Hey baby boomers, gen Xers, and early Gen Y'ers....

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Zay294's picture
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Hey baby boomers, gen Xers, and early Gen Y'ers....

Screw you.

No, not all of you. There are some very responsible people on this site. Just being here puts you above the average American.


I am anxiously awaiting this "what to do" section and hope that it grants some comfort. I don't have assets to convert into gold. I don't have a large enough savings cushion to ride this thing out, and I don't have time to save up either. I don't have a mortgage. I don't have car payments to make.  I spent a few hours watching the whole crash course, and I appreciate the information but now I'm scared. Very scared. The next 20 years will be nothing like the last, and I haven't even been around 20 years! Next monday is my 19th birthday. I'm the cliche broke college student. 

What is a guy like me to do? Buy gold? Can't save up in time, and the longer I wait the more expensive it gets. Stock up at home? I don't have my own, only my parents'. 

 I suppose the only advantage I have is that my old car was bought cash. No debt there. And I don't have children to feed or a wife to support. What though, does the future have in store for me? Less class mobility, less job advancement, less jobs period, expensive energy, the inability to ever trust a politician, a struggle for survival?

 What would you advise me to do, now being informed? 

wmarsden's picture
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What you've got is youth,
What you've got is youth, strength, and health. You can use that to perform labor for which you can be paid. Learn a trade, be a hard worker, don't whine, be an honest person, be a kind person. These traits will be better than riches.
zstowasser's picture
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learn permaculture

after researching these subjects for the last 4 years, I can say with certainty that to prosper and have a real impact on the sustainability of our species, learn permaculture.

 I have information about it on my blog - www.infopatriots.org

 now that you're awake you must do something with your knowledge.  remember that you came here to be part of this history.  look at these problems as great opportunities.  you do not need anything but time and motivation.  get together with those who have resources you need and create partnerships.  start building gardens and growing fruit and nut trees and berry bushes. plant seeds all around town. plant them guerilla style if you have to. plant seeds everywhere. learn to graft and then graft those seeds as they grow plus create a nursery in your community.  we need to have free food everywhere. if we follow permaculture we can really have a great time here on earth because when we use nature as a model, we can create abundance.

 There are solutions to these problems.  But as chris said, as each day passes and we do nothing we are wasting precious resources and time.  There is much work to do and the more people we have helping us the easier it will be, plus it is more FUN when done in groups.  start creating PARTIES and bring together people and share food and knowledge.  email the crash course to everyone you know and ask them if they've watched it often.  keep bugging them. tell them its for their benefit and that you care for them.

 be confident that if you trust your intuition and think for yourself, you'll make it.

ike's picture
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Weigh carefully the value of a degree

You said you're a college student. College isn't cheap by any means. And it's questionable what the value of that piece of paper will be post crash. Some of that has to do with what you're studying.

So consider the options around the resources you and your parents are plowing into your degree. Especially if you're majoring in something without a clear role in a post-crash society. The first step is to share the crash course with your parents. Know that it may be much more difficult for them to face/accept/take action on than it is for you.

You are a member of the 'hero' generation. You may resent what your elders have wrought, but you are not only empowered but expected to be among the heroes that solves some of these problems. Check out 'The Fourth Turning' by Str William and Neil Howe or look at http://www.GenerationalDynamics.com/cgi-bin/D.PL?d=ww2010.i.basics

gsti's picture
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Don't worry - do this.

Hi Zay294,

Really my friend, do not worry.  Here are some reasons not to panic too much:

There never was a guarantee about anything in this word before you saw those videos - there still isn't

Not everything in Chris's videos are a given, - predictions are exactly those - predictions. Many many people disagree with Chris, None of us know for sure. Who would have thought even 20 years ago they could grow new organs - admittidly for mice ;)  But in your life time you will probably be able to get a new heart or lung.  So who knows what technology is just around the corner, and that my friend is exciting.

 Not having alot of money/material possessions is actually a good thing - having things , especially alot of things makes people scared of losing what they have.  You know why when you often would want to do something, and elders said no, it was not always because you had a bad idea, it was because they were scared, scared to lose, scared to upset the status quo.

Most things are alot easier than people would like you to believe - never forget this one!!


