This New Normal

Most of us now realize that there are enormous changes taking place across America. These shifts in America have gathered momentum and although the mainstreaming media blathers on about a rosy outlook and a ‘recovery,’ those of us who are living with these changes know better, despite what we are being told by the media and the government.

The reality is that America is in a continued decline. Working Americans are living with smaller paychecks, less benefits, and higher prices. We see it all: food inflation has occurred, health insurance has been lost or the health costs have increased, and our earned dollars don’t buy what they used to. Just last week House Republicans, along with a dozen Democrats, adopted a bill that would redefine the full-time work week under Obamacare from 30 hours to 40 hours. — now, these workers would have to work 40 hours a week to be assured of coverage. Backers of the plan include business groups, not advocates for low-income Americans. Who would have guessed? (Did this story even get a mention in the mainstreaming media?)

We are witnessing a slow, steady decline and the decline is wearing on us. And aside from personal experiences, we can examine the decline through information that has been provided from alternate news sources — those not owned or controlled by The Big Six which operate in lockstep with the Federal government and other large powers.  One recent article,  Empirical Proof Of The Giant Con, gives some examples of just how we have been played by using manipulated economic data. If that article doesn’t stir-it-up for you, just remember this phrase: the collapsing economy. Yeah. Collapsing. Because THAT is what’s occurring. There is no, um, recovery.

UnempVsSnap

We all try to adapt to the many changes that have affected our lives (and livelihoods) but those changes keep coming at us. Some call this the new normal — but there’s nothing normal about any of this.  We have been manipulated into believing all is well when we know otherwise. America is in a long downward trend, a long decline. This decline has ended American prosperity, except for the exclusive group, the elite 1%. Ironic that the majority of the elite also control America through the media, government, or politics.

America is in a shifting phase — we have moved into a globalized, post-industrial, yet technical, era where human labor is being challenged by many forces.  America’s previous upward growth during the industrial era has shifted into a descent now, while the Nation faces a time of enormous transformation that many people do not yet understand. But make no mistake, these transformations are destined to affect each and every one of us.

Ron Paul wrote, “Authoritarianism has overtaken our economic system as the welfare mentality takes over at every level of government. Once the initiation of force by government is accepted by the people, even minimally, it escalates and involves every aspect of society. The only question that remains is just who gets to wield the power to distribute the largess to their friends and chosen beneficiaries. ”

People know these are extremely difficult times but few understand what we have yet to face. In general, many people have come to realize that they are losing their own financial battles. And while people are preoccupied with their own losses, or with some national sensationalism that masks the real truths going on behind-the-scenes, the Giant Con Game continues. It is very well orchestrated.

Some Americans  — including many politicians and non-profit organizations– are fighting for an alternate path for America. With this long decline in America, there is chaos and great upheaval as this alternate path is being blazed. We have become a welfare and warfare state — and we cannot afford either.

Welfare has increased drastically since 2008. The working class has paid for a large segment of American society to do nothing and not work. Welfare is no longer just an inner city problem — it is a mindset of entitlement by The Masses now, with a cradle-to-grave government-approved system to pay for, and control, a growing segment of the American population.

Cloward and Piven

There is an organized and planned movement within our political system. Many forces are at work to reshape and change America. We have all recently watched big eruptions in Ferguson, New York City, Detroit, and other cities. The protests are not local — they are organized, complete with outsiders bussed in to agitate crowds further and further until serious violence erupts. Make no mistake — the protests are not regular American citizens, they are brought about through an isolated event that is overtaken and managed by an organized group who seeks radical, even violent, changes.

Such situations are part of an organized movement to create a vast warfare and welfare state. The goal of this movement is to lay the groundwork for the government to provide more and more police powers to protect citizens. Americans will be “protected” from the bad guys — and there will be a few of those bad guys — like those in Paris who murdered the staff at Charlie Hebdo. Did I say “protected”?  I mean to say profiting … profiting from the tragedy.

