Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Face of a Networked Tribe (Part Two)

A few days ago I took a stab at trying to describe one of the many faces of what networked tribes might look like in the coming years. Today, we'll look at another aspect - how might those with some wealth and influence in their communities survive in an era of radical politics, angry demagoguery and the disruption of economic life as we have known it?

Face Number Two - Huey Long Meets ELF, Hilarity Does Not Ensue

Let's say you, or someone you know, finds himself sitting in a very nice home some time in early 2008, thinking about the future. Let's call him Dan. The end of 2007 marked a horrible time in financial and employment markets, as a derivatives debacle caused a collapse in over 1,000 hedge funds and took the broader markets down with them as highly-leveraged equity and bond plays had to be unwound. In addition, employment crashed, breaking the 9% unemployed number after the housing downturn took hold - and that percentage is just the official number. Combined with the huge spike in oil prices that occurred after Israel struck Iranian nuclear sites at Arak and Natanz, plunging the U.S. into a wider war with Iran - things are looking grim for most Americans.

But not for Dan. He had cashed out of the markets back in the spring of 2007 and sold off a portfolio of rental homes back in 2006. In a vault in his basement he holds cash and precious metals, along with dehydrated food, a few firearms and plenty of ammunition. He seems prepared.

The more he thinks about it, though, he is almost more vulnerable than his less-fortunate fellow citizens who are bankrupt or struggling to make ends meet.

The headlines scream at him from him laptop every morning when he logs on to review the news.

"Rich Profit From the Poor Who Lose Their Homes"

"Free Markets Are Not-So-Free for the Bankrupt"

"Flooding Blamed on Carbon Emissions, Two Coal Trains Attacked at Switchyard"

"Time for the Wealthy to Pay Their Fair Share Says Senator"

"Local Utility Shuts Down Generators at Dam Facility After Bomb Threat"

"Unused Property Should Be Seized and Given to the Homeless Says Local Activist Group"

"Climate Change 'Traitors' Killed in Car Bombing Outside Local Country Club"

"Farmland Seized by County Authorities - Unsustainable Farming Practices Cited"

And those are just the mild stories. Dan knows that changes in taxes and property laws are coming. It is unlikely that those changes would be creative or structured to support growth or at least stability. Dan has read his history and his socionomics and knows that in times of waxing negative mood, the dark, irrational impulses in human nature are released, often with devastating effect.

In a world where property makes you a target, in a world where progress and economic growth itself is blamed for all the ills of society (and even as 'traitorous' against the Earth), how does someone of material wealth secure his life and fortune as well as that of his family?

Action Items
  1. If you are a man or woman of wealth (assuming your wealth survives to some degree after the coming derivatives collapse that I expect hits markets) in what form is your wealth concentrated? Are you heavy in property? Stocks? Do you have cash on hand? It is strongly suggested (but this is NOT investment advice) that you have cash and other tangible goods on hand, ready to barter with or to aid your associates and those you choose to favor.
  2. What about "social wealth" - by that I mean your networked tribe - how extensive is it? Are people friendly to you based on family or personal loyalty - or do you have to buy most of your friends and associates? Take stock of your tribe. Be very realistic. If you don't like the results, start building up your network of family and friends as best you can.
  3. Get to know soldiers returning from Iraq. If you have property, especially arable land, consider making an offer to any local combat soldiers who return from Iraq. Let them use a portion of your property or sell it to them, but hold the note yourself. Basically, offer these combat-proven men a chance at a place to live and the ability to either find a job or grow some of their own food or something along those lines. Give some money to your local VFW. Throw a big Memorial Day festival with your own money and make sure you get to know local vets. Build a feudal tie with them. When the time comes, having a few battle-hardened men who are a member of your tribe will come in handy.
  4. Keep an eye on the political scene. In times of stress laws, especially those governing property, taxation and, more recently (as shown by their creative use in Russia) the environment can change rapidly to the detriment of proprety owners and investors who made smart plays and wound up rich while the vast majority of investors wound up bankrupt. Be ready to sell or abandon property. Be ready to make deals with local politicos - those folks are going to loot the system for all it is worth when the time comes. The best you can hope for is to avoid the worst of the rising flood of stupidity and anger.
  5. Be ready to flee. Have an exit strategy, whether it is getting out of your town, your state or your country.

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