Author Topic: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation  (Read 54629 times)

aschmidt2930

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 275
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #50 on: January 31, 2017, 11:29:54 AM »
I both agree and disagree.

I don't think the US is on the decline, but I do think our influence relative to the rest of the world is declining.  The US has been ridiculously ahead of most of the world for a long time.  The internet has been a great equalizer.  I see our influence settling into a more realistic position relative to our population size. The US will be fine, but we'll no longer call all the global shots (nor should we).

In addressing your allocation question, I tend to invest internationally more than most posters I see on this forum, partially for the reasons above.

dougules

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1251
  • Location: AL
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #51 on: January 31, 2017, 11:32:02 AM »
Wow, such doom and gloom.

Most of Western Europe is past its zenith, but nobody is mourning the way things are working out there.  The US doesn't have to be #1 to stay well off, although we probably will be at or near the top for a while just based on being the 3rd most populous and 4th largest country in the world. 

The world as a whole, including the US, is better off than it ever has been.  Are there threats to our way of life?  Yes, but there always have been.  Are the benefits unequally distributed?  Yes, but the US overcame it a century ago, so why not again?

And economic growth doesn't have to come from an ever-growing consumption of resources.  Leaps and bounds in efficiency are a great source of economic growth. 

Syonyk

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3423
    • Syonyk's Project Blog
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #52 on: January 31, 2017, 11:37:07 AM »
And economic growth doesn't have to come from an ever-growing consumption of resources.  Leaps and bounds in efficiency are a great source of economic growth.

Certainly, though that's rather self limiting - the jump in efficiency from candles to incandescents to LEDs has been great, but there's not much more you can save on lighting from efficiency (unless you believe that 100% efficiency is just a minor nuisance and Technology will fix that soon enough), and the Jevons Effect observes that improvements in efficiency are usually met with a significant increase in use as opposed to pure savings.

scantee

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 370
    • Do Anything
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #53 on: January 31, 2017, 11:41:37 AM »
Wow, such doom and gloom.



I'm with Joon in not seeing the doom and gloom in this thread. The tenor of the conversation seems to be that they west, the U.S. in particular, are declining in comparison to developing nations, but that's not necessarily a bad thing, and living standards are still pretty good in the west.

Prairie Stash

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1549
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #54 on: January 31, 2017, 11:53:55 AM »
[
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.
Well, my ancestors moved to Canada when SHTF, at a local level they were poor, not facing persecution, the point there is they moved. The moving allowed their children, grandchildren and all progeny a better life, it would have screwed their descendants over pretty hard by staying. I've also heard of people moving to the USA, Britain, France, Germany, Brazil, Argentina...I work with people who moved here in the past 5 years. When life got crazy in Europe last century the first people to get out were the rich, the poor got left behind, society has always had a double standard for the rich.

Overall the optimal path for success is still the simplest, just get to FIRE as quickly as possible. Once there you can adapt to anything that might happen, its the people who aren't at FIRE that will fail before you do. At which point having extra cash allows you to purchase extra resources on the cheap.

The basic law of survival isn't being the fittest and fastest, its being more fit than the guy next to you (its the joke about 2 guys being chased by a bear, the one guy looks over and says "I don't need to outrun the bear, I just need to outrun you"). I don't need to prep, I just need to RE so I can adapt quicker than my neighbours.

Just for fun though, how do you plan on ensuring your grandchildren's survival? Mine will be living in a country that's great (since I'll move, following the footsteps of my ancestors). Yours could be in the waste lands of the declining empire, I disagree about the decline but I'll play along. Solar panels have a half life of 30 years, in 90 they're garbage, you still need to replace them once a lifetime. Nothing lasts forever and the ones who adapt quickest always do best (long term). The ones who tough it out get to do all the hard work for my descendants to move back to (life's not fair).

Syonyk

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3423
    • Syonyk's Project Blog
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #55 on: January 31, 2017, 12:09:05 PM »
Well, my ancestors moved to Canada when SHTF, at a local level they were poor, not facing persecution, the point there is they moved. The moving allowed their children, grandchildren and all progeny a better life, it would have screwed their descendants over pretty hard by staying. I've also heard of people moving to the USA, Britain, France, Germany, Brazil, Argentina...I work with people who moved here in the past 5 years. When life got crazy in Europe last century the first people to get out were the rich, the poor got left behind, society has always had a double standard for the rich.

Sure, but where do you think will be a better place to be?  The observations about the US having an awful lot of land and resources are accurate, and being isolated by an ocean from whatever Europe turns into when resources get scarce will be a serious advantage.

Quote
Just for fun though, how do you plan on ensuring your grandchildren's survival? Mine will be living in a country that's great (since I'll move, following the footsteps of my ancestors). Yours could be in the waste lands of the declining empire, I disagree about the decline but I'll play along. Solar panels have a half life of 30 years, in 90 they're garbage, you still need to replace them once a lifetime. Nothing lasts forever and the ones who adapt quickest always do best (long term). The ones who tough it out get to do all the hard work for my descendants to move back to (life's not fair).

Assuming you can find that country that's doing great, enjoy.

The panels certainly won't last forever, but they stand a good chance of providing usable amounts of energy for a long while.  We don't really know the lifespan of solar panels - they degrade with time, and are often considered junk at 80%, but even 20% of original output is better than 0%.

And, in general, by teaching my kids and grandkids useful things that will be relevant in decline - which is to say, useful skills, and particularly lower tech level skills that are useful if one is operating without our current infrastructure.

The vast, vast history of humanity has survived just fine without electricity and the internet, and at some point in the future, people will be doing that again.  May as well be ahead of the curve!

chaskavitch

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 534
  • Age: 32
  • Location: Fort Collins, CO
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #56 on: January 31, 2017, 01:14:23 PM »
My husband is kind of leaning toward this same train of thought.  He's worried about the availability of water in the future as habitable regions move farther north in the US, mostly, as well as what would happen to the food supply in major cities if there is ever a breakdown in society (or even a major gasoline shortage where semis couldn't get around to transport food), but I think also he just would love to live off the land and be more self sufficient.  It is actually what got him to be more amenable to the MMM way of life, because he wants to save up money to buy like 50 acres of land with water rights, so we can have all of our parents live with us and our new baby and have a homestead and grow huge gardens with bees and goats :)  We're still hoping to be near a city center so we can have real jobs if we need to, and so we have hospitals and stuff, but it'll be interesting.  Mostly right now we're focusing on saving up money, getting better at growing/preserving food, keeping our chickens alive, and learning new skills - welding, plumbing, more woodworking, etc.

