Discussion in 'Back to Basics' started by duane, Jan 3, 2016.

  1. duane

    duane Monkey+++

    As I set here reading the latest blogs, in my warm house, drinking good coffee, I had to think back to a comment made about 40 years ago by a good friend who was Amish. He was in his early 80's and had lived through many changes in his lifetime. When he was born in the 1880's perhaps 80 % of the people in the US lived in just about the same manner as they did and other than the religious differences, they were for all purposes part of mainstream America. Everyone heated with wood or coal, used horses, had no electricity, little medical care and so. His comment was that he could live in one world, the simple life, or the other, the more complex life, but not both at the same time. He used the simple example of electricity. If he had it installed, then he had to pay a bill every month, even if he did not use, he had to buy light bulbs, replace them as they burned out, be tempted to get a pump for his well and a pressure tank and plumb his house for water, then he would need a septic tank for his indoor plumbing, and heat to keep the pipes from freezing and then books or something to fill the evenings when they were awake and had the light to do things. Then he had to sell something, time or goods, to pay for those expenses. This brought him into the "English" system and he had to do something to earn the money and that also required more expenses, a couple more cows perhaps for some milk money, or more chickens for egg money, or a couple extra hogs to sell, or a part time job in town for the "English". This either required more feed or the expense of going to work. Either way, what started out as "lights" to replace a kerosine lamp, now required a monthly payment of many times the kerosine bill and required it even if he didn't use it or have the money. At some point, the 80 acres and horses, would no longer cover the expenses of living and paying for the "lights" and you had to get a tractor in order to get the "cash" crops in and harvest them and then you needed more land to pay for the tractor and the gas and you had the ability to farm that extra land. At that point, you no longer had time for the fellowship of the church or leading the good life and became just another farmer wearing dark clothing and a funny hat.

    If we were forced to live a fully sustainable life, which many of our forefathers did, what would we have to give up? My phone, internet, and cable bill exceed $200 a month and I budget about $15 a month into a fund to replace the laptops that seem to last about 3 years before they self destruct or are replaced as "obsolete". Being 77, my wife and I have "free" medical care that costs about $700 a month and doesn"t cover teeth, eyeglasses, nor hearing aids. Our "light" bill is about $120 a month and propane for cooking and hot water is about $50 a month. Our property taxes are about $250 month. My house and car insurance bills total about 175 a month. Thus my "light" bill is about $1500 a month and that isn't allowing for food, heat, repair or replacement costs, and having the house and car paid for.

    The cost of "civilization" and its benefits, taxes, insurances, easy heat, light, food, medical care, are very high and more and more of us are being forced to either give up some security, insurances etc, or depend on the government to furnish them. In the present time, before TSHTF, what is the sustainable level in your life and what are you willing to compromise in order to reach that level. I am spending over half my income in an attempt to moderate SHTF events that are occurring in our lives. $700 a month health insurance, wife has had tripple bypass heart surgery, hystrectemy, appendix out, eye surgery, needs back surgery, etc. I have had a stroke, pancreas quit, and so on. Medical costs would have been in excess of $400,000 without insurance, so the $700 a month has prevented us from losing everything. What are your "sustainable " expenses, now and after TSTF.
  2. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    Most of what I make goes for medical as well.
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  3. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Monkey+++

    My question is which one he considered simple vs. the more complex. Was the simple life the one that consisted of farming and see the fruits of his labor or was the simple life having the luxury of lights, heating and medical but slaving away to acquire those comforts. Seems that both are hard but my question was which one was true freedom? Either way you can lose all. I work hard and pay a lot to live in today's society. I do not think it is allowed to live free from the system now. Everyone gets a piece of your pie whether you want them to or not. Taxes will not stop. You either pay up or you vacate the property. So which one is the more complex life?
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  4. duane

    duane Monkey+++

    Talk about SHTF and medical, without "modern" medicine, ie the last 50 years or so, my wife would have passed on from cancer, heart attack or appendix, be blind from cataracts or glacoma , I would have died from pancreas or a stroke, and be blind from cataracts or lack of eyeglasses. If SHTF, the elderly members of the herd will be culled very quickly. At our ages, my wife and have much to be thankfull for.

