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Gold, Silver and Need to Know

gold and silverI recently overheard a conversation that reminded me of several mistakes many “preppers” or “survivalists” make.

First, each guy was loudly telling the other one about all of his specific preparations and how they were better than the other fellow. It reminded me of how most everyone is more concerned about having their own beliefs affirmed than in doing whatever the very best thing happens to be. It so happens that one guy was arguing for the value of gold in a crisis where the other guy was arguing for silver.

The owner of all the silver argued that the smaller denominations of silver coins would make for much easier bartering and that gold had already seen a huge price appreciation, and thus silver was “cheap”. Now, I don’t have the space in this column to fully evaluate those assertions. Furthermore, while I think each person should own some silver, gold has historically proven to be the ideal commodity with which to both hedge disaster and use as a medium for exchange.

However, the silver lover was also explaining how he kept all of his silver in a safety deposit box. I wondered what value that would give him if the bank were to close (long term or short), be destroyed in a natural disaster, or if it were inaccessible for one reason or another, (such as a complete infrastructure collapse or a plague or virus that prevented traveling). In my mind he had compounded one mistake (relying on silver rather than gold) with another by storing it in a place that was vulnerable and potentially inaccessible.

Of course, in this conversation the gold lover wasn’t much better. He gloated about how much gold he had purchased, where he had stored it in his house, and even how he had buried some in his yard and the particular tree he buried it next to as a reminder. Had I been inclined, I could easily have visited his home, learned his habits, and entered his home when he was away and collected tens of thousands of dollars of gold. In a crisis, many people will not hesitate to violate your rights if it will benefit them, and the prospect of a bunch of gold to a starving person will represent an enormous temptation.

Whether the issue is gold or silver, heirloom seeds or genetically modified, you shouldn’t make it a habit to engage in debate over these matters, even with friends or family. First, they are not likely to change their mind or alter their preparations simply because you tell them to. We have a tendency to judge (or discount) what our acquaintances tell us because we don’t see them as an expert in much of anything, and if we do, it’s not likely to be this particular topic of conversation. Secondly, if your theory proves to be the more accurate, they’re going to resent you. Finally, they, and anyone else who was a party to the conversation (directly or after it is related to them), will know what your preparations have been. Then you’ll be a target.

It may sound cheesy but it’s a very serious lesson you should embrace – “need to know”. In the military and in government, “need to know” is an important and respected method to protect important information. Every additional person in on the “secret” represents a geometrically greater probability of the information falling into the hands of those who you most want to keep it from. In this case, it’s not in your best interest for your brother-in-law, neighbor, coworker, or anyone beyond your immediate family to know of your preparations or your mindset. At best you’ll show up on a list, and at worst you become a target. This is a lesson for you, your spouse, children, or anyone else you have decided to let in on your preparations for living off the grid, and you must emphasize with them that it is a life and death matter.

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