Tuesday, May 24, 2011


I've been reading S.M. Stirling's Change series lately, which begins with the book:

The premise is that in 1998, something happens around the world which eliminates all of Earth's high technology, particularly electronics and explosives.  It's alternate "history," with both utopian and distopian elements.

But reading the series has had me thinking about wealth.

See, in the Dying Time that followed the Change, very few people in the cities survived.  All our stockbrokers in New York?  Turned cannibal and/or died.  Wealth did not necessarily mean survival.

So, money is one kind of wealth... and sometimes it makes a difference, sometimes it doesn't.  A recent study of U.S. millionaires suggested that $7.5 million is required in order to feel wealthy.

Other books have other ideas.  Robert Kiyosaki, in his book Rich Dad, Poor Dad, emphasizes cash flow.  He promotes capital investments to provide a steady income that covers expenses.  Kiyosaki's advice is less concerned with paying off debt, and more concerned with being resourceful in finding income.

Other books advise living debt-free, to reduce the outflow.

But all of that, is still focused on money and the value of the dollar.  Which, while it is the basis for wealth in this world... was not nearly as important in the fictional time of the Change as food, land to grow food, and security.

Many / most financial advisors recommend having somewhere between 3 and 6 months worth of living expenses saved up in case of an emergency, layoff, etc. Many years ago, I read a book that talked about having a rotating pantry with six months worth of food in stock, so that groceries wouldn't be a concern in such an emergency.

I have to admit, after the power went out for nearly a week, having a good store of dry goods and cooking supplies begins to appeal.

Another form of wealth seems to be... self-sufficiency.  Having the farm, crops, and livestock to provide and/or trade for one's needs, without a lot of purchasing.  I have read stories about families that lived on farms during the Depression, where they had their own chickens, perhaps their own cow, and their large vegetable garden, so while it got tough, they could still eat.  That's the kind of wealth that comes to matter in the alternate world of The Change.

I didn't get into spiritual wealth this post.  Perhaps another time.