    He considered any thing beyond about 1880 as complex and his lifestyle would not consider many of the things we now consider simple. We do not want to give up our central heat, modern medical, educational system etc, and in most cases, our "modern" government will not let you live that way.
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2016
  5. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Monkey+++

    It is an an interesting question- what is simple? We think we live the simple life but now a days we live "simply" because we run to the store for every item we need. You mentioned in your first post that you are setting aside for a new laptop, prime example of our throw away materialist society. Yet IMO things are complex because people are not programmed any more to thinking things through.

    Wandering off topic a bit but........

    We have a way of life now that is so simple. We do. We have technology that has made our lives easier. We have gadgets for everything. We don't even have to get up to turn the TV on. What we need and want is readily available yet I hear people say they don't have enough time. People seem to work less now then they did when people worked to truly sustain themselves. We have cars so we can drive from one place to another, easy and quick. When the old homesteaders had to make a trip to town or the next own over it was an event. It took days vs. hours.

    I am thankful for modern medicine also. I would have been culled prior to 21.
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  6. Airtime

    Airtime Monkey+++

    Simple vs complex.... it may be easy to confuse those with "hard and easy." I will concur that life in modern America is more complex but much of the reason it is so is because life is "easy" by comparison. The utilization of force multipliers (tools, machines, etc.) actually free up time and skill specialization does as well. The mechanic can perform a repair in an hour that might take a carpenter 5 hours to perform and the carpenter can build a cabinet in 2 hours that would take all day for the mechanic to build. By trading the work, they both get done what they needed in a fraction of the time it would take doing it themselves. This also yields time for research and development and as noted it has yielded life saving medical advances.

    Modern American life has gotten complex in a personal dimension because the societal efficiencies noted above yield the luxury of free time to allow it to become complex. Kids can now have 3-7 after school activities the soccer moms shuttle them around to because they don't need to milk the cows again, pull weeds, feed the chickens, slop the pigs, give the horses a couple flakes of hay, etc. We have time to waste posting our 2 cent opinions on websites and can waste hours each day reading and telling the world every trivial detail of our lives via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. and goodness we even have time to worry about the frigging Kardashians if we choose to waste it that way. The complex life affords us that.

    Now, I think the trick for the complex life is to resist the temptations to indulge in the time wasters or less necessary extravagances when that life makes them viable. It can be challenging to remain frugal when you have some money not needed for essentials. My laptop computer is probably 9 years old and still running XP, I would "like" a new one but don't really need one. It can be tempting to not work around the home, improve yourself, workout, repair stuff that needs it, and instead watch Netflix.

    As we know here, all that interconnection between people that makes life easy and complex requires infrastructure - transportation, communication, monetary systems, etc. When those break down that's when ScanHTF. So, to me the real question is what is the right balance between simple and complex? How much infrastructure do you depend upon and how much do you develop that can function off grid (wells, solar, etc.) that can allow you to still employ the modern force multipliers? How much do you put in place but not use (gensets, medical gear, antibiotics) and continue to use the "normal" infrastructure? Do you prep thinking life post SHTF will repeat life of rural 1880 or Jeremiah Johnson or do you prep planning life can be a mix of 2016, 1985, 1950 and 1920?

    Last edited: Jan 3, 2016
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  7. Dunerunner

    Dunerunner Brewery Monkey Moderator

    Even in the 1880's they had eye glasses, most common illnesses were treated homeopathically, and folks were more self reliant and self sufficient. Granted, lifespans were shorter.

    I tend to prep toward Jeremiah Johnson with a little Mad Max....
  8. chelloveck

    chelloveck Diabolus Causidicus

    A very thoughtful and astute post. A lot will depend upon the nature, duration and extent of the SHTF event. Such an event may well create a different set of complexities and simplicities. If humanity survives such an event, I would expect that there would be a progressive recovery over time, depending on how much knowledge, technology and infrastructure has also survived.

