In a Survival Environment…What is Wealth?

One of the characteristics of a survival, or distressed, environment is the de-evolution of society. Depending upon the severity of the event, primitive conditions can take hold very quickly, and very large groups of people may find themselves interacting with one another on bases not seen for over 100+ plus years in the United States, and this includes within the realm of commerce; there was a time when transactions that involved trading one good or service for another was considered standard, and in a survival environment, that way of doing business will most certainly make a comeback.

Think about the paper money used throughout the world today. How many people have ever stopped and really wondered about the true value of, say, a U.S. $1 bill? Since the beginning of the current global economic crisis, the Federal Reserve has created over $3 trillion of money…but what, really is that money? Honestly, it’s just printed paper. It has value essentially because we are told it does…but does it really? Does it have intrinsic value?

Intrinsic value is value that exists in and of something. Gold has intrinsic value. Real property that you own (and I mean own outright) has intrinsic value. Even your time and professional expertise has intrinsic value, which is why it is something that could be used in bartering before paper money existed. That is, it is not represented value. Does a personal check you write have intrinsic value? No…it is merely a piece of paper that is supposed to represent value, and paper currency suffers from the same problem.

Speaking of that, what about the money you own? In what configuration does it exist? In dollars? If you have $50,000 in the bank, you can take that money and buy $50,000 worth of something, but if that something is an obvious tangible, like a nice automobile that has been built and fabricated from a variety of materials and on the basis of many hours of workmanship and skill, how good of a deal is that for the entity selling you the car? Well, as long as all of society believes that the $50,000, as represented by pieces of paper, truly translates to an equivalent worth in goods and services, then both sides are all set.

That said…what happens if we all collectively come to the conclusion that paper money is really just paper?

In a true survival environment, only those things you own that have intrinsic value will represent real money: precious metals, other natural resources, real property, your other possessions, and your abilities as a worker in some form or fashion. Think about that now as you consider which resources to accumulate, before real trouble strikes. Putting all of your full faith and credit into those legal tenders backed by the full faith and credit of a modern day government could prove to be a horrible mistake.    

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Are You Prepared for the Rapid Descent into Madness During Survival Conditions?

One aspect of dealing with distressed conditions about which we don’t normally think is reliance on those around us, in our immediate surroundings, when trouble strikes. The world is a different place now, and fewer among us have the kinds of relationships with neighbors that we once did. A big reason for that is the way in which the family and social dynamic has changed over the course of the last several decades. Families are more disjointed than ever….divorce is the new marital normal, both spouses work outside of the home…and when you think about the composition of neighborhoods that result, there’s just not as many examples of traditional families existing and interacting within the same neighborhood setting as there once was.

Beyond the way the “typical” family situation has changed, there’s the way changes in society have conspired to make us more distant from neighbors. Deteriorated economic conditions cause more of us to work longer, and the advent of technology has made it so that much of our “socialization” can take place through a computer.

Look around your neighborhood; do you see the same level of interactions between neighbors that you did when you were a kid? Not likely, and that can be a problem when a survival environment ensues.

Establishing kinship with neighbors is important for two reasons. First, it is easier to turn to those who are close by for something when we already have a good relationship with those people. Second, even if we don’t need something from someone else and others don’t need something from us, the kinship established will greatly diminish the likelihood that those around you will turn on you when primitive conditions begin to take hold.

Neighborhood association meetings, neighborhood watch groups, and other organized mechanisms that bring neighbors together are excellent platforms from which to build these ties, but also, simply making the effort to get to know your neighbors on an individual, unstructured basis works about as well as anything (and always has).

To some, this notion may seem a little silly or unnecessary to cite, but when survival conditions take hold, you may be surprised at how much even the most self-reliant person is grateful that he can look on his neighbors as part of a team. Safety is found in numbers, and strength is found in numbers; it’s just better.     

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