What's the plan?

A Summary

Many people have asked us, "Where are the large-scale solutions to all these problems you have described?" and "What should we do as a nation to avoid the seemingly inevitable consequences of this fiat money system?"

The lack of promotion of a large-scale solution set reflects a deliberate act of strategy rather than negligence. We believe we must reach a critical mass of individuals who have an understanding of the ideas presented in the Crash Course, before any national or global solutions will even be possible.

Because we are still quite far from this tipping point of understanding, this website continues to focus primarily on educating people and helping them move from denial, to awareness, to understanding, and then towards actions rooted in a sense of personal responsibility.

Once we have achieved a critical mass of people who understand the issues and have taken responsible actions as a result, solutions will find more fertile ground in which to take root. Many people have already reached this place of understanding and assumed personal responsibility for their futures, but this site is organized around the principle that most have not.

The Theory of Action

My position on actions is that solutions should come from a position of understanding. I believe it is premature to discuss specific solutions until and unless true understanding has been achieved. Preceding understanding is awareness, and the prerequisite of awareness is a lack of denial.

Said in reverse, the stages are: denial >> awareness >> understanding >> solutions

Let me create an example around a medical condition. Imagine a patient finally passes out of the denial stage, decides that their chest pains might not be heartburn after all, and goes to the ER. Prior to coming out of denial and showing up at the ER, no solutions could be entertained, because the patient was not yet even willing to admit they were a patient.

Now that they are at the ER, imagine that there is a choice between two attending physicians.

One is young, bright, right out of school, and has studied the condition and treatment of heart attacks but has never actually treated one before. We could say that this doctor is aware of the condition of heart failure and how to treat it.

The other physician has extensive experience treating such victims and is so familiar with the condition and all the possible variables that they understand, in a deep way, the nuances of choreographing the actions that will be taken over the next few hours.

I hope we can agree that we’d prefer, given the choice, to have this patient treated by the second physician, whose deep familiarity with heart attacks has led to an understanding of the condition that goes well beyond simple awareness.

Similarly, it is not enough for people to be aware that inflation exists, or that our monetary system has flaws, or that resources are depleting. That is insufficient. If they are to take effective actions and formulate solutions, then they need to understand what these terms and conditions really mean.

At this stage, I am not convinced that I even know what the right solutions are, and I’ve been studying this for a long time.

Solutions should come from a position of understanding.

That’s Part One of the theory of action.

Little steps before big steps

Part Two of the theory of action is even simpler, and it goes like this: There’s not much point in having people talk about big solutions if they haven’t taken any small steps. Large solutions require large commitments. Is it realistic to expect success at something large if even small commitments are lacking?

This is why I focus on personal actions, such as not taking on consumptive debt and maybe putting a little food aside, perhaps taking some cash out of the bank, or any number of other easy actions. I know these seem to be wholly insufficient actions, even if defensively prudent, but they are actually a critically important psychological step towards aligning our internal beliefs with our actions. Taking any actions on one’s own behalf implies taking responsibility for one’s future.

I don’t know about you, but when I read a brilliant article outlining all the grand steps that could and should be taken, I feel disconnected from the responsibility for making it happen. Call it the bystander’s syndrome – in the back of my mind I suppose that plenty of others much be reading and acting on this excellent call to action and so I’m off the hook. Or something like that.

True commitment and personal responsibility are measured by the actions people take.

The Plan

Build understanding, encourage small actions, then align with solutions.

The goal of this site is to help build awareness and understanding until the right 8% - 10% of the population is on board. It is only then that a realistic solution set will find fertile ground in which to take root.

The first stage of the plan is to get as many people as possible to watch the Crash Course in 2009. Our target is 5 million.

The Crash Course is going out to more and more people every day. The Brigade is spreading the word. 17,500 DVDs are out there, hopefully being viewed. Even more copies have been downloaded and burned. People are holding house parties and viewings all across the globe.

We are using your donations and subscriptions to operate and maintain the site, develop new Crash Course materials such as study guides and presenter packs, and produce the next version of the DVD. We are giving interviews, working on getting a book out, doing a PBS special, developing podcasts, and writing material for the site every day.

We have lots of strategies and tactics for how we are going to spread the word, but we are counting, in large measure, on your help in spreading the word.

As I mentioned on Bill Sharon's podcast, all significant social movements representing real change began as grassroots campaigns before moving inward to Washington DC. The movement towards living within our natural and economic budgets will find itself up against the status quo, which never gives in willingly, only grudgingly (if we’re lucky).

