Podcast

James Wesley Rawles: Homesteading, Relocation & Resilience

Addressing 'Where should I live?'
Saturday, September 28, 2013, 2:08 PM

James Wesley Rawles is a former U.S. Army intelligence officer who now runs the popular prepping site SurvivalBlog.com. In today's podcast, Chris and Jim discuss the more practical aspects of prepping, including the frequently-asked topic of relocation (Where should I live?):

The key issue, given my perspective on preparedness, is population density. If people have the opportunity to move to a lightly populated region, I highly recommend that they do so. Fewer people mean fewer problems. And regardless of the nature of a disaster, whether it is manmade or natural, if you are in a lightly populated region, odds are you are going to have fewer problems. You are certainly not going to have any big riots out in the middle of the hinter boonies, like where I live. So I would put population density at the very top of my list.

Another key consideration for picking a piece of property would be the local economy. You want to have a diverse local economy that is predominantly agricultural. And you want to be in an area with plentiful water, and preferably in an area with predominantly hydroelectric power, because hydroelectric power is the most resilient. And as I described in my blog, I wrote an article entitled “Islands in the Darkness,” and I was talking about the contingency plans that many power utilities have for cutting themselves off of the national grid in the event that the national grids go down. There are actually three grids: the Western Grid, the Eastern Grid, and the Texas Grid. If one of those grids were to go down, a lot of utilities that are in power-exporting areas will be able to island it for themselves and their customers. For example, where I live, there are several major hydroelectric dams within 30 miles of me. And if the grids were to go down, within less than a minute they could reconstitute an island of power for all of the people in our power co-op, for example.

A region that is quite good for that was described in my novel Survivors. I set that in the area of Farmington, New Mexico, which is a natural-gas-producing area. And they, too, are a power exporter, because they not only have a large coal-fired plant in Northern Arizona, there is also in the Four Corners region a tremendous amount of natural gas that is produced. And they, too, export power.

So ideally, you want to be in a lightly populated area, an agricultural area, an area with plentiful water, preferably with shallow well depth – or even better, spring water, where you gravity-flow water to a house – and again, a power-exporting area. Those will be the safest places to be if everything falls apart. And if we have a major grid-down whammy, a multigenerational whammy, I cannot think of a better place to be than someplace like that. I certainly would not want to be on the East Coast. I certainly would not want to be in any of the major cities or near them. Nor would I want to be on a natural line of drift out of a major city.

I often have people ask me about the Central Valley of California, since it is so agricultural. But it is so close to major population centers, like the Los Angeles Basin and the San Francisco Bay area. I think the Central Valley is just going to get overrun. So even if you had a farm in the Central Valley, you might not be safe.

People really need to live at their retreats year-round and get into a self-sufficient lifestyle. You cannot just 'buy' survival. There is a learning curve to all of this. You can buy a wood cookstove, but that does not mean you know how to really cook with a wood cookstove or bake with it. There is a learning curve there; the same for gardening. It takes years really to develop soil, to build up your multi-year crops, your berries, for example. Asparagus beds take years to develop. Fruit and nut trees take years to grow to maturity.

You really have to be there. You have to learn the peculiarities of your local climate and your local frost-free days for growing. You have to learn which particular crops grow well in your climate zone. There is a learning curve to all of that. And unless you really live it, you cannot just expect to show up at your retreat at the eleventh hour and then start gardening the next day. It is probably not going to happen, at least not the way people hope it will.

In the country, the population density may be low, but all the neighbor kids wander all over the countryside with their 22s out shooting small game all the time. They know where every house is. And for that matter, looters can follow power lines to just about everywhere if they are going to follow roads. So unless you buy an insanely remote property, someone is going to know that it is there. So survival is all about friends that you can trust and neighbors that you can trust. You cannot do it on your own. And anyone who hopes to do it on their own, I think is foolish.

Community can be as close as just two or three neighbors, but it is still community. And you need those people that you can count on. And let me tell you, as a former military officer, I have done continuous operations where we have had to maintain security 24 hours a day -- and that was with a platoon-size unit. These were all young, fit people, and even we got worn out. To think that one family is going to maintain 24/7, 365 days a year, and 360-degree perimeter security for an extended period of time is ludicrous. It is just not going to happen. You are going to burn yourself out within a few days. You really need neighbors that you can count on. You need a neighborhood watch on steroids. 

Click the play button below to listen to Chris' interview with James Wesley Rawles (37m:39s):

Transcript: 

Chris Martenson: Welcome to this Peak Prosperity Podcast. I am your host, Chris Martenson. We are all worried about the state of the world, be it increasing tensions in the Middle East, or perhaps an over-leveraged, too-big-to-fail banking system that is actually larger today than it was before the crisis of 2008. Or maybe we note depletion of basic resources, with none more basic than fresh groundwater. Or maybe politicians and central bankers the world over are intent on ignoring the lessons of the past while slavishly struggling to create more growth and debt instruments, and hopefully the economy, too. With a lot of luck, they may even succeed for a while.

But we all know this: The path we are on is unsustainable, which means it will someday stop. With a lot of luck, this will happen on our own terms. Far more likely, however, things will stop on some other terms. Perhaps Nature’s, or maybe the way all bubbles burst, through some collection of minor insults that shift the winds and tip the boat. Who knows?

Well, nobody knows, and that is the point. And neither can we know which of many scenarios will actually play out. Will the period of adjustment be gradual and gentle enough to give us all time to reorient our lives and systems without major disruption? Maybe. But it might also be a more rapid paralyzing and disruptive transition, more akin to falling off a ladder than climbing down. Just like anybody, I run all the various scenarios through my mind and try to tune my daily preparation and actions to optimize my current happiness and future resilience.

To help us explore what a quick trip down the ladder might entail, today we welcome James Wesley Rawles as our guest. Jim, a former U.S. Army intelligence officer, is the proprietor of survivalblog.com and author of several books, including the bestselling Patriot Novel Series that I have read and enjoyed.

With a background like that, it is little surprise that he is a leading expert in survival tactics and developing self-sufficiency. For those interested in learning how to become less dependent on the system, Jim is a true font of practical knowledge. Jim, thank you so much for joining us today.

James Wesley Rawles: Thanks for having me on, Chris.

Chris Martenson: Let us begin by going a little bit deeper into your background and the practical expertise that has helped you develop.

James Wesley Rawles: Well, as you mentioned, I am a former Army intelligence officer. And when I was in Army intelligence, it really gave me some exposure by way of country studies and a lot of classified reports. It gave some exposure to just how fragile national infrastructures can be. And in reading through those country studies, I came to the realization that our own nation is actually quite fragile. We have incredibly long chains of supply. We are becoming increasingly technologically dependent with every passing year. And we have a pampered society that is not used to doing things for themselves. And we have essentially built ourselves a house of cards. When things do fall apart, I think they will be quite traumatic.

