Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Eight Points of MVM

Following up my introduction to the Modern Victory Movement (MVM), here is a more detailed examination of the eight main points of MVM:

#1 Store food, water & other supplies as a hedge against economic chaos.

There are plenty of reasons to fear that hyperinflation, economic chaos and even political turmoil could hit the USA at any moment. In fact, there is a long list of financial insiders, experts and pundits predicting just that - former congressman Ron Paul, John Williams of www.shadowstats.com, commodities expert Jim Rogers, financial guru Peter Schiff, hedge fund manager Barton Biggs, and media personality Glenn Beck among many others.

One way to prepare for hyperinflation and empty store shelves is to stock up now on what you'll need. You'll avoid the affects of hyperinflation (at least while your supplies hold out) and you will be spared any shortages that may occur.  Food, water and medicine are the obvious choices to stockpile, but just about anything can be stocked up on.

Cleaning supplies, first aid supplies, clothing and shoes, as well as personal hygiene products such as toothpaste, razors, soap, shampoo, and deodorant are other good choices to stock up on. You might even want to get your next set of tires now instead of during an environment of hyperinflation and shortages.

Wood for your fireplace or wood-burning stove can be stacked up in your backyard. Don't forget matches. Composted cow manure, bone meal, hummus and other soil amendments can be stored and used to improve your soil for future use. Most seeds have a shelf-life of 3 to 5 years (possibly longer if stored under the right conditions).

There is lots of information on stocking up on food and other supplies throughout this blog (see especially my series Preparing for Disaster on a Budget), and more will be posted in the future. Be sure to browse the archives (in right hand column). Also, the Church of Latter Day Saints (the Mormons) has been doing this for generations and are experts. Lots of LDS information can be found online via a simple Google search.

#2 Raise and preserve as much of your own food as possible. 

Raising and preserving a portion of your own food, if possible, is the best means of protecting yourself and your family from high food inflation, as well as any future food scarcity that may occur. From a simple veggie patch in the backyard to a fully integrated forest garden with free-roaming chickens for eggs and a couple of goats for milk, the more food each of us can raise, the better off the world will be. Urban farming in community gardens, on rooftops, or in containers on balconies and windowsills is especially needed.

 An important part of growing our own food is improving the soil we garden in. This can be done by composting, vermiculture and wise-use. Healthy soils are one of the greatest stores of future value around. The more I read of history, the more obvious the extreme importance of healthy soils becomes. Entire civilizations were built around healthy soils. And many were destroyed either by conquest of other peoples wanting their soils, or because they destroyed their own soils.

Not only raising our own food, but preserving it for future use is important. Canning, freezing, drying and other methods can be used to store the food we raise or buy from local farmers. Most of us will probably need to supplement the food we preserve from our gardens with food we buy from the stores.

For those who cannot grow any of their own food because of health limitations or whatever other reasons, consider joining a food co-op. A food co-op directory service can be found by clicking here. Also, you should look into your local farmers markets.

#3 Save money through energy and resource efficiency. 

Political hostility towards oil, gas, coal & nuclear energy, carbon taxes, cap & trade, peak oil, the inadequacy of "green" energy, a declining dollar and high inflation caused by stupid fiscal policies are all creating a perfect storm in which all forms of energy are going to get much, much more expensive over the next several years and beyond. The best way for most people to protect themselves from high energy inflation is to use less through energy efficiency.

A tremendous amount of energy savings could be achieved without requiring great changes in lifestyle or personal behavior. Nor does energy efficiency take huge amounts of money. I have some practical experience in this regard.

A couple of years ago, I went about making my family home of about 1,500 square feet more energy efficient. Some of the things done included:

     1.  Repairs to the shell of the home
     2.  Repairs to the insulation under the house
     3.  Replaced several old appliances with new, energy efficient models
     4.  Replaced old windows with new energy-efficient windows
     5.  Switched all indoor lights to CFLs*
     6.  Replaced regular shower heads with low-flow shower heads
     7.  Filled in gaps where pipes & wires come into the house (kitchen, bathrooms, utility room) with a can of spray foam insulation.

As a result of these repairs, I was able to reduce my home's energy use by about 60% on a monthly basis compared to the previous year. Please note that this was achieved without any change in lifestyle or personal behavior, but rather through energy efficiency only.

The total cost of all this was about $6,800. Between the lower monthly energy bills and the tax credit for the new energy-efficient windows, the break even point on this investment was less than three years. How have your investments done over the last three years?

