Author Topic: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation  (Read 36011 times)

Syonyk

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2732
    • Syonyk's Project Blog
Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« on: January 30, 2017, 09:32:03 PM »
Disclaimer: This has been something I've been thinking about since long, long before November, and have been working towards for multiple years, with a major move and life change a year or so ago related to it - so, let's try to avoid politics, because who the captain is doesn't matter that much if the ship is sinking.

Nations rise and fall - we see this throughout history.  Generally, a nation will last hundreds of years before falling down the dustbin of history into irrelevance, and nations that strive for stability over all else can last thousands.

If one assumes the average age of nations is a few hundred years, and that most humans will live to 60-80 years, that lifespan will cover a good chunk of a nation's life.  We're not that many human lifetimes away from the founding of the United States or many of the countries over in Europe.

And if one is making plans for, ideally, 30-60 years in the future (as many people here are), considering where a nation is on the arc through history is worth spending a bit of time on.

I'm generally of the opinion that the US is somewhat past our peak of our run, with a peak probably in the 60s or 70s.  A number of important metrics have been going down since then, but the exact dates don't matter that much.  If we are 25 years or 45 years past peak, that doesn't matter as much as the fact that we are past peak and, over our expected lifespans and retirement, will be in a nation that's heading further downhill.

So... starting with the assumption that the US (which is where I live) is a nation in decline, at some point past the peak of our arc, what are reasonable things to consider going forward, and how are you working those out?  I'm in my mid-30s, hope to live well past 70, and would like to cut back on work going forward, though I doubt I'll ever entirely retire - my projects do tend to generate income after a while.

I'd start by offering that I don't think the markets are going to be reliably going up for another 35+ years.  There are simply too many headwinds against continued exponential growth on a finite planet to rely on this.  The current economic systems are quite addicted to growth, and lots of things just fall apart if they don't get it.  If you're looking out 10-15 years - you might be fine, but longer?  Eh.  Growth is a risky gamble to make for another 40-50 years.

On top of that, nations in decline tend to do a poor job maintaining their infrastructure.  There's just no money to do it, and "Eh, I'm sure the roads will be fine for another year..." eventually turns into gravel roads where you once had pavement.  Not that as many people can afford fancy cars to drive on them anyway.

And things just generally don't work as well.  That which you relied on becomes unreliable, then goes away.  That which was certain becomes less certain.  And, historically, political polarization keeps increasing, and governments become less and less functional, and eventually fade out of the picture entirely (except, usually, for taxes - they'll happily demand money for services they no longer provide).  This is more true for large governments (national) and a bit less true for local governments.

Finally, as nations wind down, they tend to either get overrun from the outside, or fragment into regional nation-states.  Personally, I'm betting on the second.  I think there's a decent chance I'll see it in my lifetime, but I'm by no means certain on that point.

==================

That said: How do you go about designing for these potential futures, while not missing out terribly in the event that we can keep kicking the can for another century or so and not face the consequences?

I'd offer that, from my point of view, the best way to deal with this is to live a good bit below your means, gain useful skills in areas that seem important going forward, and work towards reducing your long term expenses as much as you possibly can while providing for your needs - and, if you have the space, look towards being able to provide a surplus to help your local community.

FIRE types are usually well set as far as living below your means goes - that's sort of how you get to that point in the first place.  If you're not on the edge financially, you can absorb a lot of shocks and be totally fine.  So that's not a problem.  I would offer that focusing on lower tech entertainment is probably useful.  Board games will last a long time.  XStations?  Meh.

Skills is an interesting area that, in my view, is worth a bit of a gamble.  If you're on the FIRE path, and especially as you transition out of work with a good chunk of wealth saved up, you can afford some gambles on "weird" skills.  Gardens, machining, making furniture - if things keep going up, great.  You've got a fun hobby.  But if the markets refuse to behave, you have some useful and, ideally, lower tech level skills you can fall back on.  Knowing the details of dense gardening in your local soil is of value.  Being able to build and repair things of value (including building parts for machinery and cars - that may be in demand).  Things like that.  Or even just being a good storyteller.

As far as expense reduction goes, this is one that's probably the most controversial, at least on this forum - but I think it's also one of the most important.  I've been working towards investing in productive property improvements that will reduce my long term expenses, even at the cost of spending more money now.

Solar is a good example.  The common way of doing solar right now is grid tied, with micro-inverters.  This is perfectly fine, as long as the power grid is reliable (and power companies let you use the grid as a free battery).  Most of the microinverters on the market, as installed, will not function without the power grid.  If we're heading into a future where infrastructure is less reliable each year, this is a problem.

An alternate way of doing solar is with inverters and a battery pack designed to run at least a set of critical loads (which, depending on your house, may be most of it) without the grid attached.  It's more expensive up front, but gives you the ability to keep the lights on if the grid, locally, becomes unreliable.  Or, more tactically, not keep the lights on, but keep the fridge and freezer on, the well pump running, etc.  Lead may not be the best battery tech here.  Nickel iron is inefficient, but long lasting, and some of the more boring lithium chemistries are pretty long lived as well.

If all goes well, you pay for your power bill going forward.  If all doesn't go well, you still have refrigeration in the summer when things are hot, and, well, if it's cold and dark outside, putting things outside will keep them nicely cold.

Another area worth looking at is food production.  My goal, mid term (5 years?), is to be able to feed my family (which includes grandparents) from our property.  This is a special challenge here because I live on a pile of basalt with alkaline soil.  But, I'm planning on trucking in some decent soil, working with compost, and working towards an aquaponics greenhouse (growing fish and plants in a synthetic pond ecosystem).  It's a good bit of work, but it's interesting, useful knowledge (see skills, above), and I'll have an idea as to where my food is grown.  It's hyper-local, and if things go well, I have plenty of surplus for a local gift economy, and if things don't go as well, I'm ahead of the curve in terms of knowledge and equipment.

Finally, at least for me, I've been working on my small electronics repair knowledge, and building local systems that don't rely on the internet and cloud to function.  There's just no reason I need a cloud based watering system - and I'd rather have one I designed and can maintain.

I'm also working with electric bikes, both in terms of repair and design, because they're a wonderfully cheap car replacement.  If things go forward exponentially, I have a neat hobby, and if things don't, I'm ahead of the curve in terms of understanding a great, wonderfully cheap, solar-chargeable replacement for cars.

My overall goal here is to hedge some of the risks of things not going as hoped.  I'm certainly putting money in the markets and index funds, but at the same time, if I have a productive property improvement I can get long term return on, I'll put money there over the markets.  And I do keep some value stored not in USD. 

I openly admit that this is not the most "efficient" way towards FIRE.  But it does seem reasonably robust against some of the risks that things might not go as hoped.  If things go great, I have a very low cost of living and money coming in from the markets and I can do whatever I want.  But if things go less-than-great (which, again, looking forward 40-50 years, I see as highly likely), I think I'll be better set, and ideally will have the resources to be useful and generous in my local community, which is what will matter.

Thoughts?
My random project blog - ebikes, DIY, fans, and more: http://syonyk.blogspot.com

undercover

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 582
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2017, 09:43:21 PM »
I didn't read it all, but my answer would still be the same:

It doesn't matter. You can't predict the future. You can only examine the past and hope for an optimistic future. Even if stocks completely crash someday, who cares?

Would your rather have a bunch of shit you don't need, or know you at least tried to create an ideal, secure future for yourself? Buy the stuff you need/want and invest the rest. You can always work at McDonalds in the future to pay for a new computer, shoes, clothes, etc. As you said, you don't foresee any issue with generating income in the future for yourself if need be.

Keep in mind that if stocks really do crash in a super meaningful way (sustained recessions over a long period of time), then there are likely larger issues at that point.

In general, I find the survivalist mentality to be completely counter-productive. I'd rather spend my time working to save the great system we have than to plan for a million contingencies in case of emergency.
Every solution has a problem

Syonyk

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2732
    • Syonyk's Project Blog
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2017, 09:55:35 PM »
It doesn't matter. You can't predict the future. You can only examine the past and hope for an optimistic future.

