We’re having babies this summer at the Lewis homestead. Not human babies, cow babies. So far we have six out of a projected eight calves cavorting in the pastures. It brings me great joy to watch these leggy little bovines gambol and play and chase each other around.

What’s nice about our multiplying herd is they multiply with very little input from us. A herd of cows, a willing bull, and bingo – eight calves, which can be sold, bred, or put in the freezer. Our start-up costs are behind us, our maintenance costs are minimal, so now we have a breeding herd that can reproduce indefinitely with relatively little continuing financial input.

These animals provide us with security and income. That’s why we call them our tangible investments.

It’s no secret that the world of money is very uncertain. Stocks are up, stocks are down. Gold is up, gold is down. Oil is up, oil is down. Where does it end?

A trip to the grocery store costs more because the value of money is down because the printing presses never stop churning out more worthless dollars because our politicians are trying to pretend everything is hunky-dory because they know the American debt level is unsustainable because the economy is being artificially propped up by the government because an economic crash means the politicians might (gasp) lose their cushy pensions. Where does it end?

Meanwhile, the American populace continues to obsess about “Dancing with the Stars,” their afternoon venti caramel macchiato from Starbucks, or finding the perfect handbag to accessorize this summer’s strappy sandals. No thoughts as to what might happen if their secure little world came crashing down.

But millions are unemployed and desperately clinging to whatever government-provided life raft will keep their head above water. This includes many people heading back to college in order to put off the inevitable, racking up government loans.

On this, our week of celebrating the nation’s independence, we know the government is aggressively promoting dependency. In fact, more than 70 percent of all federal spending goes to what the Heritage Foundation calls “dependence-creating programs.” Once people become dependent upon the government, they become slaves. Don’t believe me? How many people voluntarily remove themselves from welfare or food stamps – even when they can? No one can be independent if they’re dependent on the government for their existence.

It’s even gotten to the point where independent people who resist any and all government subsidies are viewed as un-American freaks.

Depending on whom you talk to, the forecast for America’s future ranges from dismal to catastrophic. Some believe our government is mostly on the right track, and if we just tax the rich a bit more we’ll all be fine. Others anticipate a complete financial collapse. But few people really believe America is financially sound and can continue on its present course without a major financial correction of some sort. The type and scope of this “correction” is what has a lot of people worried about their retirement accounts, pensions, 401(k)s, savings accounts, job security, debt levels and mortgage payments.

In short, the financial insecurity in this nation is astounding. But one thing is absolutely certain: People will always want beef and milk. And that’s why we believe our cows are such excellent investments.

“The vast majority of Americans are going to be absolutely blindsided by what is coming,” writes Michael Snyder. “They don’t understand how our financial system works, they don’t understand how vulnerable it is, and most of them blindly trust that our leaders know exactly what they are doing and that they will be able to fix our problems.”

How many of you can say, with absolute certainty, that you completely understand (and trust) America’s economy? All the complex interactions between domestic and foreign powers, the Federal Reserve, the egos of politicians and department heads, trade imbalances, debt ratios and other issues? Imagine a vast, complex piece of machinery with cogs and wheels and gears. One single minor disruption can cause the entire system to cease functioning.

And that system, let me remind you, directly and indirectly provides your food, water, sanitation, housing, medical care, transportation and other necessities.

Intangible assets such as stocks, bonds, savings accounts, retirement accounts and plain old fiat currency are vulnerable to any and all hiccups in America’s complex financial machine. In this digital age, these “assets” are merely data on someone’s hard drive. They can be instantly confiscated, sabotaged, altered, embezzled, or erased by anyone gaining access (legally or otherwise).

But tangible assets – real estate, precious metals, stored food, or a herd of cows – are there when you need them. Sure, these assets are vulnerable to theft or natural disasters … but they’re real, they’re in your possession, and they’re defendable.

The world is changing at a speed unprecedented in history. Nations are in revolt, economies are toppling, the price of oil is behaving like a yo-yo, commodity prices are disconnected from reality … and yet people still have naïve trust that their 401(k)s will always be there and nothing can ever happen to their assets. Look at this link and tell me everything’s fine.

Let me ask you a question: If your intangible assets were to disappear tomorrow, what kind of tangible things would you be glad to own? Not everyone can have a herd of cows or a garden, so perhaps your answer might include food or precious metals or ammunition or practical skills such as sewing, carpentry, or food preservation.

In this time of great financial insecurity, I’d rather have a herd of cows and a big garden, than a 401(k) and a stock portfolio. Call me silly.

I’m not a financial adviser. I’m an American housewife buffeted by the desiccating winds of hope and change. I’m watching money decrease in value and grocery prices skyrocket. So if I can see how worthless fiat currency is, why can’t the person down the street whose entire net worth is invested in his stock portfolio and retirement accounts see the same thing?

Diversify, people. Diversify.

You will never, ever, ever regret owning stored foods, precious metals, firearms and ammunition, or even a herd of cows. But you may well rue the day you poured all your life’s work and efforts into a retirement account that withered away with the winds of change borne on unsustainable hope.

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