Saturday, June 18, 2011

Survival of the American middle class‏

I have been casually following your blog for a couple years now and genuinely appreciate your real world experiance an logical, practical advice .
Your entry of the 24th of march concerning the survival of the AMERICAN middle class prompted me to contact you to suggest you might be under estimating the AMERICAN people.
We have come to the brink several times through out our brief history and managed, at least so far, to pull ourselves back and still save most of the civilized world in between saving ourselves.
AMERICA is singularly unique to the world in that we have a rock solid Constitution and Bill of Rights that has been so brilliantly designed that all the liberal wienie philosiphers and communist and socialists and nazis and neo-cons can not destroy.
They all make inroads from time to time. Our national mood ebbs and flows, bends and sways.
But ultimately, our Constitution will not break. And this means the American people, ultimatly, will not break.
We are free, there for we are tolerant. But only to a point.
When it comes down to our way of life being threatened, either from without or within, the AMERICAN people will only bend so far.
Just look at our last election.
The true, patriotic AMERICANS rose up and put the brakes on the current threat that we face to our way of life.
It will take another election cycle or 2 to really beat this threat back down and fix the damage that has been done, but the AMERICAN people will, as always, do what needs to be done to protect and safe guard our way of life, for ourselves, and future generations.
The brillance of our founding fathers has given us the freedom, the right, the means, and the will to defend, propagate, and pass on the AMERICAN way of life to future generations.
The AMERICAN constitution and AMERICAN way of life will not bow to tyrants either from out, or from in.
AMERICA, ultimately, through ingenuity,spirit,and the drive to succeed, aka, freedom, will never succum to tyrants and just give up and except the loss of the AMERICAN way of life.
With all due respect, you are, in my opinion, very much underestimating the AMERICAN people, and we are most definatley NOT going to allow our way of life to be destroyed.
We will have ups and downs, close calls, near misses but AMERICAN will always right herself and lead the world in showing what freedom brings to all.

Hi Brian, thanks for your email. With similar respect I’d suggest that its hard to form an opinion about someone if you just “casually” read what he says. If you read more of my blog you’ll notice that I think highly of Americans and USA. My frequent readers know I believe it to be the best country, crisis or not, precisely because of the reasons you underline, the US Constitution and Bill of Rights, especially the 1st and 2nd Amendment. That’s why I recommend people staying there in spite of the crisis, rather than moving away like some fear mongering realtors that buy land in South America recommend. Nowhere else will you enjoy the rights you have in USA, and I believe it’s the best place to be in as the world economic crisis continues.

The post you mentioned explains some of the things people are already going through, I simply commented on how these current events will probably (hopefully!) force some positive changes, mostly future urbanization that isn’t so fuel dependent and more efficient home design.
In most places around the world you can get up and walk to a store or market of some sort to buy groceries, you don’t need fuel for buying some bread or a milk jug. You have that alternative.
For the past decades, US home developments are generally planned for maximum home building (and profit of the developer) but lack a few essential stores within the community. Its always expected that you will jump into your car and drive a few miles, even if its just to buy a candy bad. If you had a small “mom and pop´s” grocery and general store, maybe a Coffeehouse (please make it something better than Starbucks!) and a Drugstore and diner for the kids and adults near by, that tends to make things easier in that regard. You have the option of going to a Walmart and buying everything you need, but you also have the option of walking a few blocks down the street a nice summer day with your wife and kids and buying that popcorn you forgot for watching that movie tonight. You have more options. This is a given in most Latin America were a significant percentage of the population doesn’t have a vehicle. It’s also common in many parts in Europe and it’s the way it used to be in USA as well. The advantage of this is that if gas prices are too high you have the option of buying locally, it also promotes the revival of the small “Mom and Pop” stores destroyed by the giant chains stores.

As for houses, you generally don’t need gigantic bedrooms and three “bonus” rooms in a home. Then there’s the design. Its mind numbingly stupid from the Architectural point of view to have the same house being made in New Mexico than the one made in Vermont. Instead of having cleaver design, according to the regional climate and way of life, developers make the exact same box that kind of looks good and has that McMansion feel to it, and put heating in one and AC in the other. They don’t care, you’re the one that’s getting stuck for life with a larger that needed power bill to keep that place hot or warm. They don’t even take into consideration the house orientation or how much light you get in that latitude. Its got to the point in some cases where rooms are so big you just need to find ways of filling them up with junk (usually bought from China stores).
I like a large house as much as anyone else but as long as it´s well designed. I do know the difference between a comfortable one and one that is just big because the 400 ones next to it are as well. There’s a proportion for rooms, halls and other living spaces, if you go beyond that you just have a huge room that is not only a waste of money, its not fulfilling its purpose as well either. The “bonus” space that even the designer didn’t know what to do with it, it doesn’t even have a name, that’s space you’re still paying for to be built, space that has to be heated or will suck up heat from other rooms and you’re paying taxes on it as well. Of course its cheaper to do the McMansion thing and build a hundred similar homes, even if not two families are alike.

