Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Final Countdown?

Three years ago, in the fall 2008, I participated in a twenty-one day challenge. The object was to pretend that we had twenty-ones days to prepare for the end of the world as we know it. If any of this sounds familiar, it's because last year, I embarked on a writing project that would result in my recently published book, in which I imagined that we knew the world as we know it would end in twenty-one days, and I discussed what I thought we, suburbanites (in particular), could do to mitigate the damage that would occur to us when the economy and our way of life ceased to be.

A few days ago I met a man who has been a reader of my blog for a very long time, and he picked up a copy of my book, which he asked me to sign for him. We had the opportunity to chat for a bit before Deus Ex Machina and I had to run off to our acting class, and he said something to me that was a little disturbing.

He was trying to imagine what it must be like for me to see my predictions come true.

I'd never quite thought of things that way. In fact, I don't think I ever really make predictions. Mostly, what I've done is connect dots. I read an article here, and an article there, and watch a few news clips or video clips, read a few blogs, read lots of books, and then, I put it all together and see how it's all connected.

Some people believe in the use of divination tools, like Tarot cards. I think such things are fascinating, but what I think most people don't understand is that these tools don't predict the future. What they do is to provide a glimpse of a possible future if the person who is asking continues to make the choices that he/she has been making.

That's what, I think, I do. I just point out what I see happening based on the picture that's formed from all of the stuff I read, and then, I imagine what will happen if people keep making the same choices.

In the case of TEOTWAWKI, I think people make it too easy to make predictions, because most people simply don't wish to change - or worse, they see no reason to make any changes, because *someone* will make things better. I just like to question that supposition. Maybe someone will, but what if no one does? What are we to do, then?

This gathering, sorting and reorganizing of information is a skill I learned in college, when I had to write papers. I had to come up with a thesis, and then, I had to prove my thesis using resources that supported my ideas.

This time, though, there are too many resources and a vast sea of information in support of my thesis that our way of life is coming to a crashing halt. In fact, for many people, the world as [they knew] it has already ended, and they're living in ways they never envisioned themselves as living.

But, that is not necessarily a bad thing.

Fast forward to just recently, and Deus Ex Machina and I and our girls had the good fortune to be able to take a class taught by a native Passamaquoddy in our area. It was fascinating, and we even learned to etch designs on birch bark. This man told us that when he was in school and his guidance counselor asked him what he wanted to do, he said, "Build birch bark canoes." The counselor told him he was crazy, that his dreams were impractical, and I imagine that this thoughtful, articulate, and charismatic man was encouraged to do something that was more "culturally" responsible. I imagine that he was encouraged to do something, like, go to college and get a degree that would help him make money so that he could support himself.

I don't know what he did in those early days, but what I do know is that he is, now, a master birch bark canoe builder, and all of his canoes are hand built using the old ways.

Sometimes what we imagine is *the* best way to live is, in fact, not where we really want (or need) to be at all, but we've bought into the whole notion that we have to do A, B, and/or C.

I saw a facebook status recently in which the person said, in essence, "if the Occupy Wallstreeters had their way, we'd all be living in mud huts." I almost commented that it's not what they wish, but what they fear, if things don't change. In fact, there will be many of us who will be lucky to have the warmth and security of a mud hut. Others won't live in such luxury. Cardboard is a lot easier to come by, but not nearly as insulative or sturdy.

Gerard Celente, who is making predictions and who has a very good track record with regard to his predictions coming true, believes that the crash will happen *this month* - as in October 2011. He says we are (and have been for some time) in a Depression - the likes of which have never been seen before, and that this Depression will be far worse than anything anyone experienced in the 1930s. He says the reasons are that in the 30's the debt to income ratio was much lower, and very few people had a mortgage, and no one had credit cards. The combination of rising fuel prices (resulting in rising food prices), increased unemployment, and high debt will force us into depths we never thought possible.

If he's right, perhaps we have twenty-one days to prepare.

The question is, what will you do?


  1. I will huddle in my house, terrified. And be very glad I don't live in Australia or a place where the land is burning or forests are dying from pine beetles.

    I do have to make one point about the 1930s - people did have mortgages (farms especially) and even though they didn't have credit cards, the prosperity of the 1920s was fueled significantly by buying "on installment" and department store credit. So by the 1930s, when families were struggling to eat, many still had the debt of a radio or car or brand new gas stove hanging over their heads. And many a farm was lost in the 1920s and '30s to the bank.