And of course, the mainstreaming news won’t be mentioning any of that. They will only provide isolated stories for isolated events — and for isolated reasons. They will never admit the true enemy, those who profit from events like these, nor will they decry the War On Freedom and that it comes from within:

“The threat to our liberty, say our leaders and the press, comes from this tiny army of delusional fanatics, not from the very real armies – TSA, NSA, FBI, CIA, FDA, SEC, etc. – that pretend to suppress them.”

That is how America’s intentionally-designed militarized police force will be explained. The truth, though, is that this militarization is to protect the government from within as the system and the police-state reaches further and further into America, destroying our rights and our freedoms along the way.

Don’t believe the Federal government would do this? We need to only look at the hundreds of Federal agencies, many of them being duplicitous, to know what we, as a Nation, have become.  America has become a war machine — and it is not only a machine operating overseas. We have been lied to, bilked, and manipulated while they have increased our debt with astonishing velocity while they grow larger and more powerful.

America is in a national transition — a clear decline — and it is more and more apparent. But our politicians, our mainstreaming news, and the government will not cover the true issues. They feed us what they want us to hear. They certainly will not admit these problems, much less repair the problems we face. Charles Hugh Smith recently said, “The problem is the political machinery and the corporate media are trying to manage perceptions rather than tackle the dysfunctional reality.”

America is being reshaped and whether we accept these drastically changing times or not, they are here and they are affecting most of us. The working class is being squeezed financially and the majority of Americans are being lied to over and over again to create a confusing and chaotic state where people fear and ask for more ‘help.’ This reaction by Americans has been strategically plotted and orchestrated. Since 9/11, Americans have asked for more protection and we are now at the precipice of a police state.

The truth is, we have been lied to. We are being manipulated.  And we must stop playing into the game of devious manipulations. These intentional actions are negative and divisive. Yet those who are in control of our mainstream media and our political machine continue to organize the streaming of events that can cause a society to behave in certain ways and believe specifics that may not even be truthful. Manipulating society, as has been witnessed throughout history, pits person against person, group against group,  and the government becomes stronger because society becomes more violent.  Americans have been used to help create a police state while selling their freedom.

If Americans were honest with themselves they would acknowledge that the Republic is no more. We now live in a police state. If we do not recognize and resist this development, freedom and prosperity for all Americans will continue to deteriorate. All liberties in America today are under siege.Ron Paul

With Obama’s invitation for illegals to come across our unprotected southern border, how long will it be before America suffers the same attacks as France has? How will terrorist attacks affect our First Amendment rights? Will we still have the ability to speak or write freely, or will we be controlled more? All crises create new legislation to regulate people into a police state even further.

Of course, many uninvolved Americans dismiss such things. Most of us have heard it before: “This is AMERICA. That would never happen here.”

Really?

MRAPIn an area not far from our homestead, there are 4 military vehicles within the local police department now. One of those vehicles is a “mine-resistant ambush protected” armoured vehicle — an MRAP.

Now, the last time I checked that County’s crime rate, there had been 0 murders and very low incidents of assault or rape. So why an MRAP? This military equipment is destined for drug crimes, terrorism, or any activity where society’s perception of a militarized police force is required. That’s what the Sheriff said: “In an era of terrorist attacks on U.S. soil and mass killings in schools, police agencies need to be ready for whatever comes their way, the sheriff said.

Somehow the responsibilities of all of those DHS agencies have been apparently transferred to local County Sheriffs now. Or is that just the reason provided to the public as they nod their collective heads in approval?

Many of us are dealing with or facing household changes or radical income adjustments. Jobs have vanished, corporations have gained more control over our Nation, and our lives are forced to adapt to these losses, then adapt again. The American working class struggles to maintain their lifestyles but the efforts seem futile. We are being squeezed tighter.

We are all being challenged and rather than being discouraged or ready to quit, we can incorporate a few more changes, perhaps simplify our lifestyles a bit more and practice more frugality. But we are facing this new normal with thousands of new regulations, Executive Orders, and the mandated Obamacare.  We can only ignore a totalitarian state for so long. We can only keep our heads down for so long. If we sit idly by and we do not actively engage our political representatives to voice our concerns — or vote them out when they do not follow through with their promises — we will continue to be part of the problem, part of the decline.

