The system isn't set up to benefit the average, working class American. In fact, it is designed to impoverish the average American with unnecessary consumption fueled by the great Chinese credit card. Billions of dollars are spent by the advertising industry to create artificial wants and artificial "needs" in people. The government issues bonds, prints money, and the Chinese buy these bonds. The banks get lent the money, who offer it to consumers to buy things they cannot afford. This is supposed to fuel "economic growth." Unfortunately, this model isn't sustainable. You can only play economic shell games for so long without creating real value before the system collapses. The Chinese are currently in the business of making things. We aren't. Most of our manufacturing was offshored to create short term profits for investors and CEOs. Sure, everyone's lives got ruined, but that's neither here nor there.
After the housing bubble burst and the financial meltdown of 2008, Wall Street got bailed out while Main Street got foreclosed on. Debts were socialized while profits were privatized to the big banks. In a system like this, if you aren't a big investor, you are going to lose. Big time. Due to the corruption of money in the electoral system, change isn't coming, regardless of the next set of elections.
That means you are going to have to rely on self-help if you plan on surviving. The politicians aren't going to look out for your needs, not when they are busy giving large agribusiness more subsidies and cutting food stamps for poor children.
One of the big areas of inflation lately has been food prices. The drought of 2012 is only going to make these worse. People are going to need to start growing their own food. If you have land in the country, this shouldn't be too difficult. Living in the city is more challenging. Thankfully, it only takes a small amount of space to grow your own vegetables, even if you have to do so in flower pots. The other alternative is to join together with our folks in a food cooperative. Everyone pitches in the money to work together in raising a community garden where the food is apportioned. The other benefit is you can choose to grow your food organically and avoid pesticides and herbicides.
Meat is more difficult to come by. I have friends who are big deer hunters. If hunting isn't your thing, then networking with friends who are deer hunters is a great idea. Many catch more than enough meat for themselves and are looking to sell it. The benefit of deer meat is that it is rich with Omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce inflammation in the body and are good for the heart. The same goes for fishing, although you have to be aware of where fish were caught to avoid eating fish contaminated by toxins. Living in the country, you can also find farm fresh eggs at very reasonable cost. The other option is to go together with another family and buy a whole, half, or quarter cow from an Amish farmer. You buy in bulk and pay much less. Many of these cows are not raised on factory farms, so it is much more humane for them. It also supports local agriculture, which is better for the local economy, not to mention how much cleaner pastured beef can be and how much more health it is for the cow because it isn't feeding exclusively on grains which harm the cow's digestive system and make it sick.
Trading is another important survival skill. Much of the time, friends and neighbors have skills you don't. Both of you may be lacking money, but not the need for services. My neighbor is a mechanic. He can open my car hood and tell me what is wrong. I look at a broken down car and make the sign of the cross. I do know about fixing computers. If your computer has a virus, then I can get rid of it. My neighbor isn't into computers, although he has one and needs it to conduct his business. Thanks to the fun of barter, he now has a working computer and I have a running car. Not bad.
But what if you need something that a friend or neighbor can't do? What if you need a plumber but you don't know one? The first thing you should try is to look up the problem on the Internet and try to solve the problem yourself. Many times there are tutorials on Youtube about how to fix things that are much more helpful than looking up the problem in a book with diagrams. Most plumbing repairs can be done with a little patience and a lot of dedication. You just have to be willing to get your hands dirty. But if the problem is beyond you, then all hope is not lost. That's where craigslist comes in. By putting a free ad on craigslist, you can seek a plumber or handyman with experience and make an offer on the price. In a depressed labor market, usually someone will be willing to do the work for a reasonable price. This person might even be willing to barter with you if you have some special skill they need. It could be that his or her computer is broke, too.
Getting rid of TV is the best thing you can do to keep your budget in survival mode. The ads on TV are designed to make you think your life sucks. Just watch TV shows and in them everyone seems rich. Remember "Friends"? Those people had shitty jobs and lived in a super posh apartment in New York. Plus they never seemed to actually have to work. When you live in Manhattan, you have to work your ass off just to live in a broom closet. The same goes for clothing.
The Real Housewives of Whatever live luxurious lifestyles filled with gossip and ease. Seeing how they live can really make you question your own existence. This is especially true with the Kardashians, who are famous for being famous. They buy Bentleys and pose for magazine covers. This is how they "work." Unfortunately, most of us have nothing in common with these kinds of lifestyles.
We aren't in a "Leave it to Beaver" world anymore. America's days of producing things and creating value based on reality seem limited. We are going to become more and more like a Third World country. That means a huge number of poor people and a small number of immensely rich people, like Mitt Romney. The remaining 99% need to start thinking creatively and out of the box if they expect to survive. Now is the time to begin.
The books below are fantastic and highly recommended for the remaining 99%.
How To Survive Without A Salary: Learning to Live the Conserver Lifestyle by Charles Long
Your Money or Your Life