    I am inclined to think that life will become more challenging, with the nature of "simplicity", and "complexity" changing with a different set of post SHTF paradigms. Prepping and planning should be oriented to technologies, systems, and relationships that are not dependant upon and vulnerable to the loss of existing grid and resource distribution structures. The key will be to have sufficient resources under one's own control to enable the survival of that transition to a sustainable life in whatever "new normal" develops.

    Paramount will be the needs to be adaptable, resourceful, enterprising, effective relationship builders; capable of working around whatever obstacles and challenges that life in a new environment will throw at us. It has ever been so with our species.
  9. Dont

    Dont Just another old gray Jarhead Monkey Site Supporter+++

    @duane .. A good thought provoking thread.. As most know, I live a much more austere life than many.. Yet I am not, nor will I be, quite at the point of Amish living.. With that said, when SHTF hits I think I may have less of an adjustment period or when old age catches up with me I will live a much more self sufficient life with plenty of stored food on the shelves and ammo for hunting...

    All my computers are old, rescued, throw away's, that have been rebuilt, running Linux.. Have sat tv that was put in back in 08 and I question the expense all the time and power it all with a gen set that takes gas.. Cook and bake on a none electric propane stove and have a propane refrigerator.. Propane cost's money and I fill the tank about every three years.. I heat with wood.. Saws, chains, gas and oil all cost.. The up shot of it all is, Life cost and you pay in sweat, money and time.. It is the quality of that time and sweat one puts in that makes it all worth it..

    And there is that smug smile that one has when they know that they are ready for the hard seasons to come..
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  10. duane

    duane Monkey+++

    My take on the sustainability of electricity in changing times. The present grid is the cheapest most trouble free system that has ever existed. It only exists if the distribution system works, the transport system supplies all its inputs and you have the money to pay whatever they are allowed to charge. It is only capable of repairing a small percentage of the total grid at any one time and sadly most of its components are no longer made in the US.

    Local generation. Gas generators are totally dependent on a fuel that can not be produced at the local level and even with fuel have a limited life. In my limited experience with generators and air compressors, a cheap, Harbor Freight or other China mart, unit will last 2 to 4 months of 10 hour a day use with good care and following all oil change and other suggestions. The next step up, Generac, other decent 4 cycle overhead valve engines, will last 9 to 18 months with the same level of care. A good Honda or similar level unit will last several years. You get what you pay for.

    Diesel units are a totally different animal. Even the cheapest unit will last several years at 10 hours a day and can be rebuilt. A low speed unit 1200 to 1800 rpm will last longer and some of the single cylinder Lister units have been running for generations, will burn waste oil or veggie oil and can be easily rebuilt. The biggest advantage is the storage life of the diesel fuel is several times that of gasoline.

    Propane generators have a lifetime similar to a gas generator, but the fuel storage can be in the generations if so desired. Natural gas generators are great and last, but are in most cases dependent on the distribution system and thus no more reliable than the grid.

    Solar generation is very good. The cells seem to last at least 20 years and I haven't really seen any fail all at once without mechanical damage, wind, snow load, overheating, short circuiting etc. I don't know what the future will bring, but in my limited experience, the controllers and batteries seem to be in about the 5 or so years area before it is necessary to replace them. I would love to hear what luck other people have had with them.

    Last edited: Jan 3, 2016
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  11. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    Healthcare, HSA plan. I have exceptional health, and use this money in my spending account only if I need it. The best part is, the money deducted from my pay (nominal) is pre-tax. As for expenses, I use pre-paid phones, cost is about $20 every three months. A simple cable bill for internet only, about $60/month. Car insurance and property insurance total less than $50/month. I will avoid the rest due to opsec, but total costs just to live are relatively low compared to most. Utilities and food are my highest bills. I have zero debt, no need for credit. I am not wealthy, I just know how to live simply and am fortunate to have few needs.

    The system in which we live is gradually taking more from us through various forms of taxation. We are debtor slaves to the sovereign crown which owns all property in this country. To deny this is futile. But, we do not have to like it, either.
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  18. GrayGhost


    Do we have freedom of speech today?
    Thread by: GrayGhost, Jan 27, 2016, 43 replies, in forum: Freedom and Liberty
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