The story of how Elaine and I ended up here in the Piney Woods of East Texas is a book’s worth. Three or four if we count all the lessons learned (from mistakes made) along the way. With this weekend’s return of reports on UrbanSurvival we’ll be taking a more holistic view of prepping – which we pioneered in 2003 before it was ever considered MainStream.
Let’s look back: After I finished my MBA in the 1990’s, it became apparent that the whole world is in a macro no-win situation. Thanks to economic systems that are predicated on growth – and require it to survive. This, coupled with constantly-depreciating (dishonest) money, and aided by several major religions that at their core plan long-term global domination via excessive procreation…well, you can see how it works out without too much coaching.
It becomes less a matter of IF there is a bad-ending out there; just a matter of when the brick wall shows up.
The personal problem is: What can anyone actually do about it?
The answer comes down to a single concept: Prepare.
OK, what do you prepare for? Zombies in the streets? Global weather events? Earthquakes and crustal shifts? Revelations about aliens? Yet-another lying politician? Financial collapse? Pandemic disease? Slow-speed radiation poisoning? Global online revolution? The list covers the waterfront.
Prepping – as a folder-heading – is still the only response that makes sense. It’s like the word “Brace!” shouted just before the moment of impact in a car accident. The crack-up of the global order, however, is a much more drawn-out thing. Yet it will be as damaging – and possibly fatal – for a lot of us.
One of the best-ever “books on Future” ever written, in my view, was Robert Kaplan’s savory 1994 classic “The Coming Anarchy: Shattering the Dreams of the Post Cold War by Robert D. Kaplan“ and summarized in a piece for The Atlantic Monthly here, was prophetic and harmonized with what my long-range projections forecast in the mid 1990’s. I was still on my sailboat and considering the 10-thousand mile bug-out.
Yet Kaplan was a breath of fresh air. You see, as part of my grad school work, I’d developed a voracious appetite for learning and concept assimilation. The problems we face today are global not local. Jumping out of the frying pan didn’t make sense. But funding a whole-lot of prepping? Yeah…but only if of the strategic sort.
Kaplan’s research included this poignant quote about conditions in Africa in the early 90’s:
“You see,” my friend the Minister told me, “in the villages of Africa it is perfectly natural to feed at any table and lodge in any hut. But in the cities this communal existence no longer holds. You must pay for lodging and be invited for food. When young men find out that their relations cannot put them up, they become lost. They join other migrants and slip gradually into the criminal process.”
Processes exploited by violence-prone religions anxious to expand their power-base. Not in Africa but in over half the world. As I studied the charts I’d acquired for circumnavigating the horrible reality sank in: Where’s better than America? Oh sure, maybe a one-year, once-around, but happily ever-aftering? Remember, I’d already lived in the Cayman Islands for a couple of years and seen some of Central and South America plus a good deal of the Caribbean. Vacation? Sure.
The same processes that Kaplan chronicled in ’94 have slowly escaped from the Third World and are encoraching into First World countries. Europe is ruled by stupid people, anymore. Socialists with no understanding of history so their fate is just a matter of time.
Even the USA – is today on the brink of being taken down by the Global Anarchy that Kaplan brilliantly described almost a quarter of a century ago.
His vision was less digital. Since he brought it into focus, Facebook and other social media has spread a mental disorder impairing people’s ability to kick-back and thing things through. There’s so much ‘point and click’ socializing that young people are developing personality disorders not unlike PTSD. Except it’s social stress and it’s only getting worse, save the hopeful news last week that maybe Facebook has reached saturation. Let us pray.
For a while, in the early days, UrbanSurvival tried to raise people’s awareness and present them with self-directed actions and options that might be useful along the way. However, dire forecasts of the future are not why you should consider a different approach to prepping. It’s because people prep for the wrong things.
When a former colleague made some sincere, but so far incorrect forecasts, my personal integrity demanded I get off the “Doom Wagon” and sit back to evolve a more thoughtful approach.
So for the past five years we’ve been focused on honing our stock market skills and developing personal skills that should pay off well in the longer-term.
The Math Matters
Statistics are mean, nasty, and…predictable.
Most people don’t have a personal list of their “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” and specific plans to react. Especially proactively when early-warning signs appear.
In coming reports, we will take this – one step at a time – as we return to running something akin to a Prepping School here (with a side of longwave economics) on UrbanSurvival.
Our main claim to expertise comes because we’ve made most of the mistakes.
Prepping Begins with a Vision
This is something most people don’t have. We get into it regularly enough, though:
An informed outlook on the Way Forward is that we are today broadly in an economic topping process akin to the 2006-2008 broad social top that accompanied the NoDoc Loan Bubble. You remember the aftermath and financial hold-ups by the financial sector that followed?
It wasn’t clear until 2008 that we’d be going over a waterfall of economic disasters…but you could “hear the falls” if you listened.
It’s time to start listening again.