I can't predict the future, but I can look through history, see trends, and apply them to current situations to see what paths forward seem viable given the range of likely futures.  I agree that one can't predict the future with clarity, but I'd argue that you can make some guesses about likely paths, and work towards something that is less vulnerable to those disruptions.

Quote
Even if stocks completely crash someday, who cares?

I expect a large number of people on this forum who are heavily invested in index funds for retirement would care, quite a bit!

Quote
Would your rather have a bunch of shit you don't need, or know you at least tried to create an ideal, secure future for yourself?

How are the two opposed?  If I'm going to put solar on my house, investing a bit more in the system to provide functional off grid water/refrigeration seems useful to me.  That lowered cost of living and better certainty about running refrigeration is useful, regardless of what the markets do.

And, quite honestly, "knowing I at least tried" is rather inferior, in my view, to having done something that's actually useful.  "Knowing I at least tried" and shoved a ton of money into index funds is not nearly so useful as having built a property that can provide for my own needs, regardless of what the index funds do.

Quote
As you said, you don't foresee any issue with generating income in the future for yourself if need be.

Hopefully not.  But needing to generate less of it, based on improvements made when I'm making a lot, would be easier than needing to make more of it.

Quote
Keep in mind that if stocks really do crash in a super meaningful way (sustained recessions over a long period of time), then there are likely larger issues at that point.

Yup!  And at that point, understanding local food and energy production seems incredibly useful to me.

If not, I've got some fun hobbies in the process.

Quote
In general, I find the survivalist mentality to be completely counter-productive. I'd rather spend my time working to save the great system we have than to plan for a million contingencies in case of emergency.

That's why I start by talking about the arc of nations.  "Working to save the great system we have" is useful, if there's any evidence at all it can be saved.  Historically, that's not the case - and I'm not one to arrogantly claim, "But this time is different!" - because that was the case in every civilization that is no longer around.

I'm not really planning for "a million contingencies" - I'm working towards a generally robust property that can cover a lot of cases.  If we've got food and water (which, for us, requires having electricity), a lot else is flexible.

And, in the case that everything goes great, I simply don't scale my gardens as large, have one instead of multiple greenhouses growing fresh fish and plants, and don't have a rooster running around to increase the chicken count.

That sounds like a pretty good life to me anyway.

I put a lot of this more in the realm of "tweaks on the way to what sounds like fun anyway," instead of building my life around being a survivalist.  Again, in the best case, I produce a lot of my own power with paid-for equipment, and grow a lot of my own food locally - so not spending much on groceries.  At that point, if the markets are doing well, I have a huge surplus to do whatever I want with!
My random project blog - ebikes, DIY, fans, and more: http://syonyk.blogspot.com

fattest_foot

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 432
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2017, 10:10:29 PM »
Considerifng how global the world is, I'm not sure the old rules apply anymore. Countries may not fall as before. There's really no reason to believe the US will suffer some catastrophic collapse. At worst I see us becoming the 2nd or 3rd largest economy in our lifetimes.

jooniFLORisploo

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2651
  • Location: under the couch, looking upward
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #4 on: January 30, 2017, 10:14:05 PM »
I hear ya, Syonyk.

Here's where I come from:
1. The whole stock market thing may or may not continue indefinitely. (I tend to think it won't.)
2. Regardless, 90% of my assets are in it.
3. ...because 100% of my assets still isn't enough to own a property I'd want in my preferred region.
4. And there's nothing else I crave (I also rarely crave a property, for what it's worth).
5. And if the market implodes, I'm in the same boat as almost everyone else on the planet (those that had stocks, and those that never did).
6. And I like sharing a boat with regular folks.
7. As comedian Bill Burr notes, folks who stock up for the zombie apocalypse are just "gathering supplies for" the most aggressive asshole. I paraphrased.

This noted, if I had energy, I would get property I could own outright, set up solar and chickens and stuff, and hope the guy from #7 finds it inconvenient. I don't have the energy, so I'm not doing that.

I do spend a wild amount of time building live community, which I think also helps me in any contingency. At best, we teach each other how to harvest wild quail. At worst, we die laughing :)

Finally, if you anticipate the US declining, will you not still have 40-60% of your stocks in other nations?

Syonyk

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2732
    • Syonyk's Project Blog
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #5 on: January 30, 2017, 10:20:00 PM »
Considerifng how global the world is, I'm not sure the old rules apply anymore.

Mmhmm.  So, "But it's different this time!"

Quote
There's really no reason to believe the US will suffer some catastrophic collapse. At worst I see us becoming the 2nd or 3rd largest economy in our lifetimes.

I'm not talking about a catastrophic collapse.  I'm talking about the general decline that nations go through, over time, in the context of the timescales that are relevant for FIRE types.

3. ...because 100% of my assets still isn't enough to own a property I'd want in my preferred region.

How much property do you want, where? :p  A few acres to work with isn't expensive most places.

Quote
5. And if the market implodes, I'm in the same boat as almost everyone else on the planet (those that had stocks, and those that never did).

Certainly true.

Quote
6. And I like sharing a boat with regular folks.

That's useful, but at the same time, having the resources to show up to a sinking boat with a pump to bail it out seems useful.

That's part of why my focus is to develop things enough that I can have a surplus to share locally.  I want to be able to help - partly because this seems a good thing to do, partly because it means I have something of value to offer locally, and ideally that would keep #7 from being quite as relevant.

Quote
7. As comedian Bill Burr notes, folks who stock up for the zombie apocalypse are just "gathering supplies for" the most aggressive asshole. I paraphrased.

That is certainly a concern, and one of the reasons I'm not terribly interested in going "Doomsday Prepper."  Also, I cannot wrap my head around how stupid you have to be to go about doing that, then talk about it on TV.  Seriously.

But what I'm working towards isn't a huge cache of supplies or anything - more a system that nets me, annually, some reasonable amount of food and energy that I can use and share.

Quote
I do spend a wild amount of time building live community, which I think also helps me in any contingency. At best, we teach each other how to harvest wild quail. At worst, we die laughing :)

Seems entirely useful. :)

Quote
Finally, if you anticipate the US declining, will you not still have 40-60% of your stocks in other nations?

Unfortunately, as noted by the previous poster, we are rather global.  So I'm not sure that other nations will be radically better.

It's something I've considered, and something I'm working towards, but I'm not sure how much value it will actually have.
My random project blog - ebikes, DIY, fans, and more: http://syonyk.blogspot.com

FIFoFum

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 759
    • Same as it ever was?
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #6 on: January 30, 2017, 10:41:10 PM »
I generally agree, but I would include a lot of space for technological advancement that is clearly on the horizon.

To give just one example -

Taking a long view, people won't be owning their own cars for that much longer. They most certainly won't be the ones driving them. They aren't likely to be predominantly gas engines either, once individual ownership declines. So being able to repair cars that you don't own and aren't being built anymore is of limited use. And there is no reason to think that auto diagnostics and repair wouldn't become even more automated either.

This is not imminent. However, it is likely to happen within this same historical time frame. Personally, when I think about the idea of "aging in place" (I'm 40 now), I envision that I won't have to worry about being too old to drive. There is plenty of good and bad to imagine that comes with this type of change. For example, if corporate interests own all the cars, then they are the ones who would have the interest in repairing necessary roads and charging for it in the price of your ride. This would likely accelerate greater urban density. 

Anyway, this thought exercise gets much harder for technologies that are harder to predict or ones we know about that are unclear on timing (e.g., lab grown animal proteins for food consumption).

Reigning World Champion for Best Puppy Pics

Proud Pilgrim to Camp Mustache Canada 2017

http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/journals/same-as-it-ever-was/

jooniFLORisploo

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2651
  • Location: under the couch, looking upward
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #7 on: January 30, 2017, 10:48:30 PM »
How much property do you want, where? :p  A few acres to work with isn't expensive most places.

You're right. I'm addicted to my current community and province. Anywhere I'd consider living in BC is veeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeery expensive. I'm magically managing to pay only $500 for everything related to housing, so there's no incentive/need for me to uproot (again) just to own land.

If I get hungry for chicken-care, I'll just WWOOF.

