Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Archive article- Barter for Survival

  • Archived article from www.survivalreport.net
First written in the early 90's, published in American Survival Guide magazine November of 1996.

  • Preface-

Irrational Exurberance?

Buy gold and silver buy gold and silver buy gold and silver.......

It kinda gets old doesn't it?

To me there is nothing worse than people who are not squared away with there personal preps describing how they are going to sink another couple hundred dollars into precious metals.

Why? You can't eat them? I'm pretty sure you can't shoot them? You can't start a fire with them? And you can't make love to them, so why have piles of them around?

"As an investment." OK let's look at that one. Gold and silver have made virtually no significant moves in the last 20 years with the exception of the last year. I recently worked this out for silver and it came out to about a 5% per year return if you purchased in 1986 and held till now. Mind you that's not a bad ROI but it's not great either.

"So I will have something to barter with after the collapse." Here is the mainstay excuse/reason whatever you want to call it that the big metal pushers use for survivalists.

If you have a copy of the November 1996 American Survival Guide you'll see some guy named Robert Henry wrote an article in there relating to barter items and he specifically talked against using gold, silver, ammunition, booze and cigarettes during the period immediately after the collapse up to the time when everyone hopes that some sort of normalcy returns. That fellow was a little rough around the edges (still is) but made some good points. Here is what he wrote in the article (ASG has been defunct for 5 years now so I'm sure they won't mind me reprinting my own article) You'll notice that I was a lot less cynical at the time, I blame this on my youth, I was 23 at the time they published this article.

Barter for Survival copyright 1996 Robert Henry

It never fails, you never have all or exactly what you need or want. Survival situations will be no different. From the beginning of time, man has traded man for things he needs or wants. In this article we will look at bartering from a different approach as well as some possible items to barter with.

With the ever approaching collapse of the dollar and the subsequent chaos that may ensue, barter items take a high priority along with your other preparations.

First things first. You need to acquire the "basics" for your own survival prior to putting back barter goods. This would include at least a year's supply of food (preferably 5+ years), a water purification device, a stocked medical kit and the knowledge to use it, communications gear and the firearms necessary to protect yourself amongst other things. Most importantly, and most overlooked is good training in skills necessary for survival.

Different people have different opinions and ideas. My ideas and opinions on certain things are much different from the average survivalist. I consider myself a realist. When many people plan for disasters they like to think of the best possible situations and unconsciously the mind plans around those conditions. It it best to always think of the worst possible situations and plan around them.

Gold and silver are often considered two of the best barter items. If we examine this idea closely is has several flaws. Many "experts" state that you should buy pre-1965 junk silver for use in bartering. Junk silver is considered quarters, dimes and (EDITED TO READ- "SOME") nickels minted before 1965 when silver was taken out of these coins. The problem with this is in recognition. While it is true that some people will realize that these coins have some silver, most people won't. Just imagine that you have suffered with a toothache for several years after the crash and you finally find a dentist. You approach him and ask him to pull your tooth offering him 10 pre-65 coins. "What the hell is this? You expect me to pull your teeth for 50 cents?" Try to convince him they have value.

The fact is that pre-65 coins are not recognized as valuable by the majority of the public. And what about practical value? Can you eat them? Start fires with them? Maybe you could melt them down and have some use for them. Gold and silver can be useful as a hedge against inflation and a possible investment. In those regards they are useful.

Gold and silver are threatening. I say this because of their very nature. Today in "civilized" times people kill each other for money. Gold and silver are a form of money. Think about how many people have been killed over gold throughout history. Have people gotten less violent or more violent? People kill each other just for kicks today, what will they do for your gold? Word will get around quickly if you trade in gold and silver. Greed breeds very quickly.

Another common idea in bartering is to trade ammunition. Think about this for a while, think deeply. Do you really want to give strangers ammunition? The first trade with a stranger might go well. The second trade he could shoot you with your own ammo. If you trust the person you are trading with it might not be a bad deal.