What you should do: 

Finish your education, in every society knowledge and education are valuable.

Like some of the other posters have said, learn more things permaculture, hair dressing, plastering, carpentry as you do your college work.  You can earn money from these skills.

Make friends - as many as possible

Do not waste money - if it possible not to spend the money you just earnt, don't.

Don't worry too much about all of this, just make a little plan, and start doing it , i.e. get to the top 3% in college course.  Learn how to repair a roof, learn how to plaster a wall.  whatever it is you want to do.

Be happy, enjoy the life :)

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kaikaroo is what we say in india " what to do"

i have a daughter a little older than you  my advice to her is  finish school, think outside the box. the folks who are bringing up this mess have for a very long time thought globally they have businesses ,homes etc all over the world. get a degree in finance, business not english lit unless of course you wish to teach or write. if you consider the world as your oyster you will always find a place to eat and have a home. dubai is absolutely booming you can find anything you want there. they love  people who speak english. in the long term view it will be the last place affected by peak oil. china is another good bet for now. as far as manual labor iceland has a dramatic shortage of crafs people they are top heavy with degreed people so electricians etc can do very well there. maybe that is the solution for our immigration problem?

english is still the language of business worldwide  a skill and the ability to speak english will be a great asset. i have a friend who tutors english in china he makes $15 an hour pretty crappy right/ except evryone else is making $15 a month. he is doing very well thank you.

just follow the money where is wal mart? where is wal mart going? brazil another good long term bet. remember you are a citizen of the universe. your country left you a long time ago. you are young travel see the world see what feels right to you.

NEVER EVER TRUST A POLITICIAN. AS OREILLY SAYS "WHO IS LOOKLING OUT FOR YOU"? you are looking out for you . the only thing certain to stay the same  is change. be flexible. it is  a great time to be alive your opportunities are boundless  but you can not rely on the old paradigm it is done. create your own................... wow i envy you.

Dragline's picture
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You and your capacity to earn are your biggest assets.  Find ways to make yourself more valuable to other people.  Finish college, but start thinking about jobs now.  Try to find jobs or internships in your chosen field NOW so that you are more marketable when you graduate.  Finding work may be tough in the coming years.

Stay out of debt.  Debt = slavery.  You only want to go into debt to purchase an appreciating asset, like improving your earning capacity through education.  Do not use debt to purchase material things that decline in value.   Along those lines, do not buy another car if you can avoid it, and never waste money on a new car.  Live with as few material possessions as possible.

Don't worry about buying gold.  That's for people who already have assets that they are worried about protecting.  If at some point in the future you do have money to save or invest find ways to save it in other currencies besides the dollar.  There are many ways of doing this (too many to go into here), but don't worry about it until you have money.

Start developing healthy habits if you have not already.  Stop eating junk food and start eating healthy.  Get exercise.  Play sports if you enjoy them.  Don't pay money to join a gym.  Use the school's facilities or buy yourself a kettlebell and learn how to exercise with it.

Maintain old friendships and try to begin new ones.

 Believe it or not, RIGHT NOW is still a great time to be alive.  Good luck.



boilereric's picture
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What to do

I just graduated college and understand the feelings you have, since I first became aware of these issues about two years ago. Here's what I would suggest. Earn what you can. As mentioned several times, earning power is great right for you right now. You didn't mention what you're major was, but you can probably provide services to others to get cash for college and bills. Look on Craigslist, elancer, and other sites for small jobs you can pick up to pay the bills.

 Avoid debt. It'll hurt you, trust me. I'm working every freelance job I can get to get it paid off.

Go into a "real" major and take "real" classes. Stuff that will provide you valuable knowledge. Sorry if you're a Comm major or philosophy. If you're in marketing, it might pay to realize how much of the service economy is driven by a pyramid scheme of advertisers, particulary on the web. You advertise on a site to get people to visit your site to see the ads on your site and so on. You will need to be the best there is in your area to get jobs in the future, so you might have to cut back on the social stuff. Science, engineering, technology and ag are where its going to be at. (Yes technology, if you can use tech to save energy - telecommuting, sharing logistics information etc, you're going to come out ahead. Electronically sharing information has saved immense amounts of energy. Trying to create the next facebook might not be the best business path or use of tech, though.)