Chris Martenson: Well, now, what are some of the triggers that are on your radar screen for reasons that might happen? Do you think it is just that technology fails because it becomes too complex? Is it maybe a coronal mass ejection, which we talked of some recently, or…?

James Wesley Rawles: Well, yeah, one of the ones near the top of my list would be an X-class solar flare. Of course, there is always the risk of a hacker attack on the data software that controls the power grid, utilities, and oil refineries, for example. There is always the risk of a global pandemic that would keep people at home and away from their jobs at the utilities, and we could see the power grid fail for that reason. And of course, there is always the risk of an economic collapse. And I think the current risk is quite high, presently, because we have central bankers that are attempting to reinflate a bubble when they really should not. And if there is an economic collapse, I think that things could become so traumatic in the big cities so quickly that, just like a pandemic, utility workers are going to be afraid to leave their homes to get to work. And with the way the NRC regulations are written right now, unless a nuclear power plant has a certain level of staffing, it has to shut down, by law.

Chris Martenson: This idea of having a grid shutdown that has come up several times so far. Is this at the top of your list of concerns?

James Wesley Rawles: I think that the power grids, and there are three of them, are the real lynchpins of modern society. There are three grids in the United States: an Eastern Grid, a Western Grid, and a Texas Grid. We have so much that depends upon the grid that without them I think that we would see our society evolve into chaos very quickly. We are dependent on the grid for telecommunications, for reordering systems for the grocery stores, for example, and they have all switched over to just-in-time inventory control. So their inventories are razor-thin. We are dependent on power grids for the banking system, and even the way that businesses operate is dependent on grid power. Not just for the cash registers, but if you look at modern commercial architecture, the last 30 years it has been very much geared toward concrete-slab tilt-up architecture – what you see in your typical big box stores. These are essentially windowless buildings that will be completely untenable if the power grids go down. There is not enough natural light, not enough natural ventilation. Essentially, they are going to be big dark caves.

Chris Martenson: Poorly ventilated caves, too, at that.

James Wesley Rawles: Yeah.

Chris Martenson: Right.

James Wesley Rawles: Yeah, they are either going to be freezing cold caves in the northern climates, or hot humid caves in the southern climates. It is not a very enviable kind of situation. I do not think that most businesses are going to be able to revert to 1950s-style commerce. Even if they wanted to run a manual cash till, most stores are not set up to handle that at all.

Chris Martenson: Have you been tracking at all what has been happening in – I consider Greece to be in a capital-D Depression, and they certainly have been suffering. And they have got well over 50% unemployment in the youth and pieces like that. Have you looked at what has been going on in their society and how they have been coping?

James Wesley Rawles: Oh sure. If anything, Greece is an example for us. It is kind of a preview of what a slow-slide scenario would look like. I think here in the States, we will not even have the benefit of a slow slide. Because Greece is, in a lot of ways, still a very traditional society and has a fairly homogeneous population. It still has a fairly high percentage of people that live off the land, either fishing or in small agriculture.

In the United States, you have got 1% of the population feeding the other 99%. And if we see problems in the United States, I think they are going to happen much more quickly. Things would come unraveled practically overnight. And again, the lynchpin will be the power grid.

Chris Martenson: Well, it is interesting to me that in nature the idea of resilience comes about with the ability to withstand a shock of some kind. We have a very cost-effective society. Wal-Mart is very, very cost effective. But the point you are making here is that it is not resilient.

James Wesley Rawles: Exactly.

Chris Martenson: It is not even just the long supply chains. But there are so many interlocking pieces. For Wal-Mart to run, what do you need? Well, you need the grid, because they only do point-of-sale electronic debits, for the most part. They are not tuned to run on cash, anyway. But even if they were, they are relying on nightly re-supplies and a nationally coordinated inventory control system to even know which trucks to load and which items to move to different stores. So the whole thing is a very complex web. Your thesis is that that web looks good – looks robust, but may not be that robust.

James Wesley Rawles: Right. Outwardly, it looks quite resilient, but it is not. What we have is incredibly long chains of supply. And you mentioned Wal-Mart stores. Can you imagine what life will be in a Wal-Mart parking lot on the day that there is a federal government shutdown of all the SNAP cards? That is the digital replacements they have now for food stamps. But that could be turned off at the flick of a switch. I would not even feel safe in a Wal-Mart parking lot on that day, much less feel comfortable walking inside buying a cartload of groceries and trying to walk out to my vehicle with it. There is a lot of interdependence and a lot of just plain dependence that it is going to come back and bite us some day.

Chris Martenson: Well now, I think we had a local example, which hopefully you have tracked and can talk to us about. Because I think, there are some great lessons there. Recently, we had an example of what a regional power grid going down looks like. And that was with Superstorm Sandy, which took out a big chunk of eastern Pennsylvania and also New Jersey’s power grid for quite a long time. What lessons did we learn from that?

James Wesley Rawles: Well, Superstorm Sandy was instructive in a lot of ways. First, it showed us that there are weather-related events that can have wide-reaching effects far beyond just the specific area that is impacted by a storm. Because when supplies have to be trucked in for hundreds or even thousands of miles, and those systems break down, the reordering systems for retailers are disrupted. Then store shelves do not get restocked. Even if the 18-wheeled trucks can roll, if the Kanban Inventory Control systems are not functioning because of a lack of grid power at either end of a supply chain, you can have absolute chaos. And store shelves can be cleaned out overnight.

Chris Martenson: And certainly, we saw that also with fuel. Fuel is a big issue – obviously, we saw the lines of people trying to get a few extra gallons for their generator. It was very difficult to come by. And so my observation for that is, I know a lot of people were really quite unnerved by that. And that the next two weeks after that storm, they were really motivated to work on their preparations. And here we are a year later, and we’ll find that most of that passion has dissipated. Is this something you see a lot?

James Wesley Rawles: Right, yeah. For example, even the government attempts to correct the situation. It turned out to be counterproductive in the case of Superstorm Sandy. The State of New York had their government come up with the brilliant idea of giving away gasoline to anyone who walked up to a gas station. Well, that caused all kinds of problems. Not only did you have fights breaking out in gasoline lines, you also had people attempting to get gasoline in containers that were far from safe. I mean, they were essentially walking around with Molotov cocktails.

That situation could have spun completely out of control. And we literally could have seen fights that generated into flame wars. And I am not talking Internet flame wars. I am talking physical flame wars.

