Could You Get By, Like Your Grandparents Did Back In 1929 When Their Jobs and Savings Evaporated?

When the stock market crashed in 1929, most Americans saw the value of their investments evaporate overnight, and then watched helplessly as their cash disappeared in a seemingly endless stream of bank closings. During the Great Depression, few people had jobs, few people had access to any cash, but life still went on. Much business was done on the barter system. Friends and neighbors helped each other when they could, and people with skills traded their labor and crafts for food, wood to heat their homes, items of clothing, etc. Shanty towns sprung up all over the country when people lost their homes and farms to foreclosure in what has been described as, “The greatest land-grab in history.”.

On Christmas day in 1991, the Soviet Union officially ended its own existence, and the only remaining value of the Soviet ruble was as a fire starter! Most Russians survived the collapse of the Soviet Union through the use of barter, and kept themselves fed using produce grown in their own “kitchen gardens”. These gardens had been widely used for years to supplement the meager food supplies that had been available via official communist food stores, and they helped fend off starvation during this period of great tribulation and uncertainty.

In the days of our grandparent’s, someone in each town knew how to grow, fabricate, or manufacture everything that was necessary to lead a reasonably comfortable life. In those days, if the ships stopped sailing due to war or weather, one might miss a few luxuries and comforts, but life went on quite well with what could be found, fabricated, or grown locally. Not so anymore! In 1998, the average item of American food traveled 1,518 miles before reaching our homes! Most of our shoes, clothing, household goods and small appliances are fabricated in far-off lands and the factories and skills to make many of these items have long since disappeared from American soil.

How will you fare if the local utility shuts down? Can you grow your own food or fabricate the basic clothing and shelter you need for your family? What skills and essential goods do you possess that you can trade or barter for food and other essential items? If you don’t have the money to pay for medical services, do you possess a knowledge of alternative low-tech healing methods to cure most diseases with minimal expense? It certainly couldn’t hurt to do a little digging in your back yard garden, or to bone up on some of your self reliant skills. Matthew Stein’s book, When Technology Fails, is a practical “how to” manual that teaches you how to do all of these things. The old Yankee adage of, “preparing for the worst while hoping for the best” is sound advice in these uncertain times.

Until recently, most of us thought that economic crisis was something that happened to other people in other countries (Zimbabwe, Argentina, even Japan in the 1990’s). When our economy has been down before, I have heard people say, “We need a good war to get the economy moving again.” The war in Iraq certainly put that old saying in its place! When you combine America’s debt laden post-9/11 spending spree with the fact that we are shipping two billion dollars a day out of the US to purchase foreign oil, it is easy to comprehend the poor state of our balance sheet and the rapidly declining value of the dollar.

To me, the writing is on the wall. We need a Roosevelt-like New Deal, and we need it fast. It is high time we put America back to work making real things of real value, not just a lot of smoke-and-mirrors paper games that we now see can disappear in the twinkling of an eye. It is time we put America back to work rebuilding our cities, our railroads and our industries to make us truly energy independent, not by extracting our last remaining oil reserves at record speed, but by developing the technologies and infrastructure to get us off the oil habit and start reducing our carbon emissions. It is time we took the moral high ground where it really counts—by regaining our position as the world’s ecological and technological leader in the race to ward off devastating climate changes and ecological collapse.

There is an old Chinese saying, “Is it not already too late if one waits until one is thirsty to begin digging a well?” America, what are we waiting for?

This is my Motto:

Do your best to change the world!

and

Do your best to be ready for the changes in the world!