The Ten Principles Of Apocalyptic Financing
By Peter Goodchild
18 February, 2009
It’s just not possible for trillions of dollars to disappear. Money does not disappear. The amount of money is fixed, more or less. Yes, it’s possible for dishonest governments to churn out more bills, but in major industrial countries that only happens to a limited extent, because it reduces the purchasing power of each dollar of savings, and rich people don’t like that. The money didn’t just evaporate. It went to government pension funds, to the Pentagon, to the arms dealers, to the bank executives as bonuses for the record numbers of fraudulent loans handed out by their underlings, to the owners of sweatshops in distant lands, and above all it went to the rentiers, the ultimate lenders of money. Lending is far better than working for a living – that’s why if you buy a house for $300,000, you’re expected to pay that money back to the bank, along with $600,000 in interest. The only people for whom money “disappeared” were the middle class.
In the meantime, there must be survival strategies for those of us who believe every word that comes out of the TV set, for those of us whose income has half the spending power of our parents’, for those of us who bleed ourselves dry trying to educate children who will be climbing over garbage dumps in later decades.
1. Get rid of all debts, including such things as student loans, credit-card accounts, mortgages, and car payments. (According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average car costs $8,003 a year to own and operate; the AAA says $9,641.) As time goes by, there will be less and less opportunity to pay off such debts.
2. Don’t be involved in the stock market or any similar method of investment. Those who think the present economic troubles are merely what is referred to as a “correction” are living in the past. This is the End, and we may as well sit back and enjoy it. Even gold is unpredictable, because although it is more tangible than money it still has value only with the universal consent of the users – its value is nothing more than a convenient fiction. Actually, the question of the future usefulness of gold hinges on another question, that of the level of collapse. In a future era that is merely a slightly impoverished duplicate of the present world, an era in which extensive economic ties still exist, gold may have some use as a means of exchange. In a future world where social breakdown is greater, where starvation is the most common topic of conversation, for example, it is less likely that gold will be a significant item in any trade that goes on – in a widespread famine, how many people would want take gold in exchange for food?
3. Investigate the reputation of your bank. Are you sure you can get your money out if you need to? What would happen to your savings in the case of a self-proclaimed “national emergency” and its resulting draconian legislation? And don’t believe the stories that say your savings are somehow “guaranteed” against loss in the event of a bank failure.
4. Consider switching to a safer currency, if there still is such a thing. Swiss francs or Euros are probably the best bet. Don’t just go for currencies that are rising rapidly: Chinese money is rising, but China is heading into vast problems of food, fresh water, and environmental damage, and the market for its exports is dwindling.
5. As much as possible, don’t save money – get rid of it as a form of wealth. Money is just dots on a screen, not something to base your entire future on. Consider replacing money with more-tangible, more down-to-earth forms of wealth. Put together a collection of non-electric tools. (Yes, electricity will be very expensive.) Stock up on durable clothing and footwear. (Yes, you’ll be doing a lot of walking.) Buy a house and land that are cheap enough not to require a mortgage. Produce your own food. In every way you can devise, become independent of money. Every act you perform that does not tie you to the global economy gives you that much more strength. Repairing a shirt with a needle and thread is a major victory. Learn a lesson from Iceland, which suffered so much from the credit collapse because it was dependent on imports.
6. Avoid banks as much as possible. What purpose do they really serve nowadays? They give you almost no interest, and yet they charge high rates for services. If you walk up to your bank one day and find the doors closed for the indefinite future, you may wish you had buried some of your money in your backyard. Become your own banker. You might even want to buy a safe, although such a thing might be troublesome if you ever had to move.
7. Start reducing your possessions, and consider a more nomadic way of life. (Well, strictly speaking, nomads moved from one known place to another known place, whereas you may be moving to the unknown.) Although Rule #5 says we should turn money into material goods, in reality we should keep those material goods to a minimum. Most westerners own such vast quantities of junk that moving from one house to another is like re-living D-Day. We are convinced by advertisers that happiness consists in owning one of everything, but we are buried in our possessions. The problem there is that, even now, one cannot always count on the police when a dispute occurs, and people living in rural areas sometimes speak of forming their own vigilante squads. Vigilantism, however, is not only illegal but often just plain impractical. When a gang of outlaws moves in next door, as will happen in the coming anarchy, you may wish your assets had been more disposable. In the uncertain future, there could also be a dozen other reasons, not necessarily of so grim a nature, why you might want to be able to pack your bags fairly quickly.
8. Remember that your present savings will be cut in half one day. Your money will be eroded by inflation, as goods become harder to make and harder to transport. Food, clothing, and countless household items, which even now are so cheap that we rarely bother to look at the sales slip, will not be so readily obtainable in the future.
9. Watch out for currency collapses, even if you live in a major industrial country. In the 1980s and 90s, especially in the wake of “free trade” agreements, money-market speculators moved in and forced the currencies of several nations to fall considerably vis-à-vis those of more-powerful countries. Remember the fate of the Mexican peso. Without a gold standard or fixed exchange rates, any form of money has only the spending power that the speculators allow.
10. Remember that your real wealth is in your head. Even if your survival bunker has a thousand tools and weapons, your mental powers are more important. You don’t need a dozen books if you’ve already memorized them. Besides knowledge and wisdom, your head should also contain a modicum of courage, compassion, and all the other virtues we managed to forget.
Peter Goodchild is the author of Survival Skills of the North American Indians, published by Chicago Review Press. He is temporarily living in the Sultanate of Oman. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.