That's useful, but at the same time, having the resources to show up to a sinking boat with a pump to bail it out seems useful.

Agreed. I basically live to contribute, and the only time I consider land is when I think about creating something others can access too. On the other hand, there's already a lot of landownership that needs human energy, so it seems simplest to move to one of those, commune there. (Are you familiar with WWOOF, and programs for connecting farm-owners with workers?)

...how stupid you have to be to go about doing that, then talk about it on TV.  Seriously.

lol! I didn't know people do that :)

But what I'm working towards isn't a huge cache of supplies or anything - more a system that nets me, annually, some reasonable amount of food and energy that I can use and share.

That sounds completely awesome to me!

Yeah, for me overall, it's about having enough set aside to support myself (disability-having) and my kid (disability-having) in this system, while eternally developing resources for others too. I develop projects, teach, WWOOF, write stuff, do heaps of community-building, help my neighbours for free, etc.

For some years I've been keen on creating something along the lines of permanent rural community where different people can live in tiny homes on site, garden, hang out together, offer safe housing to people who need that, etc. I mostly think it's going to happen! Either I'll join someone else's land and help them out, or co-own land, or ultimately buy something outright and do it myself.

bacchi

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2009
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #8 on: January 30, 2017, 11:30:20 PM »
Isn't this what the Transition Movement is all about? Making an entire town/region self sufficient so that it can handle upcoming crises certainly beats an individual doing what they can.

http://transitionus.org/transition-town-movement

The SO's parents are involved in a transition town; they've scouted out places to grow food and put up greenhouses. They re-started a local farmer's market and they're working on more town-owned solar and water access.

jooniFLORisploo

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2651
  • Location: under the couch, looking upward
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #9 on: January 30, 2017, 11:37:34 PM »
Hadn't heard of that, bacchi! So thanks for sharing. Will check it out.

I've lived some really awful lessons in relation to self-sufficient village projects. Just a couple of bad apples can really impact what can happen, people's happiness, etc. For this reason, I've been moving toward sole ownership or ownership with just 1-2 parties I have good reason to trust the integrity of. I look forward to seeing if TM navigates that more successfully.

Dicey

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5796
  • Age: 59
  • Location: NorCal
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #10 on: January 30, 2017, 11:53:36 PM »
It makes my head hurt to think this way. I choose optimism. Maybe even wild, unbridled optimism. Just saw Ted Koppel speak tonight about how the Chinese and the Russians have full access to the US energy grid*. They can bring us to our knees. Happily, we apparently have hacked theirs back. Is it true? Dunno. What can I do about it if it is? Live each day as if it were my last? Been doing that for thirty years. I reckon that's what will keep me going, no matter what the future holds.

* Among other interesting things. Great speaker.
I did it! I have a journal!
A Lot Like This
And hell yes, I am still moving confidently in the direction of my dreams...

Dicey

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5796
  • Age: 59
  • Location: NorCal
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #11 on: January 30, 2017, 11:58:29 PM »
Off topic alert:

Hey Joon, I checked out that granola something or other blog yesterday. Left a comment. Got an email from Johnny! Had an interesting virtual conversation today. All because I wanted to help you out. Woot! Thanks!
I did it! I have a journal!
A Lot Like This
And hell yes, I am still moving confidently in the direction of my dreams...

jooniFLORisploo

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2651
  • Location: under the couch, looking upward
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #12 on: January 31, 2017, 12:03:28 AM »
I don't know what a granola or a Johnny is, but THANK YOU for wanting to (and taking action to) help me out! And lovely that you had that happy outcome, too :)

Moonwaves

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 735
  • Location: Germany
    • My blog
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #13 on: January 31, 2017, 02:48:52 AM »
Isn't this what the Transition Movement is all about? Making an entire town/region self sufficient so that it can handle upcoming crises certainly beats an individual doing what they can.

http://transitionus.org/transition-town-movement

The SO's parents are involved in a transition town; they've scouted out places to grow food and put up greenhouses. They re-started a local farmer's market and they're working on more town-owned solar and water access.
Thanks for the reminder about this movement, I meant to check it out when I moved to see if there is a version of it near here. It has now officially made it out of my head and onto my to-do list. :)

Similar to Syonyk's thinking, I decided a decade or so ago to try and become more independent. I read a book called Tescopoly, which I found really disturbing, at around the same time I had, for other reasons, started reading a lot of blogs focused on simple living (it was called gentle living back then :) ). It seemed crazy to me that I was leaving so much power in the hands of the supermarket. Even if I didn't always do it, I wanted to at least know how to do things like prepare and store food from the garden. Turns out I really enjoy it so for me, it is definitely just a really fun hobby. But knowing that it's something so inherently useful does add another layer of satisfaction to it for me. Having said that, I don't think there are many hobbies which aren't inherently useful in some way. I did spend some time on a prepper board at one stage and it was really interesting (it was a UK-based, very down to earth and practical website rather than a fill-up-my-house-with-guns-whacko-conspiracy-type place). So based on some of what I learned there I'd add to your list, Syonyk, of useful improvements, music and the ability to make music. That was something I hadn't thought about before but definitely falls into the useful but more especially fun hobby, IMO.

On an only slightly related topic, has anyone read the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire? One of those books that you see in films from time to time and for years I've said I might read it. Apparently it's a substantial undertaking.

SuperMex

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 117
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #14 on: January 31, 2017, 03:44:37 AM »
I agree with almost everything you said. The way I personally am trying to deal with it though is different.

I have the property 50 acres in Mexico, 10 acres in Florida and several smaller chunks here and there. I have the knowledge to survive almost completely off the land if I have to.

When I go to Mexico every year on the second day I am there I catch enough fish to last me the whole month and still give about 25% away to my friends. I could probably catch enough off my dock to survive if I had to without a net or even a boat. I also have a bunch of things growing that constantly produce without me even being there.

Coconut, mango, avocados, oranges, lemons, grape fruit, bananas, pineapple, chayote, monstera deliciosa, Chicozapote, papaya.

My point is that having the knowledge, ability, and property to survive if the world goes south suddenly is the most important part. Like I told my son when the world goes to crap they need engineers and doctors not lawyers and politicians. (He is studying engineering now)

Another issue though as some have eluded to is that people in this world won't calmly starve to death as they did in generations past. When things turn ugly it will take the national guard stationed at every store to stop mass looting. If you have no means to protect your crops then you are just growing them for the first hungry guy with a gun.

While this is a back up plan I am living in the first world and investing with the hope it will take longer than me and my sons lifetime for things to get that bad. I also intend on buying a piece of property in either the northern U.S. (Michigan) or Alaska in the event global warming gets really bad for my grandchildren.


Cranky

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 636
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #15 on: January 31, 2017, 05:17:47 AM »
I am naturally, and always have been, filled with gloom & doom. ;-)

My solution is to live quietly, comfortably, and cheaply in a very boring place, and to embed myself in the local community. My resources are - knowing people, and knowing people with a lot of different skills.

I think that we are living in a time of transformation, both nationally and globally, and I, for one, can't predict how that's going to shake out.

boarder42

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5390
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #16 on: January 31, 2017, 05:32:55 AM »
It makes my head hurt to think this way. I choose optimism. Maybe even wild, unbridled optimism. Just saw Ted Koppel speak tonight about how the Chinese and the Russians have full access to the US energy grid*. They can bring us to our knees. Happily, we apparently have hacked theirs back. Is it true? Dunno. What can I do about it if it is? Live each day as if it were my last? Been doing that for thirty years. I reckon that's what will keep me going, no matter what the future holds.

* Among other interesting things. Great speaker.

i agree i couldnt go through life and enjoy myself if i thought with such pessimism.  At the end of the day if what you say happens who cares everyone will be in the same boat.  and those like you who have things setup will become the target of those without. Anarchy will reign so you probably need a wall and a bunch of ammo too.  i know you say you're not a doomsday prepper.  but if you're going so far as to have self sustaining power and food what makes you think people wont attack that take it and then why dont you take the next step to protect your property and interests.  it doesnt compute to me.

PM me about how to save 6% on your annual grocery Bill!

There is a 35k starwood bonus right now as well. PM me for the info.