Along the way, we will encourage people, in ways both large and small, to take meaningful actions within their own lives, both as a means of mitigating risks and for encouraging a greater sense of commitment and personal responsibility.

Aligning with solutions

The time will come to actively promote large solutions, and we are already scanning the landscape for appropriate solutions and organizations with which to align in the not-too-distant future. We read everything you post and are sifting through all the excellent ideas and organizations that are already out there. Later in 2009, it is entirely probable that this site will be promoting solutions and aligned with existing, solutions-based organizations.

But for now? Right now it makes more sense to direct all of our collective energies towards spreading awareness and building understanding.

That alone is a worthy and challenging task.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://peakprosperity.com/whats-the-plan-2/

Chris, What an outstanding summary and fitting message for the year-end. Your insight and ability to phase things in a concise and succinct message are a true gift which you give freely. I, for one, am extremely thankful for your advice and counsel. Happy New Year, Ray.

The big fix is dead. Long live the little fix. The little fix will not lead to the big fix. The little fix is the only fix left. A lot of time and effort can be wasted on the big fix. Little fixes will see a resumption of tribal living without authorative leaders. Our future is our neighbours. Whales live in pods, monkeys in troups, bees in hives and humans in tribes. It doesn’t have to mean a caveman lifestyle (mean, nasty and short) but the longer we take to return to consentual tribal living the more likely that is. Our group size is too large; we are simply governed and governable. Groups of around a hundred or so with our neighbours offer us the only workable solution. We need to stop transporting food while we still can so we can prepare for our future when we are forced to. We must return to our local resource bases and live within them.That is the only way to reduce our population and what we must do to achieve a habitable planet where we can drink the water, breathe the air and know each other again.


(some ideas from Daniel Quinn, particually his book Beyond Civilization http://www.ishmael.com )

And a happy new year to everyone. Thanks for your ideas and this site. Lets hope we can commune again for all this year.



Re "We believe we must reach a critical mass of individuals who have an understanding of the ideas presented in the Crash Course, before any national or global solutions will even be possible." I lean towards regional solutions. Some regions will "get it" with brave and corresponding political leadership/guidance, some won’t. The industrial nation state crumbles in our life times. The Empire (global) implodes. This is all basic 3-E stuff, as I understand it. I am in total agreement with Chris, as per the Crash Course, that the next 20 years will be crucial. It will be a period of transition; it will not be pretty. Mixed into the socio-political context is the human condition: there is no motivator greater than hurt. What awaits us on the other side is anyone’s guess. Personally, I am not holding my breath for some quixotic, Green nirvana. Top of the Year to all.

One of the problems with moving toward financial or economic solutions is that so many of us believe that our economy is independent from larger social and environmental constraints. In other words, we see the economy as the big picture, rather than as a small yet integral part of the big picture. I suspect that we’ll have a very difficult time setting things right until we decide on a shared and common purpose, or vision, for the future.
It’s easy to imagine a hundred people working together to accomplish a specific goal. It’s even easy to picture a hundred people coming together to create a shared purpose or vision. But when you have a hundred people working side by side who haven’t taken the time to decide whether their activities are complimentary or productive, and who haven’t focused on cooperation or coordination, it’s hard to imagine a positive outcome down the road.
We need to decide what we, collectively, want for the future. And we have to create this over-riding vision before we’re going to have any realistic chance of achieving it. Which means we’re faced with any number of hard questions and hard choices.
It’s becoming more and more obvious that our current way of doing business is morally bereft and intellectually bankrupt. But until we develop some sort of larger vision for the world we live in, it’s as likely as not that our "solutions" will end up working at cross-purposes. And I’m afraid we aren’t going to be given an unlimited number of chances to get things right.
With all that in mind, it might not be a bad idea to think about where we’re trying to go before we spend a lot of time worrying about how to get there. We need a destination, and I don’t think we’ll find the path to continual growth and the path to sustainability intersecting any time soon.

