Thursday, January 23, 2014

On work, money, alpha, and social capital, Part 1

The first incarnation of this blog (lost to the ether as far as I can tell) grew out of my initial fascination with Survivalism. I was way ahead of the game on the housing crash and subsequent recession we find ourselves mired in.

I read all the survival guys, and eagerly stockpiled a few weapons, some food, trash bags, matches, blankets, all the usual stuff. It was an upper-middle class game, storing lots of nonsense that cost me at least a few thousand dollars.

I was a clever one too. I picked up a laminating machine, a hardhat and a few other "I'm part of the rescue crew so let me through the barricade," type items. Kept about $10K on hand in mixed denominations, and always had extra gas and a 55 gallon drum of water tucked away on my golf course home.

Of course, to this day I find the idea of modest personal protection, food for a few weeks or months, extra clothes and medical gear, and enough tarps and blankets to survive a large earthquake incredibly sensible. If you can spend <1% of your annual income on "alpha" level insurance, you are probably an idiot not to.

As I read more, thought about the moral and social implications of this hobby, and seriously contemplated likely outcomes, I realized most of it was just silly adventure-porn for a bored privileged person.

So I evolved. I started reading JMG regularly, realized nothing happens as fast or as thematically as you anticipate, and that social capital and people skills were by far the best way to not only survive the apocalypse, but thrive in any scenario, zombie-NWO-nuke attack or otherwise.

I'm convinced there will be no crash. Oh sure, a long descent may be underway, but even within a long slide there are decades and centuries of growth and you just never know where you are in the cycle.

The best thing to come out of my silly hobby was a new prism to view value and the irrational human mind.

I began my love of elemental metal collecting from this examination of true value. Scarcity has almost no bearing on economic value. It's true. An abundance of money (medium of exchange) allows a market for scarce things with no utility. A scarcity of money (gold anyone?) means the money itself is worthless, since it has no utility to enable trade. This is why gold is something rich people buy with money. It's too scarce to be money itself, but is also rare enough that excess money seeks it.

Worrying about the future is the luxury of well-off people. Taking action to change the future seems to be the hobby of the extremely wealthy. Hence, millionaire Saudi's blowing up the parts of the world they don't like, and millionaire Congresscritters doing the same. Both, of course, attempt to shove women back into a box. On this one, I have to give the Saudi's the points.

Maslow did a good job on the first three levels of his pyramid, but I am not so sure about the top two. Self -esteem, respect, and confidence strike me as arising from building the base layers of the pyramid yourself, something denied to almost everyone, and probably 100% of the people enabled to read this blog. If you wake up on the third floor, you will have trouble getting to the next level.

I might have to go back to quoting others, writing stuff myself is surprisingly exhausting.

More another day.

1 comment:

  1. Thinking of a post-apocalyptic future, one drills down from 1) worth surviving at all? to ...n) surviving in comfort, or at least approximating what I am used to with the minimum of inconvenience. It quickly became apparent that hoarding of materials beyond a three day-or-week window was dumb, and that the collecting of skills was a much more worthwhile pursuit. The question is which skills? By my way of thinking, and probably too late, social skills would be paramount - having some value to some tribe. Should any kind of catastrophe occur, I've figured I've probably chosen the wrong skills to collect. Ultimately, the best skill is to think on your feet, and cultivate a serenity that will allow you to think at all. Not doing so well with that.