 And stay positive. There's a chance a silver bullet is out there. No need to be a sourpuss around friends and whatnot. Know what you know, share it with the interested, and let it drive you're decisions. Its pretty depressing knowledge but stay upbeat.

 Thats my take anyway.

MaxThrax's picture
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Glass half full

Well count me as one of the pessimists....I've seen this coming for years. Without knowing what your major is, it's hard to say if your could spend your money more wisely education-wise. I spent a pretty penny on my Computer Science BS and never even made enough money to pay off the loans, though I did enjoy myself for a time. Perhaps a technical college would be better as they tend focus on occupations not easily outsourced.

Am I the only one who thinks maxing out your credit now and paying it back in hyper inflationary dollars might be smart? Smart that is if you spend that credit on things of real value....I've got my eye on one of those portable solar panel thingys.

I doubt sincerely though that if there is an economic collapse, that it will be a peaceful one. So  your youth will be a great advantage, if that can be said of such a terrible scenario. In any case, good luck.

switters's picture
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Learn a trade, get involved and be part of the transformation!

I'm in my mid 30s and though I'm long out of college, I recently decided to change careers as a direct result of what I've been learning about resource depletion, economic instability and climate change.  I'm studying to become an acupuncturist and herbalist.  I'm also learning to grow and prepare medicinal herbs, training in first aid techniques (bone-setting, suturing, etc.) and learning how to help people stay healthy and well with nutrition, exercise, stress reduction and other non-drug techniques.  

When/if the economy tanks, people will lose their jobs and will no longer have health insurance. The health insurance and medical care system itself is likely to not function well even for those that still do have insurance. Western medicine is incredibly reliant upon technology and energy - especially oil.  Pharmaceutical medicines are petrochemical-based, for example, and hospitals are unbelievable consumers of electricity.  There's going to be a strong demand for cheap, simple and effective methods of health care in a "post-carbon" world, no matter where one lives.

I have another friend who is training to be a midwife.  Same story there.  Yet another friend has apprenticed with a cobbler (shoemaker) and is learning to make shoes.  Did you know that there are virtually no U.S.-based shoemaking companies anymore?  We import almost all of our shoes now from China, and when oil gets too expensive, those boats will stop coming.  

This is a rather long-winded way of saying: think about the products and services that will be valuable in a society where energy is declining and the economy is in a depression.  People will still need to eat, they'll still wear clothes and shoes, they'll still need houses to live in (particularly energy efficient homes), they'll still need health care, they'll still need some level of education and a way to learn new skills.  These are good places to start.  Another way to get at this is to think back to the time before the industrial revolution.  What were people doing for a living?  Bakers, cobblers, builders, farmers, toolmakers... these professions will be in demand in some form or another.

Of course there are also new professions that will see increased demand, such as solar and wind power engineers, permaculture design experts, and so forth.  And while some here may disagree, I believe there will be a strong need for community leaders who have the ability to motivate, inspire, organize and resolve conflicts in their local areas.

The silver lining here is that I sincerely believe that the result of this transition (which won't be easy by any stretch of the imagination), is a more local, sustainable, humane and ultimately satisfying way to live for most people.  When I look around today I see that most people are not truly happy with the way we are living.  Yet we cling to this life because it's what we know, and the "misery of the known" is often preferable to the fear of the unknown.  I think people will be surprised to find out how much more they enjoy life when they are doing work that is relevant and practical, when they have strong connections with their local communities, when they are walking, riding a bicycle and taking public transportation instead of driving 100 miles each day, when they are playing music and putting together local theater performances instead of watching mindless TV...

Don't get me wrong, though.  We have a long ways to go from where we are now to what I describe above.  But the important thing is to be part of that change.  We've been having meetings in my community about this, and just the act of coming together with other people and discussing ideas, strategies, working together, has been a great experience for all of us.  So be part of the solution!  Get involved.  Choose a trade or vocation that you love and that will be in demand in any economy and any place.  Live within your means and don't spend money on stuff that won't be valuable in a post-carbon economy.  And above all, keep enjoying life as much as you can!  It doesn't serve anyone if you're depressed and immobilized by fear.  