Linda_Norway

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1410
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #17 on: January 31, 2017, 05:57:05 AM »
This topic is very much describing my thoughts. I think the road to decline is speeded up by our excessive use of oil and gas, which there will be less and less of in the years to come. And what there is will be more expensive to get out of the ground (lower EROI). Eventually oil will be so expensive that normal people and farmers will not be able to afford it. Than we need to find other productive ways to produce food (instead of using diesel tractors and green houses and transport of food around the world). We will also have a problem producing plastic and making asphalt roads. If you really think about it, so much on this planet and especially the first world is relying on oil.
Besides this, we are warming up the planet and this will have big impacts on the planet, maybe in the form of big migration waves. We also empty the seas and oceans more than in a sustainable matter. How long before there is very little fish left? I have the impression that much if this will become noticeable during my remaining lifetime, lets say another 40 years from now. I just hope I will have some decades left before it starts.

What to do about it? I have been thinking that our FIRE house (to be bought in 7 years time) needs to be a low or zero energy house. We need to have enough land containing trees to fire a wood oven. We need to have enough land to grow vegetables. In our climate at least potatoes, cabbage and carrots will do well. We need to be in the vicinity of lakes and/or the sea to catch fish for dinner. For a start.

Yes, learning skills should be useful. Things like working with wood, sewing, knitting, making shoes, growing food, having chickens, knowing edible wild plants and mushrooms, hunting (with other means than guns), welding, cooking and baking bread should all come in handy when the shit really hits the fan. There are probably many more.

I have also been thinking about the strongest guys with the gun. I have read numerous apocalypse stories and the behaviour of people in those stories is likely. Armed people will likely roam around after food. And if you have it, they will take it. I guess also the forest on your land will not be safe when other people in the village are cold and need wood. When this really happens big time, I think there will be no such thing as FIRE. Let's just hope it will last our time.

Maybe we people should offer Mercury and build a Dyson sphere around the Sun, to supply us with energy.

boarder42

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5390
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #18 on: January 31, 2017, 06:01:11 AM »
This topic is very much describing my thoughts. I think the road to decline is speeded up by our excessive use of oil and gas, which there will be less and less of in the years to come. And what there is will be more expensive to get out of the ground (lower EROI). Eventually oil will be so expensive that normal people and farmers will not be able to afford it. Than we need to find other productive ways to produce food (instead of using diesel tractors and green houses and transport of food around the world). We will also have a problem producing plastic and making asphalt roads. If you really think about it, so much on this planet and especially the first world is relying on oil.
Besides this, we are warming up the planet and this will have big impacts on the planet, maybe in the form of big migration waves. We also empty the seas and oceans more than in a sustainable matter. How long before there is very little fish left? I have the impression that much if this will become noticeable during my remaining lifetime, lets say another 40 years from now. I just hope I will have some decades left before it starts.

What to do about it? I have been thinking that our FIRE house (to be bought in 7 years time) needs to be a low or zero energy house. We need to have enough land containing trees to fire a wood oven. We need to have enough land to grow vegetables. In our climate at least potatoes, cabbage and carrots will do well. We need to be in the vicinity of lakes and/or the sea to catch fish for dinner. For a start.

Yes, learning skills should be useful. Things like working with wood, sewing, knitting, making shoes, growing food, having chickens, knowing edible wild plants and mushrooms, hunting (with other means than guns), welding, cooking and baking bread should all come in handy when the shit really hits the fan. There are probably many more.

I have also been thinking about the strongest guys with the gun. I have read numerous apocalypse stories and the behaviour of people in those stories is likely. Armed people will likely roam around after food. And if you have it, they will take it. I guess also the forest on your land will not be safe when other people in the village are cold and need wood. When this really happens big time, I think there will be no such thing as FIRE. Let's just hope it will last our time.

Maybe we people should offer Mercury and build a Dyson sphere around the Sun, to supply us with energy.

I think the use of oil and gas is about to see a sharp decline in the next 5 years.  What tesla is doing is revolutionizing the electric and now autonomous car industry.  oil will peak and start to recede.
PM me about how to save 6% on your annual grocery Bill!

There is a 35k starwood bonus right now as well. PM me for the info.

2Birds1Stone

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3003
  • Age: 30
  • Location: New York
  • CFO
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #19 on: January 31, 2017, 06:01:24 AM »
We are only at the tip of the iceberg, of a new industrial revolution.....thanks to technology.

THe vast majority of the world is just beginning to consume online content and have access to e commerce.

In 2025, you can FIRE into the matrix.
"A small house can hold as much happiness as a big one." - Fortune Cookie

33 Months till FIRE - Stop by, or stay a while.....
https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/journals/fire-by-thirty-five-chronicles-36-months-till-sabbatical!/

boarder42

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5390
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #20 on: January 31, 2017, 06:05:23 AM »
We are only at the tip of the iceberg, of a new industrial revolution.....thanks to technology.

THe vast majority of the world is just beginning to consume online content and have access to e commerce.

In 2025, you can FIRE into the matrix.


This its incredible that people see us as peaking right now.  we're 5 years away from every device talking to everything cars driving themselves everywhere. and not as reliant on their sensors anymore but their communication with other cars.  20 years from now you wont be able to drive a car on the interstate you will have to have an self driving car etc.  the growth of AI is coming at an exponential pace b/c it can learn and teach itself now. 

The future to me looks much more like wall-e and the jetsons than the aftermath of world war 3 .
PM me about how to save 6% on your annual grocery Bill!

There is a 35k starwood bonus right now as well. PM me for the info.

Metric Mouse

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5311
  • FU @ 22. F.I.R.E before 23
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #21 on: January 31, 2017, 06:12:09 AM »
It makes my head hurt to think this way. I choose optimism. Maybe even wild, unbridled optimism. Just saw Ted Koppel speak tonight about how the Chinese and the Russians have full access to the US energy grid*. They can bring us to our knees. Happily, we apparently have hacked theirs back. Is it true? Dunno. What can I do about it if it is? Live each day as if it were my last? Been doing that for thirty years. I reckon that's what will keep me going, no matter what the future holds.

* Among other interesting things. Great speaker.

i agree i couldnt go through life and enjoy myself if i thought with such pessimism.  At the end of the day if what you say happens who cares everyone will be in the same boat.  and those like you who have things setup will become the target of those without. Anarchy will reign so you probably need a wall and a bunch of ammo too.  i know you say you're not a doomsday prepper.  but if you're going so far as to have self sustaining power and food what makes you think people wont attack that take it and then why dont you take the next step to protect your property and interests.  it doesnt compute to me.

A gradual decline will not produce the roving mobs of looters you may envision. By the time people are hungry enough to reach that point, they will begin by tearing apart thos nice walkable neighborhoods and dense urban centers. A property  even just a two-day walk from major populations would mitigate that greatly.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2017, 06:46:10 AM by Metric Mouse »
Give me one fine day of plain sailing weather and I can mess up anything.

MustacheMathTM

maizeman

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1251
  • Location: The World of Tomorrow
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #22 on: January 31, 2017, 06:31:43 AM »
My goal in pursuing FI is allowing myself to sleep better at night. It sounds like, for you, grid independent solar and an aquaponics greenhouse/fishtank is helping you do that, so more power to you!

Even in a declining country, people still buy things, and pay their bills and rent so I think a retirement based on stocks is not out of the question. As discussed upthread, if you're talking about the decline and fall of the USA, more than half the global stock market is based outside the US (and more than a third of revenue from US companies comes from overseas), so that would be surviveable stock-wise.

I expect one of the symptoms of a declining country would be it getting harder and harder to find work,* so just having big piles of cash in the bank/stock market already feels to me like a useful preparation, and is the main thing I do to sleep better at night. (Also having an up to date passport with a valid multiple entry visa to my fallback country of choice.)

*This is also a symptom of improvements in automation and AI.**

**And just plain losing your job happens to millions of people each year, some of whom find a new one right away and others struggle to do so for months or years, so being preparing to survive without income coming in every month is one of the most useful and probably applicable "preps" out there, and basically everyone on this board is already working towards that.
"Itís a selective retirement," Richard explained, "a retirement from boring s**t."

