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Why We All Lose If the Fed Wins

Fighting the wrong battles
Monday, August 19, 2013, 6:20 PM

So let's pretend for the moment that the Federal Reserve gets everything it has stated it wants.  And even further, that Washington, D.C. gets everything it wants, too.

The credit markets are repaired, and massive new loan growth flows out the door.  Loans are made to businesses that hire gobs of new people.  Consumers borrow and borrow some more to go to school and buy homes, cars, and gadgets.

Inflation remains low and job growth explodes.  Tax receipts climb and the deficit falls.  The stock market goes higher and higher, gold falls and then falls some more, as confidence in the system, its masters, and its institutions grows.

The Fed wins and D.C. wins.

But in reality, we all lose.

It's all just a matter of timing.

Unsustainable

If we hold the view that humans are behaving unsustainably in terms of any of the 'three Es' the economy, energy, or the environment then any rapid resumption to a paradigm of exponential growth in our consumption of natural resources -- or in our growth of debt over income -- simply takes us more quickly to the bitter end of this story.

What good does it do to return to rapid economic expansion if we have not figured out how we are going to supply sufficient water for agriculture and basic living needs to the major population centers around the world?  What's our plan for reversing collapsing oceanic fisheries?  When do we have the substantive conversation about the long-term implications of the continuing Fukushima disaster? 

Omnipresent signs of ecosystem stress -- ranging from dying bees to increasingly chaotic weather patterns -- suggest strongly that we need to be doing things differently and with an eye towards resilience.  On the energy front, the temporary bonanza of oil and gas from U.S. shale plays is just that: temporary.  We need to be talking about where we want to be positioned when that, too, ends.

The really big picture here is that our economy, such as it is, is predicated on ever larger amounts of stuff being extracted, refined, produced, and then discarded.  It's a model that works just not sustainably.

Instead of wondering where we're headed and engaging in a bit of introspection, all eyes are on the Fed to see if it can engineer higher stock prices while keeping interest rates low. So conditioned are the masses locked in this system, it's as if financial assets all by themselves are both necessary and sufficient to secure a prosperous future. 

Without understanding the actual nature of where we are in this story, there's no way to meaningfully adjust our course towards a different destination.  For now, I will constrain this analysis to the Fed and to the economy, and show that their efforts have not borne the fruit they hoped for and that it's well past time to admit that the grand money-printing experiment has not worked out as planned.

If we simply pump the economy back up at any and all costs, we will win that battle. But we'll lose the larger war.  What we should be doing instead is using this as an opportunity to address some of the hard questions about where we are, where we are headed, and what kind of world we wish to enter into (and leave behind for our progeny).

Turning Japanese

In 1999, when Bernanke was essentially campaigning for the position of chairman of the Fed, he wrote a paper that lambasted Japanese monetary officials for not doing enough to prevent a sustained period of low inflation, sluggish economic growth, and torpid credit market growth:

Before becoming Fed chairman, Mr. Bernanke led a band of U.S. academics who argued that Japanese officials weren't doing enough to jolt their economy out of its torpor. In a 1999 paper, Mr. Bernanke lashed out at Japanese officials, saying their country's woes were the result of their own "self-induced" paralysis. Japan's responses to deflation, he charged in atypically blunt terms, were confused, inconsistent and too cautious.

(Source)

The basic ideas he set forth were simply that the proper course of action for Japan (said easily enough from his armchair academic position at Princeton) was to simply do more, promise more, and not pull back from stimulus until the economy and inflation were behaving properly.

If they had, he argued, then they could have avoided a prolonged period of low growth, high unemployment, and declining inflation.

More from that same article:

At a conference at sponsored by the Boston Fed in Woodstock, Vt., that October [1999], Kazuo Ueda, then a BOJ policy member, issued a warning to the largely American audience: "Do not put yourself into the position of zero rates," he said. "I tell you it will be a lot more painful than you can possibly imagine."

Mr. Bernanke shot back that Japanese policy makers might be making the same "extreme policy mistakes" Americans made in the 1930s—being too timid about reversing deflation. A few weeks later, in a blistering research paper, he said even though conventional tools were expended, there was plenty the Japanese could do to boost consumer demand, business spending and prices.

Among his suggestions: Cheapen the yen by selling it in the currency markets; or buy long-term debt from the Ministry of Finance to finance tax cuts, something he said was akin to just dropping money from a helicopter.

One objection at the time was that Japan's economic problems weren't the result of too little stimulus by the central bank but of structural problems in Japan's banking system and in protected industries.

Mr. Bernanke said structural problems didn't negate the need to find ways to push up consumer demand and business spending.

"Japanese monetary policy seems paralyzed, with a paralysis that is largely self-induced," he concluded. "Most striking is the apparent unwillingness of the monetary authorities to experiment, to try anything that isn't absolutely guaranteed to work."

Well, here we are, six years into Bernanke's own Japanese experiment, and the U.S. is mired in low growth, high unemployment, and declining inflation.  To be blunt, none of his ideas are working out as easily in practice as they did on paper.

The hubris, the easily rankled ego of an academic, was on high display in Bernanke's comments to the Japanese. And that brings us to the nub of the issue today: the Fed's utter failure to back up and admit that its grand strategy is simply not working as planned here.

The (Ugly) Data

The evidence that the Fed's own efforts to shock the economy back to life have failed is quite clear.  Anecdotally, pretty much everyone knows exactly what would happen to the equity and bond markets if the Fed stopped injecting $85 billion into the financial system each month: they would crater.  So even there, we'd have to give the Fed a poor grade, if not a failing one, for creating markets that are now over-dependent on easy money.

Let's start with employment or rather, its inverse, unemployment because that's the main thing to which the Fed has tied its quantitative easing (QE) program (QE). 

At first glance, it looks as though the Fed is winning the day, because even though unemployment is quite elevated by historical standards at 7.4%, it's at least moving in the right direction:

Like all U.S. government statistics, the headline number is about as fuzzy as they come, and it deserves just a little bit of inspection before we place much confidence in it.

To calculate the unemployment rate requires you to know two things: how many people are out of work, and how many can work.  But the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the government agency that calculates the employment figures, has spent decades introducing one exclusion after another in order to reduce the accounting total for people who are out of work each time with the effect of reducing the headline unemployment rate. 

After all, if fewer people are 'out of work', which means they are not counted, then the unemployment rate will be lower.  A smaller numerator creates a smaller fraction.

Fortunately, the BLS still calculates a more rigorous definition of total unemployment (although it is still not completely accurate) that goes by the name "U-6", which it defines as follows:

U-6 Total unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force

This alternative measure of unemployment and underemployment stands at 14.0%, or nearly double the headline rate.  It excludes those who have not even looked for a job in the last 12 months, and there's good reason to believe there are a lot of those individuals right now.

Evidence of that comes from the labor force participation rate, which measures all those who have a job (and, yes, having a part-time job counts the same in this calculation as having a full-time job).  It has fallen to painful levels:

In the above chart, where everyone who is employed is divided by everyone of employment age, we can see that just under 59% of working-age Americans are employed.  We have to go back to the early 1980s to find a similar employment proportion, and here we'll note that it is much harder to get by on one salary today than it was in times past, indicating something of the hardship embedded in this number.

It stands to reason that a lot of people who want to work, but have not looked recently enough to be counted, are contained in the above chart.

One other way we might surmise that some people have not looked for a job in over a year is to look at how long people tend to remain unemployed once they lose their job.  Here the data is particularly grim:

Note that this chart is of the mean duration of unemployment.  So roughly half of all people are out of work for just over 35 weeks, and half are out of work for longer than that.  If we imagine a nice spread to the data, perhaps a reasonable bell curve, then it's not hard to imagine that quite a few people are well over the 52-week mark and that some of them could easily fall through the statistical cracks.

If QE is helping to bring down unemployment as the Fed claims and the media carefully repeats, then it's not clear at all that it's helping to bring down the mean duration of unemployment from levels that are without precedent in the 60-year-old data set. 

One other area in which QE has failed to help is in the types of jobs created.  Of the meager few jobs created since the start of the financial crisis and recession in 2008 and 2009, respectively, nearly 4 million of them have been part-time jobs, which are counted and reported by the BLS with the exact same weighting as full-time jobs:

Here again we will note that QE is not having its intended effect if the goal is to create high-paying, full-time jobs.  Instead, all we are getting are a lot of part-time jobs (i.e., lower pay and without benefits).  Through the first 7 months of 2013, 953,000 jobs have been created. A full 731,000 of those, or 77%, have been part-time. 

