The Truth about Bartering Series – Part 3

8 Nov

Written by Mike Harris on The Prepper Journal.

Editors Note: Another contribution from Mike Harris in his series on bartering for The Prepper JournalThe content is that of the authors. 
Commodities and the Facts about Barter – Preppers you may have it WRONG!

This series is truly centered on the idea of commodities. What they are and how are they actually used. This particular article I believe undoubtedly will be the most controversial piece I have ever written. I have reviewed countless articles on Barter and the ideas portrayed therein are, in my most humble opinion, somewhat ignorant and in some cases negligent. This idea that the mere possession of alcohol, water filters, canned food, candles, firearm related items and first aid products (insert random household/camping item here) will somehow equate to a gold standard currency (i.e. quintessential standard) that will allow the average person the ability to effectively engage in commerce to a standard of livability is ludicrous.  This is a myth that has been passed on from one prepper to another, without even taking a second to look at the facts or the peer research that is out there on this topic.

My goal is not to change anyone’s mind. I’m not even going to make suggestions on what commodities you should be prepping. I simply want to present the facts and evidence that are relevenant to the ideal that we all hold dear and that is “Preparedness”. I want to give you a systematic and fact based lens by which you can judge and discern commodities, or other barter items. Even more importantly I want to show you how you can establish a systematic approach on how to judge a “medium of exchange” in a post-WROL economy. If you haven’t read the first two articles I encourage you to do so as they really lay the foundation on this barter series. The articles can be found here:

The idea that a backpack, cellar, bunker or sunken ship has monetary worth based upon the items it possesses is the fundamental idea of “commodity”. A commodity is anything that holds intrinsic value in of its self and based upon that merit is widely accepted as a “medium of exchange”. Things like gold, silver, jewelry, precious metals/stones, even seashells have historically been considered “commodity money”. Even items like chocolate, cigarettes, and alcohol have been seen as ”commodity money” in many instances. It is important to realize that most of the items I noted in the beginning are not mentioned above. This is based upon a very striking paradigm – just because something is useful doesn’t make it valuable and vise versa. A great example of this is a roll of toilet paper and a 1-ounce silver coin. One is used everyday by millions upon millions of people while the other is not. Yet in a situation where a fiat currency is no longer in play one can be used, as “commodity money” while the other cannot.

Now it’s important to realize what makes currency effective in commerce. What does a reliable currency look like in a Post-WROL world? As mentioned in the last two articles there are three excellent indicators of a strong currency (“medium of exchange”). 1) A strong currency is one that is “widely accepted”. Unlike U.S. currency aka “Fiat Currency” paradigms (Federal Reserve Notes) commodities don’t require government force for them to be “widely accepted”. 2) You want your currency to have “stored value”. At a minimum you want it to have the ability to be left alone for long periods of time and still have the same value years later. With a good strong currency it would actually not be surprising to see it increase in value the longer it sits. 3) A strong currency has a “Unit of Measure”. Meaning there is an accurate and dependable standard by which you can account for its worth (1 oz. gold= $1,282.30 or 77oz. silver or €1086.70). The ability to have a criterion for which you can engage other commodities or currencies whether they are local or international goes to prove its merit not only as commodity but also as a currency.

Now that you have a blue print for what makes a strong reliable currency lets put some common barter items to the test. Lets start off with Medicine; While drugs, antibiotics and other pharmaceutical applications can be super valuable especially to the right person still in of its self doesn’t make it a great barter item.  Medicine is not widely accepted especially here in the US where it is highly subsidized and usually has a very specific clientele base (meaning bilateral trades will be very difficult). It does not have stored value due to its half-life and the fact that it has a set expiration date. Lastly it does not have a strong “Unit of Measure” by which an accurate calculation that can be made of its worth compared to that which would be bartered for it (How many eggs would an 800mg of Motrin be worth?). Next lets look at toilet paper, everyone uses toilet paper. It could be stored for long periods of time and remain relatively the same in quality. However it has absolutely no “Unit of Measure” nor is it widely accepted in the sense of commodity. It’s a luxury item with a relatively low priority in regards to human needs.

