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Posted: 12/1/2016 10:21:28 AM EST
From FerFal308's thread on Venezuela, we learn that some of our members were present when the Soviet Union collapsed. :

I can't vouch for Voland's experience but I happened to be right in the middle of it. I was almost 20 back then, living in Tula, about 100 miles south of Moscow. It was an interesting experience but I would not want to go through this again. Life was tough back then but we made it through that mess and I emigrated to the US soon after.
One day I remember well was in August of 1991, when communists attempted a government takeover coup. I was in Moscow that day. Everyone was scared and confused. Nothing was on the news. Oil pump quit in my little Lada's engine and I was not far from one of the busiest intersections, where tanks were taking positions to fire at something. I was lucky to have tools and skills to pull the oil pan off and to make a temporary repair to the oil pump shaft to get us back home. It was getting late in the day when I got the car running. We could hear shots being fired not too far from us. It took a while to get out of Moscow. I had to take a lot of back roads and to break a lot of traffic rules to get out of there. Gas stations were closed. Having a 5 gallon can, full of gas also saved the day.
We still did not know what happened for sure. We heard rumors from people in Moscow, saying that Gorbachev was removed from power and a new government was now ruling the country. All radio and TV channels were playing non-stop classical music. We made it home ok. A lot more happened the next day that I don't feel like talking about and I'm not much of a writer.
One thing I can tell you. It was nothing like what you see in the movies. Older people suffered the most. Younger ones adapted to new conditions very quickly. I sure learned a lot of lessons and gained valuable survival skills. Perhaps the number one survival skill was an ability to adapt to new conditions. Good health was also very important. Everything else was secondary.
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I asked for more details and here is his response:

Monetary system? Everything was cash based. Some people had savings accounts in the only available, government owned bank. Once the inflation hit, savings accounts were frozen by the government. People had to stand in long lines to get a limited amount of money out. I can't remember all the details but the inflation hit very hard.
My grandmother saved money all of her life. she had enough to buy a house or a car. She could only take out a small amount of money from her account. 30 days later she still had the money but it was only enough to buy a couple of candy bars. Then there was a money reform, where they basically printed new money with less zeros. LOL. You get paid on Friday and you'd better spend the money before Saturday, because things may cost two to three times more by Monday.
Barter was very common. I could barter almost anything for alcohol. I always kept several cases of vodka handy for barter. People tend to drink more during tough times and will barter anything for alcohol, so they can feel a little better and forget about the problems, even for a little while. I have always said that alcohol is the best barter item, no matter where you live. Heck, I even carried several bottles of vodka in my car to bribe police. It worked like a charm. Police are people too.
Crime skyrocketed. Bandits always had guns, knives and good cars. An ordinary person could not own a firearm but many people carried weapons anyway. A friend of mine was running an illegal retail business. He always carried a short barrel, full auto AK and several magazines, in his car. He sold pirated copies of music and movies.

Jobs? Most people had jobs but most jobs did not pay much. Some people had to wait 6 months or more to get paid. Many people still went to work. The younger ones and those who were able to adjust, had a small business going or worked for a private, often semi-legal employer. Many older people turned into street beggars. Some young girls turned into prostitutes. College professors or rocket scientists were selling jeans at a flea market.
I had a small automotive business going since I was about 17 y.o. I made more in one day, fixing cars, than both of my parents, who worked as engineers, earned in a month. One of my customers was a guy who was a well known government official. He made sure bandits and racketeers did not bother me. Another customer was a lady who was in charge of a food distribution facility. She always supplied me and my family with good food at very reasonable prices. This was very important because food store shelves were often empty. Food was rationed back then. I still have a food coupon that I kept as a reminder of what life was like back then.

Most store shelves were nearly empty but people managed to get food anyway. Humans are very resilient creatures. There were small flea markets popping up everywhere, where people could barter or buy food and other necessities at free market prices (much higher that government set prices).

Life was a lot more simple back then. Most people lived in compact cities where most places were within walking distance or a half hour ride on public transportation. I really did not need a car to get to most places. A car was a luxury that many people could not afford. Public transportation was well developed and relatively reliable. It cost pennies too, so everyone could afford it. Also, people did not have mortgages or major loans they had to pay off. Medical services were free. We needed very little to get by. We owned our apartment, just like most people. Living conditions were not as fancy as in the US, not even close. Apartments were very small. Young couples could not afford their own places and often lived with their parents and grandparents, all in a tiny apartment. For example, my sister and I, plus my parents and my grandma lived in a one bedroom 300 sq. ft apartment and we considered ourselves lucky.

Power? Russia had a much better designed and better developed electrical power grid than the USA, at least back then. I only remember one power outage that was planned and we were warned about it. It lasted about half a day as they were upgrading something. I don't remember any other power outages. It was affordable too but again, we did not have a lot of power hungry appliances. We averaged about 300 - 600 kWH per month. The system was redundant, where they had two parallel supply lines, two transformers and two switchboards, both running at 50 % (max) load. In case of a failure on one of one side the other side was simply carrying twice the current. It's simple and very reliable that way. Also, I don't remember seeing ugly power poles and wires, like in the US cities. Everything was underground. But again, the cities were a lot more compact and densely populated.
Water was another story. We live near the highest spot in the whole city. Water pressure was always low and we only had water from 6-9 AM and back at 5 through 8PM. That's it. Water quality was terrible too.
Natural gas, on the other hand, was always there and was almost free. We paid few cents per month for unlimited use. We always left one stove burner on in winter time to save money on matches and to provide some additional heat.

Things got worse after the Soviet Union collapsed but living conditions were not great before the collapse either. People were conditioned and a lot more rigid than most people here in the US. Most males served in the military as it was mandatory at the age of 18.
In my opinion, if God forbid, something like this happens here in the US, things will get a lot worse. We depend too much on modern infrastructure and constant supply of fuel. Everything depends on timely delivery of goods. Go try to get medications from a pharmacy when their computer system is down. They can't do anything without computers and a network connection. Who cares if you need insulin. Pharmacy may not even be open because the pharmacists had no gas to drive 20 miles to work. Same thing with everything else.

I could sit here and tell you stories all day long. It was tough but people still had their lives to live, they had babies, laughed and tried to enjoy life. Food was hard to get but most people did not stave. I learned a lot during that time but I don't consider myself a survival expert. Let me know if you have any specific questions. Like I said before, I'm not much of a writer and I don't really want to sidetrack the story about Venezuela.
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I'll ask more questions later and hopefully Gyprat will offer insights into his experience.
Link Posted: 12/1/2016 8:27:07 PM EST
[Last Edit: 12/1/2016 8:27:45 PM EST by AGreyMan]
Please do post more...I find it fascinating and useful.



Edited for spelling
Link Posted: 12/1/2016 11:34:46 PM EST
I was surprised to see a new thread with my name on it.
Sure, I don't mind sharing my experiences during that volatile time. I was born and grew up in Tula, USSR. You probably heard about Tula because of the famous arms factory located there. Both of my parents, now retired, were working as engineers. We were considered an average family. I had a decent childhood. It was nothing like some news media want you to believe. We were not rich by any means, but we were never hungry either. I did not have dozens of brand name clothing items because things were hard to obtain, even if we had money. I learned to be careful and not to get dirty while playing outside, because I would have nothing to wear if I got my pants or a shirt dirty or damaged. I remember buying my first pair of Lewis at a "black market" when I was about 15 years old. It cost more than my dad's monthly wages. I earned the money myself by running a small business which was technically illegal back then..

Many people tried to make money "on the side" because all legal jobs were owned and controlled by the government. Private entrepreneurship was illegal in the USSR but many people did it covertly anyways. So did I. Since I was about 13 years old, I built audio cables that fit imported radios and cassette players. They were not available in the stores because Russia had different standards. Imported brand name connectors were very expensive but I sold mine at 1/3 of the price. It took me several evenings every week to build about 10 cables and I sold them at a "black market" (kind of like a flea market) every Sunday morning. I usually sold every batch within an hour and people were asking if I had more. Money was good. Later I also built and sold some automotive gadgets that were popular and sold quickly. I also enjoyed working on cars which later turned into a successful part-time automotive business when I was about 17.

One day i was at the flea market selling my stuff and I was caught by a special police unit. They were called OBHSS and their job was to catch people who stole government owned property and sold it for a profit. They confiscated the cables I had with me, even after I proved that I did not steal anything. They let me go but they got my name and forwarded that information to my school for further disciplinary action. A week later, our school principal disciplined me in front of the whole school, calling me a politically immature, money hungry, greedy capitalist. This is when I decided I did not want to live in that society anymore. Thankfully, the Soviet Union collapsed 5 years later and I could leave. So, here I'm now. God Bless America!


