Politics, media, fear and foreclosure in the USA

I can’t imagine the daily horrors visited on people facing foreclosure now. The numbers continue to climb and the economy plummets. I’ve been told I like to worry. Maybe that’s true, but I think the current situation is worry-worthy.

Yes, I have debt. I wish it weren’t so, but it is. Compared to most of my contemporaries, my debt load doesn’t even register. If all goes well — even marginally well — I’ll be out of debt before the end of 2008. And I don’t mean out of debt except for the house and the car, like most people consider themselves “debt free” — I mean completely out of debt, with the farm paid off along with the cabin and a car.

If I play my cards right, I should be able to put back a bit of cash along with the debt elimination. Wouldn’t that be nice? Of course, if things go the way I fear they will go, I’ll need more than a little cash put back to weather the economic storm that lies ahead.

I’m thinking now about what vegetables I’d like to grow in the spring, where the garden should be placed, what foods I can stockpile and what alternative forms of heat I can get in place before next winter. I’m thinking about ways to avoid the grid as much as possible, although I don’t see going completely off-grid quite yet.

Going off grid would be difficult with a well as deep as mine. It could be done, I’m even considering a gravity-fed system right now that I may build later to solve this issue. For now, I want to be sure I have all the basics in place.

One of my clients calls me “Y2K girl” because he learned of my tendencies to worry about such things and I confessed my stockpiling for Y2K to him a few years ago. We had a long conversation about personal freedom and liberty from economics and modern society a few months ago. He laughed at me.

More recently, he told me that if the world did go to hell in a handbasket, that he would come to MY farm. :O) So even while he taunts me, he sees the value in the way I plan.

I think the current foreclosure situation is only a neon sign of things to come. I dread the next handful of years from that perspective. I whole-heartedly believe that times are going to get really tough. I also believe that we have it coming. We, as a country, have lived on the labor and sweat of others, have wasted beyond belief and have been greedy and ignorant in our dealings and our daily lives.

I think a time of reckoning is overdue, but still I dread it.

Living on borrowed resources that belong to our children is not ok. The federal debt is not ok. The freedoms we are giving up in the name of security are not ok. National, political and global apathy are not ok. Involving ourselves in other country’s problems is not ok.

I’m hard pressed to find things to praise about the way we are (and have been) handling things in the US lately. Our children are suffering from sub-standard education. Our debts to other countries would cripple us if they were to come due right now. The value of the dollar no longer towers over the Canadian version. Everywhere I look, things are on a downward spiral and people are ostriches about what impacts them most.

I want to retreat into books and find what part of history this is repeating. I found an intriguing post about the phases of Democracy, but just as quickly researched it into the world of Urban Legends over at Snopes.com. So maybe we aren’t in the “apathy” stage of Democracy after all — but it sure LOOKED convincing.

A much more indepth and interesting look at the US democracy in an historic context, along with an investigation of the types of democracies we are attempting to set up elsewhere is given voice by Robert D. Kaplan in his long article at Atlantic.com, entitled “Was Democracy Just a Moment?” It’s particularly interesting since it was written in 1997, before many of the issues on hand today had materialized.

I thought for quite some time that the big media was helping to create a self-fulfilled prophecy about the real estate market. I also felt that the “creative financing” was a real threat long before that became a popular view. I did not know the depth of the hole we were digging, and I’m afraid I still don’t. I now believe that the media may have a hand in bringing the current problems to a head, but I also know that the cause doesn’t really matter — the fact is, it’s upon us. How we deal now is what matters.

I worry.

And when I worry, I plan. I’ll be glad to have the cabin finished so I can dig out of my little puddle of debt and start preparing for what lies ahead. Being prepared, like a boyscout, always makes me feel better and I really need to feel better about this.