Sunday, August 21, 2005

In God We Trust – All Others Pay Cash

I love curmudgeonly wisdom. How about this one: Put your faith in God, and keep your powder dry. I ain’t much for putting everything on God’s shoulders – but I think the point of these gems is to be very selective of which human beings you put your faith in.

Who keeps faith with you, fellow Outlaws? Whom do you trust to do so? In what and whom can you – and do you – place reliance?

Last fall, Thunder and I made a trip to visit Bobaloo at his place called Serenity. We were meeting in person for the first time, and it turned out that we all hit it off like old pals right from the get go. The very next afternoon, though, he and Mrs. Bobaloo packed Bobaloo Junior into the pickup and headed to town for a Halloween party, shocking us by leaving their home wide open to us for the several hours they were gone. (Now, they also left their DVD set of Firefly in our grubby little hands, and we milked that one real good, never having seen the series.)

We couldn’t believe that these good folks would trust us strangers so readily in their lovely home. (Maybe it’s our city mentality.) And yet, the more I thought about it, the more sense it made. We can’t live – especially we Outlaws can’t - without trusting at least some people and situations. It’s just in our best interests to choose them very wisely and commonsensically.

How else might we want or need to demonstrate this kind of trust? Maybe by inviting cyberfriends to visit and even to join our gulch. Or by walking around your town with your pistol on your hip, gladly watching other townsfolk doing the same. Even by picking up a freedom fugitive at a predetermined location, providing her with twenty bucks and a change of clothing, and delivering her to the next stop on the network, no questions asked. And when the time comes, Outlaws in business and “other” dealings will stand, or fall, by our reputations for integrity.

But there’s not much of a respect for trust in the world around us today. Cheating spouses (when I learned of my ex’s affair, I happened to see in the same week a poll wherein 43% of Americans believed that adultery wasn’t wrong at all!), ratfink neighbors, and fair-weather friends abound. So do unctuous taxing-and-spending, pork-grabbing politicians; corrupt corporate figureheads destroying long-promised pensions; and salespeople saying anything to close the deal, but long gone when things go wrong.

And how about the “full faith and credit” backing up the government’s linen-cotton scrip? Even Outlaws need money. But what will you do if your bank (assuming you still use one, as I do for the time being) goes under and you can’t get hold of the FDIC to get your money? Think you can sell your stock certificates and 401(k) fund shares door-to-door if you need to? Will you be able to get to your safe-deposit box? Can you count on the courts to rule for restitution if your business partner disappears with the goods overnight? Or is all that paper nothing more than…kindling?

Always err on the side of covering your ass – prepare for the other party not to make good. A cynical outlook? Perhaps, but it’s going to happen. We all take risks in trusting others. I trusted my ex-husband implicitly, and was devastated to learn later that he was an adulterer. I don’t know what I could have done differently to be forewarned in that case – even his best friend of 25 years couldn’t believe it. People do unaccountable things.

All I could do was to turn within myself – to use the strength and knowledge I already had – to get away and start over. It sounds odd, but I was devastated and relieved and excited all at the same time. I was glad to be able to act, and to act on my own terms. It was my life solely once again, and that was a bleak but exhilarating experience amid the emotional ruins. I had my own self – skills, separate assets, attitude, experience – to rely upon, and I realized that that was enough to get me by.

Self-reliance is so desirable among freedom lovers precisely because we know we can only control our own behavior and choices, and no one else’s. Work for yourself and get paid right away. Produce your own power, heat, light, and water so that they can’t be shut off by the control freaks. Grow some of your own food and keep your own pantry stocked. Keep out of debt and keep your official income low, so you can – even perhaps without Outlawry! – keep more of what you produce.

This is also why so many contrarian investors and freedom-loving folks are advising you now to buy precious metals.

Gold and silver are real. They’re not promissory notes. They don’t turn to lintballs in the laundry. They don’t stop at national barriers. They don’t suffer from inflation. They’ve been accepted as money for centuries, and with good reason. They’re always worth a nice tidy amount, no matter what any govocrat says.

The Mogambo Guru, aka Richard Daughty, has this to say in his most recent rant: “I received some more old German Reichmark money from a reader who sympathizes with me about the horror of money debasement. One bill is a million-Reichmark note. There was a time, just a few years earlier, when a mark was worth about a dollar. So a million marks was a big freaking potload of money. Then, in less than a decade, a million-mark note became, literally, worthless. And those stupid Americans, oops, I mean Germans, who had their wealth in money lost all their dollars, I mean, marks. This is the indelible lesson of what happens when you create excess money and credit. Just like the Germans, oops, I mean us Americans, are doing, and have been doing for half a freaking century! And then you wonder why I am armed to the freaking teeth, screaming in fear and panic, and define "warning shot" as "fusillade"!”