Yet one more time, Chris, you have nailed the truth we needed to hear. Thank you. If we really understand what you are saying, we will all work harder to get the word (CC) out, and practice what it teaches, in our own lives. The changes we seek will definitely come from the bottom up, NOT from the top down. So if, as Mike Pilat so correctly says, all these folks are awaiting big solutions from Obama, we are indeed in trouble. Everytime someone tells me Obama is the key, I try to take the time to explain this to them. I’m trying to do my part; lighting one little candle, so to speak

ttanner said: " it might not be a bad idea to think about where we’re trying to go before we spend a lot of time worrying about how to get there. We need a destination, and I don’t think we’ll find the path to continual growth and the path to sustainability intersecting any time soon."
While I certainly agree with you that we need to "know where we’re wanting to go" I think there is also a risk in putting that goal out too loudly, simply because doing so often tends to call forth all those who disagree with it, either because they don’t understand, or because they have a reason to want it to stay the same. So, while it might be great for those of us who are associated with Chris to have some clear goals, I think it should be taken in steps, i.e. work "behind the scenes" so to speak, by getting the CC out, and changing consciousness, before we "announce" any grand plan that might just draw opposition that we do not need at this stage in the game.
For example, if we said we have one goal of ridding our nation of the Fed Res, etc. how much opposition do you suppose we’d get almost immediately?
But thanks for your astute contribution, and for allowing me to share my thoughts with you too.

I believe that creating widespread understanding is the best hope for the future. That said, I’m not sure it will get widespread enough before things start getting ugly. It’s relatively easy to change the mindset of a town or community, but changing the mindset of a nation as diverse as the United States is very difficult. It’s been a long time since America has been as political divided as it is now and those sorts of division tend to create their own intellectual vacuum, as masses of people can align behind popular slogans, sound bytes, and opinions.

As Chris pointed out, without individual responsibility and local changes, national changes will be impossible. Perhaps counterintuitive is the fact that if we don’t start taking care of ourselves and instead turn to the state to take care of us, we will become disillusioned and angry when we realize that Ben Bernanke, Barack Obama, and Nacy Pelosi are not capable of meeting our daily needs. Thus, the more we take care of ourselves, the more we’ll be able to take care and assist others. But the more we look to huge government solutions, the more we will lose all of our personal "surplus capacity" and be forced to subsistence.

Formerly known as "Student of Jefferson" I again make the case for limited government. I believe that the government needs to step aside and mainly just instill a mindset of responsibility in America. At the same time, it needs to free people so that they are better able to take care of themselves, each other, and their communities. This can take the form of lower taxes and reduced regulations and a massive downsizing of government itself. Of course, this task is monumental, if not improbable and that is exactly what we are all up against.

It seems we have reached a point where Big Government and individual liberty and prosperity can no longer even feign a commensalistic relationship.

I’ll also make another shameless plug in saying that forced collectivism is potentially the worst thing that we could do. The more regulations, rules, and taxes that Washington attempts to uniformly enforce across such a diverse nation, the more everyone will be harmed while Washington just increases its power. Freedom and liberty are the answers so that local communities can determine what works best for them.

Hi t.tanner. Yes we do need vision but not just one or even one agreed by a hundred people. Many of my neighbours are growing food already. As things get more difficult I expect that the rest will be more willing to co-operate in communal growing. I have identified boundaries and talked to neighbours. Some are in denial but still growing food, a few are in denial and not growing food. If we can eat we can discuss our options forever but if some of us can’t eat I don’t expect we can do much talking until they are no longer hungry. As at least one person in Zimbabwe said "a hungry man is an angry man". Vision can come anytime. The only vision needed first is of sufficient food.


If the only fix is a big fix then there is no fix

At the risk of perhaps seeming contrarian I think it is important to understand that economics and finance is but one slice of the multitude of ways that humans relate to each other. The awareness and understanding of the advances of medicine outside of pharmacology, physics beyond Newton and energy from free sources is compounding at a rate analogous to the money supply. These and other forms of awareness will contribute to solutions, big or small, that are rapidly evolving. The trick to the next year is to be open to those things larger than our current perceptions.

I would also caution against an overly linear sense of process. Awareness and understanding have a tendency to accelerate with individuals putting together information and making leaps that, while creating some consternation in those who have been toiling in the trenches, may prove to be more elegant than what we know in the moment. Peter Russell once observed when he was surprised that people much younger than he was grasped complicated concepts that it had taken him years to understand. He felt it was a demonstration that the idea of interconnectivity is very real – if he had been studying for 30 years, so had everyone else.