The crisis is affecting the US middle class as we speak, we might like it or not but its happening. I don’t think that the American society will collapse but some changes are inevitable because otherwise we’d still be doing the same things that cause the problem in the first place. A couple changes like the ones mentioned above, I think that they would in fact improve the quality of life of Americans and would only be regretted by the big oil companies, China wanting to sell you more stuff to fill your big house up and then throw away and the Wall Street mercenaries looking for maximum profit through excessive debt of the American middle class.

Join the forum discussion on this post


Tin Man said...

"That’s why I recommend people staying there in spite of the crisis, rather than moving away like some fear mongering realtors that buy land in South America recommend."
Ferfal, are you talking about Simon Black? You disagree with expatriating from the United States?

Anonymous said...

I would love to hear more on this topic (expatriating). I thought I remembered from your writings that your family moved from Spain and you would move back if you could? I just got passports for my family; we're seriously considering moving to Central America. It seems more chafing to Americans to see America become more socialist because we knew firsthand what it was like 50 years ago. I am in a population group that is becoming more and more of a target and I'm feeling more and more threatened. A slower pace of life with no one in my business and no need for a car sounds more and more appealing. Look at this article from earlier this year, a cop sent this in to Rawles' blog:
"So how does a person qualify as a potential domestic terrorist? Based on the training I have attended, here are characteristics that qualify:

-Expressions of libertarian philosophies (statements, bumper stickers)
-Second Amendment-oriented views (NRA or gun club membership, holding aCCW permit)
-Survivalist literature (fictional books such as "Patriots" and "One Second After"are mentioned by name)
-Self-sufficiency (stockpiling food, ammo, hand tools, medical supplies)
-Fear of economic collapse (buying gold and barter items)
-Religious views concerning the book of Revelation (apocalypse, anti-Christ)
-Expressed fears of Big Brother or big government
-Declarations of Constitutional rights and civil liberties
-Belief in a New World Order conspiracy

Please consider a post about this, your reasons why not to flee hyperinflation if we can.

FerFAL said...

Most Dear Anonymous reader:

What makes you think no one will get in your business in South or Central America? As an American you'll be a favorite target both by criminals and the government alike. Tin Pot governments WILL get in your business and get as much money out of you as they can. While you have rights in USA, as bad as big brother may be, you simply DONT have such rights in SA.
Around here they bug phones and read you email just as well. The only difference is that in SA, YOU HAVE NO RIGHTS. In USA at least you'd have a chance to fight for freedom and defend your privacy. At least there's a Bill of Rights.

1) What's the logic in escaping from the possible hyperinflation in USA to SA countries that already HAVE hyperinflation or have extremely volatile economies??

2)Escaping creeping socialism in USA by moving to already socialist/communist authoritarian 3rd world countries where 90% of the population hate "gringos"????

3)About what qualifies as a domestic terrorist, I wouldn't trust some anonymous source on line, especially not something posted in a website known for its fear mongering tactics. Why, it was just a few months ago that in that same website they were telling people to "bug out" of the cities. I wonder what those that took that advice are doing right now... probably "living off the land" and preparing for "Red Dawn"...

For every American willing to move out of USA there's 10.000 foreigners willing to RISK THEIR LIVES for a chance to do some honest hard work in USA, and can only dream of one day becoming a US Citizen. Never forget that my friends.


FerFAL said...

Tin Man, of course I disagree with expatriating form USA. Its one thing to leave when the country really goes to hell(and have such contingency plans). AS of right now, thats not even close to whats going on. If you think and economic crisis is bad in USA, you dont want to see how it goes donw in 3rd world countries. Europe? Its doing worse than USA.
Stay in USA and be thankful.

CapnRick said...

