This post was inspired by a podcast interview by Bob Mayne of 299 Days author.
Are we in a just-in-time efficiency paradox? Well, I think partially so. Our propensity NOT to save has an earlier source.
Inflationary monetary policy, that was perfected under Keynesianism, came first. Keynesianism created an incentive not to save. You would think inflation would at least give someone the incentive to invest. But the volatility of inflation makes even investing more risky. The safest place for your money is NOT in your pocket, mattress, or bank. The safest way to maintain the value of your government-controlled fiat currency is to convert it into practically anything else. And Keynes intended it that way.
Just-in-time delivery of manufacturing components and consumer goods has closed the circle on ANY type of savings, including storing things that are needed soon. It is not so surprising that the prepper community - and anyone that has their finger to the wind - has focused so heavily on storing what you will need for a short amount of time. Actually, preppers have moved beyond the three-day requirements to a month or more. You would think that was all doomsday hysteria, but it is based on a simple truth that I don't think most preppers are aware of. This is where Glen Tate and his 299 Days series comes in:
I was amazed at how quick certain store shelves have been cleared during impending storms here in Charlotte. You could chalk it up to idiots going out and buying up milk, bread, and eggs, when the weather report threatens a flurry. That's not so surprising, especially since every major intersection in this city could present you with a car wreck during a simple rainy day. Recently, I was also perplexed that I often find simple items not available on the grocery stores. The groceries stores don't look like the ones in the Soviet Union - not by a long shot - but things I expect to find aren't there. Then a day later they are.
Glen Tate explained in his interview on Bob Mayne's show that grocery stores are functioning on a Just In Time (JIT) model of receiving and stocking goods. That seemed like a great idea when I heard that a seat supplier would start making a seat at the same time that a car starts being built on BMW's assembling line and TRUCKS it over to the BMW factory just in time for it to be bolted into the car. Well, that's the reality for many goods that we depend on. Retail stores are no longer stores to a large extent, so you better have a store in your own house.
On a monetary level, I think we as a culture have drifting lazily so far from saving money, that we find it impossible to save for the long term. Maybe, many of us need intermediary steps. If you can get yourself to save something for a week, then next time save it two weeks, then a month, two months, four months, eight months, sixteen months. I think we have stigmatized ourselves in our own minds that we can't think of ourselves as savers.
If a squirrel can save, then so can you.