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.

Apparently I already live in a town that is part of this!  I'm glad you posted it; now I can check them out and see what it is all about.

tyort1

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1927
  • Age: 46
  • Location: Denver, Colorado
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #57 on: January 31, 2017, 01:44:37 PM »
I love how we are above 95% employment, the stock market is at an all time high, violent crimes are way down and we are so damn rich that we have entire communities of people online teaching each other how to FIRE, and people think we're in DECLINE????  Haha, that is some funny sh!t.

Syonyk

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3423
    • Syonyk's Project Blog
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #58 on: January 31, 2017, 01:51:46 PM »
I love how we are above 95% employment, the stock market is at an all time high, violent crimes are way down and we are so damn rich that we have entire communities of people online teaching each other how to FIRE, and people think we're in DECLINE????  Haha, that is some funny sh!t.

Well, then, do whatever you want.

The employment numbers are a target of policy, so are ~useless.  The workforce participation rate as a percentage of working age individuals is staggering along about where it's been since 2008 (and well down from the 90s), and quite a bit of the "employment" is underemployment or part time - if you have a Masters degree and are slinging coffee 25 hours a week, that's not really making use of your degree.

The stock market is either in a new normal or a bubble.  The second tends to be obvious, in retrospect, but about the time everyone starts asserting that (whatever) is a new normal that can continue forever, get out.

And, yeah, we've got a lot of surplus wealth floating around.  Things are good.  I'm just not willing to extrapolate the recent trends out for another 40 years, brush my hands, and say "Great!"

tyort1

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1927
  • Age: 46
  • Location: Denver, Colorado
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #59 on: January 31, 2017, 02:00:49 PM »
Man, I applaud getting solar and learning skills and building solar powered electric bikes as car replacements.  And especially planting/growing a garden.  Those are things that will cut your monthly recurring costs.  Immediately for the garden, and in the medium term for solar.  And being more self-sufficient is ALWAYS a good thing.  The fact that it makes you less dependent on the 'system' is a bonus. 

So, do you think things are in slow decline, or rapid decline?  Because the things above seem like they are a hedge against a rapid decline.  And if you think we're in a rapid decline, you really ought to get your $$ out of the market and go full on prepper.

If things are in slow decline, then FIRE is basically impossible.  And investing in the market is a fools errand.  So what do you invest in, instead?  If anything?  I mean after you have your solar up and your garden going and your bike's built, etc.  What do you do with the bulk of your $$?  Invest in the next nation that's on the rise?  How?  And which one?  Do you move to the rising country?  Stay in America?  Move to a farm? 

Syonyk

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3423
    • Syonyk's Project Blog
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #60 on: January 31, 2017, 02:32:53 PM »
So, do you think things are in slow decline, or rapid decline?  Because the things above seem like they are a hedge against a rapid decline.  And if you think we're in a rapid decline, you really ought to get your $$ out of the market and go full on prepper.

History indicates that decline is usually a slow process, with the occasional rapid shakes as things settle out.  That seems as reasonable a guess as any to me - far more likely, historically, than the catastrophic collapse.

I don't really see "stockpiling stuff" as a useful and sustainable path forward.  That does make you a target for people.

Quote
If things are in slow decline, then FIRE is basically impossible.  And investing in the market is a fools errand.  So what do you invest in, instead?  If anything?  I mean after you have your solar up and your garden going and your bike's built, etc.  What do you do with the bulk of your $$?  Invest in the next nation that's on the rise?  How?  And which one?  Do you move to the rising country?  Stay in America?  Move to a farm?

That's... kind of the topic of conversation. :)

I'd say investing in local businesses and some international markets would be reasonable, though I'm not sure how well that will work long term.

tyort1

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1927
  • Age: 46
  • Location: Denver, Colorado
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #61 on: January 31, 2017, 02:37:50 PM »
So, do you think things are in slow decline, or rapid decline?  Because the things above seem like they are a hedge against a rapid decline.  And if you think we're in a rapid decline, you really ought to get your $$ out of the market and go full on prepper.

History indicates that decline is usually a slow process, with the occasional rapid shakes as things settle out.  That seems as reasonable a guess as any to me - far more likely, historically, than the catastrophic collapse.

I don't really see "stockpiling stuff" as a useful and sustainable path forward.  That does make you a target for people.

Quote
If things are in slow decline, then FIRE is basically impossible.  And investing in the market is a fools errand.  So what do you invest in, instead?  If anything?  I mean after you have your solar up and your garden going and your bike's built, etc.  What do you do with the bulk of your $$?  Invest in the next nation that's on the rise?  How?  And which one?  Do you move to the rising country?  Stay in America?  Move to a farm?

That's... kind of the topic of conversation. :)

I'd say investing in local businesses and some international markets would be reasonable, though I'm not sure how well that will work long term.

Or you could do what I do - live in a big city with big income and high savings, dump that into the market and bonds, and have parents that own a 100 acre farm with cows on it and a spare home you could move into if needed :D

I mean, these other things you are talking about are hedges - I hope you also are putting most of your money in the market or in real estate investments.  I have a traditional 80/20 split stocks/bonds, but within my stocks I have about 20% international.  That seems reasonable to me. 

Syonyk

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3423
    • Syonyk's Project Blog
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #62 on: January 31, 2017, 02:44:18 PM »
Or you could do what I do - live in a big city with big income and high savings, dump that into the market and bonds, and have parents that own a 100 acre farm with cows on it and a spare home you could move into if needed :D

We moved away from "big city with big income" because the quality of life was terrible.  We don't care about any of the things cities have to offer, and what we value (peace, quiet, seeing wildlife when out camping, not sharing walls, etc) weren't things offered.