While we adapt to our new normal, we may need to examine our lifestyle choices. We can practice vigilance along with resilience. How complicated freedom has become.

Many of us know to rely on ourselves as much as possible. Many of us seek a simple, ordinary life, but in the face of this new normal, we realize that we must be aware of the situations around us because these situations have changed our lives.

We really do need to hope for the best, while planning for this new normal. But how do we tolerate corrupt, even criminal, behaviors from our own government? How do we live without our unalienable rights and the rights guaranteed to us by the Constitution and our Bill of Rights? How do we continue to be self-reliant and upstanding American citizens when our liberty to do so has been regulated against us?

I used to believe America was the Land Of The Free.

 

 

Live On Less Money

A dollar sure doesn’t buy what it used to and most middle class Americans are feeling the squeeze. Most of us are seeing a financial decline in our life and whatever household income we have. A trip to the grocery store can be a depressing event when working within a budget because food has gotten more expensive. We either see a direct price increase or we see smaller packages with less of the product inside. Even going to and from the grocery store has gotten more expensive. When we get gas for our vehicles, we see that gas has doubled in price from just 4 years ago.  Electricity has gotten more expensive, too, and many of us are looking at alternative ways to use less. Then there are those nifty items that we would like to purchase but can’t because there isn’t much money left after paying for necessities. How could this be? We keep hearing that we are in an economic recovery but the data does match up with real life.  The decline of the middle class is real and it keeps getting worse.

Great Depression

New unemployment numbers have just been released and although it appears that the U.S. businesses are hiring and the unemployment rate is improving, all of the data is not being provided to show what’s going on all across America. For one, people who have stopped looking for work have been removed from the statistics that affect the unemployment data. As well, for those people who actually do find a job, they have often settled for a lesser-paying job. They’re employed, yes, but earning less money and perhaps only working part-time with no benefits.  Welcome to the New America…a repeat of the Great Depression.

Great Depression

Without a full-time job, or the benefits that a full-time provides, many middle class Americans are being forced into a different lifestyle. We are living in difficult times. Some of us will adapt readily and some will have a very difficult time with the changes they face.  There is no doubt that having to do without or settle for less is not the American Dream, but it is the American reality now. There are millions of Americans who have lost or will lose the home they once paid a mortgage on.

Great Depression Living In TentsMiddle class ‘wealth’ has plummeted in recent years and even those figures, and the price of homes are artificially inflated.  At the start of 2013, 4 million homes were in financial distress (not yet foreclosed on or on the Multiple Listings) and are now considered part of the shadow housing inventory. This enormous quantity of homes not-yet-on-the-books has manipulated our ‘wealth’ even more through inflated home prices.

This is not good. And it won’t turn out well. Some middle class families will not recover and will be forced to file bankruptcy. Others may only need to budget their money to make ends meet. But the majority of middle class families will be forced to live on less money.

But make no mistake — no middle class family is immune. We are all affected.

Pew: Middle Class Wealth

Savings, retirements, property assets, and life plans have been affected in recent years. And now we are dealing with the issues involving the Federal Reserves money-pump known as Qualitative Easing.  It’s too much! (And we haven’t even gotten to the real economic crisis and subsequent crash yet.)  For most middle class people, the American reality is difficult to accept but what other choices do we have?

Well, for those of us who are able to do so, we must take control of what we CAN control: we can live on less. Since we are all feeling the income drop from the 2013 payroll tax and we are all seeing the devaluation of the US Dollar, we don’t have much choice about the problem — we must learn to live on less money.

There are many articles to help people figure out how to live on less moneTable settingy. Most of these articles are action-item oriented and they provide the expected list which always includes the modified budget, bargain shopping, DIY projects, and frugal tips. But most of the articles written on this subject neglect some of the most basic factors that can help people live on less. It’s about having the proper mindset.