Well, like I said, I'm not much of a writer. I'll try to answer your questions, the best I can. It's been a long time since the collapse of the Soviet Union took place. I may not remember all the details correctly. Again, I don't consider myself a survival expert but I do have survival-related knowledge and experience.




Link Posted: 12/2/2016 12:09:14 AM EST
Gyprat, did you know the Kulakov family? They lived in Tula, were 7th Day Adventists. Eventually Pastor Mikhail Sr became the leader of the church. They built the first non Orthodox church in Russia after the fall. I was blessed to have the younger Mikhail as my pastor, and had supper with them many times at my home. The elder one who'd been a political prisoner many times in his life, served time in hard labor camps etc, , was a WWII vet, and fell in love with a Mosin I had at the house. It had some trench art, or rather inscriptions on the stock, and he translated it for me. I cherished the times I got to spend with them. There was a book written about him, Though the Heavens Fall, telling his life story . He is the guy that got the Bible translated into modern Russian through the institute that he started.

I apologize if I got off track here.

This is a tag for more of your experiences. thanks for sharing.
Link Posted: 12/2/2016 12:58:20 AM EST
[Last Edit: 12/2/2016 12:58:56 AM EST by Gyprat]
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By pavlovwolf:
Gyprat, did you know the Kulakov family? They lived in Tula, were 7th Day Adventists. Eventually Pastor Mikhail Sr became the leader of the church. They built the first non Orthodox church in Russia after the fall. I was blessed to have the younger Mikhail as my pastor, and had supper with them many times at my home. The elder one who'd been a political prisoner many times in his life, served time in hard labor camps etc, , was a WWII vet, and fell in love with a Mosin I had at the house. It had some trench art, or rather inscriptions on the stock, and he translated it for me. I cherished the times I got to spend with them. There was a book written about him, Though the Heavens Fall, telling his life story . He is the guy that got the Bible translated into modern Russian through the institute that he started.

I apologize if I got off track here.

This is a tag for more of your experiences. thanks for sharing.
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No, I don't remember meeting him. Tula is a relatively large city with half of a million population.
Link Posted: 12/2/2016 7:15:33 AM EST
Gyprat, thanks for sharing.
Always interesting to get insight into other cultures and countries.
Link Posted: 12/2/2016 11:56:08 AM EST
Can you please go great into greater details about the collapse of the ruble?
Link Posted: 12/2/2016 12:05:32 PM EST
Thanks for sharing Gyprat. Unfortunately the description is closer to the future of America than the past of the USSR.

How much more friendly are everyday Americans towards capitalism vs the Soviet citizens? How much will they let the government feed them empty promises?

If suddenly the airwaves were dominated by the same empty promises you heard so long ago, what would your thought process be about living in or moving out of America? Where would you go?

What about balkanization? What makes the new states hostile rather than peaceful?

How would America balkanize if it had to? What regions would split?

Scarcity of food. Did people's small gardens help or are they better off doing what they do best and trading for food?

If we all woke up tomorrow in the USSR, what are the first three things we would notice or talk about on the phone with loved ones and friends?
Link Posted: 12/3/2016 9:55:59 PM EST
[Last Edit: 1/9/2017 3:04:10 AM EST by Gyprat]
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By 4v50:
Can you please go great into greater details about the collapse of the ruble?
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Honestly, I forgot a lot of details. There were multiple money "reforms" after the collapse. Ruble was artificially tied to a dollar before the collapse. I believe the artificial exchange rate was a around 0.90 rubles per one dollar but ruble was technically considered as a non-convertable currency. I could't go to a bank and exchange rubles for dollars. Actually it was highly illegal to own any foreign currency. Only the special people who did travel abroad could exchange money and it was very limited too.
Also, before the 1991 collapse, prices on many goods, especially food, were much lower than what it actually cost. I remember reading that meat products actually cost around 8 rubles per one kilo, production cost but were sold at around 3 rubles per kilo. ALL prices were set by the government and were often printed on a box. This means, I could buy a kilogram ( about 2 lbs) of sugar for the same price anywhere in the country, Same for everything else.
I remember one money reform where they printed new 25 and 100 rubles banknotes. I think it was before the USSR collapse. This was done in an attempt to catch or to hurt all illegal businesses. People could exchange their old 25 and 100 ruble banknotes but up to a certain amount. Anything over that amount required an letter explaining where the money came from.
Something similar may happen here in the US, in the name of national security or the war on drugs. I keep my money in the bank but I try to keep a few hundred dollars on hand. for emergencies. If you do the same, it's best to have it in $20 bills or less . I know several hardcore preppers who keep most of their savings in cash. If you are one of them, don't keep it all in $100 bills.
What happened to the economy after the USSR collapse was called - "Shock Therapy". It was an attempt to fuse russian economy with the rest of the world. A rudimentary form of Market Economy was also being developed. This meant that everything was tied to a real market price, tied to the real currency exchange rate. Prices skyrocketed. People were walking around in shock and disbelief after they saw new prices on food and everything else. It was like 10, 100 or 1000 times more than a month earlier. Yes, food was readily available but people could not afford much because they were still getting paid very little.
I remember one day, one of my university professors walked in the class, all upset. He just got his monthly wages (everyone was paid in cash only) that equaled to 360 rubles. That day a dollar was selling at it's new high of 350 rubles per dollar, at Moscow currency exchange market. So he just got paid ONE DOLLAR for a month of teaching at a prestigious university. Now, keep in mind that teachers in Russia were like doctors and lawyers here in the US. Being a teacher was prestigious back then, before the USSR collapse.
Inflation was also getting out of control. Prices were getting higher and higher, almost daily. It was best to spend money as soon as you get paid. Most family incomes were spent on food.
I'm not talking about buying frozen pizzas or eating out. Heck, I never ate out or visited a restaurant until I was about 18 years old. Money was spent on things like sugar, rice, potatoes, tea, salt and maybe some meat products.
We had a small summer shack ( Dacha ) with a small garden out in the country. This helped a lot before and after the collapse. Everything the garden produced was eaten or canned for the winter. It was nearly impossible to buy fresh fruits or vegetables during winter months, especially during the soviet times. Most apartment buildings had basements that were partitioned to have small storage cells, about 10x15 ft, where temperature never got below freezing. We had one too and stored all of our canned goods and potatoes for the winter. Many people would not have survived without it. We canned tomatoes, pickles, fruits like apples and strawberries. We also stored about 500 lbs of potatoes in the cellar. every September we made a trip to a country side and bought the potatoes from small (often illegal) farms. Potatoes store very well in dry, cool and dark place.
Food was number one priority back then. Like I said previously, people were not really starving but they were not eating as good as what's considered normal here in the US. I often laugh when I hear on the news about people who "starve" here in the US. How is this possible when food is so cheap and available everywhere? Perhaps they call it starving when they can't afford to eat out everyday? Obviously they have no clue about basic things like cooking. Yes, it's nice to have pork chops or a steak every day but it costs a lot too. Why not make soup? It's relatively cheap and will feed a family for several days. A 50 lbs. bag of rice can be purchased at Costco for around $15 and will last for a long time. You can make a lot of mouth watering dishes from potatoes only. How can you go hungry in this country???

Anyway, back on track about the ruble. The great Ruble Default happened in 1998. I was already living in the US and can't tell you more details than you can read about on the Internet. It hurt a lot of people and businesses. It hurt Yeltsin's presidency too. A few years later the "Great" Putin came to power and all of the sudden everything was blamed on Yeltsin, who according to Putin, was "helping the US to destroy Russia". People were pissed about everything and would believe anything he said. Being an ex. KGB operative he was well versed in disinformation propaganda. Yes he did a lot of good reforms but he has not done it alone either. His hatred towards anything Western, especially American was quickly becoming a new political norm. In my opinion, this proves again that many people act and think like sheep, no matter where they live. They can be easily brainwashed and manipulated. Look at "cotton head" russian dummy "patriots" or many democrats here in the US. It does not take much to make people believe in something. A good lie consists of 99% of truth. TV is a very powerful weapon. The internet can be exploited too. Skillful disinformation and propaganda has started wars. It always worked and always will.
O well, I'm getting sidetracked again. I don't like to talk about politics much.
Hopefully, what i said makes some sense.
Link Posted: 12/3/2016 11:41:48 PM EST
Gyprat - do wander. I enjoy it and consider it bonus material. Before I retired, I used to work with former Russians who emmigrated out to the US. They did share some insights, but not in the detail that you have..

This past summer while I was doing a flintlock building demonstration I met a Romanian woman who was in her twenties when the communists fell. She said te older people had committments and could or would not do anything to upset or threatened their family's security. Being younger, she had nothing to lose as did all the other youth who were equally frustrated that they had absolutely no say in their lives and had no prospects at all. They were apathetic towards death and marched into the gunfire of the pollice and the army until the soldiers and police grew sickened of killing unarmed people.

