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Have you ever run out of gas? Imagine running out of gas when gas stations are no longer pumping fuel or you are on route to your bug out location after some really bad stuff has gone down. You aren’t able to call AAA anymore and your buddy probably can’t come to pick you up. You thought ahead to carry some extra fuel, but long lines in traffic and multiple detours have depleted even your additional supplies.

If the situation called for it and you were desperate, would you know how to siphon gas from a car?

Many of us have tried this before with mixed results. I can remember shoving a length of garden hose in the tank of an old Ford truck I had and drawing the gas out with my mouth. In case you were wondering, a mouth full of gas is not a pleasant experience and it takes a whole lot of brushing to get that taste out.

This manual method is only slightly better with clear plastic tubing but you still run the risk of getting some amount of gas in your mouth.

Would this be acceptable in a grid down situation? Of course, if there was no other option. However, with a little planning and practice now, you can have a solution to your fuel needs in an emergency.

How to get gas out of a car

It would stand to reason that in even the most dire, apocalyptic scenarios you can imagine, there will be gas somewhere. We have gas in cars obviously, stashed in lawnmowers and in spare cans in sheds. Businesses have diesel stored in forklifts and heavy equipment. Gas at fuel stations can even be tapped into with a little know-how even if the electricity isn’t working. Gas is a vitally important resource and even if we have some global EMP, this fuel will still be valuable to the people who can obtain it but not everyone has experience with getting gas out of their car short of driving it around all day.

Cars that have been abandoned would seem to be some of the best and easiest places to acquire extra fuel to keep you going. I am not advocating stealing but should you determine that your situation requires it, siphoning gas can be a pretty simple way to get an extra few gallons in an emergency. Even 3 extra gallons could potentially get you dozens of miles away from danger or just closer to your destination.

Another good reason to keep an empty fuel tank in your car. Carol is always prepared…

Older cars didn’t have some of the anti-theft measures that more modern vehicles have now that make getting gas from a car more of a challenge. Depending on your situation, even with anti-theft devices, you can still get fuel. The process is basically the same regardless of the vehicle but the methods might need to change. You simply need to draw or drain the fuel in one tank to a container. The easiest way to do this requires gravity and a little help from a siphon. The siphon you choose can be the suction you create with your mouth (not ideal) or from a pump. There are manual hand pumps and electric pumps that I’ll discuss in a minute but it might make sense to procure one of these methods now before you find yourself needing gas and have no way to get it.

Siphon gas from an older car

A manual fuel pump could help you easily siphon gas from many cars

There are two methods I think that are brilliantly simple to siphon gas from older cars. When I say older, that is a general term because no two cars are exactly the same. In newer cars, probably from the 90’s forward, there are flaps installed on virtually all gas tanks now that would make it harder for you to remove the hose, but in older vehicles, it was pretty much a straight opening into the tank. You also have round balls in the tank hose that prevent hoses from being easily stuck down into the tank so older cars are easier to get fuel out of. If possible, an older model car would make the best targets for siphoning gas.

There are dozens of manual fuel pumps on the market like the 3 in 1 Hand Pump on Amazon. You can use this not only for siphoning gas from a car, but you could also use it to get other fuels into or out of containers. Maybe you have a 50-gallon drum of kerosene and you need to fill your lanterns and heater. This manual pump would be handy.

You can also use a modified method of manual siphoning with your mouth that I haven’t seen before but I wish I knew about a long time ago. You would insert the hose into the gas tank as you would on any siphoning method, but instead of sucking fuel up the line, another hose creates the pressure needed to push fuel into your hose. You can see a great video of the concept below.

How to siphon gas without a pump

The manual pump method works great on older cars, but what about newer vehicles? If you are desperate enough you can puncture the fuel tank with a hammer and screwdriver but this destroys the tank first of all and is riskier from the standpoint of creating a spark around fumes. Along with that, you would make more noise and have to get under the car so that might prevent you from observing the area as closely as you need to.

The Gastapper is a system that runs with an electric pump and it is supposed to get around the anti-theft devices on modern cars. The video below shows the process which is a little more involved than the manual pump method but could be a great alternative if you do have electricity. This could also be a good device for obtaining fuel from underground fuel storage tanks at a gas station.

How to siphon gas from a newer vehicle

So there are a few methods of obtaining fuel in an emergency. I think I am going to get a manual fuel pump and stash that in my vehicle EDC kit for emergencies. What is your method of choice to siphon gas from a car?

Have you ever run out of gas? Imagine running out of gas when gas stations are no longer pumping fuel or you are on route to your bug out location

Because the topic has been discussed extensively, I had sworn off writing about investing in precious metals as part of a preparedness strategy.  However, everything I see on the subject seems so flawed and misleading that I simply cannot resist the impulse to share some alternate (or perhaps less-biased) views on the subject.

It seems that everyone who is advocating metal investments starts their sales pitch with the claim that the investor should buy metals to protect the value of their assets from a dramatic decline in the value of the dollar (aka ‘inflation’).  Eventually however, those same advocates close their pro-metal argument by predicting that the metal initially purchased for some number of dollars will ultimately be worth a great many more of those same dollars.

Surely I’m not the only person who sees the contradiction in measuring the success of an investment in terms of the very store of value that one has already called into question?  Someone who truly believes that the value of the dollar will plunge should not, in their next breath, define the success of any investment in terms of those same dollars.  To value things in terms of dollars is to worship at the altar of the dollar, and to lash one’s future to the mast of the sinking ship that all preppers seek to escape!

In this article I will provide a perspective on metals investing that is intended to enable the prepper to make the best possible decisions for their unique circumstances.

Why Metals?

Gold, silver and other metals are commodities, just as are oil, barrels of wheat and ‘pork bellies’.  These other commodities could also be used as a store of value; however there are some important reasons that precious metals are most often preferred:

  • Precious metals don’t degrade substantially over time.
  • Metals are easier to transport – they pack a large amount of value into smaller space.
  • Metals are ‘fungible’ – an ounce of bullion in one location can be exchanged for an ounce of the same bullion elsewhere with no change in value.
  • Unlike agricultural products, the value of metals does not change with the weather or other transient phenomena.

These characteristics of metals have made them an attractive store of value since the dawn of civilization.

It’s All About  V-A-L-U-E

If I were to offer to give you either a crisp, mint-condition twenty dollar bill or another old, weather-beaten twenty dollar bill that had been signed by Elvis Presley, which would you take?  Virtually anyone would take the old, signed bill over the new one simply because there is the belief that the value of the signed bill is much greater than the value of the new one (you could get more “stuff” for the signed bill).

Wise investors don’t think in terms of the dollar value (aka “price”) of their assets nearly as much as they consider the real value, which may not be directly expressed in any quantitative way at all.  For example, if you were to purchase a golf course in an city that a large golfing demographic is relocating into then you would simply know that the value of that investment is going to grow wildly, regardless of the value of the dollar or any other currency.

Ultimately it boils down to “what you can get for your investment”.  If you could purchase 100,000 gallons of regular gasoline with the money you paid for that golf course, and two years later you could sell that golf course and use that money to purchase 500,000 gallons of the same fuel, then you would know that you had made a very good investment.

This principal of ‘true value’ also applies when evaluating the value of the stock market.  There is a measure of the value of the stock market that is called the “DOW in gold dollars” (“DIG$”), which is basically a measure of the value of the DOW Joes industrial average as expressed in troy ounces of gold (a ‘troy ounce’ is a unit of weight that is very nearly 10% heavier than the more commonly used ‘avoirdupois ounce’ – for historical reasons precious metals are still measured in troy ounces.).

