Monday, March 28, 2011

The Responsibility to be Prepared

Once upon a time in America, perpetual prosperity wasn’t a given. Far from being viewed as the behavior of obsessed, paranoid whackjobs, having essential supplies on hand in case of an emergency was not outside the mainstream; in fact it was viewed as common, everyday practice.

I haven’t been alive long enough, or studied history deeply enough, to fully grasp how and why this went wrong. In a general sense, I can say with certainty that dependence on the State and the grid is engineered by design, because in order to justify an ever-increasing leviathan State, you must conversely make the individual smaller, weaker; degrading the average prole’s capability to sustain his or her self, while of course maintaining the fa├žade that they are in fact totally free, totally self-sufficient because they have a job to earn money to spend at the store. This has lead to the belief that if not for the establishment, you’d be crippled, starving, homeless, dead, or worse.

No amount of reality checks seem sufficient to wake Americans up out of their stupor and motivate them to take life seriously, and take control over their own destinies. Around the world, be it social upheaval in the Middle East, natural disasters in Haiti, Japan, New Zealand, Indonesia, or economic collapse in Greece, Portugal, Ireland, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, Americans still cling to the belief that those types of things only happen in other countries (already having forgotten hurricane Katrina). Perhaps they believe their favorite reality TV show will feed them if food inflation pushes the cost of food above their capability to pay. Or maybe if their favorite baseball team makes the playoffs, there will still be a roof over their head. Indeed, as long as the average American’s cable TV isn’t yanked away from them, everything is okay™.

Whether this decision is conscious or not, if you have not taken the time to prepare for possible calamity, you have chosen to be a parasite. Despite the fact that you may actually have a job, pay your bills, and, despite drastically rising food prices, put food on the table, these luxuries can be torn away from you at any given moment, with little or no notice at all.

In almost every state, car insurance is mandatory if one is to own and drive a car. Everyone needs health insurance. Many people protect their families by taking a life insurance policy. There are all types of insurance that many Americans own to protect them from the unexpected upheaval – flood, fire, hurricane, earthquake. Almost all of these insure against loss of property. Yet no one finds it necessary to insure their own family against the collapse of the grid, be it from economic or natural stresses. Who will feed their children if driving to the grocery store becomes impossible, or if the shelves become bare (there is no more than three days of food in any grocery store at any given time)? What if a natural disaster occurs, or is imminent, and you have a very short amount of time to “bug out”? Where will you go? How will you provide for your family if you are suddenly forced to leave your home?

In any time, but especially in these calamitous times of economic, social, and natural upheaval, to be unprepared for the worst is akin to driving a car uninsured, running a red light, slamming into another car, and saying, “Sorry, I don’t have any money to pay you for your loss.” Whether conscious or not, you are laying the burden for your and your family’s health and well-being on someone else should disaster strike. Whether it’s the government, that paranoid freak of a relative you once laughed at for storing food and survival essentials, or even your neighbors' food gardens and chicken coups you, in your desperation, were motivated to pillage, someone else has got your back. When disaster strikes, you will play the victim, and it will never occur to you that you once had the power in your hands to save yourself and your family, and you squandered that opportunity by obsessing over trivium and distraction, while scorning people who read the writing on the wall and resolved not to stand in front of an oncoming train.

Despite what we are programmed to believe, preparedness is not paranoia, it is not hysteria, it is not fearmongering. In fact, preparedness is the polar opposite of fear. Anyone in Japan inside the disaster zone (earthquake, tsunami, nuclear meltdown) who prepared for the worst is likely, while not living a posh life of luxury, surviving comfortably with safe, uncontaminated food and water in his or her belly, and some type of roof overhead. There are hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, many thousands of them dead, who are wishing they had some type of plan B (and C, D, and E) in place to fall back on. Instead they are huddled in shelters, freezing, the shelves empty, the water gone, and their government is very likely lying to them about the seriousness of the nuclear catastrophe; they and their children, if they are lucky to survive, will never be the same.

How quickly Americans have forgotten the lessons of Katrina: those many thousands of people who fled the monster storm but had nowhere to go to (except formaldehyde-infested FEMA trailers), or, worse, those who stayed behind in the suicidal belief that the government would save them, sustain them, and rebuild their lives. In the aftermath, instead of blaming themselves for recklessly leaving themselves exposed to sudden upheaval by being unprepared, these parasites blamed the host organism for falling ill and not providing them with nutritious-enough blood to suck. Worse, many Americans not effected by the disaster recognized this parasitic trait in the hurricane victims, hypocritically disregarding their own lack of self-sufficiency and preparedness were a similar calamity to strike them.

And yet Katrina was not an isolated incident. California is long overdue for a monster quake. The New Madrid fault line once produced a quake so monstrous it caused the Mississippi to reverse and change course and caused chimneys to crumble as far away as Boston. This was at a time when few people lived in the area, but now, with much higher populations, the zone is becoming hyper-active. Yellowstone is a super-volcano that many believe is overdue to erupt; geologists say the caldera is rising. If anywhere near as powerful as its last eruption hundreds of thousands of years ago, it could bury much of the United States in ash several feet deep. These are just the impending natural disasters, which says nothing of unnatural disasters, such as the massive and intentional dollar devaluation and rising prices caused by the Fed’s monetary policies, which, as soon as the dollar loses reserve currency status, will, perhaps as happened in Weimar Germany, have Americans wheel barreling their cash to the store to buy a loaf of bread. America is not immune to the laws of economics, and the signs of this collapse are broadcast, largely ignored, through mainstream media outlets on an almost daily basis.

