POST-APOCALYPSE TRADING CARAVANS
After Peak Oil crashes the world economy, or the Yellowstone Super Volcano erupts, chances are that nation states will not retain their power. Best case scenario will have moderate local power and little or no Federal level power. Without petrol fuels modern economies and armies would be out of business and localities could look after their own best interests. Under this local economy structure it is likely we would see trading caravans again, where rail was unavailable due to multi-jurisdictional issues. In vast contested areas of land strongly armed groups could pass if they could fight. No longer will a strong central authority regulate trade. On the downside this means no protection from that state, but generally the two costs ( paying for private armed escorts or paying for permission from the state with its public security ) will roughly be equal. Although if anything it should be cheaper going the private route as no bureaucracy hinders cost cutting or efficiency measures. The coming post-apocalyptic job conditions will not favor the employee as Unions will become a curious historical footnote. Pay will be competitive and conditions dangerous ( i.e.-cheap to replace labor ).
There should be a strong need for traders. Take the case of coffee. The north is addicted to the stuff and can’t grow it. Someone is going to have to go get it. Even if ships become the cheapest form of transport again goods will still have to be moved from ports overland. So while it is unlikely that an American trade caravan will actually travel down to South America, it will travel from San Francisco over the Sierras to the Rocky Mountain area. In time private interests will arrive at wanted trade items. Perhaps the American gun industry will boom again without the Federal interference that killed it after the 1930’s ( name one good American designed gun after the Garand- and the M14 doesn’t count as it was just a Garand with a detachable magazine ). Now we have CAD programs to help us and small steel mills will thrive. We might be thrown back to horses and steam engines but some if not most of technology will remain even if it is in other countries.
So it will not really be that horses are going to be the only form of transportation but most likely the affordable one for most folks. Think back to the Great Depression. Cars were available as was plenty of oil, but most could only afford horses as you could grow the fuel yourself. We might see a return to cattle drives if meat must remain fresh due to less affordable refrigeration. But why wouldn’t we see a return to traders on horseback? The weeds along the way provide fuel. In a cash scarce economy low maintenance transport will resurface. It might even be that we see bicycles ( imported from China? ) used as transportation. The new cavalry might be on bikes.
Think about what your area lacks and what it could provide. Every area has its good and bad points. If you are on a good waterway or at a port your area could become a trading center. If you live in a fertile area with good rainfall you produce crops ( which will pay much better than they do now ). But you could also be a pioneer in setting up your areas economy. Think what a library of metal smelting and patent illustrations of firearms could turn into. Or a computer salvage yard. But if this doesn’t appeal to you the cheap way to get into business is going to be a trading horse caravan with armed guards. Plenty of over armed, underfed survivalists will be looking for work. You provide a string of mules and some horses and you are in the trading business. Typically your hired guards must arm themselves so your up front costs are minimal. A few silver coins can turn a horse ranch down the road into your supplier. Beans and flour will feed the guards. They receive a percentage of delivered goods, thus insuring completion of the assigned task.
Post-apocalypse work is going to be owning your own business or working for others under most unfavorable conditions. Prostitution, mercenary work, factory labor. None are exactly safe. Better to make plans now to be self employed. Think about what we don’t have and will need. And what you can provide. After vitamin factories shut down citrus from Florida and California will take on new meaning. What can you provide to trade for it? Or are you willing to ferry it for pay? An intriguing mental exercise. If you don’t want to play at being a merchant or business entrepreneur, enjoy the outdoors freedom of becoming a cowboy. Well, more like a Wells Fargo guard. But wouldn’t that be cool?
If you still prefer CD's to e-books let me know. firstname.lastname@example.org I'll wait awhile before I raise the price to give you time to order ( for now just add a dollar to the e-book price ). I just wasn't making enough on them. I put a lot of effort into writting both and I am still trying to pay back the equipment cost. But as far as the ebooks, THANKS. We are off to a flying start. Until tomorrow, Jim.