My source code & my journal

Linda_Norway

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1410
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #23 on: January 31, 2017, 06:41:43 AM »
I think the use of oil and gas is about to see a sharp decline in the next 5 years.  What tesla is doing is revolutionizing the electric and now autonomous car industry.  oil will peak and start to recede.

Buy we still need to build the electric cars and produce the electricity that they need to drive. We really need to produce A LOT more solar/wind/water power to be able to support as much energy us as we use today. And we need ways to store it for nighttime and windstil weather. It will be a challenge if the world continues to consume energy the way we do today.

Metric Mouse

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5311
  • FU @ 22. F.I.R.E before 23
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #24 on: January 31, 2017, 06:49:23 AM »
I think the use of oil and gas is about to see a sharp decline in the next 5 years.  What tesla is doing is revolutionizing the electric and now autonomous car industry.  oil will peak and start to recede.

Buy we still need to build the electric cars and produce the electricity that they need to drive. We really need to produce A LOT more solar/wind/water power to be able to support as much energy us as we use today. And we need ways to store it for nighttime and windstil weather. It will be a challenge if the world continues to consume energy the way we do today.

And until we stop buying stuff made of oil by-products, there will always be a demand for oil.
Give me one fine day of plain sailing weather and I can mess up anything.

MustacheMathTM

2Birds1Stone

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3003
  • Age: 30
  • Location: New York
  • CFO
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #25 on: January 31, 2017, 06:52:36 AM »
We are only at the tip of the iceberg, of a new industrial revolution.....thanks to technology.

THe vast majority of the world is just beginning to consume online content and have access to e commerce.

In 2025, you can FIRE into the matrix.


This its incredible that people see us as peaking right now.  we're 5 years away from every device talking to everything cars driving themselves everywhere. and not as reliant on their sensors anymore but their communication with other cars.  20 years from now you wont be able to drive a car on the interstate you will have to have an self driving car etc.  the growth of AI is coming at an exponential pace b/c it can learn and teach itself now. 

The future to me looks much more like wall-e and the jetsons than the aftermath of world war 3 .

I guess many people are luddites. I work in technology, so I have a unique insight into how rapidly it's changing the world around us. We can't even begin the fathom how much advancement is ahead of us in the next decade or two. It's going to be a VERY different world folks, grab your popcorn.
"A small house can hold as much happiness as a big one." - Fortune Cookie

33 Months till FIRE - Stop by, or stay a while.....
https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/journals/fire-by-thirty-five-chronicles-36-months-till-sabbatical!/

maizeman

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1251
  • Location: The World of Tomorrow
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #26 on: January 31, 2017, 06:55:27 AM »
I think the use of oil and gas is about to see a sharp decline in the next 5 years.  What tesla is doing is revolutionizing the electric and now autonomous car industry.  oil will peak and start to recede.

Buy we still need to build the electric cars and produce the electricity that they need to drive. We really need to produce A LOT more solar/wind/water power to be able to support as much energy us as we use today. And we need ways to store it for nighttime and windstil weather. It will be a challenge if the world continues to consume energy the way we do today.

And until we stop buying stuff made of oil by-products, there will always be a demand for oil.

We have a much better shot at replacing the stuff made with oil byproducts with stuff made from plant byproducts than we do at replacing gasoline with biofuels. ... though I'm still waiting for a corn plastic spoon that doesn't get soft and flexible when used to stir hot coffee.
"Itís a selective retirement," Richard explained, "a retirement from boring s**t."

My source code & my journal

Prairie Stash

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1073
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #27 on: January 31, 2017, 07:40:01 AM »
You need to read from a different perspective, try being from a country that's not the USA. Canada is likely to follow the same arc as the USA, I'll give you that. But leaving aside the doom and gloom, lets get to the bigger issue...

When it comes to investing, WTF ARE YOU DOING! Do you have all your investments in US stocks? Have you never heard of diversification? Your initial premise was you the USA is in decline, are you also predicting all the other world economies are in decline? If you look at the collapse of nations the people who are screwed are the ones who can't flee. The wealthy with foreign assets tend to move and are fine afterwards. I'm not saying this is a great system, its the one that's existed for centuries.

Look at every single war, the rich move pretty quickly and cash in jewelry and art in the new nations to get going again. The poor stay put and suffer the ravages, the famines and the persecutions.  If SHTF I'm going to move to a better country and leave all the woes of this one behind. Why would anyone stay when a better life can be bought? That's the power of money, you rise above the poor and have the opportunity to get out.

Go talk to refugees and you'll hear that the first to leave were the wealthy who could afford plane tickets, the last to leave are the ones who walk out on foot.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2017, 07:53:19 AM by Prairie Stash »

Metric Mouse

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5311
  • FU @ 22. F.I.R.E before 23
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #28 on: January 31, 2017, 07:45:24 AM »
I think the use of oil and gas is about to see a sharp decline in the next 5 years.  What tesla is doing is revolutionizing the electric and now autonomous car industry.  oil will peak and start to recede.

Buy we still need to build the electric cars and produce the electricity that they need to drive. We really need to produce A LOT more solar/wind/water power to be able to support as much energy us as we use today. And we need ways to store it for nighttime and windstil weather. It will be a challenge if the world continues to consume energy the way we do today.

And until we stop buying stuff made of oil by-products, there will always be a demand for oil.

We have a much better shot at replacing the stuff made with oil byproducts with stuff made from plant byproducts than we do at replacing gasoline with biofuels. ... though I'm still waiting for a corn plastic spoon that doesn't get soft and flexible when used to stir hot coffee.
Ahh... I use wooden spoons. And civilization advances.

Alternatively, there are these fun things
Give me one fine day of plain sailing weather and I can mess up anything.

MustacheMathTM

Kriegsspiel

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1051
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #29 on: January 31, 2017, 07:48:46 AM »
I don't know what a granola or a Johnny is, but THANK YOU for wanting to (and taking action to) help me out! And lovely that you had that happy outcome, too :)

She must be talking about www.granolashotgun.com, Johnny's been writing a lot about practical disaster prep and what kinds of places are going to decline in the future.

Tetsuya Hondo

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 503
  • Location: 1960's Tokyo on the Bad Side of Town
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #30 on: January 31, 2017, 07:57:34 AM »
Sure, countries rise and fall. But, many of them don't just suddenly hit a wall. It's more of a general deflating that occurs over fairly long periods of time. The Republic of Venice, which once dominated the seas and trade routes to Europe hit it's peak in the 1300/1400s and then just gradually declined (and partied on) for a few more centuries. Rome's decline took centuries.

In the shorter term, I think a lot of places are more resilient that you give them credit for. Hell, Japan and Germany were completely leveled in WWII. Look at them now. France and Spain are no longer world powers, but I wouldn't mind living there.

boarder42

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5390
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #31 on: January 31, 2017, 08:05:05 AM »
I think the use of oil and gas is about to see a sharp decline in the next 5 years.  What tesla is doing is revolutionizing the electric and now autonomous car industry.  oil will peak and start to recede.

Buy we still need to build the electric cars and produce the electricity that they need to drive. We really need to produce A LOT more solar/wind/water power to be able to support as much energy us as we use today. And we need ways to store it for nighttime and windstil weather. It will be a challenge if the world continues to consume energy the way we do today.

And until we stop buying stuff made of oil by-products, there will always be a demand for oil.

i didnt propose no oil demand i said the demand would recede.  70% of all oil used in the united states is used for transportation.  electric transportation is here and growing. the demand for oil will drop significantly over our lifetime.
PM me about how to save 6% on your annual grocery Bill!

There is a 35k starwood bonus right now as well. PM me for the info.

Tetsuya Hondo

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 503
  • Location: 1960's Tokyo on the Bad Side of Town
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #32 on: January 31, 2017, 08:10:19 AM »
A few more thoughts/snippets from history:

  • 1968 - Society is coming apart. All the kids are on drugs. Race riots. We're trapped in Vietnam. The Soviets could nuke us at any point. WWIII is imminent.
  • 1940 - Fascism and communism are overrunning the world. We're in the biggest war the world has ever known.
  • 1930 - Our economy has collapsed. There's no end in sight.
  • 1862 - Our country is torn apart by civil war!
  • 1814 - The British have invaded. They've burned the White House! We're under a blockade. Hope is lost.

