Google Search
Custom Search


Please Kill Me 


Three Rules for Living through the Second Depression

I believe we are on the precipice of the Second Depression. Though President Obama is working valiantly to turn the country’s financial ship, it appears to me that the lack of a genuine economic engine to create sufficient, sustaining, value-adding jobs will come too late. What should the common man do?

Much of the advice on how to live through such hard times is often too specific, not specific enough or draconian. How many of us are ready or should even consider survivalist methods? Who among us can afford to completely restructure their finances on a moments notice? Which of us can effectively plan now for the unforeseen severity we may or may not face?

I have often found that everything in life can be boiled down to Three Rules that pretty much envelop the whole enchilada. I call these simple statements of essential truth a “Three Rules" poem. They can be fun, amusing, thoughtful, whimsical, etcetera. This one, presented for your approval and commentary, is dead serious.

Properly deduced, by sorting through the minutiae to find the lowest common denominator, a given Three Rules won’t tell you exactly what to do, but they should provide the framework for recognizing actions to a successful conclusion.

Here are my…

Three Rules for Living through the Second Depression

1. Escape and avoid entanglements with scams and the authorities.

2. Stick together to defend each others right to food and shelter.

3. Make yourself useful.

Allow me to elucidate on each of the above.

Escape and avoid entanglements with scams and the authorities.

Debatable as it may seem now, this rule will become imperative. As the situation grows grimmer, more and more people and organization will devise ever more devious ways to steal the resources they want from those that can be conned or exploited.

As we have seen, much of what is called our financial system is nothing more than a cabal of greed that has worked diligently to sanction rules that effectively fleeced workers of their deserved earnings.

Look at any list of what to do during a financial crisis and you will find suggestions as to the preservation of your hard earned capital, should you have any, or a suggestion that you get out of debt. Good ideas, but they do not go far enough or wide enough to give anyone practical guidance and doable tasks.

First, let’s go wide. This rule includes all powerful or legally protected organizations that promise more than they know they can ever deliver. Here are examples that deserve skeptical analysis: unsecured debt of all kinds, especially credit cards with numerous fees, charges, penalties and usury interest rates; work at home scams; costly education with no job certainty; fortune tellers and spiritualists of all varieties; full commission sales positions with no base salary; internet scams; credit counseling; insurance; job counselors, resume services and business consultants; barter brokers; pyramid schemes and other versions of musical chairs; speed, DWI and other police traps to snare high fines and surcharges; etcetera.

If you haven’t already noticed, the police are out in force and quick to pull the ticket book trigger. Here in New Jersey, though the civil and criminal courts were subject to cost-cutting furlough days, no such thing happened in the money making municipal courts. Basically, now is not the time to get caught being late with payments or cheating on taxes, nor the moment to get on any bureaucrat’s building code violations clipboard. As the tax & budget shortfalls grow, expect to be hunted down for the most insignificant violation of any law, code or tax regulation.

The authorities will continue to work diligently to create money-raising traps disguised as public service. Be careful out there! That you've done nothing wrong, nor hurt anyone, may not matter. If caught in any such snare, don't exacerbate the situation, minimize the damage.

Keep you relations with the government limited to only what it can do for you and beware that even these “community chest” transactions may include trade-offs, expressed, implied or otherwise that may work against you.

Going as far as possible, if you lose you job or you’ve been purchasing necessities on your credit cards, or you can’t afford the medicine or medical care you need or you’re about to lose you home or car, definitely consider escaping the entanglement and life sucking burden of debt. Are you feeling guilty about the option of filing for protection from your creditors? Consider this, you didn’t make the rules, but you have to live by them. Bankruptcy is in the rule book, use any and all rules to your advantage without any qualms.

Stick together to defend each others right to food and shelter.

All of the accounts of the Great Depression remind us of how important organizing will be to survival in the Second Depression.

Face facts, it’s good to be member of any club that supports you in living a decent life.

I am no fan of organized religion, and I do not advocate its proliferation, but I must recognize its one aspect of value to the individual participant: community. Remember, you don’t have to believe in Santa to have friends. Any group will do, especially family. Have a pact to house each other if worst comes to worst.

In Florida, Max Rameau is housing the homeless in foreclosed property. He considers his work both civil disobedience and the morally proper response to human necessity. In desperate times, we will all do what we must. We must all protect the most basic human right to food and shelter for each other.

Do what they did during the Great Depression, support your neighbor and don’t let them be evicted. Homelessness is a nightmare that can bring the strongest of us to our knees. The right response is not to let it happen to our friends, family and neighbors.