Chris Martenson: Well now, to shift gears a bit, the media describes you and perhaps you describe yourself as a survivalist. And for many, that conjures up an image of militant hermits hunkering down in bunkers in the depths of the wild. At Peak Prosperity, we focus on helping people develop resiliency, which does mean becoming more self-sufficient. But for most people, it also includes investing in relationships, having a valued productive role in your community. How do you define your mission?

James Wesley Rawles: Well, I try not to get caught up in semantics. And people attempt to distinguish between, say, preppers and survivalists; I actually use the terms interchangeably. My mission in life is to try to motivate as many families as possible to get prepared. And I look at community resilience basically from the ground up. The fewer families that are not prepared, the better. Basically, every family that is not prepared around me, I look at as a problem. And every family that is prepared, I look at as part of the solution. And every family that prepares is one less family that is going to be rushing to the grocery store at the eleventh hour, so all those families are going to be, again, part of the solution, not part of the problem.

I am a big believer in community sustainable agriculture, farmer’s markets, local currencies, all of that. And I come from right-of-center, for perspective. So I have a lot in common with the left-of-center, Birkenstock-wearing crowd; I am just a little more heavily armed.

Chris Martenson: That is a great description. Both of our sites serve people looking to become more prepared for this uncertain future that we both share. I think we see that. And in fact, the most common question we are asked by those who view the Crash Course is, well, what should I do? Many people are just really stumped at that first level of that first question. What foundational skills and preparations do you think are most important for the average individual to start on and develop?

James Wesley Rawles: Well, the most important, of course, is water filtration. I think that is crucial. Because if you look across the board at all the potential disasters, whether they are natural or manmade, one of the common denominators is the interruption of utility water supplies, public utilities. And even for people who live out in the country who are on well water, most families might even have a backup generator, but usually it is a 120-volt backup generator and they have a 220-volt well pump. And they are going to be out of luck. So water is absolutely crucial, and water filtration, in case you have to gather water from open sources, whether it is from your own roof down spouts, or from ponds or lakes or streams.

The other issues that go out in concentric rings from there are all pretty well addressed in a link that I have on my website. Again, it is survivalblog.com. If you go to the left-hand bar and you click on “List of Lists,” it pretty well runs through all the major areas that people need to consider and budget for, and budget their time for training. That webpage, like everything else on my website, is completely free of charge. And I strongly encourage everyone to take a look at that List of Lists page and think seriously about their own particular situation.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution, because people are at different stages of life. They live in different climate zones. They have different family and work situations, different health situations. A lot of people suffer from chronic illness. So no two lists are going to be alike. People have to tailor their own lists to their own particular needs. And my approach is to work at it systematically. Set a budget, cut out all non-essential expenses, sell your jet ski and your HDTV, and get serious about this. Stock up, train up, and team up with your neighbors.

Chris Martenson: Oh, absolutely, on taking it seriously, and I love this List of Lists. I have it open here. You have got a list of things in the Barter and Charity List. There is a book list, communications, monitoring list, farm animals, financial prep list, firearms, first aid, and minor surgery. So it has got all the basics right there.

Now, let me throw you a graduate-level question, then. A friend of mine just happened to have been in Colorado a couple weeks ago. And he was there during the floods. And he had his water filtration with him. He had happened to have been on a four-day survival quest, and he was out there. So he was out there, and what he found was that these little tiny clear creeks that he had stepped over became 40-yards-wide raging torrents, and it was just covered full of that red clayish substance that pass for soil out there. And his water filtration just absolutely clogged up and could not handle whatever particulates were in the water. So there he was surrounded by water, and it was tricky.

James Wesley Rawles: Yeah, he needed to use a prefilter. And what he should have done was taken off his shirt, taken off his undershirt, redressed, and used that undershirt for prefilter. With a prefilter, you can make any filter last much, much longer when you have high turbidity of water. If you have cloudy water, the very best thing you can do is use a prefilter. And just a couple of layers of a t-shirt or one layer of a terry cloth towel is all you really need.

Chris Martenson: Yeah, he said he tried his shirt. It did not work all that well because the particulate was just that fine. So he felt a little chagrin. He wished he had brought coffee filters along. He thought those might have done the trick.

James Wesley Rawles: Yeah. And of course, your body can handle particulates as long as you just simply bring water to near a boil to kill the bugs. It does not even have to hit a full boil; just has to be up close to a boil, up in the 180 – 190°F range. You are going to kill all the bugs. In fact, you will probably get some really good nutrients from all that. So even if you have a situation where a water filter clogs up, you can always revert to Plan B, which is not boiling, but bringing water near a boil. Or you can treat water with chlorine. And that, again, is described on my blog.

Chris Martenson: All right, fantastic. Another question that follows up what should I do? for people at our site is where should I live? And I know that I chose where I live based on a number of criteria that satisfied me. And you have written several detailed publications on this topic and offer regular consultations to people trying to address that question. The answer, I am sure, is really tailored to the goals of individuals in each case. Could you just walk us through some of the key considerations that someone looking to relocate should consider? And maybe some of your favorite regions, too.

James Wesley Rawles: Well, Chris, I think the key issue for me, given my perspective on preparedness, is population density. If people have the opportunity to move to a lightly populated region, I highly recommend that they do so. Fewer people mean fewer problems. And regardless of the nature of a disaster, whether it is manmade or natural, if you are in a lightly populated region, odds are you are going to have fewer problems. You are certainly not going to have any big riots out in the middle of the hinter boonies, like where I live. So I would put population density at the very top of my list.

Another key consideration for picking a piece of property would be the local economy. You want to have a diverse local economy that is predominantly agricultural. And you want to be in an area with plentiful water, and preferably in an area with predominantly hydroelectric power, because hydroelectric power is the most resilient. And as I described in my blog, I wrote an article entitled “Islands in the Darkness,” and I was talking about the contingency plans that many power utilities have for cutting themselves off of the national grid in the event that the national grids go down. There are actually three grids: the Western Grid, the Eastern Grid, and the Texas Grid.

If one of those grids were to go down, a lot of utilities that are in power-exporting areas will be able to island it for themselves and their customers. For example, where I live, there are several major hydroelectric dams within 30 miles of me. And if the grids were to go down, within less than a minute they could reconstitute an island of power for all of the people in our power coop, for example.

Another region that is quite good for that was described in my novel Survivors. I set that in the area of Farmington, New Mexico, which is a natural-gas-producing area. And they, too, are a power exporter, because they not only have a large coal-fired plant in Northern Arizona, there is also in the Four Corners region a tremendous amount of natural gas that is produced. And they, too, export power.

So ideally, you want to be in a lightly populated area, an agricultural area, an area with plentiful water, preferably with shallow well depth – or even better, spring water, where you gravity-flow water to a house – and again, a power exporting area. Those will be the safest places to be if everything falls apart. And if we have a major grid-down whammy, a multigenerational whammy, I cannot think of a better place to be than someplace like that. Everywhere else in the country, there is going to be a substantial die-off of population. I certainly would not want to be on the East Coast. I certainly would not want to be in any of the major cities or near them. Nor would I want to be on a natural line of drift out of a major city.

