Getting Out of Dodge

Getting Out of Dodge

By

Cognitive Dissonance

 

 

Recently I received an email from a reader who asked for some feedback regarding a decision he was about to make. He’s in his early 50’s, single with an adult child and is considering resigning from his well paid and secure job in order to gain access to his substantial pension fund, which represents at least two thirds of his total wealth.

Why would he do such a crazy thing? Well, when he considers the growing financial, political, social, environmental and resource disruptions, he feels it may make sense to retrieve his pension now before the dollar devaluation accelerates and his pension fund loses significant purchasing power or is substantially lost to government decree and Wall Street greed.

He has talked to friends and acquaintances about what’s going on in the world these days and his thoughts about getting out and moving on with his life in a more prudent and thoughtful manner. All believe he’s nuts. Gone round the bend in fact.

So, he turned to me for some feedback (an “informed perspective” he said, though I’m not too sure about the informed part) carefully explaining he understands this is his decision alone and he’s responsible for any and all consequences of any action he may pursue.

Wow! Someone who is actually considering a radical life change and is already burning his get-out-of-jail-free victim card. What a refreshingly rare and responsible point of view. He actually led with that in his email and I couldn’t help but sit up and take notice.

Clearly this person warranted a detailed and in-depth response from me, if for no other reason than to show respect for his maturity and forthrightness. What follows below is a much expanded and edited version of my thoughts, which I promptly emailed back to him.

It should be fully acknowledged this person’s situation is pretty unique. Being single with one adult child removes potentially significant obstacles to any life change and/or relocation plan. If the significant other or spouse is not fully on board, the chance of success is greatly diminished. There is no other way to present this than to say a house divided cannot stand and will likely fall.

Even if your spouse (male or female, it really doesn’t matter) is of like mind, rebellious and disgruntled children can also be disastrous, particularly if they are like so many modern teenagers who are fully plugged into the social media matrix. Hell hath no fury like a teenager being forcibly extracted from the maw of the local social milieu.

I have no solution to offer for this type of family situation. When considering getting out of Dodge, a life altering situation under the best of conditions, all prior life decisions come back into play in one form or another. To force the issue invites near certain failure. But doing nothing may also lead to the same outcome. Many a marriage has failed when subjected to this type of stress.

A basic assumption of my writing in general, and this article in particular, is the reader’s growing awareness that something is very wrong in the world and it isn’t going to get better on its own. How you personally deal with family situations of this magnitude while also preparing for global socioeconomic degradation is beyond the scope of this article.

Those looking for a bullet point list of items and actions to follow will be disappointed. Everyone’s journey is unique and a detailed road map is pretty much useless. However, one can highlight significant road blocks, natural barriers, fraudulent schemes and bureaucratic boondoggles pretty much everyone will encounter.

If there’s one question Mrs. Cog and I bat around on a weekly basis, with no easy or simple answer ever produced between us, it is the following. Why aren’t more supposedly awake and aware people actually making serious life changing preparations for the tough times which are quite obviously coming round the bend? And I mean somewhat radical “sell the children and home, quit the job and cash out the 401(k), load up the vehicles and get the hell out of Dodge“ type of preparations.

Clearly this is more a question of human conditioning, assimilated propaganda and aberrant/neurotic psychology than a simple matter of spotting black storm clouds or a tornado funnel on the horizon and fleeing for the hills. There appear to be three primary responses to the approaching socioeconomic insanity and umpteen millions of different ways to create our own particular psychological stew.

  • Self-absorbed indifference, deliberate distraction or obsessive preoccupation (Oh look honey, a black swan. How cute!)
  • Growing concern (Lions, tigers and bears, oh my!)
  • Sheer panic (We’re all going to die a horrible death!)

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the last two plus decades, it’s that the coming collapse/crumble will take far longer than you’d think could ever be possible. Sure, there is a clear and present danger of currency devaluations, market dislocations and heart stopping whooshes further down into the black hole of our socioeconomic abyss. The End of Empire is an ugly bloody mess, and this time we’re talking about a special ugly on a scale never before witnessed in human history.

There will be much blood and suffering, of this I am certain.

But when so many people, places and things are crowded into one huge Ponzi, the bailouts are guaranteed to continue, though the escalation will be exponential. When all their chips have been pushed to the center of the table in an all-in bet, what’s a few more dead on the side of the road if they can keep the Ponzi going just a little while longer? The can will get kicked down the road again and again and again, each time with ever larger casualties and massively more blood in the streets.

