Those of us trying to prepare ourselves and our families to face the economic, social, cultural and other problems bearing down on us have had plenty of food for thought over the past few months. I'm not all about the number of grains of salt or how many gallons of gasoline you should put aside for emergencies; we all have our own needs, and must plan to meet them as best we can. However, the environment forcing us to do so and governing our response to it affects everyone, and we should be keeping an eye on developments. Hence, this blog post, in which I'll mention several articles and points that have caught my eye recently.
Kulak, writing at Anarchonomicon, tries to put "prepping" in perspective. In an article titled "Realistic Prepper Advice: How to survive when Civilization Disappears but the Government Does Not", he points out that it's pointless to plan on, for example, surviving seventy years of Communism by withdrawing from society and hiding in the woods.
Preppers are fundamentally right about the problems, unsustainability, and fragility of the current system… but are utterly delusional about what’s likely to succeed it.
Simply put the wish that in a suitably apocalyptic disaster, the state will recoil away into non-existence and leave people to fend for themselves (at which point the prepper will presumably thrive) has basically never happened.
He's right, of course. He goes into a lot of detail about what will be involved in escaping such a society, but very little of that will be part of the practical prepper's concern. If things get that bad, basically, we're all up the creek without a proverbial paddle, and we'll have a whole new set of problems to deal with. However, there are very practical steps we can take to prepare for any emergency short of that.
Brandon Smith points out the necessity for and utility of alternative economic arrangements to avoid statist control. Having seen, over several years, how the Third World functions at such times, I'm here to tell you he's absolutely correct. We will see something like this here, and in less formal settlements we already are.
I think the chaotic flurry of activity during 2020 and 2021 had a lot of people confused; many have forgotten how incredibly close we came to full authoritarianism, including total economic tyranny.
The purpose of economic controls is obvious: If you control people’s access to supplies and income then they are far less likely to rebel against you when you turn the screws and take their freedoms. This has been the strategy of every communist/socialist regime around the world since the 20th Century, and was a mainstay of feudal empires in the Middle Ages. The process of trade controls is at the core of the agenda of our modern day oligarchy … This trend forces the liberty minded to adopt alternative economic systems. If we do not, then we will not be able to maintain our ability to fight back against authoritarianism. If you can’t feed yourself, then you can’t fight. But what would these alternative systems look like?
Essentially, they would be black markets. Study the tactics of gun runners and drug dealers of the past several decades and the alternative economy of the future will probably look similar, though on a much larger scale. Most of what we do will eventually be treated as illicit unless it is specifically sanctioned by local or state governments, but this will not stop centralized authorities from doing everything they can to shut down private production and trade.
Then there is the issue of economic collapse, which we are already beginning to experience in the form of a stagflation crisis. Trust me, it’s going to get a lot worse in the next couple of years, so establishing alternatives today should be our top priority. If your currency is consistently losing value, prices are rising and you have to work harder everyday to attain the same amount of resources then the end game will be slavery and servitude – Unless you can walk away from the broken economy.
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I’ve been writing about the value of barter markets as a means of rebellion for almost 20 years now, and I continue to believe that this tactic is an incredible tool for defeating economic tyranny. The bottom line is this, though: Barter markets need producers in order to stay viable. They need people who make things, grow things, fix things and teach things. It can’t just be about trading goods you already have on hand; you have to be willing to add value to the market by creating useful items and services.
Barter markets can operate on a small neighborhood scale up to a county level, while states can trade with each other to stockpile vital commodities. All of this, though, would have to act as a stopgap because barter relies on an erratic value system – Any item or service is going to be worth something different to each person, making standardized prices difficult. In the end, some kind of universal trade mechanism (currency) will have to be introduced that functions outside the failing dollar system and separate from CBDCs [Central Bank Digital Currencies].
There's more at the link.
Speaking of CBDC's, the Mises Institute looks at the abysmal failure of attempts in Nigeria to transition to a cashless society and a digital currency. It's now been abandoned after a change of government, but that doesn't mean it can't come back; and the attempt did an immense amount of damage to Nigeria, politically, socially and economically.
On October 25, 2022, one year after the national referendum on the establishment of CBDC in Nigeria, in which 99.5 percent of the citizens voted against digitalizing the currency, the then president of the country, Muhammadu Buhari from the Fulani tribe, issued a decree that despite the opposition of the majority of the nation, the financial revolution would still take place.