This leads us directly into the last thing I want to discuss which is Gresham’s Law. Gresham’s Law is a monetary principle that’s states that “bad money drives out good money”. For example, if there are two forms of commodity money in circulation, which are accepted by law or by perceived value as having a similar face value, the more valuable commodity will disappear from circulation. Gresham’s Law is the economic standard in currency valuation. We have seen this played out historically through the use of debasement. Especially if we look at the coinage act of 1965. Getting the most “bang for your buck” so to speak has been the objective of mankind since the beginning of time (Uses and Abuses of Gresham’s Law in the History of Money by Dr. Robert A. Mundell, 1999 Nobel Laureate). The same is true of bartering, people engaging in commerce will look to trade their lesser valuable commodities and items (alcohol, cigarettes, first aid supplies, jewelry, ammunition, water filters etc.) for the items they need or want.

When we look Bartering, and the concepts of commodities and more importantly economics from a post-WROL lens the most important thing we should do is to be realistic. Realistic about your economic abilities, realistic about the energy you are willing to put into engaging in commerce. Most importantly be realistic about the strength (“Widely Accepted”, “stored value”, “Unit of Measure”) of the commodity or barter items you plan to use when SHTF.

 

 

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The Truth about Bartering Series – Part 2 – Fiat Currency

18 Sep

Written by Mike Harris on The Prepper Journal.

The purpose of this article is not to share some ultra secret get rich scheme, or to tell you how to invest your capital. It’s not even going to help you to be better with your money. The purpose of this article is to share the truth about the economic paradigm in which all industrial nations of our world keep their economies afloat, things we should be aware of for our planning.  If you have not read part 1 (http://www.theprepperjournal.com/2017/08/10/truth-bartering-part-1/) in this series I highly recommend you do it, it’s a great segue into all the topics that will be discussed herein.

Why does money really matter in preparedness?

Overall money is a very taboo topic to talk about yet it has such a huge impact in our everyday lives. Whether you’re the President and real estate money Mongol Donald J. Trump or the penny-pinching college kid couch surfing on AIRBNB money (fiat currency paradigm) has huge and lasting effects on us all. Don’t believe me, why is the number one reason for divorce and suicide in this nation related to finances? Why is the average college student indebted over $60,000? Why is it that so many people require social welfare programs? How many people in this nation are really financial free (debt free)? The unfortunate truth is as a nation and as individuals we are severely addicted to credit! We spend money we don’t have to live the lifestyle we are told we must have in order to be accepted by an unsustainable, ignorant, self-loathing, wicked and mental ill society. Yes, I believe it’s about time we get serious and have an honest discussion about the fiat currency system in which we are forced to live.

 

 What is Fiat Currency and why is it important?

Nations, governments, localities, even tribes have, throughout history, implemented official mediums of exchange. Mediums of exchange are vital to a growing society and are highly sought after due to their economic dependency and accurate calculation in the pretense of value. This is largely due to the fact that using a medium of exchange (money) does not mean transactions will happen instantaneously. It means it is important that the “official currency” holds it’s worth; it’s dependability, which gives it “stored value” which is a necessity for any growing or already established economic system (macro or micro). So in order to establish a medium of exchange that is not only accepted by all parties but is clearly and definitely defined in respect to a unit of measure (stored value) it usually requires an authority of force to mandate such requirements. So when a government simply declares a medium of exchange that, of it self, has no intrinsic value as holding value to use as a medium of exchange, we call this fiat. A great example of this is if you were to look at the back of a US Federal Reserve note (which is not a government agency by the way) you will see the phrase “legal tender for all debts, public and private.” Simply put this means if someone is selling something and you “tender” (offer the official government implemented “medium of exchange” aka money) you have legally paid, regardless if the seller accepts the currency. This is in effect how worthless pieces of colored paper can become a “stored value” by which billions of people worldwide dedicate their lives in order to attain as much of it as possible at all costs. Given such, the nature of mankind’s struggle and its willingness to exploit, intimidate, destroy and even murder in order to obtain a greater “stored value” really speaks to the testament of man’s heart.

Why is money good?

