I had an epic conversation with one of my brothers yesterday in which we discussed the declining economy, the disaster that is the current welfare state, the impossibility that things can continue as they are and the coming devolution/destruction of life as we know it. JayMan has a great post about this on his blog. Pay special attention to his first graphic on cycles of violence. I believe the racial component isn’t reflective of reality because the crime reporting methodologies have been bowdlerized into hiding the incidence of racial violence (unless it’s white against black). The level of racial violence should be much higher than is reflected in that graphic, but that’s my only quibble.
This brother is a top-tier computer programmer with an enviable skillset, making in excess of $100k a year working for a company that has over 90% of the market share for their product, world-wide. If he wanted to he could live in any of a half-dozen different countries where they have offices but he chooses to live in the city where the headquarters is. His choice, I guess politics makes a difference.
His idea for the future was 3-D printing and home-based manufacturing. He spun a great line about how the material cost was cheap and it’s possible to manufacture things that people want and sell them for a profit while keeping the cost below market value. I listened to him wax eloquent for over an hour. Finally, I disagreed. The reason I disagreed is that in a declining or depressed economy people don’t have money to buy toys, they buy necessities. What necessities can be manufactured with a 3-D printer? If you find a few good items to make, how many can you sell? How do you get people coming back for more? This is one of the reasons our current economy is floundering: what do people really need at this point? The market for toys is really, really depressed.
People Pay For Needs And Addictions
Nobody ever went broke selling things that meet basic needs or addictions. Basic needs are things like food and clothing, but there’s an excess of clothing on the market and nobody wants to use a thrift-store business model. Everybody has to have food and in a declining economy, anybody who can provide quality food at a lower price will have all the business they can handle. It’s simply a matter of staying in business long enough to develop a customer base. The customer base is automatically a customer base of repeat customers because food is consumed and there is always a need for more.
Back in 1987, Booker T. Whatley wrote a book called How to Make $100,000 Farming 25 Acres and explained how to market direct to the consumer. He was 30 years ahead of his time. The key today is micro-processor controlled aquaponics, the combination of aqua-farming and hydroponics, a synergy in which the fish remove the excess nutrients and byproducts from the water, cleansing it so that it can go on nourishing the plants. Production of vegetables and fish is the result in a system that uses minimal resources of space and energy. Microprocessors monitor a variety of factors and maintain the system with a minimum of human input.
Lots of people talk about the collapse that’s coming. Most of them talk about stockpiling guns and ammo. Those are good to have, but better is the ability to produce EXCESS food that can be sold, bartered or used to sustain others who can help produce other things or simply add to your defense capability. Is it worthwhile today? Absolutely. The average suburban homeowner could put up a 200 square-foot greenhouse and produce enough food on a year-round basis to cut their food budget by well over 50%. Combine that with chickens and rabbits and the food bill can be chopped by over 75%. Think about that. We’re talking about hundreds of dollars each month in un-taxable production that is consumed and never leaves the home.
Someone with a few acres could do much, much more. Portable chicken pens that are moved each day allow the chickens to consume bugs and pasturage and cuts the feed expense by 25% or more. The result is healthy, organic free-range chicken at minimal cost. Add a milk cow to that and you’ve got eggs, chicken, milk, cheese and an 800 lb steer to slaughter every year for beef. Modern homesteading has come a long way.
3-D printing may be a great deal, but I think food production is a much better way to go. In fact, in most states there are “farm-sale” laws that state that if a farmer sells produce to customers at the farm, no sales tax is required to be collected. That’s a huge benefit. In addition, if one leaned toward the “grey market” there’s always the possibility of setting up a reflux still and producing ethanol from the waste, over-ripe and damaged produce. That could go in the gas tank or be processed into a very drinkable beverage for the best customers. Of course, Unkle Sugar wants his cut and wants you to get a boatload of permits and licenses… and getting caught with said still will mean felony charges, but some people are willing to take their chances. They’re willing to cater to other addictions as well, perhaps devoting nine or ten square feet of their growing beds for cannabis production. Again, nobody every went broke supplying people’s basic needs and addictions.
This is the sort of operation that can be started on the cheap and built incrementally larger as profits appeared and the customer base grew. With this kind of setup, there’s no need to quit the day job, but if you get laid off or injured and can’t work, at least you won’t have to worry about eating. The income will be helpful as well.
The minimal amount of work required to maintain an aquaponic setup, the minimal cost to get it started and the value of the food produced is so significant that everyone should do this. In an era in which your lettuce travels 1500 miles or more to get to your grocery store, it only makes sense to produce your own food.