A great deal of our personal happiness and success come from the right attitude. And being healthy also contributes to our overall outlook on life.  Simply put, we need to be content within ourselves. We want to feel that we have a purpose. Some of us are laid-back while some of us are high maintenance, but no matter what our personality type is, we can all learn to have the right attitude to pursue our lives.

Frugality goes a long way when learning to live on less money. And bartering, otherwise known as swapping stuff, can also help to live on less money. Help neighbors: many hands make light the load.

Amish Barn Raising

Also, learning the difference between a “need” and a “want” is critical to learning how to live on less money. Before we decide to buy something we want, we must meet our needs.

If we get rid of our long list of desires and wants, we actually have very few needs. The important needs are shelter, food, water, health (mental, physical, spiritual), and safety. By focusing on our important needs, we can teach ourselves to live on less money. And the next time we are lured by an advertisement or we see something that a friend bought and we would like to have one, too, we just ask ourselves if that item is one of the important needs. Chances are, it isn’t….it’s an object or some type of a “want”, but it isn’t a necessity.

Once we can identify the differences between a “need” and a “want”, the consumer-driven lifestyle will fall to the wayside. At that point, everything seems so much simpler. Have you heard the phrase “a simple life”? People have been doing this for centuries.

When we have changed our mindset, our goals change and everything becomes simpler. And honestly, we CAN live on less.

Live Simply

We Are Living In Difficult Times

In the past decade, Americans have witnessed extreme situations that have threatened many of us.  We have seen bad weather conditions and weather-related catastrophic events like Superstorm Sandy. We have all seen the increase in violence, too, from the inner city to the rural regions. Man-made disasters and natural disasters threaten us and both are increasing in occurrence and in severity.

We are living in difficult times and the problems they cause can be overwhelming. We cannot escape many of the difficulties but we can brace, and plan, for them. Dangers lurk around every corner and we’re continually bombarded with them now.  It’s a doom-and-gloom point of view but it is our reality.  I have said before, we are at The End Of The World As We Know It. Truly — it’s arrived.

Threats from weather, civil unrest, terrorism, financial problems, pandemics, drought, government and corporate corruption — these threats affect all of us. And when a possible threat becomes a reality, the effects are seen throughout our society.

As our society becomes more complex, the systems which interact with one another will often fail now — all because of the interdependency that has created the complexity. Think of these inter-connected systems as spokes on a wheel. When one spoke breaks, the wheel continues to roll along. But when several spokes break, the wheel is weakened.  So the threats that we sometimes face and the dangerous situations which are sometimes forced upon us can create problems. And those problems  leave us without resources or with broken down systems that cause a new set of problems: one problem creates another problem.

In the case of Superstorm Sandy, the disaster has been devastating for some disaster victims and tolerable for others, depending on a number of factors like their location or their preparedness. In general though, the end results of Superstorm Sandy have weakened food delivery services, disrupted power grids, caused problems with transportation, contaminated drinking water, destroyed homes, and created medical problems. Whatever the danger or disaster, when something bad occurs, the majority of those affected are forced into situations they often cannot cope with.

Faster and faster the dangers come. We see problems and threats more often. It’s alarming to see the increased frequency of these threats, too. We need to admit that we are living in difficult times. We must learn to help ourselves better. We must protect ourselves better. Having worked for years with disasters through my past employment with FEMA, I can say that the majority of those affected by dangerous situations like disasters were never prepared for them. They were not prepared emotionally, physically, or financially.

Why is this? Why are most Americans ill-prepared for dangerous situations and disaster-related problems? Many people don’t want to worry about the bad-stuff.  And many people believe nothing bad will happen to them. But this is not rational thinking, it’s avoidance behavior. Most people feel helpless, even overwhelmed, when they worry so they tend to ignore what frightens them.  And many people lack the confidence to help themselves. They would rather have someone else, like the Government, help them.  They are offloading personal responsibility and that mindset is a poor choice — I have witnessed first hand how the Government operates and “helps” people. And anyone who is paying attention to the assistance that FEMA has been providing in NJ and NY will agree.

Here’s the deal: we cannot become an even larger Nation of dependents who want the Government to take care of us. It’s foolish. And it’s unsustainable. We must learn to be better prepared and better educated so that we can fend for ourselves and protect our loved ones from dangers and unforeseen disasters.

