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Three Rules for Living through the Second Depression

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Keep you relations with the government limited to only what it can do for you and beware that even these "community chest" transactions may include trade-offs, expressed, implied or otherwise that may work against you.

Going as far as possible, if you lose you job or you've been purchasing necessities on your credit cards, or you can't afford the medicine or medical care you need or you're about to lose you home or car, definitely consider escaping the entanglement and life sucking burden of debt. Are you feeling guilty about the option of filing for protection from your creditors? Consider this, you didn't make the rules, but you have to live by them. Bankruptcy is in the rule book, use any and all rules to your advantage without any qualms.

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Stick together to defend each others right to food and shelter.

All of the accounts of the Great Depression remind us of how important organizing will be to survival in the Second Depression.

Face facts, it's good to be member of any club that supports you in living a decent life.

I am no fan of organized religion, and I do not advocate its proliferation, but I must recognize its one aspect of value to the individual participant: community. Remember, you don't have to believe in Santa to have friends. Any group will do, especially family. Have a pact to house each other if worst comes to worst.

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In Florida, Max Rameau is housing the homeless in foreclosed property. He considers his work both civil disobedience and the morally proper response to human necessity. In desperate times, we will all do what we must. We must all protect the most basic human right to food and shelter for each other.

Do what they did during the Great Depression, support your neighbor and don't let them be evicted. Homelessness is a nightmare that can bring the strongest of us to our knees. The right response is not to let it happen to our friends, family and neighbors.

Act locally to secure food resources to your geographic community, both near and wide. Industrial agriculture, the menace that brought you cheap, unhealthy and non-nutritious food, will starve you when you cannot pay the price. Recognize that hunger is a political/financial issue; it has nothing to do with a lack of food in the world. This will not change during the Second Depression.

During the Great Depression, there was abundant food, much of it warehoused and going to waste as scare jobs meant scare money and starving people. Monsanto, ConAgra, Nestle and ADM are not going to feed you if you can't pay; neither are McDonalds, Burger King, Fridays, Chili's or the rest of the chain palletized food venues.

Support your local farms and fisheries as much as possible. Not only is that where your food will be grown, it's where the local jobs will take root. Farmer's markets, chef-owned and independent restaurants, the locally owned quality supermarket may be a little more expensive, but chances are they offer real value and will be there to underpin the your local community when times get tough.

Make yourself useful.

You can start right now. Play "what if" with yourself and do a little mental planning. What if I can't afford the rent? Make the call to friends and family so you will know where you can go and for how long. Figure out your finances now. Do what makes sense now in light of what is probably going to happen in the future.

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If you have a job, keep it. If you hate your job, know the risks before you make a move. If you have savings, secure them. If you have debt, do what must be done to get rid of it. Sooner is better than too late.

If the worst happens and you're out of work this is the rule to heed. Figure out what you can do. They'll be plenty to do to help others and help you and yours.

As with food, jobs are going to become an important local resource. Local business are not going to move, but the may fail without your support now and during the Second Depression. Consider local options for everything you buy now. Tech support and computer repair: the local geek shop or a Dell extended warranty? Banking: Citibank or the local credit union? Customer service and support: deal with the person in Bangalore or request for a representative in the United States? It goes on and on: The local organic farm or Perdue? Quality clothes made in the USA or Wal*Mart's Chinese imports? The big box home center or the local hardware store that is not just luring you in to sell you patio furniture? We've made too many poor choices in all these respects over the last three decades. Let's think local and long term starting now.

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Chaz Valenza is writer and small business owner in New Jersey. He earned his MBA from New York University's Stern School of Business. His current feature film project is "Single Point Failure" an insider's account of how the Reagan Administration (more...)

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