An informed outlook will NEVER be shown on television. While ostensibly a “right now” medium, television is “cold” – it only presents a single viewpoint. Worse? The viewpoints are distilled down into uselessly short snippets and vignettes. Got to have room for commercials. Reporters have a terrible modern habit of asking questions designed to elicit “sound-byte” answers.
Therefore, in order to evolve an informed view of the future, you need to read deeper than what superficial media offers. When you do sup a bit of media candy, do so realizing that the reporters are generally ignorant and unaware of their personal biases. You see, time is a bias. Short is a bias. Context is a bias. The only way to make sense of the world is to make two passes through the data: One short, one deep.
The First Step to Prepping is a Reading List
If you are going to be “crisis-ready” you really need to have consumed three kinds of books. The first is obviously books that deal with the specific dangers facing you.
For all nuclear matters, for example, Cresson Kearney’s Nuclear War Survival Skills can’t be beat. In coming weeks and months, we will go over additional books on things like search and rescue (in event of quakes and weather events, for example) as well as more arcane skills such as MOUT (Mobile Operations in the Urban Terrain).
The second set of books (and a much shorter list because a lot of garbage is out there on prepping) is in the genre of personal readiness.
The third set is the most fun: It’s all about making because no matter where you go, there you are. Food, water, shelter…those involve personal effort. No, not clicks. No take-out.
I’m going to shoot for one book per week and I’ll keep your budget in mind. Silly as it sounds, people will spend $100-bucks for a couple to go out to dinner and a couple of drinks without a second thought. But ask the same couple to “get on the same page” and read books that will help ensure that their relationship (oh, and family) has a much better chance of a successful life? Miles of excuses. Too busy. Got a lunch date with a friend. Going on a (fill-in the blank). It’s pathetic, but that’s what happens in a country of followers.
So the first book?
I’ve been telling you for years that Everything’s a Business Model
The most useful things in business life came from a brilliant businessman Bill Brock and from my MBA advisor, the late Dr. Charles Dalton. I’m not going to tell you to run out and sign up for a 6-year course of study…it’s not only impractical, but we’re at a point in the world’s history when there may not be time left to get a reasonable pay-back.
Instead, roll with shorter-term, high payoff jobs and read The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business. John Kaufman’s book is readable and useful. As he explains on the opening pages, there are three main reasons to read his book and I’ll distill ’em this way:
- Business Angst: Because let’s face it, most people deep-down don’t know how to run a successful business.
- Certification Intimidation: People who need “paper” to prove their superiority aren’t. Only real-life performance matters.
- Imposter Fraud: Where you feat at any moment you fear that you’ll be “found out” because you’re already over your head.
Relax…you’re not. To Kaufman’s agenda I would add two specifics that answer the question “How can a BUSINESS book have any usefulness when it comes to Prepping?“
- Prepping Costs Money. A good bit to do it right. And the more you know about business, the more you will begin to think in income vs. expense terms. Next weekend, we will launch into the Bug Out question – since it’s one of the popularly-paranoid concepts. When we get into it, you’ll see how much thinking should be devoted to any prepping matter and how ALL of it is based on economic decision-making which….oh-oh…here it comes….is what Business is all about.
- Seeing Through News Fog: This is the one that can provide hours of entertainment. Stuck in traffic? Take that last newscast you heard on the radio in the car. Pick a story…ANY story…and work out the economics of it: Who is making money? Who made an investment? Is someone trying to cash out? Is there a broker involved or a middleman? who’s buying what….why?
Once you develop the habit of thinking in business models, it’s like a new light source gets switched on.
You will even understand why the service you got at a restaurant was great…or terrible. (Hint: People who take servers for-granted tend to get awful service. But, when we go with friends to dinner, we ask the servers name and take a genuine interest in them – we involve them, care and tip well…we NEVER get bad service!).
Note to self: Is this “nice” or “good” or just “working the business model” afoot in society? Not that there’s one answer….
When you don’t understand a story in politics, a Business Light will eventually come on that says “Aha! Votes are the currency of Power!” and that will allow you to see through layers and veils of nonsense. Political correctness, you see, is a business model. As you’re lights come on, you’ll become disappointed in a lot of reporters for failing to ask the obvious or include it in their stories.
Business Models are power. Media wraps ’em in oatmeal.
Maybe next weekend we can start with “A Prepping Business Plan” and role from there? We have time before the full crisis hits…a couple of months, Acts of God notwithstanding.
Let me know where your interests are…but do read Kaufman as a dandy get-started that will pay benefits even if you don’t feel a need to prep.
Oh, and in your home and workplace? My old mentor (Brock) pointed out that the difference between a neat and squared-away business look versus a jumble of junk is often as simple as getting boxes off the floor.
Wait! “How could this have anything to do with “prepping” right? But, oh, it sure does: Cardboard on a concrete floosr can wick-up moisture and spoil things in a box. Mildew clothing and worse. Plus it’s like rolling out the red carpet for insects. Spiders and creepy-crawlies love cardboard. So yes, even simple rules of “business neatness” do translate into a prepping payoff.
Write when you’re prepared….