By now we must have arrived at the conclusion that there can be but one end to the present worldwide inflation. That is a collapse of the value of money followed by a collapse in the quantity of money (deflation). Such a collapse usually comes in the form of an exponential curve, rising rather swiftly to a crescendo near the end. We do not know exactly where we stand on this graph today, and there is no means by which we can predict the time of the final blowoff.
But it is not always necessary to predict time. It is often enough for us merely to know that a thing will happen, without exactly knowing when.
Among my earliest memories are memories of the storm. It was a small frame house of perhaps 500 square feet and it sat alone (so it seemed to me) on a vast and endless plain. Far beyond my known horizons lay a town. And in that town you could – if you had money – buy coal and lamp oil, sugar, even some preserves. The town was a reality only when the weather was right. It was a day’s journey. We were as far from the town, in time, as Los Angeles from London.
When the deep winter set in, when the storms came, the town might as well have been London. Anything you needed from the town must have been laid in store long before the storm. You knew the storm would come. And you took it for granted. And you laid in the store of goods, with such resources of money as you had.
Long, long before any sign of snow we were getting ready for the storm. The early frosts brought us to our knees, plucking potatoes from the soil, pouring buckets of red spuds into sacks, and storing these in the dark cellar. There was canning of beans and beets; and even peaches – if we could afford them from the town. As the frosty mornings moved in, and long before the daylight, I could hear the rattle of the wagon as my father set out for the mine to lay in the winter’s store of coal.
When it was all done, it was a pretty safe feeling. There was oil for the lamps, sacks of flour and sugar, dried prunes and raisins. The chicken house had been thatched; the hens were comfortable on the straw. The cows were in the nearby pasture. The barn was ready. When it was all done we read by the evening lamp. And we didn’t worry. We knew the storm would come. We didn’t have to know what day. And we didn’t worry.
When, at length, the sky grew black in mid-afternoon and the wind began to whistle round the eaves and the temperature started to drop we were almost glad. The snow fell. The winds howled. The darkness settled, and the drifts piled high. So high, sometimes, that a boy could not see over them. Even when it went to twenty degrees below, forty degrees below, and the chill factor stood at minus ninety degrees so that three minutes would freeze your nose off, we made our quick trips, as necessary, to the well and the barn. The warm milk was in the pails. The pot-bellied stove glowed it’s heat. And as the storm increased in fury, my father would say: ‘Let her come. We were here first.’ He would say it on the third day, and if need be, say it on the tenth day: ‘Let her come. We were here first.’
The storm always blew out. And the sun shone again. And eventually there was spring. Had we not known the storm was coming, of course, we should have perished. I feel very strongly that we have had all the signals we could ask for in predicting the monetary and economic storm. Already the skies in the north are black, and the winds are rising. The temperature is dropping. This may be a preliminary storm, or it might be the big one. On the farm we didn’t worry if the storm came a little later than we expected. The important thing was to be ready for it. It came when it came. Why should we wish it before it came? Or why should we conclude that because it had not yet arrived, it would not happen at all?
We are now entering the period of winter. If we are ready for it, we need not fret, nor hope that it will happen tomorrow, nor hope sooner or later; because we have no control. Our situation is simply this: To the best of our financial and economic ability we have stocked our cellar, boarded up our house, and we might as well relax. ‘Let her come. We were here first.’
And now we must touch on the most unpleasant possibility of all. That is virtual revolution in the United States.
This book is concerned with the end of an era. That means the end of an era of permissiveness, the end of an era of the spoilage of people, the end of an era of credit and waste, the end of an era of something for nothing, the end of an era to buy now and pay later, the end of an era of dependence on someone else.
Americans aged forty years and younger have become so accustomed to the idea that the country owes them at least a living that the withdrawal of this presumed privilege could result in widespread rioting across the nation. Empty bellies produce inflamed minds. When it comes to considering the possibility of violent protest, it’s difficult to project either the upper or the lower limits. The lower limits could be rioting throughout the large cities. The upper limits could be organized revolution.
In preparation for the time that will inevitably fall upon us – sooner or later – every man must rely upon his own imagination, his own projection, and his own initiative. You will be able to come up with your own solutions particularly applicable to your personal conditions in the storm. One thing is certain. You will see the collapse of this inflation and that will mean the end of the era you have known. But you and your country can still be saved.
The storm can be weathered.