4 Ways Independent Voters Can Be More Independent

 Independent voters like to do their thinking outside the narrow confines of false dichotomies and established paradigms. They don’t like their choices made for them, they’re weary of a debate that never seems to go anywhere, and they’re bored of the made-for-television drama that partisan politics has become.

But if you’re an Independent voter, you can declare your independence in other areas too.

Independent voters can also be:

Independent Savers

Independent voters don’t have to save for the future using the same old dollar-denominated, two-party-approved, and Wall Street-administered investment vehicles that crashed and burned in 2008, and are continually subject to losses from inflation.*

Throughout US history, gold and silver bullion– though they may not be very exciting nor offer a likely chance at massive returns– have been reliably safe over the long run from dollar inflation and economic downturns.

Less risk-averse independents who want to protect their savings from the Fed’s endless monetary expansion and maybe even get some big returns in the short term might turn their eyes toward investment in foreign stock markets.

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Davi Barker / BitcoinNotBombs.com

The very adventurous and risk-taking independent might even take a look at the rapidly growing digital currency market, exemplified in recent news headlines by the Bitcoin boom.

The potential upside? Back in 2009, one Norwegian man bought $27 worth of bitcoin on a whim and promptly forgot about it. Last month, after just four years, he discovered that his investment was now worth $866,000.

The potential downside? It’s easy to lose a lot of bitcoin through “dumb mistakes” or in the sudden crashes that happen now and then.

*I’m just a journalist sharing information along with my analysis, not a financial adviser. This article should not be regarded as professional business or investment advice nor a recommendation of any course of financial action.

Independent Traders

Want to be even more independent from the artificial confines of a financial system that the establishment has chosen for you? Saving isn’t the only economic activity with plenty of room for more independence.

The Internet is now making it possible for savvy, independent-minded businesses to buy and sell goods and services without US dollars, or any cash at all — and realize huge savings in the process.

When John Howie needed $30,000 in decorative granite for his new restaurant in Seattle, he didn’t try to stretch his cash. Howie used his account credit with Seattle barter group BizXchange to pay the granite company, which is also a BizX member.

Howie will also gradually pay back some of the cost by allowing other BizX members to use their own barter accounts to pay for items in his restaurant and bar… like this delicious bowl of lobster macaroni and cheese:

With offices in Seattle, Washington and Oakland, California, BizX is an online marketplace for cashless transactions. It’s like a combination between Craigslist and Bitcoin, where buyers and sellers barter goods and services in exchange for credits that can be redeemed for other goods and services on BizX.

Online barter has become a booming market for the growing number of businesses that are short on cash but have plenty of unused capacity or inventory they’d like to sell.

BizX members include thousands of businesses around the world (see if you recognize a couple from this list), which exchanged $50 million worth of goods and services without cash in 2008. And that’s just one online barter company

The International Reciprocal Trade Association says that in 2012, its 85 member barter organizations facilitated cashless exchanges between over 400,000 companies worldwide, helping them to sell their excess business capacities and inventories for an estimated $12 billion in previously lost and wasted revenues.

Independent Patients

Online bartering has also created a remarkable opportunity for patients and doctors to declare their independence from the frustrating health insurance regime.

Susan is a Virginia physician and a big fan of bluegrass. Mike is a Virginia music school director who bartered to trade her a fiddle and fiddle-playing lessons in exchange for medical services.

Here’s a Cleveland.com article about it with a picture of Susan and her new fiddle.

From the same story: in 2008 a New Jersey man named Robert traded his web design skills in exchange for nearly $1,000 of dental work. Just a few days after posting the offer on Craigslist, he received a response from a dentist about an hour from his home.

In an increasingly expensive, confusing, and unpredictable market for health insurance and medical services, made only more so by the volatile political system, independents can find solace and savings outside the monolithic health care paradigm through this kind of health care bartering.

ITEX Corp. is another booming West coast company with an online marketplace for cashless transactions. Here’s what their San Diego exchange looks like. With 24,000 members across the country in 2009, ITEX processes more than $140 million a year in Gross Merchandise Value. And a big piece of that is health care services.

Health care trades on ITEX rose 45 percent in 2009 to an average of about $1 million every month in health care bartering. ITEX spokesman Allen Zimmelman says, “Health care bartering has risen dramatically since the recession began, as people lose their health insurance and consumer spending drops.”

But independents don’t have to barter cashless goods and services to save money on health care. In fact, paying doctors in cash up front and merely shopping around online for the best deals on tests — like this Lakewood, Colorado man does — can result in huge discounts and savings while sticking it to the insurance companies.

Independent Viewers

As a veteran writer of independent news and commentary, and never look back. (And if you’re still listening to talk radio– why??)

These 6 Corporations Control 90% of The Media in America
These 6 Corporations Control 90% of The Media in America

Aside from the readily-observable fact that partisan politics is the bread and butter of the mainstream media, its viewers are also artificially confined to hearing about, thinking about, and debating just a few (usually never more than three at a time) carefully selected #issues, #stories, and #narratives each week.

Breaking out of that matrix can be tough, because even alternative news sources will often merely provide an alternative perspective on the very narrow set of stories that the corporate media giants hand-picked for you to talk about that week.

Independents don’t have to settle for websites and blogs that only serve up the same dish with a little seasoning. Here are just a very few recommendations of my personal favorites as possible starting points for a very fresh take:

Ted Conferences, VICE, Big Think, HowStuffWorks, The Daily Dot, TorrentFreak, Stefan Molyneux, Seth Godin, Singularity Hub, Tim Ferriss, DocumentaryStorm, ZeroHedge, Wikipedia’s Main Page (or a random one), Finding Dulcinea, and Reddit (which is especially good if you use its subscriptions to customize the headlines based on your interests)… the truly adventurous could even read a book.

What are some of your favorite sources of fresh and interesting news?