Welcome to the Second Great Depression.
Events in America and across the world have reached the feared economic collapse, driving all the nations of the world into financial ruin and chaos. Your job, you know the one with the really big, stable company? Well, they just closed their doors, forever.
Looking around the city you worked in, you see nothing but closed doors with locks on them and no lights on inside.
Suddenly out of work, millions become poor, hungry
You go to your bank, but it’s also closed, security gates in place. The ATM is out of order and a phone call to your bank gets a generic recorded message: Due to the recent financial crisis, the bank is unable to respond to your requests at this time.
Stunned and despondent, you go home and turn on the television. The reporters on TV look shocked and a little frightened as they report the riots beginning to break out in every major city in the world. As the day drags on, the reports stop coming in. The cities have gone dark. Then your television can’t find a single station still broadcasting. You turn off the television.
This is not a simple bump in the road. This is term interruption to life as you know it. The Second Great Depression has begun. What do you do?
Surviving the Second Great Depression
In the short term, you check into your local community to see what is planned. Food banks have popped up and the lines have begun to form every day, early. You wait in one for several hours before they close the doors – out of food. Not sure when there will be more. The local grocery stores were emptied within a day or two of the riots, some of them violently emptied and destroyed. With armed guards, they’ve reopened for limited hours, but you have no money to pay for the inflated prices anyway.
Your supplies at home are dwindling. After a quick check of your emergency supplies for a natural disaster, you realize you only have a week or two worth of food.
After a quick family meeting, you decide you will do whatever you can to obtain food or money to buy food. Society hasn’t broken down completely, but jobs have dried up and resources are scarce.
What do you do?
People have begun to trade their labor for food, money, and shelter. The days of bartering and local trade have returned. What can you do to survive in this new society? Here are some ideas of knowledge you can both use yourself and trade to others in exchange for goods or services:
Skills and knowledge:
- WATER: Teach people how to build a solar still to create fresh water. This requires sun light of course, so you have to live in an area with plenty of sunshine. There are basic designs for this that involve glass or some clear plastic over a bin of water that isn’t suitable for drinking; using the power of sunlight, the water condenses of the glass or plastic and drips into a receptacle for the fresh water. Here is a link describing the basics: http://www.solaqua.com/solstilbas.htmland another describing one of the designs: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yI0W3VNPna4; these are simple enough for anyone to understand and create.
- FISHING: Fishing is a great way to supplement your diet. It takes time, but if you’re perpetually unemployed, you have a lot of time on your hands! If you’re fortunate enough to live near the ocean and/or a river, you have it a little easier accessing this free protein source. In the coastal areas, different kinds of salmon can be fished for nearly year round. Many fishing techniques only require lures, so if you’ve bought your basic rod, reel, hooks, sinkers, and lures, you won’t need to replenish anything unless it breaks. By the way, when you clean your fish, you can use the guts as bait for fishing as well – it may not be great for human consumption, but other fish like it just fine!
- SMOKED PRESERVATION: If you’re fortunate enough to still be able to afford electricity, you can freeze your fish for eating later. If you’re not that fortunate, you will need a way to preserve your catch. If you have no electricity, what do you do? You can build a solar grill (http://www.mealwormfarm.com/hqsolar/hqsolargrillonlinead.html) and use it to smoke your fish; you can also make a smoker out of a steel barrel (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Bg34eC6ckI). The actual smoking of the fish requires soaking it in brine for several hours and then putting it in the smoker where it cooks for around 2 hours at 150 degrees F, and then for another 10 to 15 minutes at 200 degrees F – as long as the temperature of the meat reaches 165 degrees F, that is all that’s needed to complete the cooking/smoking process. Here’s another link that goes through the process: http://bbq.about.com/cs/fish/a/aa030400a.htm.
