(Survival Manual/2. Social issues/The coming chaos)
THE COMING CHAOS: PART I
Planning and puzzle solving
Trends, expectations, and the daily events of life can be thought of like scattered colored pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. From your experience and the short historical perspective of your life, you form an idea of the current and probable security provided by your environment. You look at the assembled parts of the picture and develop a general idea of the completed future image and your place in it.
In good times, there are fewer puzzle pieces and each seems big, so putting a few parts together allows you to easily imagine the larger-view of the future.
In harder times, when nations and huge international (food, banking, energy) industries have financial, political and military reasons for hiding their ‘game hand’, the important pieces of information become numerous and small.
As global and national economic times deteriorate and you continue about your daily life, you have an ever decreasing intuitive understanding of conditions and less accurate view of the big picture, resulting in a diminished capacity to carry about your long term life business effectively. The ebb and flow of your stored money, your potential energy is generally: Where to store these hard-earned savings? How much to save over any given period of time? What is the best long-term manner in which to spend or store large blocks of value when a given need is seen arising?
During increasingly difficult economic times, you still put those pieces of the puzzle together in your mind, the same as you always have, but the scale and quality of the information you receive, has changed.
Think of this as somewhat related to inflation. When inflations first begins, no one sees it for what it is, but as prices creep up, inflation slowly becomes visible and irritating to everyone, only then do people individually begin to change their behavior in self-interest.
Meanwhile, the entities causing the inflation want to cover their tracks, so information given to the public is doctored, altered and diminished, official news bites are false, designed to keep the populace calm, to keep them from acting in their own best interest.
Because the normal indicators are not functioning in the accustomed way, you have to rely on other lagging indicators to replace the ones previously used. This requires work, so most people, being busy, go with the flow and in doing so no longer have that ’more accurate’ larger-view of the future which they once held.
It’s all about money, and if not money, power. What can you lose by not adjusting your view of the future to fit the current cycle of economic reality? You can lose: the value of your 401K, value in your Treasury notes and bonds, long-term stock valuations, your home equity, interest from saving in bank instruments, while paying higher local-state-Federal tax rates, food, energy, maybe even a Value Added Tax.
In todays context, if you knew how these broad investments were falling out of favor, you’d have begun putting your savings into other assets, ie., certain foreign currencies, gold, silver, precious metals stocks, energy production and infrastructure, a little more food in the back of your cupboard before prices rose, maybe cash in the cookie jar.
Believing there would always be plentiful oil and gasoline, maybe you bought a large auto– without the knowledge that within a few years gasoline would be much more expensive in real terms and there might even be rationing. By then, with the economy, still in a recession, with everyone seeing higher gas prices and few having cash to spend, you would have to take a major loss on trading in the ‘gas hog’ vehicle for a smaller more gas efficient model.
Perhaps, with better information you might have bought a townhouse close to your local shopping district, instead of a stand alone house in the suburbs, ‘gas-miles’ from the shopping district.
Rather than buying a recreational vehicle, you might have bought a small parcel of rural property for camping or a cabin, and used a car top carrier or utility trailer to carry gear to your private bit of nature. The rural property could also be used if for a while, things grew unsafe in the city.
Money is also supposed to be a store of wealth and accountability.
It’s not that ‘prices are going up, the value of your money is going down.
Note: 50 years ago, in 1961, the price of one gallon of regular gasoline cost 31¢, that would be a quarter, a nickel and a penny, 31¢ . The quarter you would have paid for the gas with, was what we now call a ‘silver quarter’ containing 0.18084 ounces of silver. Real money-silver coinage was discontinued by 1965, where upon, nearly valueless copper clan coins were issued and which we still use today.
The current value of that common old 25¢ coin is now $7.05 (silver spot price= $39.01). Today, 10 August 2011, a gallon of local regular gasoline costs $3.59, so that silver quarter would buy practically 2 gallons of gas, 2 gallons x $3.59/gallon=$7.18, while the value of the silver quarter is $7.05.
And this is why during the last 70 years we’ve gone from a condition where one worker could support his family, to a time when it took both Mom and Dad to support the family, and now takes Mom and Dad, credit cards, and maybe a 2nd home mortgage to provide the same.
At some levels of societal organization, it’s all about money or power; on lower levels it’s about not being robbed and left to face the economic winter (depression, unemployment or old age) with out the safety net provided by your savings–the product of your labor.
In the deep past, when men depended directly on the land for their livelihood, when a robber Prince took part of that property the peasant family had less resilience to survive. Today we don’t have ‘land’, per sae, we have money and investments, when the modern version of the robber Prince takes your property, they take your money or your future claim to the things money can buy, leaving you less resilient to survive.
If you prepare for a man-made crisis, you will be on the same path as some one preparing for natural disasters: hurricanes, power outages, etc. Man-made vs. Natural disasters differ mostly by scale and duration. [Mr Larry]
The Coming Chaos, will turn over a few pieces of the puzzle, ones that you may not have seen, ones that give you a somewhat larger view. Be aware, that sometimes its better not seeing to your life’s horizon.
The world is in a state of constant flux and continuous change and there is nothing so certain in life as uncertainty. None of us know what the coming years will bring. One must be wary both of the innocent and rose-tinted view that the US and hence the global economy are just fine and the good times are about to roll again and of fear mongers and prognosticators of doom whose only message seems to be ‘resistance is futile’.