Of course, it's silly to blame QE for this, because QE has nothing to do with initiatives like Obamacare, which is one of many contributing factors towards more part-time work being offered and performed.  But then again, that's the point.  It's just plain silly to tie QE to employment at all in the first place, but that's what Bernanke did, which is why we're taking such a detailed look at it here.

On the subject of GDP growth, the data is even more dismal.  The 'bounce' seen after the recession allegedly ended in 2010 is the worst on record, and GDP growth currently stands at a rate not seen outside of the context of a recession at any point over the prior 60 years:

For all of the talk of recovery and improvement and corporate earnings and such, and even with all of the statistical wizardry of the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) at work, the GDP numbers here are indistinguishable from those of Japan after its bubble burst and the Bank of Japan began fighting its deflationary monster.

The other similarities to Japan are that the U.S. Fed is now stuck with a zero interest rate policy and finds itself in the business of monetizing enormous quantities of U.S. federal debt.

Like Japan, the U.S. finds its sovereign debt loads not just growing, but exploding at the fastest pace on record for six years now:

The summary here is that Bernanke, after dissing the Japanese efforts, has little more to show for his efforts than they do.  The economy remains weak, inflation is low, he's trapped in a 0% interest rate policy, unemployment remains stubbornly high, and federal debt is exploding.

In fact, he does have results.  It's just that they are indistinguishable from those of the Japanese.

In Part II: The Real Story to Focus On, we clarify the real issues we need to be dealing with if we want our entry into the future to be anything longer-lived than a kamikaze mission. 

The Fed is doing an excellent job of demonstrating how fighting the wrong battles leads to losing the war.

If we want different results (and I do), then we need different behaviors.  To get those, you must either change willingly through insight, or else stonehearted reality will force you to on its terms.

If we don't chose the former, the latter is a guarantee.

Click here to access Part II of this report (free executive summary; enrollment required for full access).

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81 Comments

davefairtex's picture
davefairtex
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our national conversation

The macro view Chris lays out is impossible to argue with.  I agree 100%.

As a metaphor, I'm reminded of the small book entitled "Who Moved My Cheese."  For those that have read it, our friends at the Fed have decided to continue returning to the spot where our cheese used to be, hoping against hope that somehow the cheese will return all on its own.  Of course its not quite that black and white, but - fundamentally, the effects of Peak Everything together with the popping of a multigenerational debt bubble must lead every thinking person to conclude that we must change our thinking in radical ways or else eventually our society will pay the ultimate price.  As long as we as a society continue wasting our time metaphorically returning to the spot where our cheese used to be, forward progress will not occur.

I look forward to the day when our national conversation is about the large collection of predicaments Chris has laid out, and the various ways we can move our society and its infrastructure from where we are, to where we need to be.  Someday, it will be.  We are just early.

Grover's picture
Grover
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Kick the Can-can as Long as You Can-can

The architects of Obamacare had to know that there would be consequences to any triggering conditions in the legislation. If there is less work, but the administration is being directly measured by the unemployment rate, wouldn't it look better to have more people sharing the work? Set the conditions for business to hire more part-time workers and the unemployment rate decreases without changing the total hours worked. It is hard to believe that this "benefit" wasn't planned. It allows the can to be kicked down the road a bit longer.

A half century ago, machines were relatively simple. Most required operators to function. Labor was a necessary evil for the capitalists to convert resources into finished products. The worker's wages then bought the manufactured products. It was a virtuous circle. Since then, machines have gotten more sophisticated and significantly cheaper. Many operate semi or completely independently. That saves the capitalists the expense and hassle of a few more human employees. Robot's capabilities advance at an exponential rate, similar to Moore's Law for computing. They are replacing humans at an increasing rate in more diverse fields.

If you've ever had employees, you know the headaches that come with them. If you could get a robot to do the work, why would you hire a human ... especially if the robot performed the task adequately at a lower unit cost? As robots become more capable, there will be fewer positions that give humans advantages. Humans will become more and more obsolete.

So, what happens when robots are capable of performing most (or all) jobs? If we had infinite resources available, it could turn into a panacea with a life of leisure for everyone. In reality, we're already bumping up against the petri dish on many fronts. We're strip mining the oceans, mining the aquifers, polluting the environment, destroying the topsoil, etc. If the population were reduced by 90-99%, these pressures would dissipate considerably. The result might even be sustainable. Left alone, nature will work its magic and heal the environment. Shoot, I could envision a thousand years of peace while the remaining inhabitants share the dwindling resources.

With the need for human labor gone, capitalists will see that the unemployed are more costly than they are beneficial. (If I have to give you all the money to buy my product, there is no profit for me - only additional costs.) It is a simple calculation that has profound implications. For me, the biggest questions are when and how - when will they come to this conclusion and how will they remove the excess population?

Grover

SPAM_ferralhen's picture
SPAM_ferralhen
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i was 22 yr old in 1975,

i was 22 yr old in 1975, living in a small community outside of pontiac michigan. everyone not in the service sector worked for the auto industry.

in 1975  i remember reading an oakland press headline that suggested GM was not putting enough into the retirement fund,  thinking some day i am going to see the outcome of this.(which i did a few years back, )

i was a first year teacher in public schools and was making less per year than my high school classmates who were working "on the line" at GM. we both had excellent benefits, retirement plans, health care, dental, eye care you name it. my father was high level management at GM so we were raised anti union, but here i was with benefits the unions had fought for.(not the only time i have lived both sides of an issue, to which i have learned both sides are right and both sides are wrong and both sides lack the dimension of seeing both sides.)

we were taught this is how life is and promises would be kept so who cares what GM is doing now. well they were taking the retirement money as profit. we were encouraged to not save,to rely on the pension, we were taught we were  better than most because we were working now for a pension and care in the future. spend your money now on new cars, in fact have several cars.buy buy buy. it's smart to buy now.

not only did GM, ford, etc take the pension fund for themselves, they dumped the toxic byprocts from all that chrome, etc , into the water system in the surrounding counties and suburbs. 100% of the homes in my parents neighborhood had at least one incident of cancer including both my parents. do a web search on arsenic levels for wayne, oakland ,macolm, lapeer counties!

south east michigan has a large concentration of large health care facilities built because the auto industries provided health insurance of the highest order even for the ordinary worker. so the one industry  built many other industries.not hard to see that obama care is a feeble attempt to keep these large  health complexes operating.

i now live outside of ann arbor, mi in a small rural farming community. the water is crap here too.

the auto industries pretty much came, made their money, muddied the water and left. it took about a century .

i have known of the 3 "e" predicaments since the late 70's. and i just read yesterday that the white house is finally getting solar panels. i'm sure the gov't has been aware of these problems for the last 40 years....ever since the oil embargo, the cat was out of the bag re peak oil.

i feel like the news is what they want us to focus on. things like gdp, the fed, health care, gay marriage, you name it. we know the gdp is an inacurrate number so why all the charts comparing gdp to whatever?

how about more talk about unempyment being a symptom of deflation and over population. let's talk about how to live as a society deflates, not on charts of the past.

or talk about how cheap human labor replaces cheap oil energy.

i keep hearing talk about the status quo. isn't wanting to have more, to "win" status quo?. whatever happened to livng a simple life with enough food, clothing, shelter, security, community. it just the conversation sometimes seems like an interesting mix from living off the grid to hoarding more wealth. i don't think they are mutually exclusive, but certainly, if we are coming from a position of wealth and squander, doesn't carrying the concept of how to stay weathy  into the future bring greed along with us into the future. i just don't see living with nature in a sustainable way has room for greed. that after all is what muddied the waters here in se michigan.

detroit could be a chapter in tainter's collapse of complex societies.

dpaull's picture
dpaull
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how will they remove the excess population?

Grover writes "how will they remove the excess population?"

My question is how will we remove the excess capitalists?

Robots require energy to work, and I have yet to see a wood burning robot. So I think that nature itself will both find a way to reduce the population and the number of folks willing to exploit their neighbors. The resources needed to maintain our complex society will surely become depleated.

What I don't understand is how folks think they can continue to live with all the excess 'goodies' after the fall. The desire to try to understand how to maintain our individual lifestyle in the face of everyone else's descent into anarchy will likely be fruitless.

I am guessing that we will regress into a fuedal lifestyle even in the face of all that we have learned when energy was cheap. And with a similar world population if we don't all blow ourselves up first.

Dennis Paull

yogiismyhero's picture
yogiismyhero
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ferralhen, you speak the truth and ironically...

...as with those times Obamacare is the answer, the Bakkens and other shale plays in the US are a godsend as the Prudhoe Bay of our time (early 70's), North Sea's find, and don't forget the 100 years (yeah right) of natural gas just ready to take over for oil. All is bunk but will buy some additional time I am afraid, and so the embedded capital of the Elites live on to do what it is has done for a while longer.

