Regular readers of this column — and, indeed, most folks who've bothered to keep an eye on the spending power of those dollars that we all work so hard to obtain — are well aware that "things ain't like they usta be" as far as the world economy (and opportunities for "little guys" to accumulate enough cash to actually get ahead) is concerned.
In fact, since this column was "born," we have pointed out over and over again that the free ride which began with the colonization of North America, South America, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, etc. — and was accelerated by the availability of inexpensive, "below-value" petroleum energy — is all but over.
Worse yet, despite its rocketing inflation and swelling unemployment figures, 1980 may well look like "the good old days" before the next year, or two years, or three years are over. And it's highly unlikely that the results of this autumn's election — regardless of whatever surprises come to pass between this writing and November 4 — will make a danged bit of positive difference as far as that gloomy future is concerned.
However (and, to repeat what regular readers of MOTHER EARTH NEWS have learned long since), the hard times that are very likely to come don't have to bring suffering down upon your household. And they won't, if you simply start, right now, to become self-reliant. Get yourself and your family out of the "paper promises" economy of E-Z Loan credit companies, shun compulsive consumerism that our "leaders" are still saying can save us all, and take whatever steps are necessary to put your faith in (and begin to base your lifestyle upon) common sense and real wealth.
Your "Times to Come" Can Be Good!
Despite the urgency of the above recommendation, the "prescription" can be a downright pleasant one to swallow. Odds are that you, if you're at all typical of humans in the industrialized West in this day and age, have felt — for some time now — that a vague something is missing from life, that the good days just don't seem as good as they used to, that most of the "rules" which once gave focus to life no longer seem to apply, and that it's precious hard to feel real satisfaction at all anymore.
Well, you'll very likely find — as many folks have discovered — that the very steps which can put you and yours into a more self-sufficient lifestyle can also restore some of the dignity, certainty, and (if you're fortunate enough to be sharing the challenge with kin) sense of "family" that have just about become extinct concepts of late.
A New Year and a New You?
In a few short weeks we'll enter 1981. And, in celebration of that event, folks across North America will make resolutions. Of course, most such vows are pledged in the spirit of the season and often with humorous intent. Very few are actually intended to establish genuine personal goals.
But why not, this coming New Year's Day, make a few real resolutions? Why not vow — as an individual or as part of a family — to begin to take your life back into your own hands, as rapidly and to as great a degree as you can?
And don't let the fact that your present circumstances limit the level of self-sufficiency you can immediately achieve convince you to wait. . . until you can buy that expensive window greenhouse, or that suburban back yard, or that place in the country, OR that large, unspoiled acreage. (After all, there might not be enough "waiting time" left to accomplish such goals.)
Instead, start with what you have right now. Even the smallest bit of skill and experience that you can put under your belt will serve you well if things do, indeed, go bad. (And if it turns out that you have plenty of time to fulfill all of your hopes, the little steps that you take today will enable you to move quickly and easily into your new dreamed-of role!)
Anyone Can Do It!
You say you can't grow food because you live in an inner city apartment? Well, build a window box, or plant your crops in containers on the roof! (Or, at the very least, get a canning jar and a scrap of screen and try your hand at growing sprouts!) Many urbanites not only have reaped hefty harvests from such "pocket farms", but have become so expert while doing so that they've been able to pass on tips to long-time landed gardeners.
And, if you feel trapped — by the old treadmill of constant bills and the subsequent fear of even temporary unemployment — in a suffocating nine-to-five job . . . then use your weekends, or evenings, to start a little part-time enterprise of your own. It doesn't have to be a venture that brings in big dollars at first ... because if you choose a business that interests you, and if you begin to take pride in running it on your own, your "hobby" may well grow and be supporting you before you know it!
Furthermore if, while you're waiting for the right home business to happen along (or for the enterprise you've already started to "take off"), a shortage of ready cash prevents you from making major, long-term investments to protect you and yours in the event of economic (or governmental) collapse ... think small. Begin to store away, as you can afford to, the kind of constantly in-demand items that would rapidly become very hard to find in a time of crisis. Pick up a few used firearms and some ammunition for each of them, for instance (both to keep on hand to protect your family and to use as barter "money") ... and stock up — a little at a time, if necessary — on storable foods. In short, use your ready cash to buy goods that will always have the same value (because they are always useful), regardless of the fickle fluctuations of currency!
"But," you might say, "how do I — a city dweller — break free from the hold of the power company? I surely can't stick a windplant on my roof ... and it would probably cost me more to buy enough firewood to heat my home — at city prices — than I'm currently paying for electric power!"
Well, the answer, once again, is to do what you can when you can. And that might mean taking advantage of whatever small patches of sunshine are available to you. You could, for example, put together a little three-way solar window addition) ... a tool that can be hooked up to a sunny sill where it will not only help you heat your home, but also give you the opportunity to produce a fresh supply of vegetables out of season and preserve that homegrown produce, as well!
The point is, of course, that almost anyone can take immediate action to prepare him- or herself ( and his or her family) for either a difficult future or simply a more satisfying — more self-reliant — way of life. So, whether you live in the city or on a farm, whether the "real wealth" you are able to invest in is gold (which, it now seems likely, will be well into another climb by the time this magazine reaches you) or the practical luxury of good tools, and whether you yearn to produce all of your own needs "from the ground up" or to handcraft quality salable (or barterable) items with which to purchase what you require, begin to establish your "game plan" today.
It is, as we've said before, far better to be a decade too early in a situation like this than even a single day too late. And there's no doubt that, regardless of where the spinning wheel of the immediate future stops, the very act of "doin' it yourself" — of really getting involved (and getting your loved ones involved) in the wonderful, serious act of living — will bring some of the strong, simple joy that's been missing for so long back into your life!
Fear less, hope more. . . eat less, chew more. . . whine less, breathe more. . . talk less, say more. . . hate less, love more. . . and all good things are yours! — Swedish Proverb