Act locally to secure food resources to your geographic community, both near and wide. Industrial agriculture, the menace that brought you cheap, unhealthy and non-nutritious food, will starve you when you cannot pay the price. Recognize that hunger is a political/financial issue; it has nothing to do with a lack of food in the world. This will not change during the Second Depression.

During the Great Depression, there was abundant food, much of it warehoused and going to waste as scare jobs meant scare money and starving people. Monsanto, ConAgra, Nestle and ADM are not going to feed you if you can’t pay; neither are McDonalds, Burger King, Fridays, Chili’s or the rest of the chain palletized food venues.

Support your local farms and fisheries as much as possible. Not only is that where your food will be grown, it’s where the local jobs will take root. Farmer’s markets, chef-owned and independent restaurants, the locally owned quality supermarket may be a little more expensive, but chances are they offer real value and will be there to underpin the your local community when times get tough.

Make yourself useful.

You can start right now. Play “what if” with yourself and do a little mental planning. What if I can’t afford the rent? Make the call to friends and family so you will know where you can go and for how long. Figure out your finances now. Do what makes sense now in light of what is probably going to happen in the future.

If you have a job, keep it. If you hate your job, know the risks before you make a move. If you have savings, secure them. If you have debt, do what must be done to get rid of it. Sooner is better than too late.

If the worst happens and you’re out of work this is the rule to heed. Figure out what you can do. They’ll be plenty to do to help others and help you and yours.

As with food, jobs are going to become an important local resource. Local business are not going to move, but the may fail without your support now and during the Second Depression. Consider local options for everything you buy now. Tech support and computer repair: the local geek shop or a Dell extended warranty? Banking: Citibank or the local credit union? Customer service and support: deal with the person in Bangalore or request for a representative in the United States? It goes on and on: The local organic farm or Perdue? Quality clothes made in the USA or Wal*Mart’s Chinese imports? The big box home center or the local hardware store that is not just luring you in to sell you patio furniture? We’ve made too many poor choices in all these respects over the last three decades. Let’s think local and long term starting now.

Fix it. Paint it. Repair it. Weed it by hand instead of buying Round-up. Collect rain water for you garden. Basically, when your money is in short supply and your time is long, use your time and don’t spend the money.

Voting early and often may be out of the question, but if you've got the time why not make yourself useful and give your elected representatives an earful. Now is the time to make your voice heard as our timid politicians tip-toe around and hope for the best.

In conclusion:

Apply these rules starting now to your particular situation, needs and environs. We can get through this if we start thinking and acting more deliberately and cut out those institutions that only want our money and have never cared a whit about us.



Excuse me, but is that change backpedaling? 


VFW POST 2639, Neptune, NJ, July 1, 2009, 7:00 PM

Organizing for America, Obama’s grassroots campaign, took a stab at New Jersey tonight with countywide “Listening” meetings. I attended one in my own backyard of Neptune, NJ. The topic for the night and the moment: health care reform. It was a good turn out of just under a hundred people, all ages of adults, the majority female and about half & half white and of color.

At the door we were asked to sign the latest Obama declaration of support, this one for health care reform:

* Reduce Costs — Rising health care costs are crushing the budgets of governments, businesses, individuals and families and they must be brought under control

* Guarantee Choice — Every American must have the freedom to choose their plan and doctor – including the choice of a public insurance option

* Ensure Affordable Care for All — All Americans must have quality and affordable health care

Since I was early, I had time to digest these statements and my gut reaction wasn’t warm and fuzzy. Cut costs, sure, but even the experts admit they don’t know where the saving will come from. Guarantee you can see the doctor you want, okay, even though I personally believe this is a red herring, what people really want is not to be blocked from getting the care they need when they need it. “Ensure Affordable Care for All.” What the fuck? Where did this double speak, say nothing, promise nothing phrase come from? Barack Obama is President now, right?!?

Okay, I bite my lip, sign the stupid declaration so they can have my contact information and know I’m on their side, but I feel queasy. Is the nescient administration backpedaling under the pressure of big pharma and the deny care at will insurance money? Say, it ain’t so, Mr. President.

Single payer, Medicaid for all, is off the table, we know, but is the public coverage option doing the Michael Jackson moonwalk to oblivion as well? I'm making too much of this I’m sure. Come on, Chaz, you’re among friends.

