Have generally defined “self-sustaining”, “self-reliant” and “self-sufficient” in generally the same way; as attempting to provide for all our own needs from within the boundaries of our own property. But we extend our categories way beyond what most folks are talking about here. Can we truly call ourselves self-reliant if prescription drugs dried up overnight? Do we know enough about herbal medicine to cover for them? What if petroleum went to $6/gal? Only a few years ago people were lamenting it might go as “high” as $4/gal. What if it couldn’t be purchased at all, for several days/weeks/months? What would that do to our households? What if one/both bread-winners in the house lost their job and never replaced it? What if the grocery store shelves were empty not only of produce and meat and dairy (most folks can produce those fairly well) but also grains? What if a storm or upheaval or other calamity cut power? Cut telephone? Cut water lines? Do we have the ability to generate our own power? Do we have a HAM radio? Do we have enough water stored and or a means to safety collect rainwater? Can we store it to last through the dry summer?
I once worked with several Russian citizens who were in the US on work visas. One of them went through the collapse of the Soviet Union as a young man. He described all the shortages and hardships they endured in their previously-comfortable-middle-class life, for weeks and months at a time. Talking to others who have been through similar upheavals, due to either social or natural causes, and the comments were much the same – at some point, stored items run out and you have to make do with what you can produce. That’s the image I keep in my mind as I think about questions like this. Whatever your political convictions, I believe it’s unrealistic to hope that our fine nation doesn’t experience the same kinds of upheavals once in a while that strike other nations. And from where I am, we’re very poorly prepared in these various categories.
We’re not set up to answer all those questions, yet. But we think about them, and we’re working towards answering every single one of them. Baby steps over time. I think any realistic definition of self reliance has to include those non-food-but-gotta-have items.
As a young man working for the US Army in Guatemala, I understood the value of the power of self reliance. We built roads, wells, and schools for people who starved half the year. 50 dollars a month bought a middle class status. That money bought a house, the used car, a cook, a maid, and left enough to save a little. A little knowledge is power. Balancing an account, building a house, keeping a home, tending a garden and the value of simple hard work should never be underestimated. Gandhi defied the British Empire to gather sea salt and make homespun cloth from his simple hard work. Subsistence farming as a life style could be turned out and be a prosperous endeavor. The WWW is our Library of Alexandria and we just know where the card catalog is. Time to mine the depths of knowledge and share the wealth. What are you learning today? As I remember this post from the past, I have to smile about the changes that have happened since.
- Economics News: Matichon’s Editorial on the “Good People” involved in the transfer of US$ 35 billion debt to the Central Bank (thaiintelligentnews.wordpress.com)
- Pumpkins Are Native However You Carve It (indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com)
- What Does it Mean to Be ‘Middle Class’? (theneteconomy.wordpress.com)