The Long Emergency

The 2008/2009 economic-financial crisis

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

If anyone thinks this is going to get fixed fast I would suggest a good rethink, and that includes the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the UK.

We are not as yet out of the recession/depression and things that show thus are but, I would suggest, but I am no economist but a journalist with some common sense, just blimps.

Some senior economists and analysts are suggesting that we have just entered an upstroke of a W-shaped recession and some senior bankers state on record that they believe that the next down stroke will be a very deep one.

Now is, therefore, the time to batten down the hatches and look at ways that we can “recession proof” our lives.

Acquire skills that could and will be useful should the economy really go south and things turn into something, like some economists are predicting, that will be worse, much worse, than the Great Depression of the first quarter of the twentieth century. If they are right then we all better do something for life as we know it, that is to say the lifestyle that most of us in the developed world enjoy still right now, is then on borrowed time.

The first thing to learn, and it is not so much a skill as a habit, is thriftiness. There is a lot to being thrifty; not just buying things in a thrift store.

Those that never have had to do any of that would do well to read some accounts of life and living in the 1930s and also find some of the books that were written with regards to how to make do with little to nothing.

If you can get a-hold of them invest in the Foxfire series of books as they have great information contained therein and also in books that deal with the how-to of many things.

Then learn to sew in order too repair, alter and even make your own clothes. Consider getting hold of a sewing machine and learning how to use it. Ideally such a machine should be a human-powered one, either by treadle or hand crank. Just make sure no one tries to sell you one as an antique, as that could be rather costly. However, thrift shops often do have them, especially the hand operated ones, at a reasonable price.

Also learn how to do leather work in order to make small leather goods but also, if possible, how to repair your own footwear and leather items.

Reuse and upcycle much of what would be regarded as trash into things that you can use around the home, the office, the garden, etc.

Learn to grow your own food and learn how, and this is most important, to preserve the harvest.

If you own your property, and it is at all possible, consider the preparation to take your home off-grid by means on alternative renewable energy sources such as small wind, solar panels, water wheel, and such for electric power; wood and methane gas for heat and cooking.

Also learn woodworking skills and other DIY stuff so that you can be as self-reliant as possible, and those are good skills to have, even if you do not live on a homestead in the boonies.

These and other skills also, aside from saving you money, and that already before any such emergency strikes, they can also bring in money for you or be ways of bartering for things you need and want but cannot produce yourself.

The ability to cut your own hair and that of your family is also a good skill to acquire and, when you have a little experience can also be one of those skills that can be a trade, that is to say a skill that can bring you in money or bartered goods or services.

While the politicians are trying to tell us that we are out of the recession and that everything is going to be hunky-dory again there are others who think rather differently and while that may sound like pessimism the best way is to prepared for the worst and accept anything better as a bonus.

Therefore, my suggestion is that we all learn to make do with less and get somewhat of the consumption train that seems to be running away with us, and learn to make things also for ourselves again. Aside from being great fun it also is good for the pocketbook.

The biggest problem we have nowadays is that most goods can no longer be opened and repaired, for instance, and everything is made to be tossed when it no longer performs properly and to be replaced with new. A toaster can no longer be opened to have a repair carried out and the same is true now even for radio receivers and such.

In many cases today, even if repair is possible, with smaller items especially it is cheaper to buy new than to have it repaired. We must vote with our feet and our pocketbooks, if at all possible, to let manufacturers know that we will no longer accept the “can't be repaired” way of things.

When it comes to travel it is also advisable that we look at alternatives to the motorcar as gasoline and diesel may be going up in cost soon again and when the recession hits more and more those costs may not be affordable to many of us.

Looking at changing for some journeys over to cycling should be a consideration and that would mean, if you haven't got one, to purchase a bicycle. It does not have to be a brand new one, though.

Then, once you got a bicycle try to learn how to keep it maintained and how to repair things when things go wrong.

People have gone so far down the road nowadays that they throw cycles away simply because the have a flat and do not know how to repair it. Instead of learning how to do it – and fixing a flat definitely is not rocket science – or even going to a bicycle mechanic – a trade that is picking up again – they throw into trash and buy new. Does not compute, I know. But we see this all the time and not just with bikes.

People also will go to the stores to spend say $10 for a metal pencil bin for their desk when all they would need to do is take a tin can and do the same. Nearly looks the same too.

They go and buy glass storage jars when, yet again, all they would have to do is to look at the things they throw into the trash- or the recycling bin. The list could go on and on on in the same way as the list of skills to acquire could go on and on.

© 2009