A full stomach is heaven; the rest is luxury. - Chinese Proverb Wink

This is the only site that I have come across that covers all the nuts and bolts of the econmy. So many get hung up on one area, wether that be GDP, Inflation, Deflation, Debt, Deficits, Imports etc…
I have dubbed this Micro Macro Economics.
And then you have the media, to wit today in my inbox I got this from Marketplace:
"Sometimes it seems like the experts have abandoned us when it comes to understanding the forces now moving the economy. No one is doing a particularly good job of predicting how it’ll all turn out next year, either. So, we figured, why not try another prediction racket altogether? We sent Mitchell Hartman to check out what astrology has to say about our economic fate."
Either they don’t look hard for experts or they are hell bent on missleading the masses. In any event, I can only hope that Chris gets the word out, so after the mess is over we don’t repeat history out of stupidity.
Astrology economics, I doubt Cramer could top this.

If you are networking with solution-based organizations, you could talk to the good people at http://www.downsizedc.org/

I’m with you pir8don. The indigenous models are the only ones proven to be sustainable . It makes sense that the original social structures of us humans probably work the best for us. An organism thrives best in the environment that it evolved in, and a human needs the emotional systems that originally developed around him or her.
dbajba seems to say: small personal actions encite great and lasting change. Right On!



As an older worker I find myself recently retrenched, with little payout, with no job prospects, and a rapidly disappearing superannuation account. The future certainly will be challanging.

I am interested in getting the Crash Course out there into my community and ask for an additional marketing tool: a pdf of a flyer and/or poster that I can put on community noticeboards and with the DVDs. The idea of putting the DVDs on a counter is good, however a "highlighter" would greatly increase awareness and uptake.

An old saying "there is only one thing better than a good product, and that is good marketing".

I realise how busy you all are, and I would have a crack at it, however someone with graphics skills would do a much better job at making them. I will be good at getting the message out there as many people living in my area have limited Internet access.


Chris Ryan




While I think your sentiments are noble and personally fine, I think the issue of "limited government" is easily used to disguise political agendas where the size of government is secondary to class bias. As an example, we saw during Reagan the growth of government, deficit spending, and even taxation while the bromides about "personal responsibility" were used to justify a sharp economic tilt to the wealthy. Similarly, the Bush 43 presidency wielded propaganda about "freedom" in order to justify the erosion of Constitutional liberties. That Bush also succeeded in doubling the National Debt during his term while cutting taxes on the wealthy also shows how agendas about "limited government" are essentially masquerades.

All of us may find the future a shock so I still have sympathies for those whose own personal responsibility are not fully realized. Complaining about government cannot take the place, however, of real social responsibility. None of us are islands, complete and independent. If centralized government devolves after Peak Oil, it’s unlikely to be in benign tribal communities. It’s more probable that it will be violent and thuggish. Government, as Hobbes posited, is the last resort against the jungle. While I can nostalgically yearn for 19th Century Vermont, I cannot navigate a mental path there in the coming decades. Neighbors helping neighbors, yes! Communities and mutual aid, certainly! And individual rights guaranteed by the government, please, please, please!

We are not a nation of yeoman farmers. We may be forced to cooperate with one another, however, like farmers once did when this nation was largely agrarian. We can all see the beneftis in that development. But it’s rank sentimentalism to think that governments will wither away and freedom will somehow flourish. It won’t. It can’t. And we shouldn’t even hope for the chance.

Don -- You're right about food, of course, but I believe you're actually helping me make my case. Folks who concentrate on food to the exclusion of water, shelter, heat or a healthy environment are doomed to come up short in the long run. Focusing solely on food is analogous to focusing solely on the economy. It's important, no doubt, but it's only one segment of what's required for a sustainable lifestyle (or a sustainable society). And you can say the same thing about energy or global warming or resource depletion or underground aquifers or population dynamics or whatever. They're all part of a larger whole, and while it may make sense for us to specialize during the course of our day-to-day lives, we need to realize that the big picture - the vision - will determine our success, or our lack thereof, down the road.

Ben -- The problem with waiting to create a vision, or a direction, or a consensus, or whatever else you might want to call it, is that time is growing short and our window of opportunity to move through our current logjam of conflicting dogmas and philosophies is shrinking. I don’t claim to represent anyone at this site, or anywhere else for that matter, but given a choice, I’d rather stand side-by-side with thoughtful, rational folks who are interested in facing our problems head-on. We’ve seen what happens when people stick their heads in the sand and hope for the best. It simply doesn’t work.

And on that note, Happy New Year to all.

azzenstudent - I believe government will simply become irrelevent, if it isn’t yet. For three million years we have been tribal. Civilisation is the failed anomoly. Every previous civilisation has apparently been ended by the participants voluntarily. How can we know that then ask to be governed? How precious the vote now?. We are nearly 7 billion but believable sustainable estimates are around one. Will government every reduce our population? It can’t even stop growing and consuming. I agree that "freedom" is an overused word while "responsibility" is underused. But they need to relate to people we can and do see every day. Not posturing power-mad fools who feed on your attention.