With our complex society and interdependency, a disaster that does not affect us personally still affect us indirectly. Disasters cost money and lives. If a disaster is a Federally-declared disaster, taxpayers foot the bill. Disasters create additional costs, too. In the Superstorm Sandy, Wall Street was inaccessible. Because the buildings and streets were physically damaged, the global Market had to be shut down — there was no back-up plan. Think about that…  because of poor planning with those-in-charge of New York’s Wall Street location, the entire global investment world was affected. And they want us to trust them with our investments….

The continuing onslaught of disasters and dangerous situations affect us and we react to them.   A natural or man-made disaster always forces a reaction by anyone who has been affected, but the end results vary depending upon the person affected.  It is up to the victim to decide whether to be better prepared the next time.  Disaster victims don’t always learn hard lessons — some will become proactive towards preparedness and self-reliance and some will not. It’s about individualism and the mindset.

Aside from disasters, there are also many serious situations that can threaten us, too.  We are living in difficult times and none of us care for it but we cannot escape it. Our current economic situation is a threat that we all experience, directly or indirectly. The Federal Reserve is creating money out of thin air, the devalued housing market has eroded family wealth, and the underfunded retirement liabilities pose a threat to retirement plans. Because we are all affected by these problems, directly or indirectly, there is a mood across portions of America that has evolved, especially since our financial mess became publicly known in 2008. Many Americans distrust our government more than before. Many of us have no faith in our banking system. And we have learned to be skeptical of most broadcast news.  About half of our country realizes that we are living in difficult times now. Our attitudes have changed and this has influenced our outlook. Then there is the other half of our country who want a bigger, more protective Government. And they want free stuff. And they don’t want to work.

What we witnessed on Election Night was the evidence of societal change.

We are a Nation that is divided. We are a split group. We are a society of workers and takers. And it won’t balance out correctly. Even if Obama and his followers keep pushing their divisiveness while they also tout “social justice” and all of those other “justice” causes. This societal change is not just dangerous, it’s disastrous.

Many publications have been written on societal change, specifically about the evolution of societies, the rise and fall of societies, and how civilizations actually fail. One book that has gained attention over the past decade is The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy – What the Cycles of History Tell Us About America’s Next Rendezvous with Destiny, by William Strauss and Neil Howe. Authors Strauss and Howe predict our future based upon our past and the historical cycles in other countries. Well worth reading, The Fourth Turning offers much about our destiny and how we might better prepare for what is inevitable.

“The next Fourth Turning is due to begin shortly after the new millennium, midway through the Oh-Oh decade. Around the year 2005, a sudden spark will catalyze a Crisis mood. Remnants of the old social order will disintegrate. Political and economic trust will implode. Real hardship will beset the land, with severe distress that could involve questions of class, race, nation and empire. The very survival of the nation will feel at stake. Sometime before the year 2025, America will pass through a great gate in history, commensurate with the American Revolution, Civil War, and twin emergencies of the Great Depression and World War II.” – Strauss & Howe, The Fourth Turning

If you haven’t read The Fourth Turning, please do. Prepare yourself.

Although we are living in difficult times, it will get worse — much worse. But even though it will be difficult — even bleak — we can become more self-reliant so that we can help ourselves as best as we can. Many of us know that we can improve our lives and our lifestyles, and sometimes, we simply need reminders for encouragement. Let’s all become better prepared to protect ourselves and our families so that these difficult times are not an overwhelming challenge. Will you join in?

I’ve listed some basic steps that can help us prepare to become less dependent and more self-reliant. A blog post, a hand-written journal, or an ongoing action-item list can help each of us become actively engaged in more self-reliance as we prepare for any disaster that heads our way.