I so wish Chris is right, that we get our reset (called for correction) so hopefully we can have a meaningful discussion for our future. I thought in 2008 we would but the market can stay irrational longer than we can stay solvent. Plus Ben got to try out his bag of tricks that are failing as we speak, finally. Here's hoping but if you took todays concerns and walked them back to the early 70's, the initial oil embargo, and the storyline would rhyme I am afraid.

Solar panels were on the White House as the only Man who truly got it was Carter with regards to oil and energy issues, and Reagan took them down. What a mistake that was. I live in Macomb County/St.Clair county border so we have Lake St. Clair and Lake Huron as neighbors. I visit their often and find their a whole lot nicer than in the recent past. However, I do understand that so much pollution is probably sentiment and only needs a bit of stirring to degrade the quality again. Every time a storm hits the overflows of household waste shuts all beaches for a bit and then not so nice. I do understand however a lot of improvement to the overflows have been made and the beaches are open more than they used to.

BOB

SPAM_ferralhen's picture
SPAM_ferralhen
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timeline i was just putting

timeline

i was just putting in a little timeline so that when things flush, no one thinks it started in 2008. and speaking of 2008, when chris was talking in 2008 about 20 years in the future, well? 5 years has passed already.

so do we just keep moving the bar out to 20 yrs from now? is this how we cope?

be the change you wish to see

sand_puppy's picture
sand_puppy
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Foreigners sell US bonds in June, the FED buys 'em all up

From zerohedge:  In the month of June the international community did something it has not done in years - it sold US Treasurys with passionate zeal and reckless abandon. In fact, in that one month alone, $57 billion in total Treasury holdings was dumped. The distribution of June sales among the select largest holders of US paper, and the sole, solitary buyer, is shown on the chart below.

Guess who this Mystery Buyer X, aka the "sore thumb", is who boldly bought everything that no other man, woman or child wanted to buy in the month of June.

------------------------

One of the commentors below the article, "bdc63,"  reflects on the forshadowings of future trends discussed by CM for some time:

maybe we should all just ponder for a moment what would have happened if the FED hadn't stepped in to buy the $57B of dumped treasuries ...

we may have just entered into a whole new dimension of monitization

there is no taper. there is no unwind. 

first they stop buying our debt.  then they stop using our "reserve currency".  and the next morning we wake up in a third world country.

Arthur Robey's picture
Arthur Robey
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The Solution

This might have something to do with how the establishment see the over population problem resolving itself.

And how to lower the unemployment rate.

sand_puppy's picture
sand_puppy
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Quite a solution, Arthur

Hmmmm.

Yes, It's Time For A National Conversation

Grover's picture
Grover
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Double Edged Swords

Dennis,

First off, I'm not advocating this scenario. I'm just projecting trends and connecting dots. Robotics are getting new capabilities very quickly. Here is a link to a video of Google's self driving car:

In this case, a self driving car gives a blind man the freedom that we sighted people with vehicles take for granted. But draw your attention to the distant horizon ... less than 10 years into the future. This same technology will make anyone who drives for a living (taxi cabs, truck drivers, bus drivers, etc.) obsolete. It won't happen all at once, but each year, the technology will get better and cheaper. That will mean that those who avoid being obsolete will be forced to work for less each year until there isn't a rational reason to keep the job.

What will become of those millions who were formerly gainfully employed? Some will land on their feet in another job. Some will become entrepreneurs. The majority will resort to going on the dole. Who will pay taxes to support these folks? It will be the capitalists who own the robots along with anyone else lucky enough to have a job.

dpaull wrote:

Grover writes "how will they remove the excess population?"

My question is how will we remove the excess capitalists?

Let's say that your dreams come true and all the capitalists are removed. What will happen? Without capitalists to pay the wages, why would anyone work? Unless some of the workers stepped into the role of the capitalists, there would be chaos. Our society has become dependant upon just-in-time delivery. Break any single link and the supply chain fails. For example, deliveries of food would cease. Store shelves would soon empty. With no food, cities would become self cleaning ovens until the remaining population was able to sustain themselves.

dpaull wrote:

Robots require energy to work, and I have yet to see a wood burning robot. So I think that nature itself will both find a way to reduce the population and the number of folks willing to exploit their neighbors. The resources needed to maintain our complex society will surely become depleated.

I agree with you on all these points. If the population drops dramatically, the remaining resources will last longer. With 10% of the usage, finite resources will last 10 times as long. With 1% of usage, finite resources will last 100 times as long. So you have to give some juice to a robot ... it is only while you need it. That is a much lower tax rate than supporting hordes of unemployed.

dpaull wrote:

What I don't understand is how folks think they can continue to live with all the excess 'goodies' after the fall. The desire to try to understand how to maintain our individual lifestyle in the face of everyone else's descent into anarchy will likely be fruitless.

Again, I agree with you. In a slow demise or a stair step crashcade, at some point, anyone with something who isn't willing to share it will become a target. When do you decide that you've shared enough? How do you convince someone who has nothing (and therefore nothing to lose,) that you intend to keep your possessions? Could you kill someone if your survival (or loved ones) depended on it? What if the perpetrator's only "crime" was starvation?

dpaull wrote:

I am guessing that we will regress into a fuedal lifestyle even in the face of all that we have learned when energy was cheap. And with a similar world population if we don't all blow ourselves up first.

Are you suggesting that the world's population would have to drop to what it was during feudal times? The world's population was about 1 billion (+/- a few hundred million.) That's about an 80%-90% reduction from current population levels. With that kind of population reduction, the pressures on resources would be reduced sufficiently that we wouldn't need to resort to feudalism.

The world could possibly support our current population in a feudal, energy constrained lifestyle. Life's quality would diminish for the vast majority. I believe most folks would rather die than be forced to actually work (mind numbing, back breaking work) for a meager existence. It is hard to shove the genie back in the bottle.

Grover

robie robinson's picture
robie robinson
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it will be...

if extended sufficiently into the future...Luddites versus robots?

Nervous Nelly's picture
Nervous Nelly
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The haves and have nots in difficult times

When there's abondance, a society is usually peaceful. Violence sets in as soon as there's a shortage of mainly food. Real shortage or being unaffordable. When a  person doesn't know when and where his next meal is coming from, he is down to survival. Multiply this as the developed countries sink in indebtness.  Most of us here live in  countries where the government provides a minimium for basics; welfare, unemployment insurance, old age security etc..... But the system is breaking down and we can't afford to support all these idle people, not useless but unaffordable to hire here. Manufacturing jobs gone to cheaper countries. The violence can be seen everywhere in these gutted cities and towns. It will just get worst. The haves and have nots in the middleclass will clash. 

One of my sister's co workers inherited her grandmother's house in Italy and she had a bank account where she would leave may be 2-4k to pay the house taxes. This year she went on vacation to Italy and what a surprise to find her bank account was cleaned out by the bank. Expats bank account balances are being  syphoned. How much would it cost to fight the bank? 

Her nieces and nephews all have University degress and are out of work. People in the cities make runs in the country and raid the huge gardens at night. Italians from the country side are being home invaded by city dwellers and they raid their cantinas (Deep pantry where they cure and dry their sausages ,,,food storage).

Conclusion if you have you better shut up because the have nots will take what you have.

NN

westcoastjan's picture
westcoastjan
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Second that thought

Nervous Nelly, I totally agree with your thought on this:

Her nieces and nephews all have University degress and are out of work. People in the cities make runs in the country and raid the huge gardens at night. Italians from the country side are being home invaded by city dwellers and they raid their cantinas (Deep pantry where they cure and dry their sausages ,,,food storage).

Conclusion if you have you better shut up because the have nots will take what you have.

I watch people as they walk by looking at my garden, and have had several comments, one from a 90 year old neighbor, as to how tempting it is. It won't necessarily take dire circumstances for every last little veggie to be taken. We have so many homeless people and bottle pickers going by on a daily basis that I have a feeling of inevitability that someone will succumb to the temptation, and I will be heartbroken after all my hard work. It is impossible to guard against this happening.

Flying under the radar with regard to possessions, wealth and so on is increasingly important as things break down. The saddest part of this is the erosion of trust. Without trust we are nothing.