Yet another idea for a barter item is liquor. Not a bad idea except for a few things. To a degree liquor is a threatening item same as gold. It's just one of those things that some people will do anything for. What better way to escape reality than getting plastered? Booze will be in demand after the collapse. Let's say for example though that you have two cases of Vodka stored up. Uncle Joe who is now staying with you just can't cope with the fact that everything went to hell in a handbasket. Uncle Joe becomes drunkard Joe real quick. Survival situations are serious business. Do you want to risk having some drunk getting a hold of your AR15 and shooting at your neighbors? Booze is not a bad idea for a barter item IF it can be controlled. If I were to put some back I would not let anyone know about it.

Barter items-
So then what can we trade with? It's simple just think of all the necessities you would need in a long term survival situation. Open your mind and look around at the things you use everyday and think "Would there be an easy way for me to make this or substitute something for it?" If both answers are no, you have a possible barter item.

When you buy items to put into your survival storage buy a little extra of everything you need. It is usually just a couple of extra bucks.

Before we look at some suggestions for barter items we need to have a little lesson in psycology. A man named Maslow came up with a theory called the "hierarchy of motives." Basically it's a triangle with a number of human needs on it. Food and shelter fall into the bottom tier under physiological needs. The second level includes safety. The third and fourth tiers of the pyramid include love and self-esteem respectively. The theory is that you can't reach the higher tiers of the pyramid without first sustaining the lower levels. For example; you cannot get self-esteem if you don't have anything to eat or drink.

Knowing this little bit about psychology we can come up with some ideas. First it is a good assumption that most people in a survival situation will be trying to fulfill the first two levels of the pyramid, physiological needs and safety. These being food, water, shelter and a means of protecting themselves. Gold and silver do not provide any of these. Sure you could trade a Kruggerand for a chicken or even shelter IF someone was willing to trade. But shouldn't you have those things already? What about if your trading with people who are on the bottom two tiers of the pyramid? These people will not have a need for gold? They will have a need for other things. Let's look at a few.

Food is a hard, fast commodity. Everyone needs it and no one can get along without it. We can start by putting back some extra food. Put back staples such as rice, beans and wheat. Always trade your oldest stock of these first. Next, think about all the things that cooks need. This would include spices and seasonings, cooking oil, shortening, flavorings, baking soda, yeast, baking powder, salt, sugar, honey, among others. Spices have been traded for centuries and were one of the reasons for the discovery of America. With these you can trade with people like you who have stored food. A family who has been eating rice and beans continuously for six months would probably trade anything for another type of food or at least something to spice up the food they have. Dried fruits, canned nuts, chocolate chips, MRE desserts, granola bars and other items that would "spice up" regular food, even chewing gum, would all make good barter items.

You can also home grow your food barter items. Eggs, vegetables, fruits, rabbits and chickens are also possible. Plan on growing foods no one in your area grows to trade with. For example, about 15 miles from where I live is the potato capital of Florida. What if you went out there and tried to trade potatoes you have grown for something you need? You'd probably be laughed at. On the other hand if you arrived out there with sugar cane or wheat you would be in a powerful position to trade. If you are in an area where the majority of people already raise their own animals you can stock vet medicines. Put back wide-spectrum antibiotics such as Combiotic as well as syringes. People with animals will need medicines to keep them healthy. Veterinarian medicines can also be used on people. Talk about a dual purpose bartering item!

Animals themselves could also be traded. Again it should be noted that you should not trade the best of your stock. Keep these are breeders and treat them well. Rabbits are extremely prolific and would be great trade items. Same with chickens. Dogs will be worth there weight in gold. Remember the second tier of the pyramid- security. Those who have something will want dogs for security aspects. Isn't it funny that you would have to give away puppies of "mutts" today but in the future people might be willing to trade great items for them. Editor's note- American Survival guide edited part of this section where I discussed that your dogs could be a food source also, in a worst case situation. As the editor of ASG put it- "We can't have PETA protesting out front of our office." The point remains the same, dogs are also "dual use."

You should be noticing something in my recommendations. All of these items can be useful to you as well. Food you can eat, dogs can help protect you, etc.

