There are two ways to 'make' money. One is by earning more, the other is by spending less (of what you earn). Everyone knows Ben Franklin's maxim, "A penny saved is a penny earned".
What we want to focus on in this article is another way to 'Go Galt' by bullet proofing your lifestyle against theft. This is one portion of the Going Galt strategy that is especially important as we watch the worldwide collapse of the welfare state. Protecting your wealth from theft is going to be critical to you as our country goes off the debt rails, similar to what we are witnessing in Greece as Eurosocialism collapses. Many of your business and personal relations are going to be desperate for money and with our diminished relativistic moral foundations won't hesitate to steal from you. I speak from experience.
Over the last three years I calculate I've lost upwards of $30,000 to various forms of theft, and could easily have lost more. If the losses had occurred from one event, one would chalk this up to my bad luck or indifference, but my losses were spread over a variety of business and personal situations and so I believe they constitute a trend.
For example, I invested $17,000 in micro loans (peer to per loans) at a venture called Prosper.com. Of 135 loans, ranging from as little as $75 to $3,000 from me, a full 45% defaulted. While the interest rates were relatively high and I recovered some money, I still ended up losing about $7,000. More importantly for our discussion, it says that both the economy is bad, and that a lot of people no longer feel compelled to pay back the loans that take out (they are comfortable with stealing).
Another example is two commissions I was owed for work done in commercial real estate, totaling about $20,000. In both cases the landlords who owed commissions went strategically bankrupt. One can no longer count on handshake business deals, you will have to start having blood collateral.
Another examples is the theft of a car, which while insured and eventually recovered, was still written off because the pot smoking thief had trashed the interior (the interior reeked).
I've also suffered from petty theft of materials from in front of my house. Some garden implements here, a radiator set to the side for repair, various tools.
After an office move where I'd hired some casual workers (read illegals, I know, very stupid) to move things to storage, they came back to rifle my storage unit for about $1,000 of furniture.
I had my wallet stolen in a restaurant just a month ago. While I avoided harm by closing out my credit cards quickly, $300 in cash was gone when they found the wallet dumped in the alley.
If theft were limited to the petty sort, one could always move or put on more locks, but we must also include the theft of wealth that occurs from inflation by the Federal Reserve's printing of money. One also needs to consider the bailout of the banks, propping up GM to save the UAW, Solyndra and many other government boondoggles as theft from taxpayers. Theft by the political oligarchy and crony capitalists is in many ways the most infuriating of all because these are the people who we count on to be the anchors of civilization. We all suffer from this invisible graft.
These sums are adding up, and I suspect if you think hard enough about it you will have substantial examples of your own. I guarantee you have been a victim of petty theft, but you've perhaps lost more substantial amounts from business deals, to mortgage fraud to whatever. Then include the systemic theft that is happening thanks to the ineptitude (or criminality) of our political class. Add the amounts up and you will understand that hardening your defenses against theft can make a substantial improvement in your lifestyle. Paranoia pays.
Some may question how much of my losses are due to my own stupidity and carelessness, and how much due to a general breakdown in societal norms? Well the question of my naivete is a distraction and the purpose of writing this is not to shed tears over my spilled milk - I'm hardening my own defenses as we speak. The larger point is that you yourself are going to have to hunker down and protect your assets from theft at multiple levels. That means locks, fences, security and lawyering up. It means writing business contracts that have teeth and don't count on friendship or trust. And yes, I am aggressively following my own prescription
I am sorry to be the messenger of bad tidings, but it appears the entire social system is corrupt, from the petty thieves at the bottom, to the bankers and politicians at the top. Rather than just cry about this we need to realize that this is the new normal and that we have to adapt to this new environment.
How have we gotten to this sorry state? Our problems in many ways trace to the rise of the secular welfare state, which takes personal responsibility away from the individual. When people steal, they no longer feel they are taking something away from individuals who feel pain, but from an amorphous society in general, a nebulous blob they can milk indefinitely. As this system collapses of its own weight, you need to prepare for a time when the wolves roam the streets.
There are approximately $100 trillion in unfunded government liabilities in the U.S. while personal debt levels and finances are also in disarray. As the wheels come off this train society is going to return to a more barbaric level as people seek any means to survive. Hunker down now and strengthen your defenses and you will survive while others are driven to the edge.
I have written a lot more useful strategies in my book "Going Galt", available on Amazon.com