The Spirit of Self-Sufficiency

There seems to be a general consensus among people that times are hard and will likely get harder.  People are fearful and dissatisfied.  Some who are awake to the fragile nature of our world are frantically provisioning for all sorts of real and imagined calamities.  While it’s good to prepare, our best preparations are not in things.  They are in us.

This is illustrated in a book I finished just last evening.  Unbroken is the true story of Louie Zamperini–a juvenile delinquent-turned-Olympic runner-turned-Army hero.  It tells of his horrendous suffering as a castaway on the Pacific and in Japanese POW camps, of deprivation, hatred, redemption and his resilient, unbroken spirit.  I awoke peacefully this morning thinking of a journal entry I made several years ago.  I had completely forgotten and was surprised to find a second notation about a dream I had where I too was an Olympic runner.  Funny how much the subconscious mind remembers and connects when all is lost to the conscious mind.  Here are some excerpts from my journal.

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3/24/2009 – Journal Entry

I have a new favorite scripture.

Philippians 4: 11-13
Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

As our family read this passage, I was inspired by Paul’s strength and courage in a Roman prison – for 5 years.
We had a wonderful discussion about what it was that made Paul so strong in the face of deprivation of everything that normal people hold dear – especially his freedom. It strikes me that the last verse holds a key.
Paul asserts with infinite confidence that he can do all things. What caught my attention was the why and how of that strength. I noticed that in the King James Version it does not say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Instead, it says which strengthens me.  The antecedent that which refers to is doing through Christ.  By doing His will, acting on His eternally wise counsel, we are strengthened. Paul emphasizes an important part of that counsel when he says he has learned to be content in whatever state he finds himself.  In modern terms, “happiness is not in having what you want, it’s in wanting what you have”.

I am filled with His Spirit, His strength and His peace most, not when I am on my knees begging for it, but rather when I am doing my best to do and be as He counsels…. then I am strong, capable and confident that I can do, be and withstand all things. In those moments, a deep sense of peace distills upon me and I am happy regardless of what is going on around me.

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Some one hundred years ago it was determined that the average American had about 70 wants, things he desired to have. A similar survey was taken of his grandson and he had nearly 500 wants on his list and today, I’m sure that number is even higher. Why? Because people are not content in what they have!
(Joe Guglielmo)

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10/9/2009 – Journal Entry

In the past few months I haven’t thought much about this scripture.
Last night I had a strange, vivid, unusually coherent and powerful dream that seemed to last most of the night. I dreamed I was in the Olympics as a sprinter and surprisingly (as I dislike running and have no talent for it) won a medal. After the race, there was a great deal of pomp and confusion.  We were dressed in regal clothes with lots of patriotic emblems and medals representing our athletic accomplishments.  We were taken to special stores where we could buy more commemorative stuff and shuttled about for photo op’s and interviews. At one point the whole group was asked to think hard and come up with 100 short quips about goal setting that could inspire others.
In my dream, I came up with only one statement. It was “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me”.

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Paul was right.  Self-Sufficiency is not about physical preparation as much as it is about spiritual and mental preparation.  We must learn to be at peace, strong, contented in whatever state we find ourselves.   A wise man once said, “If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear”.  Prepare your state of mind by wanting less.

Nashville Meetup – Intro to Preparedness Colonies

For those in the Nashville area, this Saturday, July 16, 2011, I will host, along with my esteemed colleagues, a 2-hour discussion on preparedness colonies.  We will discuss pros and cons of different types of colonies, how to find, connect, evaluate, join or build one.  What makes a colony succeed or fail?  What do you need to be an effective member of a colony?

You can find out more, sign up and RSVP for this workshop at
http://www.meetup.com/PROVIDENTLIVING/events/22957301/

How to Take Control of your Wealth

I have long been puzzled by the appeal to return to a gold standard.  Yes, I know that gold has been the traditional repository of value throughout the centuries.  But what makes gold intrinsically valuable? Is it its lovely yellow hue? Its soft, malleability?  The fact that it doesn’t rust?  Or is it that, along with these nice features, there is simply a limited supply that inhibits inflation?  A currency that is backed by it should therefore not be inflatable.  That too is true, but this all seems too simplistic.