Common items that are inexpensive now may very well be invaluable in the future. Look for goods that would be hard to make without the modern mass production manufacturing process. How could clothes be repaired without sewing needles? Ever try to make mosquito screen? How about motor oil? Examine common items you would need for long term survival and ask yourself a question. With a few simple hand tools could I make this item? Then ask yourself if there is a substitute for that item. Start thinking!

Food gathering materials would include snarewire, fishing line, hooks, split shot, floats, extra seeds, traps and basic hand tools for gardening. Use your head, don't buy 10 shovels, but 6 shovels and 4 extra handles. Insect sprays might be extremely helpful in controlling pests that spread diseases. Mason jars, extra lids and preservatives might also be useful for bartering. Shop around and get the best deals possible. During spring and early summer many Big lots discount stores sell vegetable seed packets for around $.10 cents each. No these are not non-hybrids but they will more than do for bartering. Be sure to try to get a discount if you buy items in quantity. I saved 1 cent per seed packet when I bought 726 packets.

Other items to consider: matches, batteries, pencils, rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, bleach (for water purification and disinfection), nails, screws, shoes or boots, socks, underwear and other types of clothing, aspirin, cord, mosquito screen, needles, thread, buttons and motor oil. All of these can be had for a couple of bucks and will trade for many tmes more in the future.

If you have a useful skill that can be a great bartering asset as well. Medical skills are the first to come to mind. Doctors, PA's, nurses and others medically trained will be in high demand. Other skills that may be useful include: dentists, herbalists and homeopaths, veterinarians, engineers and others with construction know how, mechanics, blacksmiths, gunsmithgs, butchers, bakers and candlestick makers! You will almost always be able to barter your skills for things you need.

The articles listed are mere recommendations and the opinions expresed in this article may not fall in with your specific beliefs. The article serves to offer a different- and lower cost- approach to the classic ideas of survival bartering. Sooner or later after the crash and economy of some sorts will begin to take shape. It wouldn't hurt to have some items put back to barter that would also be useful to you. Having a skill that will be a necessity after the crash will also be handy.


Editor's notes- 10 years have passed since I wrote this article but little has changed in my thinking regarding barter.

Little has also changed on my thinking regarding gold and silver for survival bartering. "Well chickens aren't that portable, you can't carry a pocketful of chickens to barter with." Granted. The assumption every one makes it that "sometime after the collapse some sort of normalcy will come back" and that people will start using gold and silver as a currency. Perhaps, but what's to say people will suddenly stop bartering? Is there truly enough gold and silver in PRIVATE HANDS to fund this "new currency?" Remember, we tend to think in OUR OWN PERSPECTIVE, i.e, as survivalists. Sheeple have no gold or silver stored. How many survivalists are there? How many other people storing gold and silver are out there? Honestly, there is more chance of paper dollars being used as a currency years after the collapse then gold and silver because there is more of it out there, the only thing is lacks is true value! More than likely, some form of barter will continue until some new form of currency (probably not dollars, gold or silver) will take hold.

The best idea i've heard of for use of gold and silver is for paying your property taxes during a long economic slide/ala "slow depression" type scenario.


I realize my view on gold and silver isn't popular and it has caused a lot of flak towards me from the "material" oriented survivalists. I honestly don't care to be popular, just to try to help you survive. As always, we welcome opposing opinions on these subjects.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Archived Article- City versus Country

Archived article from www.survivalreport.net

As previously stated we are going to use this venue to archive old blog posts from the main site listed above. RH

City versus Country- copyright April 2007 Robert Henry

For years it was commonly accepted that a survivor living in the country had a much better chance of making it than his citybound counterpart. A lot has changed in the way of demographics, social climate and independence in the last 20 years that may have changed some of this thinking.

For the most part, gone are the days of the notion that all country people are good. Per capita the crime rates are probably fairly similar to what they are in the city. The big plus simply being that less people around= less chances for major problems. The lack of decent employment, lesser living conditions and drug use can be directly linked to this increase. Overall, the general downturn of moral values in this country is to blame.

The country was once looked upon where boys would develop into men via hard farm work. Not much hand labor is done on farms any more, especially on the larger farms. Much of the country attributes adherent to the "old school" of moral values has went the way of the dinosaur. Even here in the "Bible belt" this is true.

