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Nomads

I was running the traps yesterday and one of my regular stops is a blogger and accomplished writer that lives in Upstate New York.  He made the comment that none of the farmers in the area grow a garden any more.  That space has been taken up by swimming pools and multiple 4 wheelers in various states of run.  These farmers buy their groceries now right alongside the cubicle dwellers and insurance adjusters that live in The City.

Forest Oil rig near Balmorrhea, West Texas. 2-28-12

Forest Oil rig near Balmorrhea, West Texas. 2-28-12

I just finished two thought provoking books — Locusts on the Horizon ($2.99) and The Five Stages of Collapse ($9.99) -both available for your Kindle at the prices noted.  All of this throwed me off onto a weird brain tangent.  Last winter we were gate guarding on a watermelon farm outside of Balmorrhea, Texas.  They got that old gyp water for irrigation out that way and I guess the watermelon growing is big business.   They had a camp set up for the Mexican workers.  A couple of knocked together duplexes and a couple of FEMA trailers that appeared to be bunk house from about one end to the other. They arrived there in the late winter and while the women and kids unloaded their belongings from the pick up trucks, the men set about getting the garden spot cleared off and ready to plant.  The garden was a rather elaborate irrigated setup and it looked like it had been in use for several years…. a perk of the job if you will.   The men had the garden planted within 48 hours of their arrival.

 

Back in 2007, when I was working for My Bro, we did a project for some rich folks on a ranch up around Buffalo, Tx.   The owners showed up out of Dallas most weekends in their Citation jet,  They would spend a few days there doing country stuff…. shooting skeet, riding 4 wheelers like maniacs,  skiiing on the lake etc etc.

Aerial view of the lake project

Aerial view of the lake project

There was a garden there as well. The owners allowed the ranch hands a plot to grow a garden….. and it was a good ‘un.  We shared the bounty with them.  Funny thing is the owners didn’t care diddly about the garden.  Matter of fact, a local woman came in the day before their arrival and stocked the pantry and cooked for them while they were there.  I reckon they could have cooked for their selves because they most likely knew how.  But then again, ya never know.

I am just trying to figure out what it all means. Sitting here in the steel tube that is the Princess Palace out in the boondocks of South Texas, it is difficult to gain a clear perspective.  You see, down here everybody is blowin’ and goin’.   Unemployment is 2 or 3% and them that ain’t working just flat out don’t wanna work.  The McD’s in Cotulla is paying $12 per hour and they can’t get help.  We don’t see the homeless and the disenfranchised. We got steady work and a tad of money in the bank so why do we feel so uncomfortable?  And edgy?

Miss Kathy came back from Lowe’s Market in Cotulla the first part of the week with 6 bags of groceries that cost her $90.  She filled up PACO with gas and it was over $50.  Inflation is eating await at us bit by bit.  We watch the happy talkers on the Evening News and even though Ms. Sawyer and Mr. Williams try to paint it up nice it is still lipstick on a pig.  The Middle Class in America is losing the fight folks.  Our Government is becoming ever more intrusive and dictatorial.   They have most definitely crossed the line where they feel like they have any responsibility toward the American People.  They don’t even try very much any more to hide the abuses of power,  the sanctioned intrusions into our private lives and the disregard for our Constitution and Bill of Rights.  Over 50% of our population is on some form of Government Assistance and we paid 41 million last year so the Feds could PROMOTE the Food Stamp Program.  WTF?   You think those folks that are living on a government check are going to vote to throw those professional politicians out of office?  Not on your life!  Those folks are bought and paid for and that is exactly what the Government wants.  No revolutionaries in that crowd that want to upset the status quo; that I will guarantee.

The sad part is the rest of us –that aren’t bought and paid for- sit back and watch a little bit of freedom disappear here and a chunk of privacy go away there and we sorta half-way believe the happy talkers when they say the Recession is easing.  We sit back and we say to ourselves and those around us “Well, maybe it ain’t THAT bad.”    Sorta like when you here a bad bump in the night and you punch your partner and say “You didn’t hear that did you?” hoping they will say no when you know damned well you heard it.

