What’s Your Plan B?

We all have a Plan A–continue living just like we’re living now.

Some of us have a Plan B in case Plan A doesn’t work out, and the reasons for a Plan B break out into three general categories:

1. Preppers who foresee the potential for a breakdown in Plan A due to a systemic “perfect storm” of events that could overwhelm the status quo’s ability to supply healthcare, food and transportation fuels for the nation’s heavily urbanized populace.

2. People who understand their employment is precarious and contingent, and they might have to move to another locale if they lose their job and can’t find another equivalent one quickly.

3. Those who tire of the stresses of maintaining Plan A and who long for a less stressful, less complex, cheaper and more fulfilling way of living.

The Fragility and Vulnerability of Highly Optimized Supply Chains

Many people are unaware of the fragility of the supply chains that truck in food, fuel and all the other commodities of industrialized comfort to cities. As a general rule, there are only a few days of food and fuel in a typical city, and any disruption quickly empties existing stocks. (Those interested in learning more might start with the bookWhen Trucks Stop Running: Energy and the Future of Transportation.)

Most residents may not realize that the government’s emergency services are actually quite limited, and that a relatively small number of casualties/injured people (for example, a few thousand) in an urban area would overwhelm services designed to handle a relative handful of the millions of residents.

Authorities can call up the National Guard to maintain order, but the government isn’t set up to provide food and fuel to millions of people stranded by a natural disaster or a “Black Swan” (unexpected disruption).

To reduce costs, supply chains and other essential systems have been stripped of redundancies–any break in the optimized flow has the potential to cripple the entire system. Since these highly optimized systems work so well most of the time, we don’t really understand the vulnerabilities that lurk just below the surface of “just in time” deliveries and other efficiencies.

This inherent fragility has long fueled interest in rural “bug-out” retreats, a topic I recently addressed in Having A ‘Retreat’ Property Comes With Real Challenges.

Where Do We Go When the Economy Falters?

For the past eight years, US politicians and Federal Reserve authorities have attempted to repeal the classic business cycle of growth, stagnation, recession and renewed growth. It may appear they’ve succeeded, but the era’s slow growth has been sustained by unprecedented expansions of debt in the government, corporate and private sectors.

This extraordinary expansion of debt has been enabled by a decline in interest rates. Most observers with a sense of history view these extremes of debt expansion and near-zero interest rates as unsustainable and destabilizing:


In other words, extending the expansion cycle by extreme policy measures cannot actually repeal the business cycle; rather, these policy extremes increase the likelihood that the eventual recession will be deeper and/or longer than it would have been absent the policy extremes.

Thus we can anticipate a recession of some sort, in which mal-investments and unpayable debts are liquidated and written off, and credit expansion (and the consumption that depends on it) slows or even reverses, as it did in the 2008-09 recession.

Employers must lay off employees when sales and profits fall, and as incomes fall, sales fall further, creating a feedback loop of mutually reinforcing declines in household income and spending.

When the music finally stops, many laid-off employees won’t be able to find a chair (i.e. another job). Without a job, most people can’t afford to remain in high-cost urban centers for long.

When the 2000 recession gutted employment in the San Francisco Bay Area, 100,000 people moved away.

Recent immigrants to wealthy metro areas have the option of returning home to the village or town they’d left to seek work in the city. Many immigrants from south of the border have invested their earnings in building new homes in their villages of origin. When the economy north of the Rio Grande falters, they can return to the home they built when their incomes were high.

In China, many of the urban workers laid off in slow periods return to their villages, where there is a source of food (farms) and a roof over their head (the family home).

Today’s “rootless Cosmopolitans” (urban dwelling Americans) typically lack a village they can return to in hard times. So a common Plan B is to seek an equivalent low-cost place to retreat to in recessions.

Where Do We Go When We Burn Out?

There’s a simple phrase that embodies the exhaustion and dissatisfaction we experience when we feel like we’re on a treadmill going nowhere that’s speeding up: Burn-out.

