This guest post is by Joe I. (aka village idiot) and entry in our non-fiction writing contest .
For the past few years the US Government has been trying, through fits and starts, to implement a policy whereby all its payments are made electronically into bank accounts or onto electronic debit cards. The Government recently announced that Social Security payments would all be either electronic entries in bank accounts or EBTcards by sometime in 2013. Payments to retirees are already electronic entries for the most part, and VA checks and other governmental payments will follow suit.
All these actions have supposedly taken place in an effort to save money, yet the savings are miniscule compared to overall spending, and it would take a great leap of faith for one to believe the government is in any way concerned about cutting spending. All evidence points to the contrary, so budget savings are likely a cover for the real reason behind these measures. The private sector has also had a hand in the push for the cashless society, and with the introduction of credit and debit cards have made great strides in the elimination of cash.
For banks and other financial institutions, the less cash they have to handle, the more profit they make. It takes less personnel, less space, and it is easier to handle electronic transactions as opposed to counting, distributing and storing cash. Almost all transfers of funds between financial institutions are already electronic.
There is less and less physical cash circulating in the economy, and the trend is headed toward zero. As preppers, we should be aware of what is happening, and what the implications will be when and if our society becomes basically cashless. Identity theft, fraud and hacking are already costing society hundreds of billions of dollars, and they will continue to grow in a cashless environment.
Law enforcement will be adjusting resources to deal with these issues, and less money and personnel will be allocated to fight traditional crimes of violence such as assault, burglary and theft. There will be choices for us to make if we wish to remain viable and independent, and if we wish to maintain our privacy.
I do suggest that people who receive retirement or assistance from the government get the checks delivered to their home if they qualify. Usually handicapped and sick people can get checks rather than debit cards if they can show a hardship. Naturally there are forms to be filled out, but it might be worth a try.
One of the major problems for preppers in a cashless society will be remaining anonymous and preserving operations security. And not in a military sense of the word, but just day-to-day living and working. In a cashless society every single transaction of life will be recorded on a computer server somewhere.
What and where you buy food, water, supplies, and all the accoutrements of life will be recorded, and it is very likely that there will be computer programs and algorithms that will automatically flag people who buy certain things or combinations of things that are not approved by a new breed of bureaucrat acting on a bevy of new regulations.
Certain foods, additives, beverages, antiseptics, medicines, and possibly the quantities purchased could be used to identify behaviors and traits in an effort to identify people who might be preppers. For instance, perhaps large purchases of garden seed would set off an alarm somewhere.
II. Freedom of movement
It will be impossible to move around the country without leaving an electronic trail, even if one doesn’t want to. Purchasing gasoline, buying plane or train tickets, restaurant and hotel transactions, and all aspects of travel will leave a trail easy to follow. Of course, travel alone probably wouldn’t have any implications for preppers.
But visits to certain areas will likely get one scrutinized, depending on whether there is tax havens in places one travels, such as certain parts of the Caribbean, or whether one visits some destinations in Latin America or Asia.
Of course, the average prepper won’t have to worry about tax havens and international travel, but some preppers will fall in this category. I don’t want to be too paranoid here, but I do want us as preppers to think about the long-term trends that are now developing and the new regulations being implemented by our government, such as the seizure of passports if one owes back taxes.
Another dangerous trend now occurring is the government takeover of healthcare. For years, the payment of insurance, fees and other costs of healthcare have moved more and more into the electronic arena and away from cash. Hospitals and other medical facilities have been in the process of putting patient records on computers for years, and now the government is forcing doctors to make patient’s records into electronic files.
It’s likely that one won’t be able to receive medical care in the near future by paying cash. And records will be made of every visit to the ER, every visit to the doctor, every visit that has anything to do with medical care, with all these records available for government regulators to see. Government programs such as Medicaid and medicare are taking more and more of the overall budget, and sooner or later rationing will have to take place.
The prepper’s strategy here will be to store certain medicines such as antibiotics and other critical drugs, but also to learn remedies that were successful in the past but have been lost in the Age of Modern Medicine. There are numerous books on the subject, and a google search will reveal thousands of possibilities. The Doctor’s Book on Home Remedies is one I like, but do the research.