The wealth of the world is continuously increasing in line with its population, increases in productivity, scientific knowledge and technology.  So why should a fixed amount of currency representing a rapidly changing store of value be a good thing?  Wouldn’t that result in massive deflation as world economies expand? This begs the question, what is wealth?  Is it money?  Obviously not. If we were to assume that gold is money, would it BE wealth? No, it is only a medium of exchange that symbolically represents wealth. Money is simply used to grease the wheels of commerce. It is an intermediary tool used to move in and out of different forms of real, tangible wealth.

Wealth is actually food, water, shelter, clothing, cars, trucks, trains, planes, fuel, electricity, farms, manufacturing and production capacity, washing machines, blenders, microwave ovens and even electronic gadgets that people value for making our lives more pleasant.

It’s a very long time since I studied macro economics in graduate school, so I’ll admit to being a little rusty. But I was fortunate to have an excellent professor who had held a fairly senior position at the Fed, but had rejected it in favor of a libertarian philosophy.  He was an avid follower of economics Nobel Prize winner, Milton Friedman. I learned that control (expansion and contraction) of the money supply is the primary means of manipulating economic power and that power is currently under the exclusive control of a highly centralized and private banking system. As an inexperienced, young student, I lacked the practical perspective to understand the implications of what I was learning. Some 35 years later, I’m beginning to get it.  Ok, so I’m a slow learner.

To the extent that a person is reliant on a money supply that can be manipulated at the whim of another private entity, whether that is in the form of gold, paper currency, electronic blips on a computer, tulips or puka shells, we have lost the ability and freedom to manage our own lives. We are unwitting serfs in a modern feudal system shell game. We are sheep in a farm being repeatedly sheered through intentionally created boom/bust cycles of inflation/deflation and a villainous system of usury.

Is there a means of escape? Yes, but it is an inconvenient one.  People the world over are so conditioned to value convenience and comfort above all else that few would be willing to take the prescription. I know a little about the value we place on convenience. I personally created the business plan and negotiated the deal for 7-Eleven Thailand with the CP Group when I worked for the Southland Corporation. 7-Eleven is the world’s largest operator of convenience stores. Thailand, with about 6,000, now has the 3rd largest number of 7-Eleven stores behind the US and Japan.

Can you guess the ultimate convenience I am suggesting we need to ween ourselves from in order to gain back our freedom and stop the theft of personal wealth?

Contact me to explore the answer.

Visit the Village on Sewanee Creek Website

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Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged – a philosophy to unite Left and Right

I have occasionally hinted in my blogs that “I like liberals” or that I feel a strange kinship with some aspects of progressive thought.  As I have written these things, I cringe a little inside, expecting to be castigated by conservatives for association with such hated labels.  Finally, here is a piece that explains my feelings.  Here is the core of my hope that there is ample reason to believe that a majority of Americans from both ends of the political spectrum can find common cause if they will cast off the labels and think for themselves.

Thank you, Tom Mullen, for articulating this so well.  I include the full text of his article as well as a link to the original below.

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Why Progressives Might Enjoy Atlas Shrugged
By Tom Mullen

I had the opportunity to see Atlas Shrugged, Part I on Saturday in the only theater in which it is being shown in Tampa, FL. It is currently running at Cinebistro, a specialty theater where you can enjoy a high-end meal and fine wine served at your seat, which is very similar to a first class airline seat. Admittedly, it is just the kind of venue that progressives might associate with an elitist gathering of selfish capitalists. However, the movie itself tells quite a different story than they might expect if their understanding of Rand is limited to her interviews with Phil Donahue or Mike Wallace.