The lack of character, selfishness and poor moral value once thought mainly to reside with easy living city folk is now broadcast via satellite TV into most every rural house in the country. Yes, TV plays a major part in it.

When we left Florida 8 years old we left behind any TV service. When I think of the time I wasted over the years mindlessly flipping channels looking for something to drain my brain, honestly, I feel ashamed. And you should too. So often you find people with there TV sets on constantly, even when no one is watching. WTH is the point in that? Is it that we have become so morally bankcrupt and alone that we must at least "sense" that others are near us even when they are not?

I love to see people on the message boards whining and moaning that they don't have enough money to prep. Ask those same types what happened on TV last night and they will have plenty of answers for you then. There family will starve one day but at least they can be "programmed" now.

Years ago I had a friend that was absolutely mesmerized by the TV. I was actually quite funny to watch him when it was on- for all practical purposes he was no longer even in the room.

A lot of would be survivalists think that they are going to get some type of firsthand information on when to bug out from the TV and therefore justify watching it for that reason. Fox news or some other channel "may" offer some breaking news to an event before it's censored but the real question is will you ACT on it? What if the information is there but cannot be "verified?" Are you willing to put your plans into affect then? If not, you might be waiting too late, especially if you are one of those that must bug out in a disaster.

OK back to city and country....

So basically what I'm saying is that for the most part, you are not going to find the Sheriff Taylor and Aunt Bee type morals in the country anymore.

A short ride through a rural area will also show you that not everyone that resides in the country is self sufficient or has the land necessary for such. In most cases, neither will the skills for that type of living be found in the country any more also.

So why then bother with getting out of the cities?

Population density

In my view, it's a simple question of numbers. In the country you may have 100 people living within a 5 mile radius, 90% of which are not able to go 2 weeks without outside assistance.

In the city, you may have 100,000 living within a 5 mile radius, 99% of which are not able to go 2 weeks without assistance.

What do you suppose those 100,000 folks are going to do? Sit quietly and die? Ain't gonna happen.

You hear this non-sense bantied around sometimes about subdivisions (we've covered some of why this won't work before), how some survivalists have these grand plans of "organizing" there subdivisions and blocking roads in and surviving a disaster that way. MIGHT WORK for the short term disaster, I.e, Hurricane. Will NOT work for the long term. You cannot be the only well fed person in a community of two or three hundred and expect it to go unnoticed.

So if not the city, and the country isn't what it's cracked up to be, then what?

I think the best option long term (again, no "2 week" prep BS here) is going to be living in the country but being by yourself, i.e, not a part of a small town. Yes this goes against what Tappan and others wrote 30 years ago. However a LOT has changed with small cities in the last 30 years. However, your also going to have to bring some friends with you (i.e, survivalists) or invite them there, you won't be able to do it all on your own.

You are absolutely going to have to have a minimal amount of land in order to produce enough food to live long term. You cannot raise enough food to live on in an apartment or even in a backyard in suburbia. Sorry, ain't gonna happen, I don't care what Square foot gardening books you've read or how pretty your raised beds are. Remember when your growing food for survival, you have to grow enough to eat fresh now AND enough to get you through to the next harvest (next year). Did I mention you'll have to save enough seed for next year also? Did I mention you won't be making a trip to the nursery for seedlings, or the feed store for new stock? Did I mention your going to have to grow grains for yourself and your livestock also?

Everyone has there "pet" scenarios and situations that they feel will cause TSHTF. I try not to concentrate on the scenario but rather how it will affect me and those around me. One thing that will likely happen as a result of most scenarios is a famine. It follows war like a shadow (so does epidemics). Most every scenario we envision includes a disruption of shipping and trucking- a possible trigger for food shortages. Various NBC scenarios will bring about famine situations. An invasion or takeover by hostile forces (foreign or domestic) would see a small scale famine (never forget, FOOD IS POWER).

So I've put a lot into having the resources both in land, equipment, supplies and most importantly experience to be able to raise our own food over and above the necessary level of food in storage. It's a learning curve to be sure, but luckily we are mid way through our curve.

What about less than a total collapse?