I often have people ask me about the Central Valley of California, since it is so agricultural. But it is so close to major population centers, like the Los Angeles Basin and the San Francisco Bay area. I think the Central Valley is just going to get overrun. So even if you had a farm in the Central Valley, you might not be safe.

Chris Martenson: So besides not the Central Valley for that reason, what regions then float to the top of your list on that set of criteria?

James Wesley Rawles: There are quite a few good ones. What I refer to as the American Redoubt Region – which refers to Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and the eastern half of both Oregon and Washington – that, I think, is probably the safest area. But there are others that are quite good. There are places in the Dakotas that I would consider safe, the Four Corners region where New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado come together. There is also some areas like southwestern Oregon are quite good. There are a few places back east that I would consider. But there you run into a population density problem. So even in the Ozarks or in the hills of eastern Tennessee, you have the illusion of being out in the boonies. But when the overall population density is 50 or 60 people per square mile for a state, eventually trouble is going to come looking for you. I would much rather live where I do, where the population density is only three people per square mile.

Chris Martenson: So let me ask you a question. I get this idea from people which – and these might be very successful investment-banker types, or people with a lot of money because they will say I am concerned about this. So I am going to buy a place. I will call it a hidey-hole. But these might be really elaborate beautiful places with fully tricked out – very wonderful places. But the idea is that they will have this place, and that the crisis – they will get to it and start living there, if that is what circumstances call for. Would you say that is a reasonable strategy or not, and why?

James Wesley Rawles: Well, it is not a very viable strategy. People really need to live at their retreats year-round and get into a self-sufficient lifestyle. You cannot just buy survival. There is a learning curve to all of this. You can buy a wood cookstove, but that does not mean you know how to really cook with a wood cookstove or bake with it. There is a learning curve there; the same for gardening. It takes years really to develop soil, to build up your multi-year crops, your berries, for example. Asparagus beds take years to develop. Fruit and nut trees take years to grow to maturity.

You really have to be there. You have to learn the peculiarities of your local climate and your local frost-free days for growing. You have to learn which particular crops grow well in your climate zone. There is a learning curve to all of that. And unless you really live it, you cannot just expect to show up at your retreat at the eleventh hour and then start gardening the next day. It is probably not going to happen, at least not the way people hope it will.

Chris Martenson: Well, Jim, I think there is one other piece in there, too. All of those are excellent observations. And the thing I notice, I think that people from big cities have this myth of anonymity, because you can be very anonymous in a big city surrounded by people. And the myth goes, I think, that there is an idea that you can buy a place in the country and people will not really know about it.

James Wesley Rawles: No, no, that is a myth. There in the country, the population density may be low, but all the neighbor kids wander all over the countryside with their 22s out shooting small game all the time. They know where every house is. And for that matter, looters can follow power lines to just about everywhere if they are going to follow roads. So unless you buy an insanely remote property, someone is going to know that it is there. So survival is all about friends that you can trust and neighbors that you can trust. You cannot do it on your own. And anyone who hopes to do it on their own, I think is foolish.

Community can be as close as just two or three neighbors, but it is still community. And you need those people that you can count on. And let me tell you, as a former military officer, I have done continuous operations where we have had to maintain security 24 hours a day.

Chris Martenson: Yeah.

James Wesley Rawles: And that was with a platoon-size unit. I mean we had – and these were all young, fit people, and even we got worn out. To think that one family is going to maintain 24/7, 365 days a year, and 360-degree perimeter security for an extended period of time is ludicrous. It is just not going to happen. You are going to burn yourself out within a few days. You really need neighbors that you can count on. You need a neighborhood watch on steroids.

Chris Martenson: Well, I think you have described me. I would last at least two days, 48 hours. I would give myself a good 48 hours of constant vigilance, and then I would get sloppy. So talk to me about – so you have been in this for a while, and I think you have got your finger on the pulse. And my question is, how many people are beginning to think this way? And have you noticed any increase/decrease in the amount of interest, and most importantly, the people that are really concretely taking steps to move to these areas?

James Wesley Rawles: Well, I think it is indicative that most of the gun shows in the country are now morphing into preparedness expos. People recognize that it takes more than guns to survive. They need the whole package. They need photo voltaic. They need advanced first-aid skills. They need communications equipment. They need water purification. They need food storage. They need non-hybrid gardening seed. There is so much that goes into it. People are definitely catching on. And right now, you can find a preparedness expo going on just about every weekend of the year within a couple-hundred-mile driving radius.

Four years ago, that would have been impossible. They just did not exist. So there are definitely a lot of people catching on, a lot of people coming up to speed very quickly. And I think the urgency of this is higher than ever. We live in very perilous times.

Economically alone, if you look at what is going on with quantitative easing, they are attempting to re-inflate a bubble right now. And as soon as the interest rates get away from Ben Bernanke and company, the game is over. Once interest rates rise a couple of percentage points, they will not be able to carry on their charade any longer, and we are going to see a collapse that will make the 2008 collapse look small by comparison. So it is very important that people get prepared as quickly as they can. Time is short. And teamwork is crucial.

Chris Martenson: I do agree with that. All the rising interest rates finally do for us is expose where we are insolvent and turn it into bankruptcy. And we have been living beyond our means. And rather than squaring up to that, we have got “leaders” who are just interested in papering everything over to keep it going a bit longer.

I understand their motivations. I totally disagree that they have got it right or they are going to be able to pull this off. So what we need, then, is to help people get a narrative. The story that we have is not working. I think that is why you see the increased interest in things like preparedness expos, number of people who are concerned about stuff – and heck, I will even go darker – the reason that suicides are now a leading cause of death, overtaking car accidents. As recently as 2010, that was true. So all of these are indicators of stress, and that stress for me largely exists because the story we are telling ourselves, oh look, the Dow is at all-time new highs, everything is fine, does not square up with our reality. And so we need a new narrative to step into. I think it is that simple: new stories. And sometimes it is exactly a story or a novel that helps us frame that.

I hear you got a new book in the pipeline. In fact, maybe you can preorder it. I looked on Amazon and saw that it is called Expatriates: A Novel of the Coming Global Collapse. Can you tell us a little bit about what is in that book?

James Wesley Rawles: Sure. It is another novel in my Patriot Series, but it is a bit of a departure since there are no crossover characters with the previous novels. It is set in the same near-future time period with a global socioeconomic collapse. But in this case, I chose to focus on some Americans living abroad, some expatriates, in particular a missionary family living in the Philippines’ and a young Texas oil engineer living in Northern Australia.

