While Survival Is Important, It Is Not Enough

25 12 2010


Thoughtful men will naturally seek to protect themselves by investing in land, gold, silver, and other historic hedges against inflation, but the counter-hedges of socialism against self-protection are greater than ever before. And, while survival is important, it is not enough. Socialism is finished: it is destroying itself, and although the worst lies ahead, the certainty of socialism’s collapse is nonetheless inescapable, and it must be a basic premise of all thinking concerning the future. The central concern even now must be reconstruction, the creation of new institutions dedicated to liberty, education to that end, and the assurance that the fresh air of liberty is ahead, past the days of chaos. The wise, therefore, will recognize that the breakdown of money, socialist money, is overtaking us, and that there is no security in counterfeit currency. Before they sit weeping, like the Chinese of Shanghai, surrounded with their worthless money, they had better dedicate themselves and their wealth to the cause of liberty before it is too late. As Sennholz has pointed out, our managed money today is the poorest form of investment for the future. In the long run, an investment in liberty offers better returns. 

These words from R.J. Rushdoony (read the whole essay here) are just as true and timely today as when he first wrote them in 1965.


Ice Storms and Power Failures

15 12 2008

More than 1 million homes and businesses blacked out by huge ice storm:

CONCORD, N.H. – Utility crews worked through a night of hand-numbing cold in northeastern U.S. states, but they still had a long way to go before restoring power to all of the more than 1 million homes and businesses blacked out by a huge ice storm.

In New Hampshire, where more than 370,000 customers still had no electricity Saturday, Gov. John Lynch urged residents still without power to make overnight plans early.

“I think there were a lot of people who decided to just stick it out and stay home last night hoping that power would be restored today, but I think people have to assume that power will not come back today and seek shelter,” Lynch said.

The ice storm compared with some of the Northeast’s worst, especially in New Hampshire, where more than half the state — 400,000-plus homes and businesses — was without power at the peak of the outage. Far fewer customers were affected by the infamous Ice Storm of ’98, when some residents spent more than a week in the dark. New Hampshire opened at least 25 shelters.

People lost power as far south as Pennsylvania, but most of the outages were in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maine and New York.

At least one death was blamed on the storm: New Hampshire officials said a man died of carbon monoxide poisoning after turning on his generator when his power went out Thursday night.

Extended power outages during winter are not a rare occurrence in the North. And ironically, as the power grid has become more efficient, it has become less reliable. Redundancy can be viewed as “waste” from a “lean” management perspective, which reduces profits. Sometimes it is. But there is a point at which eliminating redundancies leaves your system extremely vulnerable. Energy providers are willing to accept this risk in order to reap additional profits. And we do not have the option of shopping for more reliable electric service.

The individual is now in the position where he must build in his own redundant networks to mitigate the risk that the energy providers will periodically fail to deliver. This could be non-electric means of heat and light, a backup generator, or even a bug-out location.

Let’s Be Realistic

19 11 2008

Interesting article in the LA Times about adult children moving their families back in with their parents due to job loss and or/foreclosure. Some typical examples:

Donald Garcia, 35, and his wife, Augustine, were living in a Burbank apartment when Augustine’s mother approached them for help. She had refinanced her three-bedroom Tujunga home a year and a half earlier with an interest-only loan, and what had been a $900 monthly house payment had doubled.

“Her mortgage company told her she couldn’t refinance for seven years, so we moved in to help out,” says Garcia, who added that a change in his apartment’s pet policy would have forced a move anyway.

Then, a few months ago, more change: Augustine lost her $60,000-a-year job as a manager at a hardware store. Garcia, trained as an electrician’s assistant, could find no such work following the collapse of the housing market, so he started driving a tow truck. Now he and Augustine, he says, owe money to her mother because they haven’t been able to help much with household expenses.

…29-year-old Ondor Ozer of West L.A. In 2006, Ozer was working in retail when he decided to buy a 3,500-square-foot house in Hemet with plans to find a new job nearby. After a year without success, he realized he’d have to lose the house to foreclosure or rent it out and move back in with his parents. He chose the latter.

“I’m upside-down in my mortgage quite a bit — about $1,300,” he says, citing the difference between what he pays on the loan each month and what he’s able to collect in rent. “I’m almost 30, and I really don’t want to be here, in my parents’ house. But I have a nearly 2-year-old son to worry about.”

Ozer says his sister and her two kids have also moved back into his parents’ 1,300-square-foot home. She’s renting out her house to cover that mortgage — and coming up short about $200 to $300 each month, he says.

I had a few thoughts after reading this article. First is that I see and hear of many people that haven’t really accepted their own personal “worst-case scenario”. They’ll be discussing their need to float two mortgages, and explain that “Worst-case scenario, I can rent the old one out (or pay both monthly bills, etc.)”