I bet this is really heavy stuff to learn about when you feel like you have your whole life ahead of you.  But the trick is to find the opportunity in the crisis and to look for things you can get excited about.  That's true for all of us, I think. 

Xflies's picture
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Buying Financial collapse insurance- a study on Implied Vols
Since I last wrote a post on buying Euro volatility through out of the money Euro calls, implieds have risen from 12-15%. I still think currency skew is cheap and here's why: Implied volatility has risen dramatically in commodities like Oil, Natgas, Gold etc.. I would insert some Bloomberg graphs but I'm not sure how to do it but basically implied vols for most of these commodities ranged between 15-20% a few years ago. Today at the money implied vols are closer to 40-50%. Out of the money is even higher. Currencies, more specifically the Euro, show an increase in historical volatility but the implieds are still trading lower than actual recent vol. Out of the money options for other currencies is cheap... there's no reason that with increased government intervention and central bank manipulation, that volatilities for these currencies can't spike as high as other commodities. So there it is, cheap insurance is buying out of the money Euro calls. For guys like me who view volatility as an asset class, buying skew in the Euro seems like a slam dunk and even though there could be potential relative performance issues between the Euro and USD, a more plausible outcome would be the USD weakening against other currencies in times of distress.
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fellow youngster

lots of good stuff here. :)


i had a 4.0 in high school, and then dropped out before my senior year. went to a year of college (also a 4.0), then said, "wow, screw this." i now have a successful web design company, work in my pajamas a few days a week, and... yeah, life is good.


as many have said here already, college probably has little to offer you. even in a practical degree, you will learn more in an afternoon at your local bookstore, than you will in a semester at college. and, at 19, you're probably not taking anything worthwhile.


but, where ever you are--opportunities can be found. college may be the perfect place to organize people and become a leader. if you have "nothing" to offer--you need to come up with some big ideas. those will be far more valuable to your community than gold or fuel. 


i am almost 25, in a town full of 75 year olds. i have gotten myself prepared as much as possible. and now i am dedicating my time to THINKING. what resources does your town have? look for big buildings (churches, art museums) where people could meet to trade goods, services and ideas. notice any buses around? my partner has a 40 foot bus. i'm thinking it would make a great "commerce wagon." we've filled up a tank of diesel for it. i figure it could transport people and goods in our small community for about 2 years, on the diesel we have. want a ride to your grandma's house? what do you have to trade? batteries, a chicken, zucchini bread? the key is to keep commerce moving!!


the great thing about americans, is that we have a lot of STUFF. when the need arises, we will find new uses for our dollar store finds and ikea treasures. :)


as others have suggested, find people you can talk and plan with. look for people NOT like you. a mix of ages, genders, resources and skills should be in any survival network. be honest with your network. ask them what YOU can do to be beneficial to THEM.


if you can drop out of school and recoup some money, i totally recommend it. but, if your college town would be a good place to spend the end of the world, and you have cheap rent--it might be worth it to stick around. before dropping out, LOOK at the bigger picture. what resources does the school have that you wouldn't find anywhere else? land? solar? water? anything??


get to your library or bookstore. READ up on permaculture, as someone suggested. become an expert on survival. you will be one of few in your generation who knows how to function in pre-plumbing, pre-electricity, pre-fuel days. if your friends are totally opposed to chris' teachings... ask them to go camping with you anyway. take a weekend to see just how difficult this might be. PRACTICE!


find something that centers you. you will be worthless to us all if you are panicky. :) deep breathing, meditating, thinking positive thoughts, going downstream... these will all help you move from stage 4 to stage 6. 



rock the world,


mdovell's picture
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Re: fellow youngster

I wouldn't say that going to school would be a waste.  No offense.

 I think it might be worth it to list a few things here and there that could do the same thing but without as much reliance on electricity

like a mechanical windup clock or watch to tell the time

 maybe using a cb instead of a cell phone (might be better for cars)

maybe repairing a bike

 cooking without cooking oil

cleaning water with heat

 solar cookers etc 

krogoth's picture
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Re: Hey baby boomers, gen Xers, and early Gen Y'ers....