I still cannot see why a city location would fare better than a well prepared country location. Only in situations involving a serious scarcity of fuel would this be a problem. Only a problem if work had to be obtained a great distance away.

This is one of the main reasons keeping many survivalists from moving to the country now- work and money concerns.

5 years ago, when the housing bubble wasn't leaking air... I advocated that folks in high priced areas who had lived there for a while (and therefore had adequate equity built up) who had seen some of the dramatic appreciation (can you still call it that now?) in there homes should sell out and move to the country. A chipboard McMansion bought for $90,000. in the late 90's that could be sold for $250,000. in 03 or 04 could have set the seller up very nicely in the country. The seller could have cleared out the debt he had (the $90K sans any equity) and could have put $160K in his pocket to buy a house and land in the country. In essence entirely reversing his course in life. Going from paying out $800.00 or more a month in mortgage to being debt free AND owning a modest home.

In addition, this lack of mortgage would give the seller the ability to WORK FOR LESS MONEY in the country. There would not be the "need" to make the extra money offered for a similiar city job due to the fact that $800.00 or more (with higher property taxes and insurance) would NOT be needed for the family budget. This in turn would increase the TRUE "quality of life" for the person. Unfortunately when most people talk about "quality of life" it means having more junk, better junk, a house much bigger than is actually needed, etc. By "true quality of life" I mean being able to spend time with your family, a house that's truly a home for the family, etc.

I know quite a few that were not scared and did this. Most of the worldly city bound wanna-be's chickened out, not willing to give up there psuedo-lives in the city. I'd be willing to bet quite a few of them are regretting it and more than a few will be as we hit hard economic times very soon. (Editor's note- this was written in early 2007)

"So if we live by ourselves in the country, will that work?"

Probably not.

Why? Numbers. I've shown before here on the blog and in the "long long ago" on the shortwave radio show how it takes teamwork to survive. The single family approach probably won't work for a number of reasons-

1. Unless it's a family the size Jacob had (12 sons) there will likely not be enough manpower to mount an effective guard duty. I would say at a bare minimum it takes 4 people to maintain a 24 hour guard duty for 1 position. Also, those 4 people aren't going to be able to do much else besides guard duty. This leaves the women folk (that might not be used as guards) to handle the majority of the day to day work at the retreat- gardening, animal husbandry, preserving food, cooking food, washing clothes, taking care of the children, teaching children, etc. We will have an upcoming article soon relating to this.

2. The single family will usually lack the essential mix of skills necessary for long term survival. My family could build, fix or maintain just about any structure, dwelling or piece of equipment you could imagine. However none of them outside of myself know squat about anything medical. None of them know anything about growing food or preserving it. If you attempt to go the single family route, you MUST know the weaknesses in your family structure, both in skillsets and on the personal level.

3. Nine times out of ten there is really only one family member "into" preparedness. The rest for all practical purposes are baggage. Consider this carefully when you get into a group situation. Some people by there very nature are lazy, others are troublemakers, quite a few excel at both . Don't kid yourself, if you are inviting family members that are not prepared and they make no efforts to be that way now, you must prepare for them! No two ways about it, they will be a burden to your supplies, plan accordingly. This goes doubly for the "friends" that have told you the dreaded "I know where I'm coming when I get hungry" non-sense. Unless you can honestly and truthfully say that you could do them harm (which has serious consequences both here and later), you will need to stock food for them also. The whole idea of "butter knife" weapons to hand out to people you barely know (neighbors, acquantances, etc.) is ridiculous. Better to stock food for them than expecting them to be your unpaid and unfed mercenary. Sometimes it helps to take the rose colored survival fantasy glasses off and consider realistically the scenarios you plan for.

Back to an earlier blog post where I stated that after much thought and consideration I came to the conclusion long ago that you absolutely had to be a part of a functioning, established (not thrown together at the last minute, "kabobble" group) group to make it long term.

I realize this is a lot for people to swallow. A lot of people now a days aren't willing to take drastic steps on there own. Few and far between are the truly independent types of yester year. However if you truly want to survive, your going to have to learn to be a leader, to be the one that steps up to the plate and gets things done.

After all, isn't that what being a survivor is all about?

Hope this helps