Warehouse F

Suffering The Crunch

The Unseen Enemy
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Going Without Is Not Worth Suicide

By James Donahue

We are seeing news reports of suicides by people who have lost fortunes, their jobs and homes as a result of the current earthquake occurring in the financial world. One man in California not only killed himself but took his entire family out with him.

It strikes us that turning a gun on yourself, or jumping out of the window of a tall office building (as legend has it from the Great Depression days) is a damned fool thing to do if the issue is over money and things.

My wife and I learned a valuable lesson after we retired, sold our property and went west to live on our wits. We didn’t plan it that way, it just happened. The government job she thought she had on the Hopi Reservation in Arizona unexpectedly dried up when President Bill Clinton could not come to terms with Congress over budget appropriations and he put a freeze on all federal jobs. Thus the job, complete with a furnished home, disappeared in the time it took for us to drive from Michigan to Gallup, New Mexico.

We found ourselves homeless and, because the house sale in Michigan was still being processed, almost out of money. That was a strange and surreal situation, one we did not expect to find ourselves. But it was not the end of the world. It became the springboard for the most amazing new adventure of our lives.

After a life of comfort, of living as professional middle-class people with children would live, we found ourselves broke and in the street, practically living in our car. We quickly discovered a whole underworld of people just like us who were getting along just fine, but living by their wits instead of a weekly paycheck.

We could write a book about the exciting and delicious time my wife and I shared while living broke and homeless in Arizona. The point is that we learned that life can be just as rich, and sometimes even better, when you are no longer saddled with a house and things. When you have nothing, you discover that life can be a real adventure because, for the first time, you have nothing to lose.

True, sometimes you go hungry. And medical issues can be a problem when they come up. But there are always good hearted doctors and dentists around who offer services at low prices or at no cost at all to the indigent. When we lived for a while with a Navajo family, I had a severe toothache develop. The people we were staying with told me where to go and who to see. I found a dentist in Holbrook who repaired the tooth and put a crown on it, only charging me $60. (A year or two later, the same job in Michigan, when I was back on the job and had dental insurance cost about $2,000.)

A recent anonymous article published by the Libertarian website Strike The Root, noted that mandated “legal tender” or money is “devastating to freedom . . . as long as the bankers control the value of money, they control our lives.” The writer said “money is but a representation, a token, of the life force itself.”

Indeed, the value of money is based entirely on trust. If we think that piece of paper in our wallet can be equally exchanged for a hamburger or a slice of pizza, and the vender with the food agrees, then an exchange can be made. But when our trust in the value of that paper is lost, then we have a problem. Our government, by raising the national debt to over $10 trillion, and printing extra paper for circulation in an attempt to keep banks and loan companies solvent, is destroying the trust and the value of that paper.

As the writer of the article said: “The centuries of trust that society has slowly and painstakingly built has been destroyed, and now we must begin again. So what will we do? Eat we must. Have fun we must. Love we must. Life will go on, and there is no reason not to live it to its fullest. What else would you do? Now is not the time to whine, now is the time to do what we do best – create!”

In the old days, when everything moved much more slowly, a man could offer to repair a farmer’s fence row or cut wood in exchange for a warm meal and a bed for the night. That was a form of trade called bartering.

The story noted that trade is all about stuff. “Paper is about control, it is not about the free flow of stuff from people who make it to those who need it.”

The story goes on the propose a national barter system in which people use the Internet in a program developed where people can make an open daily and hourly exchange of goods and services on line.

If it were possible for there to be a worldwide, open-source, Wikipedia-like value tabulation reference (but more highly interactive) – constantly up to date with data from all of the voluntary transactions which people freely enter into – at that point we would have duplicated the primary function of money without actually using money,” the story said.

The beauty of utilizing a barter system like this would be that it offers “trade with no permission needed, no paper trail, no taxes, no theft-by-insidious-inflation.”

An interesting idea and perhaps worth trying.