(With the economic events of the past few days I feel it is important to get this though out now instead of a couple of months from now when I first planned to publish it.)
I am that dreadful, blighting thing,
Like rat holes to the flood.
Like rust that gnaws the faultless blade,
Like microbes to the blood.
I know no mercy and no truth,
The young I blight, the old I slay.
Regret stalks darkly in my wake, And ignominy dogs my way.
Sometimes, in virtuous garb I rove, With facile talk of easier way;
Seducing where I dare not rape, Young manhood, from its honor’s sway.
Again, in awesome guise I rush, Stupendous, through the ranks of war,
Turning to water, with my gaze, Hearts that, before, no foe could awe.
The maiden who has strayed from right, To me must pay the mead of shame.
The patriot who betrays his trust, To me must owe his tarnished name.
I spare no class, nor cult, nor creed, My course is endless through the year.
I bow all heads and break all hearts, All owe me homage — I am FEAR.
(General George S. Patton, Jr – 1944)
It isn’t commonly spoken of but to be a prepper is to have fear. That’s just the way it is. Some prefer to call it “concerns” or “worries” or “possibilities”. But ‘fear’ is just as correct. There is nothing wrong with fear. It’s a natural feeling that evolved as a self-preservation mechanism. Not to confuse fear with “terror” or “scared to death” which, while are common phrases, typically represent an irrational state of mind (synonymous with “panic”). And philosophers say the best way to overcome fear is to face it head on (it is though often a life time of effort).
If you ask most preppers they will say they fear some natural disaster, or plague, or EMP/solar flare, or zombies (if the CDC can warn about then just maybe…), or economic collapse leading to Mad Max land, etc etc. All very realistic possibilities. We can debate the likelihood of each but all are at a minimum worthy of at least being on the radar. (OK, maybe not the zombies.)
However, for me my fears are global. Not that I don’t consider at least some of those possibilities but my fears are in a broader viewpoint or “life approach” sense.
While I have always considered myself to be “prepared” (at least more than the next guy usually) for whatever life throws at me, I never took specific steps that at least I consider unusual or exceptional to prepare. The things I did, the way I lead my life, all seemed very reason and logical. And non-specific. That is, what I did could be applied to many scenarios not just one or two specific cases. And if these scenarios never happened, no big deal. My actions didn’t cost all that much and certainly could be used (and in fact were used) for other events in life that hadn’t entered my thinking at that time. In other words, what I had prepared for – and again, nothing specific – didn’t happen but I was able to apply my prepping to other events of life and all worked out just as well.
But now the game has changed.
I have turned a corner. To me it is no longer question of “if” but simply when.
As of writing this the economy is my #1 top concern. I don’t like to make economic predictions but in this case I do think at the very least it’s going to be much worse before even a glimmer of getting better – if at all. I have written on other sites that I do think the point-of-no-return has been reached and is now being exceeded at warp 10. And all the possibilities that an economic collapse brings are in the forefront of my concerns and prepping thoughts. I have no idea when that collapse will come or what it will look like. No one does. Every national economic collapse has some similarities but all unfold in their own way.
Yes Virginia, I do believe this time is different.
(I do NOT want to get into a discussion of the economy, the national or local debts, economic collapse, etc etc etc. That is not the point of this article.)
I have always said that if it were just me, by myself as a single man, I wouldn’t care so much. If all other things in my life unfolded the same (more or less) I would survive whatever comes. And if I didn’t, so what really in the bigger picture of the universe.
If it were just me and my wife and all other things being the same we would survive more or less good for the rest of our lives. Not easily. Might take everything we have to do it, dying totally penny less. But I think we would. At least much better than anyone else we know.
But it isn’t only me, nor only me and my wife. It’s our children now. They can’t take care of themselves. Not even in a feral sense in the extreme scenario. And won’t be able to for many many years to come at the earliest.
So it is for them that I prepare.
And it is for them that I have preparation fears.
Comes to the crux of this article.
Not simply am I doing enough or am I planning correctly, but even more basically:
- Is prepping – food, water, defense, etc. – even the right thing to do at all? Or should I be saving and husbanding every dollar for the future? Or just live life as I always have been?