I wanted this opportunity to show some people that were not quite as well prepared as some of the folks in my previous novels, people who have to improvise just about everything to assure their survival. And I wanted to show the uncertainty of, in particular, people living overseas, living in a foreign culture, being cut off from communication, not really knowing what is going on, other than the fact that everything was falling apart and there is no transport back to the United States. And showing those types of characters gave me an opportunity to illustrate a number of tactics, techniques, and technologies for survival. I hope folks enjoy it.

Chris Martenson: Well, it is very timely. We get a lot of questions by people who are wondering should I stay or should I go? Meaning do they prepare here, or do they become expats in the hope that things will be better elsewhere? Were you meaning to cast a light on your view of expatriation in general?

James Wesley Rawles: Yeah. I think I did that a bit in the novel. But just to clarify, I do not recommend an expatriate lifestyle for people who are preparedness-minded unless you have very close family relationships in a foreign country. Even if you were to move to an English-speaking country – like Belize, for example – you are still going to be the new guy. You are going to be the gringo. You may be the expendable new guy in the minds of the locals unless you have a tie to the local society. You need to either marry into a family, or already have close relations one way or the other, with someone who has been there for many, many years. Otherwise, I do not consider it very tenable.

Yes, there are advantages to being in a society – a third-world culture – where people are used to power failures all the time. But those economies are actually fairly fragile. And in a lot of places, especially island nations, the populations have outstripped the local resources, so that without importing large quantities of food and fuel, those island nations really will not be tenable in a collapse. They will actually be very undesirable places to be, maybe perhaps quite dangerous places to be if they are not truly self-sufficient or cannot revert to self-sufficiency very quickly.

Chris Martenson: I completely agree on that point. And really, I am looking forward to reading Expatriates, because you are a good writer. And I think that the novel format is a great way to really illustrate the reality of the situation. It is one thing to sort of imagine how we might manage a future situation; it is quite another to plunk yourself down into a scenario and then really think through all the details.

Because the military says, no plan ever survives first contact with the enemy. Mike Tyson says, everybody has got a plan until they get punched in the face. However you put that, there is always a lot of learnings that happen when you get into a real situation.

And so that is why I just really want to reiterate that I am looking forward to reading Expatriates. People should look to read that. And if they have not read the Patriot Series, they are really very good at painting a vision of what a future might look like and the realities involved in actually being prepared and what is involved there.

So Jim, I really want to thank you for your time today. It has been a real pleasure.

James Wesley Rawles: Thank you, Chris.

Chris Martenson: The blog, of course, survivalblog.com, is just loaded with really helpful, practical information for people who want to become more prepared. So let us hope that we can spur a few families with this podcast to move down preparedness, because I would much rather personally live next to a prepared family than an unprepared family.

James Wesley Rawles: Thank you once again, Chris. And I want to wish blessings to all of your listeners. I praise Psalm 91 for all of them.

Chris Martenson: Thank you so much and you have a great day. And I hope we can do this again sometime, Jim.

About the guest

James Wesley Rawles

James Wesley Rawles has been an enthusiastic survivalist since his teenage years. He is now a survivalist author and lecturer and the editor of www.SurvivalBlog.com. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree from San Jose State University with minor degrees in military science, history, and military history. A former U.S. Army intelligence officer who held a Top Secret security clearance (with Special Background Investigation) and access to Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI), he was awarded Officer specialty 35A (tactical all-source intelligence officer), and the additional skill identifier 5M (electronic warfare officer). He achieved the rank of Captain, attended the Army NBC defense officer's course, as well as Northern Warfare School at Fort Greeley, Alaska.

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22 Comments

ferralhen's picture
ferralhen
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 14 2009
Posts: 151
practice bug out

i just returned from a one week practice bug out from michigan to colorado. james is spot on and then some. we are not at all prepared for this future. knowledge of how to get the basics is key. my truck has a range of approx 400 miles. the first thought i encountered as i filled up(400 miles from home) was this is where i would be stuck, with a truck that had no more gas in it. so is this my shelter anymore? how much of this can i carry with me and to where?  remember i'm 60 yr old.

i've been reading alot of military books lately, and even the us fights war with a just in time supply from the air to soldiers on the ground who are outnumbered and pinned down.our own cushy thoughts and expectations are one of our worst enemies in survival. complacency kills ....a retired solder once told me.

i highly recommend practice. a practice bug out, a practice weekend where you throw the main power switch in your house to off for a weekend....a week if you can. no electric, no gas, no travel outside...no credit card no internet, no cell phone......what you got you got. you can make up many kinds of scenarios, it's an eye opener. you will see what you depend on and what won't be available.it costs no money to do this. so no whinning.

i wish the military had a 6 week course for people like me who aren't dead yet and would like to survive..

my intjness(ha ha) and alot of practice has so far narrowed it down for myself, that the more i know, the more i have with me in my head, the more confidence i have, the better my odds.

i know from being in a burning hotel fire on the 9th floor that shit can happen...and to me. odds are that  interesting dialog that are totally worthless in a crisis. because i knew a head of time what to do , i was able to be the last one out of a burning hotel.....and i am thankful to have no more knowledge of that experience than i do.

now i got to shed the 20 extra pounds that i consider a liability to my survival.

thanks for the interview and what you are doing james.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arthur Robey's picture
Arthur Robey
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 4 2010
Posts: 3936
The Rear View Mirror.

Thank you very much for your thoughts.

Someone famous said the the collapse happens from the periphery inwards. (CM) This collapse has been happening for at least half a century. The problem has been that the Centre of our civilization has not recognised  their own frontiers so that when they collapsed it was to a chorus of cheering.

Western Civilization reached its zenith in the 1950s.and has been collapsing inward like a rotting mushroom ever since. I was born and raised a pioneer, an invasive species, if you must. I was born in Africa.

The experience is branded into my psyche. It would take powerful hallucinogens to dislodge it.

Here are some of my lessons.

  • Prepare to become the Ik. You will have to make decisions such as "I have to sacrifice my parents for the sake of my children". How obvious the answer, how devastating the consequences. Forget any culture you were hoping to transmit to the next generation.
  • Our civilization is a precious thing. I was lucky, there was ground I could retreat to. In my desperation to get my family back into the bussom of our civilization I applied to dozens of countries.None were interested. I suspect that they were basking in schadenfreude. You must expect the same. Do not expect to be welcomed with open arms. You will have to be useful to the society that you go to. You will need some skill that everyone is highly motivated to want. Dentistry springs to mind.
  • All I wanted was a yacht so that I too could become a refugee, one of the many millions of desperate souls afloat. The momentum of this desire has carried me to the point that I am now, with my own yacht. And you are right, You have to live the life to absorb its nuances. Any thoughts I have on the merits of yachts will be highly suspect. (With a nod of recognition to the incredible powers of rationalization of the Left brain)
  • On water purification. In the dry season we sucked dilute animal urine out of the sand beds of the rivers, and were glad of it. Remember, You are of this planet. It is in you and you are in it. After the intestinal war has settled down, you become immune. Newbies are a laugh a minute.