@TinMan... I am in agreement with FerFAL. Most US citizens are not going to adapt well to the expat lifestyle. I have been a Permanant Resident of Argentina for several years now, and I love it here... I miss it when I'm gone. I am a devout follower of Simon Black's blog and greatly respect his opinions... but, expat life is just flat WRONG for most people. I adapted because I lived and worked outside the US for most of my life and am dluent in several languages. I was only able to qualify for Permanant Residency due to being married to an Argentine lady. You cannot qualify to be a permanant resident in Argentina unless you have family here or can invest 1.5 million pesos locally. And, the government WILL rip you off and steal everything you have unless you have a very well connected (politically) attorney or escibania (sort of like the Napoleanic Law version of a Notary Puboic... but, higher status and better trained than a lawyer here).

Have you ever wondered why most expats are European or other nationalities? Consider: If you drive the distance from Houston to El Paso (note: still inside Texas for 800+ miles) from anywhere in Europe, you just passed through 5 international borders where 22 different languages are spoken. For someone who grew up in... and, is comfortable in such an environment... the move to become an expat... far from one's support systems... is not as difficult as it is in the US with thousands of miles of ocean separating us from most of the world. We are not exposed to the international lifestyle on a daily basis, as those in Europe are. (TO BE CONTINUED)

CapnRick said...

I remember when I bought a sailboat in 1998. It was a nice weekend getaway at the marina in Freeport, TX. The problem was... it was 20 miles from WalMart. I couldn't stand it... I had to move from the very nice marina and move the sailboat to Galveston where I was only 5 miles from WalMart. Sad, isn't it? Yet, as FerFAL points out, things are different in most countries. I actually prefer to walk no more than 5 blocks to do 99 percent of my shopping. Lots of neighborhood stores have prices competitive with the big box chain stores. The nearest big box store is a very WalMart-esque Carrefour French chain store which is about 5 miles distant. I prefer not to go there... too much trouble when I can get anything I need without taking my car. Like Fer says... we can get along without relying on transport to get us there if there are neighborhood stores that remain competitive with the Big Box giants. That is an unfulfilled need in most US neighborhoods.

The US middle Class should not just be considered a socio-economic phenomenom... it is a lifestyle and ethical position as well. Remember the Greatest Generation... the WWII fighters who grew up in the Great Depression? They had a lifestyle of being self sufficient, saving up their money to pay cash for some land, then building their own home a bit at a time as they could afford it, maintaining a small garden and a few chickens for self sufficiency. When was the last time most Americans woke up to a rooster crowing? We can take refuge in our middle class lifestyle and self sufficient ethics again, and deprive the BANKSTERS, union thugs and politicos of our resources.

Simon Black has a lot of sense, but is apparantly a single man without children. I insisted that my son born in 1967 and my daughter born in 1975 be born outside of the US so they could qualify for dual citizenship ...just in case they needed that flexibility in the future. I support Simon's ideas for people who can maintain a comfortable lifestyle without an employer, and who speak a number of foreign languages. I support the idea that those who can do so without causing severe disruption to their earning potential while doing so, make every effort to seek dual citizenship and multiple passports, maintain at least 3 months survival rations if possible, save money and stay below the vision of public officials as much as possible. If you have registered firearms, acquire the identical firearms as backups from undocumented sources if possible, so you can hand your legal guns over with a smile should another Katrina-like disaster occur. If you have to bug out, it is not necessary to have a remote cabin... many times you only need to flee a hurricane or the aftermath of an earthquake. It is not possible for most of us to have a hideaway on a remote mountaintop in Greece.

As far as I know, Simon is not offering homesites like some crooks and liars I see advertising in Costa Rica and Panama and Argentina. I believe he does not make a secret of his income from advice and services referrals from his blog to third parties, which is fine. When he starts selling rela estate in Chile, I may refine my opinion.

Suerte -CapnRick

CapnRick said...

Here's a recent blog entry by an expat.

Lots of expats with SUBSTANTIAL real estate investments cannot leave Argentina for fear they can't get back in. Just because immigration enforcement was friendly n relaxed does not mean things will stay that way forever. What could be worse than to be refused re-entry to your home country, having severed all ties with your country of origin? -CapnRick

DaShui said...

It sounds like to me that Brian is trying to convince himself of something. If you really believe something you don't have to be so forceful.

Hilton said...

AMERICA hasn't existed since the 14th Amendment (destroying states rights all now subject to washington rather than their own governance)
when it was Destroyed its been the UNITED STATES corporation for awhile now.
and tyrants have been running your country since with few exceptions

slowly but surely it has been destroyed.
You now have genocide of children and no Christianity in schools just like every other country, eroding liberty's etc etc, in other words your not so special

only the people of the nations can gain freedom for themselves, if they really want it that is.

judgment of God is now coming on the nations I wouldn't be so emotionally attached if I was you my friend

lemmiwinks said...