You know, I have never preached anarchy or advocated out right revolution and I never will.  At the same time,  that knot in the pit of my stomach that says things aren’t quite right just gets bigger and bigger.  You owe it to yourself to throw out a few bucks and read those two books I mentioned earlier.  You may not agree with everything the authors espouse but it just may open some eyes to what the future holds for us. Locusts on the Horizon ($2.99) was particularly interesting to me because the authors chose to deviate from the accepted prepper mentality that is sweeping the nation right now.  Most of us have a few bucks in a savings account (maybe) and a few hundred bucks left over at the end of the month at best.  The Prepper Folks say we need Bug Out locations and underground bunkers and food stock for years and imposing arsenals if we are to even have a hope of surviving the coming Pocky Lips.  Well, good neighbors, where are those multi-thousand dollars s’posed to come from?  If you go to the Banksters and borrow the money for your off the grid ranchito and 4×4 Chevy, the foreclosure folks and repo man are just gonna come after you when the crap hits the fan.

The authors of the book talk at length about this and they chose to look at real life concerns instead.  What if you don’t have a shit ton of money?  What if you are living mostly paycheck to paycheck and your job security ain’t all that spiffy?  What if you are upside down on your house?  Or waiting for the Sheriff to show up any day with the eveiction notice?   The growing sub-class of the former middle-class suburbanities are the nomads.  Nomadic lifestyles have been around for centuries and they still thrive.  Genghis Khan and his Mongols were nomads and they are still around today.  The Gypsies of Europe are nomads.  The American Indians were, for the most part, nomads.  Miss Kathy, Tuco the Dog and me are nomads.

Setting up the Nomadic Home

Setting up the Nomadic Home

News of late has reported the recreational vehicle industry is making a comeback.  Folks up in Indiana where they build most of the RVs are being called back to work.  The RV shows are chock full of prospective buyers — and good luck finding a decent used recreational vehicle.  You think it is the AARPies flocking to the RV dealers to buy shiny new Class A diesels that are gonna set them back $200k?   I don’t think so.  I think it is the folks that have lost their houses and took what little cash they had left and bought a travel trailer so they wouldn’t have to live in a refrigerator box under the overpass.  I think it is the folks who finally see the handwriting on the wall and decided maybe they ought to buy an RV just in case things go south.   I think it is the folks who are tired of working in the cubicles and wearing shiny shoes and they cut the government umbilical and struck out on their own.

That is what I think.   In our case, there was no Grand Plan.  I didn’t have a step by step Master Plan to get from where I was then to where we are now.   One day I was making $130k a year and the next month I wasn’t.  My debt load crushed me.   One day, Miss K was sitting at a red light in Idaho and some woman rear ended her at 45mph.   She was never able to go back to her office job after that.  Everything happens for a reason in our karmic world. It is not that you can sit back and wait for your future path to be revealed to you; nah, it doesn’t work like that at all.  You need to be out hittin’ it every day and working smart and you can’t take the Government at face value-ever.  Some how or the other, Miss K and I have become Nomadic Opportunists.  If we weren’t gate guarding, we would move somewhere else and do something else.   If we didn’t work for a month or two, we could get by.  Our debt load is tiny, the pantries are stocked, we can make potable water, we have fuel and freeze dried food hidden away in various storage facilities along with bowling supplies and tools and books and spare parts.   Honest to God, I hope it never comes to the point we have to rely on our stored supplies.   It would be just peachy if we spent the next several years here and there in the Oil Patch collecting our paychecks and watching the rigs come and go.

But, then again, you never know do you?

 

 BTW,  I like for all of y’all to rate each post with the Gold Star thingy at the bottom.  I am not saying you have to LIKE each one.  Just give it a rating; good-mediocre-bad-whatever. The good ones make it to the sidebar on the right and I have noticed lately more and more folks are clicking those ‘Fave’  links for a good read.

End Note:  Common One by Calvin Russell from the Sam cd…….. Cold and Dark and Wet  by Greg Brown form the Evening Call cd.   A bleak and black twofer.

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31 comments to Nomads

  • joel

    “Over 50% of our population is on some form of Government Assistance ”

    Uh, Andy, that 50% includes retired people drawing SS and Medicare, which are earned benefits paid for by the beneficiaries. That also includes veterans benefits. Do you think veterans benefits are a bad thing? That includes children whose parents cannot support them and who cannot support themselves. Would you prefer such children just starve under a bridge?

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    • Andrew

      Of course not Joel but the fact remains that at some point, those benefits are going to go away because the FedGov is broke.