Meanwhile, with the evolution of electronics into computer, satellite, Internet, and digital information technologies, the recent decades have created a web of global interdependence, of ‘just-in-time’ supply, transportation, international banking, a layering of complex financial interactions and the immediate spread of information. Globally, human society has accumulated such complex interdependencies that it has affectively become like a spider’s web – where a disturbance of one strand shakes the entire web. Further, this intertwined body of global humanity has reached critical points in its equilibrium. It is at a point of dynamic, critical vulnerability; and at such moments the slightest of impacts in one sphere of global concern can set into motion an unpredictable chain of events across the interconnections.
It is only common sense, with the fragility of our system, to prepare for any disturbance with supplies. How long could you survive with what is on hand? Think about storing extra food, water, fuel, and whatever you think you need to get through. If one very large, or several moderate to large (Volcanic Explosivity Index) volcanoes go off, we may experience very muted daylight for several seasons to a year and unable to grow enough food for even the prosperous nations. Are you even prepared for the possibility that your communities electric power could go out for a week or more, during the summer, during the winter?
Why We Need Insurance
Many of us have never had to make a claim on our insurance. Therefore when we continue to write an insurance payment check month after month, we feel as if we are pouring money down the drain. Even though you’ve never had to make a claim on your insurance, there is a good reason that it’s there. Naturally, insurance is there to protect your you, your family and your investments, but let’s face it; many of us wouldn’t bother with insurance if it wasn’t required by law, or the bank.
How we buy insurance
First, we decide which threats to protect ourselves from, then we find a way of doing so at the lowest possible cost.
Survivalism is basically the same. I’ve created a list of survival threats at the side of the page. Some events are so destructive that they are not worth worrying about and have not been included, i.e., multiple impacts from a fragmented comet, or a ‘nearby’ star emitting a planetary sterilizing gamma ray burst.. There is no way of protecting yourself against Hollywood style events so there is no point in spending money on them. The best value for your money is to identify threats that you think are moderately likely and that may be dealt with easily. Most threats require the same core defensive measures with varying specifics.
Everyone should take some simple steps to protect themselves and their families from potential real risks that are on the horizon, but don’t take my word for it. Answer the following questions:
1. Is your job & income 100% secure?
2. Would you be able to have the basic necessities (shelter, food, water) if you lost your income for a prolonged period of time?
3. Would you be ok if your local grocery stores didn’t have an inventory resupply for a few weeks?
4. How would your finances hold up in a currency crisis where the dollar rapidly lost much of its value?
5. Would you be able to protect your family in the event of increased crime and decreased police presence?
From the FEMA ‘Ready America’ website:
“…Each person’s needs and abilities are unique, but every individual can take important steps to prepare for all kinds of emergencies and put plans in place. By evaluating your own personal needs and making an emergency plan, you can be better prepared for any situation. A commitment to planning today will help you prepare for any emergency situation. Preparing makes sense. Get ready now.
• Consider how a disaster might affect your individual needs.
• Plan to make it on your own, at least for a period of time. It’s possible that you will not have access to a medical facility or even a drugstore.
• Have a week or longer supply of medications and medical supplies
• Identify what kind of resources you use on a daily basis and what you might do if they are limited or not available.
• Buy or make an emergency supply kit.
• Have copies of emergency documents
• Create a support network…”
Headline: “15 Million Americans Infected with Xyz- Flu”
“You just heard it on the evening news. It’s now a reality. Your city has been locked down. There are roadblocks on all arteries in and out of the city. No one can come in or go out of the area.
The grocery stores, the gas stations, and all other public facilities are closed. Everyone has been told to stay in their homes.
Your family has five days of food left. Seven days, if you and your wife eat much less, and give it to the kids. Water is only sporadically available when you turn on the faucet.
You realize you should have thought about the news, what it might mean, but you remained a spectator of the events unfolding around yourself and in the world. You wonder how you missed the signs. You feel guilty and powerless because you don’t know how you will feed your family.”
Things you should know
• Don’t rely on the government to help you. As big as they are, when disaster hits they’re both: 1) too big a bureaucracy, 2) with too few people on the ground, to help a large number of people in a reasonable amount of time.
• Don’t rely on utility companies to help you. They will have priorities and will be working almost around the clock, to get things restored, but, a) it won’t be fast enough no matter who you are, and b) you’re probably not a priority. Don’t complain about it – be prepared for it.
• Don’t rely on your Insurance company for anything more than a check. Insurance is about money, it’s not their job to repair your home or put your life back in order. While some might refer you to local contractors, many do not, and in times of overwhelming need, both adjusters and contractors are going to be hard to come by.
• Know what your area is at risk for (i.e. Seattle has a major earthquakes every 100 years or so, and moderately damaging windstorms every 10 years) and be prepared to take care of yourself for awhile.
• The government’s, ‘Three Days of Self Sufficiency’ campaign, is woefully inadequate.
• Mankind endures ‘an episode of great wealth destruction’ at least once every century. People should prepare to ride out a disaster, be it a tsunami, a market meltdown, an EMP grid down scenario, volcanic winter, deadly pandemic or Islamic terrorists with a dirty (radioactive materials) bomb.
• The rich (all of us in the Western world) get complacent, assuming we’ll have time “to extricate ourselves and our wealth” when trouble comes. The rich are mistaken, as ‘the Holocaust’ proved.
• People generally do not feel the unthinkable will happen to them. However, many times there are situations out of our control that affect us in a big way. Major events that affect the food supply are especially troubling.