I am screwed because everything I know depends on electricity, LOL. I learned how to weld in the Navy, and I have a degree in Computer Science, so hopefully I can hook up to a wind turbine and keep making it somehow when this crapstorm comes to a conclusion.







swoodsong's picture
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Re: Hey baby boomers, gen Xers, and early Gen Y'ers....

What to do? Depends on how you want to live from here on out.

What we have read indicates that our technology should level out around the 1850s capacity. So the two computer geeks (me and my husband) have now spent a few years learning where things used to come from.

Your physical strength and capacity for learning are at their best right now. So, experiment and see what appeals to you. Like others have said, permaculture, natural building techniques, food cultivation, fabric production - hit the basics and see what you will need to survive and even thrive.

The Basics? Water, food, shelter, warmth, community, physical security and safety. Then hygiene, plumbing, natural medicine. I see having my own land as paramount. I don't really want to be in the cities when the food and water runs out.

My husband and I are going the homesteading route. There likely won't be much of a retirement plan for us over-50s folks. We are learning our own food production, storage and seed saving techniques. We now know how to can or dry our garden produce, and make cheese from raw milk. We are building our own dehydrators and even a solar oven. I know how to run a woodstove, and we plan to buy one when we have a permanent structure.

I even learned how to milk a goat, they seem like creatures that know how to survive. We learned about chickens, although we still don't think we can kill to eat. I know a million ways to fix eggs and custards! We are building our own sustainable structures, and we are trying to create buildings that will last hundreds of years.

And, we are gathering tools for the lifestyle we see coming on. We've developed a fascination for old tools, and how they were used. Those things lasted forever!! Hand run saws, drills, carpenters' brace, all kinds of things I never looked at before. And old building techniques. Now we have books on how to make furniture, farm tools, musical instruments, fix spinning wheels, things we didn't even know existed before. We know more about chickens, horses and goats than we ever imagined we would need.

We've thought about this for a long time. We feel as if we are in a race with the economy and the end of goods.

So, look at your life. What you love, what you can't live without, what you can offer of value to others who have skills you don't, but that you need.

It's really hard to believe that the structures we are so familiar with might collapse. But, knowing what you do and being able to visualize the crash, I'd be really tempted to put some money into 5 acres somewhere that you could make into a small homestead.

Best of luck!


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Re: Glass half full

Forget about maxing out your credit card.  Debt = slavery.  There's just no other way to say it.  If you are in debt, you will do one of two things: you will either work to pay it off with interest, or you will default.  The first of these costs you your life.  The second costs you your soul.

OK, not all debt is created equal.  Almost none of us can pay cash for a house, for example.  Furthermore, this kind of debt is really a trade of sorts.  Yes, you have a mortgage, but you also have a property that (hopefully) has value at least equal to the outstanding balance.  But going into debt for consumer items is a bad bet.  You still have the obligation, but consumer items don't fare well as assets.  All you have is your time and the obligation to use it to pay off the debt.  In other words, you're now a slave.

Also, as Chris points out, you are assuming that (your) future will be bigger than (your) past.  That is, your future will enable you to repay your debt with interest.  Who's the winner here?  And this may be a bad bet.  We have been extraordinarily blessed to have lived in an age of generally rising prosperity with no serious downturns.  If you're an American, this is largely because the US emerged from WWII virtually unscathed -- the only major industrialized nation to do so -- and enjoyed unparalleled prosperity due to its economic and military dominance.  And -- trust me on this -- you don't want to know how your country used its military dominance to ensure its economic dominance.  Now, however, the rest of the world is beginning to achieve parity.  The future is definitely not going to be like the past.

Here's my prescription:  Join the Peace Corps and see some of the world while you're young enough to apply what you learned out there to a large part of your life.

OK, all kidding aside, here's my personal view: 

Step 0:  Make as many friends as you can and honor those friendships.

Step 1:  Finish your education.  You just can't go wrong by becoming educated,  You become a more knowledgable person.  Study only subjects that you care about.

Step 2:  Once step 1 is behind you, save up enough money to weather an economic downturn.  At least six months worth of bare-bones living expenses.

Step 3:  Buy a house as soon as you are geographically stable and able to afford one.  Then pay it off as soon as you possibly can.  Buying a house that is well within your means helps immeasurably.  Once your house is paid off -- you're a free man.  Until then, you're a slave.