      The Food Stamp numbers are 15% of the American population. Up 70% since 2008.

      The recent Sequester cuts slash billions of dollars from programs benefiting the poor, including Head Start, special education, housing and many other programs. Just the tip of the iceberg.

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  • joel

    “the FedGov is broke.”

    LOL!

    Nonsense. The federal govt isn’t broke–not even close. For an economist, Andy, you are a great gate guard.

    Food stamps are up since 2008 because . . . wait for it . . . the economy collapsed. Look for food stamp use to decline as the economy continues to recover.

    As for the sequester, that was a purely political decision. It is stupid, unnecessary and counterproductive.

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    • Andrew

      From the CBO Joel,

      As of 12/2012, 47.8 million Americans were on food stamps. The CBO predicts Americans on food stamps will drop marginally to 43.3 million by 2017 and that is predicated on an unemployment rate of 5.6%.

      They would like you to think the economy is improving. The actuality is far from that Joel.

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  • joel

    “The actuality is far from that Joel.”

    No, the actuality is exactly that, Andy. Now, that doesn’t mean that the lot of every single American citizen is improving. To say that the economy is improving represents an aggregate statement. But in the real world of data and evidence, the reality is that the US economy is improving–slowly.

    So are you now willing to admit that your 50% figure was, while technically correct, a purely political statement?

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    • Andrew

      I can’t agree with either statement Joel.

      The figures that indicate the recession is lessening are tabulated by the Government. I cannot bring myself to put any stock in those reports.

      50% of the American Public is dependent in some fashion on the Government for their continued well being and quality of life. Whatever the entitlement, I find that figure shocking.

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  • Nancy1340

    Andy, Very good post and remember…. there will always be sheep.

    “Just sit tight, the government will be here soon to help us”. 😉

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  • joel

    “I cannot bring myself to put any stock in those reports.”

    That’s your problem, Andy. Since you don’t actually have any evidence to question the government’s figures, I’d score that as paranoia.

    “50% of the American Public is dependent in some fashion on the Government for their continued well being and quality of life. Whatever the entitlement, I find that figure shocking.”

    Somehow, I find myself unable to be shocked by the fact that men and women who have paid for decades into the social security and medicare system are now enjoying the benefits of their investments in these insurance programs. To me, it seems perfectly ordinary and expected. It is certainly what I expect as a long-time payer into the SS and Medicare system. YMMV.

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    • Bob

      Well, Joel, why don’t you head on over to zerohedge.com and you will find all the evidence you want to show just how bad things are and how much worse they are going to get. Some typical actual data rather than your bullcrap:

      http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-06-14/guest-post-economy-pictures

      The fact is that the Fed has been buying it’s own longterm debt to the tune of 1 trillion dollars a year. Further, Obama has presided over a deficit of 45 cents of every dollar spent, which is why the National Debt is at 17 trillion. Almost all of western Europe and Asia is in recession and we are about to drop into it as well. When US Treasury Bond interest rates start rising the “Fat Lady” will be taking a deep breath and starting to sing. Won’t be long now.

      Enjoy the ride.

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      • Andrew

        “This will not be a gradual recovery from this disaster that we have. We are not going to elect enough people and have enough courage to vote the right way; there is too much demagoguing and too much misunderstanding… What amazes me is that it holds together. So I think monetizing debt and spending and deficit is going to get much, much worse until the world rejects the dollar. And there will be a rejection here at home, and prices will soar, and eventually interest rates will break loose and they will start rising.”
        Former Rep. Ron Paul, via Adam Taggart at peakprosperity.com

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        • joel

          “eventually interest rates will break loose and they will start rising.”

          LOL! There’s a daring prediction. Of course interest rates will eventually start rising. And after awhile, they will start falling. Then they’ll rise again. Then fall. Thus has it ever been.

          When we financed our first car purchase in 1981, the loan carried 14% interest. I was happy to finance to the hilt, since we had the full purchase price invested in a money market fund at 17% and at that time, auto loan interest was still deductable. I’ve seen far, far higher interest rates than today’s, Andy.

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      • joel

        LOL! Bob, those charts all confirm what I posted. Unemployment is our biggest problem today. If you understood data, you would know that.