There are lots of ‘little things’ that people can start doing to make themselves a little less dependent upon a fully functioning economy. While it would be great if every one of us could move to the country and live independently on 10 acres, most people can’t do that. But it does surprise me that so many Americans are totally helpless when a natural disaster hits, or the power goes off for a few days. These are things anyone can prepare for, and it doesn’t require moving to the country.

Food, water, shelter and heat.

Anybody can store some extra food. A couple hundred dollars worth of canned goods, rice, beans, etc. are within anyone’s reach. "Store what you eat and eat what you store" is the rule here. Many canned goods have shelf lives of 5 years, and if kept at 60 degrees instead of 70 degrees, the shelf life can double. Once you’ve established a good rotation schedule for your food items, increase the number and varety of food items you store. There are dozens of internet sites that talk about food storage.

Water - why is it that when New Orleans floods, people die of thirst? It’s because people know nothing about how to make water drinkable. Missionaries have been using ceramic filters to remove bacteria from water for 150 years. For under $100, you can make your own bucket filter using ceramic filters that will remove bacteria, micro-organisms, sediment and most chemicals from water. This allows you to use rain water, puddles, creeks, streams, even floodwaters, and make drinkable water for your family.

Shelter - most of us already have shelter, but what do you do if the area you live in becomes unsafe (riots, disaster, no power, etc.)? It’s great if you have a cabin in the woods to go to, but most people don’t. So set up an arrangement with several friends who live in different areas. Agree with each other that if all hell breaks loose in one area, those families can go live with one of the other families until things get better. This simple contingency plan costs nothing, yet provides some peace of mind.

Heat - again, there are dozens of websites that talk about how to heat your home without electricity. It doesn’t cost a fortune to have a backup plan. Ventfree propane and natural gas heaters are nearly 100% efficient and require no electricity to operate. Kerosene convection heaters are cheap (and will be onsale at Lowes and Home Depot for half price around the end of January or beginning of February), and kerosene is safe and easy to store. If stored properly, kerosene can still be good after a decade or more. And instead of waiting for a disaster to use your alternate heat source, start using it now. Using a kerosene heater in your family room will probably save you money because you can keep the rest of the house at a lower temperature. Ventfree propane and natural gas heaters are 99.9% efficient, so you get more heat for your dollar than you’re getting with your current furnace. By incorporating these things into your lifestyle now, you’ll be fully prepared to get through the times when your life depends upon them.

I have a friend who has been simplifying his lifestyle for decades, and he freely shares this information on his website. The power grid could go down for good and the economy could fail and his lifestyle wouldn’t change much. His name is Miles Stair and you can get a lot of good information from his website, www.milesstair.com He is semi-retired and is probably the world’s most knowledgeable person when it comes to "wicks". We can’t all live like Miles, but we can learn how to boil water and bake bread (without electricity) and grow tomatoes year round. Spend some time learning how to be a little more self-sufficient. Miles does all his cooking and heating with kerosene. And he collects and uses kerosene lamps for lighting.

Personally, I store food and I have the ability to make drinking water when I need it. I have the means to heat my home and cook food and have light without the use of electricity. I still use electricity - about $175 a month in fact, but I could get along without it if I had to. Each year, we try to implement some of the simpler methods into our daily lives so if the day comes when our lives depend upon knowing how to do things, we’ll be ready. This winter, we are using kerosene heaters quite a bit. In 2009, we are going to start using a kerosene cookstove on an occasional basis to prepare meals. And I will be purchasing a number of oil lamps (nice, decorative ones) that we will begin using occasionally to light different rooms. By doing this, we’ll learn how to use and maintain the items and we’ll get a better idea of what parts will need to be stocked and how much kerosene to store. We might start gardening this year, and may build a greenhouse inthe future (if you go to Miles’ website, check out his homemade greenhouse - including his 12’ wide tomato plant growing in the winter).

These are all small things. But they can be powerful things, and they can bring you peace of mind, knowing that you can eat, drink water and keep warm during a power outage, economic disruption or natural disaster. There is a ton of info on the Internet. If anyone has questions for me, just email me at john@stpaulmercantile.com

Thanks, and I wish each of you a Happy New Year.

John Squires



Well written , understandable, giving people some of the tools needed to ready themselves for the future.

                                                                                cheers, Bob