  • Define your goals towards self-reliance and prioritize them. This is the backbone of your “plan”.
  • Become action-oriented. Lay out your “plan” to achieve those goals.
  • Establish a time-table, if possible, and strive to achieve each of those goals. Expect results and try not to procrastinate.
  • Have a positive attitude.
  • Learn to adapt to a variety of situations.
  • Assess your personal skill-set, then identify some new skills that could be beneficial. Check your “plan” to see if there are any new skills that might help you further your goals.
  • Learn a new skill.
  • Determine the necessities required for your “plan” to succeed.  Do you need a pantry for stored foods?
  • Create a ‘wish list’ for items that will help you achieve your “plan”. Do you need a shed for storage?
  • Be active, both physically and mentally.
  • Engage your “plan” daily. Perhaps a checklist will help you to achieve a goal.
  • Remember what is truly important.
  • Garden!
  • Plant a garden, increase the size of your garden, add in (or start) edibles that are perennial  (come back every year)
  • Plant a fruit tree, or plant several. Remember to plant fruit bushes and nut trees if time, money, and space allows
  • Learn to preserve foods: water bath canning, pressure canning, dehydrating, freezing.
  • Buy extra food for the pantry: purchase food in bulk, or simply extra cans of foods to put away in the pantry
  • Store extra water
  • Keep basic medical supplies for emergency situations
  • Inventory tools, add necessary tools.

We are indeed living in difficult times. We can learn to adapt to many scenarios. We can also learn how to cope with many of the dangerous situations as long as we become better prepared to do so. Some of the preparedness involves training yourself and your mindset. And some of the preparedness requires us to plan for our personal needs and safety.

Remember to strive for “safe, sanitary, and secure” and use this as a personal checkpoint during an emergency, if needed. Are you and your home safe? Is your location sanitary? Is your home secure? You and your household’s personal safety are of utmost importance.

Knowing you are safe, your secondary items of importance are water and food. We must have these to survive! We must always remember to keep extra items on hand — just in case. We must have extra foods put away so we may eat. We must have an adequate quantity of stored water (roughly, 1 gallon of water per person per day). We also must stock some basic medical supplies and medication.

We are living in difficult times. Let’s all become more independent and self-reliant. Our lives really do depends upon it!

Caution: Change Ahead

Yep, we arrived.

We got there.

(You did too.)

We’ve all reached that destination many refer to as TEOTWAWKI (The End of the World as We Know It).

We’re okay. How about you? We’re adapting as best as we are able to. We’ve met difficulties head-on and it seems that as soon as we make a few changes, here it comes again!

So adapting to “new ground rules” has become our new normal.  Now we try to look at the ever-changing economy as an enormous challenge we’ll try to prepare for. For us, investment strategies have changed, retirement plans have changed — in short, our finances have changed. And these things are changing our outlook on the future. Politics, legislation, corporate greed have been instrumental in each of these changes and it has all been forced upon us. And we see more forceful changes ahead, too. The signs are all there, here are just a few, none of them are good.

The National debt has now exceeded $16 trillion dollars.

The SNAP food stamp program broke yet-another record recently: 46.7 million people in America are now receiving benefits.

Unemployment continues to hover above 8%. Of course that’s the lower U3 rate provided by the BLS which does not include the underemployed or those who have given up and no longer looking for a job. A more appropriate unemployment number is the BLS U6 rate.

So how about those jobs? President Obama keeps saying that he has created millions of jobs. Millions! Thankfully, the Federal Reserve Economic Data realizes it can’t fudge their bean-counting. The fact is there has only been a net gain of 300,000 over the course of the Obama administration to date.

And it should come as no surprise to learn that the US has slipped down for the 4th year in a row in the Global Competitiveness Report 2012-2013 just published. The US is now ranked at #7, dropping from the #5 position this year.

Our competitive edge is a measurement of our productivity and we know we’re losing. We’re not only unable to compete in the global market, our civilian labor force is now 63.5%, the lowest level in decades.

Forbes wrote that 165 million Americans are dependents of the State:

New research from Ranking Member of the Senate Budget Committee Jeff Sessions (R-AL) reveals that this reality may already be here, with more than 107 million Americans on some form of means-tested government welfare.