People who know and practice home remedies will be in great demand in a cashless society. And make friends with a doctor, if possible. I have a personal friend who is a GP, and he is a prepper, although he doesn’t advertise that fact. And I have a nephew in medical school, a niece who is a radiologist and her husband is a nurse.
Given these facts what is a prepper to do? Here are some suggestions that will help, and hopefully allow a prepper to prosper, in no particular order.
A. Gold, silver, and junk silver coins.
A good strategy is to have a small amount of 1/10 oz. gold coins for wealth protection. One can also purchase 1 oz. silver eagles or maple leafs as both are well-recognized in No. America. The most important silver purchase if one lives in the United States are 90% silver coins that were issued before 1965. They are commonly called junk silver. The dimes are the most convenient, but quarter and half-dollars are useful as well.
Let me say that no one should buy any precious metals until they have their other preps in line. And remember, a prepper uses precious metals for insurance and protection, not wealth building. Precious metals are volatile, and trading in and out of them is best left to the experts. Always take delivery of any precious metals you buy. If you don’t have them in your possession, you don’t own them. Most companies have the option to pay you dollars in lieu of the metals if they so desire.
A great way for preppers to prosper is to build up bartering networks. There is an art to bartering, and one gets better at it if practiced. I go to gun shows quite often and enjoy trying to trade and barter for ammo and supplies. Other places to barter are farmer’s markets and small businesses. Any small business that is locally owned should be on your radar as a barter opportunity.
C. Gardening and animal husbandry
A no-brainer, as raising food will mean one doesn’t have to get it elsewhere. Food security will be the most important aspect of life for preppers. Food storage will last for whatever time period one has prepared, but for the long-term only gardening and animal husbandry will provide a secure source of food. Raising chickens for meat and eggs is probably the most efficient use of resources, but goats for milk and meat pay big dividends as well.
Of course, water for survival both for animals and humans is a must. A local, reliable water source is the single most important thing a prepper can have. It can come from a well, pond, creek, spring, lake, reservoir, or river, but the water must be potable. One has to have filters, chemicals or boiling available to them for purifying water, or a combination of the three. Water must be assumed contaminated unless it has been tested or has been consumed from a well for a lengthy period of time. Store plenty of water, but know that one can’t store enough water to last long-term.
E. Hunting, fishing and gathering.
There is no reason that preppers shouldn’t be taking advantage of hunting and fishing opportunities. Most states have generous bag limits for game and fish, so harvesting game that is plentiful, lean and healthier for you is a great strategy.
Fishing can also provide healthy protein, and with little expense one can store fish, either by freezing, smoking or pickling. Another strategy is gathering. Fruits, nuts and berries are mostly bought in grocery stores these days, yet in the past most people planted fruit and nut trees. They grow wild in many places now, so looking for old home places and cruising public lands can help one locate fruits and nuts.
Take a drive in a state or national park or preserve in the spring, and it is easy to identify the trees that are in bloom. Mark them for future harvest. It is not ethical to gather fruit and nuts without permission on private land, but most people would rather see someone use a product rather than see it go to waste. So ask, and give some to the landowner or manager of the property. You will not be disappointed.
Right now is the time to get to know people in your community who could be of assistance in hard times. Get to know your doctor or dentist, make friends with the local farmers at the farmer’s market. Support these farmers if they grow something you don’t, or if you need extra.
Even if it costs a little more, spend a little extra and help the local farmer. Support people who grow organic, or use heirloom seeds for their crops. Shop and get your prescription drugs from a local pharmacist, not Wal-Mart or Walgreens.
Think local first, and if you can get it locally, do it. Make it a habit to visit with older people in your community, either by going to nursing homes or elder centers. Just about every city or small town has these facilities.
The elderly are a wealth of information on farming, ranching, gardening, sewing, soap-making, candle-making and many other activities that were common years ago. Seek out that information. You might just make a new friend as well.
I would just like to finish with a little advice. Don’t give the appearance of wealth, and don’t stand out. Be humble, be friendly, be helpful, and be a part of your community. No man (or woman) is an island. No one person will thrive in the new economy, but a collection of like-minded individuals can make life decent and livable, and survivable.
This contest will end on October 10 2012 – prizes include:
- First Place : $100 Cash.
- Second Place : $50 Cash.
- Third Place : $25 Cash.
Contest ends on October 10 2012.