If Civilization Did Truly Collapse…

Most of us wouldn’t care for what daily life would really be like if civilization did truly collapse. It would be very primitive, and it wouldn’t be long before something would get you – maybe something as insignificant as cutting yourself on a tool; it becomes infected and without antibiotics (would have to be the right antibiotic for the bug, and enough of it to treat the infection) you get gangrene or septicemia, etc. and that’s it.

But I do think there are sensible precautions that people can take so they can survive the kinds of temporary disruptions that we actually do know are fairly likely to happen because they happen with some regularity. Just because we don’t know exactly when they’ll happen shouldn’t be a reason to ignore them.

Collapse

Here on the west coast, we know that there’s going to be a major earthquake – perhaps of catastrophic magnitude. Some “experts” say within 5-10 years, others say within 15-20 years.

But what we tend to misunderstand is that, in fact, all of these predictions are actually telling us that it *could* happenthis year. The key word is “within”, and the “outside” prediction – whether it’s within 5 years, 10 years or 20 years – actually doesn’t have any relevance at all. It could come at any time.

“Within 5 years”: 0-1-2-3-4-5
“Within 10 years”: 0-1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10

…etc.

People tend to take false comfort from the longer-term predictions, and in that sense they misunderstand what’s being said. “Within 15-20 years” does NOT mean “between years 15 and 20”. It means that the person making the prediction is not willing to narrow the possible range down any closer than 15 years. It means, literally, that it could happen any time but probably within 20 years.

We need to learn how to think about the data that we’re given.
(Written by Brian T. and published with express permission by SobertGummer.com)

Costco Deal Alert: 308 Total Servings of Entrée ARK II One Month Food Storage

costcodeal1

308 Total Servings of Entrée ARK II One Month Food Storage

Normally: $109.99
-$20.00=
$89.99
Shipping & Handling included *

$0.36 cents Per Serving, Up to 20-year Shelf Life 1,492 calories per day for one adult for 30 days | Item # 763340
(This is not an affiliate link… just figured I’d pass this deal along.)

Nasdaq Market Paralyzed By Three Hour Flash Freeze

The NY Times is reporting today that, “Trading in a wide array of stocks, including popular ones like Apple and Microsoft, ground to a halt on Thursday after a technology problem at the Nasdaq stock exchange. It was the latest prominent disruption in the markets caused by computer glitches.”

stock exchange

Today the Nasdaq… tomorrow the NYSE??

Do you ever get the feeling that one day, all of your digital investments (stocks, bonds, bank CDs) could just go… POOF!  Up in smoke!  Gone… like a Nixon file.

I do. I worry about it quite a bit, actually.

I try to diversify as much as possible: Real estate, precious metals, tangibles, etc… But let’s face it: The lure of growing passive investments ala stocks and bonds is a strong one.  And let’s not forget: Prepping is a hedge against potential collapse.  If we felt there was a greater than 50% chance that the wheels were definitely going to come off, we’d already be running for the hills, Rawles-style.

But we aren’t.  Things have a tendency to work themselves out– usually.

Still, if you’re not adequately diversified into tangible investments that you can touch with your hands— today might be (yet another) red flag warning that you should get on it.

Storing Things You Never Read About On Lists

One of the tricks to prepping is to keep an eye out for the things you use in everyday life that may be mission critical to you, but perhaps not to somebody else.  They’re the type of things that won’t make the “Lists of Lists” that you read about on other web sites.

Sure, the first thing that comes to mind is: medication.   But you’ve read about stocking up on necessary medications before.

What I’m talking about are the type of things that you will never read on anybody else’s list because they are specific to you in some way.

Let me give you an example: We live in the high desert.  We get something like 350 days of sun a year and it’s “a dry heat.”  What that means is that when growing a vegetable garden, your plants need shelter from the constant sun. And the wind, to a lesser extent, but mostly the ever-blasting sun.

shade

“Speaking of shade… somebody’s got it ‘made in the shade'”

We’ve found that constructing hoops out of conduit over our raised beds and then attaching shade cloths over the conduit hoop accomplishes two things:

  1. It filters out (roughly) 60% of the sun’s rays.
  2. It creates a micro system the plants respiration and prevents some of the water on the plants and soil from evaporating.  (The shade cloths still allow the sprinklers to water the plants).

The only drawback to the shade cloths are that:  They eventually rip, tear and wear out.  So, stockpiling extra shade cloths for the garden– at least in my micro climate– would be a wise thing.   Especially if mass inflation takes hold and I one day wander into my garden store to find that my $12 shade cloths are now $200 a piece.  Yikes!!

What types of things are specific to your lifestyle that you can stock up?

Panama As An Expat Destination? Think Twice…

PanamaWe lived in Panama for about a year, around 2007. Granted, it was in Panama City, so take my rant with a grain of salt. If we had lived in Bouquette, maybe our experience would have been different. I’m not expecting to change your mind if you’ve already decided to move to Panama. But for anybody else considering it:

Panama has grinding poverty. My wife is Colombian and even she was shocked.

The Panamanians– culturally– are very rude. You say, “Thank you,” and they say nothing. Or, “Okay.” if you’re lucky. I didn’t find that to be the case in either Costa Rica or Colombia.  They have a bad attitude and have not learned business etiquette.

– I’m told the banks are corrupt. There used to be a gringo who ran a site called Noriegaville.com. Maybe use the Wayback Machine to read some of the old posts. There was another site too that documented the bank corruption. They only give lip service to rule of law in Panama. There is no recourse if the banks take your money. I know you’re thinking, “Why would the bank take my money? If they develop a reputation of taking people’s money, they will go out of business.” Sure. And god-forbid you listen to some dumb expat who tells you that you can hide money in Panama. You can’t. One of my neighbors worked for the IRS. The banks down there have desks for the IRS agents to man, full time. LOL. Unfortunately, they’re not down their to protect your money… they’re down there to protect Uncle Sam’s money.

– It’s difficult to get a gun down there, let alone a concealed carry permit. If you get citizenship, it might be easier. I asked at a couple of gun stores, and as a resident he basically told me, “Not a chance.” You might want to investigate this further, though.

– We left because Panama, like a lot of 3rd world countries, make it very attractive for Expats to come… because it brings money and investment and tourism. But after awhile, they start to get fat and arrogant and begin jerking the expat community around. For example, they arbitrarily changed the tourist visa from three months to one month. Previously, you could live down there on a tourist visa as long as you made a “visa run” every three months. But every month? Give me a break. A large part of the expat community started to put their condos up for sale and leave. Fortunately, the Panamanian government realized the error of their ways and after 9 months they switched it back. But by then… we were gone. So were a lot of our friends. Gracias, adios.  And before you say, “Well.. why wouldn’t you just get residency?”  The answer is that: It costs a lot of time and money.  Generally, it’s a good idea to “test drive” a country before committing to residency.  Now, if they had a streamlined residency program… that would be another argument.  But asking Panama to develop anything “streamlined” is asking a lot.

This idea that many Panamanians speak English is false. You can find people within the professional sector who speak English, if you search for them. You will not normally encounter people on the street who speak English. My advice is to budget at least four hours a day to study Spanish for AT LEAST the first year you’re down there. Your ability to speak the language will directly affect your ability to successfully navigate your environment.

– The heat is oppressive. It wears on you.  Expect the humidity to reek havoc on your clothes and shoes and furniture.

My recommendation is to RENT for the first two to three years before buying anything. Be aware that construction is not up to American standards. Everything looks great on the surface, but it is not. For example: Building inspectors are routinely paid off. The parking in our high end condo was back to back and not wide enough to back your car out.  So, if somebody was in the space opposite to your’s, you’d have to go find the owner of the car or wait for someone else to back their car up. These were $200k+ condos. LOL.

