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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

protect and invest


PROTECT AND INVEST
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note: BP, got your PayPal generous donation, thank you!
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The article on silver generated some comment.  Evidently there might actually be people out there that have serious money in the bank that they need to protect and invest.  I’m not exactly sure why I’m being asked, as I’d be hard pressed to recall a time I ever brought in too much more net than $600-$800 a month, but I suppose I’ll just be flattered.  And since I’m a guaranteed-to-collapse kind of survivalist writer, I’ll assume nobody is going to be all that surprised that I’m not going to drag out that raggedy ass old whore gold.  Look, we all love the idea of gold.  The Industrial Revolution fueled by the Oil Age allowed the peasants to actually own some of that King’s Currency, a historically odd event.  So were privately owned arms, which was never a Elite granted freedom as much as it was a tool allowing the peasants to clear the continent of pesky Indigenous personnel at their own risk ( after which the Elite moved in to the new safe zone and promptly enslaved those shock troops by a variety of means ), but I won’t dwell on that now.

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Gold is all well and good to transfer wealth to the other side of the Dark Age period, even though it has some benefits at any time.  But you don’t want to tie up too much of your wealth into gold.  Just enough to grubstake yourself if you lose everything, enough for emergencies.  Okay, really, enough in case other means of wealth preservation bite the big one, essentially.  You NEVER put all your eggs into one basket, be it prep supplies, wealth generation, wealth preservation or offspring ( you have more than one for obvious reasons, plus investments in extended family in case yours turns feral on you or are all killed ) or anything else.  I would no more invest all my wealth into gold than I would a business investment.  Diversification is obvious.  But you must diversify smart.  A guy today that invests in physical gold, stocks, bonds and rental apartments, he isn’t REALLY diversified.  Everything but the gold is reliant on our petroleum economy ( and even the gold is problematic as it will be an illiquid asset for some time ).   If you think paper investments are worth anything more than the toilet paper the quarterly report is printed, you are asking the wrong guy for advice.

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I can’t really tell you the ratio of investments you should be using.  I won’t tell you debt is bad, investment wise ( just for your personal possessions ).  You almost need a mortgage on rental property to avoid being raped tax wise.  Just assume any indebted asset is gone, lickity split at the first signs of trouble.  I would look at my investments in two categories ( remember, we are assuming all preps are done and doubled and really getting any more in counter-productive ), post collapse savings/investment and pre-collapse.  I assume you don’t think you can time the collapse.  I’d take and invest just enough pre-collapse to give you a minimum income ( rental income or similar ), with a minimum cash savings account ( buried, not banked ).  This is just your “in case nothing too bad happens” investment.  The post-collapse side is a minimum amount of gold-grubstake and emergencies-and the rest put into a post-collapse business.  Which leads to the question, what friggin business?  This is both easier and harder than you think.

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You can’t open any business that competes with a home cottage industry.  This isn’t a repeat of the beginning of the Industrial revolution.  You aren’t fighting against labor, and you can’t include volume as a business model.  Nor will government subsidize private profits.  You aren’t doing what people do slower, because resource constraints don’t allow for volume.  Lack of trade and colonialization and hence growth means you can’t have banks, which means you don’t need private companies.  In a Dark Age, government actually does the better job because it eliminates competition, which is wasteful by its nature ( just think of over fishing as an example.  Or when the king owns the forest, and there is no private company to bribe him for lumber rights, the land is conserved.  It will eventually be used, but strategically which is a benefit to all rather than the few ).  Capitalism requires surplus, it cannot operate otherwise.  You aren’t investing in a business for profit per se but survival and retaining your wealth in other ways. 

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Money is going to be a non-concern.  Whatever you have will transfer over to your liege.  That is how Dark Ages are ruled, government without money.  You will most likely be the guilds master, from your expertise.  Your investment in the structure of the industry is a means to that end, not capitalistic profit as you are imagining.  It keeps you out of the fields, crop fields or battle fields.  You are probably thinking, this blows, yo.  I’ll just hoard gold and be my own king.  Well, there you go thinking like a capitalist.  To a capitalist, money solves all problems.  But money is only good in times of surplus.  Granted, you need some precious metals for trade such as when you wanted metal ore or tin which you needed for weapons.  But in times without surplus, when money supply is strictly limited and hence its exchange, barter is more important for the majority of people.  And barter relied on force.  Land and people to farm is the majority of the economy and their small surplus of food is used to buy force for protection ( I understand the violently orthodox Libertarians disagree and call all monopoly of force coercion, but try surviving without its protection ).  Land and force are the wealth in the Dark Ages.