Fiat Currency is actually very convenient and without equivocation has been essential in the quick and rapid progression of our societies. The simple truth is money can do things that barter and commodities simply can’t due. It is really hard to imagine a society in which there is no medium of exchange because the truth is without it I (the average middle class American man) wouldn’t even have access to a computer if such thing even existed. So here is just a couple of ways money is “good”:

  • Acts as a medium of exchange
  • Allows transactions to occur bilaterally
  • Is the quickest and most convenient way of having stored value
  • Universally accepted
  • Convenience of taking unlimited amounts on one’s person

It’s important to know this is not an exhaustive list but it does show how important a medium of exchange is not only to our economic system, but also to the everyday person. The ability of one to engage in commerce with another without the use of complicated multifaceted programs or even computerized bartering systems is huge. Being able to have stored value physically or digitally or any combination of the two is unprecedented. Given the negative connotations (rightfully so) that is associated with the fiat currency system it should be noted with all it’s flaws it does allow billions of people worldwide to live the progressive existences they do.

  Why is money bad? This really goes without saying but for context sake I will quickly deliver here. Money in and of its self is not bad, as with any tool or medium used by humans it’s the intent and how it’s used that determines the morality of the outcome. However in the fiat currency system we can see and conceptualize the bigger problem.  This being that market forces have the ability to not only weaken the power of the dollar but also systematically destroy it overnight. The fact that bad deals on Wall Street (ex. 2008 Stock market crash) can degrade the power of the dollar while simultaneously voiding a “30 year in the making” 401k-retirement plan of a steel worker in Ohio isn’t just troubling but the textbook definition of a nightmare. Some quick facts: the 2008 stock market crash destroyed $16.4 trillion of American households’ net worth from 2007 through 2009, it wiped out more than $2 trillion of Americans’ retirement savings.

“Gold has intrinsic value. The problem with the dollar is it has no intrinsic value. And if the Federal Reserve is going to spend trillions of them to buy up all these bad mortgages and all other kinds of bad debt, the dollar is going to lose all of its value. Gold will store its value, and you’ll always be able to buy more food with your gold.”-  Peter Schiff (American investment broker, investor, author, financial commentator, and radio personality. CEO of Euro Pacific Capital Inc.).

Conclusion

There are no bright outcomes that come from runaway fiat currency paradigms. The middle class is and has always been affected the most by economic flares. In order to be prepared one must be understanding of the variables in economics and how they affect the stored value one currently possesses. While its great to have a system by which one can have stored value that is universally accepted and easy to take anywhere. And a system by which an unlimited number of transactions can occur bilaterally and consecutively. It is important to realize that while this is how we as a society have been able to live our lives and even acquire perceived financial wealth, it is an extremely unsustainable economic design. Based upon science, mathematics, and well documented history, fiat currencies always fail. No matter what perspective you take on economics I believe this is a very unfaltering universal truth we can all agree upon. Money is nonaligned and dispassionate. Money amplifies ones moral compass, it doesn’t create it. If you live un-sustainabley now with little wealth, you would as well if you were a million dollars richer.  At some point we must come to realization that unsustainable means just that “UNSUSTAINABLE”!  So given that truth what will you do with your fiat currency today?

Author Bio:

 Mike Harris is a full time RV’r who has spent the last couple years traveling all over the world. He served on Active duty for over 9 years as a Search and Rescue Corpsman (Flight Medic) and an Aerospace Medical Technician in The United States Navy.  He has operated all over the world including the Middle East with the 2515th NAAD. He has trained both local and federal agencies as well as foreign governments. He played a direct role doing SAR during hurricane Sandy. When not working or prepping you can find him traveling the country in his RV, hiking off the beaten path or enjoying much needed catch-up time with friends and family. You can catch his adventures on his YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoYB6ppUgCAA_47SlIrqOIg).

 

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Preppers and Big Agriculture: What You Don’t Know About Food Preparedness!

1 Jun

Written by Mike Harris on The Prepper Journal.

