I'm a high school student who started looking into preparedness about nine months ago when the swine flu hit the news. I immediately discovered the precariousness of the U.S. economic situation. I am now looking into what I and my family can do to prepare ourselves for an economic collapse here. We have begun to buy some extra canned goods, are planting a small garden this year in our suburban backyard, and are looking into buying gold very soon. (Not to mention we bought your book, which so far I love for its "eyewitness" practicality.) We cannot afford the retreat in the mountains, and as of right now I am still working out the "on-the-ground" consequences of an economic collapse, aided by the writings of people who know much more than me.
Like so many others, the first site I found was SurvivalBlog. (Later I found your site linked from a letter there.) Since there was a post on your site not long ago about SurvivalBlog, I thought I'd relate my experience with that site.
First of all, let me make it clear that I think Jim Rawles is a good man who only wants to help people, and I have an enormous amount of sympathy for him as he recently lost his wife. I don't think he would ever lie to his readers or downplay the severity of a situation to "soften the blow" (after all, that's why he has a survivalist blog!). He has received letters from people asking whether he thought the economic situation would get as bad as in his book (a "fighting off the hordes"-style work), and he said that he did not. I can track statements from him for about two years now that he thinks we will experience Great Depression II with "inflation in the Zimbabwean sense of the word." (See also these quotes: "complete societal collapse is not very likely"; "[my book] portrays circumstances that are far worse than I actually anticipate (at least with any likelihood).") But then in other places he makes it sound like it will be worse, or possibly precipitate TEOTWAWKI.
Overall, though, he seems like he thinks it will not get as bad as "head for the hills." Other than that, I check the site every day, mostly for economic news, although occasionally there is an article that's useful for someone who doesn't live in a castle-gas station-farm. Most of them, however, are along the lines of "How to Perform a Root Canal at Home by Candlelight Using Medieval Dental Tools." Not a real article, but you get the idea. : ) I balance the site with a daily dose of your blog.
I also had some questions about currency use after an economic collapse, i.e. alternative currencies that still hold value after the main one has collapsed or devalued. Specifically, I am afraid that the dollar will collapse here, which might not be so catastrophic except that it's the world reserve currency. In Argentina, if the peso devalued, you could always fall back on the dollar, but what happens here if our currency collapses and mass inflates (or worse, hyperinflates)? We don't have another currency to fall back on. The only one I can think of off the top of my head is Canadian currency. I live in Connecticut so I see Canadian coins a lot, but they're just about gone once you get south of Pennsylvania or Maryland. I'm afraid that if our currency collapses and our economy screeches to a halt like yours did in 2001, we won't have any alternative ways to pay for things, and that this will precipitate TEOTWAWKI or some mini-version thereof.
(I wanted to just put something out there that has always confused me about survival barter topics. They always say that we'll pay for everything with gold and silver coins. Where are the 99% of people who didn't prepare, have scant savings and no precious metals, getting these coins...?)
I hate the thought that my country's economy is headed for a collapse. I hate the thought that I might have to see riots and looting here on my television (or out my front window). I hate the thought that I might have to look at homeless and starving people on the street. I'm afraid that it could devolve into something much, much worse than the Great Depression. But whatever happens, I'm going to have to get through it right where I am, in a normal suburban American household. Thanks for your blog and your book, and for being a survivalist who's not obsessed with Mad Max!Katy
We are all different people and all have different experiences and points of view… and that’s just the way it should be.
In my opinion (which is just another point of view) I believe that a common mistake made in preparedness is thinking that, if you prepare for the worst, you cover everything in between. Doesn’t work that way actually.
You may have a farm/cabin/home a gas tank away from the nearest city, next to a source of water, a couple years worth of food and the ability to produce more, and it probably wont be a solution to your problems.
Today we are seeing survivalists telling their real world SHTF problems: I’m unemployed and no matter how hard I try, I cant find another job.
Trying to make a living by becoming a farmer is pretty much suicide since experienced farmers themselves are having problems making a living. During the 30’s many farmers lost their land to taxes alone.
A couple years ago when a documentary producer called me she asked “What we want to know in America is where do people put their money in Argentina” That was the question the mass was asking back then.
Today the question is replaced by a more urgent need “How do I make money!?”
Today, wise business strategy and marketing may be one of your most useful survival traits.
The world just doesn’t end as some people were hoping for. You just get fired. (which I suppose it’s the end of the world as some people know it)
“OK, I’m young, smart, I have a degree, I’ll find another job… no wait, I’ll find a better job”
And it just doesn’t happen.
And the lucky ones that have a job, end up finding out that the money they make slowly loses its purchasing power.
“That’s right! Money is just poor tinder after SHTF! Lets quit our jobs and head to the retreat!”
Hold your horses my friend. You’ll get to your retreat and do exactly what? Watch DVDs and eat popcorn? Wait for the raiders to arrive?
Its not going to happen. No raiders, no zombies, no brave new world, just the same old crappy one that just keeps getting worse.
Guys, it’s a thing that goes on for YEARS.
As of right now, here in Argentina private companies estimate a 40% inflation rate per year. Official numbers don’t matter any more. Do you have any idea what this means?
These days, people in USA are noticing a bit of inflation. I sometimes get email from people telling me “You are right FerFAL, bottles, containers and packages in general are getting smaller but costing almost the same”.
I’m not right. I never said it would happen in USA. I just said it happened here, and told people to keep an eye opened if they saw the same pattern.
The pattern is unfortunately repeating itself, and even worse, its repeating itself politically as well: Redistribution of wealth, social plans, more taxes, more socialist brain washing, a media that just has to be forced to cooperate with the government, something we once called censorship.