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Mercenaries were notoriously unreliable in their loyalty and or effectiveness.  Those that had a good reputation were prized.  You could easily buy a pig in the poke if you relied on gold to rent your force rather than buy it outright for a one time price ( your manufacturing concern ). 
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PROTECT AND INVEST 2
We return to the question of which business to invest in for your post-collapse wealth investment ( the gold investment being a smaller, more emergency and grubstake savings than income generator ).  Since most tasks can be handled by cottage industry, those few not of the household industry type ( once again women will generate true wealth, by manufacturing most things in the home and hence eliminating the need to buy anything.  Which is hard to do when you own no money ), you would be retarded to invest in any business that competes with those products.  That leaves you looking to the government as your customer.  And what they want is weapons.  Not equipment that the peasants can manufacture during the winter as part of their tax burden, such as leather gear, uniforms, tack, etc.  Something the peasants can’t make.  One good bet is any metal beyond the blacksmiths ability.  Which basically means a projectile weapon and its projectiles ( that gets problematic, though, as we’ll explore ).
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I know you want me to tell you that black powder weapons are a great investment.  And they might be, IF your surviving infrastructure can support them.  Remember, Dark Ages are a time after resources run out and trade collapses.  You don’t have enough surplus for most everything, and that just might include nitrates for your powder manufacture ( I surmise this is the reason the Chinese, despite inventing gunpowder, never had an adequate gunpowder military.  They lacked nitrate surpluses as they had already invested in overpopulation strategically and all the fertilizers went to crop production ).  Ignition is not an issue per se, as you can survive militarily on flintlock, but powder is mandatory.  And the need for volley fire is negated if you have modern manufacturing facilities for higher tolerance construction.  But you still must field the superior volume projectile army, and that takes a lot of powder regardless.  What you are doing is betting on logistics and strategy and tactics when you invest in your factory.
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This is the normal way you invest excess wealth.  You research and then bet on a trend.  The difference was that before you noticed the potential of a trend from historical data and invested and now you have no historical guideline.  It is devolution rather than evolution in military technology, really a first.  That makes this thought exercise rather tricky.  Let me give you an example by way of a popular Viking cable TV show ( I couldn’t watch more than a sampling, both series jettisoning common sense or any historical accuracy by bowing to PC forces and including Xena Princess Warrior elements into the plots ) ( you can get a better feel by reading Cornwell ).  The “shield wall” was your basic military tactic.  Two walls of men shielded by, well, shields, clashed and tried to find chinks in the armor, the objective being to caused a rift in the wall and hence its breaking.  Horse cavalry to break the wall were not used, one supposes due to their relative scarcity  from lack of surplus feed ( competing with people food ).
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Missile weapons also were not readily available it seems.  One supposes due to the easy defensibility ( every other shield in front or forming a roof ).  You had two options for defeating this unit, if horse is not available.  Another similar tactic or, in our case, gunpowder missiles ( which penetrate the shields, unlike arrows or perhaps bolts ).  But if you don’t have the surplus to feed horses, do you have enough to produce powder?  Once personal riflemen were effective, they still were not the battlefield decider.  They had to go from quality to quantity to overcome more primitive weapons defending against them.  Other than strategically irrelevant snipers, without volume of powder gunpowder missiles won’t win the field.  So think carefully before investing in the notion of gunpowder feasibility.  Crossbows might be the only reasonable mass missile strategy and then we are faced with needing a metal surplus.  Not necessary for the bow alone but the bolts.  Without volume there, you lose effectiveness ( this would be the type of volume encouraged and condoned, in our non-capitalistic economy ).
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It always comes down to surplus.  You need extra men or extra weapons, or both, and quantity will invariably outrun quality.  The defense against quality ( a few gunpowder weapons ) is inevitably quantity ( masses of troops using more primitive weapons.  The reason a Maxim gun slaughtered thousands of spear chuckers is because that gun fired tens of thousands of bullets.  A sniper alone would have been overwhelmed hastily.  Post-apocalypse you won’t have the ammunition to supply a Maxim ).  Military contests can be decided by quality on occasion but mostly quantity prevails ( how else could history be so full of dumbass generals if skill alone won over logistics? ).  Histories first major clash  of machineguns and trenches saw the Japanese victorious ( against the Russians ) only after they could continuously throw men at the guns, until the guns could no longer be supplied.  A lesson they forgot as they attacked the Americans.  All this a very convoluted way to decide the type of weapon you want to invest in financially post-apocalypse.
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I would place my bet on crossbows ( remember, bowyers, this is easily taught and is a far better penetrater than arrows ).  The volume construction factory machines can be primitive and cheap, as can the metal stock.  You could invest in black powder rifle factories ( hell, there is a company in Montana that builds replicas of the Sharp’s type carbines, down to their springs, so a smaller business could build replica breech loading flintlocks if they so desired ), but a much smaller investment ( if not sound strategic choice ) is needed for crossbows and might be far more feasible for this publications demographic ( po’ boys ).  I’ll be exploring crossbows further, hopefully soon.
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12 comments:

