buy required hurricane ties for that width. My brother mills wood and I checked out his wood pile and he had some nice 2 in x 6 in lumber milled up. I talked to him yesterday morning about what I wanted and he came by with a load of wood that afternoon. That wood will be substantially cheaper than the wood I would have purchased at the local hardware store and the wood is also quite a bit stronger because it is milled to a true 2 in x 6 in dimension, not 1.5 in x 5.5 in that nominal store bought 2 x 6 lumber is. I should be able to buy some end wall hurricane ties to secure the rafters to the plate (the interior rafters use a different type of hurricane tie that typically only comes in a size that fits 1.5 in wide lumber) and get up to code.

You won't be able to get cheaper gas from your neighborhood gas station or groceries from your neighborhood grocery store. There are limits to how much you can use community to help you fight inflation. That does not negate the fact that there are some significant expenses that can be substantially reduced when you engage certain people in your community to assist you in your projects. I probably saved over 2500 dollars in gravel and lumber costs in the last couple of days by reaching out to my community for assistance with my projects.

I think fighting food inflation is another primary use of community. I have been on the giving end of this equation where I have allowed neighbors and family to freely harvest from my wild blueberry fields. While I could have asked for something in return, I wasn't going to be able to harvest it all and was happy that someone was getting the benefit of eating the berries.

In conclusion, in these times of rising inflation I would argue that community is an important resource in helping you fight inflation. The community isn't necessarily a bunch of people who hug each other each time they see each other. It can simply be loose associates who you interact enough with, and share some common points of interest with, that you might get different treatment than other people for goods and services, or who you might treat differently for the resources and services you have to offer.

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