She told me that most Americans were unaware of how fascism is descending upon the United States and most citizens were distracted much like the older folks in Romania. We had our bread and circuses here in the form of sports, television and internet and weren't aware of all the little measures made that incrementally chip away at our civil rights and liberty (Patriot Act, NDAA '12, Dodd-Frank, etc.) until the government will exercise total control over our lives.

She was even aware of the movement towards a cashless society and the threat it presents.

Link Posted: 12/4/2016 12:14:31 AM EST
Very interesting posts! Thanks for sharing. Please continue!
Link Posted: 12/4/2016 9:55:11 AM EST
Great info! How careful were you when bartering vodka? Just with people you knew and trusted or with anyone?
Link Posted: 12/4/2016 10:13:14 AM EST
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By superA:
Great info! How careful were you when bartering vodka? Just with people you knew and trusted or with anyone?
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Did the Government turn a blind eye to barter?

How did you deal with the police, bribery?

Excellent thread.
Link Posted: 12/4/2016 2:11:19 PM EST
Lots of preparedness-minded folks have a bit of gold and silver tucked away. Would it have been practical to use during that time? Could you have paid for Vodka, or parts for your repair business, or food with a 1/10oz. Krugerrand?

Link Posted: 12/4/2016 7:20:18 PM EST




Government could care less back then, unless my barter included huge amounts of valuable goods. Even then, most likely, I would have to share some of my profits with a government official.
Economy was not the only thing that collapsed. It was a collapse of all moral norms. Police were worse than the bandits. You could literally get away with murder if you had enough money to bribe the police.
They were not there to enforce the law. They were there to get bribes. They were bad before the collapse and have gotten a lot worse after it happened. Many police officers even forgot to get their monthly wages because they were making a lot more from bribes and "protection" payments.
How did I deal with them? Well, I tried to stay away from them. Unfortunately it was difficult because I had a car and was driving around. It was normal to get pulled over at least several times a day by police. They did not need a reason to "pull" me over, or should I say they "waved me to stop" because they were stationary, hiding behind something so I could not see them right away. They stopped cars at random and checked to make sure the car was not stolen and my documents were legit. They would tell me that I was speeding or I forgot to use a blinker, or my car was too dirty. They could always find something wrong. It was easier to give them some money or vodka and be on m way instead of having my driver's license taken away for "processing". It always worked. I always discussed the bribe amount when only one police officer was near me, just to be on the safe side.
It got even worse during mid to late 90's. My friend told me that DUI cost about $1,000 if you get caught driving drunk. You could pay the bribe right there and the police would give you an escort to your house, put you in bed and even read you a story so you fall asleep. Money could buy anything.
You guys may think that giving bribes was a bad thing for me to do. Yes, you are correct but it was the only way to survive. Everyone gave bribes to get things done. It was not uncommon during soviet times but it has gotten a lot worse after the collapse. It's still a common thing in today's Russia.
Link Posted: 12/4/2016 8:39:44 PM EST
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By AGreyMan:
Lots of preparedness-minded folks have a bit of gold and silver tucked away. Would it have been practical to use during that time? Could you have paid for Vodka, or parts for your repair business, or food with a 1/10oz. Krugerrand?
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It all depends on what you are preparing for. It may help if a dollar default happens in the future or there is a huge inflation. It all depends on many factors we can't control. Also, keep in mind that the Soviet Union was a very isolated country prior to Perestroika and the USSR collapse. Things may be different if, God forbid, something similar happens here in the USA.
A value of silver and gold is determined by how much it is in demand at a given time. I have never seen gold or silver being used for barter, when I lived there. Most people could not tell if a silver or gold coin is fake or not. Everyone knew what real money looked like. Everyone knew what US dollars looked like. Money was the king! Most people kept their savings in US dollars only. US dollars were in demand and were considered as the most inflation free investment.
Look at what happened in the world when the US had a recession, almost 10 years ago. Some countries almost declared bankruptcy. It seems like America gets a "cold" and the rest of the world gets a "pneumonia". What do you think will happen if economy collapses in this country? Do you think gold and silver will be in high demand when people can't get enough food to eat? You can't eat gold or silver. You can't sell it to someone in another country because, most likely, they will be in worse shape.

My grandparents shared a lot stories about the WW2 with me. I sure learned a lot of valuable lessons from them. My grandmother told me stories about people trading everything they had, including gold and silver for a piece of dry bread so their children would not die of starvation, or at least live another week. This was true survival. Food was very important. Alcohol and tobacco were very valuable items as well.
Link Posted: 12/4/2016 10:32:17 PM EST
Thank you so much herp for taking the time to respond to these questions! Your experiences are an outstanding example of economic and situational survival. Keep writing! Personally I'd read your autobiography!
Link Posted: 12/4/2016 10:57:36 PM EST
More stories from your grandparents please.
Link Posted: 12/4/2016 11:10:26 PM EST
Can you go explain the 'etiquette' of the bribes? I never have bribed anyone so how would I know if someone was open to being bribed vs ready to arrest me for attempted bribery?

In your opinion is the process of transacting a bribe similar all over the world or is there protocol/etiquette that is regionally specific?

To take the example further say I get pulled over for speeding in Russia today and I had cash or goods to bribe with, how would I transact that with a Russian police officer?

This is of course purely out of curiosity as I said earlier I've never bribed anyone and I don't think I likely ever will but I've always been curious for first hand descriptions.

Thanks for this thread!
Link Posted: 12/5/2016 9:25:00 AM EST
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By LTCetme:
Can you go explain the 'etiquette' of the bribes? I never have bribed anyone so how would I know if someone was open to being bribed vs ready to arrest me for attempted bribery?

In your opinion is the process of transacting a bribe similar all over the world or is there protocol/etiquette that is regionally specific?

To take the example further say I get pulled over for speeding in Russia today and I had cash or goods to bribe with, how would I transact that with a Russian police officer?

This is of course purely out of curiosity as I said earlier I've never bribed anyone and I don't think I likely ever will but I've always been curious for first hand descriptions.

Thanks for this thread!
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In Mexico you usually say something like "what is the fine for this? Can i just pay you the fine?", or just flat out "What does it cost to fix this?". Hell, I've even haggled over a few bribes before. You can usually tell if they're looking for a bribe because they spend a long time talking in circles, scolding you, versus cuffing and transporting you.

It's a foreign concept being American, but in some countries corruption is a culturally accepted way of life.
Link Posted: 12/5/2016 5:27:03 PM EST
Gyprat, thanks for sharing your experiences.

What happened during the collapse was not publicized, so the only insight we'll get is from those like you, that experienced it first hand.

Knowing what you know now, what would you have done to prepare?
Link Posted: 12/5/2016 6:18:32 PM EST
What do you say to a college-aged person who has educational debt and how to prepare besides going nuts on the debt?
Link Posted: 12/6/2016 1:58:05 PM EST
Would you elaborate more on the shift in jobs? College professorship was prestigious before the collapse, what kind of jobs were valuable afterwards?
Link Posted: 12/6/2016 2:15:59 PM EST
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By AGreyMan:
Lots of preparedness-minded folks have a bit of gold and silver tucked away. Would it have been practical to use during that time? Could you have paid for Vodka, or parts for your repair business, or food with a 1/10oz. Krugerrand?
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If they weren't allowed to have foreign currencies I bet they also weren't allowed to have precious metals beyond maybe jewelry....
Link Posted: 12/6/2016 4:08:57 PM EST
Excellent thread, thanks very much for sharing your experiences with us. As someone posted above, I'd love to hear what your grandparents had to say, too.

On the issue of bartering, one thing that I've wondered about is how you determine how much what you have is worth. For example, did the "market" come up with a base value for the most commonly traded items or was value strictly determined on a case-by-case basis?
Link Posted: 12/6/2016 4:31:32 PM EST
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By LTCetme:
Can you go explain the 'etiquette' of the bribes? I never have bribed anyone so how would I know if someone was open to being bribed vs ready to arrest me for attempted bribery?

In your opinion is the process of transacting a bribe similar all over the world or is there protocol/etiquette that is regionally specific?

To take the example further say I get pulled over for speeding in Russia today and I had cash or goods to bribe with, how would I transact that with a Russian police officer?

This is of course purely out of curiosity as I said earlier I've never bribed anyone and I don't think I likely ever will but I've always been curious for first hand descriptions.