Quote
I mean, these other things you are talking about are hedges - I hope you also are putting most of your money in the market or in real estate investments.  I have a traditional 80/20 split stocks/bonds, but within my stocks I have about 20% international.  That seems reasonable to me.

Right now, most of our income is going to property improvements.  The property we're on needs quite a bit of work, and due to me daring to take 3 months off between jobs, we couldn't get a mortgage either.

tyort1

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1927
  • Age: 46
  • Location: Denver, Colorado
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #63 on: January 31, 2017, 02:48:25 PM »
Or you could do what I do - live in a big city with big income and high savings, dump that into the market and bonds, and have parents that own a 100 acre farm with cows on it and a spare home you could move into if needed :D

We moved away from "big city with big income" because the quality of life was terrible.  We don't care about any of the things cities have to offer, and what we value (peace, quiet, seeing wildlife when out camping, not sharing walls, etc) weren't things offered.

Quote
I mean, these other things you are talking about are hedges - I hope you also are putting most of your money in the market or in real estate investments.  I have a traditional 80/20 split stocks/bonds, but within my stocks I have about 20% international.  That seems reasonable to me.

Right now, most of our income is going to property improvements.  The property we're on needs quite a bit of work, and due to me daring to take 3 months off between jobs, we couldn't get a mortgage either.

Interesting how everyone is different - we live on the edge of the city and 2 blocks from a large lake and park.  Beautiful area and we absolutely love living here.  Being able to work from home 100% of the time helps a lot, too. 

Nothing wrong with doing property improvements.  As long as they don't spiral out of control.  But as an MMMer I doubt that's even a remote possibility for you :)

caracarn

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1229
  • Age: 48
  • Location: Ohio
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #64 on: January 31, 2017, 02:52:37 PM »
Quote
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.

As someone who does a lot of historical study, I do feel you are not giving any "credit" for differences.  I'd ask you a more pertinent question.  Since we have hit the Industrial Revolution which allowed people to move from subsistence farming because that is all they physically had time or capability for, what nations would you point to that have failed, i.e. that have followed your arc of nations?  Assuming you do not live in one of those tiny nations which struggles to support itself, I believe you'd be hard pressed to name one. 

It is tempting to look at the Greeks, Romans, Incas, take your pick, but like it our not I think there is a relevant case for "This time is different!".  The advances humans have made in the last 80 years are massive compared to all the history that predates it.  It is a paradigm shift, so I think making the case that there is a marked difference is not only possible, it is prudent. 

I also feel the ability for a given nation to run off and rule the world is much harder than is was.  America owes much of its ascension to physical geography at a time when technology made it difficult or impossible to easily attack in in the two world wars.  If those wars had taken place 50 years later that would not have been the case.  Europe was in ruins due to that lack of barriers and easy reach of aggressors.  Those nations with that arcs that I believe you refer to all rose and fell based on military conquest.  In our world with current technology that is increasingly unlikely. 

All that said, I would side with those responders who work towards a more optimistic viewpoint.  It's a lot more fun, and a lot more likely to be beneficial than assuming the sky is falling.  If we do progress back to the Stone Age, I'd really not want to be around anyway so building up the skills to make it and hang around for the misery you predict would not be something I desire to put effort into.

caracarn

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1229
  • Age: 48
  • Location: Ohio
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #65 on: January 31, 2017, 02:57:55 PM »
I love how we are above 95% employment, the stock market is at an all time high, violent crimes are way down and we are so damn rich that we have entire communities of people online teaching each other how to FIRE, and people think we're in DECLINE????  Haha, that is some funny sh!t.

Everything is relative.  When people want to worry, they will find a reason.  "I had 10 million gold coins in my pile yesterday, and today, I have 9,999,995.  I am in decline, even though I have 9,999,995 more coins then when I started and thought things were great!"  It is a sad way to view things.  Some may believe it is helpful, but I'm with you in thinking it's a lot more fun (and funny) to look at the blessings we all have compared to how the world was simply 100 years ago, when most people had no ability to save, no safeguards for their livelihood (insurance) and little ability for mobility beyond what their two feet or a horse could take them.

Syonyk

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3423
    • Syonyk's Project Blog
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #66 on: January 31, 2017, 03:00:10 PM »
Interesting how everyone is different - we live on the edge of the city and 2 blocks from a large lake and park.  Beautiful area and we absolutely love living here.  Being able to work from home 100% of the time helps a lot, too.

I got to sit in traffic every morning until I discovered the joys of ebikes.  They, at least, made the commute reasonable and I didn't end up sweaty at work.

Working from home wasn't a thing, unfortunately.  It is now!  Different employer.

Quote
Nothing wrong with doing property improvements.  As long as they don't spiral out of control.  But as an MMMer I doubt that's even a remote possibility for you :)

... define "out of control"?  Is turning a hillside of basalt and alkaline soil into an area providing food and energy for my family and relatives out of control? :D

As someone who does a lot of historical study, I do feel you are not giving any "credit" for differences.  I'd ask you a more pertinent question.  Since we have hit the Industrial Revolution which allowed people to move from subsistence farming because that is all they physically had time or capability for, what nations would you point to that have failed, i.e. that have followed your arc of nations?  Assuming you do not live in one of those tiny nations which struggles to support itself, I believe you'd be hard pressed to name one. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_former_sovereign_states

Quite a few of those listed have failed since the industrial revolution.

Great Britain has failed as an empire since the industrial revolution.  They've gone from controlling a huge percentage of the planet's land to being a nice little island.  It's an unusual end to empire, but it's certainly occurred in the timeframe you're talking about.  They were just able to hand enough over to those former rogue colonies to go their way peacefully.

Quote
It is tempting to look at the Greeks, Romans, Incas, take your pick, but like it our not I think there is a relevant case for "This time is different!".  The advances humans have made in the last 80 years are massive compared to all the history that predates it.  It is a paradigm shift, so I think making the case that there is a marked difference is not only possible, it is prudent.

