Thursday, November 10, 2011

Alex, I'll take Inflation for $100, please

USA Today is reporting that the cost of a typical American Thanksgiving dinner is going up by about 13% this year.  They blame the cost of the commodities to make the meal.  Apparently inflation isn't just the name of the Armenian guy down the street anymore

But you can't ask the Fed about it, because they don't include food or energy in the inflation numbers.  Why would we need to track how much more expensive it is to put food on the table and gas in the car when we're talking about the economic health of the nation?  It looks better if we know that the cost of things like automobiles and such hasn't gone up that much.

Kids, if you're not making sure you've got enough groceries in your larder to get you through a few months of tough times, I suggest you start doing it now.  I'm not sure there will be shortages of food, but I'm pretty sure the price for the necessities is going to keep going up for the foreseeable future, and I'd rather give up some shelf space in the basement for food now than to have to ration out what I can buy later.

I don't prep for TEOTWAWKI, not really anyway.  I can't afford to put back several years worth of flour, sugar, canned food, and rice without going into debt to do it, and I don't have much hope of moving much further away from a large city than I am now.*  I see a total inability for the nation to feed itself as a "low risk, high impact" kind of event.  If it happens, we're in deep kimchi, but I see other scenarios as being more likely:
  • Natural disasters that shut down food distribution for days or weeks
  • Loss of a job by either Irish Woman, me, or both
  • Civil disturbance followed by the inevitable clampdown 
  • Inflation that makes it difficult or impossible to afford the basics of life
Of all of these, I worry most about loss of jobs/income and inflation.  My guess is that those two would come together, which can only make a bad situation worse.  My strategy is to stock up as much of the basics as I can, and be prepared to hunker down with wife, kids, family, and neighbors until things get better.

The basics of life as I see it are clean water, adequate calories and nutrition, warmth, shelter, and security. 

Clean water we take care of by having a water source (two streams) within easy walking distance from the house, a way to transport and store the water without using fuel that will carry enough for a day or two, a water filter, and several gallons of plain old chlorine bleach.  Plus, we have the old cistern system on the house, and it would take about a day to hook it back up to the gutters and such, clean out the cistern, and then all we have to do is pump or dip it out, then purify it.

As for food, we shop sales, buy in bulk, and store enough good, solid food to keep us going for a few months without needing too many inputs.  We can stretch that for quite a while by having inputs from gardens, hunting, fishing, and bartering if necessary.

Shelter is pretty good for us too.  It'll take a lot to get us to abandon Casa de Oso and become refugees, and we have agreements and plans with family and friends for that event. 

For warmth, I've got one heck of a good wood burning fireplace, and a house that can be effectively heated by it.  I need to lay on some more firewood, but I can make a cord or two of firewood keep us warm and cook food for a couple of months if I have to, which is enough time to go get more.

Security I've got taken care of, both in the family and in my little community.  One good thing about living in the semi-country:  lots of veterans, lots of guns, and a lot of people who don't put up with nonsense when it comes to crime.  For health security, we have plenty of preventive measures (soap, sanitizer, cleaners, vitamins) and we keep several good first aid kits and medicine kits in the house at all times.  I can't do surgery, and I pity the fool that needs me to stitch up a cut, but I'm above the bandaid stage.

Of course, I can always improve my efforts, and I do so every chance I get.  Maybe it's another box of .22 put back for shooting rabbits and trading, or another case of food or big bag of flour set back against lean times, or it's more bridge building with my neighbors so that we have a support network, but we're doing everything we can to not get swamped by the wave that I truly believe is about to break across our nation.

I hope that all of these preparations are like the fallout shelter we had in our backyard in North Dakota, and it just becomes my collection of junk for the kids to go over once I'm gone.  But I'd rather be remembered as the old coot who prepared for something that didn't happen than be the guy whose kids went hungry because the Kroger wanted $150 for a pound of flour.

*Not to say that I'm not working towards that goal.  I just can't afford to drop a few thousand dollars on buckets of food and a new farmstead right now.  Slow and steady will get me there eventually, and the worst that happens is that I have a nice place to move to once the kids are out of the house and enough food to stay off the dole once I'm too old to work.

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