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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Truth is revealed in action. Beliefs, attempts, intentions, thoughts, words and feelings mean nothing until they are translated into deeds. What I do is the truth about what I am. All the rest is just cheap talk. So what have I actually done to prepare for hard times?

You might say my entire life has been spent preparing for difficulty. As a result, I have actually encountered very little of it. Strange how that works and worth thinking about.

The current impending crisis is not my first rodeo. When I got out of high school in 1961, the US was just entering a period of turmoil that was as severe as the great depression, but in different ways. It lasted for 20 years until things began to stabilize in 1982. Energy prices quadrupled as OPEC embargoed the US, political unrest led to street violence, bombings and radical extremism, recession followed recession, the housing market crashed, interest rates soared above 20%, jobless people migrated across the country looking for work, the family unit broke down as the foundation of society, cities began to decay as suburbs sprawled around the rotten core while presidents came and went in varying degrees of disgrace.

No, It wasn't my father's great depression and World War II, nor was it my grandfather's financial panics and World War I, nor was it my great- great-grandparent's civil war, but it was still a tough time to make a living and keep your wits about you. Every generation has their crisis, or at least think they do. So this is nothing new or even extraordinary in the context of history.

During my generation's "crisis", many people gave up. They decided it was the end of the world as we know it and "tuned in, turned on and dropped out", to use the jargon of the day. Many went into survivalist mode and spent the rest of their lives living in a shack, eating home grown turnips and doing part-time minimum wage labor for the rest of their lives. The point is that to dedicate your life to preparing for a disaster that never comes can be a disaster in itself.

In light of that, I think it is important to recognize that, no matter what happens, life will go on, the sun will come up in the morning and we will be called upon to do the best we can, with what we have, once again. That is what I am doing - things that will save me in a disaster and be somewhat useful in the absence of a disaster.

Prepare for ... What?

One way to approach preparing for unexpected events is to look for vulnerabilities and then try to minimize them. These vulnerabilities are different for every individual, so one persons reasonable preparation might be another person's foolishness. One size does not fit all - not even close.

My current lifestyle is very dependent on continuous, affordable electric service. Without it, I am in trouble. How much trouble depends on how long and how frequently power is interrupted. Also, my vulnerability is somewhat dependent on how widespread a power outage is. If it is just my house or neighborhood, it is a nuisance, but if power is off for 200 miles around me, then a lot of other services will be affected in fairly short order.

Reducing electric service vulnerability can range from having a good flashlight and fresh batteries on hand, to elaborate, expensive backup power supply systems, to preparing to live without electricity. Somewhere in between all those extremes is a reasonable, affordable way to reduce personal vulnerability.

I am also very dependent upon electronic communications. Maybe this should be included with electric power since communication certainly requires electricity. However, the amount of electricity required by me, the end user, is miniscule. The communications system requires large amounts of power but my cell phone or laptop computer does not. Also, the nature of my vulnerability is very different and therefore requires a different solution to reduce it.

Without reliable electronic communication, most financial transactions cannot be completed. Therein lies my vulnerability.

Another area of serious vulnerability is transportation, particularly freight into my community. Without daily deliveries, the stores around me will deplete their inventories in a few days at most. Depending on what is produced locally, that is either a disaster or a serious inconvenience.

The final area of vulnerability worth mentioning in a broad overview is personal security. I have always relied on my fellow citizens to behave in a civilized way. Occasionally, I blunder into a situation where I feel threatened but overall, I travel the streets and roads and rest in my home without much thought of being suddenly robbed or killed by strangers. People who live in areas where hard times have turned to desperate times tell me the transition from civilized to uncivilized behavior can be sudden and shocking. I am vulnerable because I simply cannot bring myself to believe that everyone around me is potentially my mortal enemy.

Another way to prepare for sudden change is to look at unusual situations that might spin out of control in society as a whole. I think the fact that governments (foreign, federal, state and local) are finding it difficult, if not impossible, to fulfill the explicit and implicit promises they have made to the citizenry is such a situation.

Some will argue that it is not unusual for governments to promise more than they can deliver. While that is true, I think the difference now is one of degree and pervasiveness. The sudden change is that governments don't seem to be able to postpone and evade the fact that they can not meet their contractual obligations to the people.

In the past, governments, particularly in the USA, have been able to borrow at will to postpone the day of reckoning. That is no longer the case. The central bank is forced to create money to finance the federal deficit. That has never happened before. The US federal government has always been able to borrow as much money as it wants to borrow. Creating money not backed by real goods and services reduces the purchasing power of the currency, making even more money creation necessary. That is a negative feedback loop that can easily spin out of control.

While the federal government is able to create money, state and local governments cannot. They are forced to cut services and reduce payrolls which in turn reduces economic growth. That is another negative feedback loop that can spin out of control.

The term "spin out of control" implies the results are unpredictable. Unpredictable means that the outcome cannot be predicted. So, I won't try. My plan of action is to reduce my vulnerabilities and let politics and government take whatever course they will.

Taken from Sense & Nonsense

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