Charles Hugh Smith: Why Local Enterprise Is The Solution

Technet wrote:

… anyone for communal free love ?


Technet is right.
Robert Zimmerman was right.

"Those who aren’t busy being born are busy dying" (My Back Pages).

I have an 18 yo son. It is his time, not mine.  He chooses to make realities as an artform, I applaud.



1. harsh or bitter derision or irony.

2. a sharply ironical taunt; sneering or cutting remark: a review full of sarcasms.


Frobn and Crackor 

I think you had your sarcasm detector switched to the off position when you responded to Technet’s post. His outrageous exaggerations were the tip off. The third paragraph made clear the authors true thoughts. It is well not to read too fast or depend on smiley faces for meaning.

Now Johnny O was right in the spirit of things, as usual.




[quote=Arthur Robey]Technet is right.
Robert Zimmerman was right.
"Those who aren’t busy being born are busy dying" (My Back Pages).
I have an 18 yo son. It is his time, not mine.  He chooses to make realities as an artform, I applaud.
"He not busy being born is busy dying"  is from It’s All Right Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)
and there is more…
"The masters make the rules, for the wise men and the fools"
"Although the rules of the road have been lodged, it’s peoples games you got to dodge"
Sorry, its those pesky skipping reels of rhyme to my tamberine in time

Thanks Ron, yes solar panels will also work well in winter if you live in a sunny location (they actually work better in cold weather). But where I live we can go weeks without sunshine.
Another option with great potential is the Stirling engine which simply converts a heat source (your wood stove) into work, by transfering this heat to a cold source like your house or the snow outside. This could be used to make electricity, at a decent efficiency. It uses a compressible fluid to drive pistons as the gas moves from hot to cold. They haven’t been mass produced yet, mainly because they take a long time to warm up so they have limited use for thigns like cars. But for producing electricity from your wood stove they wood be ideal. I think it won’t be long before someone perfects this design for home use. Then you also wouldn’t have the headaches involved with a steam system, the stirling engine is totally self contained.

It seems very ironic that Smith exhorts everyone to "relocalize their incomes" while he pursues the broadest national and international audience he can get with his writings (which the internet does very well).   Following his advice should lead him to only publish articles to be read by a very limited group in his own immediate locale…???
Just a fan of people doing precisely what they prescribe others to do.

I work as a legal translator. 500,000 words a year. Working from home throughout the world with CAC40 companies and the French Government.
Very regular work. But it’s worth hoping for the best and planning for the worst!

Money currently has no value. Commodity and selected food prices have risen exponentially over the past few years. The potential breakdown of central services seems high.

To share our approach

Investment 1= P2P in family at "low" rate of 4%. But this is a win-win situation with investment income on cash at 0% to minus (eg Switzerland) and banks not able to properly assess their customers and equivalent terms being up front charges plus up to 18% interest.

Investment 2 in basic foods that keep. Hypermarket Basmati Rice, wholesale wheat (and hand grinder for bread), chickens for eggs, canned foods

Investment 3 A dehydrator to ensure conservation of vegetables, fruit from garden and in glut. (and the flavour is sio good)

Investment 4 A vacuum sealer to extend conservation time and extend to meat and fish drying

Investment 5 We already have one wood stove and we are extending this to a stove/oven. We have 5 acres including 2 of oak.

Investment 6. I am investing in my wife’s new property, putting in flooring to start trading in basic foodstuffs centred on curries…rice, lentils, spices and eventually our own brand curry mixes

Investment 7. Prices are rising fast. Buying in building materials to add garage/storage area.

Future Investment 8 A simple wooden house in the woods to house friends and relatives in need. (20m² at €5,000) (we built our own home, woodframe, large oak frames)

9 Develop the garden.

So there is no theory here. It’s what we have done. We expect to get rid of our electrical things bit by bit. as it becomes necessary,  freezer shortly, we don’t have a TV. The dishwasher is no great loss. The washing machine is very central and currently we understand the potential need to work together here! I’m not convinced by the bicycle run variant!

I believe that I should be able to send/receive emails from my local maintenance provider whilst services last. Generators are SO noisy…but I have used them to get work out in the past.

I should really welcome actual successful experience!!

There is much to do, but finally there is a limit.

Perhaps most importantly we have a lifetime’s books to read, clothes to wear, 2 violins to play and 20 years of art materials.

All very best wishes to you all






Maybe that’s why in his interview he seemed to have a lack of down to earth examples of local economic investing.    It also appears he lives in Berkeley, CA.   For someone concerned about U.S. societal disruptions, it seems he would be heading out of dodge.

I agree with many points of the interview and also of the failure of the Fed and leadership in Washington.  I also think the predictions of Chris and Charles will prove to be true, but I’m not sure that will be enough to say "I told you so".   I would hesitate to say that the leaders in Washingto are simply scrambling to protect themselves and their K-Street cronies. There is a real fear of breakdown of social order.  Recent riots in London and elsewhere should give us pause, especially when we are running short of budget allowances for police. 
I am giving up on trying to change the macro too, at least directly, and hope they will eventually see some new options, or get replaced by other leaders.  Change at the micro individual level is important, but I think the middle level, the local community changes are critical and I don’t see them happening at nearly the scale that it needs to, except maybe the farmers markets where there is better food.  I don’t see a community that could sustain itself if gas goes to $10 or $20 a gallon.  

My point is that I think we need to experiment and push the changes more at the community level.  Tim Harford writes and excellent book "Adapt - Why Success Always Starts with Failure".   Besides stories on economics and the financial meltdowns of the past, he recounts stories of the war in Afganistan where the leadership in Washington was unwilling (or maybe unable) to hear what was happening on the ground.  It was the mid- level leaders on the ground who turned things around.  They learned from each other about what things worked and what didn’t work.  If they didn’t learn, lives were lost.   

Harford also points to the need to expriment much more.  Find out what might work at one place and others might be able to use it.  I would challenge Chris and Charles and other readers to think about and start some specific experiments that encompass a whole geographic commuity somewhere that includes people across the political spectrum.  Coordinate efforts to look at this one community at a time. It would be an experiment .  Not looking for final solutions, but what seems to work at that time and place.  Focus efforts for a few months and then move on to another community.  

It can’t be done from the top down and mainstream media is still supporting the notion that sustainability is still a novel, quirky idea, so communication of ideas and information will be a challenge.  People within a geographic community who don’t agree politically may appear to be comfortable, if not smug, in their positions, so  I think it has to be done as a contest or game.  Then maybe we can see how creative we can be.  


Marc, in my studies of this topic and review with other engineers I finally concluded that the best near-available technology would be scroll compressors for automobile air conditioning, run backwards, to convert near steam temperature heat energy to mechanical motion (generator to make electricity).  An auto air conditioner could be converted to use methanol or other alcohol (its not as flammable as many other hydrocarbons and you dont need so much of it-regarding safety) and some seals would need  to be replaced to handle the methanol, but you could use the slightly lower temperature  exhaust to boil the alcohol in a small enclosure around a heat source to run the air conditioner backwards at fairly high efficiency, using mostly off the shelf mass produced (low cost or pre-used) parts…  If you were to use or make a (low efficiency steam turbine) the waste heat from THAT could be further exploited with the slightly lower temp alcohol based system…

Thanks Mirv, that makes sense to use a lower boiling point alcohol. I wonder how the scroll compressor run backwards could handle condensation as the alcohol goes through, that would also be an issue with the little steam turbines.