Jan 

gillbilly's picture
gillbilly
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Shifting Expectations and Goals

Just returned from vacation. We drove to visit friends close to Val D'or (Valley of Gold...for all those interested in PMs), located in northern Quebec. Interesting juxtaposition of gold mines and scenic beauty/provincial parks. We stayed in a cottage on Lac Veaudray that had no modern amenities (plumbing, electricity, heat, kitchen, etc.). What was so amazing and immediately apparent was how quiet our environment was. A loon calling from across the lake was a spectacular sound against the quiet background. The irony of how far we had to drive to achieve this type of solitude was not lost on me. I thought I lived in relatively quiet environment, my house being in the woods by a river with very few neighbors, but I realize now that it's not even close.

On our way back, we stopped and attended a summer camp reunion, a camp where my wife and I worked back in the 80s when we were in our twenties. It gave me a chance to catch up with many old friends, friends that hail all over the U.S. and abroad, and come from . Many were actively trying to transition to a simpler lifestyle, some were out of work, and others were dissatisfied with their work.  The above article definitely correlates with what I experienced in these conversations. The consensus was that the major gains in the market of the last four to five years hasn't translated into significantly more, or even better, jobs. The conversations were about downscaling their lifestyle habits, shifting their expectations and goals, and trying to live life more in the moment. One friend who lives in NYC decided to leave her job because she was putting in 60 hours a week to make ends meet and had no time for her children. She was at the end of her rope and is prepared to move her family in with her parents so that she can have more quality time. I'm sure there are many who are reading this who can relate.

I think the Fed's goal, being one of unemployment, isn't adequately addressing our predicaments, and as Chris points out, is probably making things worse...like using a hammer on a screw. But what I find interesting is that, ironically, many of the affected people are reacting to these market forces in a way that is moving in the direction of a more sustainable future. To be clear, I don't think this was the intention of the Fed's at all.  So although some are being forced into more resillient living, we can all continue to take intentional action to do the same. The beauty is that it will give you more meaning to your life and quality time, as well as give you increased protection from the fragility of a complex system. The 3Es give you the context and connect the dots in a way to help you make these choices.

Here is a picture I took of the lake. Impossible to see "quiet," but this gets pretty close.

Peace!

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This saddens me so much

westcoastjan wrote:

I watch people as they walk by looking at my garden, and have had several comments, one from a 90 year old neighbor, as to how tempting it is. It won't necessarily take dire circumstances for every last little veggie to be taken. We have so many homeless people and bottle pickers going by on a daily basis that I have a feeling of inevitability that someone will succumb to the temptation, and I will be heartbroken after all my hard work. It is impossible to guard against this happening.

Flying under the radar with regard to possessions, wealth and so on is increasingly important as things break down. The saddest part of this is the erosion of trust. Without trust we are nothing.

Jan 

This leaves me wondering what I can do to protect my small, in-town garden.  It is next to and in front of the house, and on the road, not behind the house.  I have been tending a neighbor's garden, and she has a much better (more sheltered) location.  Because my yard is so small, every square foot counts, and I can't afford not to use the more exposed segments.

I've thought about putting up a fence, but I think anything taller than 3' starts to feel unfriendly.  I've thought about putting up 3' or 4' fencing to keep out animal thieves, but what good will that do to keep people out?  What about electrifying the top of the fence?  Maybe...but it would be a hassle.  Worth it to consider now?  I don't know.

I've thought about installing exterior outlets...which would be very helpful for electrifying a fence and warming chickens...butalso helpful for unscrupulous folks to steal power from.

I'm not a suspicious, paranoid type of person.  But I do worry quite a bit about what will happen to my hard-earned FOOD.  The red-ripe tomatoes are practically begging to be plucked and eaten.

And what are the rules for fruit trees that extend over the sidewalk or into the neighbor's yard?  Is the part hanging over the sidewalk free for the taking, and the part within the yard not?  Where is that ethical line?  I walk under a plum tree every morning, and the plums are just falling and rotting.  They are quite tempting, but they are not mine.  I have a mental note to introduce myself to that neighbor (he has a great garden!) but there are so many people where I live, I literally can't get to know them all.  I am planning to plant some fruit trees, but one will be within reach of the sidewalk, and all will overhang the neighbor's yard.  She's a good person; I suppose if we strike a deal of some sort, we can both have fruit.

I have thought often of someday building a 2nd-story platform over my porch for growing food on.  I would climb out the window to tend the plants.  Would need to import water from the tap...but it would be safer from passersby than the ground-level garden.  Alas, it's an expense I cannot manage anytime in the near future.

These are important (and sobering) things to think about.

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My hope would be

If or when harder times present themselves its the fences that need to come down and the lines between properties and relationships to blur. To be able to confront decreasing physical resources or excessive debt or loss of jobs ect.. one will have to rely on their neighbors for additional resiliency helping grow food share chickens, water resources ect. The best way to protect your labor is to put extra efforts into close relationships and always grow 25%-50%. I'm feeling fear within this tread and there is no quicker way towards conflict and scarcity. We must open up and transition the feelings and emotions to close down into productivity.

This is what I think should be happening now instead of waiting for that event or events to shape us for it.

Rose

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Parc La Verandyre

Gillbilly,

           I'm from Quebec and that Parc that goes to Val D'Or is dead quiet without human activity as soon as you leave the roadside...it's almost scary. If you don't know how to navigate you can serouisly get lost in these woods. I'm a sales Rep that travels to Val D'or twice a year and I love driving through that Parc. Stop off eat my packed lunch and just soak that silence. It' strange how our minds ,so used to hyperactivity that when it's forced to stop it almost seems lost.  My mind seems to search for the usual hyperactivity in that silence. I know nature has done it's job when my mind slows done to it's pace. Nice Pic !

Oh and the call of the loons just before sunset.......just magical.

NN

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You are right Nervous Nelly

I have made the mistake of approaching neighbors and friends about what is going on and where we are headed.  9 out of 10 of them will ignore your thoughts and think you are crazy, but every single one of them will remember you are preparing.  So when the SHTF they will be at your door wanting/demanding handouts.  While community is imperitive to survival if things get really bad, it needs to be a community you move to that has like-minded people like those that advertise as preppers.  Otherwise, if you try to educate friends and neighbors that things are going south and won't get better so that they can also prepare and be somewhat resilient in the face of hardship, all you are doing besides making people think you are paranoid is advertising that you are the one who has things people will need when resources are scarce.  Consequently, you are in MORE danger than the average person simply because trying to warn people.  Beware...

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Best Alarm!

Just one yappy little dog will warn you that someone is in your yard. Even in the middle of the night.

NN

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dmger14

Getting the attention of 1 out of 10 is no failure, it has to start somewhere. If you just throw in the tall and feel failure about the other 9 then you aren't being realistic or rational. Someone has to build community why not you? Just getting you and your loved ones thru the pinch point is not the objective, is it? Isn't it about the journey and relationships? To close down and lock up tight may work for some but at what cost? How much of your humanity are you willing to risk losing just to survive.

My journey is not and will not be about when or how I die that is an absolute. Helping others even when my resources dwindle is my best chance at telling my story the way my interconnected self relates to the world and relationships.

Rose

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Just amazing.

NN,

It is a slice of heaven, magical is definitely the word.

I just reread my post and realized I didn't proofread..."friends from all walks of life"...to complete the sentence I left unfinished.

You are very lucky to spend time there on a regular basis. I hope to go back next summer!

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Recruiting neighbors to grow food.

As I look around my suburban neighborhood in Virginia I also think about what would happen should food become scarce.  Since I live in an area that cannot be defended by high walls and fences I will need to get my neighbors fed too.  How can I encourage this?

On all sides of me, my neighbors have lots of lawn space but no "edible landscaping."  I have considered asking them if they would let me plant a couple of fruit trees, nut trees or berry bush clusters on their lawns.  I would buy the tree and plant it and tend to it, and in exchange would ask them to share the fruit with me.  

A local nursery specializes in edible plants that grow naturally in our area.  I might ask them to choose from the list and suggest the location in their yard where they would like it planted.

I agree that being a paranoid "prepper" might scare some off and has some potential for setting one up for future burglary.   So I think that I'll go at it from the angle of promoting healthy fresh fruit, that is organic, non-GMO, close to home and a fun neighborhood friendship project.  The secret secondary goal would be to get everyone on my street fed so that MY garden isn't the only food on the block.  Once a good crop of berries comes in, I wonder if some interest will spark for growing some more of our own food?

Any other ideas?

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Grover wrote: Are you

Grover wrote:

Are you suggesting that the world's population would have to drop to what it was during feudal times? The world's population was about 1 billion (+/- a few hundred million.) That's about an 80%-90% reduction from current population levels. With that kind of population reduction, the pressures on resources would be reduced sufficiently that we wouldn't need to resort to feudalism.

