I get it. I am a downer.
Those of you who don't know me well might think I am like the classic Rachel Dratch sketch on Saturday Night Live:
Truth be told, if I was depressed about our future, I wouldn't be blogging about how we might position ourselves to prepare for it.
Tonight, I want to offer you two different tracks of thought if you're feeling overwhelmed by the cornucopia of doom and gloom news these days, with the hope that one (or both) of them will resonate, motivate and empower you to stay positive and continue your efforts to be better prepared.
Theory One: There Are A Lot Of Things Going Our Way Right Now.
- The liberty movement is gaining ground. The growing consternation within the GOP has been palpable for some time now, in no small part due to the growing interest in liberty and a declining interest in neo-conservatism. There's even a growing liberaltarianism in the political left. Glenn Beck's missive on this - and the challenges libertarian thought face in America - is required listening to anyone who considers themselves a "Big L" libertarian.
- There is a growing interest in preparedness. One estimate says there are as many as 3,000,000 Americans preparing for long term emergencies. An avocation for a handful twenty years ago, preparedness has become more mainstream now than ever before.
- More people are becoming skeptical of crony capitalism and fiat currency. One of the hot button issues for both the tea party and the Occupy Wall Street movement is an end to crony capitalism - where the government picks the winners and losers, supporting them with tax breaks and corporate welfare payments. And more people are beginning to ask whether we should have a fiat currency system.
- The growth of non-denominational churches continues. Some of you won't see this as a positive thing for our cause, but I think it is. Faith is an important component of a well-rounded preparedness mindset. The growth of non-denominational Christian churches in America reflects a consumer shift away from business as usual in the historically popular denominations and towards a sense of independence from a central church doctrine. This is yet another sign that people are craving liberty and are wanting to have more control of their houses of worship at the local level.
- The number of guns in circulation are increasing while violent crime is decreasing. Gun sales have skyrocketed in the last five years. Meanwhile, gun homicide rates, according to Pew Research, continue to trend down. More guns in society do not lead to more violent crime.
- Some 94 million eligible voters didn't vote in 2012. Think about it - some 61 million people voted for President Obama; some 58 million voted for Governor Romney. Meanwhile, 94 million stayed at home. That's not apathy; 94 million people is a political party in itself. If only five percent of those people show up on election day, it's potentially a game changer. They simply need the right candidate to motivate them to engage....preferably one that's not part of the GOP or Democratic establishment.
- Homeschooling continues to grow. This probably won't make my teacher friends happy, but our job is to look at facts and data and not worry about whether we might upset someone. And the growth in home schooling is eye opening. I have a growing number of friends who are doing this and insisting their kids are better off for it. Their test scores and college success rates tend to bear that out. As a result, our kids have educational options that maximize their success.
- Access to data and information continues to grow. It's incredible to see how quickly we have become better connected in society, as well as the amount of information available to us. To be sure, much of the information out there isn't accurate, but for those who want the truth, it's never been easier to find.
- The growing interest (and technology) in alternative energy brings the political left and right together. Two decades ago, preppers and environmental types had little in common, but the intersection of the two groups on the Venn diagram is getting bigger with time. One of these common areas of interest is alternative energy. This subject matter has acted as a bridge between these two groups, with the "back to nature" crowd helping preppers understand the intricacies of growing your own food, and the prepper types helping the environmentalists understand the need to take steps to prepare for physical and financial security.
Theory Two: Those Who Are Prepared Now Will Prosper Later
"Chance favors the prepared mind." - Louis Pasteur
This is an emotionally difficult section for me to write. While I believe everything you see below, it pains me to know that for these things to come true, many Americans - in fact, the majority of them - will feel significant financial pain and the related fallout resulting from that. I don't write this with any sense of joy or anticipation. I wish these things weren't true, but I fear that if we were to have another major financial collapse, thing things would come to fruition.
Yet we all owe it to ourselves to be able to protect our assets and provide a future for our families. "Taking advantage" of someone's financial misfortune by buying up investments like stocks and real estate at distressed prices is in fact part of the long term solution to fix what ails us. The free market will do great things for us, but we have to let it work, independent of any social engineering the government might try to impose.
How will a crisis in the future enable us to prosper?
- A market correction will create substantial buying opportunities. Fortunes have been made by buying assets at distressed prices. Those who risked capital and bought stock in the early months of 2009 are living proof of that. And don't think people aren't preparing to do this: this article from CNBC yesterday should tell you, in short order, what the uber wealthy are doing to take advantage of such a situation. And guess what? You and I can do the same thing.
- We need the markets to "reset" to clear out the toxic assets. As ZeroHedge puts it, "historically, financial disaster preparedness has enabled accelerated wealth creation." By allowing too-big-to-fail entities to just that - fail - and by restoring confidence in our currency and in sound investments, our economy gets back onto solid footing. This, in turn, leads to job creation and opportunities for all economic classes. Note well the line in the ZeroHedge article that "reset does not mean 'the end.'" If it's not "the end," then there's hope for us yet.
- A return to sound money will check the growth of government. In simple terms, a nation whose currency is coupled to something of value, like gold, cannot spend more than it brings in via tax revenues - at least not for long. Because the government's ability to spend is limited by the fact it has a limited supply of gold or silver or whatever on hand, its ability to create intrusive programs or wage war around the globe is significantly curtailed. For those who want to see our nation reduce our defense spending, this alone is a reason to push for a return to an end of our fiat currency system. And when we limit the power of the government, we free ourselves to innovate, to save, and to invest - the actions which make our nation stronger and financially viable.
Despite these stories, I remain a positive person. There's so much beauty and wonder in the world at which we can marvel. Our kids still bring us much joy. Our forefathers built this nation with less technology and information than we have today. Just think what we could do with what we already have!
My name is Paul Martin. And I am an optimist.