  1. Agreed - cross bows, properly built can make sense if you have superior numbers. You can train up people easily, even more easily if they have previously fired guns, if you can not produce blackpowder - and no reason you couldnt make the stocks and bayonets from one work on the other - a multi function device might even be possible, bolt on the arms and string to turn the black powder rifle into a crossbow. You still need massed fire so exploration of rapid reloading mechanisms would be quite worthwhile. Mythbusters did an episode on a rapid reloading ballista that did a reasonably good job for having only spent about a week on the design and build, scaled down a little and with more skull sweet and R&D and you might have a handy weapon for the troops to get off shots almost half as quick as a modern semi-auto. That could make your troops crossbow massed fire two or three times as large as an equivalent black powder muzzle loading musket equipped military.
    Downside does seem to be reliability of the rapid reload mechanism, you will want to make it simple and easily repaired or removed.

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    1. Ratchet wind reloaders were very long lasting, for really powerful units. Less powerful, you use a goatfoot lever which is pretty fast and simple. Either way, butt simple, reliable. The ratchets were able to be manipulated with only two fingers, so brute force is eliminated. I can see musket equivalent formation fire with crossbows. It would eliminate a lot of the weapons issues. LOVE the crossbow bayonet idea! I wonder if it was ever tried?

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  2. But is weaponry really the safest industry to be in? You would be clear target, not only to outside threats, but to those inside the power structure that might fear your influence.
    I would rather be part of the water filter makers, or brewers, or well just about anything else that would keep me well away from the power structure and military.

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    1. Well, we are talking about an ultra-low energy surplus industry situation here, that had to be invested in. Most other industries can be built cottage industry style. So you are pretty much stuck with weapons, in this kind of investment scenario. And, no, you won't be a threat to the power structure. You'll a guild with a granted monopoly, not a contender to the throne. You exist at their leisure. You don't think a water filter factory isn't a military target?

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    2. Water source/factory would be a more likely target for possession not destruction, even by a better armed opponent, in most cases. Poisoning the wells was almost always seen as a major war crime - it meant neither side (nor any surrounding factions) in a conflict could ever hold that ground again. Same philosophical argument has held to prevent much use of NBC type weapons.

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  3. Keep in mind that crossbow bolts are more challenging to safely manufacture than stick bow arrows. A typical 45# stick bow (longbow/recurve) will have a velocity around 180 fps. A typical crossbow has velocities around 300+ fps. The bolt is under more stress for cottage industry manufacturing. I don't think you could use a crossbow bayonet unless you operated on sandy beaches or sandy deserts. The stirrup needs to be anchored to the ground with your foot during the cocking process. Either that or have the bayonet fold, but you probably wouldn't want to add any more weight to the front since crossbows are front heavy anyways. Remember that during calorie scarcities, physically strong people will be scarce. As an example, while reading about the Donner Party tragedy, it was reported that one of the survivors saw a deer, but they were too weak to lift their rifle to fire at it.
    Peace out

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    1. I hadn't read that on the bolts, so thank you for that. As for the foot stirrup, you don't need one with a ratchet wind.

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    2. In arrows and bolts , they are rated for certain poundages​ . If you shoot an arrow rated 45lbs for a
      Recurve , in a crossbow rated at 150 lbs...well ,you can see literally explosive results !

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    3. Any number of techniques could be used to enhance the utility of a crossbow when it comes to melee - you aren't going to be using to fire bolts most likely at that point, and as an improvised club the arms are unwieldy (maybe they could fold automatically?) and no one would want to spend much time drawing out another weapon. I would think a bayonet would be like a spade tip with an extra L bit to it where you would hold the front of the crossbow while firing or step on while cocking if you didn't use lever or ratchet that didn't require that leverage. But ideas like this, combined with experience implementing them are exactly why your local warlord would have you making the crossbows instead of being out in the field. Go on and start practicing and finding out what works.

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    4. I've gotten pretty excited about crossbows. Whether I do anything about it or not...

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  4. Yes that's true, but you're adding extra weight, extra complexity, extra potential points of failure, and a slower reload time. But on the plus side, at least a weaker person would be able to load it. Clarity for my earlier comment, the bolt must be of sturdier construction so it doesn't splinter upon the string transferring energy to it, or upon impact with the target.
    Peace out

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    1. The ratchet wind seemed to be the apex of development, true. So the goats foot would seem to be best trade off on all factors. Not ready to abandon the concept of the bayonet, however. Just too cool :)

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