Like libertarians, Rand’s Objectivist economic theory was rooted in what we today call “the non-aggression axiom,” which Thomas Jefferson and the liberal faction of America’s founders called “the law of nature.” According to this philosophy, each individual has an inalienable right to keep the product of his labor and to dispose of it as he sees fit. The non-aggression axiom forbids any individual or group from using force to take away the justly acquired property of another. Neither does it allow for anyone to interfere with voluntary contracts, as long as those contracts do not involve the initiation of force against anyone else.

This prohibits the government, which is by definition the societal use of force, from redistributing wealth or enacting laws which go beyond prohibiting aggression. Establishment media figures who interviewed Rand immediately focused on the implications of her philosophy for social safety net programs, charging that Rand’s philosophy would not allow for programs for the poor or handicapped. While this is true, it obscures the most important implications of Rand’s philosophy for economic policy in the United States.

What would likely startle progressives watching the film is its emphasis on the evils of what free market proponents would call “crony capitalism.”  This is completely consistent with the novel, which demonstrates that the beneficiaries of government regulation supposedly enacted for “the common good” or “the benefit of society” are really the super-rich. Indeed, the film never criticizes the beneficiaries of social programs. Instead, it spends all of its time demonstrating the difference between those “capitalists” who acquire their wealth through government privileges and those true capitalists who acquire their wealth by producing products that consumers voluntarily buy.

This is a crucial distinction that has eluded progressives from Woodrow Wilson to Michael Moore. After seeing Moore’s film, Capitalism: A Love Story, I pointed out in my review of that film that there was very little that libertarians would disagree with. All of Moore’s criticisms of what he calls capitalism are really the result of crony capitalism. The biggest culprit in the economic collapse of the last decade was the Federal Reserve, a central planning/wealth redistribution institution that Rand explicitly condemns in her novel. Unfortunately, Moore incorrectly concludes that the economic distortions, inequitable distribution of wealth, and widespread harm to middle and lower income Americans were the result of a free market.

Rand would agree completely with progressives on the injustice of today’s American corporate state. That might also surprise progressives who probably assume that Rand would have supported the mainstream Republican policies of George W. Bush. Not only would Rand have condemned Bush’s version of state capitalism, but she was openly critical of Republican hero Ronald Reagan. When asked by Phil Donahue about Reagan during his administration, Rand said in so many words that he should have stuck to acting.

The only opportunity that progressives might have to disagree with anything in the film is the portrayal of the labor union official who tries to sabotage Dagny Taggarts launch of a new railroad line. This encounter takes all of about 3 minutes of the 113 minute film and is not a condemnation of labor unions in principle, but rather the illegitimate power that corrupt union officials can wield because of government privileges.

However, the true villains in the film are not union officials, beneficiaries of entitlement programs, or any other group associated with progressive philosophy. The villains are exclusively corporate executives and the government officials they get in bed with to illegitimately acquire wealth. The heroes are those who acquire their wealth by productive achievement and voluntary exchange. If one had to sum the film up in one sentence, it is an effective demonstration of the evils of crony capitalism and its difference from a truly free market.

I encourage progressives to see this film and to read Rand’s novel. If there is one thing that I hope they take away, it is that even great wealth can be acquired legitimately, when it is the result of human beings trading the products of their labor with the mutual, voluntary consent of all parties. Once progressives begin making the distinction between legitimately acquired wealth and wealth acquired because of government privilege, they will find libertarians and all other proponents of truly free markets standing by their side, fighting the evil corporate state.

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I pray that the deep chasm dividing Americans will be healed around our common desire to live free in the pursuit of happiness and prosperity, our birthright.


Ex-Pharma Rep comes clean, exposes industry corruption

This lady makes good sense.

Sometimes it’s overwhelming to think of all the information on the web that points to evil, controlling, manipulative behavior that loosely falls under the category of “conspiracy theory”.