We don’t expect or plan to purposely crash our car, or die a sudden death, or have our house catch fire or be destroyed in a flash flood. And yet we pour hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year into these insurance policies. It only takes a few hundred dollars to pack your family a bug out bag(s) and a few extra dollars a week to build up your food storage. Prepare for long-term calamity (particularly the economic type) by growing at least some of your own food. And in the (unlikely) event that you never need these items, the food, at least, is edible.

Be conscious of your responsibility for your health and well-being and that of your family, particularly children. The conscious or unconscious belief that other people should be responsible for this is the height of arrogance and ignorance. When disaster strikes, don’t come knockin’ on my door. I won’t be home.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Deep Breath Before the Plunge

Being right is usually something we take pride in. Which is somewhat ridiculous, and usually only serves the ego. Being wrong is considered a negative, when in reality it’s an opportunity to expand your horizons, to learn and grow from mistakes. For about two years now, with greater urgency and deeper understanding, I’ve warned people of impending economic calamity: rising food and energy prices, dollar devaluation, exploding debt and deficits, all compounding on each other until eventually America becomes a third world banana republic. Normally you don’t want to be right about such dire predictions, and you don't make them recklessly, being that most people, including friends and family, will think you've lost your shit. They're going to anyway, so it's a good idea to make sure you're sure.

I want peace. I want stability. I want my children to have a better life than I did. For myself, given what I’ve sacrificed in this belief – my job of almost 15 years, my home for my entire life, leaving my family behind, my friends – I couldn’t afford to be wrong. For two years I wrung my hands, wondering how I would leave, where I would go, and when. And then what if I were wrong? What if government had found some magic pill for reckless economic policies that they could implement with total impunity, without destroying the dollar and causing suffering and misery, as has happened, when such policies were initiated, 100% of the time in any other country at any other time in history? And what if, by some miracle, the government reversed its policies, eliminated unconstitutional socialist and fascist institutions (starting with the Federal Reserve), removed the red tape that makes it near impossible for jobs and businesses and industry to be created, and forces the industries and jobs we do have to be shipped overseas, and relative economic prosperity returned to America?

In my heart of hearts I knew this was impossible, and day after day, as the deficit compounded, as the debt exploded, as countries announced cutting off the dollar, cutting off our credit; as Obamacare was passed, as the stimulus bills passed again and again, QE (Quantitative Easing), QE2, and now announcing QE3 if oil prices continue to rise – which they will, if for no other reason than the fact that rising oil prices are at least in part the result of QE2, day after day after day I saw the worst-case scenario being played out. In fact it’s worse than even I can imagine. You grow up in America your whole life under the illusion of prosperity, in the shared hallucination that growth and prosperity are perpetual, your birthright as an American, and you find yourself inflicted with the pathology that anything that hasn’t happened, at least in your lifetime, is somehow impossible.

The most sobering aspect of today’s times is, as bad as things already are, I know we haven’t even begun. Today it was reported that food inflation is running at about 19%. Even if you remove spending for defense and infrastructure, we would still be running a deficit – this has happened a staggering 50 years ahead of projections. Despite empty rhetoric about controlling spending and – laugh out loud – balancing the budget, February set another all-time deficit record at $223B. And that’s probably low-balled, like all their other statistics. With the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear apocalypse in Japan, you can be sure that Japan won’t be much interested in lending us money, while the biggest private holder of US debt, citing impending calamity caused by the Fed purchasing treasuries (QE2), dumped all its treasury bonds. The less investment there is in our debt, the more money the Fed has to print, which of course causes the value of the dollar to decrease, causing prices to rise. This has little impact on the select elite on the receiving end of this newly created cash, but for the rest of us, our cost of living continues to edge higher while, if we’re lucky, our incomes remain the same. And finally, when the dollar loses reserve currency status, demand for it will plummet, leaving us with a astronomical currency surplus, which pretty much means the gates of hell are flung open.

When you take such factors into consideration – and that is just a small sampling of the ingredients in our economic apocalypse stew – not only do dire predictions seem decidedly un-radical, they become easy to predict, like the sunrise, or the tides. At this point, as far as I’m concerned, there is only one singular issue that we should be anxious about: our level of preparedness. Sometimes I find myself succumbing to fear as I watch the daily flood of vindicating news and statistics telling me I’ve been right about all of this, because knowing that life as we know it is coming to an end can be overwhelming. I have to remind myself that, if the hammer dropped tomorrow; if the shelves were emptied by the third day, as there is never more than 3 days worth of food on the shelves of any grocery store; if the price of gas became, hypothetically, $10 per gallon; if my paper currency became utterly worthless for anything other than kindling; I can survive. The luxury would be at an end – the internet, the movies, the takeout food – but I have reasonable access to the things I need should they be cut off externally. The only question for you is, can you say the same? For too many people, it doesn’t matter how bad the situation is so long as they can turn on their TV and avert their attention from reality. Once they realize they can’t eat their favorite TV show, that the number of wins their favorite baseball team records won’t put gas in their tank, or that Lindsey Lohan’s cocaine problem has nothing to do with how warm their home is in the winter, maybe then they will start to care. But by then it will already be too late, and then you will see things you never thought possible in America. Things you only see on TV, from other countries, countries you thought these things only happened in because of their lack of civilization, their barbarous culture. And they’ll lie to themselves, pretending they never saw it coming. Don’t be among them.