Thanks for this thread!
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First of all, I want to make it clear that I don't advocate giving bribes to any official. It is wrong on many levels but it was a part of life in Russia, before and after the USSR collapse. Life is different here in the US. I never gave bribes to anyone in this country and hopefully never will. I brought up the subject to give you a better idea about living in a country with highly corrupt government, on all levels. Also, I don't want to speculate about what can happen if you get pulled over in Russia today, since I don't live there anymore.
Bribing happens here in the US but it's done more covertly and on a different level. It's not a part of everyday life. It's often called - A Conflict Of Interest. People get free fishing trips, gifts or even free dinners at fancy restaurants. Bribes are given to political candidates too, but fortunately we don't have to deal with this in an ordinary, everyday life.
How were the bribes given? First, you need to be able to read body language. Words only carry about 10% in a face-to-face conversation. Police would threaten you but not do anything and take their time, making it look like they are doing paperwork. They would tell you that your driver's licence will be taken for processing and you need to go through a lot of hoops to get it back. Like someone mentioned in one of the replies, offer to pay the fine "right here, right now". Don't be saying it out loud and don't say this when two or more officers can hear you. Do this face to face with one of the officers, so there are no witnesses. Same strategy applies when you try to get things done at a government office. Just say, "I really need this done. Maybe I can pay an additional fee to have it expedited?"
Again, don't try to do this here in the US and don't teach you kids to give bribes. This was a part of life in another country with different cultural and a political system. It is also very common in many other countries nowdays.
Link Posted: 12/6/2016 7:35:24 PM EST
Presently bribes are veiled here in America. Besides luxury resorts/vacations to attend a meeting, as a lobbyist you canplay poker with the politician, can have a royal flush in your hand but still fold, leaving him the pot. We also seen it done where a charitable foundation is established and funds channeled into it via a third party charity (to launder it) on behalf of the donor. Herr Hitlery got away with that for years. If the politician has a law firm they can take $$$ as part of its legal fees and even if the politician isn't a lawyer but has a "consulting" firm, there are consultation fees. Uncle Joe's son, Hunter, was given a high position in the Ukraine probably in return for the US subsidizing of the Orange Revolution. This "jobs" for relatives has been used for a while to bind politicians to others. Sometimes this is done through grant funding that funds the pet organization or relative's position. The grant funding goes dry if the politician doesn't vote the way the grantor wants.

The biggie is insider trading. Any of us would be crucified for it but Congress and the congressional aides get to do this without fear (they excluded themselves in the law on insider trading).

BTW, a custodial supervisor at one site I was once assigned to was nailed for accepting bribes for civil service positions. Wanted a job? Pay some money to get hired as a part timer to get your foot into the door. Want a full time job with benefits? Pay $15k. What a PoS.
Link Posted: 12/6/2016 8:50:55 PM EST
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Originally Posted By TobyLazur:



In Mexico you usually say something like "what is the fine for this? Can i just pay you the fine?", or just flat out "What does it cost to fix this?". Hell, I've even haggled over a few bribes before. You can usually tell if they're looking for a bribe because they spend a long time talking in circles, scolding you, versus cuffing and transporting you.

It's a foreign concept being American, but in some countries corruption is a culturally accepted way of life.
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It's a skill you really need to have traveling outside the US. And everything is negotiable.
Link Posted: 12/6/2016 10:47:28 PM EST
Gyprat,

First off I just want to be also clear that I completely understand your position on bribery and I very much respect your position. Its a bad thing but when in a situation or place where bribery is a way of life you just have to survive. I absolutely understand. Certainly I hope you weren't offended by my curiosity. Great answer by the way. I honestly didn't know.

I could ask hundreds of questions but honestly I'd love to just hear your stories about life back then. I know that time does not always permit but by all means keep typing as slow as you want! You probably don't realize how beneficial it is to hear from someone like you!

Thank you!
Link Posted: 12/6/2016 11:38:25 PM EST
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Originally Posted By PFunkk:
Gyprat, thanks for sharing your experiences.

What happened during the collapse was not publicized, so the only insight we'll get is from those like you, that experienced it first hand.

Knowing what you know now, what would you have done to prepare?
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What would have I done to prepare? It's a tough question. Life was not easy prior to the collapse. My family was not considered poor by any means, but we were not rich either. There is not much else I would have done different. We could not afford to store 5 years worth of food. My mom and dad lived "paycheck to paycheck" like most of the families. .
One thing I could afford was to learn new skills. I learned a lot about electronics from my dad. We were lucky to own a car. I learned a lot about fixing cars by helping my dad to work on our car. One of our neighbors had a small "unofficial" repair shop where he fixed cars during evenings and weekends to make some extra money. I volunteered to be his apprentice where I worked for free in exchange of him teaching me how to weld and do body work. I was good at it and started helping our friends to fix their cars. Word got around and by the age of about 17, I was fixing quite a few cars and people were willing to pay very good money. I could only do it during some evenings and weekends but it really helped us financially.
We also had a small piece of land with a garden. My mom was the gardening expert. She still keeps that garden. It really helped us to get fresh fruits and vegetables. I wish I learned more about gardening but I never had time for it. Gardening is not as easy as it seems. It requires a lot of knowledge and dedication. Some "preppers" store seeds thinking they will put them in the ground, water it and have fruits and veggies 3-4 month later. It's a waste of seeds, time and money if you have no knowledge and most important - EXPERIENCE.
Having skills that are in demand is very important. I think skills like gardening, automotive repairs, medical, plumbing, computer (IT), clothing alterations and hair dressing will be in demand, no matter what the economy does.
You also need to learn to be flexible, as I mentioned in one of my previous posts. Some people had very hard time to adapt to new conditions after the collapse. They were set in their ways and were not willing to change. Older folks tend to be that way but I have met a lot of younger ones who were stubborn and set in their ways of doing things. Life was twice as hard for them.
Another way to survive a collapse is to emigrate to another country with a better socio-economic climate. It's not easy. Not everyone is capable to adapt and learn a new language and culture. I personally think that US of A is the last frontier of freedom and liberty. There is no better place on this planet. Yes, I do know about the issues we have but, in my humble opinion, it's a lot worse elsewhere in the world.


Link Posted: 12/6/2016 11:56:22 PM EST
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Originally Posted By Cag40Navy:
What do you say to a college-aged person who has educational debt and how to prepare besides going nuts on the debt?
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I'm not a financial advisor. I'm not sure what you are preparing for and how it relates to your debt. If the economy does collapse, your debt will most likely be written off. You will probably have more important things to worry about.
My advice would be not to get deep into student loans. If you do, make sure you learn a marketable trade or get degree that is in demand. Running 100K worth of student loans to get a worthless degree, is not very smart.
Also, you can learn new skills without getting deep into debt.
Link Posted: 12/7/2016 12:32:50 AM EST
Not a financial adviser either.

When Bush (the son) signed the revised bankruptcy laws into effect, student loans were no longer discharged under bankruptcy. Unless there is a jubilee, they haunt you forever.

Now, if you have some precious metals set aside and they suddenly appreciate, you can cash one in, pay your debt and walk away free. Mind you, the government may attempt to hit you with a windfall profit tax (say you buy silver at $17 and suddenly it's $300 (just speculation for this argument), if there's paper the government will say you made a $283 profit and tax you accordingly).

Gyprate: How large of a garden did your mother have?
Link Posted: 12/7/2016 2:34:55 PM EST
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Originally Posted By Cag40Navy:
What do you say to a college-aged person who has educational debt and how to prepare besides going nuts on the debt?
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<--- qualified to give financial advice

interest rate? principal amount? income?

no one size fits all.
Link Posted: 12/8/2016 5:38:04 AM EST
quote]Originally Posted By 4v50:
From FerFal308's thread on Venezuela, we learn that some of our members were present when the Soviet Union collapsed. :

.....
One day I remember well was in August of 1991, when communists attempted a government takeover coup. I was in Moscow that day. Everyone was scared and confused. Nothing was on the news....
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I remember that day vividly. I was on the F15 demonstration team from Bitburg, Germany and we had just finished a show at Lawica airfield (just outside Poznan, Poland).

We were in the middle of the post-show party with all the various teams--US, Canadian, UK, Czech, Hungarians, Russians......it was one wild party! Out of the blue, the base got locked down and Polish forces went into OMFGBBQ!!!! mode. It was a little ominous when the Russian Su27 team came over to say "goodbye---we might see you again very soon".
Link Posted: 12/15/2016 10:16:42 PM EST
[Last Edit: 12/15/2016 10:49:15 PM EST by Gyprat]
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Originally Posted By 4v50:
Not a financial adviser either.

When Bush (the son) signed the revised bankruptcy laws into effect, student loans were no longer discharged under bankruptcy. Unless there is a jubilee, they haunt you forever.

Now, if you have some precious metals set aside and they suddenly appreciate, you can cash one in, pay your debt and walk away free. Mind you, the government may attempt to hit you with a windfall profit tax (say you buy silver at $17 and suddenly it's $300 (just speculation for this argument), if there's paper the government will say you made a $283 profit and tax you accordingly).