Add to that 46 million seniors collecting Medicare (subtracting out about 10 million on Supplemental Security Income, Medicaid, and other senior-eligible programs already included in Sessions’ means-tested chart) and 22 million government employees at the federal, state, and local level — and suddenly, over 165 million people, a clear majority of the 308 million Americans counted by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2010, are at least partially dependents of the state.

Personal wealth has decreased more than 30% in recent years, and home values have plummeted more than 35%, too.

So it comes as no surprise that the number of persons living at or below the poverty level has increased. And as the poverty rate increased, incomes decreased. The real median household income has fallen another 4.8 percent since we were told that we’re really in “an economic recovery.”

Recovery? What recovery? Americans are being lied to and manipulated like never before.

This is not the America I know.

And honestly, this is not how America has ever been. But this is our new America — the old America is lost.

Last August I wrote Are We There Yet? noting some of the Nation’s changes and how they have negatively impacted our household.  Since then, we have tried to stay a step ahead of the inevitable.  We see the signs. We’ve tightened our seat belts as best as we can, but what we see isn’t just a crash that’s ahead of us. We see something worse, much worse. We see a collapse of our economy and we think it’s going to get chaotic, then frantic, then desperate and dangerous.

Long ago, we stopped listening to “corporate mainstream news” on television. Worse than the blatant political bias on the news stations is the lack of truth being reported about global economic collapse.  The news stations are not altruistic, they are for-profit corporations that service themselves and the corporate world they are attached to.  They are part of a corrupt system that shapes opinions and ideology. They manipulate us. And they make big-money to do this. To intentionally hide important events or negative reports is unethical, yet this is what the networks do. They decide what we need to know in the hopes that they can manipulate or lull us into further complacency. Fortunately, through the Internet, we learn the reality about the poor economy and how it is dangerously tied into the downturn of the global economy.

Greece, Spain, Italy — members of the European Union —  are showing the world what the reality of our economic system is, but the news stations have blacked it out. In Spain, people are taking their money and leaving. They know the panic and desperation that will lead to looting and riots in the streets. A few weeks ago, activists looted supermarkets and distributed food to the unemployed and hungry people who were unable to buy or grow their own food.

Some Americans don’t understand what lies ahead but make no mistake — people see the signs, people sense danger is ahead of us.

For now, all that we can do is try to prepare for the change ahead of us. We have set some revised plans into motion, but even these plans can change. There are forces much mightier than we are, so we remain cautious while we plan for some of these inevitable changes.

We grow as much food as we are able to. We eat in-season. We preserve foods to last us through the year. We cook with wood on occasion. We turn out the lights at night and use solar lanterns instead. We chop wood to heat our home. We do our own construction and repairs. We’re debt-free and we live simply. We unplug from the many gadgets and gismos that are unnecessary. And we discover new “old ways” of doing things, learning from those who lived before us in times gone by.

We look back to the Great Depression and try to understand history and how people survived that economic disaster. We wonder how society will be re-molded as those who say they are The Ones In Power have planned. The only path we know is the path of self-reliance on our homestead.  And so we continue on, making some adjustments along the way. We plan and prepare for the ever-changing government and economic system we live in. I hope you are, too.

Harry Browne once wrote, “When you know that you’re capable of dealing with whatever comes, you have the only security the world has to offer.”

Adding Foods Into The Pantry

When the economy worsened and our weather patterns affected our garden harvests, we made some homestead changes. Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen so much financial chaos that we had to face the facts and redefine normalcy. We have seen home values plummet, gas prices rise, insurance costs increase, and the price of store-bought food increase by as much as 50% in a short period of time.  We have seen how the food industry has used short-sizing to keep prices constant while the unit price of food escalated.  Food is costing more to purchase and to make it all even worse, there have been predictions of food shortages on some of our commodities like wheat and corn. There was no doubt about it — a  food crisis was coming.

So we made some changes and we have accepted the fact that the life we had grown accustomed to had changed.  Some call this TEOTWAWKI, or The End Of The World As We Know It, and rather than moan about it or fear it, we are adapting to it. We have approached this by investing more in ourselves and in our homestead.  We have made some changes in how we garden, too.