We've learned to extract insane amounts of carbon to get incredible amounts of high grade energy, yes.  That's at the base of the last century or so, but I don't see how it really changes the story much.  It does bind more of the planet together into one arc, though.

Quote
All that said, I would side with those responders who work towards a more optimistic viewpoint.  It's a lot more fun, and a lot more likely to be beneficial than assuming the sky is falling.  If we do progress back to the Stone Age, I'd really not want to be around anyway so building up the skills to make it and hang around for the misery you predict would not be something I desire to put effort into.

At least you're honest about that, though I do wonder how many of the people who say, "Oh, I wouldn't want to be around for that horrific future..." will actually go quietly when the time comes that they've run out of other options.

And I can't say it sounds like misery to me.  You're welcome to your opinion of working outside.

caracarn

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1229
  • Age: 48
  • Location: Ohio
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #67 on: January 31, 2017, 03:18:09 PM »
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_former_sovereign_states

Quite a few of those listed have failed since the industrial revolution.

Great Britain has failed as an empire since the industrial revolution.  They've gone from controlling a huge percentage of the planet's land to being a nice little island.  It's an unusual end to empire, but it's certainly occurred in the timeframe you're talking about.  They were just able to hand enough over to those former rogue colonies to go their way peacefully.


I would say that entire list is ridiculous.  Either that our your and my definition of "nations" is vastly divergent.

Being absorbed or realigning yourself is not "failing".  I thought you meant "Rome covered most of the earth, and now is gone", not "North and South Vietnam failed because they became Vietnam".  That is the same fruitless argument with the long list of things under Germany or Italy.  Your best reference to what I speak of is on the tail end of your "evidence" in the section "Since the Middle Ages".  A) This is ridiculously short as it is and B) Literally has nothing on it that was not consolidated into a larger nation or overtaken in either World War I or II or the immediate aftermath and therefore "failed" because of that.  I assumed your "arc of nations" meant something other than cataclysmic falls off a cliff, meaning I thought you meant an actual arc.  Hence my reference to smaller nations that are unable to protect their own sovereignty. 

Great Britain certainly is not the power is once was (and as a proud citizen of one of her former colonies, I appreciate that), but I would not say Great Britain failed.  This is my point about no country being able to rule the world today.  Great Britain was just one of the leaders of that reality, but all the powers in the era of colonization still exist as nations today.  Not a single one of them is gone.  Short of nuclear annihilation I just do not subscribe to your sad view of inevitable decline and I believe there is ample evidence to indicate that.  Again, you reference in a recent post of how we will one day all be living without electricity just smacks of a much more dystopian view than your last comment in this response to me where you seem to reference an idyllic existence "working outdoors".  You appear to be trying to convince us (or yourself) that your view is in some way upbeat in it's final result for self sustained living while painting such a gruesome picture of why we get to that state eliminating all modern living standards which would have no realistic way of evaporating without massive warfare and inability to rebuild.

Syonyk

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3423
    • Syonyk's Project Blog
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #68 on: January 31, 2017, 03:34:43 PM »
Well, a few hundred years from now, one of us will be proven right and wrong!

Gondolin

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 525
  • Location: Northern VA
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #69 on: January 31, 2017, 03:51:26 PM »
Quote
The advances humans have made in the last 80 years are massive compared to all the history that predates it.  It is a paradigm shift, so I think making the case that there is a marked difference is not only possible, it is prudent. 

This. On what basis are people thinking the US is "in decline"? The usual answer I see is that "things were better in the 50s,60s, and 70s!". However:

A) There's a good chance that the rate of technological change over the past 80 years is rendering obsolete all pre-20th century historical models for the fate of nation states.

B) There's a good chance what we are seeing is not 'crash into extinction' but rather a reversion to the mean after a (brief) post-WWII golden age. I mean, of course the US/USSR were dominant in the 50s and 60s, the rest of the developed world busy rebuilding all those smoking ruins. The dominance of the 50s and 60s will never be recovered since it is not likely that US will ever fight or win another world war (that wouldn't also destroy all of humanity).

doggyfizzle

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 304
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #70 on: January 31, 2017, 03:53:24 PM »
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.

Well, when looking at the profit margins of major MNCs based in America, they COULD manufacture (some/all) goods in this country if they were to accept lower profit margins.  This would require the acquiescence of shareholders/board of directors and might result in a lower (maybe short-term) stock price, but could also serve as a hedge on foreign political instability, fluctuating transportation costs, supply chain diversification etc.  A company like Nike, with its very strong brand, could definitely afford to make some goods here, but for profit maximization purposes it does not.  A lower profit margin is not necessarily a competitive disadvantage when paired with high-quality/brand recognition of goods (New Balance/Red Wing/Danner for example).  Real manufacturing output (and exports) in this country are at all-time highs, so clearly this is more than an ample industrial base to work with.  That being said, with the present employment rate in the US, finding the large number of workers who would want to work in a garment factory (for example) might be challenging.

I completely agree with you about access to education.  I also have no problem with global trade, but also believe manufacturing job losses not due to automation are often times driven by corporate greed rather than true competitive necessity.

Syonyk

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3423
    • Syonyk's Project Blog
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #71 on: January 31, 2017, 03:55:47 PM »
B) There's a good chance what we are seeing is not 'crash into extinction' but rather a reversion to the mean after a (brief) post-WWII golden age. I mean, of course the US/USSR were dominant in the 50s and 60s, the rest of the developed world busy rebuilding all those smoking ruins. The dominance of the 50s and 60s will never be recovered since it is not likely that US will ever fight or win another world war (that wouldn't also destroy all of humanity).

That would be an ideal outcome, certainly.  What do you think the "reversion to the mean" will do to money invested in index funds and the like, though, especially if nobody is actually stating what's going on, and is simply panicing over lower earnings (at the C level)?

//EDIT: Money, not wealth, invested.

maizeman

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2854
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #72 on: January 31, 2017, 04:45:19 PM »
I was actually thinking about Great Britain, so happy to see it came up in the discussion. I think it fails the test of being a good story of a decline and fall of a nation, because for a person living in England proper, or in one of the former overseas colonies that became independent, nothing about the dissolution of the British empire prevented you from living out a conventional FIRE. People in England weren't missing meals or not getting electricity because India became an independent nation.

