all collegialI am working on a project, which is taking many more hours than expected. While I love the idea of spending all my summer afternoons and evenings hanging out in the backyard with my children, there are times where I simply need to get to the office to get some writing done, where editing text at the dining room table is just not going to work. There are college students in this town who are great caregivers, who could use some money to get them through the school year, and who have time on their hands in late July. I am (relatively) cash-rich and time-poor, and my sitters are (relatively – everything is relative) cash-poor and time-rich. I hire them, I get my work done, they earn some money, it is a win-win.

That’s what trade is about: mutually beneficial exchanges. Watch young children trade Pokemon cards – they have the principle of thing figured out at an early age. Adam Smith in the eighteenth century wrote about how our ‘propensity to truck, barter and exchange one thing for another is common to all men.’

And so I don’t really follow when blog neighbour Lee Rosenbaum writes:

Some major American and European museums have also tried to exploit their collections as cash cows, renting masterpiece shows to cash rich, object poor institutions. This opportunistic but ultimately self-defeating practice needs to stop. It is contrary to the collegial relationship that should exist among sister institutions and ultimately ups the ante for everyone. It’s a lose-lose.

How so? What exactly are ‘cash-rich, object poor’ museums supposed to show? And why shouldn’t an object rich, cash poor museum form an arrangement? LR continues:

Fees should be charged to defray costs, and it’s sometimes reasonable to request participation in profits (if any), after expenses. But to help balance the lender’s operating budget at a sister institution’s expense is exploitative, not collegial.

No. There is nothing uncollegial about mutually beneficial exchanges and arrangements. Think of the transactions you enter into each day at work or buying things for your household. Are these exchanges you engage in uncollegial? Exploitative? I don’t follow the reasoning.

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