Ferfal, you really hit the nail on the head!

Maldek said...

@Simon Black

Expat lifestyle is for people who have ASSETS to protect - meaning they earn enough from their companies, investments, interest payments etc so they can choose where to live. People who depend on an employer to survive are a different story.

For Expats with european origin, taxes are payed based on RESIDENCY. A german who is no longer living in germany, keeps his german passport but has no longer ANY tax obligations in his home country. The same is true in most other european nations as well. So why should an european pay 50%+ in taxes when he can as well have a home elsewhere and pay between 0% and 5%?

Now to the US the situation is very different. The US taxpayer has to give up his citizenship (hard and expensive procedure) to avoid taxation.
I think this alone makes it pretty clear, why you will find a lot more expats with european history, isn't it?

But there is more to it...
Unlike FerFal I do consider big brother in EU and even more in the US a threat. The procedures on airports alone are an offense to my personal feelings. TSA and their european brethren are a spit in the face of liberty.

3rd world countries simply can not afford the manpower nor gear required for such surveillance. Period. And even if they could - the LEO's down here are underpaid and will happily accept some extra cash. In return you will receive "special" treatment, like you may use the gate normaly reserved for diplomats (without beeing one) on the airport.

@FerFal, something to consider...

Your statement:
"Stay in USA and be thankful."

80 years ago it might have sounded like this: "Stay in germany and be thankful."

(please remember I am a native german speaker; the signs are all there now my friend - history repeats itself a lot)

Shane and Michelle said...

What the hell is wrong with this Brian guy. The Constitution is already hanging by a thread?! We WILL fall as long as there are corrupt individuals in the government running the country without the Constitution. Hate to be so harsh but you're in dream world man!

dc.sunsets said...

The irony of all this is that as long as people living in the USA think they are "different" from others, the more the system changes right under their noses to be like those others.

Yes, in the USA of today you are safer from being robbed or murdered by thugs in uniforms than in SA and CA/Mexico, but it's far from unknown.

The big question is how deep will the economic contraction go, and the follow-up question is, will the USA turn into an overt dictatorship? In 1925 Germany was among the most cosmopolitan countries in the world, and look what a crushing depression caused them to embrace! Look at Argentina's history!

The USA is not immune to such disastrous changes. We who live here can only hope our neighbors don't, in their desperation, ask for a Strong Man to "fix" the problems. That's the seed from which dictators sprout.

Anonymous said...

I respectfully ask the original post / author to please read the book "this time is different" eight centuries of financial folly by Reinhart and Rogoff, and then repost. Pay particular attention to chapters 13 thru 16 and then explain why we are "different". I'm looking forward to that post.

I have been looking for paths out of this mess, talking with as many economists as possible, all far smarter than me. None has a solution or even a strong argument against eventual collapse. The only question is when.

Perhaps we get 20 years of stagflation like the Japanese. That seems to be the best case scenario without dramatic changes.

Anonymous said...

i don't know what america brian lives in, but it's not the one i've lived in for 45 years. sounds to me like a 19-year old kid still spouting off the silly nonsense brainwashing taught to us in junior high school about "the land of the free, home of the brave." brought to the brink several times? sorry kid, americans in my lifetime have NEVER been anywhere near the brink - you have NO idea what the brink is. americans have had it good and easy for a very long time. we haven't averted ANY threats with the last election and our constitution is for all PRACTICAL purposes NULL and VOID. get your head out of your idealistic high school textbook notions and take a whiff around you, brian. get out of la-la land and start living in the real world. oh and uh, thanks for the laugh... haven't read such an engaging comedic fantasy in a very long time...

Anonymous said...

Simon Black and others like him are just fear hustlers; exaggerating and focusing on the unusual to create fear and help sell premium newsletters, Chilean real estate, and Swiss bank accounts.

Is the US going Nazi Germany? I suppose it could happen. But that could happen anywhere, and you'll never know except in hindsight. Fascism and communism were rising in the US bigtime during the 30s and yet the US avoided the fate of Germany and Russia.

It reminds me of the story of the man in Virginia right about the time of the US Civil War. He saw the Civil War coming and decided to move to a small quiet town where he would avoid the worst of the violence. That town? Gettysburg, PA.

Out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Anonymous said...

"Simon Black" is not one man but several and is a scammer. Please be very careful regarding "Simon Black". FerFal and JJ Luna are real. "Simon Black" is not real and is a scammer.