By considering value in terms of precious metals one completely takes the dollar (which has whatever arbitrary value the Federal Reserve decides to give it through control of the printing presses) out of your calculations.  Just image how much clearer a picture that would provide you in terms of making ANY sort of medium- to long- term financial decision!

It should be noted that the value of metals is itself not constant.  Theoretically someone might discover a mountain of silver somewhere which would cause the value of silver to plummet.  However, throughout history the value of metals has been vastly more stable than the value of national currencies.

Metals For Post-Collapse Barter

During and after a major disaster it may be impossible to find anyone willing to sell tangible goods for any number of dollars, however it may be possible to, in many instances, trade precious metals for needed goods and services.  Under those circumstances one should base one’s assessment of the value of their metals on their pre-disaster value.  For example, if one ounce of silver bullion were selling today for $20, then it is roughly selling for the price of two good meals or 5 gallons of regular gas.  During and after a major disaster one should expect the value of their metals to somewhat reflect those pre-disaster values.   During the post-disaster recovery the value may grow to be substantially higher, while during the disaster itself the value may be reduced a bit to reflect the fact that “you can’t eat silver”.

SIDENOTE: When my oldest son graduated from college and relocated to the other side of the country I gave him several one-ounce silver rounds, with instructions that he should always equate each of those to one-third of a tank of gas, or to a good meal for himself and his girlfriend.

Metals as the Debtor’s Best Friend

Homeless during the Great Depression

The paradox of precious metals – and one of the salient points that served as the impetus for this article – is that the most substantial advantage offered by metals accrues to those who are least able and likely to own them.  In an inflationary environment (and particularly in the hyper-inflationary environment that many preppers anticipate) the dollar value of precious metals becomes very high while the dollar value of debts remains fixed (in other words, the amount you owe for debts remains unchanged).  Imagine the case of someone purchasing a quality of metals for $1000 and having the dollar value of those metals increase to $100,000 – that individual might then sell those metals and use the cash from that sale to pay off a mortgage.

NOTE: During America’s Great Depression there were countless stories of families being evicted from their homes due to inability to pay their mortgage.  In today’s world the possession of precious metals may be the critical factor in one being able to preserve one’s home.

Meanwhile, the multimillionaire who almost certainly had no debt gets the advantage of preserving the value of his or her holdings, but does not realize the much larger windfall of paying off debt with ‘cheaper dollars’ (assuming that the multimillionaire is debt-free).

This is yet another important reason that preppers should give consideration to owning physical metals.  Perhaps, post-disaster, the dollar value of the metals does not increase sufficiently to pay off a mortgage; however it may very well enable the prepper to service that mortgage long enough for the economy to begin to recover.

Disadvantages of Metals

Holding precious metals is just one of many strategies that are available to the prepper.  Money that could be invested into metals could also be invested into gaining new skills and knowledge that will be needed post-disaster.  Unlike metals, skills and knowledge cannot be taken from you.

One very real risk that the prepper runs when investing in metals is a government confiscation similar to President Franklin Roosevelt’s Executive Order 6102, signed on May 1, 1933, that required all citizens holding more than 5 troy ounces of gold to sell their gold to the government (there were certain minor exemptions – for example for jewelers, dentists and sign-makers).  In today’s dollars the fine for non-compliance with the law was over $180,000 and/or up to 10 years in prison!

There are many who claim that there would never be a return of gold confiscation due to protections that have been built into today’s modern economy.  Perhaps these claims are accurate, but it is also not difficult to imagine metals being confiscated on principle alone, since “hoarding” of metals represents a lack of faith in ‘the system’ that ‘the system’ simply may not be willing to tolerate.  Regardless, if those with metals are forced to sell them at market rates the metals will almost certainly have still increased dramatically in dollar value before that time, and the money derived from that sale could still be re-invested in other preps.

Another disadvantage of holding physical metals is the risk of theft.  Laws have been passed that call into question the security of the contents of safe deposit boxes against seizure, and one must also question other 3rd parties that offer to store metals for the investor (particularly in the aftermath of a major disaster).  These considerations cause many savvy investors to maintain physical possession of their metals, with some actually choosing to bury their metals underground for safe storage.

Yet another risk associated with investment in metals is that they become so popular that yet another ‘bubble’ (this time a ‘gold bubble’) develops in the economy.  This could result in a dramatic drop in the value of metals.  Most experts do not believe that at present we are experiencing any sort of gold bubble.

NOTE: My grandfather was the kindest, most sweet and gentle man that I ever knew.  I never knew him to utter a harsh word about anyone … with the notable exception of President Franklin Roosevelt.  I believe the only time I ever heard him use swear words was with regard to President Roosevelt’s confiscation of gold.

Conclusion

Storing the value of one’s money in the form of precious metals is almost certainly a good way to protect its value from the ravages of (politician-controlled) inflation.  If one happens to have a significant amount of debt, the potential to later sell those metals and use the resulting cash to retire those debts is quite compelling.   There are other preparedness needs that should be addressed before any prepper should consider investing in metals (e.g. food, water, shelter and defense).  Once these fundamental needs have been satisfied, however, a judicious investment in precious metals could make a big difference in quality of life in the medium- to long- term following a major disaster.

Because the topic has been discussed extensively, I had sworn off writing about investing in precious metals as part of a preparedness strategy.  However, everything I see on the subject

 

There are options when we talk about stockpiling wealth or currency in preparedness folds. Precious metals (PM) as a preparedness item are a topic of some debate in and of themselves, with Suisse bars a love-hate or what? item inside the genre of unconventional currency. Some collect their PM’s in various forms of “junk” coins or bar form for the ease of acquisition and recognition value. Some collect gems instead, pointing out the number of immigrants who have arrived in various countries with fortunes in the linings of their clothing and the even more condensed form of wealth they offer. Some choose to go with keeping paper cash on hand, with the expectation that once cash is truly meaningless, there are other barter items available or it’s time to batten down the bunker hatches and compound gates and ride out the storm. There are others who point out various regional currencies as a way to hedge against loss.

Precious metals are sometimes maligned, with anti’s pointing out the bubbles involved with them and the amounts they’ve “lost” here and there with purchases. Many will also point out that you can’t eat a coin or sapphire.

Those anti’s are right.

You can’t eat a sapphire or coin, can’t use it to treat an infection, can’t wrap up in it to keep warm or use it to stitch up a torn udder. You also can’t immediately swipe them in the case of an emergency room visit to save a farm dog’s life at 3 a.m., even now. There are absolutely highs and lows in the value of gold and silver – like buying a house, there’s no guarantee that the value will go up.

One of the things we commonly hear about buying the precious metals deals with the larger weights, 50g and 1-oz. or more – the $20, $50 or $100 loaf of bread or can of beans argument. That can get thrown away, regardless of whether we go with coins or bars of one kind or another. There are both coins and bars that represent smaller amounts.

I don’t personally see precious metals (PM) as an investment with intended returns over purchase price. Instead, I see PM as another form of insurance, as an alternative to paper or an electronic balance. Certain things have had value since at least B.C. time-stamps, and PM’s and gems are among them even when a printed currency fails. They are a standby through most of the world and most of history.

Assign priorities

Even so, PMs are not and will not ever be my sole focus. Because we aim for different lengths of times and have different expectations and abilities, our priorities and what we focus on are going to be different.

Before we delve into precious metals (or anything – 5K rounds of ammo, 600 pounds of wheat, biodiesel big rigs) we should sit down and seriously consider what we are preparing for, why, and how much we can spend. I personally think immediate needs and existing debt should carry equal weight, but others will say max everything to get as many physical goods as you can and some will push to escape high-interest debt before moving beyond a standard hurricane, tornado or any other evac or shelter-in-place kit.