For failed states since the industrial revolution, my nominees are:

1) Afghanistan (failed sometime after the mid 1970s)
2) Somalia (failed in the early 1990s)
3) Yugoslavia (1990s)
4) Austro-Hungarian Empire (end of WWI).

I am sure there are others, but these are four examples of countries that had modern (for their times), functional societies, but then saw the rules of society break down to the point that anyone who didn't flee wouldn't have been able to carry on with a normal FIRE existence in their home country.

ysette9

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3177
  • Location: Bay Area, CA
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #73 on: January 31, 2017, 04:50:23 PM »
I don't share the pessimism of this thread, though I do believe that the US is declining in world dominance. That isn't a problem for me. I have certainly longed before to be from a nation like Denmark or New Zealand that isn't on the world stage all the time, being expected to clean up messes around the world and be the number one scapegoat for people who have a beef with the west or whatever else we stand for in the eyes of people around the world. I hate that if our politicians f up then everyone knows it and I feel ashamed to be traveling the world on the US passport. I don't like how universal our culture is through movies and music and television. We constantly stream out content to the world but almost never reciprocate. What was the last foreign television show you watched? How frequently do you hear a song in another language gauge on your regular pop music station? These things are common in Europe.

That said, I agree with another poster that the decline could be a gentle one like the U.K. Brexit fears aside, that is a pretty decent place to live.

I recommend the book Collapse by Jared Diamond to everyone. He goes through the history of extinct civilizationsw to find common themes of what caused them to fail (think: Maya, Eastern Island, the Greenland Norse). I found it fascinating. Most of what he talks about centers on communities recognizing the limits of the resources their environment can provide them and putting systems in place to ensure they don't outstrip their land's ability to support their population. You could make a much more convincing argument to me that we in the US are on a bad path using that line of thinking.then again, mustachianism is a wonderful solution!

Syonyk

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3423
    • Syonyk's Project Blog
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #74 on: January 31, 2017, 04:58:22 PM »
I am sure there are others, but these are four examples of countries that had modern (for their times), functional societies, but then saw the rules of society break down to the point that anyone who didn't flee wouldn't have been able to carry on with a normal FIRE existence in their home country.

From what I understand, an awful lot of the USSR was in that category as well for a decade or so after the government just... stopped existing, until something new got formed, took hold, and actually made a difference.

I recommend the book Collapse by Jared Diamond to everyone. He goes through the history of extinct civilizationsw to find common themes of what caused them to fail (think: Maya, Eastern Island, the Greenland Norse). I found it fascinating. Most of what he talks about centers on communities recognizing the limits of the resources their environment can provide them and putting systems in place to ensure they don't outstrip their land's ability to support their population. You could make a much more convincing argument to me that we in the US are on a bad path using that line of thinking.then again, mustachianism is a wonderful solution!

So, the fact that western industrial civilization, in general, is using far more than the globe can provide on an annual basis, and digging insane amounts of carbon out from underground to use... yeah.  Doesn't look good for us.

maizeman

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2854
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #75 on: January 31, 2017, 05:39:19 PM »
D'oh, how could I forget the USSR! Yes, I agree that's probably another example of a failed state. Although the lessons that can be drawn from that one and yugoslavia are complicated by the fact that when a communist country collapses some of the regular markers like "even if you have money you cannot buy food and electricity" don't have good logical parallels.

I'm not actually that familiar with what the transition was like. The collapse of the soviet union was in that weird blind spot for me of being too young when it happened to remember (much) news coverage but the events being far too recent to learn about in history classes.

joonifloofeefloo

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5659
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #76 on: January 31, 2017, 05:57:21 PM »
And I can't say [working outside] sounds like misery to me.

This ^.

Is that the definition some folks here are using for pessimism and others are using for optimism?

For me, a promise only of a high tech environment or non-earth habitat is what would leave me feeling pessimistic. But the idea of returning (not quite "to the Stone Age" but) to a more soil-based, nature-y one (somewhere between hunter-gatherer and agricultural, with environmentally-friendly technology for moderate daily comfort) is the dream!

When those of us excited and happy about homesteading, etc, get excited that this could be the path for Western society, is that what sounds pessimistic? Would that inherently sound "pessimistic" (despite our joy) only to folks such a lifestyle seems abhorrent to?

Kriegsspiel

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1002
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #77 on: January 31, 2017, 06:01:59 PM »
D'oh, how could I forget the USSR! Yes, I agree that's probably another example of a failed state. Although the lessons that can be drawn from that one and yugoslavia are complicated by the fact that when a communist country collapses some of the regular markers like "even if you have money you cannot buy food and electricity" don't have good logical parallels.

I'm not actually that familiar with what the transition was like. The collapse of the soviet union was in that weird blind spot for me of being too young when it happened to remember (much) news coverage but the events being far too recent to learn about in history classes.

I haven't read these yet, but Secondhand Time: The Last Of The Soviets by Svetlana Alexievich is on my reading list for that topic.

There's another one, The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse by Ferdinand Aguirre about the economic collapse in Argentina. From what I've heard, it's not a "get your beans and guns and head for the hills" prepper book.

maizeman

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2854
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #78 on: January 31, 2017, 06:11:22 PM »
Thanks for the recommendations, Kriegsspiel. Putting Secondhand Time on my reading list as well.

I've wondered about Ferfal's book (and the economic collapse of Argentina generally) for years. If there was a digital version I would have definitely read at some point. But from the excerpts I've found online, it sounds like the economic collapse of Argentina would be a reasonably analogy for the sort of decline and fall people in this thread are worrying about happening to the USA.

Indexer

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1200
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #79 on: January 31, 2017, 06:17:18 PM »
If we start with the assumption that the US is in decline that doesn't mean it will lead to disaster.

This isn't Rome with the barbarians at the gates.