• Events move much faster than anyone expects’ and the barbarians are on top of you before you can escape.
The times that we endure today will be the history that others will read tomorrow. History has shown us events that have destroyed some societies and created new ones to take their place. Those who rise to power often decide the fate of millions. And there have been times when a people rise up as a nation, united to achieve mutual goals of prosperity and hope for a better future.
Today as a nation, Americans must uphold their moral convictions and beliefs that a nation of people who stand united will not perish. There are events occurring in this country that could change the very existence of our nation as we know it. And no one person or political party can decide the best course of action to ensure our prosperity and hopes will not be taken away from us. The answer to our problems is right in front of us, and we must cling to it as if it is our only hope, because it is the only thing ‘We The People’ have left: The Constitution of the United States of America .
Our policy makers are in a Catch 22. It’s checkmate, and the only thing that we can do is delay… to a point.
We need austerity measures, much more severe than those of France, Greece and the rest of Europe, but mass cuts in entitlement programs that tens of millions of Americans have come to depend on will lead to serious problems, not just for our economy, but on a social level as well. What happens if 40 million people were to lose their food stamps, or 20 million people lose their unemployment benefits? Many are already at the breaking point, if the government were to stop the gravy train, as Chapman puts it, the system would get very chaotic, very quickly. Thus, we just don’t see something like that happening anytime soon. But make no mistake, the current entitlement system, driven mainly by US government borrowing, is unsustainable. So, whether we like it or not, the cut to entitlement programs is coming one way or the other.
Politicians are just not going to do it. For many, it would be political suicide.
The end result we foresee is, as Chapman points out, ‘a high inflationary environment that will make it impossible for the average food stamp, unemployment or welfare recipient to purchase essential goods like food, energy and shelter’.
We’re seeing it in Social Security already, albeit in limited form. The government has not re-adjusted social security payments higher because the CPI inflation index has not shown an increase over the last couple years. However, the CPI does not include calculations for food and energy because our government says those are highly volatile and should not be counted. Thus, Social Security recipients are now paying more for food than they were two years ago, but there has been no adjustment made in their benefits. They’ve essentially taken a mandated pay cut as the US dollar has lost value.
This is exactly what we will see in other entitlement programs. Now imagine for a minute what it will look like if/when inflation is running rampant at 10% – 15% per year, and entitlement adjustments only account for 1% to 3% increases.
A lot of people will go broke a whole lot faster.
We’re not talking about people not being able to buy iPads, new home decor, or Christmas presents for the kids. No, we’re talking about being able to put food on the table, paying the rent for shelter and putting gas in the car.
This can get very ugly. As Peter Schiff previously pointed out, ‘a great number of Americans will be impoverished’ and, according to Gerald Celente, ‘many may take to the streets in riots and protests circa 2011 and beyond’.
40 ways to lose your future
June 2009, TheAutomaticEarth.com
People have been asking how we see the future unfold. Here is a brief summary (in no particular order and not meant to be exhaustive) of the ground we have consistently covered here at TAE over the last year and a half, and before that elsewhere.
1. Deflation is inevitable due to US financial Ponzi dynamics
2. The collapse of credit will crash the money supply as credit is the vast majority of the effective money supply
3. Cash will be king for a long time
4. Printing one’s way out of deflation is impossible as printing cannot keep pace with credit destruction (the net effect is contraction)
5. Debt will become a millstone around people’s necks and bankruptcy will no longer be possible at some point
6. In the future the consequences of unpayable debt could include indentured servitude, debtor’s prison or being drummed into the military
7. Early withdrawals from pension plans will be prevented and almost all pension plans will eventually default
8. We will see a systemic banking crisis that will result in bank runs and the loss of savings
9. Prices will fall across the board as purchasing power collapses
10. Real estate prices are likely to fall by at least 90% on average (with local variation)
11. The essentials will see relative price support as a much larger percentage of a much smaller money supply chases them
12. We are headed eventually for a bond market dislocation where nominal interest rates will shoot up into the double digits
13. Real interest rates will be even higher (the nominal rate minus negative inflation)
14. This will cause a tsunami of debt default which is highly deflationary
15. Government spending (all levels) will be slashed, with loss of entitlements and inability to maintain infrastructure
16. Finance rules will be changed at will and changes applied retroactively (eg short selling will be banned, loans will be called in at some point)
17. Centralized services (water, electricity, gas, education, garbage pick-up, snow-removal etc) will become unreliable and of much lower quality, or may be eliminated entirely
18. Suburbia is a trap due to its dependence on these services and cheap energy for transport
19. People with essentially no purchasing power will be living in a pay-as-you-go world
20. Modern healthcare will be largely unavailable and informal care will generally be very basic
21. Universities will go out of business as no one will be able to afford to attend
22. Cash hoarding will continue to reduce the velocity of money, amplifying the effect of deflation
23. The US dollar will continue to rise for quite a while on a flight to safety and as dollar-denominated debt deflates
24. Eventually the dollar will collapse, but that time is not now (and a falling dollar does not mean an expanding money supply, i.e. inflation)
25. Deflation and depression are mutually reinforcing in a positive feedback spiral, so both are likely to be protracted
26. There should be no lasting market bottom until at least the middle of the next decade, and even then the depression won’t be over
27. Much capital will be revealed as having been converted to waste during the cheap energy/cheap credit years
28. Export markets will collapse with global trade and exporting countries will be hit very hard