Around this neck of the woods, Esperance Western Australia, I am considered a harmless eccentric needing tender care so that I do not come to harm. When we had a little fright of a coronal mass ejection about a moth ago my expressed concerns were held up as evidence of my eccentricity. The trick to controlling my Ego is humour.

(Love that spelling checker.)

Arthur

 

ferralhen's picture
ferralhen
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 14 2009
Posts: 151
the rear view mirror v.1.214(thats all i remember of pi)

in drivers ed they taught to look in the rvm every 6 seconds....i always supposed that was in case we had to turn around.and we would know where we were going.

love your post ...way better to say that than click the thumb

treebeard's picture
treebeard
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 18 2010
Posts: 590
Putting down roots

I couldn't agree more with the idea that you need to live the life style.  That takes life to a different level in so many ways.  It takes it out of the prepping and survival mentality into a world of beauty and creativity.  We live the way we do because it is a more meaningful and satisfying way to live.  To be more connected to the living world that sustains us, to participate in the unfolding natural wonders that show themselves in a thousand small things.

I have been gardening now on and off for 25 years or so and I still feel like a complete novice.  With all our technological wonders, we are now so disconnected form the world around us at our own dis-ease and peril.  All the daily life skills that were taken for granted a generation ago (perhaps two now) that are now almost completely lost to us must be recovered at great effort.  To read the journals of farmer from a century ago dispels the myth that we are smarter now than then.

I am for putting down roots, come what may. I would not dream of bugging out to increase survival chances.  It seems to fly in the face of being part of a place, which is what our culture is so much in lack of.  Fragmented disaffected thinking.  Purely materialistic scientific thinking breaks the world into a million disconnected disembodied lifeless pieces.  It is a spiritual death.  We change locations like we change a piece of clothing.  We live in so many different places that we seem to live no place at all.  The same coffee shops, gas stations, stores and malls and the same lifeless amalgam of industrial food, products and culture.  I am in this place and this place is in me.  Culture is the result of the connection of people to a place and the expression of that relationship.  When we have no relationships we have no culture.

By all means weigh the rational reasons to move to some place or another, but find a place that feels like home, that calls to your heart.  Plant your trees and put down your roots.  We all must die at some point, but there are some things worse than death.  I would like to die in place with people that mean something to me.

 

Petey1's picture
Petey1
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Posts: 58
Tough decisions

I have lived in the country about 20 miles from town. While it can be very peaceful it can also be very lonely , even with family. This was over twenty years ago before internet and cell phones. Most people were either just getting by or drove long distances to work. With the cost of fuel getting higher all the time living to far out is going to be tough. You still will want access to doctors, dentists and supplies. 

I now live in a mid sized city with a 120 by 120 foot lot and small house. Sold the motor home, hot rod car and all the toys. Insulated my house, double sealed all AC and heater ducts, built my own solar hot water heater and put up a 2kw solar system. I went from using 1500 gallons of gas per year to under 150 gallons. My electric bill has been cut by two thirds. I hope to plant a garden this year and add more solar panels. I would prefer to be in a smaller town but will make the best of it wherever we are. I love taking the dogs for a bike ride on the weekends and talking to neighbors.

marky's picture
marky
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Posts: 33
Struggle with relocation

We've really struggled with this topic of relocation.  We live downtown in a small-medium sized town in southern New England, which still has some agricultural roots.  There are many plusses: good downtown community, water, neighbors, sustainable(ish) home, big garden, walkable, trains, family close by.  Minuses: on the I95 corridor, massive population all around, nuclear plants, storms/hurricanes, sea levels, generally unrealistic expectations in town government, etc.  If things go south really quickly, we're going to be in a world of hurt very quickly.  If we're already in the process of a catabolic collapse which will continue to play out over decades, then here's as good as anywhere else perhaps.  And I'd rather get skilled-up in a close knit community than go it alone somewhere.  I've always lived in towns or small cities and while I spend most of my time outdoors in nature I'm probably not going to do well without people around me.

We're thinking of moving up north, western Mass or southern VT., but that's a big lift: family implications, cost of moving, loss of community.  We're supposed to reevaluate our location and make a stay-or-go decision in the next few months.  Any advice would be gladly received.

KugsCheese's picture
KugsCheese
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 2 2010
Posts: 1428
"neighborhood watch"

This gets back to the question of "neighborhood watch".  Will it work better in the city (near farms) or in the countryside far from cities.  There was a person from Argentina who posted awhile back about how the country homes were ransacked while city neighbors helped protect each others property, while when one was working, for example.  Then again, one can buy property in a country that in not as dependent on technology and exports, for example certain areas of South America.

cmartenson's picture
cmartenson
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Posts: 5569
Where to live (and why)
marky wrote:

We're thinking of moving up north, western Mass or southern VT., but that's a big lift: family implications, cost of moving, loss of community.  We're supposed to reevaluate our location and make a stay-or-go decision in the next few months.  Any advice would be gladly received.

Glad to.  After a few basics, the most important criteria, by far, is the community that surrounds you.

Those basics, for me, are:

  • 30 or more inches of rain a year.  40+ is best.
  • Not living in or too near a very big city
  • Good soil in the region (this is the most negotiable of the lot, within limits)

I am highly blessed to live in an area where people are quite actively exploring what it means to rebuild culture, how to deepen relationships in meaningful ways, and placing priority on actually doing things in community.

I think everyone automatically knows in their gut if their current community is resilient and capable of dealing gracefully with large change, or not.  If not, I propose taking the time to go and visit other communities and see how those feel.

The process always takes more time than you might think, and even for us, when we were very actively in the process, it took about 3 years of renting in the region before we found the right 'hotspot' located a critical (as it turns out) 12 miles from where our research first landed us.

Of course, there are more people thinking, talking about, and living these new community lifestyles than when we first started back in 2003, so you may find that you can swim through the process at a faster pace.

Doug's picture
Doug
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
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Posts: 3125
Other alternatives

As Chris mentioned, the region you are considering is fairly rich in his criteria, particularly community as there is a large extended community in that area that is considered 'alternative' in most places.  That community extends a bit farther, though, and there are advantages in some of the outlying areas, such as eastern NY.

Real estate tends to be pricey in MA and VT, whereas places like Washington Co and Schoharie Co in eastern NY are quite reasonable, even cheap.  And the agricultural land is at least as good.  Water is about the same.