Lists are important in prioritizing. Listing with a firm eye toward wants and needs can help both in creating available budget and spending it wisely. Don’t assume you won’t reach retirement age without a mega disaster and that you’ll never need to pay health insurance and medical co-pay when you’re making your lists – include that additional savings and investment in your needs.

Suisse bars

When we’re ready to branch into backup currency, a lot of us hear about and jump on coins. I’m not totally against coins, but I don’t go that way exclusively or in a big, big way. I’m not jumping on the gem bandwagon, either. I kind of like Suisse bars.

Suisse bars are a type of bullion that come in thin sheets, regularly encased in plastic. There are now some that come in a break-away format that allows you to snap off small segments for smaller purchases or cash redemption. They are available in many several metals, but for our purposes, silver and especially gold suit my needs.

The gold bars come in pretty useful chips or little bars of 1, 2, 2.5, 5, and 10 grams, stamped with their weight and their purity, with an enclosed certificate when purchased from a respectable dealer. Those weights fluctuate in price, as gold pricing goes up and down, but are typically in the $40-50, $70-80, $90-120, $200-220, and $400-450 ranges at the moment, respectively. The smaller the denomination purchased, the greater the pricing markup, usually. However, there are those new-ish 20- and 25- and 50-gram divisible or “combibars”, such as JM Bullion and Austin Coins. Because of their specialty, they’re usually more expensive than if we’d purchased a solid bar.

Since I don’t often make thousand-dollar purchases, I usually skip the 20-gram and larger gold bars, just like I don’t delve into 1-oz. gold coins all that often. Smaller denominations cost me a little more now, but have more applications in any future.

Suisse bars are available for silver as well. Obviously, the value of silver is lower, so in some denominations, the ease of calculation is the only real benefit over a coin. However, they can help fill gaps between the greater values of gold coins or gold Suisse bars for purchases in the future.

Suisse bars versus coins

I consider a 5-oz. silver Suisse bar a lot more convenient than a specialty coin or roll of coins that total $100-120 in silver. I do have some silver coins, but as I move forward in life, I like the Suisse bars more and more.

When I get paid for a job, it’s sometimes in junk silver or oddball smaller gold coins. Since I don’t carry knowledge of all things in my head, I have to not only know the current spot price (which means a newspaper or the internet), but also each coin’s worth, the amount and purity of the PM in that coin. For me, that means some printed cheat sheets or a book.

The first time somebody showed up with a Suisse bar and asked how I felt about barter instead, my eyes opened. Now, since the bar itself and the stamp inside each little plastic credit card tells me the weights and purity, it’s super easy to do math using only a single sheet of reference for that spot price. I also don’t have to check to make sure those coins are all the appropriate silver-content without an “oops”, and the Suisse bars are easier for me to redeem than waiting for the coin guys to be there or to inspect each one in turn. Easy transactions are a good thing.

Now consider what I have to carry if I’m the buyer with junk silver and 1/10 gold coins.

I don’t commonly go to a store or go do a job for less than $20, and regularly, it’s a $40-50 trip. I rarely leave a supermarket without spending $50-100 and I have never had a service person out for less than $100. That means some of the 1- and 2-gram gold and the 20- and 50-gram silver Suisse bars very much have a place in my current spending.

Since we typically talk about the loss of value on the dollar, too, I can expect that a current $1-4 loaf of bread or apple fritters will go up, too. So I really might not have much use at all for those $2-10 denominations, anyway. Sure, some, maybe, so I can still get a cup of coffee and a meal while we’re in town, and tip the waitress (we’ve been exchanging metal bits for meals since the Dark Ages – it’s okay to envision it, honest). But I expect that if I ever fall back on them, modern society or knocked-back, knocked-down culture, those equivalents of today’s 20’s and 50’s will see a lot of use.

I need my book, really, because not everybody is going to trust a printout. I need the printout (or somebody’s declaration of spot price per ounce). And I need my assorted coins. Maybe I’m going to a pawn shop or bank to sell them for a mortgage or Buy’N’Large-appropriate cash, maybe a government is reestablishing or it’s a disaster more like the Civil War, Great Depression, Argentina, Bosnia, or Greece and I need to pay taxes on my property. Maybe I’m off to buy myself a new donkey or mule, and, hey, while we’re out, hit the blacksmith for a new file or hitch bar, or a septic man to come check my system. I’d like to be able to work in relatively small amounts like $20, $40, and $100, but I may also want to deal with $500-$2K.

With Suisse Bars, I can fit several thousand dollars flat on my person inside a belt, inside the lining of a vest or coat, inside my holster, and inside two or three pockets.

Suisse bars – especially in conjunction with some coins for $2-10 purchases – give me that flexibility, and I can fit several thousand dollars flat on my person inside a belt, inside the lining of a vest or coat, inside my holster, and inside two or three pockets. I need just that spot price, whether I print it weekly or cut it out of a paper and stash it monthly, and that fits nice and flat, too. They add some weight to a canteen, to the stiff panel of a holster or mag pouch, but they don’t add a lot of bulk and they don’t add the weight of 1925 dimes or 1943 quarters.

Compared to just the coins, the Suisse bars do take up more space due to the packaging, but that packaging is what allows them to be readily used as currency and barter even with people who aren’t currently preppers and who are going to be suspicious of the junk silver we like unless we present – and sometimes even with – a “real” book that shows their silver or gold value. The lack of trust may end up limiting our future options. The book alone is one more thing that I have to carry around, or I may end up losing more opportunities from non-hoarders. Since we like to do things in three around here, it’s not just one book or one set of cheat sheets.

Anything limiting is bad. Options are good.

I’d like to be able to use them pretty easily. Marked as they are, Suisse bars inspire a fair bit of confidence in recipients and come with an ease for calculation, use, and carry that coins or rolls of coins just don’t. Not for me.

Suisse bars versus gems

Something I see come up regularly when we talk about PM’s on forums or in person, is that soul who points out gems. It’s a point I acknowledge. However, when you start talking about gems you need three things: a knowledgeable buyer, tools for assessing value, and to be spending a fair bit at once.

You’re way past a how-to book for the uninitiated with even small diamonds. You’re into a loupe, and you have to find somebody willing to take them. If we run into the “you can’t eat a coin” mentality when we discuss PM’s, that goes double for the stones folks. Fewer people will just take your word for it on the value of a piece. A certificate for a stone or a piece of jewelry isn’t going to carry all that far, really, unless somebody can find a jeweler to confirm that value. There’s more time, more equipment, and more specialized skills needed to use gems as currency.

Now, if the Bad Thing that happens turns us into refugees fleeing into a working, functional country and city, my theory is dumb. Somebody with some nice, rare stones and gems stuck in the hollowed out chunks of their boot heels, grandma’s cane, and Cousin Louie’s hood seam are going to be able to readily find a shop, trade their gems for monies, and go be successful. I’m going to have a harder time stashing the same cash value worth of <5g Suisse bars than gem people or people with 1-oz. gold coins.

That’s a pretty specific scenario, though. Because they’re more versatile through more disasters of lesser and greater scales, I prefer the Suisse bars.

Buying in

There are some real scams out there associated with Suisse bars, especially. There are some stupidly overpriced coins, too, but because of the packaging, Suisse bars end up seeing a lot of markups and some unsavory types will always take advantage of wants, needs and fears and mark things up further.

Do your homework. Always.