Gyprate: How large of a garden did your mother have?
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The garden was not huge. It roughly measured 20 x 25 yards. There was a small, one bedroom building in the corner. The building was not fit for winter living but we had electricity (more about this later) and an outhouse. Water was from a natural spring, 1/2 away, carried by hand. The land was located about 20 miles from where we lived. Getting there was easy with a car but it took almost 2 hours by public transportation which included a 45 minute walk from a nearest bus stop.
We usually winterized the place by mid-September and opened it back up at around mid-May.
Having a garden was very helpful for us. It literally saved a lot of people who were not flexible enough to find a "side income". Very little food was available in grocery stores back then (late 80's - early 90's). Food could be purchased at a "bazar" (something similar to a farmers market in the US) but the prices were A LOT higher. Very few could afford to buy food from there.
The garden was producing well. I built several green houses on the property and it really made a difference. Surprisingly, very little was stolen.
My mom could probably give you more details about the garden but I remember having lots of tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes, apples, strawberries, gooseberries and a lot of other fruits, veggies and herbs. Obviously, everything was heirloom origin and organic. I have not heard of many people having allergies back then. Food tasted great too. I was honestly shocked when I first tasted fruits and veggies here in the US because there was very little taste and flavor I was accustomed to. This was in the 90's. It's even worse now, with all the GMO crap. No wonder bugs won't eat it. LOL.
My mom was in charge of the garden. We helped her with chores but I never had enough time for that because I was going to a University and running a small garage in the evenings and weekends. I wish I learned more about gardening.
I'll try to find some pictures of the garden, I took 5 years ago. Unfortunately I have very few pictures from the Soviet times. We did not have a luxury and convenience of dropping film at a store to get the prints done. I did have all the equipment to develop B&W film and to make prints in a dark room. I never seemed to have time for it though.
Now, about electricity at the Dacha. We did have it but the distribution was poorly engineered and cheaply made, unlike the excellent electrical grid in the city. There was a two conductor, thin gauge line, that ran alongside the road and every Dacha had a drop line with a meter. The main supply line was 220 Volt. No step-down transformers. The supply line was always overloaded in summer months. Forget about running a hair dryer or any high wattage appliances. It was enough for lights and maybe for a TV. We were the only ones who could watch TV because my dad installed a CVT to keep the voltage close to 220V. Our neighbors were lucky if they got 160 Volts in the evening and it often sagged down to below 140 Volts and could spike to above 260V, early in the morning. It was enough for lights but not enough for a TV or any other appliance. The electrical company was owned by the government and could care less, like every other organization back then.
We canned a lot of vegetables and made jams and canned juices from the fruits. This was very important because fresh fruits and vegetables could not be purchased during winter months, canned fruits and veggies were not available either. I remember a TV show where a reporter asked an American, when they could purchase fresh fruits in the US. The American replied, "When the grocery store opens, at 8:00 AM". This was so funny for us to hear. My dad always used that as a joke.
Again, canning and storing food for the winter was very important. Several people asked me, what food I would store for an emergency. I'm not an expert by any means but I would first give a preference to foods that can't be grown or produced locally. Things like salt, sugar, coffee, tea were always in demand and were not always available. IMHO, storing some sugar is very important. It can be used for canning fruits and for sweetening coffee and tea. Forget about doctors telling you it's bad. Having a cup of sweet tea or coffee is a huge morale booster in tough times. You can use it to distill alcohol for barter and medicinal purposes or personal consumption. Salt is another item, often missed by preppers. Salt is essential for many things. It can be used for canning veggies, making dry fish jerky (yammy) and for cooking. Rice is another item that's often imported and can't be grown locally. We prefer to eat buckwheat instead of rice because it's a lot heathier and tastes better.
Things like soap, toothpaste and other personal care items were hard to find back then and were always in demand.
One thing that was always available was bread. It was always fresh and delicious. Most of the time bread was sold in a special bread only store and not in grocery stores. Bread stores were open longer and they had several daily deliveries of freshly baked bread. Bread stores were everywhere, within walking distance. Bread has always been considered as an essential item in any diet. You can live by eating bread and drinking water only. I'm talking about real fresh bread, not the cheap sandwich "bread" (a.k.a. wall plaster) sold in many US stores.

Cooking during hard times can be specific too. You need to make some major adjustments to how you cook and plan meals, to make food last. I can write more about it if anyone is interested.
Link Posted: 12/15/2016 11:47:06 PM EST
Thanks for sharing those bits of inforamation. That garden was certainly a long distance from your home and most Americans don't have that. We tend to waste our gardens for "lawns" and in the few cases where someone does try to garden like we've seen recently (including here at Arfcom), the Home Owner's Association or City regulator shuts down their garden.

Do share more including pictures and if your parents are alive and accessible, find out what they have to add. Many Americans during the Great Depression did the same thing you and your parents did. However, today's Americans are not as well versed in gardening, canning, food preservation. Some of the videos of Americans who go ape sh*t if they can't get their Chicken McNuggets at 9 a.m. or something silly like that wouldn't be able to survive a Soviet, Venzuela or Zimbabwe style collapse.
Link Posted: 12/21/2016 4:13:21 AM EST
I'm very interested. If you have more sir, please add.
Link Posted: 12/21/2016 11:29:11 AM EST
Gyprat,

If you knew today that your currency would be worthless in one week what would you buy now to keep for bartering? I've often thought about this and my answer was always alcohol (bourbon, rum and/or vodka) and tobacco (cigarette) as people will get depressed during times of difficulty and drinking and smoking would increase. My wife thinks coffee as caffeine is difficult to for most people to cut off in short period of time and toilet paper as ladies will always pay for soft TP. My son thinks B&B is best...beans and bullets. Let me know what you think.



Link Posted: 12/21/2016 12:34:08 PM EST
One more interested in your cooking thoughts!!

Spent about 6 mo in former Soviet union on mission work. Some VERY dear people to me still in Crimea, but have lost almost all communication with them since Putin went back in.

Praying for my Russian family

Doc
Link Posted: 12/22/2016 1:33:51 AM EST
Thank you for thinking of making the thread, thread maker, and thank you for answering the questions, guy who has a thread made about him. 

It has been a long day, I find the above amusing.

Anyway, on alcohol what size bottle were you buying and bartering with?

Lots of folks here go for the big bottles, I am a beer drinker and too lazy to look at my rum collection to get the sizes.

But lots of folks say to buy the midsize bottles for barter and trade.

I have little use for the airplane bottle size unless it wound up being super duper cheap or I wanted to annoy an alcoholic or something.

I think the next bottle size up, around beer can size or so perhaps, is more expensive than the 2 liter sized bottle but for trade I would sure trust a smaller sealed bottle than someone pulling out an opened up bigger bottle and me taking their word on it.

For here in east tn right now, I would trade the little hand heaters first.  Shake em and get 8 or 10 hours of warmth or whatever, but then they will want more.  And east tn people often consider this dang cold at times.  Heck, my garden hose was not even frozen tonight. 



Link Posted: 12/22/2016 4:06:10 AM EST
[Last Edit: 12/22/2016 4:58:16 AM EST by Gyprat]
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Originally Posted By yobo:
Gyprat,

If you knew today that your currency would be worthless in one week what would you buy now to keep for bartering? I've often thought about this and my answer was always alcohol (bourbon, rum and/or vodka) and tobacco (cigarette) as people will get depressed during times of difficulty and drinking and smoking would increase. My wife thinks coffee as caffeine is difficult to for most people to cut off in short period of time and toilet paper as ladies will always pay for soft TP. My son thinks B&B is best...beans and bullets. Let me know what you think.


