Aftermath

What will the world be like after a complete collapse of the economy? How can you prepare now for that? It's not hard to find out, because two countries - Argentina and Zimbabwe - have experienced severe currency collapses in modern times. I was in former Yugoslavia, during it's hyperinflation of the 1980's. People who still had jobs were getting paid daily, and as soon as they were paid, they went to a money-changer and exchanged their local currency for either USA dollars or German Marks, before going home. By the next morning, their currency had lost more value, and people were keeping track of it several times a day via newspaper, radio and TV.

I changed $50 in a bank on my arrival and spent very little of the local currency while I was there. I returned a few months later and changed the remainder to the new currency and got maybe a dollar's worth.

I was in Argentina around 1999 and sold some camera equipment to buy my return ticket. The store owner gave me a price on Friday in dollars that he would pay me on Monday in Pesos. By Monday, the value of my $1000-worth of gear had lost $50.

Hyperinflation, or the rapid devaluation of a currency, can leave people with savings that can't buy anything. This has happened in many countries. In 1920's Germany, people were taking piles of paper money to the store in wheelbarrows to buy groceries. In one of my kite books is a photo of a kite in Germany made from paper currency glued together. But there are other scenarios that could be as bad or worse than hyperinflation.

The government could seize savings, including gold and silver. In the USA, the government seized everyone's gold; it was made illegal to possess gold. Immediately after seizing everyone's gold, the government raised the price of gold. So first they made everyone's money worthless, then they confiscated (stole) their gold - the only thing people had that still had value. This is how a government makes people poor and dependent. [Update: New banking laws may make our money equivalent to paper stock. If the bank fails, our money is gone.]

So paper currency, after a collapse, could lose all of its value as a medium of exchange. Coins might retain a portion of their former value, but not because they contain precious or even valuable metals (except nickels). After all, money - especially paper money - has value only because people decide to honor it as money. When faith in a currency wanes, so does its value. Coins will retain some value due to their metals, but today that value is far below face value - only nickels have close to their face value in their nickel content. Coins may also retain value due to their convenience as a medium of exchange, but it will probably not be based on the value of the paper dollar.

What replaces currency as a medium of exchange will be things of real value to everyone, like gold and silver, and they only have value because people agree on that. The status of 'medium of exchange' can be given to anything that most people agree is valuable. In the past, things as common to us as salt were used as 'money', as were shells, spices and various metals, like copper, iron and the more valued silver and gold. Some people believe that bullets will be the 'crisis currency', because in times of social upheaval and lawlessness, bullets are valued for their role in defense (and offense), so their perceived value in a crisis is higher than their value in peacetime. Also, since most people will not be able to make their own bullets, their value will reflect the supply and demand. Demand will be high, so if supply is limited, value goes up.

Since the government (with the banks) will most likely be the main perpetrator of the next economic collapse, any 'help' or 'solutions' offered by the government should be viewed with extreme suspicion. First they create the problem, then they propose a solution which will, most likely, make the problem worse - like taking our gold. Governments, in general, do not empower people, they make them into livestock and slaves. People will have to find solutions and not depend on the government to do that. Ultimately, the form of government we now have will probably have to be changed to one which serves the needs of people rather than corporations and the rich and powerful.

That process will probably not be a smooth transition from corporate government to a government by the people and for the people, just as our present government was created out of conflict with the tyrannical empire of Britain. The irony is that the present government was supposed to be a government by and for the people, but due to its creation by wealthy men and a constant chipping-away of our civil liberties by corporate and political vested interests - the current tyrants - we have gone from a pseudo-democracy to an oligarchy, from capitalism to corporatism.

The sad fact is that governments tend to increase their power over time. A government which began as a voice of the people, representing the will of the people, gradually transforms into a government by the few rich over the rest of us, who are forced to support the few and to obey their dictates, to conform and to shut up. "Dissent is the highest form of patriotism", said Thomas Jefferson, but dissent is no longer viewed a something positive. The First Amendment, which acknowledges a persons right to freedom of speech, religion, assembly and press is now in tatters, thanks to the Patriot Act, the NDAA, executive orders and other measures to force all of us to shut up, obey and be cattle.

The 'aftermath' of a true upheaval will surely have to address the causes of it - corrupt, corporate government - and history shows us that people will find ways to get the kind of leaders they want and to get rid of those they despise. It will not be easy, and it will require sacrifices, but the people will have their freedom, and they will fight to regain it. Any despised government that doubts the resolve of the people to be free will one day have to face them.

As Patrick Henry eloquently expressed, some things are worth fighting for. I have reproduced his entire 'give me liberty or give me death' speech here. What the corrupt powers that be appear to dismiss is our memory of this country's heritage - they appear to believe that we will just accept continuing injustices and encroachments on the liberties we have which were won after considerable bloodshed. Do they believe we will not fight as our forefathers did to regain these freedoms? Do they think we are weak or cowards, and we will simply surrender our rights without a fight? Or do they think that they will succeed in disarming us so that they can finally take complete control, without fear that we might shoot them? Can they be that stupid? If history repeats itself, then the future (and fall) of all tyrants - including this government - is fairly predictable: they get squashed. A government which treats its citizens like cattle will be removed and dealt with.

What some preppers don't appear to consider is that their stored food and other supplies will one day be gone - what then? They are probably thinking that the 'trouble' will be sorted out in a few years and we'll all go back to life as usual, with Wal Marts and Trader Joe's and Starbucks. I don't think so. Our economic situation is far worse than most people know. We have all accumulated, thanks to our incompetent gov and greedy banks, about a million dollars of debt for every man, woman and child in the USA. It's not going to just go away. We could be bankrupt for decades, and it would not be the first time in our human history that a country or people suffered for a long time after collapse.

So those of us who have only prepared for a few years of living from our storage might be facing an empty larder after that time, and still no sign of order emerging from chaos. Would it not be safer to assume that the period after the collapse could last for many years? If we figure that into our Plan A, then the stocked larder is only there for the transition to complete self-sufficiency. For this plan to work, one will need land for growing food, heirloom vegetable seeds and a reliable water supply, even if it's a rainwater collection system.

If I may suggest a few seeds to add to your veggie seed collection, I would propose the following:

1. Plants that produce fibers, like cotton, fiber flax, hemp, sisal and such

2. Plants that produce containers, like gourds. There are many useful shapes, from long-handled dippers and bottles to huge African Bushel gourds for storing things.

3. Plants that produce useful things, like Luffa gourds that create fibrous 'sponges' that can be used for scrubbing.

4. Food plants that are not in the 'standard' veggie collection, like sunflower, sesame, seed flax, mung, alfalfa, aduki, fenugreek.

5. Grains and seeds that are not common, like millet, buckwheat, quinoa, wild rice, sorghum, as well as those that are, like wheat, corn, barley, oats and rice.

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