Just a few select examples from history. And this is just US history. Think of what Europe, China, Russia, and others have been through.

[/list]

undercover

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 582
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #33 on: January 31, 2017, 08:35:58 AM »
Quote
Would your rather have a bunch of shit you don't need, or know you at least tried to create an ideal, secure future for yourself?

How are the two opposed?  If I'm going to put solar on my house, investing a bit more in the system to provide functional off grid water/refrigeration seems useful to me.  That lowered cost of living and better certainty about running refrigeration is useful, regardless of what the markets do.

Sorry, I wasn't trying to imply that your productive hobbies are useless or a waste of time. I think it's the motive behind what you're doing that matters. If you're preparing for doomsday scenarios because you feel like society could collapse in your lifetime, I personally think you're doing it wrong. If, on the other hand, you're doing it because you enjoy DIY projects and you feel like it will save you money and make you happier, then go for it.

I was honestly replying more to the general premise of the thread title than the contents of your specific application to it. I think in general many people want to find every excuse they can to not buy into the fact that they can live a good life, or that the future is anything but great. It doesn't sound like you're allocating all your "future" funds into doomsday/self-sufficiency prep rather than index funds, so I don't think the title of the thread really aligns properly with exactly how you're living. It's one thing to spend 5-10% of your income on stuff that will save you money, allow you to be more self sufficient, get enjoyment out of, and invest the rest. It's another to spend 50% of your income prepping for doomsday.

I definitely agree with others that, at any rate, the future is going to be vastly different 20+ years from now than it is today. I personally think we're nearing a post-scarcity economy in the grand scheme of human history. Retiring at 30 was unheard of even 100 years ago. You had to be part of the elite or completely self sufficient. Now, plenty of people can do it.

But, I mean, what is retirement? I guess in theory even 500 years ago you could have not had a "job", lived "off-grid", and just foraged for food and lived simply. Is the actual definition of retirement "being able to enjoy modern amenities whilst not having to be anywhere in particular"? I can appreciate your desire to be a little more off-grid and insource your own modern amenities rather than relying on the system.

The more and more technology advances, the easier it will be for everyone to live. I honestly think AR/VR will play the primary role in this in the distant future, but improvements in AI and biotech research will have a more immediate short-term impact.
Every solution has a problem

Syonyk

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2732
    • Syonyk's Project Blog
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #34 on: January 31, 2017, 08:58:35 AM »
I generally agree, but I would include a lot of space for technological advancement that is clearly on the horizon.

That's a common enough sentiment, and I'm less optimistic.  The law of diminishing returns still applies to technology, even computer technology.  We'll see what happens, but sitting back and saying, "Technology will fix (the problems that technology has gotten us into)!" isn't a guarantee.

Quote
Taking a long view, people won't be owning their own cars for that much longer. They most certainly won't be the ones driving them. They aren't likely to be predominantly gas engines either, once individual ownership declines. So being able to repair cars that you don't own and aren't being built anymore is of limited use. And there is no reason to think that auto diagnostics and repair wouldn't become even more automated either.

Well, in our Tesla driven future, "repairing your own" isn't even an option, and you live 400 miles from a Service Center?  Well, sucks to be you.

The raw elements needed for a fleet of BEV batteries look an awful lot like "most of the currently known reserves of cobalt," 50% of which are in the Democratic Republic of Congo - not exactly a nice place.

Yes, I know, Technology(TM) will solve that, and... one of those batteries that doesn't yet work will magically start working for more than a few hundred cycles.

Quote
For example, if corporate interests own all the cars, then they are the ones who would have the interest in repairing necessary roads and charging for it in the price of your ride. This would likely accelerate greater urban density.

Or would just accelerate a corporate-owned dystopia, in which if you can't pay, you don't exist.  That's a possibility as well.

Maybe self driving magic will mean I can finally take an Uber to the airport.  I'm well inside the boundaries of their coverage map, and well outside the range at which anyone will actually come pick me up.  I have to schedule a taxi a day or two in advance at this point if I don't want to pay for parking that way.

=============

If I get hungry for chicken-care, I'll just WWOOF.

Not a thing around here, as far as I can find.  I'm also interested in "chickens vs cheatgrass."

Quote
For some years I've been keen on creating something along the lines of permanent rural community where different people can live in tiny homes on site, garden, hang out together, offer safe housing to people who need that, etc. I mostly think it's going to happen! Either I'll join someone else's land and help them out, or co-own land, or ultimately buy something outright and do it myself.

And, historically, that was called a rural town/village. :)

==============

Isn't this what the Transition Movement is all about? Making an entire town/region self sufficient so that it can handle upcoming crises certainly beats an individual doing what they can.

I'm familiar with the movement, but it doesn't seem like there's a huge amount going on with it anymore.
My random project blog - ebikes, DIY, fans, and more: http://syonyk.blogspot.com

Syonyk

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2732
    • Syonyk's Project Blog
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #35 on: January 31, 2017, 09:03:52 AM »
It makes my head hurt to think this way. I choose optimism. Maybe even wild, unbridled optimism.

Ok.  That's entirely reasonable as a point of view, if a bit dependent on things going well.

Quote
Just saw Ted Koppel speak tonight about how the Chinese and the Russians have full access to the US energy grid*. They can bring us to our knees. Happily, we apparently have hacked theirs back. Is it true? Dunno. What can I do about it if it is?

Is it true?  Almost certainly.  Have we hacked them back?  Almost certainly.  What can you do about it?  A power system that doesn't rely entirely on internet and GPS connected substations would be a good start, and bonus if it's not actually hooked up to the internet. :)

At the end of the day if what you say happens who cares everyone will be in the same boat.  and those like you who have things setup will become the target of those without. Anarchy will reign so you probably need a wall and a bunch of ammo too.  i know you say you're not a doomsday prepper.  but if you're going so far as to have self sustaining power and food what makes you think people wont attack that take it and then why dont you take the next step to protect your property and interests.  it doesnt compute to me.

... and you think I'm silly enough to discuss details of such things on a message board?  I'm not a "This is my shipping container of MREs, and this is my shipping container of ammo, and this is..." type prepper.  However, I'm also not stupid.
My random project blog - ebikes, DIY, fans, and more: http://syonyk.blogspot.com

Syonyk

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2732
    • Syonyk's Project Blog
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #36 on: January 31, 2017, 09:12:38 AM »
In 2025, you can FIRE into the matrix.

Plugging into VR for life sounds like a dystopian hell to me.  I guess if people want to do it, great...

This its incredible that people see us as peaking right now.

Now?  I put the peak in the 70s.  Plenty of interesting things happen post-peak, but the general trend is down.

Quote
we're 5 years away from every device talking to everything cars driving themselves everywhere. and not as reliant on their sensors anymore but their communication with other cars.

As a friend recently said, "The S in IoT stands for Security."  Everything talking to everything, cars talking to other cars, either means end users are entirely locked out of the things they "own" (already a common enough case), or it's just a security nightmare.  We'll see what happens, but the convoys of self driving cars thing... seems a bit less likely to me.

Quote
The future to me looks much more like wall-e and the jetsons than the aftermath of world war 3 .

... you realize Wall-E was a dystopian movie, right?

A gradual decline will not produce the roving mobs of looters you may envision. By the time people are hungry enough to reach that point, they will begin by tearing apart thos nice walkable neighborhoods and dense urban centers. A property  even just a two-day walk from major populations would mitigate that greatly.

Yeah, I'm not talking about overnight collapse, though there will certainly be sharp emergencies at various places at various points in time.

Just a general downward trend.  And, I'm sure plenty of people will have plenty of tech gizmos to wave and say, "But, look, I have an iPhone 12 with 3D VR, so everything is fine!" as more people are losing their home power or connectivity due to lack of being able to afford it, or just no options left due to infrastructure decay.
My random project blog - ebikes, DIY, fans, and more: http://syonyk.blogspot.com

Syonyk

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2732
    • Syonyk's Project Blog
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #37 on: January 31, 2017, 09:20:58 AM »
Buy we still need to build the electric cars and produce the electricity that they need to drive. We really need to produce A LOT more solar/wind/water power to be able to support as much energy us as we use today. And we need ways to store it for nighttime and windstil weather. It will be a challenge if the world continues to consume energy the way we do today.

