Nicole Foss at Adelaide Seminar
Who would have thought a seminar on the economy could have passion and run the audience through a gamut of emotions, all in a couple of hours? But this was so much more than an economics lecture, even though the future of economies and financial systems were the basis for it.
Nicole Foss, a Canadian woman with a warm smile and engaging personality, took us on a journey through what we can expect in our economic future, how it all relates to other areas, such as our growing energy problems, and branched out into widespread practical ideas for what we can do to make our passage through it less painful.
Ms Foss, co-editor and writer (as ‘Stoneleigh’) for The Automatic Earth, spoke to a packed house at a UniSA venue on Thursday February 23rd, 2012. Her presentation, backed up with slides that summarised what she was saying, was informative and easy to understand, but never dry or boring!
The current economic model is a Ponzi scheme, she explained, prone to unavoidable continuous boom and bust cycles. In the past, our resource supply to demand ratio has been able to kick-start growth again, however, as resources are becoming scarcer, this is no longer the case and a new, very different economic model is now needed. We need to build a future which is sustainable within the constraints of nature, she said. ‘Business as usual’ is not going to cut it.
We need to prepare for a very different world, she warned, “The future belongs to the adaptable.” Plan and we thereby preserve the luxury of the long-term view. We should focus our energies on constructive activities.
She gave us a financial strategy for heading into the future. One of the points she made is that when the crunch comes, we won’t be able to rely on the money we have in financial institutions, etc., because it may not be there! We need to have liquidity, physical cash and ‘hard goods’, which will hold value and can be used for trade. Hard goods might include provisions, cooking equipment and fuel, spare parts, medicines, hand tools, energy infrastructure, clothing, shoes and blankets. Once we have eliminated debt, got our finances under control and obtained at least some important hard goods, we could then consider buying actual physical gold. Not gold on paper, she warned, as there is not enough gold on the planet to fulfil those ‘promises’.
Ms Foss impressed upon us the importance of getting things happening at a local level — “learn to live within our local economies.” Build connections and relationships, because relationships of trust are the foundation of society.
If we want to move against the current restrictions in place, we need to do it as a community, not as individuals. She gave the example of wildebeests crossing a crocodile infested river — alone they would probably each be killed, but moving as a group almost all of them make it across. We need to “act like wildebeests, and cross the river all at once.” They can’t stop us all! And change will be made. As the event organiser Dr John Coulter said, in his introduction “When the people lead, the leaders will follow.”
Local authorities, such as councils, can make a huge difference to the development of local resilience, said Ms Foss, without even spending any money! One very significant thing they can do is to remove the rules and barriers which stop people taking care of themselves, such as laws prohibiting the keeping of chickens, growing things in certain areas, sharing households. etc.
Ms Foss also touched on depression-proofing your employment. You may need to change direction completely, she said. Consider your skill set and how that might be useful in hard times. Be very careful of high education costs, she warned. Unless it is really necessary, try to find less expensive options, such as courses at community colleges, or even apprenticeships. At present you have the option of repaying your education debt over time, once you reach a certain income level — but that may not always be the case!
We can minimise the consequences of being wrong, she emphasised — if it doesn’t get as bad as we thought, you haven’t lost a lot. However, the alternative, if you haven’t prepared and things get really bad, is catastrophic!
The seminar ended with an enlightening Q & A session, which could have gone on for a lot longer, but unfortunately had to end due to venue time constraints. People were really interested and had a lot of questions brought up by what Ms Foss had shared.
In thanking Ms Foss, Dr Coulter expressed his hope that she would consider returning to Australia in the future, to which she seemed most amenable, so hopefully we will once again have the pleasure of hearing this important speaker update us on what is happening in the economic sphere.
This was an extremely interesting and thought provoking event, and I would urge anyone who hasn’t heard Ms Foss speak to try to get along to one of her events in the future. Visit her website ‘The Automatic Earth’, or watch one of her videos online, a few of which I have included below: