Mike Adams has travelled as lot (as have I) and he has come to a few realizations, especially travelling and living in Latin America. Some food for thought that I agree with.
Realization #2 – Many cultures do not practice long-term preparedness thinking
In observing all this first hand, I’ve come to the conclusion that the embracing of socialism throughout South America is the result of cultural short-term thinking.
For example, throughout South America, people often buy prescription medicines one pill at a time. They buy a bag of twenty screws from the hardware store, then return to the store after they run out to buy another twenty. This is often infuriating to the “gringos” who are trying to build a house, for example, because they operate with the idea that you should just buy 5,000 screws all at once and have plenty to get the job done. I can assure you from first-hand experience that such a concept is completely alien to a great many South Americans (most notably in rural areas).
I make no judgments about this, by the way. There are pros and cons on both sides of this equation. But in my experience living in Ecuador, finding people engaged in preparedness planning was virtually impossible unless they were of European descent. For example, rural Ecuadorians often buy a small baggy of spices in a quantity for cooking one meal. And in doing this kind of thing, they nickel-and-dime themselves into actually losing money because they don’t take advantage of the purchasing efficiencies realized through long-term planning. The idea, for example, of buying large quantities of facial tissue at a Costco or Sam’s Club is completely foreign to most South American cultures (more so in rural areas than urban). Even if they might save 40% from buying in bulk, their cultural tendency is to buy one tissue box at a time, paying a much higher overall price over time.
This concept is also reinforced by the very heavy reliance on state-run lotteries throughout South America. In any nation, high participation in lotteries is a powerful demonstration that a culture lacks the cognitive coherence necessary for intelligent financial planning. You see this heavily reflected throughout Peru and Brazil, by the way. You’ll even find this in many poorer areas of rural USA where the lack of mathematics education (and, perhaps, an irrational belief in luck) motivates many people to hand over their money to the state. That’s why the mathematically inclined call the lottery “a tax on people who can’t do math.”
There is, of course, an interesting up-side to short-term thinking, because the very same phenomenon might also be called “living in the moment.” Some in the new age movement call it “the power of NOW.” South Americans know all about the power of NOW, as you’ll clearly see on a Sunday morning when driving your car down the road, weaving around drunken citizens sleeping in the ditches, sometimes still clutching an empty bottle of sugar cane alcohol. The night before, they all lived in “the now,” you see, and they weren’t necessarily thinking about the hangover implications that would inevitably arrive the next morning.
You see, to actually get anything done in society, you have to live at least a little bit in the future.
On the food production front, by the way, it is extremely difficult to buy a John Deere tractor in many Central and South American nations. Much of the food production there is still done by hand (not as much in Brazil, of course, where agricultural mechanization is in full swing…).
In Texas, by comparison, John Deere tractors are available everywhere. More importantly, there are lots of people who know how to fix ’em. Given that a tractor is one of the most fundamental work multipliers in agriculture, if you hope to survive the coming collapse, you need a reliable tractor on your land in a community that’s familiar with tractors, and you need a few hundred gallons of stored diesel fuel to power it through the disruptions. It’s no exaggeration to say that one gallon of diesel fuel can replace the labor of twelve men working twelve hours. It’s a powerful force multiplier if you own the right hardware.
If you get a tractor, by the way, avoid all those more recent John Deere tractors which are fifty percent electronics and plastic. Buy the old ones, made out of iron and grit, because they’re the only ones that will still operate after an electromagnetic pulse attack, in case you were wondering.
Climate reveals a lot about the planning tendencies of any culture
Getting back to the preparedness mentality of different cultures, climate shapes cultural tendencies, too. The climate in Central and South America is so much more amenable to easy food production (except at very high altitudes) that there really isn’t a cultural impulse to engage in behaviors such as “storing food to survive the winter.” With food literally falling off the trees year-round in places like Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Brazil, generations after generations of people there have settled into a rhythm of day-to-day living with relatively little planning. The very best preparedness planners, not surprisingly, are people whose ancestors survived harsh climates and brutal winters.