Another alternative is to locate somewhere near an Amish community, like those in PA, western NY or Ohio.  They are the true pros at sustainable living, although they aren't so interested in vegan or organic diets.  They tend to settle in places with low real estate prices and good agricultural land.  Once you learn your way around their communities, nearly everything necessary for a good close to the land life is available cheaper than you will find it elsewhere (if you can find it elsewhere) and frequently of better quality.  They are very resourceful. 

Doug

ferralhen's picture
ferralhen
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 14 2009
Posts: 151
feral countryside

i live in the country and i would want to say to city folks....think texas chainsaw massacre if coming out here to ravage. not from me, but from some of the people i've met out here, i'd say they would put up a nasty resitance. people out here know to leave each other alone, yet i've seen them come together in a second if there is an emergency .they had the mess from the tornado cleaned up in about 2 days--not only were the trees cut up and hauled away, the stumps were also ground up and the dirt leveled.

the farmers tell stories of the golf course near me....they said everytime when the developer got a structure up for the clubhouse...someone burned it down.  this is modern day, no crisis stuff

remember if moving to the country....walk softly and keep your gun close by i never owned a firearm til i moved out here..it's just part of the culture. when in rome......

 

Amanda Witman's picture
Amanda Witman
Status: Peak Prosperity Team (Offline)
Joined: Mar 17 2008
Posts: 409
marky wrote: We live downtown
marky wrote:

We live downtown in a small-medium sized town in southern New England, which still has some agricultural roots.  There are many plusses: good downtown community, water, neighbors, sustainable(ish) home, big garden, walkable, trains, family close by.  Minuses: on the I95 corridor, massive population all around, nuclear plants, storms/hurricanes, sea levels, generally unrealistic expectations in town government, etc.

All of your plusses sound really positive.  Are you happy in your community?  Do you have lots of good supportive family/friends nearby, people you can count on in a pinch?  That is something you can't guarantee you'll be able to find or build again, and it takes time, though, of course, many people do find a way.

I know Chris did his research and I would carefully consider his formula.  I would also trust my instinct.

In your position, one question I would ask myself is whether I had the resources to ensure these same pros (as much as possible) where I was relocating to.  I wouldn't give up these good things just to get away from the other things you mentioned.  If my financial resources were such that I could be very choosy and also potentially buffer some of the unknowns if they turned out to be minuses, then yes, I would consider moving.  But if I were trading a set of known pros/cons for a similarly weighted set in an unfamiliar location, or if my financial resources were already limited, I'd likely stay put, continue benefiting from the known plusses, and find "in situ" ways to mitigate or prepare against the effects of the known minuses.

Not knowing anything about your situation, I'd also caution against leaving a stable, sustainable job to relocate.  The job market out here (southern VT and western MA) is pretty dry in many fields.  Do your research carefully regarding your plans for income after relocation, if that is a critical factor for you.

I live in the area you're considering moving to.  I relocated here ten years ago from a Boston suburb and have not had any major regrets.  I have lived both "way out in the country" and "right in town."  Feel free to PM me if you have specific questions about the area. 

Bytesmiths's picture
Bytesmiths
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 28 2008
Posts: 201
Benefit from population?

"Not living in or too near a very big city..."

This was a difficult one for me, in that I don't believe any of us have perfect crystal balls. In a "soft crash" or "long crash" scenario, there could be significant benefits to being near a population centre. But in a "hard, quick crash" scenario, one would want to be far from population centres -- at least further than a tank of gas, as others have pointed out.

I've been looking for a community solution that would thrive in as many different crash scenarios as possible, including a "soft crash" or "slow crash." So I chose an island. In a "hard, quick crash," the ferries will stop running, and we'll have the equivalent of a tankful-of-gas distance for most people, and I think people with a tank full of gas in their boats are going to have other things on their mind.

Besides having a moat around you in the worst-case scenario, there are many other things to argue for island life. There is a greater sense of community and inter-dependence. People are more likely to trade with you than pay the ferry fare to go to a Mall*Wart or other "big box" store.

So far, so good. But we could use some help!

Heinzi's picture
Heinzi
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Posts: 3
Relocation

I have just finished reading "The Crash Course". I found the book compelling, interesting, disconcerting and exciting. It truly is information I think nobody should live without. To me it comes at a time where I have some crucial decision-making ahead of me. Over the past years I have been preparing to start farming. I have just listened to the podcast on "Homesteading, Relocation & Resilience".

In the near future I will have to decide whether I will buy a particular farm, or not. The farming I will do is grass-based animal production (beef, hogs, chicken, sheep, and eggs). In many ways the particular piece of land is very good. It is in a high rainfall area, it has good water sources, the soil is OK and has lots of room for improvement, one quarter of it is wooded, and it is ~1hr outside of the Ottawa in Canada. While this is an excellent location for direct-marketing of my future products, which (the location) in my opinion could well make the difference between success and failure from a business perspective, it might not be such a great location in light of what I've just heard on that podcast. However I think that economic success is very important from a resiliency standpoint.

I find this a very tough decision to make, as it could potentially have such wildly different implications.

I would appreciate any input.

Thank You!

Bytesmiths's picture
Bytesmiths
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 28 2008
Posts: 201
Ottawa's cool. Literally!

Ottawa is hardly a "big city," but if the American Army couldn't find it in 1812, then roving bands of zombies probably won't find your farm, either.

In a "slow, soft crash" scenario, coupled with global warming, civilization might last quite a while outside the capital of a newly-minted petro-state. In a "fast crash" scenario, at least you're pretty far from Toronto or Montreal.

My concern with the Ottawa area would be winter food. I guess you can slaughter any time of year, but I'm partial to a place where things grow year-round.

Doug's picture
Doug
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Posts: 3125
Heinzi wrote: I have just
Heinzi wrote:

I have just finished reading "The Crash Course". I found the book compelling, interesting, disconcerting and exciting. It truly is information I think nobody should live without. To me it comes at a time where I have some crucial decision-making ahead of me. Over the past years I have been preparing to start farming. I have just listened to the podcast on "Homesteading, Relocation & Resilience".

In the near future I will have to decide whether I will buy a particular farm, or not. The farming I will do is grass-based animal production (beef, hogs, chicken, sheep, and eggs). In many ways the particular piece of land is very good. It is in a high rainfall area, it has good water sources, the soil is OK and has lots of room for improvement, one quarter of it is wooded, and it is ~1hr outside of the Ottawa in Canada. While this is an excellent location for direct-marketing of my future products, which (the location) in my opinion could well make the difference between success and failure from a business perspective, it might not be such a great location in light of what I've just heard on that podcast. However I think that economic success is very important from a resiliency standpoint.

