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A few weeks ago, I wrote how the average person today lives better than kings did not so very long ago. I didn't mean to be presumptuous—I realize many are suffering during this time of prolonged recession and certainly not living up to anything resembling the standards of royalty.


But consider this: For the most part, people are wonderfully adaptable creatures, adaptable to both good and bad times. Assuming you've had some kind of job and a roof over your head (and maybe that's a stretch, too), you've probably already adapted to the wonderfully favorable conditions Western culture has provided over the past 50 years.


What conditions are these?


Here's a short list:


1/ Freedom in the land

2/ A stable currency and means of exchange

3/ Reasonably attainable permanent shelter; emergency shelter for those in need

4/ Wide accessibility to clean water

5/ Conveniently located (and relatively affordable) sources of (generally fresh) food

6/ The common use of refrigerators to store otherwise perishable food right in our homes

7/ Electricity (and gas ) delivered to our homes

8/ Instant communication across many platforms, including telephones, cell phones, emails and texting.

9/ Emergency (and long-term) medical help

10/ Indoor plumbing 24/7

11/ Indoor heating when it's cold outside

12/ Indoor cooling when it's hot outside

13/ In-home entertainment of every sort, 24/7, via various TV, satellite and cable systems (ranging in price from free to about $100/month)

14/ The Internet

15/ A still-local police force

16/ Generally available private and public transportation; well-maintained roads; a national highway system; affordable and accessible fuel; freedom to travel

17/ Sanitary services, provided town by town, including garbage/trash removal

18/ Low inflation


It's hard to imagine that our ancestors grew up missing many (or all) of these advantages. But they did. Yet they adapted pretty well (we're here, aren't we?). Today, having lived better than kings of not so long ago (many of us, anyway), life would be pretty odd without any of the above 18 advantages. Imagine, for instance, no longer having cell phones? Or supermarkets?


Or indoor plumbing? 


I'm not suggesting that we're about to go Neanderthal and pass through a season of terrible deprivation, lose all of these kingly advantages, and face a sort of soul-shaking cold turkey withdrawal from modern life. On the other hand, the great majority of us believe that losing even one of the above benefits would be an utter impossibility given today's technological advancements and mankind's resourcefulness. Such mortal certainties have no basis in history.


Just as a smug Titanic deckhand was alleged to have uttered on the day of the great ship's launch—Even God Himself couldn't sink the Titanic— we've become entirely too dependent on man's supposed greatness to keep us living like kings.


A King's Ransom in Debt


Ironically enough, on the very day President Obama painted a rosy picture in his 2010 State-of-the-Union Address, the Congressional Budget Office was heading in the other direction, forecasting an all-time high $1.48 trillion for the 2011 federal deficit. And even that was conservative according to the U.S. National Debt Clock (http://www.brillig.com/debt_clock/ ) that claims we're now $14 trillion in debt.


Meaning? Meaning, if we were aboard the Titanic, we'd probably be at the point where we were cruising at high speed, in the dark, at about 11:40 p.m., in iceberg dotted seas.


Another perspective? Americans now owe more money to more people than any human beings on Earth ever have. We somehow owe more dollars than there are even dollars in the world.


But so what, right? The US debt is just a bunch of numbers that really don't mean a whole lot to the average man and woman....a mess Washington got into in that doesn't have anything to do with the average Joe. For all we care about our debt troubles (or want to know), NBC News with Brian Williams might as well be reporting that the U.S. now has a humongous debt of zillions and zillions of dollars (as if speaking to a bunch of bored kids).


After all, America's record debt still seems pretty tame, doesn't it? It's not interfering with our watching Dancing with the Stars or Glee or any of the other popular TV shows out there. And it doesn't stop us from grabbing a Big Mac at McDonald's anytime we wish. If it did mess with our lifestyle, then, sure, we'd probably get really, really angry and start paying a lot closer attention.


Thinking Outside the Economy's Smug Little Box


Of course...if you were a reader of history...you might be just a bit alarmed by now. We're going on forty years since the dollar was detached from gold and became a fiat currency. A fiat currency is one that's not backed by gold or silver or anything of real value but is only valuable because government says it is.


A Canadian writer by the name of  Rob Kirby observed, ...the learned Central Bankers know that historically, fiat currencies have a life span of around 40 years, maximum. The U.S. closed the gold window in 1971—38 years ago (this was written in 2009). This is why all of the king's horses and all the king's men —ultimately—won't be able to put the humpty-dumpty-dollar back together again.


That predicted dollar deterioration may be reflected in a growing uneasiness at Moody's, the international credit rating service.


We have become increasingly clear about the fact that if there are not offsetting measures to reverse the deterioration in negative fundamentals in the U.S., the likelihood of a negative outlook over the next two years will increase, said Sarah Carlson, senior analyst at Moody's.


Translated? It may be smart to get your own personal back-up for the dollar and the U.S. economy...if you can tear yourself away from Dancing with the Stars long enough, that is.


Your I Enjoy Living Like Kings Money


It's interesting to note that almost every issuance of paper money starts out backed by gold and/or silver. After a while, however, there's an expensive war or politicians simply get tired of the fiscal discipline the gold standard demands and detaches the currency from its hard money origin.


Which seems to light a kind of fuse to the credibility of the country's currency. So why does gold have so much durable worth? Gold and silver have been recognized as money for as long as there have been civilizations. Build yourself a time machine and go back to about 700 B.C., and you'll see for yourself that gold has held value since then (just be sure to take some gold with you as spending money). 


Might be a wise move, if you want to continue living like a king, to invest in gold and silver coins today while they're both still readily available.