- CANNED PRESERVATION: Canning is a process for preserving food in a glass jar with a specialized lid for sealing – it involves a lot of specialized materials, but the great thing is it doesn’t require electricity and you could theoretically perform the entire process on a wood burning cook stove, provided you could maintain the temperature hot enough for an extended period of time. There is a water bath method that is safe for food high in acidity, like fruits and properly pickled vegetables. For all other foods, the pressure cooking method must be used – the higher temperatures will kill the spores inside the food that can cause botulism. Special Mason or Bell jars designed for canning must be used. These jars include a self-sealing flat lid (on time use only) and a screw on ring top that holds the flat lid in place during the canning process (can be used multiple times). Here’s a good link for learning more about the canning process and the tools you’ll need: http://www.canning-food-recipes.com/canning.htm. This food preservation method does require some initial investment, but if you purchase the items now, you’ll be able to can your way through feast and famine.
- OTHER PRESERVATION: There are other ways to preserve food, like drying (can be done using only the sun/solar energy – see this link for simple instructions on a homemade dehydrator: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0dyvk8dUabQ) and there is also pickling and freezing; those require additional ingredients or electricity unless you live in frozen climates where you can store food outside (or in a building “outside” like a shed).
- GARDENING: Gardening is a simple way to make food – for the best high calorie foods see this list (http://modernsurvivalblog.com/survival-garden/garden-vegetable-calories/). The best part about gardening is it covers several areas – sustenance for you and your family, expertise you can exchange for, and excess food items you can sell. You will need seeds, of course, and you can obtain them and store them yourself (there are guidelines and recommendations for different kinds of seeds); there are several suppliers of seed in sealed containers for long-term storage (some will keep for seven or more years). As a general rule, the larger the seed, the longer it will keep. Storage for seeds should be in an air-tight container either glass, metal, or plastic lined with aluminum (plastic alone can actually let moisture through over a long period of time). This is a skill you can actually start today and reduce your overall food bill.
There are some skills that would be harder to pass on in one simple lesson, but we can look to our ancestors for skills that can help us when the retail supply chain breaks down and we have to fend for ourselves.
We have only to look to the Wild West for examples of jobs that will be in high demand when the electricity and water stop flowing in our houses and there’s no longer a ready supply of fuel for our cars and generators:
- BLACKSMITH: Learning how to shape metal using heat will come in handy when there are horses that need horseshoes, weapons that need be me formed and tempered, and even armor if we reach back far enough to our civilizations roots; self-defense will become a priority for everyone. Garden tools and building materials will all be made by blacksmiths as well.
- TANNEER: Creating clothing from animal hides was a more common skill back when everyone hunted for their food, but that has been out of style for over a hundred years. Gathering the skills to dry and preserve animal hides for use in clothing and buildings will be in high demand, especially when the local department stores are empty, looted shells of their former selves.
- RANCHER/COWBOY: At least these skills are still around to a certain degree. Our future livelihood may depend on people saddling up to round up cattle and other livestock for future generations to eat. As civilization slowly recovers, these livestock pioneers will reap the rewards of an agrarian society hungry for meat.
- SURVIVALIST: All adults used to have a pretty good knowledge of how to survive in the wilderness, getting food and water off the land, making fire, travelling undetected to avoid thieves and cutthroats; of course, that was in medieval times! Dangerous animals would come back from the brink of extinction we’ve pushed them to and may also present a danger to those travelling in the forests or deserts. A survivalist could make a decent living either being a mentor for a town or a travelling teacher.
- COYOTE/HIRED GUN/GUIDE: In the old days, if you wanted to move safely from one location to another, you hired an experienced traveler who could guide you safely to your destination, or supply you with the necessary knowledge to get there. This is the type of person who knows the lay of the land, the safe travel routes, and places to stop along the way for food and water.
- SCAVENGER/TRADER: with so many stores of supplies around the world, getting certain items would fall to the resourceful scavenger. An HD TV would be pretty useless in the Second Great Depression, but medical supplies, tools and even guns would be ideal for surviving the frontier lifestyle. Being too well known could get you killed for your stash, but if a person was intelligent, cunning and resourceful enough, he could open a store with all the right security precautions and be a boon for the local community.
There is any number of other trainable skills that could come in handy. People in the medical field could not only be the local country doctor, but also train the next generation. Teachers would become more valuable. The rough and tough types would be more valued than the high-rise paper pusher or politician. It would be a brave new world; getting the right tools and training to survive may be something to look at right now!