We grow foods to eat fresh from the garden while it’s in season. We also preserve some of our garden harvest to eat at a later time. We are growing more food now and we are preserving more food now. Because of this, we have changed the way we preserve and store foods.

We also changed the way we stock our pantry.  Just in case. Rather than run low or deplete many of our home-canned foods during the Winter, we decided it would be smarter to never run low or run out of those home-canned foods.

By adding more foods into the pantry, we needed to be more attentive with our stored food. We have also learned how to budget our time so that we could meet our goals on a long-term basis. Instead of preserving foods to hold us over Winter, our goal has been to preserve more foods so that we will have an ample quantity of foods that we can use in the Spring. And even into Summer and Fall, if necessary.

To accomplish this, we increased our garden size and we installed a large rainwater tank for garden watering so that we could grow more food.  Just in case. We also decided that we would add in more foods by home canning more, dehydrating more, and freezing more.  Canning this and canning that, even a few jars at a time, adds up.

At that time, we also began to buy dry foods in bulk.  We are unable to grow our own rice, sugar, and wheat at this time so those are a few of the items that we buy. Now we buy them in bulk quantity. We learned how economical it was to buy certain foods in bulk and in time, we found that by reorganizing and decluttering we had enough space to store dry foods long term.

We also began to buy dry beans in bulk. We grow several varieties of beans to dry each year but we decided that we needed to purchase beans in bulk so that we could store them for the long term. Just in case.

As our economy has continued to disappoint most Americans and food inflation has affected everyone’s food budget, we realized it will only get worse. So we began to buy foods for tomorrow with today’s dollars. In brief, we see that a financial invest in foods has a better return than a financial investment in stocks or even in a money market account.

One year ago, on January 19, 2011, I wrote, “… are any of us getting more concerned? In 2009 and 2010, our household made some changes to our personal food supply.  We began making bulk purchases of dry goods, increasing our own future food supply while it was still “affordable.”  The decision was a good one and we not only saved money, we saved time because our food supply system became our own little grocery store. We purchased dried foods like grains, beans, sugar, and rice in 25 pound and 50 pound bags. As we used them, we bought more. We cycled our bulk foods much as we cycled our canned goods, using the oldest foods first. We grew our food storage system until we met the food storage goal of 1 year’s supply of food for our household.”

We met that goal, and then we increased our food storage for a longer term. Our outlook on the future is much different today than it was a decade ago. All of the exciting retirement plans have vanished. Our investment strategy has changed from having typical retirement plans to personal investment strategies. And given the uncertainty in global finance, the best investment we have found has been food. Well, okay….precious metals, too….

There are weeks when we might purchase a 50-pound bag of white rice or a 25-pound bag of wheat berries. There are also weeks when we may only purchase a 1-pound bag of dry beans. It all adds up and contributes to our food storage. Like money in the bank … but a glass jar of beans is prettier than a bank statement, now isn’t it?  :-)

So we are storing dry foods like rice, wheat berries, and beans.  Beans are an excellent pantry item and they are very easy to store for a long time. We have dry beans in buckets, cans, glass jars, and large plastic containers. Besides, a small cupboard or shelf of colorful dry beans is like food art.

Dry beans are my favorite pantry food.  Packed with protein and inexpensive to purchase, dry beans offer great nutritional value without too much difficulty in storing them. Dry beans can be stored in a pantry for decades. Then they can be reconstituted and cooked or preserved by pressure-canning them.  Dry beans can be safely stored in 5-gallon food buckets if they are sealed in mylar bags. Dry beans can be safely stored in glass jars. Dry beans can also be stored in large plastic jars or vacuum-sealed bags. The estimated length of storage for dry beans that are sealed in mylar bags inside of sealed food-grade buckets is about 30 years. I have learned by experience that dry beans can be stored in well-sealed glass jars for 20+ years. Isn’t that incredible?

Have you got a spare glass jar and lid? Do you have an empty, lidded plastic jar?

Fill it up with a pound of dry beans and add it to your pantry.

There’s no time like the present to add some extra food into your food pantry.