A three-minute internet search can give you the going rate of bars and denominations, their shipping costs. That knowledge can be carried to a supplier (remembering that brick-and-mortar shops pay for overhead and that increases the price further). We can also call around to shops before we even go out the door so we know what a general starting price is for our areas and not be taken advantage of by unscrupulous types in our towns and cities, or plan a detour to buy from a larger supplier in a larger town somewhere, where bulk consumption helps keep consumer prices lower.

If you choose to buy online instead of with cash, for sure and 100% at least compare the prices against a reputable dealer like JM Bullion or APMEX, and be really, really sure Amazon and eBay are going to insure your purchase and the shipping. Do a BBB and internet search for the seller and company to find reviews. If they’re not 5-star sterling, buy elsewhere.

Suisse bars as a currency

The sizes and ease may make Suisse bars part of a solution for somebody who’s ready to invest in more than savings, retirement, and consumables. They aren’t for everybody, and neither are PM’s. I don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all fix for anything in life, really. But they are an option for backup or alternative currency, and they’re one I rarely see discussed (besides the scam alerts) so I wanted to point them out.

  There are options when we talk about stockpiling wealth or currency in preparedness folds. Precious metals (PM) as a preparedness item are a topic of some debate in and of

 

When we think of rugged individualism, we might think of men like John Wayne in old-time Westerns or we might think of places like Fort Worth, Texas, where the idea of rugged individualism was a way of life for the cowboys who lived there. What has happened to the American psyche? Why has the idea of rugged individualism, a strong mind, and a noble character become unfashionable? Today our politicians whine about how bad things are because the very infrastructure of the country that built the first modern transcontinental railroads in the world is crumbling faster than we can raise the money to put it all together again.

Today, we seldom think of the fictional courage of John Wayne or the real life mental strength of the hardcore men who drove cattle in the state of Texas. John Wayne has faded into a parody of the cheesy plot lines of early Westerns and while Fort Worth is still called a cow-town by tourists and locals, it’s best known as a place where Hispanic and Latino youth habitually abuse illicit drugs. Here is how Greenhouse, an AAC facility, describes Fort Worth:

“The rate at which this demographic abuses illicit drugs is high, especially among youths — Fort Worth’s most at-risk demographic. Between 2008 and 2011, past-year rates of illicit drug use among Hispanic and Latino teens rose by 20 percent, with marijuana use alone rising by 25 percent and ecstasy use by 36 percent.”

What America needs to be great again is not more disingenuous promises of reform made from political platforms or more media spin about how certain nations, ethnic groups, or religious persuasions are out to get us. What it needs is mental strength, rugged individualism, backbone, and character.

The Importance of Mental Strength

How important is it to be mentally strong in the face of disaster? How should you as a prepper overcome the things that hold you back like addiction and mental illness? What does it take to build your character before you hit a crisis? These are questions we seldom ask ourselves. If there should be an economic meltdown tomorrow because the national debt is $19.3 trillion and European Banks are in deep trouble, it is a collective return to character building alone that will help us maintain morale in a crisis.

nature-sky-sunset-man

When you are courageous, you realize that waiting will only make the situation worse, that now is the best time to take action, and that you are the best person to resolve the pressing calamity.

The 3Cs of Mental Toughness

Mental toughness can’t simply be defined as machismo, which is more an act than an actuality. It’s much more complex, perhaps a combination of courage, confidence, and commitment.

Courage – No one is born courageous. It’s not a gene some of us inherit and that others miss out on. Instead, it’s a learned behavior. Courage is taking proactive action despite shaking in our boots. Courage is the assumption of inner strength from facing the reality of difficult circumstances before you. It’s about reaching within even when the situation seems hopeless.

A well-known image of courage comes from Shakespeare’s King Henry V. When the young English king was addressing his small army of knights and archers to stand up against the overwhelming number of heavily armored, battle-seasoned French knights at the battle of Agincourt, he advised them to “Imitate the tiger: Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood.”

When you are courageous, you don’t run and you don’t hide. Instead, you face the situation without panic because you believe you can do what needs to be done as soon as possible. When you are courageous, you realize that waiting will only make the situation worse, that now is the best time to take action, and that you are the best person to resolve the pressing calamity. Although you still feel fear, you don’t let it stop you. Instead, you use it to strengthen your resolve. You don’t crumble in the face of obstacles, but feel resolute in the face of a challenge.

dollarphotoclub

Building confidence doesn’t happen as a giant leap of faith in yourself, it happens in small steps.

Confidence – Confidence does not come naturally to us. Throughout our lives, we have been criticized far more often than encouraged. This is why confidence is more like a muscle than an innate tendency. We build confidence by taking small steps in the right direction. Small steps may seem trivial at the time you do them, but they will help you make incremental improvements. Small steps lead to small successes. These tiny victories build up, slowly creating a permanent change in your self-appraisal.

Building confidence doesn’t happen as a giant leap of faith in yourself, it happens in small steps. These small steps are tangible. These small steps are like each sure-footed ascent up a steep mountain. Each small step eradicates a chunk of self-doubt while each act of courage and commitment eradicates a piece of irrational trepidation. It’s wise to celebrate each step to lock it into your memory.

Commitment – Without commitment, nothing happens; with it, anything is possible. Enough said.

If America is to save itself from chaos, it has to stop listening to talking heads who merely express canned political agendas. Instead, it has to reach back into its deep past to a time when courage, confidence, and commitment were a way of life. You as leaders in your family and community will be forced to take action one day. To step out of your comfort zone and act. No one knows now the time, place or situation you will be faced with, but we are all pretty much assured that day is coming. Are you ready?

  When we think of rugged individualism, we might think of men like John Wayne in old-time Westerns or we might think of places like Fort Worth, Texas, where the idea

 

People have been saying the US is on course for an economic collapse for years; however, many of them have no formal education in economics, and almost all gain financially from promoting stuff that would help others weather such a calamity.  I decided to research the opinions and publications of economists who were ideologically centered, were not benefiting financially, and understood the country’s true fiscal condition, and tried to provide an estimate of the most likely future economic situation of the US.  The future does not look bright.  Several economists anticipate the US will default on its debt if the country does not change its fiscal policies.

Two major factors are driving this conclusion.  The first is the size of the US debt.  According to economists, the government has been misleading the public on the size of the debt through poor accounting practices and using misleading terminology in certain fiscal activities.  In 2013 the debt was at least 91 trillion.

The second factor is that the US will never be able to repay the staggering debt because of changing demographics.  The American population is aging, and most economists agree this will have a deleterious effect on the economy.  Decades of abortion and birth control is resulting in increasingly smaller numbers of working age people.  Consequently, the government will collect much less revenue from income taxes.  Meanwhile, the dependence on the government for medical care and Social Security will continue to grow.  Most other developed countries are in the same situation – staggering debt and decreasing numbers of working age people.  If the US significantly defaults on its sovereign debt, a worldwide depression is very possible since national economies of the modern world are complexly interconnected.  Regardless if the US defaults or not though, we can expect higher taxation, loss of government services, higher inflation, and slower future economic growth.  In my estimation, the best way to prepare for all this will be for people manage their finances so they can pay their bills and survive with income from minimum wage jobs.  The future economy of the US is almost guaranteed to be poor.

mexico_city_empty_shelves

Empty shelves in Mexico

How bad is the risk of economic collapse?