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Hopefully this will never happen. A dollar default is possible. How do you think the government will pay off the current national debt? I'm no financial guru but I think there are 3 ways out: People will tighten their belts and pay off the debt (very unlikely); a dollar default will happen and the government declares bankruptsy; Us government starts a major war and the debt is written off. I think the last two are very likely. They have already been trying to stir shit up in hopes of starting a war.
What would I do if I knew for sure? I will first take all money from the bank (assuming I can do this) and spend it on food and gasoline. I would hook up my trailer to my 4Runner and head to Costco to get at least 300-400 lbs of rice and at least ten 50lbs bags of cane sugar (more if I have enough money and they let me get it. I would also buy a lot of fresh meat and lots of large Mason jars. Fresh meat would be canned at home with a pressure canner I already have.
Next I will load six 50 gallon barrels and head to a gas station to fill them up. I already have the barrels stored in my shed. I got them from work for free because they get a lot of lubricating oil in them and have to crush the barrels to recycle the metal. Several trips will be necessary if the gas station refuses to sell that much.
I also may try to pay property taxes for several years ahead if I can spare enough money. This is questionable though. I sure would not spend the money if everything else is not covered.
Having a vehicle for transportation is essential for living in this country. I did not need a car when I lived in Russia because everything was close and there was good and affordable public transportation in most Russian cities and even outside of city limits. American cities are spread out and it's nearly impossible to get places without a vehicle.
I would probably trade my new 4runner for a 4x4 Dodge 2500 truck with a Cummins diesel or another vehicle that runs on diesel fuel, if I have enough money for it at the moment. Also some common parts, engine oil and filters may be a good investment. A set of tires may be nice to keep as long as you store them indoors.
Why diesel? I may be wrong but I think gasoline will get very expensive and there may be some major shortages in case of a financial collapse or any disaster. Diesel should be much easier to get. It always is. Most delivery trucks, locomotives and many military vehicles run on diesel. Government will ration fuel to make sure that essential services and food deliveries are still running. You can also buy or barter diesel from the people who work there. Most passenger cars and trucks in this country run on gasoline. Everyone will be looking to get gasoline while diesel fuel will be readily available.

Another thing to consider is getting a motorcycle that gets good gas mileage. I had a motorcycle back in Russia. It was a single cylinder, dual sport "TULA" brand bike. It was made in Tula, where I lived, so parts were almost free and available. It got about 80 miles per gallon. Having that bike was a blessing. I could go places without worrying about expensive and often unavailable gasoline. I always rode my bike everywhere unless I needed to bring something that could not fit on the bike or the weather was bad. Obviously, I did not ride during winters. We did not use the car in winter either unless it was absolutely necessary. Roads were full of salt and it killed car's body due to rust.
Here in the US, I also have a 2012 Kawasaki KLR-650. I bought it because I like it a lot, it's very comfortable to ride and very practical. Having it as an emergency vehicle also influenced my decision to buy it. This bike can go off-road and can do 70 MPH on a freeway. I can haul ass for 300 miles without having to refuel and I can split lanes and ride it on the shoulder in a "bumper to bumper" stopped traffic, if I need to be somewhere in an emergency.
Back I Russia, was chased twice when I was in my car and once when I rode the bike. It's much easier to "loose tail" on a dual-sport bike than in a car. I simply exited the road and used narrow walkways to escape. Thankfully the car chasing me was full of drunk dummies who did not like he way I looked at them but they were dangerous anyway and I was outnumbered. The first time I was chased in my car, was serious. I was in Moscow, buying parts for my small automotive business. I just happened to be in a wrong place at a wrong time. The place was being visited by racketeers (bandits), I think. They had short pieces of rebar in their hands and the owner was sitting in a chair in the corner, looking very pail. It took me less than a second to figure out what was going on. Thankfully the bandits were not professional. They had no one guarding the door. I was able to run away, jumped into my car and took off. One of the bandits was outside, waiting in his car. I did not see that car when I walked into the place. Maybe I simply was not paying enough attention. Anyway, he saw me running out of there and he started following me in his car. I got lucky and managed to get away by speeding badly and braking all traffic rules. I was concerned he got my tag number but they probably did not consider me as much of a threat. I lost a lot of sleep over that and never visited that parts retailer again. Calling police was not an option. They were worse than bandits and could not be trusted. Bandits paid the police and police never bothered them and had them covered. This was the reality. Money could buy anything, including justice.

What else would I do? I honestly don't know. It depends on what's going on and how bad it gets. Some situations may require you to relocate to another region in the country. I think having a small to mid size travel trailer may be beneficial. You can pack it with food and some of your belongings and head out. A travel trailer has everything you need to live in relative comfort. You get a nice bed to sleep on, a shower with a toilet, plus a refrigerator that runs on propane and a stove to cook your food on. A trailer can be parked at your friend's back yard or almost anywhere and you still have some basic conveniences. I think it's a good thing to own. My wife and I have been talking about selling a few things and getting a smaller size travel trailer, under 4000 lbs dry weight so we can pull it with our Jeep or the 4runner.
I hope this somewhat answers your question. Your wife can be right about coffee. Many people are addicted to it. Get some green coffee beans because they can be stored longer. You can always roast the beans yourself. Freshly roasted coffee smells and tastes a lot better than store bought ground coffee. Also, like I always said, alcohol is one of the best barter items. It stores well too. Maybe learning to make your own may be a good idea. A still can be constructed easily. You will need lots of sugar. Keep in mind that it's illegal to make hard liquor but it's not illegal to own a still. I could never understand why it's illegal. It should not be anybody's business as long as I don't make it to sell it for profit. It's supposed to be a free country, right?
Beans and bullets? Beans, yes. Bullets? I don't know. How many bullets do you think you need? Do you really believe there will be hoards of zombies attacking your place? It's good to have some ammo for practice. You only need a dozen or two for home defense unless you think there will be a dozen bandits attacking your house. In that case, the best thing you can do is call for help or to surrender before they burn the house and you in it. There is no way you can defend your home by yourself if a large group of armed people were determined to get in. It can be done if you expect trouble and have a group of well trained people and perimeter fortifications with foxholes and vehicle entry barriers, plus several guards on duty 24/7.
I doubt you'll be able to use ammo for barter either. It only happens in survival fiction. It's fun to read but I prefer to read history books for education.

Now, since we mentioned moonshine. I never made it myself but my grandpa made a lot of it, back in the USSR. Back at around 1985, when Gorbachev was SPSU (communist party) leader. The government decided that people were drinking too much. There were new anti-alcohol laws implemented. Alcohol production and sales were reduced by a large margin. It was basically a Prohibition. What a mess! Alcohol could only be sold at certain hours of the day and availability was severely limited. I remember seeing quarter mile long lines in front of liquor stores. People were fighting for a chance to get a bottle of vodka. Store managers had to call police to help at the doors. What a mess it was. You'd think there should have been less drinking. Think again. I have not ever seen so many drunk people out in the streets before the prohibition. Lots of people died or went blind from drinking counterfeit vodka. Some guys were drinking cheap cologne and some learned to extract alcohol from certain types of glue.
Making moonshine is legal in Russia nowadays but it was illegal back then. My grandpa started making it in his one bedroom apartment. He was living on the top floor in a large apartment building. He installed an exhaust fan on his window and sealed the entrance door gaps with wet rags, so the smell would not spread into the rest of the building and his neighbors could not smell it when he was running the still. He made his still out of regular items found at any kitchen. The still could be quickly disassembled and there was no evidence against him if the police came over. I won't give you the details but it was a very simple and functional still. He made lots of moonshine for sale and personal consumption.
My grandpa used to drink a lot to kill pain from an injury he received during the WW2. He was an infantry platoon commander and made it all the way to Berlin. A large bomb exploded near him and he was badly injured. Doctors managed to remove most fragments but several pieces could not be removed due to their proximity to his vital organs. He lived with that for the rest of his life. He died in the early 90's. His death and the time he spent in the hospital is another story for another day. What a mess it was. It sure put a lot of stress on our family.

Like I said and stressed before, human beings have a unique ability to adapt to almost anything. Some can do it better than others. During the collapse of the USSR, many people quickly learned new ways to survive and to thrive. Some made moonshine, raised chickens or pigs. some people who had cars worked as taxi drivers in their own cars. One of my neighbors raised a pig on his small balcony! Other neighbors raised chickens inside their apartment! There were 12-14 year old prostitutes out in the streets and in bars. Some people became bandits and racketeers. Everyone was doing what they could to make money so they could survive the new conditions. Being able to quickly adjust and adapt to new ways, was the most important survival skill. If you are set in your ways and are stubborn, you will have a hard time. It does not matter how much gold, silver or alcohol you have stored. Good health is another thing you can't buy with money. If you have health issues that can be corrected, do it now at any cost. Have real friends who would do anything for you and will do anything for them. This is important.

Hope this answered some of your questions and I did not sidetrack too much. I'll try to write more when I can. Please feel free to ask any questions as it shows your interest.
Link Posted: 12/22/2016 5:25:20 AM EST
[Last Edit: 12/22/2016 5:55:16 AM EST by Gyprat]
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Originally Posted By biere:
Thank you for thinking of making the thread, thread maker, and thank you for answering the questions, guy who has a thread made about him. 

It has been a long day, I find the above amusing.

Anyway, on alcohol what size bottle were you buying and bartering with?

Lots of folks here go for the big bottles, I am a beer drinker and too lazy to look at my rum collection to get the sizes.

But lots of folks say to buy the midsize bottles for barter and trade.

I have little use for the airplane bottle size unless it wound up being super duper cheap or I wanted to annoy an alcoholic or something.

I think the next bottle size up, around beer can size or so perhaps, is more expensive than the 2 liter sized bottle but for trade I would sure trust a smaller sealed bottle than someone pulling out an opened up bigger bottle and me taking their word on it.