The food was good, though. I’ll give ’em that.

Two Myths About Recession Proof Jobs

There was a thread titled, Thoughts on Economic Emergency Preparation over on AR15.  There were a lot of good ideas.  I posted a response, but wanted to archive it here on my blog, too.  The subject came up about buying rental properties as a form of replacing your personal income.  Another idea was to pick up a trade skill from your local vocational school.

1. Rental Properties: Rental properties are money pits. Even in the best of times, it’s darn near impossible to cash flow enough to cover your personal expenses. I’ve been a member of three real estate investment clubs in two different states and I’ve helped the owners of two of the larger real estate investment info product web sites get started. I’ve owned a four-plex, a duplex and several single family houses and my family has owned property (both commercial and residential) for three+ generations. Don’t believe the hype: You need large cash reserves if you’re going to hold rental properties, even if you own them free and clear. The culture has changed in America. Most tenants– even when you screen them well– will not take care of your property like YOU would. Even if they do: Owning rental property (I repeat) is a money pit. Roofs need to be replaced. Air conditioners break and need to be replaced. Properties get infested with bird mites and the tenants need to be put up in a hotel while you have the property tented. Money pit, Money pit, Money pit. How are you going to pay for those expenses when you don’t have a job and you’re trying to live on whatever the property cash flows? (After PITI? Good luck!) Don’t believe the hype. Guys lie about their great investment deals just like they lie about their truck MPG and their penis size.

Every successful investor I’ve met eventually graduates to holding paper (I.E. lending money) or jumps up to big multi-family units, which are beyond the scope of anyone still working a day job.

In a bad economy, people stop paying their rent. Not only will you not have cash flow, but you’ll also have lawyer fees to get the tenant out. Once they do leave, you’ll find that they have destroyed your property. Where will the money come from to fix it up and get another tenant? (If you can find another tenant, because there are now so many vacant properties to compete with). Rental property is fine if it’s part of your investment portfolio. But it is foolish to depend on it as a source of income. Sure, you might be that one guy who gets lucky with his rental property. But if you want to play a game of luck, you might as well just invest in the market and sidestep the leaky toilets. [/flame shield ON]

2. The Trades: Let’s look at the Great Recession as an example: Construction jobs dried up. Suddenly, carpenters, plumbers, roofers, drywall guys… were out of work. What did they do? They either sold everything and moved (contributing to the glut of housing and depressing rents) or they tried to pick up odd jobs and start “handyman” businesses. Are you really going to compete in a crowded market with your newly acquired trade school skill? I visit a lot of pawn shops in my free time, just to get a gauge as to what is happening with the economy. I still see a lot of tools for sale. The pawn shops can’t get rid of them.

My guitar instructor used to work on a construction crew. When the construction jobs dried up, he started teaching guitar. He makes enough to pay his bills. What he found is that: People with money — and retired folks– will still pay for guitar instruction. Parents with money will scrimp on other things to make sure their kids can still get an education. Now, if the Great Depression 2.0 hits, will he be able to make a living teaching guitar? I doubt it. But it was good enough to get him through the Great Recession.

I wrote about a guy buying and selling used appliances, on my blog. Now that’s a recession-proof business. Is it easy? No. But it’s easier than competing against the throngs of experienced tradesmen in a bad economy. ** Although I should note that tradesmen in my area are busy as heck, right now. But they weren’t a few years ago.

Study Entrepreneurship Instead

I think the trick is to find a little niche (like buying and selling used appliances) that will continue to make you money, regardless of the economy. I’ve lived in some real shit holes. One thing I’ve noticed is that: People will always find a way to buy the latest cell phone device, and young men will always spend money on fancy rims and car stereo systems. Neither of these are businesses that I personally have an interest in getting involved with, but the examples should at least get you thinking in the right direction.