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24 September 2012

Gold and Pigs

I was reading an article the other day by one of the many writers that have joined the SHTF1 genre. In it he tried to make a case for buying up gold and silver as security against the possibility of economic and monetary collapse. In his example, he said that in such a case, when grocery stores were empty, if one had gold and silver, they could trade some of the gold or silver to a farmer for a pig, ensuring that their family would at least have food for survival.

Think about this. Imagine the scenario the author describes; monetary collapse has brought down the entire economy. Transportation is at a standstill, grocery stores are empty or guarded by armed guards, (fell free to imagine your own apocalyptic scenario).  Our survival-minded citizen has hoarded gold and silver in a variety of denominations and sizes. He is sitting pretty and confident. But…

Where is he going to find a pig?

The question may sound trivial or even humorous. But it reveals a major flaw in a lot of people’s (non) thinking. On your block, in your neighborhood or town, how many pigs are for sale right now? How many will be for sale when there’s no bacon in the grocery store? How many people have gold and silver? 

There seems to be a general, foggy idea in most people’s mind that there is an entire countryside filled with generous, kindly farmers who’ll happily trade them a pig, or a chicken or some grain in exchange for their metals. But the reality is not so pastoral. In the case of our pig example, over 98% of swine in the U.S. are owned by large multi-national corporations on huge, (and well-protected) factory farms. So that leaves very few pigs for barter. Of that small number, how many of the owners will want to trade them for a not-so-useful chunk of metal? Maybe you can trade a chunk to the big corporation for some of their pork. Maybe not. Those still at the head of government will get fed. Same with the military. The average person will be pretty far down on the list of essential personnel.
Of course this post is not meant to be about the relative availability of pork products. It is meant to reveal one example of how people deal with dissonance. People see something is wrong, and they feel a need to “do something about it” so they buy gold, silver, guns, etc. without truly thinking. It is also meant to point out the irony that the very condition that got us into the mess, namely the refusal of the masses to think, will always be a major underlying factor in all of man’s endeavors.      

[1] SHTF - Acronym for Shit Hits The Fan. A popular euphemism for economic, monetary and/or civil collapse