29. Herding behavior is the foundation of markets
30. The flip side of the manic optimism we saw in the bubble years will be persistent pessimism, risk aversion, anger, scapegoating, recrimination, violence and the election of dangerous populist extremists
31. A sense of common humanity will be lost as foreigners and those who are different are demonized
32. There will be war in the labor markets as unemployment skyrockets and wages and benefits are slashed
33. We are headed for resource wars, which will result in much resource and infrastructure destruction
34. Energy prices are first affected by demand collapse, then supply collapse, so that prices first fall and then rise enormously
35. Ordinary people are unlikely to be able to afford oil products AT ALL within 5 years
36. Hard limits to capital and energy will greatly reduce socioeconomic complexity (see Tainter)
37. Political structures exist to concentrate wealth at the centre at the expense of the periphery, and this happens at all scales simultaneously
38. Taxation will rise substantially as the domestic population is squeezed in order for the elite to partially make up for the loss of the ability to pick the pockets of the whole world through globalization
39. Depressive political structures will arise, with much greater use of police state methods and a drastic reduction of freedom
40. The rule of law will replaced by the politics of the personal and an economy of favors (i.e., endemic corruption)
We Have Some Hard Decisions Ahead
The economy has taken a dramatic turn for the worse for many Americans. While many individuals and households have had the financial resources and good fortune which will allow them to weather economic uncertainty, many will simply not be able to maintain their standard of living. Many two income households are now one income households and that income may have decreased due to companies cutting back on work hours. This situation has been occurring for many Americans for many, many months, forcing people to assess what is important and downgrade their lifestyle. The time to make hard decisions has arrived, and will dramatically alter the lives of many for years.
People who relied on spouses to pay the bills are now paying the bills. Those who have relied on savings and unemployment benefits to maintain their standard of living are now faced with the reality that those resources are exhausted. Bills are not being paid. Healthcare premiums are not being paid. Automobile and household maintenance is being neglected, which will create costlier repairs down the road. Simply put:
• You might have to stop making your car payment and save those payments up to buy a used car. The car you currently have financed will be repossessed.
• You might have to stop paying your mortgage and save those payments up to move into an apartment.
• You might have to give up your healthcare, your magazine subscription, your club membership, your vacation plans, your charitable donations, your cell phone, your internet access or home phone service, your lawn care service, your financial support that you provide to friends and family who are having financial problems themselves, and many more expenditures not listed here.
• You might have to contact an attorney to discuss bankruptcy.
• You might have to sell off your possessions and assets.
• You might have to move in with other families, friends, relatives, or shelters provided by the government or charitable organizations.
• You may come to realize that what you thought was valuable and important to you has no value or significance at all.
Basic human needs will become the biggest priority in your life after you shed (lose the use of) the things that have merely brought comfort and convenience to you. You may be forced to downscale your lifestyle so dramatically that it will cause you to question your own intelligence and hindsight for not planning for such a life changing event.
The things that you have always taken for granted could become difficult to obtain now that there is no longer enough money to buy those things. Basic needs become vital issues that need to be addressed:
• Food and ‘non-electric’–with the means both to prepare it and store it.
• Portable water filtering devices and containers to store water for drinking, cooking, and bathing.
• Over the counter medicines, vitamins, supplements, first aid supplies, and some basic health and first aid literature in book form. Individuals using prescription medications, or require medical attention, will need to determine their best course of action during a period of financial distress.
• The need for shelter may require the purchase of a tent, camper trailer, and other camping equipment if you can no longer provide an actual roof over your head and have no one to turn to.
• The need for personal protection will become more obvious as desperate people begin to take desperate actions to provide basic needs for themselves and their families. The level of security you choose will be determined by your location, your finances, and your personal views and beliefs. If chaotic conditions occur, lawless activity will surely follow. Past incidents of disaster and mayhem give much testimony to this.
A look at the civil unrest that can arise when a government just ‘proposes’ austerity measures
“French gov’t undercuts Senate on retirement bill
Oct 21, 11:40 AM (ET), By ANGELA CHARLTON
PARIS (AP) – The French government is short-circuiting a protracted debate in the Senate on a bill raising the retirement age to 62, brushing aside some 250 amendments.
Faced with widespread protests against the bill, the government is ordering Senators to vote on a package of its own design, using Article 44-3 of the Constitution that allows it to step into the parliamentary debate.
PARIS (AP) – Protesters blockaded Marseille’s airport, Lady Gaga canceled concerts in Paris and rioting youths attacked police in Lyon on Thursday ahead of a tense Senate vote on raising the retirement age to 62.
A quarter of the nation’s gas stations were out of fuel, despite President Nicolas Sarkozy’s orders to force open depots barricaded by striking workers. Gasoline shortages and violence on the margins of student protests have heightened the standoff between the government and labor unions that see retirement at 60 as a hard-earned right.
Shopping streets stood nearly empty Thursday in central Lyon. The Bistrot de Lyon didn’t put tables outside as usual out of fear of clashes. “We’ve seen a reduction of 30-35 percent of business overall, for the last few days with the rioting in town. Lunchtime, nothing is going on, we’ve no one. It’s more than calm,” said restaurant manager Philippe Husser.
In Nanterre, the scene of running street battles between masked and hooded youth and riot police in recent days, the scene Thursday morning was calm, said Mehdi Najar, one of a few dozen red-jacketed mediators organized by the city hall to try to keep the peace.
