Yahoo Finance columnist Newman (Rebounders: How Winners Pivot from Setback to Success, 2012, etc.) argues that middle-class Americans must become more self-reliant to achieve financial freedom.
Made complacent by the post–World War II economic expansion, many of us have gotten caught up in a “liberty trap,” in which we are “falling behind, placing blame, waiting for help” rather than taking individual action to raise our living standards and improve our lives. When sustenance comes from elsewhere, it “dulls the instincts needed to provide it for yourself.” Writing in a conversational style, Newman considers the challenges facing middle-class families in the wake of the recent housing bust, financial collapse and near-depression, and he explores possible solutions that rely on individual grit and ingenuity. He chronicles his weekend in the Catskills with a group of New York City preppers (seeking skills to survive disasters, not doomsday), examines the benefits of a minimalist lifestyle, and audits his own dependencies on technology and infrastructure, professional services, manufactured goods, health providers and other modern conveniences so often taken for granted. Hurricane Sandy and other disasters have shown that we are “too dependent on systems and strangers.” Newman concludes that the main things we need are not the physical skills that can be acquired on a wilderness weekend but rather the mental and psychological preparation that empowers us to act. Instead of waiting for more entitlements, we must build stronger communities offering mutual assistance, become more engaged in local affairs, reduce our consumption, assess our vulnerabilities and admit we don’t know everything (so that we can learn).
A common-sensical look at ways to refocus, overcome our dependence on things and build greater resilience in to our lives.