Ralph Borsodi's Advice
For Surviving Economic Disaster
(Part 1)

Dateline: 8 April 2017


I received an order a few years back for chicken plucker parts from a man with the last name of Borsodi. It's not a common name, but it's a familiar name to me because I've read the classic 1928 book, This Ugly Civilization, by Ralph Borsodi. Prior to that, way back in 1974, I had read the Plowboy Interview with Ralph Borsodi in Mother Earth News magazine. And, more recently, I had read about Borsodi in Allan C. Carlson's fine book, The New Agrarian Mind.

Borsodi was a relatively famous economist and big thinker in his day, but in a decidedly contrarian way.

So, I asked the man who bought the plucker parts if he was related to Ralph Borsodi. Come to find out, he was. Ralph was the man's grandfather.

As I recollect from the e-mail exchange, the grandson was recently retired from a career in academia. He was not optomistic about the economic future of America, and he was taking steps to be more self reliant. Thus, the chicken plucker.

Perhaps economic pessimism is a genetic disposition in the Borsodi line. Or, more likely, the grandson had read his grandfather's writings and realized the wisdom therein. (I hope my grandchildren will one day read my writings and find value and direction in them.)

Mr. Borsodi, the younger, had only a couple of early memories of his famous grandfather, but they were not warm or special memories. I got the impression that the elder Borsodi was a cold codger, more focused on saving the world (so to speak) than he was on being a grandfather to his grandson. That is a sad testimony.

If you read about Ralph Borsodi's life and his "philosophical" beliefs, you will find that he was a bit of a socialist in his  thinking. Socialism was fashionable among many of the thinkers of Ralph's era. They were appalled at the social destruction wrought by industrial capitalism and the self-serving oligarchical plutocracy that dominates in such a system. 

It has been my observation that socialists in general are adept at identifying societal problems, but not at recommending valid and workable solutions to those problems. Their problem being, that they desire more centralized government control over private property and the economy in an effort to alleviate human suffering. Thinking people these days realize full well that more government control always results in less personal freedom and greater human suffering.

But here's the odd thing about Ralph Borsodi... While he was sympathetic to some socialist thinking, he was a staunch decentralist, and that is most certainly NOT a socialist thing. That's what you call a paradox. It may have been that Borsodi was more of an anarchist. Maybe it would be best to just say the man was a Decentralist, and leave it at that. 

What I like most about Ralph Borsodi is his decentralist solutions. The man offered genuine solutions to the problems of industrialism. And they were agrarian slutions. It so happens that decentralism is fundamental to the agrarian ideal.

Ralph Borsodi's personal and public philosophy borrowed a little from Christianity, but it was not Christian, at least not in a true Biblical sense. He was, at root, a humanist.

Nevertheless, Ralph Borsodi had more than a fair share of good, down-to-earth sensibility, as you'll see in this series.

Specifically, I'm going to share with you from his self-published book, Inflation is Coming And What To Do About It. The cover of the rare and pretty-much-forgotten book is pictured at the top of this blog post.

I paid a generous sum for the book a couple years ago and I have been intending to share excerpts from it with you, my faithful blog readers. Some of you may recall my 6-part blog series from 2013 titled How To Get Through The Coming Hyperinflation. If you haven't yet read it, I recommend it to you.

There is an uptick in chatter and concern about inflation these days. As a small business owner I can tell you that I am seeing inflation. No doubt about it. The cost of materials that I regularly purchase are all going up.

As I've noted in my past writings, inflation is an insidious form of theft. Hyperinflation is beyond theft— it is the wholesale destruction of wealth. Or, I should say, it is the destruction of paper wealth. Which is to say, wealth that is in dollars, or dollar-denominated assets, as opposed to wealth that is put into tangible personal property (a.k.a., things) and personal skills.

Borsodi's Inflation is Coming book was first published in December of 1945. My copy is a 5th printing from March of 1948.

I should make it clear right from the start that Ralph Borsodi predicted the Great Depression before the Great Depression actually hit America. And his prediction about inflation coming in this book (that I'll be sharing with you) was spot on. However, the degree of inflation he expected did NOT happen. The post WW2 years were not, as he warned, "The Worst Financial Disaster in Hisotry!" Not by a long shot.

So, it turns out that Ralph was more wrong than right in his prediction. That is so often the case with those who espouse dire economic prognostications. 

But sometimes these people are correct. After all, we know from the historical record that no paper-based economic system has ever lasted. They have all eventually crashed and burned. And most of those people who have had to live through the crash-and-burn phase have suffered horribly. The current hyperinflation in Venezueula is but one example. 

I respect the lessons that history clearly teaches us about fiat (paper) money systems. So, frankly, I have confirmation bias when it comes to Ralph Borsodi's old book. Even though he was specifically wrong, I still think he was fundamentally right. He was only wrong about the timing.

What I especially like about Borsodi's book is his practical advice for dealing with the storm of inflation he saw coming. Even if hyperinflation does not come, Ralph's advice is pretty much still economically sound.



to got to Part 2 of this series





7 comments:

  1. I am intrigued, Herrick. Someone who predicted the Great Depression before it occurred is worth considering. Looking forward to it.

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  2. This sounds like an interesting series. I look forward to reading more. Thank you!

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  3. I really enjoy your writing and look forward to reading this series. Thanks!

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  4. If one looks at the number of USD's it takes to buy a common basket of goods since the Fed was created in 1913 the ole boy was spot on. Our current USD is only worth a couple of pennies compared to that one in 1913.

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  5. Went down to eastern Kansas last weekend for a family event so on the way home we saw the Little House on the Prairie site south of Independence, KS and then went over to tour Rocky Ridge Farm. Rocky Ridge Farm was where Laura and Almanzo Wilder spent the latter half of their life. It occurred to me that they lived through the Great Depression. There was barely any mention of those being tough times. It appears that the agrarian life is good for riding out both depression and inflation.

    RonC

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  6. Cheryl in OklahomaApril 8, 2017 at 10:36 PM

    Looking forward to this series. I have been an "Uplander" from your very first post and very much appreciate your writings. Thank you

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  7. You can get a more complete understanding of Borsodi in my articles posted on NewSchoolofLiving.blogspot.com.

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