With the drums of war in Syria beating loudly this morning, talk of preparedness is breaking out all over cyberspace. In the last 24 hours I have seen discussions of issues of food storage, gasoline shortages, and “stockpiling lead” in at least three different comments sections that I glance at around the net. Strikingly, two of these comments sections were in more political “news” aggregating sites where talk of things like this is rarely mentioned. So I thought it might be appropriate to discuss preparedness a bit, because at times like these it seems to be very much on people’s minds.
Cyberspace can be a very contentious place, where a wide diversity of opinion usually results in strident disagreement at best, and often outright all-caps shouting and personal attacks at worst. We are very fortunate that the types of people attracted to TFMR, and the tone set here by Turd himself, have greatly diminished that type of thing in this little corner of the world. I have seen many other sites that started out as interesting places to hang out but over time were largely taken over by the mindset and personal invective of the most strident or rude posters, acting as an internet “Gresham’s law” driving good posters out. We have disagreements and highly varied opinions here, but this is nevertheless a very positively oriented and supportive community. I believe that one of the core opinions shared by most posters here, and one which acts as a central touchstone of agreement, is the belief that the end of the Keynsian experiment is going to be a difficult time, and that we need to prepare ourselves accordingly, whether that be financially, household or personal security, or preparedness.
However, I want to focus on one aspect of disagreement within this paradigm that comes up quite often and naturally- the topic of how close we are to seeing the end of the Keynsian experiment. In broad terms, people here generally agree that ‘the end is near’ but have serious and legitimate disagreements about what near means. The question of whether near means within two months or within five years is no small thing, as it would entirely dictate your strategy for preparing. Please consider this post from TFMR :
Prep Timing: The end is near… or is it?
I am posting this in hopes of stimulating a conversation about when the 'Great Keynsian Experiment' will end, and more specifically, how your personal view of this question structures how you prepare. Because let's face it: if you think we will see a currency collapse sometime next decade, your approach for being ready for that event would be VERY different than if you think it will collapse next week. In short, your view of how dire things are structures your 'decision tree' and dictates your strategy.
Let me explain why I am putting this out there- I have seen any posters at this site and others, whom I have great respect for based on their other writings, often say cryptic things like "better get your stuff together cause we don't have long", or even make direct predictions like "we have four or five weeks, tops". And I totally understand the mindset behind doing this- most of us are procrastinators and the more dire we think a situation is, the more likely we are to get off our lazy butts and start preparing. Nothing wrong with that, but I think people do themselves a great disservice by adopting a "world is ending next week" mentality. Here's why- many of the best preps are long-term projects that take some time to develop. An imminent doomsday mindset may keep you from taking on things that, ultimately, you would be very glad to have.
Check out the picture below. I took this yesterday and if you look very carefully you will see four different projects of mine that I would never have even started if I really thought the end was near when I began them.
The chickens are the newest- got my pretty ladies as little fuzz-balls in February, when the buzz at ZH and other places was 'Greece is the first domino and watch them all knock each other over in a sovereign debt default extravaganza'. I built the coop over the winter, while gold and silver were exploding and some claimed the dollar was dying right before our eyes. If you look carefully to the left of the coop there is a glimpse of our first big 'food production' garden, put in in the spring of 2009 when the trillions in porkulus spending and QE were exploding the deficit to no obvious end, and real unemployment was pushing 20%. Finally, to the left and right of the coop you will see plumb, apple, and peach trees. I was planting these in 2008 during the dark days of the financial crisis, when Wall Street firms were dropping like flies and it looked like economic apocalypse was upon us. Fruit trees that take 3-5 years minimum to start producing was a real leap of faith at that time, but I cannot tell you how glad I am that I took the 'long view' back then.
And I guess that's my point- if you get totally caught up in a "The End Is Near" mindset, you will likely not take on projects which will take months or years to develop. If the end really IS near, then short-term is the way to go. But if the great unwinding takes a while, realize that you are costing yourself opportunities for developing long-term assets.
You have probably already guessed the kicker from the text- I posted this in June of 2011! And believe me, there were many times before then and since then - just like we have today with the Syrian War headlines - that I have heard a specific piece of news, read a headline, or seen yet another “economic chart of doom” from Zerohedge and thought that indeed, the end was near.
And yet, as best I could, I kept doggedly plugging away to develop resources, and continued to take-on longer term projects that have, in fact, now had time to pay off. After literally years of pruning, fertilizing, spraying, trimming, and working, those fruit trees finally produced a crop in meaningful amounts such that I can preserve the harvest. Much to my joy, we have already taken in and preserved a big batch of sour cherries (and there is nothing like a hot, fresh cherry pie in the middle of winter). We have harvested peaches and plums, canned jelly, preserves, plum sauce, whole fruit, and even fruit leather. I hope to finish up in 2-3 weeks with apples in decent amounts, provided we can keep the bugs and critters away.
With the help of a truly fine friend (and fellow Turdite), I was able to finally put up a High Tunnel this year- a movable 16’ x 32’ greenhouse on skids that should be able to extend our garden harvest a month earlier in the spring, and a month later in the fall. For the first time we are going to be able to grow fresh greens all through the winter. Several other things big and small have been done since I wrote this, but the bottom line is that I am far more self-sufficient and better prepared for any possible disruptions associated with the end of the Keynsian experiment than I was then. And if there are no disruptions of any kind and the world sails along as it has? Then my family has great, healthy organic fruits and veggies, preserved fresh to eat all year long. Win-win, in my book.
And yet… if during all that time I had taken the view that “The End Is Near!!!” there is no way I would have even started most of these things- what would have been the point in starting long-term projects that took years to pay off if there was just no time? So herein lies a cautionary tale: It pays to be as ready as you can today (particularly given current events) because difficulties or disruptions might very well be near. But it also pays to proceed at the same time as if the end is quite some time away, and to work hard to develop resources or assets (of many kinds) over the long-term in case the end actually may still be quite some time away. I will admit, it is a hard mental balancing act- to try and think “It might happen soon, but it might not” and to keep working on your preparedness for both timelines.
I truly believe that being as ready as you can be today, but investing the time and energy to develop longer-term resources and to work a long-range plan at the same time, is a rational way to go about this stuff. And whether the end is near, far, or not coming at all: I wish you all the very best.