Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Timing Is the Thing it's True

One of the problems with discussing survival scenarios is the assumed timing & circumstances that the parties bring to the party. If they're talkin' different stages of the same scenario or different scenarios they'll often talk past each other.

Are we talkin' an emergency lasting a few days (flashlight), a few weeks (generator), a few months (candles) or a few years (know how to make candles)?

The optimist will think in terms of an emergency that'll last, at most, into the generator stage. The pessimist will be stockpiling candle making supplies. Unless they clearly state their expectations to each other their preparations may be at cross purposes.

Timing has to be taken into consideration when planning for a survival scenario. Are we talkin' a short emergency which may work itself out in a few months (Hurricane Katrina) in which case you may expect a return to normal societal functioning in the near future?

Or are we talkin' a get out of California as it sinks into the sea scenario for which you'd want to carry your legal documents, credit info, health records and other information you'd need to reestablish yourself in the new, albeit badly shaken (pun intended), economy?

Perhaps you want to be ready for an asteroid the size of the Empire State Building hitting the Earth and you'll need to get to the Equator where enough sunlight may get through to grow crops?

My point is your preparations depend on your estimation of future events and how long you think those events, and the fallout from those events, (bad pun) will last.

If you expect the current crisis to last for decades, and gasoline production to be a thing of the past, you might want to trade your brand new gas powered Jeep 4X4 for a horse (gasoline, even with stabilizers, will only store for about a year; diesel lasts much longer but they won't be makin' much more of it) OTOH If you expect the crisis to be largely over in a few months, keep up the Jeep payments.

If you're a guy with a can of gas facing three guys; one offering a briefcase of fiat paper legal tender that can be used as tinder or toilet paper, one with a suitcase full of canned food, that will last for years if stored in a cool dry place, and a guy with a pouch of gold & silver coins and you:

A. Are where you want to be so don't need the gas to 'get out of Dodge' anytime soon.
B. Believe the current crisis is short lived (i.e. you'll be able to buy more gas later) or so long lasting that gas will spoil before you can use it.
C. Can't leave due to family or other obligations.
D. Don't have a motor to use the gas in.

So you determine that trading the gas will be better for you than keeping it. But what do you trade the can for; the briefcase, suitcase or pouch?

If you believe the situation is short term and will soon revert to normal and that the number of dollars in the briefcase is greater than the current value of the gold you'd want the dollars.

If you believe the situation is less than total TEOTWAWKI and will resolve in a few years you'd want the gold because its value would almost surely be greater than that of a dollars assuming the wounded dollar survives at all. Also the gold (which is after all just a medium of exchange) could be traded for food, medicine and other things.

If however you believe the situation to be total TEOTWAWKI and you'd be better off trading the gas for the suitcase full of food because starving people won't trade food for gold no matter how much is offered and certainly wouldn't want fiat toilet paper.

Gold (and silver) coins would be useful in the early stages of going into TEOEWAWKI as a trading medium for goods and services, but useless during the following famine when people would rather live than die rich.

Au & Ag coins would probably be useful again when civilization begins reestablishing itself most likely as a mixed lot of robber barons morphing into some sort of feudal systems and Greek/Roman style direct democracy city states. In such a situation transitioning from barter to coinage would require trusted coins. Unfortunately there's no guarantee (and little likelihood) that will happen in your lifetime. So if you're thinkin' TEOTWAWKI any gold & silver coins you don't use would be useful for your children or grandchildren.

If you've got a full larder sufficient to last you and yours through till the crops come in a year or two hence you'd probably choose to sell to the person offering gold & silver because when all the excitement is over the Au & Ag is more likely to have some value to those you hope to trade with. Besides you can always use twigs and leaves for that other stuff.

To Comment on this article
E-Mail Me
Unless you specifically ask me not to, I'll post your reply here in the blog so everyone can read it. Of course I'll remove your last name, email and any other specific information for privacy purposes.