As recent events have shown to all who still doubted it, government officials can seize private citizens’ money. They can do it quickly, unexpectedly, and for nearly any arbitrary reason. What is unthinkable today becomes acceptable tomorrow, or next week.
I have read messages on social media calling people to withdraw their savings, switch to cash, and invest in tangible assets like gold or real estate. While having some cash on hand is always a wise move, as is converting some money into hard assets, I doubt it will provide the common people with a real solution to universal corruption and ugly dictatorship.
First, if you have any substantial savings, withdrawing them all could be impractical. Second, a dictatorial government can limit the use of cash, as is already happening in Israel.
Third, paying cash for everything is hardly practical. I love how cash helps me limit spending at the grocery store, but when it comes to paying the utility bills, I do this online with my credit card rather than schlep to the local post office and stand in line with an envelope of cash.
I’m not sure I have an alternative solution. Like it or not, money is the cornerstone of our economy. For someone like me, who has fought tooth and nail for financial independence, money stands for security, comfort, capability, freedom, and so much more.
However, I am convinced that when the you-know-what hits the fan, money isn’t everything.
What if all our hard-earned savings disappear into a financial black hole tomorrow? What if money loses value, or even becomes temporarily unavailable? I am convinced that our survival will depend on our resilience, creativity, skill, and readiness to work as a community.
Bartering is not a universal remedy either, but it is an elegant solution that can bypass the money system in many cases. If you have skill, you can barter. If one person weeds another’s property in exchange for that other fixing their roof, and no money changes hands, it’s a small victory over a system based on dictatorship, surveillance, and control.
Above all, bartering is about human relationships. It is about mutual support. It is not so much about relying on “self” as trusting the small and local above the official and impersonal.
Call me an optimist, but I don’t anticipate total collapse. Call me a pessimist, but I don’t think we can avoid difficult times. Cherish your community. It is just as important to survival as a wad of cash and a hefty stockpile.