When the almighty dollar ends its reign, likely occurring marginally and incrementally, although imperceptibly as I write this, what kinds of thinking skills will emerge as being valuable, specifically those geared towards providing a living?
Is the answer none, since most occupational thinking skills are based on inefficient industries only kept alive by misallocated capital from the western fiat banking system? I ask this because it dawned on me today that my entire livelihood is based strictly on a rules-based system of dispute resolution. The barriers to entry are extremely high, and once in the profession, longevity tends to lead to a steady source of clients and income seemingly based on longevity alone. There is a constant addition of supply of new lawyers, while the attrition through various means tends to cull the herd somewhat. But, the simple fact remains: there are thousands and thousands of lawyers within 100 miles of me. What are we all going to do when t SHTF?
On that point as well, look around, and ask where do the best and brightest go once they get their educations? Do they join engineering firms en masse? [Dagney will say hell no]. Do they become teachers and professors? Some, but not the vast majority. Instead, those best and brightest go into finance. But what will happen to all of them when the system resets?
I started thinking of this in earnest today, as I slogged through a four page letter from an opposing counsel, from a big, nationwide firm, who graduated from a big, prestigious undergraduate college, and went to a top ten law school. Here is this stellar thinker, trained at the best schools this country [USA] has to offer, and this great thinker is trifling over scheduling of depositions. Seriously. Four pages to try to work out a simple schedule for four witnesses to testify. Not one phone call was made to me. Instead, I got a four page letter, replete with citations to the Code of Civil Procedure, threats of going to court and getting a protective order, demands to reschedule, musings of unfairness, the list goes on and on. Why did I get a letter and not a phone call?
Here's why: that brilliant attorney, because she is from a great undergraduate college, and a top ten law school, working at a big, nationwide law firm, is paid a LOT of money. In exchange for her law firm paying her astronomical salary, she has to generate enough billable hours every month to justify her existence. She does not work on one case. She has dozens. She must generate billable hours that some client pays for, in order to keep her job. She is a slave to the billable hour. She needs to bill at least 180 hours every month, just to keep her job. If she wants a promotion, she has got to put in 200 or better billable hours every month. That is billable hours. That means some of her time she cannot bill for, and that means she works even more hours than the net billables at the end of the month.
So, what incentive does she have to pick up the phone and call me? NONE. She bills an hour to draft a letter, purporting to "solve" a legal problem on the case. What an utter waste of time. This goes on day after day, year after year. She is an expert at quibbling. Makes my wife look like a saint. But what kind of skill set is that, really? [the lawyer, not the wife!]
In a post-SHTF world, does the expert quibbling lawyer have marketable skills? Does her thought process add value to anything? For that matter, does my existence as a trial lawyer for the workers subjected to illegal employer practices, create any value at all down the road should the dollar cease existing as the hegemon? I say yes and no.
It is in this spirit that I write this blog today. We all need to take an assessment of our real-life skills we have, and not pigeonhole ourselves into believing we are skilled solely by the label we give ourselves, or others put on us.
For example, in a quarter-century of plying my craft, I have seen and dealt with untold numbers of human beings, in all their wonderful shapes, forms, and states. I have seen firsthand abysmal living conditions, unspeakable aftermath from horrific violence, all sorts of bad behavior and its results, as well as crafty, shifty, brilliant con-artists and psychopaths and had to learn how to deal with them. I have won and lost, and have experienced all the emotions one can experience. I have dished out misery, and extreme joy. I have looked into the eyes of cold blooded criminals, and well as victims of interfamily sexual predation.
I know how to deal with people, listen to them, and solve their problems, using a rules-based dispute resolution system. My skills are universal. I am an experienced, expert, human condition problem-solver. I spot issues. I have command of years of arcane information and data. I routinely critically think, and defend my reasoning while at the same time attacking others who try to attack me. I am skilled at rapid-fire thinking under pressure. I am cool under pressure, and can deliver a scathing rebuke, or a soothing pleasantry. In short, I am the community leader that no community can be without. But no one will pay me a fraction of what I make, so I best be able to do something else!
Now for the transition. What does this have to do with post-SHTF critical occupational thinking skills? It leads me to the point, that we need to also be focused on developing ADDITIONAL skills, because one never knows what thinking skills will be in demand.
Notice I said "thinking skills," not manual skills. There is a big difference.
In a post-SHTF environment, the survivors are likely those who are neither rabid ideologues, nor meek followers. Both of those types will almost certainly be wiped out or imprisoned. Instead, the survivors will be those that can THINK, and be nimble and adapt and survive.
I look at that brilliant attorney opposing me, and I ask: "what skills does she have?" She is a normalcy-bias infected, rabid follower of the status quo. She will be lead around by whomever she perceives is the authority figure. She will not dare speak out, independently, because she has no such body of skills to work with, or any experience doing so. She is a follower. She will huddle with the masses and not be a leader.
Here is another thing I think about, related in a macro kind of way.
In China, they do not have general aviation. That is largely because all of the airspace is controlled airspace from the ground up. That means someone cannot, unlike in the USA, hop in a small private plane and fly across the country. One must get prior government permission, with its reams of red tape, etc. As a result, there exists an astronomically huge opportunity for general aviation companies provided that China opens its airspace to general aviation. I am looking at this intently, and have always kept this in the back of my mind as a possible thing to do should things open up. Similarly, perhaps Africa is the last aviation frontier with China backing. Who knows? Remember, I am an experienced, professional pilot. I make my living as a trial lawyer, but should the situation arise, I can always ply my trade as a pilot. So, I figure I have something to fall back on.
Anyhow, I bring this up, because the regulatory frame-work here in the USA is simply getting beyond oppressive to the point that two economies are developing. One can make a living in the alternate economy, but one has to appreciate the risk / reward set up. It is knowing that there exists such an opportunity, that sparks the creative juices flowing. Perhaps embarking on a skill useful in the alternate economy right now will lead to an opportunity later when the SHTF?
What will YOU do when it all blows up?