The really great thing is that electricity prices could literally double and my monthly power bill will still be lower than it was before these improvements.  How is that for a hedge against higher energy taxes and inflation?

I feel certain that most American homes, and businesses for that matter, could probably achieve similar energy savings by simply making their buildings more energy efficient.

Of course, wasteful actions (usually due to simple thoughtlessness) should be stopped as part of achieving energy efficiency. Again, this can be done without major changes in lifestyle or personal behavior:

     1.  Turn off lights when not in a room
     2.  Turn off radios, TVs and/or DVD players when not being used
     3.  Unplug battery chargers when not being used
     4.  Unplug unnecessary clocks, kitchen gadgets and so forth
     5.  Set thermostats lower in the winter (wear sweaters, use an extra blanket)
     6.  Set thermostats higher in summer (electric fans make you feel 5° cooler)
     7.  Take quick showers (less hot water used = less energy used)

Remember, the more energy you save, the more money you save. Good luck, and good savings...

*Notes on CFLs

1- CFL bulbs have gotten a bad rap in recent years due to their mercury content.  The fact is that modern CFLs contain less than 30% the mercury contained in the CFLs that first came on the market. Unbroken, CFLs pose no mercury danger. And it would take 125 broken CFLs to equal the amount of mercury contained in that old thermometer that is probably sitting in your bathroom cabinet.  

2- CFLs are also controversial because many governments are mandating their use. I am a free market guy, therefore I am against laws mandating their use. In a free market system, people should have choice in products they purchase.

#4 Gain knowledge. Learn skills. Take responsibility. 

A major part of building self-reliance is gaining knowledge, learning skills and taking responsibility for your own life. The more you know, the more you are able to do and the more you are actually willing to do for yourself, the better off you will be.

In your personal life, learn how to manage your finances. Learn how to live on a budget. Develop the skills of a smart consumer. Learn how to raise and preserve some of your own food. Learn how to do the routine maintenance on your car. Learn the basics of home maintenance. Learn to sew. There is a multitude of everyday skills that you should learn in order to be more self-reliant.

On the job, the more knowledge and skills you have the less likely you are to be let go in “cost savings” efforts. And if you are let go, the more knowledge and skills you have the quicker you will be able to find new work. Don’t just limit yourself to the skills needed for your current job. Learn other skills as well. Learn a foreign language.

Take responsibility for your own life and success. Your company isn’t going to protect you. The government is going to take care of you. You family and friends have enough problems of their own.

Taking responsibility means doing what needs to be done, not just what is fun or what you want to do. Taking responsibility means not waiting around for others to do it for you. Taking responsibility means not assuming if you don’t do it then someone else will. Be proactive.

If you know your company is struggling, don’t wait for them to “downsize” you before you start looking for work. Get moving - polish up your resume now, start networking and making contacts & inquires.

If your entire industry is struggling, don’t wait for it to implode. Start thinking about what new industry you might want to move to, and start learning the new skills you will need and making contacts in that industry.

Stay informed of current affairs. Pay attention to the news. For those looking to better understand the changes happening to our civilization, I would suggest reading two of my earlier essays, Bread and Circuses and Chaostan, and the USA's Move To Socialism.

#5 Eliminate debt and build savings (financial commonsense). 

We are facing difficult economic times. It will be especially difficult for the folks who are living paycheck to paycheck, in debt up to their eyeballs and with little or no savings. Debt – whether personal, business or government – is bad. It creates stress and makes one much more vulnerable to economic downturns.

In your personal life, work towards eliminating consumer debt – credit cards, car loans, payday loans, personal loans and installment plans. This will mean you have to put yourself on a budget and stick with it. It will probably mean putting off major purchases, avoiding impulse purchases and denying yourself luxury items. It may mean taking bag lunches to work. It may mean selling your car to get out of the loan. It may mean having a major yard sale to raise some money. It may even mean taking on a second job. It will take some sacrifice to eliminate debt in your life, but the benefits will be more than worth it.

Building some emergency savings will have to be done at the same time. Yard sales are a great way to bring in extra cash to do this. So is a second job in the evenings or on the weekends. Put the money somewhere safe, such as an insured CD or money market account in a stable bank or credit union (do your own homework or check with several companies that offer ratings on the soundness and safety of various financial institutions). Don’t worry about getting top interest. Safety and liquidity is your goal for your emergency savings, not growth.

Once your debt is paid off and you have accumulated some emergency savings, you can then turn your attention to savings for long-range goals such as the purchase of a car, a new home, children’s education, or retirement. Use common sense, avoid overly-risky investments and seek professional advice of someone you can trust.