        The fact is that the dollar is still the world’s reserve currency. The fact is that core inflation hasn’t been this low since 1963. The fact is that other nations still want to hold US bonds. The fact is that whackjobs have been predicting economic apocalypse for decades and it still hasn’t happened. I’m sorry you’ve fallen for their propaganda.

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  • If you are having trouble finding used RV’s, come to Canada. I can’t believe how many are for sale on Kijiji.

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  • Ken

    As it happens, I have a skill set that a company is willing to pay me a great amount of money to use. I am in a REEsort right now that is filled with long term boomers. A boomer is one that goes to the work. This is in Houston and you see all kinds of rigs. El cheapo with young owners, older people in modest rigs and then some of them pricy thingamabobs. When you talk to them, they report they lost their job and house. They did just as you say, spent what they could dredge up on an RV. Used? Not really out there. They bought what would keep the out of the underpass world.
    I don’t think those in the rarified world of academia have a real feel for the world at large. Outside that world, things is tough, no matter what the king of the US sez. We have seen too many times that the unemployment rates are jiggered, not reflecting the truth, only to reflect well on the king. HIs arrogance is amazing. Watch the news on Debkafile and the Drudge Report and sometimes the real truth comes out.

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  • joel

    “I don’t think those in the rarified world of academia have a real feel for the world at large.”

    LOL!

    You obviously don’t know anything about academia if you think it isn’t part of the real world. Things are tough in academia. Things are tough outside academia.

    As it happens, I too have a skill set my employer is willing to pay me a great amount of money to use. I’m proud of my accomplishments, Ken, but I don’t believe they entitle me to smirk at others who contribute to other aspects of our national economy.

    Of course, there are lots of people who got their money the old-fashioned way–they inherited it. I’m not one of them–I’ve worked hard and postponed gratification to get where I am. But I don’t pi$$ on others just because their jobs are different from mine, Ken.

    I also gratefully acknowledge the role of government in my life. I went to public schools from kindergarten forward. I’ve driven the roads and bridges built by government, and I’ve enjoyed using the gasoline, food and other things that were delivered over government-built roads. I enjoy using the internet for fun and for purchases–the internet was created with government funds. I’m happy to live in a secure nation, secured by a military whose soldiers are government employees.

    The biggest problem in America today is unemployment, not the debt.

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    • Andrew

      The biggest problem in America today is unemployment, not the debt.

      I really wish it was that simple Joel.

      I think the biggest problem in America is we don’t make anything here anymore.

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  • joel

    “I think the biggest problem in America is we don’t make anything here anymore.”

    Do you think if there were more manufacturing in America there might be more jobs in America?

    When more people are unemployed here and abroad, there are fewer dollars purchasing goods and services. When more people are employed here and abroad, there is more money to spend on goods and services.

    The decline of manufacturing in America is a long-term secular trend. The current crisis in America is due to the collapse of the economy that began in 2007.

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  • Richard

    I believe the biggest problem in America is the “Blind Sheep Syndrome.” Americans believing the skewed statistics cooked up by our self-aggrandizing beltway politicians giving us a sense of false security. Ask Colin Powell how he was tossed under the bus by trusting government facts and figures.

    I’m siding with Andy on this one, trust your gut, there could well be a bumpy ride ahead.

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  • joel

    “Ask Colin Powell how he was tossed under the bus by trusting government facts and figures.”

    I didn’t trust Powell or the administration at the time. I was opposed to the US invasion and military occupation of Iraq before it started, as Andy recalls. However, I didn’t arrive at this conclusion with my gut. I examined the evidence and found it wanting. I’m data-driven, not gut-driven. YMMV.

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  • Richard

    That’s my point Joel, the data were being fed is manipulated to fit the occasion. Good old common-horse-sense trumps a pig-in-a-poke every time. If data drives you, by all means, trust what is offered up to the masses, I’m going to stick with my gut. Should you have a method of gleaning proven data, share that pie, I’d even like a slice.

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    • Andrew

      “That’s my point Joel, the data were being fed is manipulated to fit the occasion. ”

      Yep. Or data that is uncomplimentary is just buried and not reported. Home foreclosures were up 11% in May but I do not recall that making the Evening News.

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  • Don

    Joel, the government didn’t pay for any of those things. The government distributes other peoples’ money. That works until it doesn’t.

