Australian Government to Shut Down Secret Beer Economy

There is an old Australian tradition to ask neighbors for help with various tasks in exchange for a bottle or two of Aussie beer. Nowadays, people in Australia started using Facebook to speed up the process; the Australian government considers this practice “illegal.”

There is a least one “secret” Perth-based Facebook group with over 50,000 members that facilitates the exchange of various goods and services with beer (and, less prominently, other alcoholic beverages) playing the role of its main currency.

As much as I am tempted to say that beer is the new global currency that will replace the gold standard or dollar standard, or bitcoin, or what have you, as the basis for the new global economy, the reality is that this group is really about building a stronger community. For example, there is an offer to give a six-pack of beer to anyone who will help the member of the group to find a full-time job. There are rules in place to prevent trade in anything illegal, like pirated DVDs, and the like. However, it looks like this rules are hardly necessary as Aussie beer lovers seem to use this beer-based exchange mostly to give away used things they no longer need or ask for neighborly help. All in all, this Facebook group seems like a very nice thing I’d very much like to see in my hometown.

Australian officials, however, has a different opinion. According to them, what actually happens is “people selling alcohol without a license.” Colin Holt, Minister for Housing; Racing and Gaming, even said that people who take part in this beer economy “need to be aware that this activity is illegal in Western Australia.” Some similar beer economy Facebook groups have been recently shut down by the local government. At the moment, group members are considering changing their currency from beer to milk, an action that will, perhaps, solve the legal problems but will make the group significantly more boring.

Here in the we are outraged by this action on the part of Australian officials and offer our deepest sympathy to our mates in Western Australia.

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