In December 2022, the government in Abuja launched a total attack on cash … The governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) announced that by the end of January 2023 (later extended to February 10), Nigeria would fully transition from physical cash (naira) to eNaira, the central bank’s digital currency. People were required to transfer their cash holdings to the CBN, which would service them under the new monetary regime.
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When February 10, 2023, arrived and about 80 percent of the $7.2 billion, previously in private hands, ended up in digital accounts as CBDC, the poorer segment of the population (over half of the people) still did not have bank accounts. Despite assurances from the CBN that physical cash would not be eliminated until CBDC was fully operational, half of the nation was left with old, worthless banknotes! Commuters to and from the capital were left without cash to pay for their return transportation. Many small businesses, a significant part of the economy that relies on cash payments, closed because their customers had no money to pay.
It is easy to understand why violent riots erupted in the country on February 16, 2023, resulting in casualties. Deprived of their entire wealth, desperate and hungry people took to the streets, demanding the reinstatement of the validity of the old paper currency.
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Even the brightest Nigerians were unable to understand how the government planned to eliminate existing cash and issue new money just a few weeks before the general elections scheduled for February 24, 2023. Didn’t the government risk an obvious defeat amidst the chaos? Well, no! The new cash was the guarantee of electoral victory: it was intended to be distributed to the poor but significant majority, so they would know who to vote for democratically.
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In response to refusals to accept their old cash, invalidated at the end of January, people without bank accounts, legal cash, or any savings resorted to traditional methods: barter and trade credit. Matchstick holders exchanged them for yams with farmers. Soap producers traded for fuel, and small business owners extended longer credit terms to their contractors. Teachers and cleaners from local schools sought help, mainly food, from the families of their students.
Again, more at the link. Note how the last paragraph in the excerpt above ties in with Brandon Smith's comments about barter markets in the first article we cited, and shows how they work in practice.
American Thinker, a resource that normally considers the follies and foibles of our government and how best to respond to them, asked the question recently: "Is it time to start prepping?"
What should I be doing to prepare my family for these difficult times, where water, shelter, energy, medicine, and food will be difficult to obtain in the open market?
There are a lot of good books on prepping for a national disaster, either weather-related or politically motivated. There are also a lot of poorly written and poorly researched books out there. Be thoughtful in your choices. Here are the essential items I believe you and your family need to address in the coming tough times.
Kim du Toit, another expatriate former South African, answered the American Thinker article with his own set of responses. They're worth reading as an illustration of how one family, in their particular situation in life, can/may/will respond to emergencies.
Contributing author "awa" at Gun Free Zone asks "Is it expired?" The article looks at supplies with expiration dates, such as medication, batteries, etc. and emphasizes the need to keep them up-to-date, rotating out time-expired supplies and replacing them as needed. I agree, with the caution that some (not all) medications are good long past their expiration date. I've used prescription pain medication that's more than a decade out of date, and found that it still worked adequately. However, that applies to solid products (i.e. tablets - no gels, capsules, etc.) that have been stored in climate-controlled environments. If they're liquid, or have been exposed to extreme heat and/or cold and/or humidity, that's undoubtedly going to affect their useful lifespan. The article is a valuable reminder to keep preps up-to-date.
Commander Zero notes the pro's and con's of standardization.
“Standardize” means different things to different people. Are you standardizing on a particular caliber? A particular firearm? Both? Theres some big differences there. Lets give a couple examples and the problems they incur.
Let’s say you standardize on caliber. Everyone in your family/group/clan/stick/team/cadre/cell//whatever decides that .223 is the way to go. That way everyone can use the same ammo. You’ve got an AR,, Bob has an AUG, Uncle Billy has a Mini-14, and Crazy Steve has a .223 AK. You guys can all eat from the same pot of .223 ammo. And then…Steve loses some magazines in an impromptu bugout, or Billy only had a few to begin with and needs more, or the feed lips on your mags are getting tired and you think its time to swap out for some new mags. Well, you’re all shooting .223, which you standardized on, but everyone has their own magazine logistics. Billy can’t give Steve any of his mags, and your mags wont work in Steves gun, and you see where I’m going with this?
So, maybe you standardize on a gun (‘platform’). We’re all gonna rock the AR. For the most part, we’re all gonna be able to swap parts and accessories if we need. Your AR is 7.62×39, mine is .223, Steve’s is .300 Black, and Billy has gone way off the res and adheres to the 6.8 SPC. But we can all swap small parts, optics, lights, accessories, and we all share the same manual of arms. But…I’ve got plenty of .223, Billy is having trouble finding ammo, Steve can’t give any ammo to you, and .300 Black isn’t found at the local trading post. Again, see where Im going with this?