I agree with the other posters that if anything it is like the UK. The UK still exists, but they don't control territory all over the world.


aceyou

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1472
  • Age: 35
    • Life is Good - Aceyou's Journal
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #80 on: January 31, 2017, 07:59:13 PM »
Syonyk, you have mentioned that history gives a guide that our decline is inevitable.  You may be right, but my argument is that history's real lesson is things get better.

This is a very interesting thread.  I'm not worried about a decline, for several reasons:

Reason #1: A middling country in 50 years will likely be a far more badass place to live than the US is today.  Take the Roman Empire.  Your standard of living is unimaginably better in today's Italy as a lower-middle class person than it was for a super rich dude at the height of the Roman Empire.  Undeniably.  Some random Italian today has better access to health care, education, electricity, communication, travel, etc, etc, etc.  Do you think Italians are pining for the their country's lifestyle in the year 100AD back when they were the greatest empire on earth?  They had aquaducts...cool story Romans...today's poor italians can fly on airplanes and skype anyone in the world and bank in more badass ways than the roman emperor. 

If the US moves to #10 on world's richest list when I die decades from now (which I think is shortchanging the US big time), then we are still going to be living in a far better place than we are now. 

Reason #2(although very related to #1): Technology.  Like Boarder and others have said on here, advances to clean energy and AI will transform the world we live in.  Things like employment rates will have a new meaning decades from now, because labor won't even be a bottleneck for production.  The vast majority of things that today take tons of labor to do, will require a tiny fraction of people decades from now.  For example, today a people drive around all day delivering mail.  That will be seen as a huge waste of time in the future.  How big of a stretch is it to imagine a self driving car pulling into a neighborhood with 20 drones that each fly back and forth a few times delivering the mail to each persons home, then returning to the car as it drives itself to the subdivision.  Heck, I'm a math teacher.  Maybe virtual reality will make math teachers as we know them obsolete in the future.  In this world, stuff will become really cheap, because things require so little labor.  It will free people up to do even cooler stuff, like leisure, learning, the arts. 

In conclusion: The best dooms day prepping we can do is to help support policies that encourage science, protect our environment and climate, help ensure education and access to family planning to women around the world, and support poor nations to help them join the party, and implement things like universal income when it becomes necessary.  The important thing isn't going to be where the USA ranks 30 or 50 years from now.  The important question is can we all work together as a world to make sure this planet stays a kickass place to live for everyone.  Because if we do that, abundance will become inevitable.  A middle class Camboidan 50 years from now will look back at doctors/engineers/teachers from the USA in 2017 and say "jeez I'm glad I don't have to live that lifestyle". 

Gondolin

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 525
  • Location: Northern VA
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #81 on: February 01, 2017, 07:22:28 AM »
Quote
That would be an ideal outcome, certainly.  What do you think the "reversion to the mean" will do to money invested in index funds and the like, though, especially if nobody is actually stating what's going on, and is simply panicing over lower earnings (at the C level)?

I'm not really sure what you mean. I don't think the stock market will return to 60s levels if that's what you mean. Technological growth and profits march on...the reversion is mostly in the political and military spheres.

tyort1

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1927
  • Age: 46
  • Location: Denver, Colorado
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #82 on: February 01, 2017, 07:56:43 AM »
I guess I have an issue with the whole idea that the country is in decline.  By what measure and standard?  If you mean standard of living and ease of life and/or how easy it is to become FI, well I'd rather live now in the US than anywhere else in the world or at any other time in the past.  Sh!t, we have so much freaking money and STUFF we have entire movements dedicated to trimming our excess possessions (minimalism).  People in the 50's and 60's didn't sit around and think to themselves "damn, I have SO MUCH stuff, what am I going to do with it all?" 

Seriously, if you are pessimistic nowadays, ESPECIALLY after discovering MMM and the strategies here, well then you just want to be a pessimist and nothing will probably ever change that....

Prairie Stash

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1549
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #83 on: February 01, 2017, 08:59:41 AM »
Well, my ancestors moved to Canada when SHTF, at a local level they were poor, not facing persecution, the point there is they moved. The moving allowed their children, grandchildren and all progeny a better life, it would have screwed their descendants over pretty hard by staying. I've also heard of people moving to the USA, Britain, France, Germany, Brazil, Argentina...I work with people who moved here in the past 5 years. When life got crazy in Europe last century the first people to get out were the rich, the poor got left behind, society has always had a double standard for the rich.

Sure, but where do you think will be a better place to be?  The observations about the US having an awful lot of land and resources are accurate, and being isolated by an ocean from whatever Europe turns into when resources get scarce will be a serious advantage.

Quote
Just for fun though, how do you plan on ensuring your grandchildren's survival? Mine will be living in a country that's great (since I'll move, following the footsteps of my ancestors). Yours could be in the waste lands of the declining empire, I disagree about the decline but I'll play along. Solar panels have a half life of 30 years, in 90 they're garbage, you still need to replace them once a lifetime. Nothing lasts forever and the ones who adapt quickest always do best (long term). The ones who tough it out get to do all the hard work for my descendants to move back to (life's not fair).

Assuming you can find that country that's doing great, enjoy.

The panels certainly won't last forever, but they stand a good chance of providing usable amounts of energy for a long while.  We don't really know the lifespan of solar panels - they degrade with time, and are often considered junk at 80%, but even 20% of original output is better than 0%.

And, in general, by teaching my kids and grandkids useful things that will be relevant in decline - which is to say, useful skills, and particularly lower tech level skills that are useful if one is operating without our current infrastructure.

The vast, vast history of humanity has survived just fine without electricity and the internet, and at some point in the future, people will be doing that again.  May as well be ahead of the curve!
Better place = a place better than the current one you're at. I don't pretend to know the future, its has been shown by the millions of refugees that the best thing to do when your state collapses is to get a better life somewhere else. Typically the ones left behind are the ones who do the rebuilding, its a lot of work rebuilding a nation.

I don't prescribe to the view that we'll ever resort to preindustrial society without electricity. You missed the point about panels, they degrade and its better to plan for the next 30 years. After 30 years passes, make a new plan. Then repeat again.