Highly respected financial experts agree that the US is far deeper in debt than what the government officially reports.  In Feb 2015, Dr Laurence Kotlikoff, an economics professor from Brown University and former senior economist on President Reagan’s council of economic advisors, testified to the Senate Budget Committee that US debt is far greater than the government’s official tally, and the government has deliberately misled the public about the real size of it for years.  He testified that the government had been using Enron style accounting and misleading semantics to mask the size.  According to Kotlikoff, the government’s current 20 trillion debt is only a fraction of its fiscal obligations.  It represents the amount of money the government has borrowed only.  It does not account for other current and future obligations the government must pay such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, government pensions, and other expenses.

According to Kotlikoff, the fiscal gap between what the government must pay both now and in the future and what the government is projected to collect in taxes and other financial means amounts to 210 trillion.  He also spoke at length about how the government uses semantics to mask borrowing.  He used Social Security funding as one example.  The government does not term transferring Social Security funds from current taxpayers to pay current retirees as borrowing; however, this has the same effects economically as any other type of borrowing.  The government will have to repay current taxpayers when they retire and become entitled to Social Security.  According to Kotlikoff, if the government were to re-label this and other transfer of funds as borrowing, then the government would have to report the debt to be 210 trillion.  Most Americans are unaware of this, yet they will pay a cost for these financial obligations irrespective of whatever terminology the government uses.

Another economics expert, Jangadeesh Gokhale, conducted research on this independent of Kotlikoff, and his conclusion supports Kotlikoff’s argument; however, Gokhale came to a more modest estimate of the debt size.  Gokhale, a former senior economic advisor to the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland and member of the US Social Security Advisory Board, conducted an analysis in 2013 and estimated the real size of the debt to be 91 trillion.  Kotlikoff and Gokhale came to vastly different numbers because of different baseline assumptions, different datasets, and different fiscal projection time frames.  The public fiscal liability is far larger than what the government has led us to believe.

stock-market-crash

Jeffrey Hummel, an economics and history professor from San Hosea State University, argued in 2012 that the government would default on its debt as a result of this.  In a publication in Econ Journal Watch, Hummel argues that regardless if the debt is 79 trillion (Gokhale’s and Smetter’s 2006 estimate) or 210 trillion, the most likely outcome is that the government will be forced default on its debt.  According to Hummel, there are two obstacles currently preventing the calamity.  The first is the ability of payroll taxes to fund Social Security and health care programs (Medicare Part A).  When the trust funds for these programs are deleted and payroll taxes can no longer fund them, the government will have to obtain money from other areas.   Hummel believes that at this point, investors will begin to require a risk premium on Treasury Bills, and the cost for the US government to borrow money will increase.  This will exacerbate the government’s financial situation and cause investors to require even more risk premium.  The second obstacle is between currency and debt repayment.  Hummel believes the government will allow inflation to depreciate the value of currency until it reaches a tipping point when the government will have to choose between allowing currency become almost worthless and defaulting on its debt.  Hummel believes the US will choose to default.  Part of his reasoning comes from history.  Hummel suggests America will do what the former Soviet Union did in the 1990s which was to choose a partial repudiation of its debt.  Hummel argues that the default will be rapid when the US reaches its tipping point – very much like the speed at which the Soviet Union defaulted.  There are other factors which could cause a tipping point; however, these are Hummel’s two prime ones.  He estimates that the default will happen sometime within the next two decades.  A pessimistic view is that health care program funds will be depleted as soon as 2017, and the tipping point could be reached then.

Publications and opinions from other economists support Hummel’s contention.  Gokhale supports this conclusion in his monograph, The Government Debt Iceberg.  In the forward to it, Phillip Booth, the Program Director of the Institute of Economic Affairs, states that if no adjustments to the current fiscal situation are made, then “sovereign defaults on explicit (Treasury) debt and implicit pension liabilities must ensue.”  Kotlikoff testified that to prevent the default, the government must immediately and permanently raise income taxes by 60% or cut spending by 40%.  Most would agree this is politically unimaginable. Consequently, Kotlikoff believes that it is not a question of if the system will collapse but when.  The idea that the US will default on its debt comes from several well-respected economists.

What would a default mean?

It is safe to say that a significant default on the explicit (Treasury) debt, which currently stands at 20 trillion, would have severe repercussions throughout every aspect of the US economy.   A few years ago, Congress threatened to allow the government to default rather than raise the debt ceiling, and news agencies interviewed financial experts to find out what effect this would have on the economy.  Bloomberg News interviewed dozens of money managers, economists, bankers, traders, and government officials in an attempt to answer to this, and most saw a US default as a financial Armageddon which would very possibly result in a worldwide depression.  NBC News interviewed financial experts and identified seven likely consequences to a default on government debt.  The first and worst consequence would be a worldwide depression and unemployment as financial shock-waves spread through the economy.  Second, there would be a massive sell-off of the dollar causing prices to rise on everything from groceries to gas.  Interest rates would rise and decrease the ability to borrow.  Third, US equities would lose value causing 401k values to drop.  Fourth, Social Security payments would cease.  The fifth impact is banks would freeze operations.  According to NBC News, trillions in bank equity would be wiped out.  Banks would not roll over loans and would demand immediate loan repayments.  Since most small businesses pay their employees with rotating credit, many would not be able to retain their employees.  Sixth, Money Market funds would lose billions of dollars.  Every Money Market fund would be impacted.  And seventh, the global markets would see major disruptions.  Simon Johnson, former chief economist for the IMF, believes that no company in the US would be unaffected by a default.  In an article in Slate, he wrote that the country would see massive unemployment and bank runs along with depleted savings and refusal to issue credit.  Typically, news agencies try to dramatize news in order to attract viewers, and these opinions may be exaggerated.  Even if they are only half-true, a default would be devastating.  It would be a calamity.

bank

The main reason the government will not be able to repay its debt is due to changing demographics in America as well as the rest of the developed world.  America’s population is aging and there will be fewer working age people in coming years to support the older population.  Since the development of the birth control pill and other modern means of contraception as well as legalization of abortion in the developed world, the number of younger people has declined.  Normal age demographic distributions resemble a pyramid.  The bottom of the pyramid is large and represents the numbers of very young people.  The top represents numbers of elderly people, and it is small because as age increases there are fewer elderly.  For the first time in human history, the demographic is shifting to an upside down pyramid where there are fewer young people at the bottom and larger numbers of elderly at the top.   This holds true not only for America but China, Russia, Japan and most European countries as well.  All developed countries’ populations are aging.   Economists are not certain how this will affect economies since there are no historical precedents.  The general belief is that it will slow growth.  Of course, with the increase in elderly people there will be an increase in the number of people dependent on Medicare and Medicaid which will further drain government resources and deter its ability to repay its debt.  Depopulation will be a major factor in our coming economic demise.

There are a few people who make counter-arguments; however, they are weak.  One economist, Scott Sumner, does not disagree with Kotlikoff’s contention on the size of the debt, but he disagrees with Kotlikoff’s view that the country is broke.  He makes the point that if the country were broke, the bond markets would have reacted negatively.  He further makes the case that the courts have allowed the government to scale back the amount in Social Security payments, and suggests the government will do the same for this and other benefits.  The problem with this position is that it does not consider the political power of the elderly.  Currently, AARP represents and lobbies for about 50 million elderly people.  Sumner makes an implicit assumption that there will be a younger population of taxpayers to fund the needs of the older generations.  Another counter argument comes from Clem Chambers who is a writer, entrepreneur, and businessman.  In an article in Forbes titled “Why Doomsters Who Predict the Collapse of Money are Wrong,” Chambers contends that the government will simply maintain inflation to reduce debt.  His analysis is oversimplified and does not take into account many variables especially the depopulation factors and actual debt size.  He provides no supporting data or mathematical model to prove his conclusion.  He does not have any formal training in economics, and there are no economists that agree with his view.  For Chambers, the answer is blistering simple – just let inflation eat away the value of the debt.  Hummel believes that inflation will no more reduce the debt than an excise tax on chewing gum.  Chambers appears to simply have dismissed the argument of collapse without applying much analysis.  Another dissenting opinion comes from Joel Naroff, an economist from Naroff Economic Advisors.  In an Oct 2015 interview with Consumer Affairs reporter Mark Huffman, he stated that “consumers are spending, firms that supply into the U.S. based economy are generally doing well and with wages rising and energy costs low, consumption should remain solid for all of 2016.”  This was in response to questions about any coming economic collapse.  He was speaking about the current and near-term US economy however.  He didn’t address debt or depopulation in any of his statements.  There are few, if any, counter-arguments which include depopulation or the 91 trillion debt in their analysis.

greek-banks-on-holiday

So what will the future be like?