For me, I’m thinking long term. As far as guns go, my thought process is “If I can’t buy more tomorrow, will I be able to spend the rest of my life with what I have?” And spending the rest of my life with what I have is a lot easier when its common to what my buddies and the locals carry.
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But the standardization thing goes beyond guns, as you know. Batteries are a great example. CR123, coin batts, AAA,AA,C,D batteries are needed for all sortsa useful gizmos. Who wants to keep that many different types of batteries around? And its virtually a promise that whatever battery you need will be the one size that youre out of. For me, its AA and D batts. Thats it. Anything that runs on AAA, C, or CR123 is either available in another battery format or is available as a USB rechargeable.
Same for fuels. You have a diesel truck, propane stove, kerosene heater, gas generator, and white gas lanterns.Thats just asking for troubles.
If you can afford the money/space, then logistics may not be an issue for you. You can have a steel building full of cases of different calibers, different size batteries, different types of fuels, and therefore don’t have to worry about each piece of gear requiring a different item to make it work. More power to you. But I want the smallest, most efficient, logistical footprint possible and for me that means standardizing on things.
(A quick note about battery sizes. You can buy adapters that hold AA or AAA batteries inside a frame that allows them to replace C or D cells in appliances that need them. For example, here's an AAA-to-C-cell adapter, and here's a AA-to-D-cell version. I own and use both. They make it easier to standardize on the smaller cells, while also being able to use them in appliances requiring larger cells.)
Next, NBC News informs us, "What the Clorox products' shortage means for you". It's a valuable article for preppers, in that it shows clearly how disruption at a dominant supplier can affect the availability (and price) of products on which we rely or depend. This was driven home to me by a shortage of a medicated shampoo that I use, when supply chain difficulties disrupted its production and distribution. Both articles are useful reminders that we can't necessarily rely on something we need being available when and where we need it.
(Shortages also affect price, sometimes drastically. For example, the shampoo I prefer cost me $9.99 for a 16-ounce bottle in March 1919; $14.79 in August 2020; and $18.87 in July 2023. As of today, less than three months after my last purchase, thanks to the production and supply breakdown, the same product costs $41.99 at Amazon - an increase in just three months of 222.5%! - and is only available from third-party suppliers who are charging every cent they think the market will bear. Fortunately, I have reserve supplies, so that doesn't hurt me too badly. Let's hear it for preps!)
Finally, changes in legislation or regulations can have an outsize impact on what we can afford - if we can obtain it at all. California has just imposed an 11% excise tax on firearms and ammunition, which is going to affect all gun-owners in that state. New York state has made it much more difficult to buy ammunition, and more expensive too. According to local gun stores, that's led to many of their customers driving across the border to neighboring states, buying ammunition there, and bringing it home. However, what happens if other states do something similar? It will leave all local gun owners in difficulties. If you're a gun owner or shooting sports enthusiast, I highly recommend that you stock up on ammunition while prices are low (which they are at present for most popular cartridges and calibers) and stack it deep. The time may come when you can no longer afford to do so, or may find your ability to do so severely restricted.
The same applies to any product where politicians or bureaucrats may screw up supply and costs. Remember the catastrophic effect of government over-regulation on the humble gasoline can? See "How Government Wrecked the Gas Can" for the details. I have a supply of pre-ban gas cans that actually work, plus some bought after the ban from importers who somehow circumvented the regulations. Mil-spec vented jerrycans such as these examples (I bought some of their 20-liter [5-gallon] and 10-liter [2½-gallon] sizes a while back, and recommend them from personal experience) are expensive these days, but they're still the most practical solution, IMHO. (No, I get no commission for recommending them - I do so only because I've used them and know their quality.)
I consider them significantly more useful than "modern" gas cans with a spring-loaded cap that one has to hold open against pressure to dispense gasoline. The latter are a pain in the fingers, hands and arms (literally) and the ass (hopefully only figuratively)! Also, for long-term use and for carrying in vehicles, plastic gas cans are not the way to go. The material from which they're made will perish over time, and as they get older they tend to release fumes that can affect the air we breathe, particularly in a closed environment. A steel jerrycan avoids both problems, if it's treated with due care and attention. I've carried those illustrated above in the passenger compartment of a vehicle without any problems.