Right - that "renewable future" involves an awful lot of mining for battery metals, or a radical change in how we use energy.  The second is a lot easier than the first - "don't use energy when it's not streaming in."  But that's a huge lifestyle change that isn't particularly popular.  It also means that you need alternate ways of heating, since you can't rely on electricity during the winter as much.

I guess many people are luddites. I work in technology, so I have a unique insight into how rapidly it's changing the world around us. We can't even begin the fathom how much advancement is ahead of us in the next decade or two. It's going to be a VERY different world folks, grab your popcorn.

I work in tech (on the security side, so I am a paid pessimist in a way).  A lot is changing, and I'm not entirely convinced it's for the best.  In the last decade, we've gone from walking around and talking to people to walking around staring at glowing screens as our form of social interaction, and I'm not sure that's a radical improvement in the state of human affairs.

And in terms of planned obsolescence, the appliance manufacturers would love to be able to do what the tech gizmo makers do: "Oh, sorry, no more OS updates, your phone is too old."  A three year lifespan of security updates for a device is awful.

When it comes to investing, WTF ARE YOU DOING! Do you have all your investments in US stocks? Have you never heard of diversification? Your initial premise was you the USA is in decline, are you also predicting all the other world economies are in decline?

I think that it's reasonably likely that the headwinds of reduced oil availability, climate change, and a debt based global economy that requires exponential growth will hit quite a few of the industrial nations together, yes.

Quote
If SHTF I'm going to move to a better country and leave all the woes of this one behind. Why would anyone stay when a better life can be bought? That's the power of money, you rise above the poor and have the opportunity to get out.

Where?  And, will they take you if SHTF?

As to why stay?  Family, and an environment we know and understand.

I was honestly replying more to the general premise of the thread title than the contents of your specific application to it. I think in general many people want to find every excuse they can to not buy into the fact that they can live a good life, or that the future is anything but great. It doesn't sound like you're allocating all your "future" funds into doomsday/self-sufficiency prep rather than index funds, so I don't think the title of the thread really aligns properly with exactly how you're living. It's one thing to spend 5-10% of your income on stuff that will save you money, allow you to be more self sufficient, get enjoyment out of, and invest the rest. It's another to spend 50% of your income prepping for doomsday.

And, again, I don't expect a sudden, overnight collapse.  So I'm not trying to build for that.  I just expect a long, slow decline, and am focusing on making myself useful and prepared for that, as well as hedging in case that doesn't happen in my expected lifespan.

Quote
But, I mean, what is retirement? I guess in theory even 500 years ago you could have not had a "job", lived "off-grid", and just foraged for food and lived simply. Is the actual definition of retirement "being able to enjoy modern amenities whilst not having to be anywhere in particular"? I can appreciate your desire to be a little more off-grid and insource your own modern amenities rather than relying on the system.

That's up for everyone to decide. :)

Quote
The more and more technology advances, the easier it will be for everyone to live.

Conversely, the more and more technology advances, the more we throw perfectly functional older technologies in the garbage, and the more and more reliant we are on technology. :)
My random project blog - ebikes, DIY, fans, and more: http://syonyk.blogspot.com

scantee

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 290
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #38 on: January 31, 2017, 09:45:27 AM »
Americans have mostly failed to grapple with the extent to which the halcyon period post-WWII was an anomaly that is not replicable in the absence of a nations-destroying political upheaval. We tend to think of America from 1945-1965 as the way things should be without acknowledging that our country's ascendancy during that time period was likely only possible because our greatest competitor nations were completed wiped out, destroyed. They needed our resources, our time and our skills, to rebuild from the physical and human devastation they faced. Once they recovered, our dominance hasn't been quite so easily maintained.

The recent political events have shined on how much our society is desperate to get back to that time period of "easy" American dominance. Bring back coal! Bring back manufacturing! Reality suggests that we can't just bring back those things because there simply is no demand for high-priced American goods in the way there was during that period. For America to remain ascendant, we'll need to stop being so attached to the past, and start adapting to the world we live in now, a world that needs a smart, educated, and flexible workforce.

Instead of really coming to terms with that reality, by improving the mass education of our children and preparing them for the types of jobs we have available, by preparing a new knowledge-based workforce, we've panicked and are doubling down on our desperate efforts to return to the past. Sorry, but that's not going to work, it's only going to hasten our comparative decline, as other more nimble countries zoom past us by meeting the demands of the way we live and work now.

I guess I don't think that an America in decline is necessarily a pessimistic outlook. Civilizations and nations rise, and then they fall, the speed and timing of those ebbs and flows varies, but history shows that the trajectory itself is in many ways natural and to be expected. So it will go with America, hard to say when or how it will happen, but it will certainly happen. The thought of it doesn't fill me with a sense of doom and gloom though, it just the way it is, and I'll continue to live my life the best I know how, give the circumstances at any given moment.

The only thing I feel sad about it that I'll likely miss out on what I consider to be the most important human endeavor: widespread space exploration and colonization. That is where the future is, but we're probably at least 100 years or more away from it being something that is accessible to average people.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2017, 09:55:42 AM by scantee »

jooniFLORisploo

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2651
  • Location: under the couch, looking upward
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #39 on: January 31, 2017, 09:47:00 AM »
Not a [WWOOF] thing around here, as far as I can find.  I'm also interested in "chickens vs cheatgrass."

I WWOOF near and faróat a neighbour's place, Europe, other side of Canada, Central America, etc. For WWOOFing, I don't limit myself to local, nor to the official site. I can just go "help a farmer" too, receiving room and board for my work, everybody happy.

What is chickens vs cheatgrass? :)

Quote
For some years I've been keen on creating something along the lines of permanent rural community where different people can live in tiny homes on site, garden, hang out together, offer safe housing to people who need that, etc. I mostly think it's going to happen! Either I'll join someone else's land and help them out, or co-own land, or ultimately buy something outright and do it myself.

And, historically, that was called a rural town/village. :)

Yep. And, that's what I'm in right now, without owning, so you can see my lack of motivation to move just to "own"*. I'm in my dream scenario...except that, without controlling the land, I don't have power to offer space to anyone else. That's the only discrepancy. So, I save up and when I can buy here, or I become willing to live far from my current people, I will snag land I can invite others to.

* I always feel compelled to put own in quotations because it doesn't seem like we own anything when a property still costs $6k/yr in taxes, fees, insurance, etc. Again, it seems to make more sense to keep the principle and pay $6k/yr or less for shelter. So I do.

jooniFLORisploo

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2651
  • Location: under the couch, looking upward
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #40 on: January 31, 2017, 09:51:25 AM »
I guess I don't think thinking that America is in decline isn't necessarily a pessimistic outlook. [...] The thought of it doesn't fill me with a sense of doom and gloom though, it just the way it is, and I'll continue to live my life the best I know how, give the circumstances at any given moment.

I think you meant is? i.e., You don't see "decline" as necessarily pessimistic, correct?

If so, I agree.

Things shift, change, move, morph. "Decline" is different than terrorism, hell in a hand basket, war, etc. When things are merely shifting, we stay awake to that and adjust our living accordingly. No biggie.

scantee

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 290
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #41 on: January 31, 2017, 09:54:26 AM »
I guess I don't think thinking that America is in decline isn't necessarily a pessimistic outlook. [...] The thought of it doesn't fill me with a sense of doom and gloom though, it just the way it is, and I'll continue to live my life the best I know how, give the circumstances at any given moment.

I think you meant is? i.e., You don't see "decline" as necessarily pessimistic, correct?

If so, I agree.

Things shift, change, move, morph. "Decline" is different than terrorism, hell in a hand basket, war, etc. When things are merely shifting, we stay awake to that and adjust our living accordingly. No biggie.