All economists agree that no one really knows, but there is strong probability of a few things.  We can expect high inflation.  Governments create inflation when they print more money to pay down debt.  Both Kotlikoff and Hummel agree that the government will not be able to significantly repay debt through inflation.  Hyperinflation is not likely.  Hyperinflation historically has been the result of a combination of a sudden expansion of the money supply and a weak central government which cannot collect taxes or make budgetary reforms.  It is associated with war, deep civil unrest and civil war.  The US government certainly has no problems collecting taxes, and there are no economists currently predicting hyperinflation; however, Kotlikoff commented in a television interview that the groundwork prepared for it.  We can expect increased taxation to pay for entitlements.  It is very possible we will see wealth taxes.  With reduced working age people, the government will seek to replace the loss of income tax revenue with another form of taxation. The government will likely increase taxes on IRA withdrawals.  We can expect fewer jobs because as the number of consumers decreases, the more businesses will fail.  According to Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff, two economics professors from Harvard, economic growth slows down an average of 1% when debt of countries with advanced economies reaches 90% of GDP.  The US is projected to reach 100% shortly after 2020.  This is probably a factor in the poor performance of the US economy in recent years.  Another factor affecting the economy will be the decrease in corporate investing.  Many people will move 401K investments out of riskier stocks and into money market accounts as they get older.  We can expect cuts in government services and loss of government jobs.  According to Rebecca Valenzuela, an Australian economist, there will be fewer goods since there will be fewer workers to produce them.  She argues that this will result in people having to stop consuming certain goods and services.  We can also very likely expect the government “official” debt to rise regardless of which political party controls the government.  The poor economic conditions and depopulation will prevent the government from raising the necessary funds to support the growing numbers of elderly dependent on government assistance.  The government will need therefore continue to borrow money.  The future will have numerous economic problems.

So how do you prepare for economic collapse?

In my opinion you have to be financially capable to live on a minimum wage job.  You have to be able to survive if you lose your job and can’t find anything better than a minimum wage job.  If you find yourself living under a bridge and foraging for food in the woods, it will most likely be because you lost your job and couldn’t make ends meet and pay your rent, mortgage, or property taxes with a job that pays $8.00/hr.   If you are able to get by on so little, then you will weather the coming economic storm better than those who are living above their means and lose their jobs.  It would be wise to reduce your personal debt.  It would eliminate concern about creditors repossessing your property.  It will give you more ability to apply money towards other things.  Relocating to a part of the country with a strong and diverse economy would be optimal.  Diversity is important because when one financial sector is doing poor, another is usually doing well.  You can further reduce your need for income by growing your own food.  I would liquidate your IRA.  I don’t think they will be there after economic chaos, inflation, and taxation ruin them.  My wife and I liquidated our IRAs and applied the funds against our mortgage.  Property, like precious metals, will keep value.  I would be prepared to have family members move in with you.  They will need help and may be able to provide help in weathering the storm.  I think the most important prep will be to pray for God to guide you in your efforts to prepare for whatever calamity the future holds.  God knows what is coming and what you will need, and I think He will guide and assist if you ask.  These are the things I recommend to prepare for the coming demise.

Links:

Kotlikoff testimony: http://www.kotlikoff.net/sites/default/files/Kotlikoffbudgetcom2-25-2015.pdf

Gokhale Monograph: http://www.iea.org.uk/sites/default/files/publications/files/Gokhale-Interactive-PDF.pdf

Hummel monograph: http://econjwatch.org/articles/some-possible-consequences-of-a-us-government-default

Bloomberg article on default: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2013-10-07/a-u-s-default-seen-as-catastrophe-dwarfing-lehman-s-fall

Simon Johnson’s Slate article: http://www.slate.com/articles/business/project_syndicate/2011/07/what_if_the_government_defaults.html

NBC News default article: http://www.nbcnews.com/business/whats-worst-could-happen-7-debt-default-doomsday-scenarios-8c11366851

Economics on ageing population: https://www.economicshelp.org/blog/8950/society/impact-ageing-population-economy/

Economics of ageing population: http://www.economist.com/node/18651512

  People have been saying the US is on course for an economic collapse for years; however, many of them have no formal education in economics, and almost all gain financially

Say what you will about paper money, but it sure has made the process of buying things convenient. And plastic credit cards… well, perhaps they make purchasing a little TOO convenient. But what will happen when the day comes when paper money is no longer issued or backed by the government? What will happen when our credit and debit cards slide for the last time? Commerce and industry will never disappear, there will always be people buying, trading and selling. The only difference will be how they will be doing it once today’s money loses its value. So, below we’ve put together a list of 10 bartering items that will be worthy of trading for those days ahead, on the other side of that moment we call when the SHTF…

Information/knowledge

If you know how to do something and another person doesn’t, and the other person needs to know how to do that thing, then you have something of value. Some examples of knowledge that would be valuable for those days after the SHTF could be things such as an understanding of gardening and growing foods, basic medical knowledge, an understanding of herbs and medicines, skill in animal husbandry, skill in midwifery, skill in hunting, tracking or defense. Even a skill in storytelling might help you come out ahead at times. I mean, everyone wants someone fun to sit around the fire with!

So, while you’re preparing for those days ahead and storing your food and water, don’t neglect yourself or your brain. With the right decisions and knowledge what you see when you look in the mirror might be the most valuable bartering object you have!

Fabric

knit

Everyone needs fabric to keep themselves and their loved ones protected and warm and if the factories aren’t running eventually there will be a shortage. What fabrics you would want to save depends on where you live and what your lifestyle is. Lighter fabrics might be somewhat valuable in warmer climates, but in the cold and the mountains, thick wool fabric can be a literal lifesaver. Whether it’s mending a ripped coat or stitching a new pair of pants for a growing child, sometimes a thin layer of fabric is the only thing we have between us and a cold death.

Precious Metals

money

We humans have used precious metals like gold and silver for trading for tens of thousands of years. Usually precious metal is traded in coin form. Gold and silver coins are considered valuable due to their scarcity (there is not a lot of it and it’s hard to mine) and their how small and easily transportable they are.

While gold and silver coins will likely always have some degree of value you still can’t eat them or wear them, they won’t keep you warm and they won’t keep you out of the rain. Because of that gold and silver coins won’t likely have much value in the days immediately after the SHTF because people will be more worried about more immediate needs (like food and protection). But, once things start to calm down and an economy begins to reform it’s more than likely that gold and silver coins will once again claim value.