When we look at food storage as prepared minded individuals we tend to go through a well-organized, quite thorough systematic matrix.  We do our due diligence to ensure our food has the right amount of calories, proteins, and carbohydrates. Most of us even ensure we put the right  “kinds” of food like fruits and vegetables to supplement. Most preppers don’t have elaborate off-grid gardens or homesteads (less than a fraction of a percentage point of Americans do) and many of the ones that do often use fertilizer (natural or not) to help grow the food they consume.

Many preppers are consumed with the idea of organic which personally I’m not against however as you will see from this article I’m more concerned about food quality and the nutritional properties of the food and the health of the soil than I am with a paid-for certification by a National Organic Program (NOP). Meaning you can grow something “organically” but that doesn’t make it organic legally. This is an importance inference to make especially since most of us buy our food rather than grow it. The last caveat I want to say about #Organic is just because a product says it is organic, that doesn’t automatically mean the quality or the nutritional properties will be superior to those that don’t have that accreditation. Just because I grew something without additives in my backyard and paid an accrediting agent of a NOP doesn’t necessarily make my produce quality better than or on the same level as other producers (accredited or not).

Before I dive head deep into this idea of the importance of food-quality and nutritional value lets break the ice with a joke. What is worth less than a penny? The very same penny tomorrow. This all goes to the main point of this article; our fruits and vegetables are becoming more and more dirt poor (nutritionally speaking). A landmark study on the topic of changes in food composition by Donald Davis and his team of researchers from the University of Texas (UT) at Austin’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry was published in December 2004 in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. They studied U.S. Department of Agriculture nutritional data from both 1950 and 1999 for 43 different vegetables and fruits, finding “reliable declines” in the amount of protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and vitamin C over the past half century. Davis and his colleagues found that the declining nutritional content was directly contributed to agricultural practices. Practices such as using Fossil fuel intensive synthetic nitrogen fertilizers, Pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and nematicides in order to grow food have become the standard practice.

Also with the corporate rise of modifying crops to improve certain favorable traits (size, growth rate, pest resistance) other than nutrition it’s no surprise we see in for-profit institutions trying to get the most “bang for their buck”. Profit is the driving force behind the unsustainable practices in big agriculture. In agriculture creating products with greater yield, pest resistance and climate adaptability have allowed crops to grow bigger and faster meaning more profit. However the down-side being the inability for these institutions to match the nutrients, and phytochemicals levels to keep pace with their rapid growth. The inability for big agriculture to keep pace with the incredible increase of not only population size but also produce consumer desired yield and nutrition output is not a controversial item of discussion it’s merely a fact.

Thanks to scientists, professors and other think tanks like David Thomas, Michael Crawford, Yoqun Wang, Richard Mithen, Donald Davis and many others who have analyzed the empirical data have shown incredible repercussions in our current agriculture (food production) paradigm.  Thanks to these innovative leaders once you analyze the food tables prepared by government scientists between 1951 and 1999 researchers found that potatoes had lost over 90 per cent of their vitamin A and 57 per cent of their vitamin C, while today’s consumers would have to eat eight oranges to get the same amount of vitamin A as their grandparents obtained from one fruit.

These numbers are not just unprecedented but undeniably horrific. As we see an ever increase in soil depletion, the creation of new GMO strains, also coupled with the ever increase in petro-chemical inputs in desperate hopes to match consumer desired output we can only expect that these trends of quality loss, and higher food costs in our commercial market will continue to rise. They will rise until we ultimately reach unsustainability.

What can you do?

So what does this mean to us as “prepared minded” people? In regards to basic food preparedness it most notably means that it will require more and more food to maintain a healthy nutritious lifestyle. This has undeniably caused higher produce costs; it also requires that we have to store more food to meet our nutritional requirements. This is especially a cause for concern when considering most of the popular food items in food preparedness are usually dehydrated foods. Meaning the food was heated up (degrading the already degraded nutritional value) so the water could be extracted. This causes a lighter, longer lasting (the longer food sits, the more nutritional value is lost), easier to store food source that can be reconstituted with water at a later time. So in modern-day 2017 from the time the food is harvested to the time it is consumed as a part of your preparedness planning it has most likely already gone through at least 3 phases of nutritional content degradation. This is not including the fact that food itself was in some circumstances already 8 times less nutritious at harvest then food grown generations past! As I have mentioned earlier this is just looking at it from a basic scratching the surface level of food preparedness.