As Historian Fernand Braudel (and others) observed, cities have always had a higher cost of living than the countryside—and offered higher pay scales. Cities aggregate capital, talent and power, and while this dynamism serves to raise many out of poverty, it can also exacerbate wealth and income inequality.

The globalization of labor and capital combined with the aforementioned policy extremes has deepened the divide between “haves” and “have-nots” in many urban regions. Those who bought their homes in desirable metro areas for $150,000 are much wealthier now that these modest homes fetch $750,000 or more. Young people with conventional jobs will never be able to afford these home prices, and so the time-honored source of middle-class security–home ownership– is out of reach.

Many of those who dove in and bought a home are stretching to pay crushing mortgages, soaring taxes and higher costs for healthcare and childcare. They are burning out, and their Plan B is a permanent move to a less burdensome and more fulfilling life elsewhere.

Three Different Purposes, Three Different Durations of Residence

Although Plan B includes a wide spectrum of options, these three basic categories define three different purposes for having an alternative residence lined up, and these purposes define three different durations of Plan B occupancy.

While the serious prepper with a “bug-out” Plan B might be planning for the long haul, others will view their “bug-out” Plan B preparations as a temporary arrangement–a place to go in the event of a natural disaster such as an earthquake or hurricane, or localized social unrest.

Such a temporary home-away-from-home could be as simple as an RV parked in the parents’ driveway, a spare room in a relative’s house or more elaborately, a storage shed turned into a “tiny house.”

Those planning for the eventuality of a much lower income due to recession will have a much different Plan B, as they need dirt-cheap housing for an extended occupancy that might last from a few months to as long as a few years.

The recession Plan B must include planning for childcare/schooling, healthcare, employment/earning a living—all the day-to-day components of Plan A.

The recession Plan B also has to account for the possibility that the return to the Plan A lifestyle will no longer be an option due to health issues, the decline of the sector of employment, or permanent declines in household income.

The burn-out Plan B is intended to be permanent. Plan A is being replaced by a Plan B that must provide the essentials of home, work and community–what I call fully functional residence.

In Part 2: The Benefits & Challenges Of Maintaining A Retreat Property, we present our framework that clarifies the trade-offs, costs and benefits of owning and maintaining a Plan B “retreat” property. There is no “one size fits all” solution to a retreat property — selecting and operating one needs to be custom tailored to your own individual requirements, resources, skills and risk assessment.

Using our framework, we’ll help you zero in on the factors that make the most sense given your personal situation.

Maintaining a functional separate retreat residence is a responsibility that comes with real costs and complexities. But if done right, it can yield great returns during both good times and bad.

This essay was first published on peakprosperity.com, where I am a contributing writer, under the title “Does Your Plan B Include a Second Place to Live If Plan A Doesn’t Work Out?”.

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  • Dr Mindbender

    You are correct in your assessment of debt expansion, according to History, but there is only missing element in that calculation. The US government as “Supreme ruler of the Earth” who will make war with and Destroy anyone who does not OBEY. Who can Downgrade it? Who can fight it? Who can deny its currency?

    This is why the US government was not downgraded into Oblivion (JUNK) and why nothing has, or will, fail, unless an unforeseen Apocalypse comes? For all intents and purposes, the US government can live in this fantasy land, forever, or until the people REBEL. This is their only weakness. All poverty could be ended, but that would require the people to REBEL and that will never happen.

    As for plan B … I am not Attached to this world, and I will never be made a Slave to it; therefore, When and if the time comes, well, I know how to Cheat this Earth: It will never profit -from me- unless I agree. Live within your means and the Government Enslaving Program Dies. However, who can do it? Who can live on what they earn and never borrow a dime? Very Few, indeed.

    Therefore, the only rational plan B is Occupation of Wall Street; and they will make every plan B an A+. Simple. If the people do nothing they will be slaves, forever.