Adaptation to current events always works better than trying to predict the future 100 years from now. While you're preparing for an event that might/might not happen I'm able to prepare by doing nothing. We both end up in the same spot but I didn't have to work as hard to get there.

The ability to adapt to change within minutes is paramount. If my government collapses into anarchy, I'll move before the looting starts. History has shown us in Syria, Libya, Russia, Iraq, Vietnam, Germany etc. that the best way to survive armed conflict is to avoid it. I have two little children, they can't be wolverines from Red Dawn. I don't prescribe to heroic fantasies about surviving doomsday.

maizeman

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2854
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #84 on: February 01, 2017, 09:08:03 AM »
The ability to adapt to change within minutes is paramount. If my government collapses into anarchy, I'll move before the looting starts. History has shown us in Syria, Libya, Russia, Iraq, Vietnam, Germany etc. that the best way to survive armed conflict is to avoid it. I have two little children, they can't be wolverines from Red Dawn. I don't prescribe to heroic fantasies about surviving doomsday.

I certainly agree with this point. What fascinates me about reading the history of these sorts of events though is that so few people do seem to get out even when (with the benefit of historical hindsight) it seems obvious where things are headed. I don't know if that reflects an unwillingness to take drastic action (abandoning houses, family and friends), or if things that seem obvious in hindsight don't actually seem obvious at the time.

tyort1

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1927
  • Age: 46
  • Location: Denver, Colorado
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #85 on: February 01, 2017, 09:19:01 AM »


Seriously, the USA and the world as a whole is a LOT better place to live now than ever in the past.  If you want to talk about the arc of history, well here's some relevant data.

Also see - http://www.vox.com/2014/11/24/7272929/charts-thankful

Seriously, it's worth your time to check those out.  We are in a period of a massive surge of improving life, not just for the US but for everyone. 
« Last Edit: February 01, 2017, 09:31:14 AM by tyort1 »

Prairie Stash

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1549
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #86 on: February 01, 2017, 09:39:00 AM »
The ability to adapt to change within minutes is paramount. If my government collapses into anarchy, I'll move before the looting starts. History has shown us in Syria, Libya, Russia, Iraq, Vietnam, Germany etc. that the best way to survive armed conflict is to avoid it. I have two little children, they can't be wolverines from Red Dawn. I don't prescribe to heroic fantasies about surviving doomsday.

I certainly agree with this point. What fascinates me about reading the history of these sorts of events though is that so few people do seem to get out even when (with the benefit of historical hindsight) it seems obvious where things are headed. I don't know if that reflects an unwillingness to take drastic action (abandoning houses, family and friends), or if things that seem obvious in hindsight don't actually seem obvious at the time.
Its hard to tell if its few, from the refugees I've met the story goes "they moved to Canada and lived happily ever after." It makes for a really boring movie, family gets on plane, flies over ocean, starts a regular life with family ;) Its too boring to register, people want to hear the stories of tragedy instead. 

I work with a guy who abandoned his house, car, etc. and had a single suitcase (he's mid 20's now, left 2 years ago, this is a modern day story). Although very dramatic he's now just a regular guy with a regular job. He went from death threats to having a mortgage. His country was in decline, now his wife and him are happy and safe. No amount of solar panels would have saved his life. The threat was fairly explicit, leave or die, from a country where people are routinely murdered and its reported in the regular news. Its not a hypothetical situation, it was his reality.

joonifloofeefloo

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5659
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #87 on: February 01, 2017, 10:07:47 AM »
re: mobility, I agree.

My life is amazing now, but was profoundly tricky for the first 40ish years. I learned that mobility was key to success. Keep moving, moving, moving, hopping around that checkerboard, until I'd reached something pretty rockin'. Both my parents, too, were immigrants and one was a refugee before that, running for their lives on short notice and in transition (multiple countries) for many years.

Interestingly, I notice I'm reluctant to move again now (so far). I'm extremely attached to the geography and my human community here. For the first time in my life, I can see why people stay in places where crap is developing. If there were signs that war, for example, might develop, I'd be inclined to wait it out, hope it doesn't. Because I'm so in love with the land and my peeps here. If all I had was my nuclear family (self, partner, kids) and I didn't care much for the land, I would just go, like before. Now, it would be terribly hard to leave. I would to save our lives, but I can see how I'd feel a need to be convinced I were almost immediately unsafe.

retired?

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 662
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #88 on: February 01, 2017, 10:16:56 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.

Yes, this was my thought, so just did quick search for Japan.  I think historically one nation has not been globally dominant for more than X years, it doesn't mean they fall apart after their dominance ends.  Only countries that come to mind are Greece and Italy and their reign was a long, long time ago.

Also, it's evident that the U.S. will be pulling back from globalization towards protectionism.  These words have different meaning to different people, but aiming to protect the interests of the U.S. first rather a big global kumbaya should help the U.S. be more competitive.  I'm for free trade, but smart free trade.

Syonyk

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3423
    • Syonyk's Project Blog
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #89 on: February 01, 2017, 10:22:05 AM »
Seriously, if you are pessimistic nowadays, ESPECIALLY after discovering MMM and the strategies here, well then you just want to be a pessimist and nothing will probably ever change that....

I'm paid very well to be a pessimist.  I recognize my bias, but it's been working fine for me.  Hope for the best, plan for a wide variety of cases.

caracarn

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1229
  • Age: 48
  • Location: Ohio
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #90 on: February 01, 2017, 11:37:42 AM »
I like to think of this thread as a microcosm of what we are talking about.  It was interesting to see how it started out as a lot of sadness, and then with just a few rays of light, it has blossomed into nearly the opposite with everyone beginning the discussion of how to make lemonade out of the lemons.  Again, I believe the situations that existed prior to the 20th century gave people very few options and resulted in many "failures", but now the results are what everyone has been talking about for the last day, just shifting around positions between nations in various level of "How terrific is it to live here and now!" 

Syonyk

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3423
    • Syonyk's Project Blog
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #91 on: February 01, 2017, 11:50:45 AM »
I certainly didn't intend it to start as sadness and pessimism.  I don't see it that way at all - it's just a different approach than "All in index funds!"