Yep, that's what I meant! I updated the post to fix that.

frugaldoc

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 333
    • thehappyphilosopher
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #42 on: January 31, 2017, 10:33:06 AM »
The rate of change with respect to technology and innovation is staggering. We just have a tough time seeing it because we are really bad at viewing the big picture. We fall prey to recency bias and project the present into the future. We assume that since other nations have declined in the past that so will we. Trying to predict what the world will look like in 10 or 20 years is just not possible, so I don't worry much about it. I suspect we will still be around and probably thriving.

The US is a big, resilient country with massive amounts of natural resources, geographically isolated from most major external threats and is still the biggest source of innovation in the world. Investment and people flow into this country, and will continue to do so in spite of recent policy. There is no better place to be in my humble opinion.

Becoming a prepper will probably be relatively useless in the long run. If it comes to that there are bigger systemic problems and no one will be safe. It is prudent to plan for short term disruptions though. Being able to survive off the grid for a few weeks or months is desirable.
http://thehappyphilosopher.com/
Enlightened Awesomeness - A Guide to Freedom and Happiness

RWD

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1509
  • Location: Mississippi
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #43 on: January 31, 2017, 10:46:41 AM »
Well, in our Tesla driven future, "repairing your own" isn't even an option, and you live 400 miles from a Service Center?  Well, sucks to be you.
Might be changing: http://jalopnik.com/tesla-may-be-working-on-a-program-to-allow-owners-to-re-1791825456

Metric Mouse

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5311
  • FU @ 22. F.I.R.E before 23
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #44 on: January 31, 2017, 10:46:59 AM »
I think the use of oil and gas is about to see a sharp decline in the next 5 years.  What tesla is doing is revolutionizing the electric and now autonomous car industry.  oil will peak and start to recede.

Buy we still need to build the electric cars and produce the electricity that they need to drive. We really need to produce A LOT more solar/wind/water power to be able to support as much energy us as we use today. And we need ways to store it for nighttime and windstil weather. It will be a challenge if the world continues to consume energy the way we do today.

And until we stop buying stuff made of oil by-products, there will always be a demand for oil.

i didnt propose no oil demand i said the demand would recede.  70% of all oil used in the united states is used for transportation.  electric transportation is here and growing. the demand for oil will drop significantly over our lifetime.
I hope electric transportation has that effect. Cheaper gas for everyone as demand drops!
Give me one fine day of plain sailing weather and I can mess up anything.

MustacheMathTM

Metric Mouse

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5311
  • FU @ 22. F.I.R.E before 23
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #45 on: January 31, 2017, 10:48:17 AM »
Well, in our Tesla driven future, "repairing your own" isn't even an option, and you live 400 miles from a Service Center?  Well, sucks to be you.
Might be changing: http://jalopnik.com/tesla-may-be-working-on-a-program-to-allow-owners-to-re-1791825456
I honestly don't see Tesla being the majority player in the future, not without great changes driven by stiff competition from the other automakers.
Give me one fine day of plain sailing weather and I can mess up anything.

MustacheMathTM

acroy

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1317
  • Age: 40
  • Location: Dallas TX
    • SWAMI
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #46 on: January 31, 2017, 10:51:50 AM »
Hmmm, a lot of pessimism in this thread. Depressing.
An enjoyable read:
http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/10/03/the-practical-benefits-of-outrageous-optimism/
SWAMI (Satisfied Working Advanced Mustachian Individual) 1 stash, 1 DW, 7 Mini MM's...
God, Family, Country. Everything else is details.

jooniFLORisploo

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2651
  • Location: under the couch, looking upward
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #47 on: January 31, 2017, 11:07:11 AM »
Hmmm, a lot of pessimism in this thread. Depressing.

A couple of folks have said something to that effect... Curiously, I'm not finding the pessimism! To those seeing it, what parts seem like pessimism?

I feel engaged, cheery, and delighted reading this thread, lol. Seems aware, proactive, positive to me!

scantee

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 290
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #48 on: January 31, 2017, 11:09:00 AM »
We assume that since other nations have declined in the past that so will we. Trying to predict what the world will look like in 10 or 20 years is just not possible, so I don't worry much about it. I suspect we will still be around and probably thriving.

As far as empires go, the U.S. is pretty young, at 241 years. The Roman empire lasted 500 years, the Byzantine empire 1100 years. Will the U.S. be around in 10 to 20 years? Sure, of course. Will it be around in 200 or 500 or 1000 years? Who knows, but probably not, at least not in its current configuration.

Looking in my crystal ball, I expect that in the next 100 years we will begin to accept that consumer-based capitalism is not a sustainable or worthwhile organizing principle of human existence. Transitioning from consumerism to whatever follows will be an extremely painful process that will probably involve a lot of human degradation. Once we get to the other side of that, humans will need a new reason to live and thrive, hopefully one that is more positive and life affirming than the one it's replacing. I really only see one worthwhile endeavor....

SPACE COLONIZATION!!!

A big part of me feels like, since it's collectively dawning on us that consumerism is a dead-end path that mostly leads to misery, can't we just skip past all the human suffering that will come with its decline and move directly on to the much more exciting space travel stage?  I mean, Tesla? I don't give a shit, caring about that is part of the dying consumerism model, just a very brief stopover on the timeline to much bigger and better things for human beings. But no, here I find myself in 2017, surrounded by people having the same old tedious tribal disagreements we've had for millenia, just dressed up in modern clothing and with an iphone.

Syonyk

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2732
    • Syonyk's Project Blog
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #49 on: January 31, 2017, 11:27:38 AM »
What is chickens vs cheatgrass? :)

My running theory, supported by an occasional comment on the internet, that a herd of chickens running around on a patch of cheatgrass (a truly annoying annual grass that pops up early, sucks the moisture out of the soil, goes to seed, and spends most of the summer being an irritatingly flammable fire hazard) will help reduce the cheatgrass population in following years by digging around and eating the seeds.  Then reseed with something more suited to the area that isn't cheatgrass, and go on your way.

Or, at the very least, convert my endless supply of cheatgrass into tasty eggs.

Well, in our Tesla driven future, "repairing your own" isn't even an option, and you live 400 miles from a Service Center?  Well, sucks to be you.
Might be changing: http://jalopnik.com/tesla-may-be-working-on-a-program-to-allow-owners-to-re-1791825456

I saw that this morning.  That would be a welcome change - it's not just people who want to fix their own, it's the existence of things like small independent shops.  I take my vehicles to one of those if it's not something I feel like doing myself, and I have a range of options, including some quite local.  If I had a Tesla, I could currently take it to Salt Lake City or Portland if it needed work.

Hmmm, a lot of pessimism in this thread. Depressing.

If anything other than "Technology Singularity Growth Forever TO THE STARS!" is pessimism, sure.  I don't think spending some time and resources working out paths forward if that doesn't happen is particularly pessimistic, unless you've consumed the "religion of progress" kool-aid that says that anything that isn't progress is unthinkably bad.

Quote
http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/10/03/the-practical-benefits-of-outrageous-optimism/

I'm familiar with that, and I think MMM is so well diversified and wealthy that he's pretty much untouchable at this point.  I'd rather make things work for a range of outcomes with a bit less cash saved up.

If things continue, great.  I'll have a solar powered house that is immune to power outages, eating food grown on my property, and requiring very little cashflow to live on, meaning that the wonderful results from the markets mean I can do more things.  It's not like I'm doing things that only make sense in decline.

SPACE COLONIZATION!!!

Imagine the worst, most inhospitable place on Earth.  That's a radically easier place to live than space.  Ocean floor colonies make living in space seem trivial, and we're not exactly doing those yet.

Quote
But no, here I find myself in 2017, surrounded by people having the same old tedious tribal disagreements we've had for millenia, just dressed up in modern clothing and with an iphone.

Yup!  Human nature doesn't change - and humans are, as far as evidence shows, well optimized for living in small tribes (150 people is generally considered a tipping point).  If your plan starts with, "First, change human nature..." - best of luck. :)  It hasn't worked for thousands of years that people have been trying and I don't think the internet will magically make it happen.
My random project blog - ebikes, DIY, fans, and more: http://syonyk.blogspot.com