What Should I Do – to be more resilient?

The What Should I Do? blog series is written by ChrisMartenson.com readers and is based in their own experiences in preparing for a future where austerity may be a necessity and self-reliance and community resilience is essential.

 

What Happened to Self Reliance?

How often do you hear the phrase "Self Reliance" these days? I never hear it.

Apparently being self-reliant is out of style. It seems that we the people have become a nation of consumers, and consumers are not self reliant. Oil producing countries, advertisers, government, political parties, and employers, to name a few, want us to be consumers and not self reliant. They want us to spend our money and depend on them for information, compensation, energy, food, entitlements, loans, tax breaks, etc. (Likewise, the United States government consumes more than its revenue; it depends on purchases of debt by China and other countries to fund the endless overspending.) But the really ugly skeleton in the closet is our dependence on fossil fuels.

Cutting back on our energy use is critical. Leadership in this realm has been mixed at best. Many of the celebrity Americans who promote energy conservation and alternative energy don't walk their talk. Al Gore and his huge mansion are a glaring example.

Blogger and writer John Michael Greer is preparing for a future where fossil fuels are very expensive and scarce; he intends to be self reliant. He writes extensively about why and how to conserve energy. Does he walk his talk? He recently reported:

I've never owned a cell phone, a car, a microwave, a television, or most of the other conveniences so many Americans think of as essential to life. I do own a computer — it's essential to the way I make my living — and my compromise there is that I don't buy new computers; I take the old ones that would otherwise end up in a landfill, and keep them out of the ecosystem. I still use a very modest amount of grid power — our power bills run in the $30-$40 a month range — since my wife and I bought a home of our own for the first time in 2009, and we haven't yet raised the money for an off-grid system (or for several other improvements I have on the list, such as solar water heaters and composting toilets). 

Some of my food comes from a backyard organic garden; much of the remainder is from the farmer's market in season; almost none is processed and packaged, though that's as much because I have a hard time choking down standard American food products as anything else. Organic wastes, almost without exception, go into the composter out back. I don't use mainstream medicine, though that's a complex issue in its own right — I've had too many family members killed or harmed by MDs to trust my health to them, among other things. (see Comments)

His sacrifices are rather shocking to most of us in America. It's easy to say he's weird and ignore the fact that he is much more self reliant than anyone we know.

Most of the poor in this country own a cell phone and a TV. (Government programs often pay for cells phones for the poor.) Many of these same people are unhealthy, in debt, and utterly dependent on someone else's money to pay for their lifestyle. They are not self reliant and never will be.

Why am I bringing this up? Dependence weakens individuals and countries – self reliance strengthens. The US needs to be stronger to weather the storms that loom on the horizon. What if… Iran and Israel go to war. Would Israel destroy Iran's oil wells? Would Iran destroy Saudi Arabia's oil wells? The price of oil could jump to $400 – $500 a barrel. Gas prices in the US could be $16 – $20 per gallon. Heating and cooling our homes could quadruple in price. How quickly could our government adapt? How would unprepared people adapt?

Maybe self-reliant people can teach us a thing or two. What do you think?

Congressman Ron Paul – Celebrating the Fight for Freedom on July 4

Ron Paul knows history and economics - unlike some other "leaders" from his state.

Link: Congressman Ron Paul – Celebrating the Fight for Freedom on the Fourth – Texas Straight Talk.

Every year on the Fourth of July we remember our founding fathers and the precious inheritance of freedom that they secured for us. Every year it seems we get further and further away from that birthright, but we still have much to celebrate.

This country was founded on principles of freedom from overbearing rulers, onerous taxation, and the right to live our lives as we see fit. Our independence was won after decades, and even centuries of abuses that unscrupulous, corrupted leaders and big governments visited upon their subjects. The Founders knew there was a better way, and they forged it here on this soil.

In the new United States of America, the rights of the individual were enshrined in the Bill of Rights. Today, government encroaches on those rights through countless provisions in numerous laws. However, how much worse off might we be had the Founders not enumerated these rights in the highest law of the land? While it is true that many aspects of those rights have been redefined and watered down, and will likely continue to be eroded, we can celebrate the wisdom of the Founders and that at our very core we, as Americans, still hold these rights dear.

The American tradition of individual liberty and self-reliance still runs deep, in spite of the increasing nanny state tendencies that government has been gradually shoving down our throats. It is sad to see government seeking to completely replace the voluntary protections through families and charities that we have relied on throughout our history. Especially disturbing is the rhetoric of community and interdependence being employed by the administration to institute government as the great middle man for all healthcare and charity for which all citizens must dutifully sacrifice. This trend is not improving quality of life for Americans, but instead is greatly enriching the government bureaucracies that take a generous cut of all transactions in the welfare state. There still remains much resistance to cradle to grave government dependence and control. This spirit of fierce independence is a tribute to our founders and is cause to celebrate.

The majority of our Founders believed in sound money, in part because they knew it kept government in check. Governments that are unable to expand the money supply and manipulate credit at will are unable to fund frivolous wars of conquest. Instead of adventurism abroad, seeking monsters to destroy, governments restrained by sound money are restricted to truly defensive wars that the people are willing to fight and to fund. Today, in spite of all the economic turmoil that fiat currency and military interventionism has caused, there is cause to celebrate. The demand to audit the Federal Reserve is quite encouraging. The truth about the fed will put us one step closer to sound money, and peace.

Public outcry against the bank bailouts and the government power grab known as cap-and-trade proves that the spirit of liberty still lives. Part of our celebration of Independence Day should include a renewed determination to keep fighting the good fight for freedom. As long as government continually seeks to take liberties away, patriots need to keep fighting this ongoing war for sustained independence.

The Future of Energy-Dependent Societies

Keith Hudson at Evolutionary Economics shares his perspective.

Is this realistic or pessimistic?

Link: Evolutionary Economics – SEX, STATUS AND ECONOMICS.

Despite the gloss that many economists place on apparently positive figures from quarter-year to quarter year, a great deal is patently going badly wrong in developed countries. ‘Recoveries’ in employment are nowhere near what normal growth in employment used to be. Official figures for unemployment disguise many more who are not registered for various reasons.

Somehow the whole forward momentum of the last 200 years has been lost. I suggest that what now appears to be an artificial assumption of status by means of consumer goods is now bumping up against real constraints in their supply and adoption in the present type of modern world. The way that modern societies have evolved — particularly in the form of super-metropolises, highly centralised governments, almost total separation of home and workplace and an increasing divide in the employment structure — means now that fully developed countries are now highly vulnerable.

For an increasing number of people in the developed world, a life of physical drudgery in former times has now become a life of psychological stress and, frequently, social isolation. But we will not be able to change our present system in a rational way. Given our over-large institutional systems with so much protective practice built into them, we can never do this. We can only be forced into it by dire circumstances.

What will finally put the tin lid on all this and bring about a change will be the continuing rise in energy prices. This will finally force us out of our present systems and built environment into entirely different forms of dispersed, more self-reliant patterns of living, working and governing ourselves in which in which status can have a more natural place in a community.