The thing that deludes people into thinking all this is just paranoia is the myth that all evil is somehow coordinated by a small group of evil doers at the top of a great pyramid of evil.  Then again, maybe organic pyramid structures are a naturally occurring phenomena.

Watch Saturday morning cartoons.  Isn’t it amazing that almost all of them nowadays are based on the simplistic story of a super hero pitted against an arch evil nemesis who is single-handedly out to control or destroy the world?  When we grow up, cartoons are relegated to the world of childhood fantasy along with anything that smacks of cartoonishness.  Out goes the baby with the bathwater.  Ergo, arch-villains don’t exist or are at least an aberration from the norm.  Humanity is basically good, so to think that the mass of people would cooperate in a massive evil scheme is… unthinkable.

I view this a little differently.  It has been my life experience that most people really care about one thing – getting ahead.  That boils down to two words, money and power with their derivatives (fame, beauty, sex, comfort, pleasure, etc.)  I have made it a habit of evaluating motives by looking at where the feet are pointing – actions, not words.

Adam Smith, the father of modern economics posited that there is an invisible hand that moves all mankind in a free market to make efficient choices in their own enlightened self-interest that furthers the good of all through general economic growth.  Having observed the nature of man in general, I suggest that Smith was absolutely correct, except that there are cumulative evil side effects of the invisible hand.  Selfish interests do not produce benign results in the long run.  The uncontrolled quest for wealth and power will ALWAYS lead to corruption.  Stated more succinctly, “Power corrupts.  Absolute power corrupts absolutely”.

While almost everyone knows and acknowledges that couplet as fundamental truth, why is it then, that most people remain so optimistically blind to the fact that big, powerful institutions, with incredible consistency, have only one objective in mind, self-enrichment and empowerment at ANY cost?  The higher one rises within the pyramid, the more single-minded one is required to be in pursuit of the one and only god of money and power.  Those lower in the pyramid not having absolute power are corrupted, but not yet absolutely.

Once you recognize that as a fundamental fact in our fallen world, conspiracy is not a theory, it is the most routinely observable human behavior of all.  Conspiracy is a fact of life for everyone.  Everyone is scheming to get ahead.  Conspiracy is nothing more than the survival instinct on steroids.  Conspiracy is just normal individual human behavior with at least one accomplice.  To posit that conspiracy is only a theory or a symptom of paranoid crackpots is to deny that there is greed or evil in the world.

Since we are on the topic of pharmaceuticals relative to the most common of all human diseases, it seems appropriate to ask, “Is there an antidote?”

The answer is YES, but like many antidotes, it’s tough medicine.  Attempting to kick habits that are not only natural to the human condition, but encouraged by drug pushers masquerading as executives, politicians and officers is infinitely more difficult than kicking heroine cold turkey.  If you decide to make the attempt, you will need a good physician and a support group of loyal friends.

I have a recommendation:  There is a good doctor named Jesus Christ who wrote the book and operates a worldwide chain of clinics.  There are many alternative cures of varying efficacy  developed by prophets, philosophers, gurus and shamans around the world.  Some of them are also good.  At the core, the good ones all practice the same golden rules.  But, for my money, Dr. Christ, GD is the best.

There are also many local support groups.  I’m partial to a network forming at the Village on Sewanee Creek of reforming addicts.  As with all addicts, it’s a constant struggle to stay on the wagon, hence the need for a support group.  As a former senior executive, I can testify from personal experience.

AUSTERE but WITHOUT FEAR – A Message from Sendai, Japan

I lived in Japan for two years (1971-1972) and returned there many many times over the years on business. The Japanese people are amazing.  Since the morning I learned of the quakes and tsunami, I have been in touch with close Japanese friends via FaceBook and Twitter – glimpses of quiet, stoic courage.

A friend forwarded this letter to me this morning from a lady who lives there, but is apparently not Japanese by birth.  Her reflections on life in the aftermath describe what is happening there more fully, simply beautiful. Despite deprivations, this letter recounts people living even more richly than before – on a different level.  It’s amazing to think how different life experiences have prepared me to be where I am today.  To see what life can be, and hopefully will be like in the Village minus the calamities, read on.