RangerOne

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 685
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #92 on: February 01, 2017, 12:40:15 PM »
There are always hard times and good times ahead. I don't see any reason to believe that we will witness the complete and total collapse of western society in your lifetime. Governments change over time and nations sometimes fracture. Look at how long nations like Britain, France, Spain hell most of Europe have been around and how their governments have changed.

Germany started two world wars and conducted mass genocide and they are still standing strong and democratic as ever event though all of them spawned from Monarchies. There are still citizens living well in Russia under a socially oppressive dictator. They may have a weak middle class but there are still people there mostly living normal lives.

My point is things could get a whole hell of a lot worse in the USA and we would still wouldn't collapse and people would be a able to find a way to lead decent lives. Might FIRE opportunities dry up and people have to go back to work? Thats always a risk.

This is of course baring massive catastrophes like the worst climate change predictions coming true. But you can't really plan for that, unless you want to spend time investing in cold war style survival bunkers.

cheapass

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 506
  • Location: Dallas, Texas
  • On track for FIRE @ 40
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #93 on: February 01, 2017, 01:01:12 PM »
Great thread. It's only logical to think about contingency plans and hedge against unfortunate events. That's why we have financial products called "insurance". I don't think it's any more inconvenient to prepare for the worst than it is to say, live on less than you could "afford" to spend so you can retire early. Simply trading one thing for another and making choices to support the long-term strategy.

Our plan looks kind of like this... Job security ("real" undergrad degrees + graduate degrees) --> Physical security (alarm system, security cameras, firearms and training, body armor) --> Financial security (investments > 25x annual spending) --> Food/Water/Energy security

We're on our way to FI/RE. After that I want to move onto food + water + energy security. We'll plan on homesteading on the side of a mountain with clean water nearby and will have at least a large garden, if not animals as well. Hydroelectric, wind, solar energy, etc.

I'd like to get to the point where it won't really affect me that much if the economy collapses, there's riots in the streets, a pandemic, whatever. My family will be set. I really don't want to be living in a city when the SHTF.
« Last Edit: February 01, 2017, 02:44:46 PM by cheapass »

tyort1

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1927
  • Age: 46
  • Location: Denver, Colorado
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #94 on: February 01, 2017, 01:24:35 PM »
I think that the best way to deal with a decline is to already be rich.  If you are already rich, you become very flexible.  If that is correct, then the best thing to do is become rich, as fast as possible.  The fastest way to do it is cut costs and invest in Index Funds or Real Estate.  Unless you have a business that you love that blows up. 

I'd also note that the other things you listed (garden, solar panels, ebike), also cut your costs so they are certainly not a waste of time/money/effort.  As someone that has experienced job instability in the past, I am ALL FOR reducing recurring costs as much as possible.

eljefe-speaks

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 181
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #95 on: February 01, 2017, 02:35:43 PM »
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.

Just wanted to say, absolutely fantastic post.

hoping2retire35

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1405
  • Location: UPCOUNTRY CAROLINA
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #96 on: February 01, 2017, 02:46:22 PM »
interesting discussion.

Most civilizations decline because they have a trade deficit for too long that is too big, which the US also has. Rome for example sent 10s of thousands of lbs of gold every year to the East in exchange for silk. They gradually inflated their gold by making it less pure. But the US is different, in my opinion, for two reasons.

1. We are on the top of a global economy, IIRC, 85% of world cash reserves are US dollars and treasuries. For now their is no one to replace us.
2. We don't send gold or some other tangible good, we send electronic version of green paper....that's it. For all the cars, computers and oil, we send an electronic message that says you now have access to pieces of green paper. Granted all US citizens savings is in this same green paper so if the US said, in one form or another, 'we will not repay' this debt they could do it, with a catch. It might involve giving every US citizen some type of New Dollar, ND, in exchange for their old greenbacks.

Not sure how much these differences make but in general I agree with synork. We may not have a complete destruction of our civilization but it could be a big (negative) change coming.

Gondolin

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 525
  • Location: Northern VA
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #97 on: February 01, 2017, 03:03:00 PM »
Quote
Most civilizations decline because they have a trade deficit for too long that is too big, which the US also has. Rome for example sent 10s of thousands of lbs of gold every year to the East in exchange for silk. They gradually inflated their gold by making it less pure.

Scholarship source for this extremely general statement? Poor monetary policy is only one of many reasons why the Western Empire collapsed.

hoping2retire35

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1405
  • Location: UPCOUNTRY CAROLINA
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #98 on: February 01, 2017, 03:07:25 PM »
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.

Yes, this was my thought, so just did quick search for Japan.  I think historically one nation has not been globally dominant for more than X years, it doesn't mean they fall apart after their dominance ends.  Only countries that come to mind are Greece and Italy and their reign was a long, long time ago.

Also, it's evident that the U.S. will be pulling back from globalization towards protectionism.  These words have different meaning to different people, but aiming to protect the interests of the U.S. first rather a big global kumbaya should help the U.S. be more competitive.  I'm for free trade, but smart free trade.

No thank you. you have to start when they were world powers and what they went through

French Reign of Terror
Spanish Civil War
WWI & WWII
Hiroshima and Nagasaki, post WWII.

Nope, I want to be on the other side of the planet or in some out of the way place that a marching army doesn't care about and the small brigades roaming the country knows that we are more trouble than we are worth.

All those countries are fine now but they went through thewood chipper to get there.

edits
« Last Edit: February 01, 2017, 07:37:39 PM by hoping2retire35 »

tyort1

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1927
  • Age: 46
  • Location: Denver, Colorado
Re: Thoughts on FIRE in a declining nation
« Reply #99 on: February 01, 2017, 03:07:49 PM »
I"m just curious - for the people that are preparing for a decline.  Lets say you do your prep work and you hedge against the things you feel will be problematic in the future.  At that point do you stop worrying and start enjoying your life?  Or do you keep worrying and/or think up new stuff to worry about?  That's not snark, its a serious question, I really would like to know.