No investment is perfectly safe. Cash savings are subject to losing value to inflation. Stocks and mutual funds are subject to the ups and downs of the market. Land is subject to property taxes and eminent domain. Converting all your money to gold & silver and burying it in the backyard is subject to thieves. There are no guarantees in life. The best you can do is use reason & common sense, to remain vigilant and to take responsibility for ensuring your own future.

#6 Improve your health, fitness & vitality.

Here is a list of basic rules to promote better health. Healthy living is a much more complex topic, of course, but this list makes a good starting point.

     Avoid smoking and/or abusing drugs or alcohol. This one should be obvious, but a lot of people fail to achieve this important step to improving their health.

     Get between 7 & 9 hours of sleep per night. I know plenty of people who claim to get by on six hours of sleep a night or less. You might "get by" with less, but the research is overwhelming - adequate sleep is very important to good health.

     Eat 5+ servings of fruits & vegetables a day. Fresh fruits and vegetables are a cornerstone of a healthy diet, and you cannot eat too many. Try to eat a wide variety fruits and vegetables, including citrus fruits, tomatoes, carrots and the cruciferous veggies, which include cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, bok choy, radishes, horseradish, and various greens (turnip, mustard, kale, collard, etc). Legumes (beans, peas) should be eaten for their fiber, protein and other nutritional value. Of course, use commonsense and avoid any foods to which you are allergic.

     Eat whole grains instead of refined grains. Many studies suggest that the high rate of consumption of refined, or white, flour, bread, pasta, cereals and rice are contributing to the current epidemics of obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and even cancer. Switch to whole grains whenever possible.

     Consume less sodium & refined sugar. Also contributing to obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer is the high rate of sugar consumption in all its forms, especially high fructose corn syrup. Cut back drastically on the amount of sugar you consume, and when you do use sweeteners, prefer natural sources such as fruit & honey.

     Be physically active everyday. Many experts recommend at least one hour of moderate exercise a day, at least five days a week. What is moderate exercise? It should be vigorous enough to cause you to break out in a slight sweat. Walking, swimming and bike riding are excellent, low impact, ways to exercise. Use common sense - if you are elderly, badly out-of-shape or suffer from serious health conditions, please get your doctor's advise before starting an exercise program.

     Visit your doctor & dentist for regular check-ups. Find a doctor you like and are comfortable with, hopefully one who takes a holistic approach to your health care and believes as strongly in preventing disease as he or she does in curing disease. What constitutes "regular check-ups" depends on your age & health conditions and should be mutually decided on by you and your doctor.

#7 Improve your personal security.

Yes, this is the "guns and ammo" part of MVM, but it is so much more than just that. Guns are just one tool in your personal security arsenal, and not the most important one.

The first and most important tool for personal security is awareness. Awareness of your surroundings and the potential risks of your situation is essential. An excellent discussion of situational awareness can be found in the Stratfor report, Threats, Situational Awareness and Perspective, which can be read online for free by clicking the link. Also read their report Personal Contingency Plans.

It is a dangerous world out there, and likely to get more dangerous as society continues to break down. We must be concerned for the physical safety of ourselves and our families, as well as the protection of our personal property. Today, this includes protecting against identity theft which can be as devastating to its victim as any mugging or home robbery.

Be sure to guard your personal records - driver's license & Social Security numbers, banking & financial information, medical records, etc. - as carefully and diligently as you guard your gold & silver. Be especially vigilant with your computer. At a minimum, always use a firewall, maintain an up-to-date anti-virus program, and regularly scrub your computer with one or more anti-spyware programs. Only do business online with well-established companies you know and trust.

#8 Stand for limited government, individual freedom & economic prosperity.

Like it or not, Government is a part of our lives, and will always be a part of our lives. But we do have some influence on the what kind of Government we have. Support the idea of small, Constitutionally limited Government. Support individual freedoms. And support economic prosperity through true free-market Capitalism (and oppose Crony Capitalism).

Read and study the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution & Bill of Rights, and other Founding documents. Learn real history and real economics (not just the politically correct propaganda taught in schools).

Stand up for traditional values such as a staunch work ethic, personal accountability, common decency, self-reliance, and the importance of family life.

Don't be silent. Talk to your government officials. Vote. Participate in the system. Make sure your voice is heard.

Note: This essay may be reproduced, in whole or in part, for non-commercial use provided that Tim Gamble is credited as the author and a link to this website is provided (www.timgamble.com).


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