Historically, who wins when the economy goes into the septic tank?
I am not talking about the one-percenters or the 0.1-percenters. I am talking about the folks you work with, the folks in your neighborhood, the parents of your kid's friends, the folks you rub elbows with at church.
And "goes into the septic tank" is way beyond going into the toilet. I am not talking about a 25% "correction" in the stock market. I am discussing those times when the formal economy simply stops working.
The book When Money Dies is a detailed study of the Weimar Republic and the hyperinflation they experienced in the early 1920s. The book suggests that the "winners" are people who can manufacture or grow products or services that meet primary needs using local or found materials. The book has many stories of the formerly wealthy being strip-mined of their wealth...their fur coats, carpets, furniture, grand pianos....for bags of potatoes or fifty pounds of grain.
Nothing to Envy is a book that looks at North Korea. North Korea experienced a one-two punch when the Soviet empire collapsed in the same time period as a significant drought. The economy crashed when power plants and pumps in the coal mines ran out of fuel and lubricating oils. North Korea had coal, but no way to extract it after the mines flooded. Loss of the Soviet empire meant the loss of the markets for their products and the loss of the hidden subsidies.
One North Korean family was able to keep their head above water because they had a small mill for grinding grain. Other families would bring grain and fillers. First the grain would be ground and then enough filler was ground to bring the level up to the amount necessary to make the day's bread or noodles. Fillers were often corn cobs and husks but virtually anything could be pressed into service. Another family made "cookies" and sold them for lunches. The "cookies" made with grain, filler and any sweetening that could be found. A third family survived because one family member traveled on business and filled her suitcase with rice before returning home. Another family survived because family members in Japan mailed them high-performing, modern seeds every spring.
Interesting article HERE that explores this issue.
Key points: Inputs are local or found materials. Outputs are basic needs.
Examples (hat tip to Peter Grant who contributed ideas for this list):
Manufacture food dehydrators
Dehydrate seasonal foods
Propagate garden plants or fruit trees
Chickens and ducks
Puppies (dog breeding)
Shoe and glove repair (you will be stunned to learn how fast these wear out when you burn 3000 Calories a day working)
Laundry (incredibly labor intensive without automatic washers)
Make dwellings more resistant to break-ins
Awnings for windows
Reworking fixed windows so they can be opened
Bicycle tire repair
Make carts and wheel barrows
Making fly swatters
Preaching, neighborhood church
Sell books or for-profit library
Recharge cell phone batteries
Start a newspaper or swap bulletin board
Basic wound care
Grow and cure tobacco or other smokable products
This list is not exhaustive, it is a thought starter. Your ideas will be better than my ideas.