Understanding where we are currently at in regards to food preparedness, food quality and overall sustainability is nothing short of horrific. But what makes this topic apocalyptic is this unfortunate fact. 99% of everyone who hears this information or reads this article will do absolutely nothing about. Even worse yet, they will continue to perpetuate this paradigm to next generation that will ultimately lead them down the path to unsustainability and ultimately their demise. So what can we do? Well if you are the 99% thank you for reading this far and realize the remaining portion of this article is not for you and I bid you a fair day.

However for the remaining 1% this article was written entirely for you.  I will say as bleak as everything sounds now there is good news. There is an awakening one could say. I’m not advocating for a second that anyone gets rid of his or her food storage and start over, not in the slightest. For those who have already amassed stored foods whether they be dehydrated, freeze-dried, or canned and are worried about nutritional value there are simple and inexpensive ways to ensure you are getting the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals your body needs.

One way is through supplementation. Now I will not say what kind of supplementation your body needs or what brands to get. But for myself I insure I have a bottle of vitamins in every container of food storage I have. A two-month supply of a quality multivitamin/multi-mineral supplement will cost you under $4 at most convenient stores. With this in mind I know these supplements won’t contain everything my body needs but something is way better than nothing. The next thing to look at would be where you are getting your foods currently. If you are like me you will notice right away for higher quality, locally produced food items you may have to pay much more. Figuring how to get the most nutrition for your buck would be your next step. Whether this is through a local retailer, or farmer’s markets or even local hobbyist looking to cover their overhead costs there are options out there.

The next step would be looking into what you can do in the future to produce your own high quality food. If you are like myself and have notice the increased price of easy to grow produce like tomatoes or strawberries it might benefit yourself to have a couple of plants yourself. This not only allows you the benefit of knowing where it comes from. It will also give you the piece of mind of knowing you have the ability to grow your own. Coupled this with the knowledge and learning along the way will really set you up for success in the future.

The last thing and most overlooked way to change this agriculture paradigm is by voting. When I say voting I don’t mean for a person I mean vote with your money, your time and your knowledge. Express to your delegates your displeasure with the costs of food, laws and ordinances that criminalize home gardens or seed banks. In some places having a tomato plant, or sharing heirloom seeds is a criminal offense. So change those laws, ordinances, and red tape that would prevent you as a prepared person from being as prepared as you can be.

When it comes to preparedness our bodies and our minds are literally the most important tools we have as a hedge against conflict, animosity, and disaster. Keeping ourselves healthy is paramount to success this is true not only in preparedness but also in life. We can see in everyday life that our health directives need to be revised. As preppers we should be looking at the modern-day enemies that ravage society. If we look at what’s killing people everyday in this country in drastic numbers we can clearly see it’s not ISIS, it’s not the super volcano or the pole switch. It’s not the masked man crawling through your window. It’s cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and dementia. The Greek physician and philosopher Hippocrates declared nearly 2,500 years ago: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” After centuries upon centuries of human evolution, rises in technological advances, the accumulation of countless gigabytes of empirical data and continued endless years of scientific research we can see that he was right as ever!

Sources:

 

About the author: Mike Harris is a full-time RV’r spending the last couple years traveling not only the country but all over the world. Being a 4th generation sailor he has not only operated all over the world but grew up experiencing the rich diversities that make this world great but also a dangerous place. He is still Active duty he is a Search and Rescue Corpsman (Flight Medic) and an Aerospace Medical Technician.  His preparedness and desire for sustainability are deep-rooted in reality. Having to endure and face catastrophe is not just a job description but also his personal mission. He has trained both local and federal agencies as well a foreign. He done real life missions he was there during hurricane Sandy and was also apart of the 2515th NAAD. When not working or prepping you can find him traveling the country in his RV, hiking off the beaten path or enjoying much-needed catch up time with friends and family. You can catch his adventures on his YouTube channel.

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