At 7:06 the moderator begins the meeting and explains that organizing behind the President’s health care reform agenda, as we are, will make a difference… no ifs, ands, maybes, or buts. He introduces the Northeast Regional Director of Organizing for American, the woman who actually reports to the White House. All this takes twenty-two minutes and looking around I realize I’m not the only one that’s a bit, shall we say, on edge.

The first speaker steals my prepared comments the gist of which are: a) we love Obama, b) we wish you success beyond our wildest dreams, and c) why aren’t you saying we must have the public option, the option to choose a government plan over a corporate for profit plan, in any health care reform bill?

The next speaker seconds that emotion. And the frustration in the room builds with more people saying that the declaration of support is a wishy-washy load of crap that may not amount to real health care reform, real change.

Holly shit, I’m not alone.

People go on to mention how it sounds like the public option is being taken off the table, that the lobbyists are controlling the situation, that they want their President to take the bull by the horns and lead, and that they will hold him accountable.

Here were some statements the most of those attending the meeting were not buying: a) the President doesn’t write the legislation. (So what, make a couple calls, isn’t that your job?), b) ideas for small time community charity to fill the needs gap, (we can afford healthcare for all and, as has been said by yours truly Mr. President, the time is now), and c) The President can’t be more specific because there is no legislation as of yet. (See response to section “a” above).

Well, that’s what I call a listening meeting. I hope the listeners, who really seemed more interested in organizing support for a “generic Obama” got the message: you can organize us and we’ll support you, but not if you intended to sell us down the river.

Mr. President, as much as I have a crush on you, I hope you’re listening. We expect you to put us, the American people, first. Here’s how you get us to rally around health care reform at this point. It’s a simple, realistic statement of what must be done now. And, yeah, no pie in the sky single payer system, you’ve made it clear you’re not willing to go that far for whatever reason. (What is the reason, anyway? Tell us, just for kicks.)

State emphatically, “I will not sign any health care reform legislation that does not included a government plan option.”


Jobs, Mr. President, jobs.

 Trillions of dollars have been thrown at the banking system in an effort to restore the credit markets and nearly a trillion dollars more in stimulus spending continues, both are efforts to jump-start the economy.

The government is also offering Americans various stimulus inspired programs including lower interest mortgage refinancing and new automobile purchase incentives to those who qualify.

However, no amount of available credit, public works expenditures or consumer incentive deals will short-circuit the current economic decline because too many Americans are currently not creditworthy. American workers have one option; earn their way out of their troubles. Right now the opportunities to do so are slim.

The unemployment number for May 2009 was over nine percent nationally, so even by the debatable official number, nearly one in ten American workers is ineligible for new credit. But this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Mortgage and home equity credit payment statistics shout the fact that even those among us who are employed have drawn the last breath out of asset backed credit. Credit card defaults reveal yet another layer of people no longer creditworthy.

Looking deeper, many are now under employed and struggling to pay the rent. If you can’t make the rent you certainly are no longer creditworthy and you have probably used the remainder of your unsecured credit on necessities.

Huge numbers of Americans are under employed including recent college graduates with student loan obligations, older workers whose careers have been derailed, and millions of small business owners and self-employed individuals who can no longer make a living as spending and the need for their services evaporate.

The minutia is contentious, but no matter how you look at the current situation the system has failed. Restocking the system with cash will not automatically send the rewards of diligent work to those most deserving. Capital has not been distributed efficiently, in a way that creates jobs, vital goods and profits to refuel the cycle. We can rid the system of fraud and abuse today, but the jobs Americans need will not necessarily be created tomorrow.

Without jobs that create value added, like manufacturing, mining and energy generation, nothing will improve quickly. The small business owner will work longer hours for less money. The educated and technically proficient will find little need for their specialized skills. Service workers will have less and less customers to serve.

We need to invest in jobs that will create vital resources. Americans now realize that energy is not only an essential resource, it is a strategic resource. Without it we are at the mercy of those who have taken the time and effort to supply it. Homegrown energy provides a way to create jobs that create value.

Consider a simple example: residential solar electric and hot water. It can provide construction work tomorrow. Every home to be retrofitted with solar must have a roof ready to perform for years to come. The mass demand for solar products and weatherization fuels multiple industries, while homes and business become long-term power stations.

The only problem is financial. This should be a national effort, but most of us are not creditworthy to borrow the money to make this economic and energy boom possible. But a government guarantee loan program could make this possible. Isn’t it about time our leaders decided to invest in the people and the technology that will fuel a tangible economy?

Page 1 ... 4 5 6 7 8