Of course, you might *like* being a slave...  Most people do.  Freedom is hard work.  You have to make decisions.  While you're a slave, a lot of the important decisions -- like what you're going to do with your waking life for the majority of the week for the majority of your life -- are made for you.  If you can settle for the brain-dead life and cookie-cutter dreams of a slave, ignore this post.

Step 4:  Don't even think about diverting money into a retirement plan until your house is paid off unless you can spot some extraordinary investment opportunities.  By extraordinary, I mean opportunities that *guarantee* a rate of return that exceeds your mortgage rate.  Yes, I know it's tax deferred, but guess what?  You're going to pay the tax on that money before you get to use it no matter when that is.  And who knows what the tax rate down the road is going to be?

Well, OK, maybe this is a little overstated,  You might want to, for example, contribute enough to a company-sponsored 401K plan to gain the employer's match, but this is really just another way to increase your earnings.  Or maybe extraordinary investment opportunities will come knocking.  If so, by all means...  But keep it in perspective, man.  This stuff can come down to random ink spots on paper faster than you would believe possible.  Retirement plans don't always work out, as any former Enron employee can readily attest.  Plus inflation can eat away at its value. Plus you might not be able to get at your retirement savings when you need it -- like when you're in a financial bind and are facing foreclosure.

Your house, on the other hand, will never lose its real value on a February night as long as a) you have a wood stove, b) good insulation, and c) it's yours.

mdovell's picture
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Re: Hey baby boomers, gen Xers, and early Gen Y'ers....

It's interesting how someone mensioned chickens. I know someone that grows their own food and is raising chickens. Spring and summer give her all the eggs one could ever eat...sometimes yes you get one...Make sure you feed them grass, not corn. Or if you do very little corn. Corn is actually quite destructive to animals insides in mass quantities.


Wired magazine recently had a pretty good article on cows and what goes in and comes out, same with corn as to what goes in and out. You'd be surprised how long some of this takes.


I'd say chickens would probably be the easiest mainstream meat to raise. Although I say this knowing I saw one wild turkey a month ago...in the same place a few weeks ago it was a few and today it was nearly 9! These are fat animals but they can claw things to shreads!


Definatly learn to grow some food. I've started this year and it isn't that hard. I used my own compost (grass clippings, coffee grounds mostly but also some tea, leaves, orange peels, bananna etc) next season I'll make compost tea and expand the operation 3 fold and plant earlier.


Also health is important. I'm not saying someone needs to totally workout and become a vegetarian or anything like that. But priorities trump things. It doesn't make sense to say smoke and have money in a 401k or IRA. If someone is doing something that obviously has the potential of lowering a life span then saving for retirement isn't the top priority. Also don't invest in things that go down in value. This might sound obvious but think of how many people get a car loan...on a new car...Others are just simple things like don't get beyond when you are full 

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Re: Hey baby boomers, gen Xers, and early Gen Y'ers....

--I am anxiously awaiting this "what to do" section --

You and me both. I'm old and don't have a penny. I've never been unemployed, but I've never been successfully employed. No retirement program. No benefits. For thirty-seven years, I have earned only enough money to pay my bills. Every time I set aside a few thousand dollars, I break a tooth, or need a car, or need a car repair, or have to cough up a two-thousand dollar medical deductible. Now I'm arthritic and generally ill despite a lifetime of exercise and sensible eating, and it's becoming more and more difficult to even stand without excruciating pain. Holding a job is an ordeal, and I have lost two jobs in the last seven years, due to office closings. I'm ten years from retirement and I fear I will never see a penny of "social security". I have no assetts. I've never enjoyed luxury, not even cable TV. This is my last month for broadband service. I should have been a serial bankrupter and lived it up. What difference would it make now? Every month I think it is the last month I will be able to afford my medical insurance. In the economic collapse, what will happen to me, and the dozens of people I personally know in my same situation? I see myself dying in the street, hungry, without medical care, unless I am first killed by angry thugs for sport, or to get the $5 in my pocket. I never thought it would be like this. At least my parents had the "safety net". Their old age was softened by medicare, social security, and various other social services. That won't be there for me.