The world could possibly support our current population in a feudal, energy constrained lifestyle. Life's quality would diminish for the vast majority. I believe most folks would rather die than be forced to actually work (mind numbing, back breaking work) for a meager existence. It is hard to shove the genie back in the bottle.

Grover

If you believe the book "Collapse," the current Easter Island population is around 3% of the peak population before collapse.  

Again in "Collapse," deforestation, resource depletion and even cannibalism are not uncommon in historic collapses.

When the food trucks stop delivering to major metropolitan areas, the people in the cities are not going to stay put.  When limited resources are not enough to meet global needs, individual countries are not going to  sit by and watch rival countries consume resources they need.

The seeds of conflict are already sown into what is happening.  It would be great to assume that everyone is going to roll up their sleaves and work side by side.  However, even to hope that will happen is to ignore the world we are living in today.

So far, I haven't seen people storing food to prepare for lean times ahead. However, guns and ammo are frequently unavailable and on backorder.  That says a lot to me.

I don't believe Earth can indefinitely sustain a population in excess of 7 billion or even anywhere near it.  Perhaps, under ideal conditions, Earth could systain that population for a while, giving us an opportunity to work our numbers down logically.  But the likely way that we are going to work our population down is through conflict.  During that time, we will do serious damage to our planet.  By the time we are out the other side of this mess, Earth's carrying capacity will have been anthropogenically diminished significantly.

Sorry, that's not what I'd like to see happen, but it's what I believe will happen.

Les

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RoseHip

I don't want to be target number one simply because I tried to help. I will talk to those who are receptive/know what's going on, but won't go there to those who are clueless AND have no interest. I like sand_puppy's idea. I have even thought of ANONYMOUSLY putting flyers in mailboxes.

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ok

we have not made the mistakes of growing and then learning that our neighbors covet what we have

and concurrently they have no idea what it takes to grow food. that said, they for now are the wiser,,,,maybe not holier but the wiser. they see --they take....we toil we suffer loss.

learn this.

we learn what cultivars grow in our area. what insects and pathogens invade. what animals and what people invade our gardens also.

status quo for gardens = me being so naive to think that others will not see the easy pickins at my expense......it's not negative....it's human nature under want.

we haven't seen that for awhile and now we are. and will see more so as time rolls on.

part of resilence means understanding reality. and not wishful thinking the universe is kosher.

i dont know the answer yet but i am working on it here.
c'mon, no time for lamenting,,,time to figure this stuff out.

this is just what this site is about.

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The house is on fire

We all know what the possibilities are, but I'm not one for resignation. We really have no idea what the carrying capacity of the planet is, but there are a lot of people working their buts of to find out. As long as we keep pouring old wine into new skins, we'll never find out. The industrial model is broken and failing. Even as “biotechnology” makes it's strange promises, we are already cleaning up the wreckage that it is creating and at the same time building new models. Those new models (permaculture, beyond organic framing, etc.) are just beginning to be constructed.

The house is on fire, and we need to fundamentally rethink what it means to be a human being on planet earth. It time that we step up our game and pull out all the stops. We throw around words and concepts like medieval, cannibalism and collapse , I am certainly guilty of doing the same all the time myself. I think if we had really internalized what that really means, we would be having a very different kind of conversation. If its one of your loved ones, father, brother mother, cousin or child that is dying, you don't say “well we are over populated, we need to let this one go”, you do everything in your power to save that life.

There may be a time that I may have to look a loved one in the eye and say goodbye, but it is not today. Reality is a full contact sport, and its tussle can toss you around like a rag doll. But I would much rather suffer emotional stress and agony, the ups and downs of dealing with it then put on the stolid face of our zombie culture that is walking around medicated most of the time. Emotional resilience is not about being calm all the time, but embracing the intensity of what is coming at us, experiencing it and becoming passionate and active about creating a different world. This is not a dress rehearsal.

We don't know if we have a week, a month, a year, or a decade, but we do know that we have today. And today we have the opportunity to do something different, not to perpetuate business as usual. Every little step we take forward we must celebrate, every little thing cherish. We have much more power to transform the world than we can possibly imagine. This crisis is a gift that we should not let pass by. I believe that we all choose to be hear on planet earth at this time to heal humanity and the planet and we have all the tools that we need at our disposal.

Bernanke is driving a train to oblivion along with his corporate and government cronies. Their sense of reality will die with them, there is no turning them back. We know that the emperor has no clothes, lets stop paying him homage. We do in so many ways without being aware of it, even if we spend time in criticism, the place that it exists within our consciousness is a drain on our energy and resilience.

It is always difficult to hear the tales of the personal impacts of the headline news of corporate malfeasance, but the sharing together of suffering and joys will give us the collective strength to build a better future. We will endure and prosper into the future. I am not afraid of the darkness because we are walking together into the unknown.

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Possible, but not likely

Les,

If humanity were to become minimalistic vegetarians and move to where food can be grown, I think the planet can sustain our current population. Like you, I don't see that as being likely. Everything and everybody will need to localize. There won't be many options for long distance trade or travel if things fall apart.

Places like Las Vegas, NV will see at least 99% population reduction before the valley reaches sustainable numbers. Small towns in the Midwest may not see any reduction. Look at your local production and the population that must sustain. How much food can be produced in big cities? Most of the city inhabitants have been conditioned to rely on the government. If a singularity event occurs, they will likely wait in place, using up their resources, hoping that the government will save them. By the time they realize help isn't coming, all the resources will be expended. What will they do? That is why I refer to cities as self cleaning ovens.

It is depressing to think in these terms. Nobody can save the world. Just put yourself in a position that you can help your loved ones. You'll have a greater chance of surviving with a strong local community. Depending where you are located, that may not be enough.

I have tried to get coworkers prepared. It has been frustrating. Whenever they say that they'll just come over and "share" my goodies, I tell them to banish the thought. After the singularity, I'll only be sharing high velocity lead, and I'll treat them the same as any other vermin. Until then, I will help with preps, offer advice, be a coach. Some take me up on it. Most don't.

With neighbors, it is more a multi-year endeavor. I generally share the abundance from my garden. Tonight, I gave away green beans to a neighbor who recently moved in. We talked a while and I offered to help them build a garden next year. That was enough at this time. We'll visit the topic many times in the future. I'll ask them what they'd like to grow, where would be the best location, how big they envision the garden, how they'll process the excess. Soon, they'll want to see what the other neighbors are doing. Baby steps work best for me.

It doesn't always work out the way I'd like. At a minimum, they know who I am and they see me as a caring person. Even that bare bones relationship will foster trust and cooperation in a SHTF scenario. What more can you ask for?

Grover

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Population

Well said LesPhelps

Any time a species overshoots its ecological support base it is is going to experience a die-off. The level of decline is going to be related to the degradation of  the environment we rely on to support us. When the fossil fuel spigot dries up food is going to be an issue. And we don't have to run out of oil for that. Distribution of oil/ petrol requires a high level of infrastructure and economies of scale. It's not just a matter of price.

Here are a few more drivers if we accept the premise that a lower energy future means a less complex and more localized existence.  ie less or no benefits leveraged off a global scale and technology

1, availability of highly sophisticated medical treatments

2. availability of pharmaceuticals. These two points cut close to the bone as my wife is a pre dialysis kidney patient. She's currently on several medications and even after a kidney transplant will require anti rejection medications. It's hard to be confident they'll be available.

3. Bees are currently kept alive by human technology (in my country at least and I believe this is also the case in the US). Varroa treatments are just one example. It's true that it is possible to pollenate by hand and there are other insect vectors. Even so the impact of loosing bees would be huge.

And there are many more factors. None of the above are terminal for the human race but a long term sustainable population in the billions seems improbable  to me.

David

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treebeard wrote:Those new

treebeard wrote:

Those new models (permaculture, beyond organic framing, etc.) are just beginning to be constructed.

Grover wrote:

If humanity were to become minimalistic vegetarians and move to where food can be grown, I think the planet can sustain our current population. Like you, I don't see that as being likely. Everything and everybody will need to localize. There won't be many options for long distance trade or travel if things fall apart.

 
Do you actually think that the 400 lb person riding the electric shopping cart at Walmart is going to become a permaculture minimalistic vegetarian?  Obviously, that's an extreme, but look around you.  How many people that you see are going to be willing and able to feed themselves.
 
I have a garden in my back yard that is growing.  That does not mean that I planned on or intended to be a subsistance gardener in my declining years.  I adopted ZPG (Zero Population Growth) in the early 70s, no more than two kids.  I never voted for 7 billion people in the first place.  Other people did.  I firmly believe that quality of life is every bit as important as quantity of people on the planet.
 