- If I really believe the economy and American society are going over the cliff at full steam why haven’t I bought more gold? Is it because in my heart I don’t believe it really is so bad? Or am I suffering from the “normalcy bias”?
- What if I’m wrong? Sure we can eat the food. And my wife will thoroughly enjoy ribbing me for all my prep work (she already does). But that money could be used for other things right now.But of most fear to me is:
- Should I be spending more of my hard earned assets on preps while the American dollar still holds value? Or converting more of it to gold? Or spend it on other aspects of daily life now? Or do nothing?
It is to the last point that I focus most on these days: To see all that I have worked for and saved for all my life become worthless in front of my eyes such that I can’t even feed and provide for my family rips at my heart and soul!
To put it another way: I would just want to crawl off and die if one day all that I have managed to save and achieve in my life became worthless (for all intents and purposes), little more than numbers on a piece of paper when I could have spent those numbers on something meaningful for my family while it still held some sort of value.
I’m reminded of a movie from the 70’s I had once seen on TV. Don’t recall the name. It was low budget. I think it was a Canadian production too. No major actor names in it. The plot was simple: Something has happened to the world’s food production capability and food was in very short supply and running out fast. The story focused on two friends, one a farmer and his family living on a family farm trying to produce enough food to survive while fending off bandits; The other a business man in a city trying to make sense of what was happening in the world around him and get enough food for his family to survive the winter. The movie showed food was so valuable that at a wedding guests brought gifts of food – loafs of bread, baskets of produce, etc. – instead of the usual money and household gifts. Near the end the businessman meets with a guy who we today would call a “prepper” who clearly has put away a vast store of food. The guy is now basically a “God Father” of food, with bodyguards paid in food, etc. The businessman offers him a pile of stock and bond certificates, a box of fine jewelry, etc all for just enough food for his family to make it through the winter. The prepper scoffs at the businessman saying quote “People like me stockpiled food while you stockpiled gold. Now who’s in charge!” (I remember that quote so vividly after all these years!) In the end, the prepper doesn’t give the businessman any food, and the businessman uses his computer to compare the population of North America to the current food supply in storage and determines there’s only 60 days worth of food left. Not a happy ending.
Then again, just how much food can you store? At best a year’s worth (and I don’t have all that much space to store, not without tripping over boxes). Plus water, plus the means to reliably heat water at a minimum. Etc. At some point living off stored food will end and you need to have a substance source of food, either your own production or by trade. Living in a suburban or near-urban location that level of production just isn’t possible. (And urban is totally impossible.)
And there is the cost. As I write this I’m looking at a well known food storage company’s website. They have several “extreme” food storage packages. One of their packages is a 1-year supply costing $6,600 (rounded) for 3200 calories per day, $5,500 for 2400 calories. Or just a 6 month supply is $3,600 for 3200 calories or $2,900 for 2400 calories. (This is of course a one person supply so for a family of four it would only last a few months at best.) This stuff isn’t cheap! But then again what good would it be to need the food, unable to get it, but still have numbers on paper? Can’t feed the paper to my family.
On the other hand, just how much gold can you – should you – convert your assets into? It doesn’t bother me too much if I bought gold at these lofty levels ($1,674/oz. as of writing this) then see it fall two or three hundred or even four hundred. Wouldn’t be the first time I over paid for an investment nor had an investment fall promptly after I purchased it. Goes with the territory. But if I did convert much more of my assets to gold and something did happen to make gold drop back below $1,000/oz that would be an immediate evaporation of a large amount of wealth. And there is the issue of a confiscation or other government enforcement that makes gold effectively worthless in terms of trade for supplies or conversion to currency (don’t forget the new 1099 rules start in 2012!).
I suppose the middle ground is the best answer: Do some prepping but keep living life otherwise as best I can. That way if something does happen my family will be better off than many others. But of nothing happens I haven’t lost everything on events that didn’t unfold. But I just don’t know if I will be happy with myself on the middle ground.
Yes, my family will be better off than most of the people we know if an economic disaster happen but I’ll always have the nagging though that I could have done more. But if nothing happens, even just trudging along for 10 years in a malaise, I will have spent much needed funds for something that never happened. Maybe even a silly notion. In that scenario cash flow will be king.
Can’t dwell on fear.
Fear eats the soul.
We’re going to need all our souls to make it through the next couple of years – I fear.