A lack of planning in South American culture is also evident in the surprising lack of family planning you’ll find there, where it’s not unusual to find women with four, six or even ten children, none of which seems to own a decent pair of shoes. It makes you seriously wonder about the “thinking ahead” portions of the brain and why they have not been activated in some people. There is a part of the brain — the future planning part — that can imagine a particular future emerging as a result of today’s actions and then use that imagined future to reshape today’s actions in order to improve the future (which eventually becomes the NOW, of course, as you’ve no doubt noticed). People who are cognitively skilled at this process are, by definition, good planners. They tend to have better outcomes in life. Those who are poor at this skill, for whatever reason, tend to have poorer outcomes in life.
Women’s rights advocacy groups correctly point out that a lack of family planning among women usually stems from a cultural devaluing of the female, which then leads to a chronic lack of women’s education, subsequently correlated to startlingly high birth rates. The best way to reduce birth rates in developing nations, it turns out, is to either build more schools or just go the Bill Gates route and vaccinate everyone into a state of total infertility. (If you’re an evil globalist, it’s so much easier to just inject women than educate them…)
Why does all this matter? I’ve learned over the last few years that the best place to be in a collapse scenario is living around a bunch of other people who are also prepared because they are long-term thinkers and planners. You might want to live in a Mormon community, in other words, as they are typically the best prepared.
You might also find some preparedness communities in places like Ecuador, Uruguay, Panama or Costa Rica where there exists a critical mass of preparedness-minded people who tip the scales in your favor. So that’s definitely a solid option for those who are still intent on leaving the USA or Canada and looking for preparedness options elsewhere. I do know first-hand that there are some very viable ex-pat communities in both Panama and Costa Rica where a critical mass of aware citizens already exists. Lots of libertarians down there… but watch out for “retirement communities” in these countries, which are populated by people who have no interest in actively surviving anything because they figure they’re close to dying anyway.
You do NOT want to live around a whole city of people who culturally and habitually lean toward short-term thinking rather than long-term planning. A city full of starving children with mothers living in total poverty who can barely afford their next meal is not a good backdrop against which you want to build a survival retreat, especially if you’re living out in the country by yourself.
Read books by Jared Diamond (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jared_…) if you really want to understand the long-term implications of geography and climate on the development of human culture. You will come to understand that in cultures where food comes too easily, over time there comes to exist a systemic lack of long-term planning in the minds of the citizens. This is a red flag for anyone seeking a preparedness destination.
Realization #3 – Don’t be the foreigner
Another important point to remember in all this is that if you’re, let’s say, a white person living in a white town in America, you blend in. You can walk around anonymously — at the grocery store, the shopping mall, the gas station, whatever. But the minute you move to some country town in South America (or Thailand, or whatever), then you suddenly stick out like a sore thumb.
In other words, if you’re a 6′ 1″ white guy walking around a town of 5′ 8″ brown-skinned people, do ya think anyone will notice?
You bet they will, and when they see a 6′ 1″ white guy walking around, what they really see is a walking ATM.
You’re a symbol of wealth, and the poorer the country you go to, the more wealth disparity you’ll find, of course. And what you need to understand is that wealth disparity breeds contempt. So while you’re driving around in a brand-new Toyota 4×4 (which I never did, by the way), the locals are looking at you and thinking to themselves that they could never afford that vehicle in their LIFETIME.
Why does this matter? From a practical perspective, it means that in a social breakdown scenario, these people have an instant idea of where the goods are. Who has the money? The white people! Who has the nicest houses, cars and electronics? The white people! (Or “the foreigner,” even if you’re not white.)
What I learned from this is that I’d rather be an “average” white guy living in an average neighborhood, driving an average car than sticking out like some sort of person who appears to be relatively well off. That’s why today I still live in a modular trailer unit in Austin, I still drive a Toyota pickup truck, I dress like a rancher in blue jeans and flannel shirt, and nobody gives it a second thought when I’m out in public. I blend in, and that’s far wiser than sticking out.