The rules of the game will be changed, then changed again and again in order to keep those with the most skin in the game from feeling any significant pain. While, ultimately, it’s a fool’s errand even for them, power and money will always make sure others bleed out on the floor before they miss even one meager meal. Greed and self-interest know no bounds, particularly among those who wield great wealth and power.

I don’t know how it will all play out, nor do I need to know in order to know it will eventually end. But not now; not yet. There is still plenty of loot left to plunder by all the blood sucking parasites presently engaged in exploiting the vast array of weaker minions. Always remember the proximity alarm in your head sounds louder than it truly is. This doesn’t mean there’s no danger; only that the world has been ending for a very long time.

However, just because the socioeconomic system can rattle, bang and clang down the road for however much longer it manages to do so doesn’t mean nothing will change until everything changes. With each successive crisis, the means, ability and will to break free narrows and decays exponentially.

While I think outright panic is rarely appropriate, the old saying “He who panics first, panics best” might just be applicable here. There is no Superman coming to save the day, no fearless leader who materializes from the ether to smite the evil doers and drain the fetid swamp. This is deliberately promoted infantile thinking designed to freeze the mind and paralyze the body into inaction. The time is now to begin implementing Plan A while triple checking your Plan B for flaws.

What, you have no Plan A, let alone a Plan B? What, exactly, are you waiting for?

If you live where your basic needs (food, water, sewer, electricity, employment etc.) are provided almost exclusively by government or corporate entities, in my opinion, sheltering in place is neither a workable nor practical solution. If water stops coming out of your tap, the poo backs up in the toilet, the power stops powering or the food store has no more food (or you are prevented/restricted from visiting the food store) precisely what are you planning to do?

Regardless of the political party who ‘wins’ next month, higher taxes and fees are coming. Of this there is no doubt. Under cover of ever increasing corporate and elite bailouts, wealth re-distribution aka ‘government transfers’ and escalating government debt service, the middle class will be forcibly separated from whatever little wealth remains. Plan accordingly.

Regarding your retirement account, 401(k), defined benefit pension or any other type of long-term pre-tax savings/investment, it is most likely qualified money, meaning it has not been taxed. Most employer sponsored plans cannot be accessed in full until you sever your employment and/or ‘retire’.

Even then, there are special rules regarding early distributions of money that might involve being penalized and taxed.  Ask questions from multiple sources. Don’t be surprised if you get conflicting answers and don’t stop asking once you get the answer you want to hear. Many people claim to know, but few actually do. Do your homework before, not after.

Paying taxes (and possibly penalties) now to release the money for your use might be better than paying higher taxes later with the hope it’s still accessible. Bail-ins are still very much on the table, and they won’t be restricted to just the banks.

Bottom line, it simply isn’t your money unless you have full and unfettered access to it at any time. Even then the game remains rigged, just slightly less so. While many will balk at paying taxes and penalties in order to gain access to ‘their’ money, you are playing in a rigged game with marked cards, a crooked dealer and under rules that guarantee the house never loses. The money scam prevents, or at least severely inhibits, you from actually using what is purported to be yours, enabling Wall Street and government to continuously extract their yearly pound of flesh.

Rules and laws governing pre-tax ‘qualified’ retirement money (actually any and all assets for that matter) will almost certainly change as governments frantically search for more tax income. Trillions of un-taxed dollars locked away in retirement accounts will be an irresistible target for spendthrift congressional critters looking for the next captured asset to tax and spend.

Each individual’s financial/life situation is unique, so don’t accept one-size-fits-all boilerplate financial advice as expert and appropriate. Self-educate yourself, at a minimum, in the basics. Know when to do it yourself and when to hire an expert. This financial stuff is difficult for professionals to do properly, particularly financial planning when the world has gone insane. The key word here is ‘properly’.

All our (financial) assets are in play, regardless whether or not we’re aware of this fact. Do you think you own ‘your’ home free and clear? Just don’t pay your local real estate taxes for several years, then try to explain that to the sheriff when he or she comes to remove you from ‘your’ property.

While there is no ‘new world’ one may flee to escape the insanity, there remain places in this world and this country where the local population is much less likely to tolerate constant intrusions from authorities. And probably more important, the concentration of wealth is so minimal those in power won’t waste much time when other locations and populations are more available and vulnerable to loot and pillage.

When governments, corporations and wealthy individuals become desperate, they will change the rules to favor them while describing it as done to help us. Count on it. So traditional financial advice and planning is likely to prove useless or even dangerous to your financial health.