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  • joel

    “Joel, the government didn’t pay for any of those things. The government distributes other peoples’ money.”

    By that “reasoning,” Don, the “government” doesn’t exist. It is just people running the country with people’s money. And in my case, Don, it is not just other peoples’ money, it is my money, since I pay taxes.

    But of course taxes come from “peoples’ money.” Did you have a point?

    “If data drives you, by all means, trust what is offered up to the masses,”

    You obviously don’t know what “data” are, Richard. Trusting data is not the same as trusting people who claim, without evidence, to have data.

    “Good old common-horse-sense trumps a pig-in-a-poke every time.”

    Agreed, but this is a straw man. I don’t see anyone here defending pig-in-a-poke.

    The burden of proof was on the Administration to justify the US invasion and military occupation of Iraq. They failed to meet it. The data weren’t there. No “gut” or “horse sense” required, just ordinary standards of evidence.

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  • joel

    BTW, not to put too fine a point on it, but your “money” exists only because of government. Same with your “property.” Both are abstractions that work only because of government.

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    • Andrew

      Interesting point Joel but I find the two to be very different in makeup and application.

      The Federal Reserve Notes were legislated and are worth nothing in reality. They have an accepted value.

      Property ownership is possible because of Rule of Law.

      Government definitely has its’ place in any civil society. Their role is NOT to be our caretaker and protector in every instance however.

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  • joel

    “Property ownership is possible because of Rule of Law.”

    And “Law” only exists with government.

    “Their role is NOT to be our caretaker and protector in every instance however.”

    Another straw man. Nobody here has said that government should be “our caretaker and protector in every instance.”

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    • Andrew

      “Nobody here has said that government should be “our caretaker and protector in every instance.”

      My disapproval of the FedGov’s increasing role in our every day lives was the basis for the original blog post.

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  • joel

    “My disapproval of the FedGov’s increasing role in our every day lives was the basis for the original blog post.”

    Indeed. We clearly have different thresholds on this issue. Honest people can and do disagree on the extent of government’s role in our lives. But nobody here has said that government should be “our caretaker and protector in every instance. That’s a straw man.

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  • Don M

    Joel, would you say in your life that you have received more money from taxpayers than you have paid in taxes? My point is, the more the government does to take from group A and give to group B, the more people in A try to become part of B. Obviously at some point that system fails. We are getting there.

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  • Ross Alexander

    Hey, Andy, sure glad to see that a nice TT has been procured! (yes, I’m late to the party). I see some of our weekly reading overlaps. I’d imagine you might read J.M. Greer as well, and let me recommend Gene Logsdon blog “The Contrary Farmer” if you don’t already enjoy that.

    As to the discussion above it’s not in the interest of the owners of our Government or the media to deal in truth. As the late great Joe Bageant said (roughly), “Americans are like mushrooms . . kept in the dark and fed horsehit”. The info one wants is out there, but if one doesn’t read (and our fellow citizens don’t) there isn’t much reason to hide it. Truth is a matter of understanding. Thus, I highly recommend Joe’s essays (website) and the books are keepers (I send mine along to the USMC son). Morris Berman is another, but at a different remove. Too bad those two never got together.

    With this past weeks news, I’d also recommend all books and articles by James Bamford.

    Best

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  • joel

    “Joel, would you say in your life that you have received more money from taxpayers than you have paid in taxes?”

    I doubt it, but it is very difficult to monetize. For instance, some would argue that the reason we’re not having this conversation in German or Russian is because of our national defense, all funded by tax money. Likewise, how much benefit, exactly, did I get from tax money because my daughter went to public schools for primary and secondary schools and college?”

    ” My point is, the more the government does to take from group A and give to group B, the more people in A try to become part of B.”

    Do you have any objective data to back up that assertion, Don? Certainly, I’ve never tried to join the military just because the government took my tax money to pay for soldier’s salaries and benefits. I’ve never been tempted to give up my job to try to live in public housing on welfare and food stamps. Your “point” looks like a myth to me.

    “Obviously at some point that system fails. We are getting there.”

    Again, do you have any objective data to back up those assertions, Don? The US has some of the lowest tax rates in the industrialized world. Plenty of the nations with much higher tax rates and far higher levels of government services haven’t failed yet. If we are “getting there,” we’re doing so very slowly and have lots of time yet, based on the actual evidence.

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