For here in east tn right now, I would trade the little hand heaters first.  Shake em and get 8 or 10 hours of warmth or whatever, but then they will want more.  And east tn people often consider this dang cold at times.  Heck, my garden hose was not even frozen tonight. 
View Quote



Any size bottle will work. It's better then not having anything at all. Before the collapse, we had very little choice of bottle sizes and alcohol brands available. I found that 1/2 liter bottles were about ideal for bartering. I also kept 1/4 liter bottles for small bribes.
Try to buy alcohol in glass bottles. plastic bottles may develop leaks and may allow some evaporation during storage.
There were not many brands of vodka available. Any brand worked as long as it was not counterfeit vodka. Many people died or went blind from drinking counterfeit vodka. It got even worse in the mid-90s.
Things like Brandi, Rum, Bourbon etc. were not available. We only read about them in books and saw them in movies. Beer was not very popular either. The beer we could purchase taster very bitter because it was never fresh. You often had to bring your own jar and they would pour beer into it in the store. Sometimes we could buy it in bottles but the taste was not much better.
Vodka was the most popular drink. People did not mix it with anything, like they do it here in the US. Vodka was consumed to get drunk, period. No one drank it because they enjoyed the taste. People drank to relax and to purge their frustrations. Life was not great before the collapse and drinking was very common, especially among males. Most guys smoked too. I've seen very few women smoke. Here in the US it seems the other way. Many women smoke in this country.
Now, back to using alcohol for bartering. It makes sense to store what's popular to drink right now and is affordable. It may be a good idea to have some variety, as long as it can be stored without affecting quality. People drink a lot of beer in this country. Beer can't be store for a long time (as far as I know). Perhaps home brew ingredients can be purchased and stored for a long time? I have never brewed beer but maybe someone who did may be willing to chime in?
Either way, don't stress about it. It's good to be prepared but don't forget to live your life. Don't forget to take a break and "smell the roses".
Hopefully, what I said makes sense.

As far as cold weather goes, it has not been too cold here in the Carolinas lately. I'm really enjoying this cooler weather. We've had some nights below freezing but nothing bad yet. Cold does not bother me much but my wife is always cold, even in summer. LOL.
BTW, we installed a wood stove several years ago. It's a Fireview soapstone model made by Woodstock. This has been one of the best investments we ever made. A wood stove can be installed in any house or an apartment. You don't need a large brick chimney. Wood is always available in most areas. We can technically disconnect from the grid in winter time and do fine with a small generator to run several computers and some lights and the deep well water pump.
Summer time is brutal here in the Carolinas. I have a hard time surviving in hot weather. Having an air conditioner is a MUST. I honestly don't know how people lived before air conditioning was available. They were a special breed, I guess. LOL. I would rather have -20 below zero, over a 100 degrees with high humidity.
Thanks for reading this.
Link Posted: 12/22/2016 6:15:22 AM EST
Great read so far, glad you are one of us now.
Link Posted: 12/22/2016 8:22:48 AM EST
tag

Not only is GypRat a great history teacher, he's a Genuinely Awesome Dude too!
Link Posted: 12/22/2016 11:20:28 AM EST
Wow what an awesome thread. As someone who lived through the collapse, although I was allot younger than Gyprat. I Have to say his observations are spot on.

Here are some of my thoughts. My family left the USSR in 1991, and missed some of the more gruesome parts. But the 86-91 period was very dark, and was the initial collapse. When I was there my family lived in Moscow, and Kerch.

On booze. My dad was a genetics professor, so he had access to medical ethanol via the state supply chain. Simply the most worthwhile, investment for the soviet collapse was ethanol. Standard barter unit was a 350 mL medical flask. Ethanol was preferred by the recipients, there was lots of moonshine of dubious quality flowing around the country, so purity was a premium. As an example in the summer of 1990, my Dad bartered ~1L worth of ethanol for a truck load of bricks to build a house outside of Moscow. Sugar, Is also good barter commodity since it is easily turned into booze.
In the US, if I was to stockpile booze for SHTF scenario it would be Everclear in 1 pint bottles.

Food. Short answer is stockpile and grow your own. Even in Moscow around 88-91 food was very hard to come by. Our family strategy was to buy fish/chicken in bulk when it was available, and freeze it. Vegetable of choice was a stockpile of home grown potatoes.

Money, gold, jewelry etc...  was a good way to get killed/robbed for no good reason.

And the most important lesson IMHO was mobility. Having skills that are in demand elsewhere is the best asset during SHTF, if you can move somewhere else that is the best outcome, that is what my family did.
Link Posted: 12/22/2016 5:20:17 PM EST
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Originally Posted By gene_wi:


And the most important lesson IMHO was mobility. Having skills that are in demand elsewhere is the best asset during SHTF, if you can move somewhere else that is the best outcome, that is what my family did.
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You are correct about mobility and I mentioned this in one of my previous posts. Relocation in another part of the country is one of the best options if the problems you are experiencing are only happening at the local area where you live.
Emigration to another country is an option to but it's not as easy if you are over 40 years old. Learning new language and adjusting to a new culture is a lot harder when you are older. Finding a job in another country may be tough for an older person. Moving to another country would be an ultimate test of your flexibility and ability to adjust to new conditions and culture. You'll be the "d*mn furner", don't expect people to speak English to you or to make special arrangements to accommodate you.
You may also need to start on the bottom and work your way up. My very first job was washing dishes in a cafeteria for $4.25 an hour. I knew it was temporary and did the best I could at that job. This allowed me to settle down so I could make plans for a better job to move up in life. I never expected any handouts. Hard work and positive attitude will get you a long ways in this country. This may not be the case elsewhere in the world. Do your own research before you make a move. Grass often looks a lot greener on the other side of a fence.

Link Posted: 12/22/2016 9:19:58 PM EST
My wife had a similar experience growing up Romania.  She was 17 when the revolution happen and in parts of the country it was pretty violent. The post revolution years were very turbulent with lots of inflation and with re-branded communists running the government.

She has described to me similar issues with food.  Everything was rationed and meat was rare in stores through most of the late 70s and all of the 80s.  Everything was provided through government stores like you hear about in Venezuela.  Frequently they ran out of food and if you had living grandparents they were key to your survival.  They could wait in line for you while you worked!  They had a phrase "If you don't have grandparents, get some".

Romania exported a ton of the food during this time.  Being one of their few export items, they wanted to export all they could for hard cache and to 'pay off debt' - according to Ceausescu.

Her family owned their own house in a medium sized city of 400k people.  It was not entirely common but small enough to be legal(big houses were forced to subdivide or were given to communist officials)  and was more comfortable than the soviet-style concrete apartments.  She had two sets of grandparents who lived in villages who farmed so they kept them in meat and dairy which was never found in stores during this time.

While healthcare and other government services were 'free'  - you had to pay bribes for them to become a reality.  There was a protocol at the doctor where you placed things in a basket on his desk.  If you needed a special stamp from the police you just acted like it was a 'cost' of the service.

They were close enough to Yugoslavia and Hungary in western Romania to have a flourishing black market.  Prices were very high but sometimes you had money to buy chocolate or candy around Christmas.  Sometimes you could find bananas or oranges if you were lucky but usually annual events.

Romania had its own 'self sufficient' car industry which had a lot of price distortions of the true cost.  They produced their own oil from the fields of Ploesti yet they only allowed drives to drive every other day depending on their tag number to save gas.  Gas was cheap but the only government vehicle (Dacia - a copy of the Renualt 12 )  you could buy had a huge waiting list.  Same goes for telephone service.  They waited years after applying.

The survival lessons she learned:  Live simple.  Save where you can.  Improvise and learn new life skills.  Grow what you can, even if you live in a city.  Cultivate personal networks as you cannot get anything done without people. As bad as you think it is, it can always get worse. Only share your unpopular opinions and with trusted friends and family.  Government sucks. The less you have it, the better off you will be.
Link Posted: 12/22/2016 10:51:52 PM EST
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Originally Posted By 4v50:
Not a financial adviser either.

When Bush (the son) signed the revised bankruptcy laws into effect, student loans were no longer discharged under bankruptcy. Unless there is a jubilee, they haunt you forever.

Now, if you have some precious metals set aside and they suddenly appreciate, you can cash one in, pay your debt and walk away free. Mind you, the government may attempt to hit you with a windfall profit tax (say you buy silver at $17 and suddenly it's $300 (just speculation for this argument), if there's paper the government will say you made a $283 profit and tax you accordingly).