Pay off or down as much debt as possible. There are arguments for and against doing so, but the bottom line is less debt hanging means less income needed. If you (must) live in a (big) city or suburb because that’s where the good paying job is you need in order to service your debts and lifestyle, you are effectively trapped and dependent upon others placing your best interest above theirs.

But......and this is a big but......understand government will continue to bail out irresponsible entities while punishing prudence. This puts you and I on special notice we are vulnerable to pillage. The old rules no longer apply except when they do. Flexibility of mind, body, living situation and income are a must-have personal use item to weather the coming storm.

I put mind first for a reason. A person stuck in the mud mentally and emotionally will be shot in the mud and left for dead after all assets have been extracted or destroyed. We have entered the age of sociopathy, a mindset and perspective entirely foreign to our own personal experience and worldview.

Once enabled and activated as they are today, these sociopaths will use any and all means available to survive and thrive. And until we fully recognize this fact and withdraw our consent in mass, we are bringing at best a dull knife to an all-out war.

Hope is not a viable survival strategy.

The absolutely worst thing we can say to others and think to ourselves is “they will never do that”. Because ‘they’ can and ‘they’ will. A superficial review of ancient and modern world history confirms this to be the case. Never underestimate the depravity of the sociopath class nor our incredible capacity to remain in denial and believe what we want to believe.

It is imperative we understand our true motivation for what we are planning to do. If we are simply running away from something, we have a much higher probability of extreme dissatisfaction or outright failure. Geographic cures don’t work because we bring our fears and problems with us. We cannot run from ourselves, therefore any attempt to do so is simply applying a paper veneer of little substance and durability to something with sharp edges and rough surfaces.

On the other hand, if we are moving towards a more sustainable and satisfying way of life (consume less of what we want and produce more of what we need) we are much more likely to be happy and succeed. Move forward with a defined goal and realistic expectations rather than running away in fear and apprehension.

It takes bravery and courage to live the life of a contrarian, aka a social rebel. The system is designed to reward social compliance and discipline runaways. Many people will not, cannot, emotionally walk the walk. The road is long, lonely and not well traveled. This is why we must move with purpose rather than fear. Accept in advance you are journeying pretty much alone.

Wherever you go to settle, be respectful of the native population. Don’t force your way in. Present yourself as helpful, courteous, respectful, kind and resourceful. People appraise you based upon first impressions and they will favorably notice if you are quietly respectful. Be fully aware they can smell fake and disingenuous a mile away, just as you can.

If you are virtue signaling your attempted assimilation into the local community or trying to act like a ‘local’, you will be seen for the fraud you are and be marked as persona non grata, particularly if you have moved into a small, tight knit community.

It’s actually OK to be an outsider, so long as you are respectful of the locals and attempt to honestly and gently assimilate. Please and thank you, as well as a warm smile consistently and genuinely applied, go a long way toward paving the path to community acceptance.

Many people who live, or recently lived, in a dense population center develop subconscious psychological coping techniques that are glaringly obvious to those who live in a more laid-back environment. It expresses not just in our words and actions, but our body language, facial expressions and general mannerisms, creating an obstacle to rewarding and fulfilling rural living and community integration.

A universal human need is to be ‘seen’ and acknowledged by our fellow human beings, something which would quickly send us into overload if we practiced consistent ‘seeing’ of others in a crowded urban environment. Without conscious thought, we erect and maintain barriers that, while mostly invisible to the city dweller, are obvious and considered rude and standoffish to those living a more relaxed life.

If you have lived this way all your life, it’s nearly impossible to completely turn it off in an instant since it’s mostly unconscious and reflexive in nature. But this tendency must be overcome to some extent by first acknowledging its existence, then deliberately and consistently working to counter the effects. Just because it’s not obvious to us doesn’t mean it’s not glaringly obnoxious to others.

Act as if you are a gracious and thankful guest of the community rather than the absolute owner of your property with inalienable rights. I personally try to bring the same attitude to the community as I do to ‘my’ property. While I may have paid for the legal deed and the ‘right’ to the property, mother nature actually owns it and I’m just the live-in caretaker.

If you don’t believe me, try not cutting the lawn for a year or two. Both our property and our community need constant attention, care and consideration. To think otherwise means we are living off our seed corn. Things begin to break down immediately after the first bite.

Spend your money locally if at all possible, even if it is more expensive to do so. Ask those you come into contact with for references to local professional services. Bring your vehicle to the local repair shop for simple repairs, and purchase food and other needed items from local stores, shops and eateries. Price is not your first consideration; using local stores and services is. Hire the local HVAC, plumbing, electrical, carpentry, pest control, septic tank pumping etc. services whenever possible.

