There has been much ado concerning the Federal Reserve's doubling of the monetary base this past year. Many believe a currency crisis or hyperinflation of the dollar is imminent. Some go as far as to say that this crisis will destroy America.
In the villages, houses and boats needed to be repaired or rebuilt, roads needed attention, and parents wanted to get their children back in school. In order to do all these wonderful things, a medium of exchange was needed. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending onhow you look at it, the villagers did not put much faith in the paper money printed by the government in Baghdad.
As this was an agrarian society the villagers turned to a time-tested medium of exchange: livestock. In the villages all households had some sheep, and the more affluent houses had very large herds. Goods were exchanged, debts repaid, and business contracts agreed upon all using sheep as money.
The river water, while great for crops and livestock, was not ideal for human consumption, and therefore clean drinking water became a very valuable commodity. The bottled water brought in from the larger cities was one of the most sought-after commodities in the village, and I soon noticed villagers pricing items in not only sheep, but bottles of drinking water as well.
Then there was the standard wartime medium of exchange: cigarettes. The villagers smoked cigarettes every evening with chai tea. They were bought in the cities and brought back by the truck load. As a result they were not as valuable as sheep or bottled water; however they served as small change for the villagers.