Historically, when economic times get tough, people turn to these hard currencies for stability. FDR’s administration knew the value and appeal of gold, and therefore outlawed private ownership of the yellow metal. Or, as The Mogambo puts it, “But, as the first of a long line of communist dullard Democrat bastards, Franklin Delano Roosevelt gutted this crucial provision of the Constitution. With a stroke of his pen, he eliminated the use of gold as money, and extorted compliance from a gutless Supreme Court when this corrupt, lawless act was naturally challenged in court by outraged Americans.”

Can it happen again? Of course; wouldn’t surprise me at all. Will Freedom Outlaws cringe and obey? I doubt it. We’re more likely to hang in there and trade the stuff amongst ourselves. And the added risk and scarcity will also add value to our metals.

Money, right now and for the foreseeable future in the U.S., is FRNs – hence the term “currency”. A “cash stash,” as I call mine, is a necessity for emergency preparation. Even when greenbacks become badly inflated, you’ll probably want some of ‘em on hand, because that’s what most people recognize and accept. The 7-Eleven or gas station won’t likely be equipped to take your precious metals – nor to make change for them. If you’re faced with a need to hit the road, FRNs are much easier to carry (and to conceal) than coins – and much easier to spend.

When the inflation troubles come, though, be ready to spend those FRNs on (more, since you’re already stocked up, yes?) hard goods that you can use or hold for later barter. Those FRNs are only as good as the gummint says they are today – and tomorrow it’ll be even less – so prices will rise again.

This means, though, that you’ve got to have the FRNs where you can readily get at them immediately. A bank, safe deposit box, or retirement account might not be the best answer.

If nothing else, gold and silver coins should hold their arbitrary face value against the specter of inflation, when paper becomes useful only for stuffing the cracks in your attic walls. A one-ounce U.S. gold coin (the Gold Eagle) is, by fiat that purports to be based on tradition (ha! you see through that lie, don't you?), stamped “Fifty Dollars” – although the mere metal value of that ounce of gold runs right now about $437. And it’s really hard to imagine that higher value – or much more – not being observed when times get interesting.

As Freedom Outlaws, we don’t support the federal national government’s doings – but we might be willing to capitalize on the attitudes of our less-freedom-loving neighbors toward that government. Just as some Outlaws will stock up on booze and chocolate bars to sell to less-prepared neighbors, the tendency of most folks to put all their faith in the government is a fact of reality that can be of use to us.

If the world as we know it ends, your average Joe Clerk will still accept a coin stamped “United States of America” before he’ll even consider taking something called an Austrian Philharmonic. On the other hand, although many foreign coins are pricier than their U.S. counterparts, the South African Krugerrand is usually an exception, if you're on a budget.

If you really need to, before TSHTF, you can sell back your bullion at the market price for metals, less a cut for the buying dealer. You’ll have to find such a dealer either locally or by mail and internet. Currently, if you were to buy a one-ounce Golden Eagle for the going rate of $456 on GoldmastersUSA.com, you could turn around and sell it back the same day for $442. Yes, you pay that $14 or so commission fee, plus any shipping, but you can get your FRNs if you need ‘em. Wait a while, and who knows, the gold price might be at $550 an ounce, and you can actually make a profit by selling that same coin at a higher FRN price than you paid.

Yes, one of these days, owning such bullion will alone probably make you an Outlaw (again). Heheheh. In for a penny, in for a pound (or a few ounces anyway). A few smart Jews in Nazi Germany had some excellent solutions to this threat – making their gold into buttons and tools (painted or chromed) that got past the jabbut theftpoints.

For now, we’re legally free to purchase and to own these goodies. That’s the most amazing thing to me – just to go buy real gold, that the government blithely stamps and sells very nearly at straight weight cost. They don’t see any point in keeping it back in reserve (which should scare hell out of any sensible person).

Outlaws, on the other hand, do. And let me tell you, it really is a thrill to run gold and silver coins through your hands!

But, most vitally, the fundamental issue is whom – and what – you can trust and count on. Yourself, your small carefully-chosen network – and hard reality. In this case, as Lucy was wont to say in A Charlie Brown Christmas, “that wonderful, wonderful sound of cold hard cash.”

And plenty of canned chili, and cool lead and brass, and barrels of water…oh, and dry gunpowder.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I do have some gold, it isn't the mainstay. I have some (more than a few) $1,000.00 bags of silver coins. They will be much more tradeable than gold goins when the SHTF. Granted they are a bit to lug around, but at least I won't have to pay $500.00 or so for a new pair of boots.

Just my thoughts

F42

8/22/2005 1:26 PM  
Blogger lewlew said...

Don't forget that your skill set is as valuable bartering commodity as all the hard goods you can set aside.

They also travel light =).

Great post Lightning.

8/22/2005 3:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gold is nice and so is silver but the other goodies are mostly what I've got as well...lead, brass and dry powder. I just can't get too much of anything and must balance it out.

8/22/2005 3:49 PM  
Blogger Unstructuredreality said...

Right on L, good posting.

8/26/2005 10:13 PM  

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