Official statistics? Ok, lets talk inflation. Maybe meat, milk and bread went up in price, but what about that nice cheap Chinese sauce that is 10 cents a gallon, or that Brazilian chocolate substitute food? Lets take those into account instead. A particular bad month in terms of inflation? Lets just waiver that one, shall we?
In the end this all just means what I constantly write about in this blog:
More people simply fall from middle class to poor, other go from poor to indigence (def.). This doesn’t sound like much but it’s a brutal reality once you see it all around you. It means people walking into your nice neighborhood to eat out of your trash. After a few years, it means a generation of pre teenagers that wont even blink as they shoot you in the head. Some because they are too wasted with Paco or epoxy glue inhalation to notice, but even worse, some simply don’t care even without the drugs.
Adapting to all this is a new way of living. Its not simply a situation that lasts x amount of weeks or months, it’s the way life will be for you as of right now, slowly changing to worse.
Heading to the hills wont fix it, you can’t escape reality. You have to earn a living, you have to send the kids to school (both of you have to get jobs now if you want to pay for privileges such as food, water, power, gasoline, clothes, insurance, parking, or medical care, and you can only grow one of those. For the rest cash will be required.
About your question, I don’t think the dollar will collapse. I do believe there’s a chance of seeing worse inflation, maybe even hyperinflation. No one can say for sure, but it could happen, specially if they continue with these political strategies that are almost carbon copies of Peron.
If something like that happens, Canadian money is likely to go along with it. Most likely Euros will keep its value or grow a bit stronger as the dollar weakens, bust you best bet is precious metals. Silver is still affordable if you want to buy small quantities, and even if gold is “expensive” right now, you still have x amount of gold and it wont lose any weight. If the dollar collapses in such a way, expect an exponential increase of the price of gold and silver.
Katy, what happens is that now you need 3 dollars to buy bubblegum or a sandwich instead of 1. “Oh, that’s outrageous!” people will say. Well yes it is, but it’s the way it is.
Maybe you don’t buy the bubblegum but you’ll buy the sandwich, food, pay for services, pay the 50% increased taxes, pay for the 50% increased gasoline price and such. In the end it boils down to your purchasing power going down and you becoming a bit more poor.
Either you find a way to make more money or you end up being poor or worse. There’s no way around this, there’s no shortcut or growing new headlight on your garden. You buy all of it with money.
You will be able to pay for things, you’ll just be doing it with currency that has much less value.
You're young, if I were you I'd buy the minimum supplies (start with food and storing lots of water) and buy silver Americn Eagle coins, slowly building up an emergency stash. Dont worry, its money just the same. Unlike your other supplies, you can change it back to dollars when you need it, most likely for more than you got it. Stay in shape, kill two birds with one stone and learn self defense skills. SHTF or not, you'll have a better life becuase of it.
"(I wanted to just put something out there that has always confused me about survival barter topics. They always say that we'll pay for everything with gold and silver coins. Where are the 99% of people who didn't prepare, have scant savings and no precious metals, getting these coins...?)"
At least here in Argentina, people that were already in a delicate financial situation eded up living under a bridge, eating out of the trash and living in shanty towns, a shack made of pieces of trash, wood, and a piece of plastic covering the mess. Pretty miserable situation but thousands still live that way all over Argentina.
Regarding barter, the best and only “barter” item I recommend is precious metals. That’s the only item I can assure you will be worth just as much as its worth now, very likely much more after a financial collapse. Other than that, ignore 100% the idea of buying this or that item because it will be “worth its weight in gold” supposedly after SHTF. Keep it simple and stick to silver and gold if you have extra funds to put into post SHTF “barter”.
Of course people here didn’t have much gold. I can assure you many spent countless nights unable to sleep, wishing they had emptied their accounts and put that money into gold. It’s a fantasy any Argentine with a buck in the bank before 2001 had at least once!
What many ended up doing was selling the jewelry gold they had, something that boomed after 2001 as I often mention. Gold business went up 500% the years after 2001.
"I hate the thought that my country's economy is headed for a collapse. I hate the thought that I might have to see riots and looting here on my television (or out my front window)."
Lets hope it doesn’t get that bad. Just in case, do get a firearm when you are old enough, and learn to use it Try getting your parents to take you to shooting classes. I did that when I was 15 and it was one of teh best things I did back then. When I turned 21 I bought my first gun and laready had the traning. Before that I had my father's 1911 for defense at home.
A greedy thug can kill you just as dead as a band of looters can, and as the economy gets worse violent crime will follow.
"I hate the thought that I might have to look at homeless and starving people on the street."
That’s something that feels like an invisible hand is grabbing and jerking my heart. It crushes my soul when I see a family sitting around an opened garage bag, parents and the little kids, talking while they eat as I do with my own family over our dinner table, but with a garbage bag instead. I’ve seen messy corpses and I had no trouble sleeping at night, but that sight is something else. It’s the worst kind of degradation, just a step away of actually starving to death on the sidewalk.
"But whatever happens, I'm going to have to get through it right where I am, in a normal suburban American household. Thanks for your blog and your book, and for being a survivalist who's not obsessed with Mad Max!"
Do your best and you’ll do just fine.
I doubt many high school students are asking themselves this kind of questions. You sound like a clever person and that sure helps a lot. Finding new ways to get by, being good at whatever it is you decide to do makes a big difference. Take all this into account when deciding what to do after leaving college. Some careers wont make as much money as others.
Given that your generation will have to deal with the bailout taxes and God knows what else, being good at your job and making a living will be one of the greatest challenge you’ll face.
Other than that, preparing as you seem to be doing, keeping strong family bonds so as to help one another, praying, and hoping for the best. Things will probably not get to that bad.
Just remember to live and have fun while preparing.