Preparing for Economic Disaster

In an uncertain world seemingly balanced on the edge of economic disaster, self-sufficiency is probably the best survival strategy.


| May/June 1981



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The world sometimes seems just a tremor away from economic disaster.


ILLUSTRATION: FOTOLIA/MOSTAFA FAWZY

"Gold is gold, and it's the ultimate safeguard against economic disaster. What disaster? Give us time, we'll come up with one." (Richard Russell, Dow Theory Letters) 

Antidote to Optimism

Even regular readers of this column—folks who've certainly encountered ample evidence of the precarious position our society is in—may sometimes find their concern lulled by the accumulated weight of day after routine day. And who can blame such people for occasionally harboring a nagging doubt about the seriousness of the challenges that we face? After all, unless they're among the one and a half million Americans who've joined the ranks of the unemployed in the past 12 months, they're probably earning more money than they were just one short year ago (and, perhaps, wondering just why that extra cash hasn't improved their standard of living a whit).

Furthermore, we now have a new president ... a man who—he claims—is determined to breathe new life into our somewhat tired and cynical nation, and who aims to increase our military spending, balance the federal budget, and cut taxes. (That's the political equivalent of firing eight shots from a six-shot revolver or of falling off a running horse without losing your hat!)

Unfortunately, though a little bit of optimism is understandable and even healthy under the right circumstances, all too often it causes men and women who ought to know better to accept a false sense of security. And when that happens—when a belief that things aren't all that bad and are likely to get better tricks an individual into easing back into the middle class trap of credit-card living and evenings at home wrapped in a womb of alcohol and television—that sometimes healthy optimism can be as malignant as a metastasized cancer.

On the other hand, there's certainly no good to be gained from wringing one's hands and living each day in a state of panic. Fear can be a great motivator, but it's too dangerous a tool to rely on for continuing inspiration. To do so would invite paranoia, and no amount of preparation can bring fulfillment or comfort to those who are always afraid.

No, the only reasonable way to approach the problems of adapting one's lifestyle to the world situation is to gather as much information as possible, try to anticipate how those data might affect you and your loved ones (being sure to imagine every possible scenario, from best case to worst), and then put together a plan that will protect you and yours from whatever blusterings the winds of politics and economics have in store.





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