Look at the pollution around the planet and the resource depletion and tell me again that you believe 7 billion people is a good idea.  Sure, some of it is due to extravagent lifestyle, but 7 billion people is a stretch, even if we all become environmental saints.
 
Another thing people don't think about is that we aren't the only species on the planet.  It is sad how few animals and fish we see fit to allow to coexist with is, sad indeed.
 
Les
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Bingo Les

With 7 billion people it only takes one or two problems and we are in big trouble. It takes a long time to make some of the changes that will be needed to survive.

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Good to have you back Brother...

...the sounds of nature and especially the dead sounds of nature is unbelievable, and eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (what kind of sandwich NN?) on a tree stump, priceless. I seen you and NN clearly and I liked it.

Yogi

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Teach, brother!

Treebeard!  Teach, my brother!  Amen and Halleluja!  Way to wrap it up and bring it on home! 

It's not going to be easy, we only get one shot, we're all in this together.  Roger, copy that, read you loud and clear!

John G

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Country Side Communities are being raided

I made a statement of what is happening right now in Italy between city dwellers and country communities. I'm sure it's happening else where. I remember headlines about LA community gardens getting raided.etc. Jan had a headline on an apple orchard .I'm all for community building like Rosehip and Sand_Puppy and Grover are doing. I doubt it will be your next door neighbor (has a piece of land and will try to adjust) that will be the major problem in the next coming years. It's the people in cities that are out of work or barely making ends meet and depend on a dwindling food supply coming in the city at ever increasing prices. And in the 30's the majority of the people didn't have cars. 

People in the cities make runs in the country and raid the huge gardens at night. Italians from the country side are being home invaded by city dwellers and they raid their cantinas (Deep pantry where they cure and dry their sausages ,,,food storage).

I will quote Derrick Jensen's definition of civilization from his book "The End Game"

"I would define a civilization much more precisely, and I believe more usefully, as a culture ----that is a complex of stories, institutions, and artifacts-----that both leads to and emerges from the growth of cities(civilization, see civil: from civis, meaning citizen, from Latin civitatis, meaning city state), with cities being so defined-----so as to distinguish them from camps, villages, and so on-----as people living more or less permanently in one place in densities high enough to require the routine importation of food and other necessities of life."

Hmmmm. How many billions live in cities?

In Germany at the height of hyperinflation when farmers didn't want to sell their produce because they were losing money everyday. Some city dwellers with trucks and guns would ransack farmers lands and slaughtered animals to feed themselves. 

I'll stick with my community and try to have alternate side plans just in case.

I'm a realist like most here.

NN

 
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reality vs. wishful thinking

I find myself floundering between the reality of what a collapse will bring, and the negative that that implies, and the possibility of managing this huge predicament, and the positive that that implies. My heart wants the latter, but my brain buys more into the former.

http://stephenkinsella.net/WordPress/wp-content/uploads/2008/03/washingt...

I still believe that if one is lucky enough to be a part of a tight-knit, small semi-rural community that is self-sufficient, there is some hope. But I have no doubt that chaos will rule just outside the borders of that small enclave, and there will be constant external threats that will require constant vigilance.

Brotherly love and all that stuff only goes so far when people are starving and facing extreme hardship for extended periods of time. If things deteriorate to the point of what is described in the article, that is not a world I want to live in. This line of thinking is when the reality of what we are facing is indeed sobering.

Jan

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Big Cities, Isolated Rural Farms--both problematic

Obviously, I don't know what is coming.  So everything below are guesses.  Some educated, some fanciful.  My guesses and those of others.  In other words:  I don't have a clue whether what I'm saying is correct or will turn out to be useful!!  However, I will proceed, none the less, with my rumminations on imaginary, but potential troubles.

As many have polnted out, big cities could become areas where a million or so people suddenly find that they are hungry and freakout.  And they might be really, really mad about it.  Weren't they "promised" a decent life?  Who could have ever known there was a problem.....?  They watch TV and no one ever mentioned this......  When we look at the behavior of big city riots, we see that angry entitled people lashout at everything arround them, breaking the store windows, and taking whatever they can find.  They are furious against "the system" and smashing the windows of a little family run dry cleaning business seems to make sense at the moment.  Not be the ideal place to be at one of these times.

As Nervous Nelly has just reminded us, isolated rural farms can be raided by city dwellers with trucks and guns.  IN ISOLATION, rural frams can be picked off one at a time by a group of such raiders.  But what if the farms were instead a small community.  A couple of trees might be felled across the roadways comming into the community forcing would be raiders to walk.  A couple of lookouts with sniper rifles and scopes (don't forget night scopes!!) could make a band of hungry city folk reconsider.  If the lookouts had radios, the rest of the community could be summoned.  (I'll bet we could talk Aaron M. into a tutorial how to build a defense around a small neighborhood / community.)

FerFal, I believe, describes the city folk of Argentina, waiting a week or so to see if things would get back to "normal" and more food and gasoline arrive.  When it did not and the last of the food was gone, they set out walking down the biggest highways into the country to raid farm houses for food.  One of his suggestions was to not live right off a major highway leading out of a big city.

JHK suggests the pattern of small (walkable) towns with surrounding agricultural land.  To me, this sounds like the best combination.  Located at leaset several days hike from the nearest big city.

And last, in the New Mexico / Arizona area, water seems most likely to be the most immediate rate limiting resource.  I would really be interested in one of these for my garage.

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4 Thumbs up SP

THX for that info. Helps clarify loose ends in my plans. Still working on it. I just hope I have 3-5 years before things TSHTF.  

Jan that piece on Argentina gives me the goose bumps. 

NN

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Carpe Diem, But Prepare Too

LesPhelps wrote:

Do you actually think that the 400 lb person riding the electric shopping cart at Walmart is going to become a permaculture minimalistic vegetarian?  Obviously, that's an extreme, but look around you.  How many people that you see are going to be willing and able to feed themselves.

Les,

Don't forget all the people tied to their social networking devices. I don't think it likely that the current population could exist beyond a singularity event. Overall, my guess is that 70%-90% will perish. It will be higher in artificial environments and minimal in communities that are nearly sustainable now.

The first few months will be the most difficult. As the population dwindles, the pressure will be reduced. After a few years, a new normal will emerge. If we don't start lobbing nukes, the environment will rebound.

Humans are quite good at closing the barn door after the horses have fled. If civilization can be reestablished, strict rules will be enacted to keep the collapse's scapegoat symptom from ever occurring again. Who knows, it might be a great time to live. Then again, it could be a one-world-government, prison planet sort of nightmare.

Grover

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In every home and farm house are weapons of mass destruction...

...in my community. These kind folks are military trained, brought up to manage and take care of their property and grow food here in my neck of the woods. It is what they live 24/7/365 for. Most all are NRA types who together have networked since their great, great grandfathers settled the lands they now farm and hunt and fish and camp. This is their way of life. It is talked about in every breakfast club and barber shop (hair is cut by the Mayor of our town!!) here much more than most people believe, and this community and many like it have faced many issues we face today with hand me down stories of the last Depression and hard times. Regarding our Mayor who cuts hair, you walk in and on one wall is his guns, fishing poles, hunting gear, a collection of old razors (old fashioned barber razors) and an American Flag. Everything stated is just the truth. He does an active business. 

It will take but one episode to make the rounds (minutes from when it occurs) and old plans are dusted off and serious consequences will await the second arrival of armed thugs. No one gets these neck of the woods better than those living in these dwellings. Racial profiling or just knowing who the strangers are isn't really all that difficult, and when you are out there too as spotters then the issue gets resolved on the quick. The raiders raid because of far superior forces or the element of surprise and that is gone with the first raid. So, yes, city folk who have back yard gardens get ransacked, in the country however, trust has been built for generations, hell, half the towns streets are named after one family or another still living in the community. I believe things get bad, for sure, but speaking of my community only, I see no issues taking care of our own. Lord I hope it doesn't come to this but it will happen, it has happened and we just work to take care of our own and share when things settle down.

Whatever you own is the property of someone elses until you figure out what it is you are willing to do and then don't wait. Do not trust family, friends or any such individual until it is clear you have the upper hand. I have said this before but the ones who will take from you first are the ones who know what you have so it is best you keep everything on the low side and your mouth shut and give the appearance of humility and passivity, then do what you gotta do.

I hate, truly hate talking this crap. I'm a lover not a fighter.

BOB

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jdye51
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Posts: 157
LIfe and Death

Jan - a sobering article on Argentina. I've read Ferfal's book and read his blog occasionally so I had some idea of the conditions there. Argentina has not really recovered and he was fortunate (good planning) to leave the country as things continue to deteriorate.

