In the slums of Big City, the state has long lost control. Who lives here has hit rock bottom, or was born into it; most are poor, many struggle to get (healthy) food, and barely get along by either working in one of the many factories around or trading illegal goods. One drug, Notcocaine, is especially abundant due to the colonial history of the place, back when it was used to subdue the oppressed population. It is regularly consumed by most of the population still1. Factory workers may be paid in cash, or by supplying a warm meal and the likes2.
1 Comparison to western Europe: not nicotine/ alcohol levels, but close to marihuana consumption
2 Either one or both of the two payments, whatever fits best.
- There are no mass-produced transistors yet, and computers are big, expensive, and slow. Many inhabitants of the slums haven't ever heard of the concept "computer". Trading in tech gadgets is therefore nonexistent.
- While many poor workers live in horrible conditions, "true" slaves are rare. Human trafficking/ slave trade is not common enough here to play a central role in the economy.
- Working in the factory is dangerous; moving machine parts and lacking health & safety regulations make spontaneous amputation at the work place or chemical burns, broken bones and other injuries not uncommon. Stumps are a common sight on the bodies of factory workers. Workers crippled by injuries become permanently unemployed, without state support.
- To support their families, many start working at around the young age of 5.
- There are some properly built houses here but most people live in handmade shacks.
- Outside the slums, cash is used for trade. It's a protectionist economy.
- Consumption of NotCocaine is illegal, and will be punished with incarceration. Although it can be obtained fairly easy outside the slums too, its use is frowned upon because it's a "poor man's" drug. NotCocaine is therefore not used frequently outside the slums.
- Because the police only has negligible power in the slums, what's illegal and what's not by the police's standard does not matter too much there. Law enforcement can be bribed, avoided, or deterred by gang violence, so illegality of certain substances or actions is not really a problem.
- Population density, climate, and level of population diversity is similar to that of the Dharavi slums in Mumbai. The slums in Big City are larger though.
I have a strong interest to have state money be of no or secondary value in the slums, and to make most trades barters; that is without a medium of exchange. While NotCocaine could make a good substitute, dealing in grams instead of coins, I want especially want to not have the economy be primarily based on such units.
Why do the inhabitants of the slums not just resort to using drugs as money, or actual cash in their transactions?
A good answer gives an answer to the above question with supporting reasoning.
A great answer does that too, while also giving examples of goods or categories of goods mainly used in barter.
My question is pretty much the inverse of "Introducing money to a barter based economy".
I am aware of this excellent answer to the question "What can I do to make a Bartering system stable?".
If completely abolishing money or a money substitute does not work at all, it would also be acceptable to just have barter be very commonplace.