In Marseille, hundreds of workers blocked all access to the main airport for about three hours early Thursday. Passengers tugged suitcases along blocked roads as they hiked to the terminal, before police came in and the protesters dispersed.
Wildcat protests blocked train lines around Paris on Thursday. Protesters in cars and trucks blocked several highways around the country, from near Calais in the north to the Pyrenees in the south, according to the national road traffic center.”
Coming Chaos: No Banks, No Public Facilities, No Food and Rampaging Gangs of Desperate People
Bob Chapman, of The International Forecaster, says it’s time to prepare for the worst, comparing our impending economic crisis to that which was experienced at the onset of 1348 and the following century and a half.
Flashback to 1348:
The Black Death is estimated to have killed 30% to 60% of Europe’s population, reducing the world’s population from an estimated 450 million to between 350 and 375 million in 1400. This has been seen as creating a series of religious, social and economic upheavals which had profound effects on the course of European history. It took 150 years for Europe’s population to recover. The plague returned at various times, resulting in a larger number of deaths, until it left Europe in the 19th century.
While Chapman does not suggest we will experience our own black plague pandemic, he predicts that the consequences of our economic collapse may lead to total destabilization and wars, much like post-plague Europe.
As you are now well aware Fannie and Freddie are going to punish people who have stopped paying their mortgages, who can pay them, and who are paying other bills instead. This leaves lenders with foreclosures and much more inventory than they ever imagined. This additional problem will bring on the double dip that Wall Street and Washington so fear.
As a result of this and other failures we are about to experience the worst economic collapse since 1348. The stock market is topping out readying itself for its most disastrous fall in history. The fall will be followed by years of depression, all of which has been deliberately created to bring the world economically and financially to its knees in an attempt to bring about world government by Illuminists.
Some market analysts understand where the market is headed, but most who do understand, write and talk about the mundane observable trappings and not what the situation is really all about. We have several analysts talking about a market collapse. They do not talk about the real forces behind our misfortune.
There are always these lone voices in the wilderness, which at best – some 15% of the populace – listens too. You had better listen this time because it could well cost you not only your assets, but your life, especially when another war is being prepared for you to engage in. Nothing is really as it seems to be and there are no coincidences. You are about to enter a world of chaos from which few will survive unscathed. A world of no banks, no public facilities, no food and rampaging gangs of desperate people. Unemployment of 50% and little law and order. Violence will be rife. This is not a pretty picture, but we have spared you the details. The world had better wake up fast so they’ll be prepared to deal with what is to come. If you were not aware of it the dark side really exists.
We are now entering the next to last phase of our journey. The wanton creation of wealth, inflation and perhaps hyperinflation, which will rob you of your assets. A stealth attack on what you have left by the people who control your government. Such monetary creation is the only way these people can keep the game going. They know it won’t last, but they proceed anyway. For awhile they’ll keep the multitudes at bay with extended unemployment and food stamps, but that will fade in time for lack of financial control, as the system begins to break down.
You already see all fiat currencies under fire, as is sovereign debt. Can it get any worse? Of course it can, and it will. Implosion is the word everyone is going to discover and understand.
The picture Bob Chapman paints is one that may lead to an initial reaction of, “What? No way that can happen.” Perhaps it can’t happen. Perhaps, it really is different this time and our benevolent leaders and the powers that be are capable of managing this crisis. Perhaps they will restore jobs to pre-crash levels. Perhaps home prices will go back up to record 2006 levels because tens of thousands of buyers will appear in the market. Perhaps the Federal reserve will be able to sell of their toxic assets, not have to print more money to bail anyone out, and the world will demand that the dollar remain the reserve currency of choice. Perhaps all of these people in delinquency on their mortgages will be able to catch up on those late payments. Perhaps governments will stop spending more than they take in and all of their debts will be paid off. Perhaps the globe’s top financiers will figure out a way to deleverage the trillions of bad debt currently working its way through the system.
Or, perhaps they will not be able to reverse course. Let’s assume that they can’t reverse course. How bad can it really get? This is something that our elected officials and those at the Fed, Treasury and large institutions will not overtly discuss. But clues have been dropped throughout the last several years. And, you need to look no further than those very same officials.
President Obama, during the green shoots recovery of 2009 and 2010, told the American people
that a depression was avoided. Thus, we can assume that a depression is a strong possibility if we are in fact about to see another economic collapse. In 2008 and 2009, former Secretary of Treasury Henry Paulson said that we were “on the brink,” in fact, after he left his position with Treasury, he wrote a book with this very title. The brink, from what we can surmise, meant a complete collapse of our financial, economic and political systems. The result would have been martial law. Hard to believe? Yes. Impossible? No:
THE COMING CHAOS: PART II
Are some popular movie and television images from the end of the first decade of the 21st century, a harbinger of less severe, but rhyming themes to come? Movie entertainment themes are a fulfillment of consumer curiosity and expression of the sediment of the times.
Movie image, I Am Legend (left). Disease has almost eradicated mankind, only a few random survivors exits in decaying cities.
Movie, 2012. Earth crustal shifts with continents sinking into the ocean. Several thousand people escape drowning aboard huge ships.
Movie, The Road. A catastrophe has almost wiped out mankind. Survival is harsh in a barren land of armed scavengers.
Movie, The Book of Eli. Most of Man destroyed by calamity, there are few survivors, much chaotic lawlessness is pervasive.
TV series, The Walking Dead. Brain disease reduces most of mankind to zombies, a few healthy survivors gather and try to eke out an existence without becoming infected.