    So I think that saying things are worse now than in the '30s is not necessarily true, especially because in the 1930s we had none of the social nets that were created during the FDR administration. When Social Security is ended and unemployment benefits run out and there is no government-paid healthcare and we STILL have no jobs, then it will be worse than the 1930s.

    Unless of course the environmental apocalypse comes first and the government collapses. Then it will really be worse than the 1930s.

  2. @ CityGirl - of course, you're right! The credit issue is what caused a good many people problems during the '30s. I think what Celente means is that the level of credit was no where near what it is today, and that the sheer numbers of people who are over-their-heads in debt these days far exceeds the levels of the 1930s credit problems.

    Add to that that our government is deeply in debt, which wasn't as true back then, AND there are far too many people who are dependent on the social programs you mention - which are paid for by our deeply indebted government - and there's a formula for a Depression that's deeper and more severe than anything we have ever seen.

  3. I'm not terribly worried about the crash happening this month (a link would have been helpful, Celente's homepage had no easily locatable data). October is the month for them it seems, but I don't see anything on the immediate horizon to trigger it — the Oct 1929 crash was a stock bubble bursting & we don't have one going on now. A lousy holiday retail showing could do it, but that would be January at the earliest.

    For some regions or segments of the economy, the depression has been going on since the 80s. I read somewhere that for Midwestern farmers, the Great Depression actually began around 1925 with the crash of the Chicago commodities markets. Market controls are looser now than they've been for decades, but still tighter than during the Roaring 20s, so I expect a slow slide (that can be "overlooked") rather than a spectacular change of state.

  4. @ FARf - This is the link to the interview from a radio show called "TruNews." Someone posted it on Facebook yesterday (can't remember who - sorry to that person ;). It's interesting - about a half hour long.

    I'm not, necessarily, agreeing with Celente, exepct to say - fast crash or slow decline, we still need to be doing something more than living as if things are going to get better, because all indications are they won't ... and aren't ;).

  5. I've slipped away a little from preparing recently, but this stands to get me fired up to make some changes again. We've been stocking up on some extra food recently, but could do with some more, and I'm considering a few bigger purchases that I've been eying - pressure canner, emergency stove, water purifier, and grain mill, for starters (although convincing myself to part with that much money at once could be tough).

  6. @ notherethenwhere - many of those items can be found at flea markets, garage sales and thrift stores. That way you won't be parting with so much money all at once ;).

    And things like an emergency stove ... well, you can make those, you know? With a couple of nested cans (with insulation in between), you've got a rocket stove. One can with a sterno burner underneath is a hobo stove. You can make a really simple (not terribly pretty) campfire oven using four cookie sheets bolted together.

    You could also make a homemade water filter that won't be as expensive as some of the commercial ones. Check out this link.

    Even if we weren't looking at potentially difficult times, I'd recommend a pressure canner. They're good for both speed cooking and canning.

    If a grain mill seems out of reach, price-wise, you might consider a simple mortar and pestle. It's a lot more work, but it will do the job just as effectively ;).

    I know what you're saying, though. I mean, we want to "be ready", but the reality is that we live in this world in this life, and in this life, we still have bills that have to be paid ;). It's tough finding the balance.

  7. Thanks for the tips, Wendy. I've been keeping my eye out at thrift stores - I do pretty much all of my shopping there, but no luck on any of the more big-ticket items. That said, although I've built my own solar cooker before, it never occurred to me build my own water filter, but that looks like a great design. Really, I think we're set up with many basics to get by (we do have a mortar and pestle, for instance), but there are some things that would make life easier that I'm considering. Although now that it seems like I could DIY some things, it looks like the pressure canner has moved to the top of the list.

    Thanks for doing what you do - it really helps to get me in gear.

  8. Regarding a grain mill..I picked up 7 coffee grinders (electric) at Home Depot at an after Christmas sale. They do great at grinding wheat, plus I have a hand crank coffee grinder that grinds the wheat too, not as great as my Country Living Grain Mill, but it does work. Only small amount can be done in the coffee grinder, but if you have one of those in your emergency supplies, count yourself prepared. I do like to have three ways to do everything, just in case something breaks.