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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

old time trade 1 of 2


OLD TIME TRADE

Much ado is made of learning Old Timey Skills to provide for yourself during the post oil dark ages ( which will probably be far longer than the last one of 500 years.  Once an areas soil is revitalized after being denuded-which is only an inch a century or thereabouts if Mother Nature does it all on her own [ I would recommend you read Darwin on this if you want a public domain book-he was about a lot more than just confusing simple minded peasants taking doctrine from organized religion at face value as they sent their sons to choir practice with the Papists ] -a future centralized state can get enough of a surplus together to start kicking the neighbors asses and the next empire is on the way to fame and fortune before the whole cycle repeats itself.  After Rome fell, it took this long for any decentralized entity to get a sufficient surplus through agriculture to start a lasting conquest.  This time around, the entire globe’s soil is simultaneously being mined and so in the future there won’t be a neighboring area which is ripe for the picking such as the New World was for European colonists.  Oh, it will happen.  Eventually all areas will recover, with the exception of downwind areas from nuclear power plants.  But since no area will be virgin soil or mineral rich, unexploited, the next empire will have a much harder row to hoe.  The surpluses will be far less ).

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The main problem with all the fuss being made is that everyone is looking through the lens of trade.  I will try to debase you of any notion that whatever skill you possess is going to be worth much to anyone.  We have talked about this before-all skills in this here Oil Age will NOT translate over into post-apocalypse.  You know, small details like a doctor has no power for his tools or antibiotics or plastics for all his disposables, etc.  A soldier is trained in tactics which consume massive amounts of ammunition, not to speak of the support arms he depends on.  And etcetera.  But even old time skills are going to be problematic.  Not because they won’t be useful.  They will.  But because you can forget about trade of any kind for quite a long time.  Centralized states, with a surplus of energy, can afford to reward needed trades and skills.  Usually of course that is military trades and skills.  But regardless of how valuable a superior military is to any group, you must have some surplus energy to acquire the infrastructure to support it.  Without surplus, you cannot wish upon a star and get a magical fairy to grant you your dreams.  As just one example, even with salvaged material for weapons, if you don’t have extra food you can’t properly train and condition your soldiers/warriors.  Well, trade works the same way.  You can WANT to trade, you can HAVE trade goods, but without the surplus to protect a trade agreement, a monopoly on violence, you WON’T be trading.

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 And what about local, in-tribe trade?  As all trades and skills devolve back to charcoal and salvaged metal levels of technology, the bottleneck is NOT going to be knowledge or skill but in material and energy shortages.  Everyone is going to pretty much have the same jobs and training and as there is no trade there will not be specialists you need to make your tools.  You’ll just pretty much be your own bowyer, fletcher, blacksmith and etcetera.  None of them are difficult, and none are worth silver or barter which nobody has.  The default devolution will be towards group efforts and activities and mutual support.  NOT a money economy.  You might even see much more of a gift economy, as when the custom was to share the kill amongst all ( with the expectation that when you failed on the hunt you still ate from anothers kill.  Hell, all hunts and similar efforts such as wood gathering or charcoal processing or metal salvaging might even be completely communal ).

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All of this being an explanation for the basic point that any post-apocalypse skill or tools you own are NOT going to be your new job, nor your families security, wealth and happiness.  They are just going to be part of a multifaceted tool kit you’ll need to possess.  Learning and equipping yourself now just makes things easier that they will be otherwise.  A good example of what I am trying to convey would be marksmanship.  Nobody is going to reward you for practicing to be a better shot.  That is just expected of the future militia/warriors.  It isn’t a paying proposition to acquire that skill.  You pay to get it, then the group benefits as well as you ( more folks don’t get shot, more ammunition is saved, etc. ).  Or, how about the example of shoe shining.  Anyone in the military ( or, at least they used to as I have no idea if black polished boots are even worn anymore ) quickly learned how to polish leather footwear ( I tried to forget as quickly as possible and took to spray painting mine with glossy black paint which was good for weeks of shine with just one crease chipping the paint off habitually.  The paint did nothing to decrease its life span and I never polished after Basic ).  Nobody needed to pay for a polish, it was a skill everyone had naturally.