“Shoes”

work-boots

When I say “shoes” I don’t mean only shoes. What I really mean is any type of item that is both necessary and that also wears out with regular and sustained use. Shoes are simply a good example of this sort of item. This doesn’t mean I suggest you clear out the back portion of your garage and stock up on shoes the next time the shoe store has a sale. I’m simply reminding you that people aren’t going to want to have bare feet. And if you have shoes… well then…

Survival Gear

Yes, I know this is a huge category. It’s spans everything from knives to tents, from water purifiers to binoculars. But there is no denying that when things go south objects and items that help people stay alive will be in great demand and any item in great demand has trading value. With this in mind, when you upgrade to new equipment you might not want to throw out the old stuff. That old pair of binocs, while perhaps not something you’ll be using anytime soon, might be worth a week (or a month) worth of food to the right person.

Canned Food

This is an obvious one. We, humans, need food every day, but every day lots of food spoils or goes bad. Canned and bottled food is the answer to this problem. When properly stored some canned and bottled food can last for decades or more. That’s a lot of flexibility in food storage. And, if after a couple of years you’re sick of your bottled green beans then perhaps you can find someone else who’s sick of their bottled beets and boom! You’ve got a trade (and thankful taste buds).

Guns

bestgun

Another obvious one. Guns, guns and more guns. Whether it’s a .22 or a .306, a pistol or a shotgun, few things will be more valuable than guns for when the SHTF. Guns can be used to provide food for yourself and your family, they can be used to protect your loved ones and to defend your own food. Perhaps one of the most valuable thing about guns isn’t shooting them at all, but simply the knowledge that you could shoot if you needed to.

One caveat that comes with bartering guns, make sure you trust who you’re trading the gun(s) to. A gun doesn’t care who’s holding it, it’s a tool, nothing more. And a gun in the wrong hand can do immense degrees of harm to you and the ones you love. So, if you have enough guns and see a value in trading feel free to do so, but don’t hand a gun over to a man or woman who will be likely to simply turn the gun around and use it on you.

Alcohol

whiskey

Even if you don’t drink it, chances are there will be someone nearby you that does, and they might be willing to trade you quite a bit for the chance to taste a bit of alcohol again.

Plus, alcohol can be used for more than just drinking. It can be used as a cleaning liquid, as a solvent, as a fuel and even as a preservative! And as long as the bottles are kept closed alcohol will store for basically forever. If you’ve got shelves full of canned and bottled food then you might want to consider adding a bottle or two, or twenty, of alcohol to your collection. You just never know when it will come in handy, and you never know just how much someone else will be willing to trade for it.

Dried Foods

Dried foods are in the same category as canned and bottled foods. The only difference is that the fact that they are dried means they are lighter and easier to transport. Because of this, dried foods will find their greatest value in a society or world that is moving and transitory. If you live in a cabin in the woods then you might want to invest in bottled foods. If you’re living in a tent and moving around then dried foods will be your best caloric value.

Bullets

bullets

And here we are, item #1, what some might argue could, at the end of the day, be the most valuable trading item for those days on the far side of that moment where the SHTF. Bullets. Bullets? You might ask. Why would bullets be so valuable?

A handful of reasons. First, like precious metals, bullets are both difficult to manufacture and they are small and easily transported. Plus, like food or fabric, bullets have a utility value since they can be used to keep you and your loved ones alive. Like canned or bottled food, bullets have a very long “shelf life”. In addition, guns are mostly worthless without bullets so, if your neighbor is the guy with all the guns, and you are the one with all the bullets then chances are you’ll have a lot to talk about.

Many different types of bullets can also be reloaded and used multiple times as well. Due to all these elements, bullets will always have a great value in a post SHTF world.

At the end of the day, intelligence should be used while you prepare for the future and when you are preparing and prepping be sure you make the best purchases, especially with the goal of being able to barter in that strange new world.

Say what you will about paper money, but it sure has made the process of buying things convenient. And plastic credit cards… well, perhaps they make purchasing a little TOO

 

For Preppers, unless you think the government will never be interested in you, reducing what they know about you and yours is a necessity. Perhaps you have switched over to cash to avoid being tracked through credit, debit, gift, phone and customer loyalty cards, but have you stopped to consider how safe is your cash? Maybe you have heard about the possible threat of radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips that are or might someday be embedded in paper money. Don’t worry, the Feds have a potentially much easier way to follow you and your cash. And even if this technology is not as good as RFID, it probably has the potential to provide the government, and hackers, with information you really wish they did not have.

For most of us, the point of origin of our cash is an ATM or bank teller, while some of us use check cashing services. If you get paid by cash, be patient, we will get to that by the end of this article. All that money is counted by machines. It is likely those machines can scan serial numbers to check on the number and denomination of the bills they count or dispense. You can no longer just avoid new bills with consecutive serial numbers; circulated unmarked bills are no longer safe either. So the NSA can know where you were, when, how much, in what denominations and what serial numbers your cash withdrawals are. If they do not know this now, then they will, just as soon as they want to; the technology already exists.

What do you do with your money?

Eventually you have to spend it; otherwise it is useless, unless you like really expensive toilet paper. If you spend it at a business, then they get your $20s. If the cashier will not accept $50s, $100s or cash checks, then they do not give out $20s as change to anyone. Those $20s go to the bank every night. Now the government knows where, what day, and about how much money you spent at that business. Now if you spend it at QuickChek or Wawa, then all they know besides your movements is that your cholesterol is probably going up. They wouldn’t let your health care insurance know, would they? But what if you spend it at a gun store, strip club, drug dealer, gay bar, church donation plate, liquor store, casino or the gas station nearest your survival hideout? How much of your sense of safety would you bet that the administration would not give this information to the ATF, DEA, FBI, IRS, your spouse, your employer or let it leak to social media? Maybe they will hold the information until they need your silence or compliance. Think about this: Are all hacks and data breaches really done by anti-government activists? Maybe some information is intentionally released, or left in insecure places. The government knows when and where you get your cash and knows the day and location that you spend your $20s.

nsa-prism-government-surveillance-humor

What about other denominations? Since people get much of their money in $20s, they do not get most of their $1s, $5s and $10s from banks or check cashing services; they get them as change. Some of that change comes from the float that stores need to make change, but the rest comes from customers. A lot of places find it easier to withdraw a new float each day when they deposit their cash. Now the government knows the point of origin of those smaller bills. The closer to opening time that you buy something, the more likely you are to get a bill from the float. Of course, Uncle Sam cannot be sure the change you receive comes from that store, maybe it got to you through a third-party, but over time a pattern emerges.

It is a lot more likely, especially if you frequent the same store, that the money is yours and not some third party’s. Still, the government does not know who you are, unless you deposit those bills. If Washington D.C. is using face-recognition software through the security cameras at your local 7-Eleven to track you, then you have got bigger problems than having them follow your cash. If you spend money at most stores, unless it is almost closing time, then your small bills go to the next person and you become their third-party. Basically you are pretty safe with small bills, unless you deposit it in a bank or use a credit card with the transaction, such as for the room deposit at a motel.

What if you run a cash business?

If you accept some checks, then your cash revenue is probably close to being equal to your expenses. At least some of your customers do not care about cash security and you cannot tell them you will not take anything bigger than a $10 bill on a $1,000 job. Now you have $20s with your customers name on them. Small businesses like to use cash to pay their suppliers and employees. Those businesses will put your $20s into their bank and now the government knows that your customers’ money just went to one of your suppliers, but they do not know who you are, yet. Even minimum wage employees will deposit part of their pay if they have a bank account. Now the government knows your employees were paid, ultimately, from your customers. If they mine all the meta-data on your customers, employees and suppliers, can the government find you, determine your customer list, know your gross and net revenue, and what taxes you have due? Maybe, maybe not. But, if you deposit even one $20 bill from a customer, the odds they can track you just went way up. Why, because you are one of the few small business owners in the loop.

allseeingbigbrother

Oh, what if you are the customer? The government now knows where you shop and to a certain extent, for what you shop. Building a grow room (so you will be positioned when your state legalizes marijuana)? Building a shelter or secret room? Bulletproofing your hideaway? Getting your car survival-ready? Bought a safe, an attack dog, a hunting bow, ammonium nitrate, acetone & hydrogen peroxide, 10,000+ rounds of ammunition? $20s and larger bills can have the government at your door, either now or when they think the SHTF.