TV series, Falling Skies. Aliens attack Earth; humans are slaughtered and small remnants driven from cities. Survivalist lifestyles develop as ragged groups try to feed themselves and resist the aliens.
Movie, Contagion. Earth population depleted by fast acting virulent disease. Chaotic conditions develop.
Real life images
Garbage lined streets (right) : During the (2011) snowstorms that hit the NYC, the Sanitation Department suspended garbage collection for days at a time in order to use trucks for snow removal, which meant about 11,000 tons of trash per day didn’t get collected. Granted, the mess has been caused by more than just missed collections. People have been tossing loose trash onto the bags, and it’s winding up on the sidewalks and streets. Plastic McDonald’s cups. Broken bottles of Budweiser and empty cans of Four Loko, cigarette butts, smashed umbrellas, sheet music, soggy gloves, old newspapers, and damp, dirty sofas — all left out in the open, as if they, too, will just melt away. And thanks to pet owners, who got a little lazy in the bad weather, many city streets are now shellacked with dog feces. Crumbling Detroit, 2010.
In the late nineteenth century Detroit (left)emerged as a major transportation hub along the Great Lakes. Gilded Age mansions and other grand buildings spawned the city’s nickname “Paris of the West.” The gasoline crises of the 1970s impacted heavily on the car industry, while racial tensions and increasing drug-fuelled crime spurred the beginning of the end for Detroit’s industrial supremacy. As the city descended into high unemployment, many of its finest buildings, including theatres, hotels, offices and apartments, fell into ruin.
Our Jig Saw Puzzle:
The parts that go bump in the night, the parts that can trigger the coming chaos, are:
1. Peak Oil
(Think broadly: ANY energy crisis.)
The world is rapidly approaching Peak Oil production and will be at an inflection point soon, if not already, after which, real prices will (or already have) begin a long rise. Price inflection is possible before the next economic recovery, but will certainly come with a recovery, which will then be short-lived, because rising energy prices will channel money away from other discretionary expenditures.
During the years, 2009-2010, the USA and Europe were in recession with lower oil requirements, which have skewered the associated 2007 chart by extending the plateau top and pushing the ‘decline in production slope’ (with subsequent increase in prices) into the future another couple of years past the original 2007 projection. Whether we are out of the recession or not by 2015, production declines and the resultant rise in petroleum prices will probably have become an unpleasant factor in our national and personal, financial lives.
Official Peak Oil reports
Saturday, 4 Sep 2010, FinancialSense.com weekly, ‘News Hour’ podcast, gave leads to the Peak Oil reports listed below. These articles (only the lead paragraphs have been re printed here) seem to be telling a story, a story which has not yet been shared to any degree with the American people by either the Government or the news media. Furthermore, there is not just one news item, but increasingly frequent, almost monthly reports issued by responsible, main stream institutions in Europe, the USA and the Middle East.
Europe is currently advancing on a continent wide program toward fossil fuel independence; its estimated that in 10 years, by 2020, 20% all of Europe’s energy, not just its electricity, will be derived from renewables. What is happening in the United States? Nothing that I’ve heard of or seen. Maybe the government is waiting for a ‘Peak Oil-Pearl Harbor’ type crisis to create a popular mandate for action—as opposed to making plans and choosing an intelligent path while there is more time and opportunity to implement and mass test renewable systems.
The energy transition from one type energy to an alternative, historically, only happens about once per century and does so with momentous consequences. We will begin to move away from fossil fuels quite rapidly from here on forward. Business, families and individuals who can adapt to the charge and manage risk will gain an advantage with the shrinking energy pie. (See also ‘Survival Manual/1. Disasters/Peak oil and energy crisis’)
a) London, 10 February 2010: UK Industry Taskforce on Peak Oil and Energy Security (ITPOES) study on peak oil was released: “Business calls for urgent action on ‘oil crunch’ threat to UK economy”. A group of leading business people today call for urgent action to prepare the UK for Peak Oil. The second report of the UK Industry Taskforce on Peak Oil and Energy Security (ITPOES) finds that oil shortages, insecurity of supply and price volatility will destabilize economic, political and social activity potentially by 2015.
b) March 2010: Telegraph.Co.UK, “Oil reserves ‘exaggerated by one third’. The world’s oil reserves have been exaggerated by up to a third, according to Sir David King, the Government’s former chief scientist, who has warned of shortages and price spikes within years. Published: 9:51PM GMT 22 Mar 2010, by Rowena Mason, City Reporter (Energy)
c) March 2010: heatingoil.com, Kuwait University and Kuwait Oil Company’ Peak Oil report: “Kuwaiti Researchers Predict Peak Oil Production in 2014, Posted by Josh Garrett on March 10, 2010
d) “A new study published in the Journal Energy & Fuels predicts that world conventional oil production will hit its peak in the year 2014.
e) April 2010: guardian.co.uk, “US military warns oil output may dip causing massive shortages by 2015” by Terry Macalister. The Shortfall could reach 10 million barrels a day, report says, while the cost of crude oil is predicted to top $100 a barrel.