  • cstahnke

    Plan B for me is to put my chips on the one crucial element living from most people’s lives particularly in the U.S. which is our ability to connect with others and form communities. Necessity will determine that this direction is the sine qua non of the future–no community, no future. Individual “plans” are not the solution and, I believe, need to be set aside while we focus on community building. As people become, literally, dis-enchated with the system they will wake up to the actual reality around them and they will realize, spontaneously what to do with others. I’ve seen it in emergency situations when human beings become self-organizing systems.

  • madrino

    There will be no plan B. In addition to war, and encampment, the toxic sky is overwhelmed with death from above Geoengineering: Governance and Technology Policy – Federation of …
    https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R41371.pdf a blanket around the earth to keep long wave heat radiation in and when you read the document, fertilization of oceans will create dead zones, reduced sunlight will destroy the oxygen/carbon dioxide cycle as plants will not be able to carry on as efficient photosynthesis, as well as HAARP and it’s associate around the world (Biggest one in Norway at 20x the size) ionospheric heaters which are meant to increase the heat . THE US WANTED TO OWN THE WEATHER. THEY BROKE IT AND WE ALL BOUGHT IT. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3WdTWyvBfLs
    6/22/2015 — NASA ‘accidentally’ DRAINS the Van Allen Belts — STS-75 ‘Tether Incident’

    The Truth about HAARP!!! The High-Frequency Active Auroral Research Program

    Religion is a farce of the old testament as William Dever explains Yahweh and his Asherah at Emory University (Canaanite Deity), also the Hyksos, Habiru and Egypt knew no Pharaohs ( https://ashraf62.wordpress.com/2014/05/09/ancient-egypt-knew-no-pharaohs-nor-any-israelites-2/ ) Israel a cooked up name for Baal worship of the Greater Levant region from Greece to Persia, including Assyrians, Babylonians, Chaldeans (Abraham told to butcher his son? by god?), Akkadians, Romans, Greeks and others all the way to the Indus Valley. (Baal – Lord, Moloch – King). Babylonian Talmud has a Moloch problem of the ONLY HUMANs . Rome and the new testament, as devious as the Judeans but more pragmatic. New Testament rewritten so often that not one word has gone untouched (Bart Ehrman “Misquoting Jesus). Qur’an of Sana’a Yemen found to be quite different than what is now printed and believed.

    You might want to watch IMPEACH & ARREST “9/11 INSIDER” PRESIDENT TRUMP, proof he knew about 9/11 before it happened!!!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOaYZy47fcw

    Bolshevik revolution details at Forbidden History; Masonic Revolutions – The Slaughterhouse of Osiris 1/12 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYbmkBOH0OE . is accurate. WWI and WWII manufactured as well. Also look up the Young Turks and the Armenian genocide, Holodomor Ukrainian genocide, the polish genocide, the Russian gulags, Eisenhower Rhine Meadows Death Camps the advertisements in papers around the world of the 6 million. History is a flat out lie written by some of the sickest in people on earth that run this show.

  • madrino

    If the people were to ever know what the leadership of their governments have done, the national security state would cease to exist everywhere around the world. Those responsible for the wars, genocides, lies and deceit in all of areas of banking, policy, military, knowledge, industry, religion et. al. that profited from these atrocities would cease to exist. Most of those we have put up we have put up on pedestals would be dashed. Living should be simple but made complex on purpose. When wealth can be made when stocks or commodities go up or down, something is very wrong. It’s not investment, it’s roulette for those out of the inner circle. When people like Delano, Forbes, Astor, Barring, Sassoon, Russell, Perkins,…Rockefeller, Rothschild … the opium merchants, international bankers, oil barons and other can sit on top and dictate others lives, there is a problem. The top, using the Platonic noble lie to tell the masses what they want to hear and let the oligarchy rule because the people are to stupid to make their own decisions, we have a problem. This is our history, regardless of race, creed or any of our differences, all which have been used to divide and conquer.

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      • PB

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