What if you get paid in cash? Much of the above also applies to you. Plus, if you get paid in twenties that originated from several of your employers’ customers and you deposit them in a bank, then the government can quickly tell you are being paid under the table. Now they can blackmail you, or get you to turn state’s witness against your employer. If your bank, like mine, is paying 0.03% interest, why do them the favor of depositing money?

Here is a potentially difficult and inconvenient, but very helpful trick: trade your cash with other people in cash intensive businesses:

  • Taxi drivers
  • Contractors, electricians, roofers, plumbers, etc.
  • Convenience stores
  • Adult entertainment clubs
  • Used car, motorcycle or boat dealers that finance their own sales
  • Liquor stores
  • Restaurants
  • Parking garages
  • Car wash facilities
  • Charitable organizations
  • Jewelers

If they are hesitant to swap cash, you can offer them $1 on every hundred. Obviously, only trade with people you do not mind the government thinking you do business with (i.e. leave out your drug dealer). Also try to trade with as many different people (and not too many preppers) as possible, lest they pick up on a pattern.

Bottom line: Get rid of your $20s ($50s and $100s) at places you do not care if Big Brother knows you shop there. Do not use your small change near closing time or deposit it in a bank. Do not deposit cash in a bank anyway, you will need it soon enough. The last question is not “Am I being paranoid?” the last question is “Am I being paranoid enough?”

  For Preppers, unless you think the government will never be interested in you, reducing what they know about you and yours is a necessity. Perhaps you have switched over to

 

If the catastrophic event you’ve been preparing for does one day come about, it will be a fearsome test of your survivalism. Like any test, some will not pass. But in this case the consequences for valued loved ones might be heart-rending. Preparation may be the answer, but whether it’s civil war, war with a foreign power, economic collapse, or social unrest, centralized money will have in one way or another been the root cause. Because whatever the event that tears apart the fabric of this country, the policies fueled by our fractional-reserve banking system-inflated fiat currency, and its petrodollar role, will certainly have taken us there.

Individual interests tend to focus in different directions than centralized ones. There are few parents, for example, who if given a choice would elect to have their children go hungry, thirsty, sick, or uneducated so they could spend money-making war with their neighbor. Their interests are naturally aligned to prioritize the well-being of their children. In a centralized government the vast majority of decision-making power does not rest with us or the people around us. In the absence of this authority decisions must by necessity follow money. And wherever the money is, whether it is in governments, corporations, or private individuals, if it is not with us it is always by definition aligned separately from our interests.

Through currency inflation, centralized money is not only then a means of extracting wealth from all who use it, but also a tool to further the interests of the centralized entities controlling it. Because money naturally moves public policy and broad societal and cultural changes in the direction in which the money flows; like an irresistible tide. There will of course be broad patterns to the directions that the flow of corporate money causes both popular culture and public policy to move in. Centralized money will flow towards policies and social changes that lead to the further centralized accumulation of money. A broad swath of society drifting with this current will move with amazing synchronicity, as if connected to invisible strings all pulled by the same hand. In the bigger picture, compared to this centralization, the leader, party, or system of government you believe you are electing may not even matter. It doesn’t have to be a conspiracy. Every act of this centralized tide of money will be in its own interest. That power will centralize this way should not be hard to imagine. It’s already doing so.

The Creature from Jekyll Island: A Second Look at the Federal Reserve

Decentralized money is a key part of any model capable of ensuring a better alignment between the decision-making process and individual interests, the alignment that best ensures a tangible focus on the well-being of the people and environment immediately around us. This may seem like a radical idea, but it was only this century that bank promissory notes (in effect a type of currency issued by each bank) gave way to the centralized Federal Reserve system.

This finer point of decentralizing cash among different currencies is often lost. Though currencies like Bitcoin may be decentralized in their technical operation, they are still single currencies that permit one individual’s stored value to be speculated away by another person who did not earn it. They are still a means of wealth extraction.

A truly decentralized system of currency carries its value around with it independently of the guarantee of any centralized entity or of any single network to uphold that value. Gold and silver are options of course, but gold is heavy and having the waiter at your favorite restaurant divide your gold bar into change is inconvenient.

Technology may soon come to the rescue, enabling individuals to store and exchange value using a sophisticated system of IOU exchange in which value is stored in terms of IOU contracts held between members of the community. Such a system would track the collective collateral of the community, using that aggregate value to back the value of an IOU between two parties so that value can be transferred to a third. This system will allow the value of the currency to be guaranteed by the community itself as a whole when trading externally. During actual physical exchange the existence of sufficient collateral to cover an IOU document could easily be verified. In the absence of a telecommunications or other network the recipient will simply choose whether or not they trust the certificate embedded into the IOU, and whether they trust the community that issued it before deciding to accept the IOU as payment in a transaction. Like we do now.

These IOUs will of course be documents you can print out. But imagine they look like dollars. And the certificate of authenticity from your community, the community guaranteeing the value of the IOU … imagine that certificate looks just like the fraud protection features of the dollar. And finally, imagine that your signature is a serial number. All of this brings us to a pretty counter-intuitive realization. The ideal system of currency is printing your own money.

Printing your own money is a key part of the peer-to-peer, decentralized, user-centric, and collaborative economy we’ll have to depend on to create stable prosperous employment that can survive a currency collapse.

How specifically will a peer-to-peer, decentralized, user-centric, and collaborative economy serve your local community?

  • Design of products for local manufacturability by unskilled workers will create a more inclusive economy.
  • Design to allow for operation in areas disconnected from any infrastructure will create more equitable development.
  • Injustice results when demographics are under served. Key requirements of massive collaboration are algorithms that harvest the collective wisdom and motivations of groups. Collaborative motivation algorithms will identify the most powerful interests of each demographic to align services with their collective interests. Collective intelligence algorithms will quickly identify the most effective services to achieve those interests for each demographic. After identifying the most effective services for each demographic, peer-to-peer, user-centric, decentralized infrastructure would enable separately customized services to be deployed regardless of infrastructure limitations, thereby best serving the needs of each individual in each demographic.
  • In addition, we need to simplify work and simplify collaboration in ways that lower the bar to involving more people in internships and other training programs, as well as simplify the deployment of business models for collaborations that allow participants to earn a living wage. This will benefit all demographics through, for example, making education more effective, cost efficient, and accessible, through the creation of job opportunities, and through increased access to services like health care.

With this blueprint, independent communities can quickly build all the services they need in a way that’s customized directly for them, and that prioritizes their own family and loved ones rather than the interests of centralized bureaucracy that undermines their needs.

In this article I’ve laid out a vision for taking back control of a country that’s gone way off course. For me, this vision was one that demanded to be shared. As part of the audience who understands the magnitude of what may be coming, if this vision inspires you, take the opportunity to share and inspire others as well. Some of them just might be the makers who dream big enough to build it. The blueprint is there. The next step is yours.

  If the catastrophic event you’ve been preparing for does one day come about, it will be a fearsome test of your survivalism. Like any test, some will not pass. But