But at some point, there will be no place to go that isn't affected, thus I don't anticipate leaving my home. I like sand_puppy's idea of encouraging neighborhood gardens. The more people close to me who aren't panicked by hunger, the better.

I sometimes wonder what I would do if faced with unbearable conditions. I imagine there will be many who will choose suicide as a way out (see Greece). Others will become more aggressive and take what they can. I don't know how I would react. My husband and I are in our early 60's - would we be willing to die prematurely so those younger could live? All very difficult to look at and I don't spend much time thinking about it. But the thought does occur from time to time. . .

I would hope that I wouldn't lose my humanity. I would hope that I would choose to do my best to help others where possible. Perhaps it's my age plus having a spiritual practice, but I don't think life on this planet is all there is. I believe something survives physical death. So I don't cling so strongly to the idea that I must survive the end of civilization. My time here might be over. So be it. That is not to say I want to die just yet! I will do what I can to prepare and to survive. But I accept that I will die and hope that I will have some choice in how I die. In the end, it's how we've lived that determines the nature of our death. So I plan on living the best possible life I can while I can. I strive to be the best person I can be in both my living and my dying.

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yogiismyhero
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JD.....

agreed.

BOB

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SPAM_ferralhen
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Posts: 151
all these things very

all these things very possible.

it does chill the anatomy in places....sometimes.

i have built an outdoor cooking complex that others after me can use. i have built a homestead capable of supporting many....whether i am here or not. i have tried to build a god sent place for whomever stumbles across it. we must think beyond our own lives.

i am 60, i can't reproduce.(nor did i) but i have tried to leave behind my knowledge.

having said all that, and btw, lots of good thought on this thread, i will try to survive however i can. it's just who i am.

i have no qwalms about deception if it keeps me alive.

i keep civility in my heart and will then resort -to -as -i -have- to surcomstances . if i survive this period of transition, i will unload civility from the pocket from which i've placed it. anad return it as a gift to the future.

as things unfold, it all depends on where one lives...some will live the nightmare as in many places already. some will not. we will just have to punt as the game goes along.

trust yourself to do the right thing as you need to......priceless.

death is not to be feared. and neither is the coming unspeakables. this is not a time to fear but a time to actively living . a time to outlast the hard times.

as a child , i was raped by my father, beaten by my mother who looked away from my fathers activities. i learned to outlast them. after 18 years i was legal and free. i have known hardship.....and let it be known...there is joy and happiness interspersed with bloodshed. that is how life can be. sometimes we have to know it's ok to laugh among the destruction--there are times it makes sense to do so.

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thc0655
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Posts: 674
Resilience

I often wonder how resilient the peaceful, law-abiding people are going to be when situations require them to make snap decisions between violent self-defense and submission to violent attack.  That's a tough personal frontier to negotiate and many will submit to violence rather than act contrary to a life of non-violence and obeying the laws/rules.  I wonder how resilient "the good people" can be when viewing dead humans on the street (especially if they themselves have killed them) and seeing unspeakable suffering on a daily basis. Whatever our future holds, that kind of emotional/spiritual resilience is going to be required of most people (and most people have not dealt with that before).

Personally, I wonder how accustomed to seeing death and inflicting violence I have become, and wonder if all my compassion and morals will desert me in the future when I need them most. So far, I feel confident, but we'll see how it goes as things get worse.

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jdye51
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Posts: 157
ferralhen

My heart aches with compassion for your journey in this life.  What a brave soul! You have endured more than most. We live in a tragicomedy called life. The trick is not to take it too seriously. It helps me to think that we are spirit temporarily residing in these physical bodies to learn lessons. To learn to forgive is so important. We are all flawed and works in progress.

I salute your courage and abiltity to survive and thrive. Your life, though difficult, has prepared you for hardship. And you can pass on lessons learned to others as we slip into decline.

Thank you for your honesty. The time for pretense is done. We must all be authentic and raw. The times demand that we put aside all that is false and speak the truth as you have done.

Love to you,

Joyce

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yogiismyhero
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Posts: 173
ferralhen...

...you are fast becoming one of my hero's here in our community. A BIG Yogi sized bear hug. Have a great day.

BOB

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SPAM_ferralhen
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
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Posts: 151
thank you all for your kind

thank you all for your kind words.

know that i am fine and healed. i did the work.

as stoneleigh once said : for some, the coming days will be like falling out of a first floor window. for others it will be falling out of a 9th story window.

luckily i was one of those crazy spirited kids who was like johnny.

the teacher sent johnny to the corner for misbehaving. johnny replied,"i may be in the corner but in my mind i'm still at my desk"!

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westcoastjan
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Posts: 468
further thoughts

I actually wrote this last night but hit something (?) on my new keyboard and much to my dismay my draft post went “poof” Gee I hate that...

Bob, I can understand not wanting to talk about this crap – I do not enjoy it either, however, I do view it as part of the larger preparation process. It seems you are blessed to be in circumstances that give you confidence that you would be able to survive okay in a threatening societal breakdown. Some of us do not have that luxury. Where I find the value in these discussions is that it prods my thinking to re-assess my own situation using risk management criteria. It causes me to ask myself things like “am I living in the best/right place?” “How are people in this neighborhood likely to react to such a thing? “ “Who, if anyone, among my neighbors would I want with me in the trenches in a SHTF scenario? What do they bring to the table, and can I trust them? How much can I trust them?” “If I have to leave in a hurry where will I go and what are my resources?”

If we never discuss the things that make us uncomfortable how will be able to formulate good back up plans for ourselves? Of course, we all hope it never comes to this, but better to have a plan B than to be blind-sided by something that we refused to prepare for because we would not acknowledge the possibility of it happening.

Ferralhen, thanks for sharing your experience and demonstrating what bravery and perseverance looks like. Your attitude is highly likely what helped you to develop the resilience to deal with these horrific things. Stories like yours give me inspiration to continue in this sometimes rotten, ugly world.

Thc0655, I concur with all you wrote. None of us know how we will truly react if we find ourselves in a threatening, violent situation. Some may succumb to the violence, and others may surprise themselves with the levels they will go to in order to ensure survival for themselves – more so if dependents are involved. In the heat of the moment, we are all capable of unspeakable deeds. Whether we will be able to live with ourselves after the fact is a completely different ball game. No matter which way it goes, psychologically speaking, I think it is inevitable that we would be different people when the situation ends.

All I know with a certainty is that if I take even small steps to help me deal with (and hopefully survive) such terrible scenarios, my chances will be that much better.

Note-due to my dumb keyboard problem I have written this on a Word doc and cut & pasted. If the formatting is all messed up, that is why

Jan

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yogiismyhero
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Posts: 173
Jan, absolutely, I see the need to talk, but why really...

Jan, I do love you for a fact. OK, lets talk, and lets be real. First rule before reading on though is this is not personal and I am just going to wing it.

"I hate this crap" is me shaking out my visuals of actually having  to visualize many encounters in my life and the gruesome aftermath of the serious violence spilling on the streets because one has to win and one has to lose. Still standing doesn't make defending my space any better for my actions. Additionally, in the future that is being implied here you/we will have to stand and defend ourselves, again, with many, and often, and weekly, and monthly, and, and, and. 

Jan, I have no clue if I live in the best place or not. Where I live is a reality, and is as descibed in a previous thread, and I have shared with you the area I do live in so you have my reality and visuals of my physical space. You also have my bug out zone space as I have shown you this too. I will however take my chances here. If I have to, then a bug out place is there for me and 3 hours North, and 2 hours North of that.

Jan, I seriously do not care and I never, ever, think about any of this until I read it here. Truthfully, I do not fear what I do not see in front of me or behind me. I have always known when, in real time, what I must do and I do it. If you or others have no experience in this arena then you are in for one seriously rude awakening. Pointedly, it is too late already for you or anyone who suffer a simular upbringing. Negotiation is not an option. Plainly, you busted up and ask questions later. Can you do this?

Having an understanding of you Jan (somewhat) and your hearing handicap (as I have and anyone reading this just stick your name where Jan's is and add your physicality ), and your years as you have intimated before, I would strongly recommend that you seek an alternative to city life. If it is honest dialogue we wish to speak here then your chances of surviving the detailed muses spoken here then the odds of you surviving a violent chance encounter are very slim. If you are worried about your city garden then you are not thinking clearly, preparing properly, and already exist in a very dangerous environment so get out if you can. What do you have in your garden and how much will your cache support you? A winter, a month, couple of weeks, a week? 