I enjoyed this CRASH COURSE, by the way. It's sort of a distantly abstract scary thing, but it's fascinating anyway. It should be on home video for everyone to watch. I showed it to a friend and it scared her to death. Probably, I shouldn't have. She's in a similar situation to mine and there's nothing she can do.




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Posts: 1
I am with you man!



I too would love to get some more advice/guidance for the 20's and below crowd. I am a Gen Y'er and had some so-so jobs (entry level corp/retail banking). After working in banking in 2007, I decided to do something better, so I went to grad school. I got my Master's in urban planning which opened my eyes to say the least. Long story short, there are few opportunities for young urban planners and I am working at Home Depot, nibbling away at my student loan debt.

While I think we've heard some great ideas from others on this forum as to what younger people can do to prepare themselves and families, I would like to know what careers today's graduates can and should strive for to best set themselves up for success in the future. I hate to be cynical, but bread-baker,  heirloom seed cultivator, or other alternative careers are unrealistic. These can be great skills to harvest and cultivate in our spare time, but we're not at the end of the road yet. Preparedness is just that, a state of readiness, not focusing all of our resources and time on something yet to happen. 

The ideas and creativity that we bring to the table will be those that get us (define at your leisure) out of the woods. So all that being said, what should us youngsters focus on? I am inclined to think that real estate (rental) might be a good play if you can find investors. Ag sciences would be another and I would throw ecology in there as well as hydrology and community development. Rather than wax poetically, I want to hear from other likeminded, pro-active youth who want to make the most out of what is left, and will be ready to lead when the time comes. 

Amanda Witman's picture
Amanda Witman
Status: Peak Prosperity Team (Offline)
Joined: Mar 17 2008
Posts: 409
jlh, I would think that

jlh, I would think that pursuing a career in energy -- such as developing and converting existing technology to alternative, post-Peak-Oil-compatible solutions -- would be a good choice.  Also anything that develops, builds, improves, or fixes things that are attractive to those who seek (or require) increased resilience would also be worth considering. 

I am encouraging my kids (they would say requiring) to develop marketable skills and a means of supporting themselves, potentially beginning at age 18.  They may not have the luxury of college, or they may need to work their way through it.  I think it's great to pursue a calling in an area requiring higher education, such as the sciences (my eldest is particularly interested in theoretical mathematics and physics), but I also think they need to have training in a trade where they can get work even in an economy that might not be able to support the higher-level stuff.  I have kids with awesome talent in music and circus art, but around here, they would do well to learn how to do electrical installation and repairs (particularly solar conversion for grid systems), timber framing, carpentry, perhaps fine woodworking (furniture building and repair), small and/or large machine repair, plumbing, or other such trades.

My goal for my kids is that they pursue something they love AND something that will more likely pay the bills even in a cut-back economy.  If they are lucky, they'll get to do what they love and make a living at the same time.  But if they can't, I hope they will be able to earn a reliable living, which will hopefully allow them time to pursue what they love on the side, at least sometimes.

People are going to need things fixed, especially when they can't afford to buy new.  People will have to make the most of what they have -- the houses they have, the systems they have.  The lucky ones will be able to convert to more efficient options; the less lucky ones will just have to keep repairing and making do with what they have.  So any profession that gives you the training, know-how, and experience to be able to a) fix stuff people need, and b) innovate improvements that save people money in the long run, would be good.

Honestly, I'd stay away from anything primarily funded by taxes (you mentioned community development) unless you also have a fallback plan for staying afloat financially.  It's a very important area for smart, aware people to be in, VERY important, so if you can, that is great, but if you only have the resources for investing in your own long-term future, I'd recommend choosing a different strategy.  But fitting with what I said above, devoting your non-career time to community development would be a great gift to your community and the world.  Just don't rely on it financially and expect it to carry you through an economic downturn.

I don't think real estate is a good choice, unless you're playing that risk like you would any investment.  I imagine there will be -- or really, there already are -- many underearning, undersatisfied real-estate agents, and the likelihood that you'd escape their ranks seems small.

I am a Gen Xer, but my kids are Gen Y, or whatever comes after...they were born in 98, 99, 02, and 04...so I've been giving this a lot of thought on their behalf.

Great thread to resurrect, by the way -- I'm interested in other people's perspectives, here, also.

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