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It is only recently that everything has become commercialized.  Almost everyone used to be their own mechanic.  Your buddy came over with a six pack of beer and you taught him to do all the work on his own.  It wasn’t a commercial transaction, but a tribal skill everyone learned and nobody profited from.  Barbers were for bachelors who didn’t have a wife or sister to cut theirs ( or, for the occasional luxury of a soothing hot shave-but that just highlights the sparse, luxury orientated services that were once offered.  NOT basic skills.  Not everything being commercialized and everybody so highly specialized they became incapable of the very basics such as cooking for themselves or cleaning their own clothes.  Everything went from household economics where women where invaluable to a ultra specialized economy where no one had any skills to save money but rather one skill that hopefully didn’t become obsolete or shipped over to China ).  Continued tomorrow.

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10 comments:

  1. People with an excess of clothes will, during the collapse, happily trade for food, people with an excess of heating fuel will also -though probably less happily.
    Everything comes back to Water, Food, Shelter, Clothing, Heating, Medicine, and Security. If you have those covered you will need to trade far less, which means what you have to trade with will climb in value. During the collapse everyone will have clothes, few will have clean water or sufficient food, Heat will be problematic depending on location (cooling in the far south). And medicinal treatment will become hit or miss at best (learn your herbal & alternative treatments now, healers always have work!). At the very beginning of the collapse information and electricity will be valued - but that value will decline as quickly as people can begin moving to "better" places... All the excess we have now will be traded at rock bottom prices for a little while - then the excess (like clothes) will be used up. We will have a salvage economy for a generation or two at most. _Then_ the salvage will run out...

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    1. Clothing as salvage might have been a two generational thing back when there was quality. Now, probably less than half a generation.

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    2. I don't know, a pair of pants lasts me 5 years or so, socks and underwear 3, shirts 3-10, Shoes from 1-20 years (everything depends on type and quality) but a LOT of people have closets and attics STUFFED with clothes. What is the major thing sold at garge sales and thrift shops? Clothes. Since the advent of the mechanized looms, cheap cotton, and sewing machines, the availability of clothes skyrocketed. Sure the quality has suffered for a lot of it, but patches can be warmer and stronger than the original garments even when sewed on by amateurs - there are enough close out there IMHO for a decade or two for everyone.

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    3. You could be right. I've just had pretty bad luck with quality myself.

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    4. Clothes on fatties don't last as long because of the material rubbing. Ask me how I know, I'm not saying that I stole all the pies, but I do happen to be the fattest in the room ;-)

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    5. It isn't fat, it is a mobile food pantry.

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  2. I was raised in an environment where everything was done in house. Even to the extent of much doctoring was home brewed.
    Much having to do with the basic Idaho way of life and also being Mormon I suppose.
    My grandparents were farmers on a small scale on my dad's side and raised their children from a forty acre dairy farm.
    Most of which was done by hand too !
    My mother's parents also were Mormon but grandma was a school teacher in that one room school house on the prairie while my mom's dad was a trapper and prospector in the mountains between the Idaho / Utah border.
    In a lot of ways , I'd consider my upbringing very fortuitous for the upcoming times ahead.
    I've been of the Prepper mindset my entire life and also raised our children to be as self sufficient as is possible.
    Hell , the only reason I went to college to become an engineer, was not so much for income as for my own knowledge base. Knowing full well that being self sufficient was going to be required within my lifetime....
    So I thought anywho....Here I am 63 years old now and still waiting for that big one to arrive !
    Hell , I firmly hope that all my preps were for bought !!

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    1. It is a bit suck-ass all the efforts we put in, then we sit looking around from the porch rocking chair wondering...why? But. of course, praying NOT to be vindicated.

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  3. I tend to agree that this is one of those times there "everything you know is wrong".
    People who learn fast have a better chance than those they are competing with, but even then, better chances are not directly tied to better results, except over the long term...
    -eviltwin

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    1. I don't think it is the ABILITY to learn fast as much as it is the DESIRE. For that, you must admit you are wrong, first. Not many will do that.

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