In the worst-case scenario, though, you might not have a job. You also might need to support more than your own immediate family! And renting out the house may be a proposition which loses money! We need to be realistic about the future, and not adjust the frame so that it only shows the palatable outcomes.

Second is that there is a sense in which financial hard-times are good because they force people to become less independent, and more interdependent with family, church, and community. It is a mixed blessing, but there really is a silver lining there.

Are You Preparing To Feed Others?

11 11 2008

This week’s Question of the Week is:

Are you preparing to feed others?

Some time ago I read George Grant’s book called Bringing In The Sheaves: Replacing Government Welfare with Biblical Charity. It contains a number of helpful ideas. He pointed out that, to our shame, some non-Christian groups like the Mormons have a much more comprehensive plan for feeding their own than we do. Mormon families are taught to store food, and so if they should happen to lose their job they often still have enough food for a year and don’t need to go begging. Most Christians, however, live paycheck to paycheck and so when a small church has one or more members that lose their job it becomes a major issue right away.

While not wanting to get carried away or losing focus, I’ve been wondering about whether the diaconal ministry should include teaching and challenging families to recover the lost arts of food storage. To many moderns the very idea sounds a bit crazy and reactionary, but to past generations it was just common sense and the way you made it through winters and lean years. If all the members of the church were in the habit of storing food, then even if everyone in the church lost their job, they could still feed their own families, as well as their elders, their widows, and their orphans. And thinking outwardly, it seems like if the members of our churches each had a one-year supply of basic food items (as well as the know-how to produce food, another lost art), then it would be in a great position as far as being able to help those in need that came along.

It seems like extra cash is often hard to come by for many people. But – if we had plenty of food in our pantries, we could at least very easily offer food to those in need (in exchange for work). I know some people may already do this, but in the churches I’ve been a part of this has never been identified as something that would be good for everybody to do as a covenantal strategy for feeding the poor.

What do you think? Are you (or perhaps your church) involved in anything like this?

How Are You Preparing For Winter?

4 11 2008

This week’s Question of the Week is:

How are you preparing for winter?

(Make sure you review Boyd’s post on Keeping Warm.)

The Real Economic Disaster Is Yet To Come…

1 11 2008

Fortune says – “Call this a crisis? Just wait. Actually, don’t wait, because we’ve got to stop a bigger economic disaster in the making: 78 million baby-boomers eligible for Social Security and Medicare.”

At the dawn of the 21st century the U.S. had $5.7 trillion in total debt. As we approach the end of George W. Bush’s presidency only eight years later, that sum has nearly doubled, thanks to war costs, tax cuts, spending increases, expanded entitlement programs, and now a welter of government bailouts and rescues.

This year was particularly bad. The federal budget deficit for fiscal 2008 hit $455 billion, up from $162 billion last year. That figure does not include the cost of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, which has an initial pricetag in the hundreds of billions of dollars. In fairness, some of that money presumably will come back to the Treasury, since the new rescue-related sums will be used to acquire preferred stock, mortgages, and other assets that someday could be sold at a profit.

Yet any such calculations are penny ante compared with the fiscal disaster that is bearing down on America. It’s no longer an event in the misty future. It officially began earlier this year when teacher Kathleen Casey-Kirschling of Maryland became the first baby-boom retiree to collect Social Security benefits. She will be followed by about 78 million more boomers over the next 17 years.

The entitlements due from Social Security and Medicare present us with that frightening abyss. The costs of these current programs, along with other health-care costs, could bankrupt our country.

…the deteriorating financial condition of our federal government in the face of skyrocketing health-care costs and the baby-boom retirement could fairly be described as a super-subprime crisis. It would certainly dwarf what we’re seeing now.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), noting that the federal balance sheet does not reflect the government’s huge unfunded promises in our nation’s social-insurance programs, estimated last year that the unfunded obligations for Medicare and Social Security alone totaled almost $41 trillion. That sum, equivalent to $352,000 per U.S. household, is the present-value shortfall between the growing cost of entitlements and the dedicated revenues intended to pay for them over the next 75 years.

Its much worse than the picture painted in the article, really. We’re facing not a nuclear winter, but a demographic one. Not only will the boomer generation start drawing all these entitlements like Social Security and Medicare, and trying to cash out their stocks and bonds, but their income has already peaked and they won’t have anything to spend except what the government prints to give them their monthly checks or prop up their foolish investments. That means that the younger generation, smaller in number and burdened with supporting this, won’t be able to make as much in wages because overall spending will be in decline (adjusted for inflation). They’ll make less, be taxed more, and all bets for normalcy are off. Enjoy the calm before the storm that God is giving us, and make your preparations while you can!

How To Prepare For “Unemployment”?

28 10 2008

This week’s Question of the Week is:

The “real” rate of unemployment in America is around 15%. Based on the current economic climate, that’s likely to increase. Even in good times, people find themselves out of work from time to time. How do we prepare for that, both as individuals needing to provide for our own families, and as churches that want to help others provide for their families?

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