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Hello My Lovely Family and Friends,

First I want to thank you so very much for your concern for me. I am very touched. I also wish to apologize for a generic message to you all. But it seems the best way at the moment to get my message to you.

Things here in Sendai have been rather surreal. But I am very blessed to have wonderful friends who are helping me a lot. Since my shack is even more worthy of that name, I am now staying at a friend’s home. We share supplies like water, food and a kerosene heater. We sleep lined up in one room, eat by candlelight, share stories. It is warm, friendly, and beautiful.

During the day we help each other clean up the mess in our homes. People sit in their cars, looking at news on their navigation screens, or line up to get drinking water when a source is open. If someone has water running in their home, they put out sign so people can come to fill up their jugs and buckets.

Utterly amazingly where I am there has been no looting, no pushing in lines. People leave their front door open, as it is safer when an earthquake strikes. People keep saying, “Oh, this is how it used to be in the old days when everyone helped one another.”

Quakes keep coming. Last night they struck about every 15 minutes. Sirens are constant and helicopters pass overhead often.

We got water for a few hours in our homes last night, and now it is for half a day. Electricity came on this afternoon. Gas has not yet come on. But all of this is by area. Some people have these things, others do not.

No one has washed for several days. We feel grubby, but there are so much more important concerns than that for us now. I love this peeling away of non-essentials. Living fully on the level of instinct, of intuition, of caring, of what is needed for survival, not just of me, but of the entire group.

There are strange parallel universes happening. Houses a mess in some places, yet then a house with futons or laundry out drying in the sun.

People lining up for water and food, and yet a few people out walking their dogs. All happening at the same time.

Other unexpected touches of beauty are first, the silence at night. No cars. No one out on the streets. And the heavens at night are scattered with stars. I usually can see about two, but now the whole sky is filled.

The mountains around Sendai are solid and with the crisp air we can see them silhouetted against the sky magnificently. And the Japanese themselves are so wonderful. I come back to my shack to check on it each day, now to send this e-mail since the electricity is on, and I find food and water left in my entranceway. I have no idea from whom, but it is there. Old men in green hats go from door to door checking to see if everyone is OK. People talk to complete strangers asking if they need help. I see no signs of fear. Resignation, yes, but fear or panic, no.

They tell us we can expect aftershocks, and even other major quakes, for another month or more. And we are getting constant tremors, rolls, shaking, rumbling. I am blessed in that I live in a part of Sendai that is a bit elevated, a bit more solid than other parts. So, so far this area is better off than others. Last night my friend’s husband came in from the country, bringing food and water. Blessed again.

Somehow at this time I realize from direct experience that there is indeed an enormous Cosmic evolutionary step that is occurring all over the world right at this moment. And somehow as I experience the events happening now in Japan, I can feel my heart opening very wide. My brother asked me if I felt so small because of all that is happening. I don’t. Rather, I feel as part of something happening that much larger than myself. This wave of birthing (worldwide) is hard, and yet magnificent.

Thank you again for your care and Love of me,

With Love in return, to you all,
Anne

More background on Anne:  http://scribbler.ca/?p=192

We have extra land. Anybody want to farm it?

Food security is the ultimate liberty.  If you can do it in  urban NYC, you can do it anywhere.  For some more inspiration, watch this YouTube video.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDxBEUOImjI

The Village on Sewanee Creek is about 750 rural acres on Tennessee’s lush Cumberland Plateau.  Of that, about 80 acres is cleared land that could be farmed.  Some of it is.  (The balance is either in deep woods or in a deep rugged canyon nature preserve) We have already built a community raised bed garden.  But there’s more.  Either on lots currently owned by Villagers, but as yet unfarmed or on unsold lots.

Want to farm but need land?  We have it and we can help you learn to farm.  Call us at (931) 442-1444.