Gyprate: How large of a garden did your mother have?
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Your silver scenario assumes the .gov doesn't make possession of silver a crime like the did with gold in the depresssion...
Link Posted: 12/22/2016 11:23:19 PM EST
[Last Edit: 12/22/2016 11:36:27 PM EST by Gyprat]
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By Avramel:
My wife had a similar experience growing up Romania.  She was 17 when the revolution happen and in parts of the country it was pretty violent. The post revolution years were very turbulent with lots of inflation and with re-branded communists running the government.

She has described to me similar issues with food.  Everything was rationed and meat was rare in stores through most of the late 70s and all of the 80s.  Everything was provided through government stores like you hear about in Venezuela.  Frequently they ran out of food and if you had living grandparents they were key to your survival.  They could wait in line for you while you worked!  They had a phrase "If you don't have grandparents, get some".

Romania exported a ton of the food during this time.  Being one of their few export items, they wanted to export all they could for hard cache and to 'pay off debt' - according to Ceausescu.

Her family owned their own house in a medium sized city of 400k people.  It was not entirely common but small enough to be legal(big houses were forced to subdivide or were given to communist officials)  and was more comfortable than the soviet-style concrete apartments.  She had two sets of grandparents who lived in villages who farmed so they kept them in meat and dairy which was never found in stores during this time.

While healthcare and other government services were 'free'  - you had to pay bribes for them to become a reality.  There was a protocol at the doctor where you placed things in a basket on his desk.  If you needed a special stamp from the police you just acted like it was a 'cost' of the service.

They were close enough to Yugoslavia and Hungary in western Romania to have a flourishing black market.  Prices were very high but sometimes you had money to buy chocolate or candy around Christmas.  Sometimes you could find bananas or oranges if you were lucky but usually annual events.

Romania had its own 'self sufficient' car industry which had a lot of price distortions of the true cost.  They produced their own oil from the fields of Ploesti yet they only allowed drives to drive every other day depending on their tag number to save gas.  Gas was cheap but the only government vehicle (Dacia - a copy of the Renualt 12 )  you could buy had a huge waiting list.  Same goes for telephone service.  They waited years after applying.

The survival lessons she learned:  Live simple.  Save where you can.  Improvise and learn new life skills.  Grow what you can, even if you live in a city.  Cultivate personal networks as you cannot get anything done without people. As bad as you think it is, it can always get worse. Only share your unpopular opinions and with trusted friends and family.  Government sucks. The less you have it, the better off you will be.
View Quote


I used to work with a lot of Romanian expats when I liven in Phoenix, AZ. One of them became my best friend. One of the guys told me a story how he escaped from Romania, before the revolution. He planned his escape for a long time by collecting all the information necessary to illegally cross the border into Yugoslavia. He made several discovery trips towards the border to survey border patrol schedules and to hide an emergency cache. He was risking being shot when he attempted to cross the border. His original plan to cross the border on a pre-determined date did not work because the wind shifted and the border patrol dogs could smell him. I believe he was hiding for several days near the border before the wind direction was favorable. He almost ran into a foot patrol because they changed the schedule (usual military tactics) and had to hide in tall grass with his heart beating 1000 times a minute. He made it through the border into Yugoslavia, where he applied for a refugee visa at an Italian embassy. While in Italy, he applied for a US visa and was granted. Great guy.
My other Romanian friend's father told us stories from the WW2. He was a teenager when the war started. Romania was occupied by Germans. Life was tough during that time but they made it. He said the Germans made their life tough but it was nothing compared to the Russian troops when they advanced through Romania. He said many Russians were ruthless, they raped women, even young girls. People were hiding girls in basements or out in the forest so the Russians could not find them. Scary huh? We were taught complete opposite in our History classes. Russian troops were shown as liberators and freedom fighters who were welcomed by the war beaten, enslaved population. Does this sound familiar? This proves again that winners are the ones who write history books. Nothing can be trusted 100%, especially if it comes from the government.
Link Posted: 12/23/2016 12:52:39 AM EST
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Originally Posted By 4v50:
More stories from your grandparents please.
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My grandmother (father's side) basically raised me because she lived with us. She told me a lot of stories. I never met either one of my grandfathers. Both were killed in WW2.
My mother's stepfather was the one who I called - grandpa. He fought in WW2 from the beginning to the end. He made it all the way to Berlin. He joined the fight as a private and made it to captain in charge of an infantry platoon. He was right in the middle of one of the biggest battles - The battle of Kursk, when he was badly injured. He and several of his men were separated from the soviet troops nd they hid in an old hinter's cabin, deep in the forest. He said he was laying on a bench for several weeks, unable to move, with no food and only rain water to drink. He barely made it thanks to one of the villagers who discovered them and brought some food. The nearby village where the villager was from, was occupied by the Germans and the villager risked a lot when she brought them food. They were hiding in that cabin for 3 months before he and other injured comrades were able to walk. They made it back to his troops and he was taken to a hospital. Several months later he returned to his unit and joined the fight again.

I don't think he told me everything that happened to him because of several comment he made once, when he was a bit tipsy. I don't blame him a bit. I think they were captured by the Germans and he escaped. Being captured and to return alive was considered as a treason and he would have been stripped of his rank and declared an enemy's collaborator. Every soldier who was captured by the enemy and returned was automatically considered a German spy and collaborator. These people were either sent to Gulag or they were sent back to fight as "cannon meat". They were stripped of anything valuable and sent to attack a German position, without any weapons. Obviously all died like flies. Many chose to do so to die with honor and to save their family's honor at home.
He probably chose not to tell the truth so he could stay alive and continue the fight. He often told me about wonderful canned meat rations they were given towards the end of the war. The canned meat was from the US allies. I think it was canned Spam, based on his description. He also mentioned the undergarments they got from the American allies. Russian made clothing was of poor quality and low thread count that allowed lice to crawl right through the fabric. The American clothing was far superior in quality and lice could not penetrate it. Somehow I remembered that story very well. It's hard for us to understand how important little things can be. Lice and desease were just as dangerous as enemy bullets.
Food and sleep were two things every soldier could not get enough of. He learned to sleep while sitting in a trench, when walking or standing. They were always cold, dirty and hungry. Tobacco was like currency among soldiers. Simple things and small pleasures like smoking a cigarette were rare and cherished by many.
He returned from the war as a war hero. He was welcomed everywhere. People hugged him and offered food or a shot of alcohol. Russia lost more people in WW2 that any other country. The official number was at around 20 million but it was a lot more in real life. There were like 5 women to one man ratio after the war. There are still a lot more women than men in Russia nowadays too.
My grandpa always wore his war medals on his jacket, until he died in the early 90's. I kept his medals and still have them here with me.

I'll try to write more later. Thanks for reading this. Feel free to leave comments or ask any questions.
Link Posted: 12/23/2016 7:01:32 AM EST
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Originally Posted By SCWolverine:
tag

Not only is GypRat a great history teacher, he's a Genuinely Awesome Dude too!
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He isn't one of those knuckle dragging Amatuer radio guys, is he?


Couple thoughts:

Ammo: while it could possibly have value after a SHTF, if you traded it off to people you would essentially be arming people who weren't smart enough to prepare. If they weren't smart enough to store ammo, were they smart enough to store anything else? In a SHTF, someone with ammo to spare is someone with more ammo back at home, and probably a lot more worth having. After SHTF, there are going to be a lot of guys with guns and not much else competing for finite resources.... better to lay low and look like you are suffering along with everyone else. I don't stockpile ammo, but I do shoot enough of it to keep a substantial amount on hand. My General rule is one unopened case per caliber I own-you'll never kill a thousand deer or survive enough gunfights to live thru a case of ammo.

Alcohol: Gyprat mentioned plastic bottles. A friend turned us onto his philosophy of buying the little shot bottles at the liquor store-the smaller size allows more flexibility in barter, but you do have to be careful and only buy glass bottles because the plastic ones do in fact evaporate over time. Not as cost effective as buying fifths or pints, but I think the flexibility is worth it.

And the KLR650 is indeed the American analog to Gyprat's bike back in Russia. They made them exactly the same for twenty years so they are dirt cheap used. I get a realistic 50 to 55 mpg on mine in mostly city driving on knobbies, and if you throw a bag on it because you Absolutely, Positively Have To Be There Overnight, it will get you there. As bikes go, the KLR is primitive, uncomfortable, and not the fastest thing on the road, but it is one of the few single cylinder 4 stroke endure bikes that will mix it up with rush hour city traffic in the left lane. A KLR tops out at 105mph and will do 85 until the tank runs dry. They also shake the fat off road pretty well if you run DOT knobbies, but those tries are loud on pavement and last about 1500 miles. I have six bikes in my garage, the KLR is one of those bikes that stays as others come and go because It's so cheap to keep and useful. Again, not a great bike, but utilitarian and enough torque at all RPM to haul a passenger and a backpack on the luggage rack out of state one a moments notice.
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