Volunteer if requested or if the need is obvious. Demonstrate your value to the community, but be subtle while doing so. Listen twice as much as you talk and talk slower than you normally would. Remember, rural living moves at a slower pace than city life. You do not want to be perceived as a fast-talking city slicker looking down your nose at the country folk. That is the kiss of death for any plans to assimilate into the local community.

When times get tough, the locals will decide if they should eat you, abandon you or protect you. That question will have been answered long before they fire up the stew pot. It will be based upon your actions in the recent past. If you bring value to the community via social and practical skills, knowledge and/or assets, they might decide you’re the last to be eaten.

All kidding aside, integrate as best as you can because your life may very well depend upon it. But always do so gently and respectfully. Doing so will pay dividends sometime in the future. Or not. Regardless, give of yourself with no expectation of return.

Much of your standing in the community will be based upon your durability. Many wannabe homesteaders and city escapees are little more than one hit wonders who quickly pull up stakes and move back to more familiar ground (usually back to the city) after one of two years of rural living.

Aside from the difficult physical work, lack of experience in their new life style and initial cold shoulder from the locals, the relative isolation, lousy internet connectivity and long travel distances needed to procure just about anything one needs is a brutal splash of cold water in the face of the recently relocated wannabe.

The locals have seen it time and time again and know better than to welcome with open arms an outsider who usually doesn’t last more than one or two winters. Be patient, for you need to overcome the mistakes of those who came before you in order to be accepted. Perseverance, determination and consistency are valuable commodities when living in a rural setting. The locals will notice when you demonstrate these qualities.

And don’t underestimate the value and impact of demonstrated kindness and charity.

For example, our second winter here on the mountain, an elderly couple down the road was struggling to cope with the simple act of maintaining their outdoor wood stove boiler, the only source of heat and hot water in their home. We quickly decided to help and twice a day trekked down to their place to feed wood into their boiler, clear snow from the drive and walkways and check in on them to make sure all was well.

It was the right thing to do, so we did it. That’s what community is all about, doing for others when the need exists. It was only later, during the following spring, when we discovered the wider community had taken notice and our social standing had risen because of it. The change was subtle, but clear. The locals discovered we could be more than just damn Yankees. Without intending it to be, it was a turning point for us within the community.

Develop multiple sources of income by either repurposing existing personal skills or developing new skill sets that not only are marketable, but could be of value to your new community if the need arises. Mrs. Cog and I now have six streams of income and are working on more. As one fades, another tends to pick up the slack. We have never been so busy, but our quality of life is off the charts.

Swapping one McMansion for another in a more rural setting is not the answer to a more sustainable and fulfilling way of life. While a considerable amount of our time is devoted to computer work that sustains several of our streams of income, we also have small business products and services we sell to the local community, furthering our goal of slow and steady community assimilation.

But a major family focus and significant time and physical effort is devoted to growing, canning and preserving much of our own food. While plenty of information is available regarding growing and preserving food, there is simply no substitute for local knowledge of weather, soil conditions, planting times and so on. You simply don’t know what you don’t know, but the locals do. Purchase what you need from local nurseries when possible and be sure to ask questions. Let them see you are interested in learning and in actually applying that knowledge.

Prepare for the worst, hope better than the worst actually materializes and do the best you can no matter how menial or insignificant the task. You are shaking up your life. Use this opportunity to make an honest and sustained effort to improve yourself in all matters. Never let a crisis go to waste, especially when you are in the driver’s seat and have precipitated the crisis. We all have personal defects we wish were gone. Now is the time to chip away at them.

For a very long time, modern society has made promises it simply can’t keep. The illusion those promises were being kept, mostly in the form of rising living standards, were forced into temporary existence by ever increasing financialization and the criminal exploitation of those whose lot in life was mostly determined by their place of birth.

The strife, disorder and manic socioeconomic frenzy we are now witnessing is little more than the machine beginning to disintegrate from the centrifugal forces created by the realization the game is rigged and those in power would just as soon squash us as feed us.

Ultimately our consent to participate in the farce, whether voluntary, coerced or simply conceded, is rapidly eroding. And that erosion is the acid that is quickly destroying the façade of shared power, wealth and the social contract. That lie, our lie, is quickly being exposed as self-evident.

An era is ending as sociopathy rises. Act accordingly.

 

10-11-2020

Cognitive Dissonance

 

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