“The US military has warned that surplus oil production capacity could disappear within two years and there could be serious shortages by 2015 with a significant economic and political impact. The energy crisis outlined in a Joint Operating Environment report from the US Joint Forces Command, comes as the price of petrol in Britain reaches record levels and the cost of crude is predicted to soon top $100 a barrel.
f) June 2010: Guardian.co.uk, news article posted 11 July 2010, “Lloyd’s adds its voice to dire ‘peak oil’ warnings”, by Terry Macalister. “Business underestimating catastrophic consequences of declining oil, says Lloyd’s of London/Chatham House report. One of the City’s most respected institutions has warned of “catastrophic consequences” for businesses that fail to prepare for a world of increasing oil scarcity and a lower carbon economy. The Lloyd’s insurance market and the highly regarded Royal Institute of International Affairs, known as Chatham House, says Britain needs to be ready for “peak oil” and disrupted energy supplies at a time of soaring fuel demand in China and India, constraints on production caused by the BP oil spill and political moves to cut CO2 to halt global warming. “Companies which are able to take advantage of this new energy reality will increase both their resilience and competitiveness. Failure to do so could lead to expensive and potentially catastrophic consequences,” says the Lloyd’s and Chatham House report “Sustainable energy security: strategic risks and opportunities for business”.
g) August 2010: Spiegal Online International, posted 4 September 2010, “German Military Study Warns of a Potentially Drastic Oil Crisis“, by Stefan Schultz “A study by a German military think tank has analyzed how “peak oil” might change the global economy. The internal draft document — leaked on the Internet — shows for the first time how carefully the German government has considered a potential energy crisis.
The study is a product of the Future Analysis department of the Bundeswehr Transformation Center, a think tank tasked with fixing a direction for the German military. The team of authors, led by Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Will, uses sometimes-dramatic language to depict the consequences of an irreversible depletion of raw materials. It warns of shifts in the global balance of power, of the formation of new relationships based on interdependency, of a decline in importance of the western industrial nations, of the “total collapse of the markets” and of serious political and economic crises.
The news report from Spiegal Online was specific about their study’s socio-economic findings, pointing out that:
• “Shortages in the supply of vital goods could arise as a result, for example in food supplies.
• Oil is used directly or indirectly in the production of 95 percent of all industrial goods.
• Price shocks could therefore be seen in almost any industry and throughout all stages of the industrial supply chain.
• In the medium term the global economic system and every market-oriented national economy would collapse.…
• (Relapse into planned economy) Since virtually all economic sectors rely heavily on oil, peak oil could lead to a partial or complete failure of markets. A conceivable alternative would be government rationing and the allocation of important goods or the setting of production schedules and other short-term coercive measures to replace market-based mechanisms in times of crisis….
• (Global chain reaction) A restructuring of oil supplies will not be equally possible in all regions before the onset of peak oil. It is likely that a large number of states will not be in a position to make the necessary investments in time, or with sufficient magnitude.
• If there were economic crashes in some regions of the world, Germany could be affected. Germany would not escape the crises of other countries, because it’s so tightly integrated into the global economy….”
• The Bundeswehr study also raises fears for the survival of democracy itself. Parts of the population could perceive the upheaval triggered by peak oil “as a general systemic crisis.” This would create “room for ideological and extremist alternatives to existing forms of government….”
2. Real Food Price Increases
Another sign of the times and portent for the near future burden of costs falling on household budgets is shown in the New York Times news article dated, 5 August 2010:
• “MOSCOW — Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin on Thursday banned all exports of grain after millions of acres of Russian wheat withered in a severe drought, driving up prices around the world and pushing them to their highest level in two years in the United States…Russia is suffering from the worst heat wave since record-keeping began here more than 130 years ago…Wheat prices have soared by about 90 percent since June because of the drought in Russia and parts of the European Union, as well as floods in Canada, and the ban pushed prices even higher. Exports from Ukraine, another major exporter, are down sharply this year…Before this year’s drought, yields had risen steadily, and Russian grain exports totaled 21.4 million metric tons last year, about 17 percent of the global grain trade.
But on Thursday, rail cars heaped with fresh grain came to a halt around Russia, stopped in mid-journey from the country’s fields to the main exporting ports on the Black Sea. The order covered a variety of grains, including barley and corn, but will have its greatest impact on wheat exports…”
Global food supplies will be tighter and more costly in the last half of 2010 and into 2011. Beyond fall 2011 prices may not return to lower levels, because energy input costs from gasoline, petroleum, fertilizer costs, harvest, packaging and shipping will be tightening with the approach of peak oil.
See at right, the 2007 U.S.A. ‘Grain Stock to Use Ratios’ chart, projected to 2016. Note, that during the decades when the country was at its wealthiest, we had twice the ‘Stock to Use Ratio’ as when the current recession began. Rather than build and maintain reserves during good times, we have depleted reserves.
• Globally, 2008 saw record lows in global grain stocks. When commodity prices reached their peak, average global grain stocks reached 18.7% of annual global utilization, equivalent to 68 days worth of supply, well below the long-term average.
Where are food prices going?
When combining: 1) globally reduced food stock supply plus, 2) increasing demand from a growing world population; 3) increasingly demand from affluent Asian markets wanting higher quality foods; 4) higher priced agricultural fuel & fertilizer, 5) higher priced packaging, and 6) more expensive transportation costs,m 7) devaluation of the US dollar, it points toward an escalating Real Cost of food across the coming years.
3. National energy grid at threat from EMP disruption
“Civilization is like a great web upon which all things are connected. Bop one strand of the web and the whole thing jiggles. Perhaps no other country on earth is more enslaved to conventional, fuel burning transportation than the United States. Transportation is the lifeblood of the economy, which would quickly collapse if the means for transporting needed supplies were disrupted in any way. With our just-in-time inventory management system, grocery stores commonly carry only a three-day supply of food. This statistical three-day supply would disappear within a few hours during an emergency situation; a panicked populace would make sure of that.”
