Yes, I’m rattling the begging bowl.
Beneath the veneer of normalcy, things are no longer working like they’re supposed to. Am I the only one who senses this? Many of you also sense that behind the screens of normalcy, once-reliable systems are unraveling. Things that were once solid are melting into air, and this presents us with a novel challenge. How do we respond to the unmooring without becoming unmoored ourselves?
Consider inflation. First we’re told the problem is we don’t have enough inflation, then when it soars we’re told it’s transitory, then we’re told it’s dropping back to the magic 2%, then it stays stubbornly high and a cacophony of shrill voices declares that either a deflationary collapse or hyper-inflation is around the corner.
In other words, nobody knows what the future holds. Where does that leave us? Searching for ways to understand the instability swirling around us.
Do I have all the answers? Absolutely not. But I do have a framework for understanding the next two decades.
This framework isn’t a magic ouija board that spits out recommendations for turning $100 into millions via trading zero-day expiration options (alas), but it does suggest pathways to solutions and ways to invest our time, energy and capital that we control.
The things that will reliably gain in value are largely ignored in the present mindset: these include control of our lives and assets, real-world skills, authenticity and trustworthy networks of other productive people. None of these can be bought off the shelf. These intangible assets are scarce and difficult to acquire, and so they will become more valuable.
I summarize this in my book
Self-Reliance in the 21st Century.
The tangible assets often touted as the “solution” are increasingly at risk of being taxed, expropriated, frozen or banned, for if history teaches us anything about eras of instability, it’s that the rules change overnight. Everything is predictable and secure until it isn’t.
That’s one source of the feeling that everything that was solid is melting into thin air: the rules just changed, and we know they’ll continue to change (usually to our disadvantage) as the status quo attempts to stay ahead of the cracks opening in the ground.
The key skill and asset in the next two decades will be adaptability, which is the difference between grounded optimism and empty optimism:
Doom Porn and Empty Optimism.
Clinging to what is unsustainable won’t work. What will work is the realistic optimism of adaptation. Adapting to fast-changing conditions is never easy, but it’s a grand adventure and the pathway of success.
In sum, I focus on what one reader described in this way: “money richness and wealth are vastly different animals.” Indeed. Wealth is far more than money.
I’m interested in what’s increasingly scarce and therefore valuable, for example common ground.
The number of issues that divide us is expanding like a supernova as polarization disintegrates what few islands
of common ground still exist. I’m interested in preserving the remaining islands of common ground and
establishing a few new ones.
The global economy is transitioning to degrowth, and this opens a path to a much more sustainable,
human-scale way of life that is antifragile rather than unstable and precarious.
Sure, we can cling to waste is growth, but why self-destruct when a brighter
I can’t help being frugal (see photo below) in both the tangible world and the world of ideas,
where I try to identify the core dynamics in play, for example,
What Happens When Complexity Unravels? (May 6, 2022) and Checking In On Five Long-Term Cycles.
I don’t expect you to agree with everything I post, or agree with any of it–that’s not my goal. I don’t
see content as a popularity contest, I see it as an opportunity to contribute to our
understanding of how best to respond to our shared and individual challenges. A mix of differing proposals
and critiques is essential to the process of adapting and moving forward. You and I are part of that process.
What I bring to the table is a lively interest in both real-world skills (see photo below of a favored tool for the past 50 years, a worm-drive Skilsaw) and a curiosity about systems, enterprises, evolutionary dynamics and economic / social transformations. Solutions can be systemic or individual. I’m interested in both, and the two come together in my books on
national renewal and self-reliance.
Yes, I’ve been shadow-banned by numerous entities, but so far I’ve avoided being renditioned to a
rat-infested cellblock in the ‘Stans, so life here on the margins is lively though not exactly lucrative.
Alas, I’m never going to mint a million on TikTok or YouTube.
I fear my photos of garden veggies are not going to mint me a million on OnlyFans, either. I confess this is a pure-writing site, leavened with charts from the Federal Reserve. (No wonder I’m shadow-banned, right?)
I tend to keep expectations low, as my experience tracks Churchill’s
definition of success: going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.
Which brings us back to inflation. Last year I rattled the begging bowl and asked 10 of you tens of thousands of readers to pony up $1 a month for the crazy-valuable (or just plain crazy) content here.
This year, I’m asking for (gasp) 15 of you to pony up $1 for the crazy-valuable (or just plain crazy) content here.
So here’s my question to you: are you one of the few,
the daring, the foolhardy, the insanely generous readers willing to
pony up a dollar a month to extend life-sustaining encouragement to the one-person content factory
here at Of Two Minds?
Those ponying up a Lincoln ($5) every month get the weekly Musings Reports, an incredible bargain
given what you get. The goal here at Of Two Minds is to not just scrape through crises
but emerge with greater skills, adaptability, health and real wealth–the kind that can’t be frozen
or expropriated because it’s social and experiential capital.
(A cushion of a few extra tools and quatloos is also a goal, as they may come in handy.)
If you are one of those rare and precious souls, please accept my sincere gratitude:
Yes, I’m rattling the begging bowl. Pennies and quatloos are gratefully accepted.
I’m asking you to consider becoming a patron or contributor. If you need a doorstop, paperweight or sleep-aid,
buy one of my books. Heck, buy one
as a doorstop and another as a paperweight; they work splendidly in these utilitarian roles.
Thank you very much for considering supporting this beggar’s content banquet. It’s soup to nuts. (Or sometimes, just plain nutty, but there’s always a bit of entertainment value in the nuttiness.)
Turmoil Ahead As We Enter The New Era Of ‘Scarcity’ (53 min)
My new book is now available at a 10% discount ($8.95 ebook, $18 print):
Self-Reliance in the 21st Century.
My recent books:
(Kindle $5, print $10, audiobook)
The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake (Novel)
$4.95 Kindle, $10.95 print);
read the first chapters
for free (PDF)
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|Thank you, James W. ($50), for your magnificently generous contribution
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