The odds of you surviving in the setting I live in (not being boastful or greater than thou) are marketably higher is my opinion. With folks who aren't sqeemish about sticking their buck knife into the animals privates and cutting them off, let alone gut the damn rat, possum, deer or whatever. Road kill even better. This home I live in will be abandoned the moment I feel necessary (I do not believe it will be) and I will not care about the contents within. Just my personals as I am set up elsewhere, and it happens to be a vacation/2nd home. Simular fine folks live their too. Nearby however, I have many bug out zones that with like minded folks we can defend, and defend well as it is our own back yards, and we have the motivation, skills, and family to keep us going when times are tough. That is a huge advantage over passer bye's who will find it extremely difficult to mentally challenge a community who are so closely linked. Still, if things get so bad then family will turn on family. Even in less severe conditions family members will still rob you if their circumstance is less than ideal. You are a single girl with aging skill sets. I do not wish to be blunt at all but open enough so that you see things for the way they are. I mean no disrespect at all here Jan or to anyone else. 

Your choice, and I respect you all your decisions. Still, a community of Folks such as the ones I live with is your best chance is still my loving choice for you. You are personable and sweet, and would fit in seemlessly because of your work ethic, determination, and because you can handle an axe. A tool that is great for chopping wood, and heads off of chickens but not useful really in hand to hand combat when going up against a young man or woman who could disable you on the quick. You are not physically who you were in your youth, so again, just stating the obvious. Me either. 

I am no fortune teller on the future but my suggestion would be to seek an area out as I live in and make some quick in roads to the way of the community that has few people, that are well armed, raise their own food, fish their own food, barter for food, have fresh water wells, and the sight of blood and gutts in an environment where you better not be too squeamish about sticking a knife into the throat of a surprised and violent adversary should that arise unexpectantly. Naturally taking a life would be totally unacceptable to anyones mental being. Yet, you may just have to do it.

Like I said, "I hate this crap" but I guess we must talk about it.

Lastly, to truly talk openly and honestly about any subject here at our PP community would be long and laborous as this thread was for me. How can I possibly tell someone what to expect when I have no clue the true make up of that individual? How can I truly judge them wihout ever having met them, and who's circumstance I will never know? At best we can only relate, and I was just trying to relate my circumstance, and only those who live as I do can truly appreciate what I am saying. Now, I have lived in the big city, Detroit, and seen so much, and Detroit is the future if everything here is to be believed. If that is the case, and Detroit is the example, then no one here including me stands a very good chance of anything, you will not even know yourself if all these things that fear based fantasy imagines, because you will not be the you, you see in the mirror today. Fact is, everything you have in your life right now will most likely be gone. Jobs, materials possesions, cash, and maybe even the cloths on your back. Isn't life grand and facing a reality that you are speaking of that isn't here, and isn't reality, and that you aren't prepared for now, and you will only have deminishing skills every day going forward is just not, in any shape or form of how I will live my life today. So, "I hate this crap" sounds good to me but you guys go ahead and worry yourself sick. Me, I think I am going to nap now. My preps are done for today, I am resilient as I can be for today. Have a great weekend.

Jan, nothing here was meant to be pointed or upsetting so if it was then just call me whatever you want and I am sorry. I will not respond further to this topic. 

Hey Jan, how about them Tigers? Cabrerra!!!! He is a gift from the Gods, what a player.

BOB

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Sirocco
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 17 2013
Posts: 31
a few thoughts...

Yesterday, I caught the last half of a movie called "The Road"  - it ties right into this thread. My summary is this: a father and young son trying to find a safe harbor in a post-apocalytic, total collapse scenario. Starvation, cannabalism, insanity... basically the entire world was dead, and the last few people were doing whatever they decided they needed to to survive. It was pretty grim, but is one view of what a total collapse could look like. It does beg the question - what is "humanity"?

Regarding fences - in response to a couple of earlier posts - fences are largely symbolic for humans. It's pretty difficult to build a fence that will actually deny entry to a human who is determined to pass. For the most part, fences symbolically represent a barrier, but aren't actually much of a barrier. Humans who respect the usual social norms (ie thou shalt not steal, lie, kill, etc, etc) will generally respect the symbolic barrier that a fence is. Those folks who do not  abide by the usual social norms will not care if there is a fence or not - they will live by whatever code of morality they have, and do whatever they choose. Were I growing a garden in my front yard, I would erect a simple and low cost fence, and figure that it will keep out maybe 9 out of 10 people, and realize 1) there is nothing that I can do to truly fence out anyone and 2) when more people get hungry, my garden will get raided repeatedly and thoroughly.

The method of collapse (ie fast and all at once vs slow and gradual) will probably significantly figure into how much and what type of impact each of us will feel. If there is a sudden (and prolonged) collapse, then pretty much every person (and most other life on Earth) will suffer horribly. As has been noted in many posts on this thread, a huge portion of the human population would die within the first few months. And the survivors will likely have to disregard many/all the social norms just to stay alive. However, if the collapse is slow and gradual (I believe we are already experiencing a gradual collapse), then people may have time to adapt, and adapt again, and again. People will suffer, but there may be some margin of adequate resources and cultrual change that will enable some people to retain some of their "humanity" and allow us to keep some of those characteristics that make humans worth all this trouble - generosity, love, integrity, family... I don't think I'm expressing this very well, but if we descend to a level of doing literally anything to survive - have we become animals (no disrespect to animals intended)? Are we still human? What makes us human?

SPAM_ferralhen's picture
SPAM_ferralhen
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 14 2009
Posts: 151
another life story

jan and bob....i hear both of you.and like you both...from what i've read.

short reply:

someday jan a man may leave you in the dust as he runs to safety and bob, someday the woman you love will express fears such as jan and hold you back. you both know how life is.

is it look before you leap or he who hesitates is lost.? we don't know and we can't plan for it.

jan if you feel vulnerable , do something about it. and thank you bob for taking the time to explain things to jan. i felt vulnerable so i left a condo with a pool, shopping close by, hospital close by for the isolated country of never ending.hard work homestead.when my pets died , i did not replace them..i travel light.because it made me feel safer.           rest.

story:

in the early 80's newly married, my ex husband and i were in a high rise hotel fire.(9th floor and at midnight) yes very similar to 911, only no planes and less people. the threat the same. details in a later post....for now , we got separated and i knew it was the end of the line for me.....same spunk...if i'm gonna die, then die trying and i ran down the smoke(nasty unable to breathe this burning plastic toxic shit smoke)fill stair wells with my eyes burned closed from toxic smoke shut.i visualized the stairs but still fell each landing. several flights.

i made it out and then i saw him(ex) leaning out of a window on the 7th floor with smoke billowing behind him.i was out he was not. i knew what he was in.(and to this day i know the smell and on 911 i smelled that smell for 3 days) at that time i loved him and i prayed and then let go and decided what will be will be and i can deal withthe outcome later....i stopped trying to will the outcome and accepted whatever it would be.....that kept panic at bay and gave me sense of mind.it took 45 minutes before they got him out.

a whole other trama..helplessness

before i ran out , bob, this was my omg,(shit don't happen to me but to others) this is it moment and i saw no way out because i had already ascertain the smoke in the stairwell was deadly toxic(which was correct), if not hot. and we can find ourselves in that moment before we die, with absolutely nothing to do about it...i know this...and not knowledge i wish to have, trust me. i have it so i dealt with it.

ok , so

shit does happen, and to me. forget about the odds  if you find yourself in the moment ...then believe it happens.and it's real and very very real much more real than your fears jan or yours bob.but your body helps and goes into shock which numbs things down for you and you are incapable of feeling much pain.and at some point dying is the most next thing you wish for. usually you get the wish at this point.

then again...things happen sometimes and we live. those of us who do tell about it...those who don't live..well i think i've been as close to that point for now as i care to be.

i have just simplistically desribed the process of dying. i had experienced the hard part. and then i returned...and that took 20 years to work thru some sensible understanding.

main take away?

we are here til we are not.(it's not being simplistic...it's just how i've experienced it)

if you see danger, move away from it.or if you are military move toward it.

the curse of doing nothing to protect yourself,( be in shape , plan etc), is to worry. and that can kill you.

yes jan i am 60, no longer an athlete, no longer to outrun anything...but i don't put myself in the world trade center type situation anymore....i can; negotiate with others, etc,,,,but left to nothing left i will fight.....and take you down if i'm going down....it's survival....that's all. find that in you .

i would only be in that mode given i need to survive, but like bob, i know it's there...

and that is a comfort  albeit a false one perhaps.

i don't think of these things either til i go online.

i am as ready as i can think of, but i trust my instinct and spirit and know that someday i too will die.

i know without a doubt some day i will die....so i don't fear it anymore.  i may try to avoid it, but i don't fear it....and that gives me an edge.

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