I find this a very tough decision to make, as it could potentially have such wildly different implications.

I would appreciate any input.

Thank You!

This is a tough one for me.  In my area there are a few CSAs that mostly sell their produce at farmers' markets in the wealthier suburbs of the nearby city.  They don't sell much where we actually live because most people here will pay the lower prices found at supermarkets (although for much lower quality) because they can't afford the farmers' market prices.  In fact, there is a farm that sounds very much like what you are planning right around the corner from me.  I occasionally buy from them personally because they know me, I can afford the prices and appreciate the quality.  I'm most decidedly the exception.

That business plan will work fine for farmers as long as not much changes in our society at large.  But, I don't think people here at PP believe that will be the case.  If the farmers can't survive selling their products at considerably lower prices, albeit to locals, they probably won't survive businesswise if and when the economy crumbles.

So, my advice is to figure out if you can sell your produce at prices competitive with the local supermarket prices.  In figuring that out, factor in higher prices and lower availability for fossil fuels.

Doug

jgritter's picture
jgritter
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Posts: 273
Go for it

Heinzi

Assuming your breed stock isn't confiscated or eaten I think you could do well during and after the transition.  Anyone with a practical working knowledge of how to produce zero carbon input food could be a king.  In the mean time I understand that the Amish do quite well using the business model you propose because,while minimal carbon inputs result in substantially lower productivity, they are not interested in maximizing profits for shareholders but in leaving a sustainable operation to their children.  Also, in light of current climate trends, central Ontario could be a garden spot in a generation or so.

John G

thc0655's picture
thc0655
Status: Diamond Member (Online)
Joined: Apr 27 2010
Posts: 1513
Welcome Heinzi

Glad to have you onboard Heinzi!  I don't have any input for your decision, but I can say that I'm very envious and would love to be forced to make that kind of decision just about now.  In contrast to your situation, we're in center city Philadelphia and committed to staying for 5-7 more years. Then we can retire and face your current kind of decision.  The only kinds of things that would accelerate our decision to leave would be for the detroitification of Philadelphia to fall upon us in less than the 12-15 years I'm expecting. Not to downplay your decision but I say, "Celebrate it! Revel in it!"

"Welcome to the Hunger Games. May the odds be ever in your favor."

Tom

Bytesmiths's picture
Bytesmiths
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Posts: 201
Good luck on that one!

"committed to staying for 5-7 more years. Then we can retire..."

I wish you luck on that one!

Don't you worry that all the boomers coming into retirement in the next "5-7 more years" might just be the straw that breaks the camel's back? I hear a lot of people saying something similar, and that is scary!

Being in a similar situation, I elected for early liquidation of my retirement savings in 2008. Of course, the stock market has gone up and up since then, but I'm not unhappy to be off that roller-coaster.

If you have a public employee retirement plan, it may be different, but I'd hate to have my retirement in stocks and bonds when the bubble bursts!

thc0655's picture
thc0655
Status: Diamond Member (Online)
Joined: Apr 27 2010
Posts: 1513
2 Public employee pensions

Yes, we're working on 2 public employee pensions.  We figure the same forces that would cut our promised benefits by 50-90% would also boost our gold and silver to the moon.  Hoping that they happen at the same time, roughly.  Not so for Detroit public pensions, or other early cities in the bankruptcy race (Central Falls, RI, etc.).  They got bankruptcy now, still waiting for the precious metals moon shot (if they even have any).  But our city pension fund is second worst to Chicago's (% unfunded), so we'll have to see. But our city pension fund is all stocks and bonds, projecting 7.75% annual gains and prohibited from investing in gold/silver. Not holding our breaths.

Heinzi's picture
Heinzi
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Posts: 3
Doug wrote: That business
Doug wrote:

 

That business plan will work fine for farmers as long as not much changes in our society at large.  But, I don't think people here at PP believe that will be the case.  If the farmers can't survive selling their products at considerably lower prices, albeit to locals, they probably won't survive businesswise if and when the economy crumbles.

 

Doug

Thats just it, do I plan for a "hard crash", with all its potentially violent implications, and find land far away from all urban centers, or do I plan for a more "soft crash", and be closer to an urban center. As I see it planning for either scenario could mean failiure should things turn out different than the "planned for" scenario, as currently people with the willingness to pay for good quality food reside mostly in urban centers. In a "soft crash" situation one could shift their focus, on whatever market remains, and the community around. Living close to high population density in a "hard crash" situation, when cities might be hard hit by collapsing supply chains, everything one planned for might not be executable, for all the people that might be coming out of cities struggeling to survive, and possibly stopping at little to ensure the survival of them and theirs.

Alternatively as long as no major disruption is occuring, it would be very challanging to succeed economically with such a farming enterprise far removed from any city, because people that are willing and/or able to pay a realistic and fair price for food, are less numerous.

It is very hard to compete with current "regular" food prices, as commodity agriculture is quite heavily subsidized, and less nutrient rich. Somebody, somewhere, maybe some othertime is, or will be paying the price for it. Just not the person at the till right now. Isn't that whats wrong with the current agrifood "industry"? I think in the future a more realistic price (at the till) needs to be, and will be found...

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Wendy S. Delmater
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Posts: 1982
Heinzi, you nailed it

Living close to high population density in a "hard crash" situation, when cities might be hard hit by collapsing supply chains, everything one planned for might not be executable, for all the people that might be coming out of cities struggling to survive, and possibly stopping at little to ensure the survival of them and theirs.

Alternatively as long as no major disruption is occurring, it would be very challenging to succeed economically with such a farming enterprise far removed from any city, because people that are willing and/or able to pay a realistic and fair price for food, are less numerous.

Heinzi, you nailed it. It's a balance you have to find for yourself. This was why I chose the far outskirts of a small city with five colleges (Columbia, SC) , because in case of a hard crash, if these young people go home there will be less of a strain on feeding people in the area. We're on the edge of farmland in a community with deep agricultural roots (small farms, deep knowledge, horses. farmer's markets). In case of a hard crash, we are far enough from major metro areas that they will not come looting and yet close enough to a city center to have a place to sell produce, good, and services. Heck, we are within walking distance of two flea markets that also sell produce and repair services: I fully expect them to be our "shopping malls" after a crash. We are also on freight rail lines, and rail will be more economically viable than car or truck in a long decline.

Drawbacks to the area are all the nuclear plants, and--if it does not appeal to you--some folks might not like being in the Bible Belt. But my experience is that most churches provide a secondary structure to a community and can work together in emergencies.

Cker's picture
Cker
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 13 2013
Posts: 3
MoveToHigherGround.yolasite.com

hey marky...

Check out our plan for a sustainable co-homestead in Southern VT. Also, you might want to check out other communities around the world at ic.org...

good luck!

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