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We Can't Eat Money

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"Life savings wouldn't even pay for a postage stamp," reports The Nightmare German Inflation. The situation in Germany between the world wars was so bad that cigarettes were being used as cash. At a time that it literally took a wheelbarrow full of money to buy a loaf of bread, 100 cigarettes would buy a cup of coffee.

Why bring this up now? I recently had an online conversation with a friend in Wisconsin. I made the comment that the yuppie manipulation of Wall Street and government interference would bring about hyper-inflation in this country and everyone who put their sense of security and stability in six figure incomes and retirement's savings would be lost. My friend challenged me to show him the alternative.

There are several alternatives and options that are available now to people who understand that the country's economy is falling. As you read this, understand one thing. As a photojournalist I have access to Senators, Representatives and other government leaders in their least guarded moments. They're not talking to me as a member of the press. They're talking to each other as I photograph them and move in their world and they - for the most part - have come to see me as just the "long haired guy" with the camera. Yah, that was a moniker that Newt Gingrich recently pinned on me. It's better than the Secret Service code name I have - "Wildman".

Anyway, I was recently doing a shoot in The Capital Club. The afterhours hangout for congressional leaders and their friends and guests. The conversation started about the presence of OccupyDC in McPherson Square and quickly turned to the economy and inflation in general. The tone of the conversation was not IF the economy was going to crash to between-war German levels - but when. Yes, you read that right. Our governmental leaders have moved - in private - past the point of debating the health of the economy and are now focusing on WHEN the economy will tank.

So what's a rational, thinking American to do when faced with the fact that eventually your retirement - your life savings - won't even buy a postage stamp?

First, plant a garden. Trim your grocery purchases to an absolute minimum. Granted you may not have the resources - land, time, money - to buy a cow for fresh milk, but even someone living in an apartment can grow a limited amount of vegetables. Set aside a certain percentage of each harvest for the proverbial rainy day. Setting aside just 10 percent of each harvest will result in your having a year supply before you know it. Joel Salatin, owner of Polyface Farms in Virginia is a recognized leader in this area.

Second, eliminate - or at a minimum - cut back on the cable bill and other conveniences. C'mon, do you REALLY need 300 + channels? The money that you save could be used to put in that garden mentioned earlier...or 101 other uses.

Third, move gradually towards living "off the grid". Passive solar and water heaters are becoming more and more affordable every day. What used to cost thousands of dollars now cost hundreds. Using a little more ingenuity and a good source of information such as Mother Earth, passive solar and water heaters can be built for only dollars.

Fourth, change your thinking about transportation. Leave that car in the garage one day out of five ride your bike. Take the bus. Carpool. We've become addicted to the ease and convenience of having a box on four wheels at our command. I know one lady in Texas who lives a mile from her job. She drives her car every day...and is constantly watching her weight. If she were to leave the car at home just one day out of five and walk to work, she'd be saving gas costs, hidden maintenance costs and - as a bonus - she would be getting her weight under control.

These are only four ways to truly become secure and stable. The government won't do it for you. The banking industry has proven they don't want to do it for you. Be creative. Think of other ways that you can take back control of your fiancés and you'll find that you're taking back your life.

"Only when the last tree has died, and the last river has been poisoned, and the last fish has been caught, will we realize that we cannot eat money." - American Indian proverb

Jerry Nelson is a nationally recognized photojournalist. His work has appeared in many national, regional and local publications including CNN, USAToday, Upsurge, Earthwalkers and Associated Content and he is a regular contributor to Huffington Post as well as OpEdNews. Nelson travels the country seeking out the people, places and things that make America unique and great. Nelson currently is in Washington D.C. pointing his camera at OccupyDC and freelancing for The Washington Times the second largest paper in the nation's capital.