The Five Year Plan

SUBHEAD: A modest plan for attaining some self-sufficiency in a reasonable time could be an act of personal revolution.

By Juan Wilson on 4 March 2010 for Island Breath -

Image above: A all-pink, all-electric 1960's kitchen by Hotpoint. Is that Florence Henderson feeding Rod Serling a Ritz cracker topped with Cheese Whiz? From ( 

By Juan Wilson on 4 March 2010 for Island Breath -

It becomes clearer as we awaken from the American Dream. Our federal government, the state of Hawaii and Kauai County will be ineffective in countering the massive economic, cultural and environmental changes that we are passing through.

 All levels of government affecting our lives are now (or soon will be) bankrupt.

The agencies that in the past gathered taxes, created legislation, provided security, dispensed justice, educated youth and dispersed services will soon be incapable of doing much worthwhile. The crippling debt of the federal government is only supported by its privilege of printing money.

That will not be a fix when hyperinflation kicks in and US dollars are worthless. American good intentions will be reduced to posturing with what military muscle remains. But like our efforts to "fix" things in Iraq, Afghanistan,

New Orleans and Haiti, that will be like fixing the broken china by yelling at it and swinging a hammer. At the state level things are even grimmer. Hawaii is past broke and cannot print money. The state is over extended by a billion dollars, and will soon have to choose between closing schools or prisons.

Already Hawaii social services have been cannibalized and education cut 20%. Our fearless legislators talk about bringing back the Superferry and trolling for rich Chinese tourists that might like high stake gambling in Waikiki. By comparison, Kauai County has been lucky.

We have had a tax surplus in recent years due largely to continued high property values and the ensuing property taxes. Those surpluses will soon be history.

There won’t be as many high-end buyers here as in the past, unless they're Goldman Sachs alumni escaping Lower Manhattan with a bonus in hand.

And California the style suburban sprawl (like in Puhi, and Kalaheo) won't be spreading out across the island in a replay of the go-go golden years. The post 9-11 crash will continue to rollout - and soon be seen as the new normal. Get used to it and act accordingly.

You will need to think about providing for things you need from within your immediate neighborhood, including; water, food, energy, shelter, health care, education, entertainment and a career. If you have to rely on government or multinational corporations for any of these things - find alternatives.

If you depend on a car to get to these things daily - find alternatives. In order to take action I see a few useful strategies that vary widely depending on how long into the future you are planning for, and how long you think you have to secure that future.

Some would say we have only months to get things right... others argue that the “System” has used every tool at its disposal to keep things “Normal” and will continue to do so for years to come.

I agree, the “System” will try... things will stumble along kinda-sorta like it used to be, but there will that moment when people realize the emperor is leading the parade butt naked, and the result will be a phase shift or change in our perception of the world.

The longer we delay awakening from the dream of “Normal” the more sudden and shocking that moment will be. “Oh my god! We overslept! No time for breakfast! We’ll lose our job... the house!” We should count on constraints of time and resources to prepare for this change.

My advice is to find a strategy that targets a medium-range future time frame, and limits you to your current resource stream to accomplish your goals over that period. It does mean your life will change.  

 A medium range of time would be in the order of five years. What would you like to accomplish if you had that much time, but not much longer, to establish the life you would like to maintain long into the future?

You may have less time... or a lifetime, but shooting for five years means you should be able to get something significant done even if things go bad fast. It also a period most of us can plan for with some level of realistic expectations.
Limiting yourself to your current resource stream will mean not taking on debt you cannot cover in the near future.

This will put a realistic cap on what you will try to get done over a medium range of time. In other words, if you like what you're doing... keep on floating down that river, but plan on switching canoes soon. If you are making $40,000 a year, you shouldn’t take out a 2nd mortgage to install a $40,000, 5 kilawatt solar PV system this year to run your current array of home appliances.

You might spend $1,000 to provide task lighting so you can read at night or do the dishes when KIUC is down. With another small investment you could have a small stereo or laptop computer up and running when the neighborhood is dark. Prioritize.

Think about your location and what it offers. Can you dig a well, or will you need to collect water off the roof? Think about your neighbors. Are any like minded and what would they be willing to invest in and share... and protect.

One path is to do nothing special. Assume things will go on. The industrial growth economy will recover and thrive: “Let KIUC, Costco and Water Department figure out how to supply us with what we need. Isn’t that their job?” Another route is to panic and assume you have to get everything you need for the future in the next six months.

You’ll probably over-estimate what you need to survive (based on your current consumption patterns) and under-estimate what it will cost and the effort needed. Of course, there is a possibility that your timing will be perfect.

You borrow a bundle just before the onset of hyperinflation; everything you want to keep the good life in bad times. Then you’ll laugh when you can pay it all off in six months with a cost-of-living increase of 10,000%. I’m not betting on perfect timing. I'm buying tools.

 See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Industry's Parting Gifts 3/3/10
Ea O Ka Aina: Those Gifts Better be Edible 3/3/10



Mauibrad said...

I think you mean "5 kilowatt solar PV system"

The article is blunt, but probably too much of a leap into the future for the editors and readers of TGI.

They'll have to keep coming here for that.

Juan Wilson said...


Of course you are right. KW not MG. IT is so changed.


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