May 7, 2020
Readers ask for specific recommendations for successfully navigating the post-credit/speculative-bubble era and I try to do so while explaining the impossibility of the task.
As the bogus prosperity economy built on exponential growth of debt implodes, we all seek ways to protect ourselves, our families and our worldly assets. There are any number of websites, subscription services and books which offer two basic "practical recommendations:"
1. Buy gold (and/or silver) and don't worry about timing the market as everything else will become worthless.
2. Establish a heavily armed and well-supplied hideaway before everything implodes.
My problem with these suggestions is that they are predicated on a decisive "end of the world as we know it" collapse of civilization.
While I am alive to the possibility of this cataclysm, an analysis of the many feedback loops which will slow or counteract such a decisive collapse suggests other alternatives are even more likely: my term for the slow, uneven decline of the credit/speculative-bubble era is devolution.
I cover feedback loops, historical cycles and why a lengthy devolution is as least as likely a scenario as abrupt collapse in my book Survival+ (free downloadable version is linked below).
In other words, I do not see planning for eventualities as "either/or." I look at it in terms of three levels:
1. Plan A: dealing with devolution: government services are cut back, prices for essentials rise over time, fulltime paid jobs become scarce, the State (all levels of government) becomes increasingly repressive as it pursues "theft by other means," i.e. the stripmining of private assets to feed its own fiefdoms and Elites; most assets fall in purchasing power (value) as the system's financial props erode.
2. Plan B: When things become rationed/unavailable, services become sporadic, pensions stop being paid in full, spontaneous homeless encampments arise in heretofore "nice" areas, cities go bankrupt, small businesses go underground to survive the ever-higher taxes being levied on the few remaining productive enterprises, etc.
Plan C: if things fall apart: either move to communities where you or your family have roots (tough luck for all the millions of rootless Americans shifted around by corporate "relocations" the past 50 years) or turn to your neighborhood, town, friends, family, church and other social networks for cooperative strength.
The problem with putting all your resources into a "bug-out" strategy (Plan C) is that it might not come to pass, in which case you've misallocated your assets.
This is why I focus Survival+ on structuring a prosperity which will work on all levels. This prosperity has five basic parts:
1. Prepare for hybrid work by developing multiple skillsets, interests and contacts and understand that being productive and reciprocal is more important than getting paid (as I put it: "to take care of Number One, first take care of numbers 2 through 9.")
2. Develop sustainable, overlapping social networks (self-organizing networks) in which you have more than one place to interact with the same person, i.e. at church or in the neighborhood. I call these non-State, voluntary networks transparent non-privileged parallel structures because they are independent of the State and Monopoly/Predatory Capital Elites.
3. Cut expenses to the bone so you no longer need a large income to "survive." Consider lowering your taxable income by working less so you're no longer working so hard just to pay taxes generated by high incomes. (Thanks to correspondent Stephen A. for noting that barter that results in gains is generally taxable. As always, check with the I.R.S. or a licensed tax advisor to confirm what income is taxable/nontaxable.)
4. Reach a new understanding of "prosperity": health and social wealth are the "treasures" which money cannot buy. Yes, we all need some money, and preserving/growing whatever capital you do have will be difficult and time-consuming. There is no easy "one size fits all" solution.
5. Understand the importance and strength in building and maintaining personal integrity, the one asset we each control in totality and that no one can take from us. All reciprocal networks (financial, political, religious or social) depend entirely on trust, and the bedrock of trust is complete personal integrity.
Much of the devolution we now face is a direct result of the degradation of integrity. This moral/ethical component of financial implosion is glossed over by the corporate media because the Power Elites have implicitly undermined integrity and morality as a means of soldifying their control of the media and of the national income.
Yes, I know this all sounds wonderful, but how do you do it in real life? Well, life is and always has been a do-it-yourself affair. With 200 million+ employable people in the nation, what advice or recommendations can I possibly give to any one individual, when only that person knows their own interests, strengths and potential customers, clients, allies, competitors and mentors?