Saturday, August 28, 2010

Surviving In A War Zone

I was reading a post about economic collapse, H/T Instapundit, and the handle of the guy making the following comment got my attention. Then I read deeper.

by Gully Foyle
on Thu, 08/26/2010 - 17:24

In addition to the Argentinian survivor post above.

From a Sarajevo War Survivor:

Experiencing horrible things that can happen in a war - death of parents and friends, hunger and malnutrition, endless freezing cold, fear, sniper attacks.

1. Stockpiling helps. but you never no how long trouble will last, so locate near renewable food sources.
2. Living near a well with a manual pump is like being in Eden.
3. After awhile, even gold can lose its luster. But there is no luxury in war quite like toilet paper. Its surplus value is greater than gold's.
4. If you had to go without one utility, lose electricity - it's the easiest to do without (unless you're in a very nice climate with no need for heat.)
5. Canned foods are awesome, especially if their contents are tasty without heating. One of the best things to stockpile is canned gravy - it makes a lot of the dry unappetizing things you find to eat in war somewhat edible. Only needs enough heat to "warm", not to cook. It's cheap too, especially if you buy it in bulk.
6. Bring some books - escapist ones like romance or mysteries become more valuable as the war continues. Sure, it's great to have a lot of survival guides, but you'll figure most of that out on your own anyway - trust me, you'll have a lot of time on your hands.
7. The feeling that you're human can fade pretty fast. I can't tell you how many people I knew who would have traded a much needed meal for just a little bit of toothpaste, rouge, soap or cologne. Not much point in fighting if you have to lose your humanity. These things are morale-builders like nothing else.
8. Slow burning candles and matches, matches, matches

I would advise that you don’t keep everything that you have in one location. I was forced to leave my house and take off with just my backpack and weapon. If you can, keep a bug out bag [cached] a few miles away from your house so that you could go to it, if you are forced to abandon your residence. Be prepared to not return to your home for years and try to have another place to live in another part of the country or even some other country. I was not able to go back to my home until years later. Stash as much ammo in different locations as you can. I did not have enough ammo in the first place and whatever I had was used or traded within first month of me leaving my home. Ammo was good trading currency and could get you a meal at any time. Local paper currency was basically worthless but if you had foreign currency, then you were in better shape. At that time German Mark was most popular currency in Europe and could get you anything in former Yugoslavia during the war. The Gold and Silver were good to have but it was harder to find someone that would accept gold and silver as form of payment .

People that lived in big towns also had their share of problems. If they lived in apartment buildings, they were dependent on central heat and when the things started to go bad, there was no more fuel to heat these apartments. Not that many people had wood burning stoves and the winters in Eastern Europe can get really cold. I would advise that if you don’t have a wood burning stove, to get one and store it somewhere until you need it. You will need it not just for heat but also for cooking. The people that had stoves or were able to obtain them or make them then had another problem, getting the firewood. If you live inside of city that is surrounded and you can’t just go outside of city and cut some trees down, obtaining firewood can become your daily battle for survival. Burning your furniture, books, park benches, trees from the parks and every other tree that you can find will be normal. I would advise that if you are going to have a stove either store at least one winter supply of firewood (if you have a place to store it at) or have a plan where you get that firewood when you need it. Another issue that people from the cities faced was the shortage of water. Some people ended up digging wells in the courtyard of their apartment buildings but majority of people who tried this were unsuccessful since they were digging where there was not water or old city utilities were under the places where they tried to dig. Most of the people were forced to make daily runs to water points and bringing the water back to their families. Water points were favorite targets for snipers. Having extra water jugs will help you minimize your visits to water points.

Since this is my first post, I will not make it too long and will stop here until the next time. - A Bosnian Survivor
For those of you not familiar with the Gully Foyle reference may I highly recommend:

The Stars My Destination (S.F.Masterworks)

I own three copies.

1 comment:

Neil said...

The post at the top of the comment you quote has a lot of the dynamics correct, but there's one big thing he missed.

The post describes a one-way hyperinflation, where the end-state is a New Dollar with the decimal point shifted to the left by several places, and everyone's savings are utterly destroyed. One of the key ingredients for that kind of hyperinflation is missing in the U.S.--an alternative currency. He actually alludes to this several time, saying that eventually things get back to normal because people want a medium of exchange. The reason hyperinflation happened so easily in other situation is because there was a ready alternative medium of exchange. Gold marks in Weimar Germany, the U.S. dollar in the South American hyper-inflations, the gold solidus in the Roman Empire (vice the inflated denarius). I'm not up on the details of Zimbabwe, but I believe it's common to do business in the South African Rand there. In all of these situations, as soon as people lost confidence in the national currency they just stopped accepting it as payment because they already had a ready alternate currency.

The U.S. tax and banking systems make it very difficult to do any kind of business in a currency other than the dollar. The IRS takes a bite out of you at every turn if you try. It would get far worse during a real hyperinflation. For that reason, I don't think things will work out the way he describes. Maybe there will be a run on Treasuries, almost certainly there will be a spike in commodities at some point. Imports will get expensive, gas will get outrageous, lots of day-to-day items will either be expensive or unavailable. But this will crash the economy (similar to 2008) and crash commodity prices with it. Quite a roller-coaster ride, but in the end you wind up roughly where you started, not with a New Dollar.

Hyper-inflation could happen here, but it will take more than a couple of years to change people's habits, business systems, and the tax code enough to start doing business in a parallel currency. I think this doesn't allow for a hyperinflation induced by a flash-crash like that post describes.