EMPact America, Inc. Conference, 8-10 September 2009, Niagara, NY, conference speakers pointed out:
• “An electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, is a super energetic radio wave that’s immediately harmless to people, but it’ll burn out all the critical electronic systems that sustain human economic activity and human life across vast areas, including the entire continental United States.” Dr. Peter Vincent Pry, President, EMPact America
• “It’s not a secret. You can’t do anything about something that’s this broad in impact and still keep it a secret. So in order to get anything done you actually have to acknowledge we have a weakness. And, we worried about the fact that if we acknowledged that we had a weakness, how damaging will that be since we will inform our adversaries. We came to the conclusion that our adversaries are really quite well-informed already.”-Robert Hermann, Commissioner, Congressional EMP Commission
• “I have believed for a long time that EMP or electromagnetic pulse may be the greatest strategic threat we face, because without adequate preparation its impact would be so horrifying that we would, in fact, basically lose our civilization in a matter of seconds.”-Newt Gingrich, Former Speaker of the US House of Representatives
A) Solar Flare produced EMP
The magnetic pulses from solar flares can fry microchips and disrupt any electronic devices. A solar flare disrupted primitive electronics such as telegraphs in 1859 and another one occurred in 1989 as well. One of the most serious solar flares took place in 1921 and disrupted communications in the U.S. An EMP from the sun in the 21st century could be devastating and wipe out any system using electricity or microchips.”
In 2008, the National Academy of Sciences produced a report for NASA that confirmed the EMP Commission’s warning that a “great” geomagnetic storm could have catastrophic consequences for modern civilization. According to the NAS report, if the 1859 Carrington event happened today, it could destroy nationwide the electric grid, collapse the critical infrastructures and take 4-10 years to recover – if recovery is possible at all. In June 2010, the Department of Energy and North American Electric Reliability Corporation released a joint report that, again, confirmed the EMP Commission’s warning about the catastrophic threat from a “great” geomagnetic storm.
So it is incomprehensible why the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Aug. 5 – just days after NOAA warned about the possibility of a severe geomagnetic storm actually striking our planet – would gut H.R. 5026, The Grid Reliability and Infrastructure Defense Act, that is designed to protect the United States from the effects of a geomagnetic storm. H.R. 5026 would protect the national electric grid from “all hazards” – including EMP from geomagnetic storms, nuclear EMP from terrorists or rogue states, cyber threats, sabotage and natural disasters. H.R. 5026 embodied the recommendations of the EMP Commission, the National Academy of Sciences and the Department of Energy.
The revised H.R. 5026 does nothing to protect the United States from EMP from geomagnetic storms, or nuclear EMP from rogue states and terrorists, from sabotage or from natural disasters. The Senate gutted H.R. 5026 despite the EMP Commission’s recommendation that protecting the grid against “all hazards” is technologically the best and most cost-effective strategy. For example, an “all hazards” strategy could mitigate the worst threats to the grid from natural and nuclear EMP and cyber threats for $100 million – and possibly save the lives of millions of Americans.
But the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee chose to ignore the EMP Commission, the National Academy of Sciences and the Department of Energy. Every member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee received a personal appeal from the EMP Commission and other prominent experts to pass H.R. 5026 with its provisions for protecting against EMP and “all hazards” intact – but those appeals were ignored.
Fortunately, Earth dodged the bullet from the August 6, 2010 solar flare. Fortunately, NOAA’s estimated 10 percent chance of a severe geomagnetic storm did not materialize – this time. We may not be so lucky next time.
B) Nuclear EMP attack against the US electrical grid
“Wednesday, 18 August 2010, TVC Special Report: Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) weapons pose a serious and growing threat to our national security. Rogue nations and terrorists are working to develop EMP devices to attack the United States and other developed nations. These include North Korea, Iran and China. Once North Korea and Iran have missiles capable of reaching the U.S., they can use an EMP burst over our nation to destroy us.
1) A high altitude nuclear blast above middle America
A nuclear blast 200 miles above the U.S. could wipe out every electric grid in the country, plunging our nation into darkness. It would literally send our nation back to the 18th century. (A powerful X15+ class solar flare would have the same impact.) An EMP blast from a nuclear bomb would shut down devices, and our vehicles using microchips. Planes would stop flying; banks and hospitals would cease operation; trains would stop running; tractors, trucks and cars would cease working. Elevators would malfunction; subways would stop. All commerce would cease. A blast like this could not only wipe out the electric grid in the U.S., but in Canada and Mexico. The more technologically advanced a nation is, the more vulnerable it is to an EMP attack.
2) What Can Be Done?
The United States must take seriously the threat posed by EMP attacks. The military has already taken measures to shield its systems from EMP attacks, but little has been done yet to shield our electric grid system from such an attack. This includes banks, water treatment plants, planes, hospitals, schools and any other facility that relies on computers. All of these must be shielded from the potential of an EMP attack or a solar flare.”
3) If the power ever goes off for an extended period
• 50% of the people will just sit down and wait for someone to come and help them, and if no one does, they’ll just die. 10% of the people know what to do and do what is needed in a logical way. 5% of the people become extremely dangerous almost immediately. About 33% of the people feel that they’re entitled to electric power and when they don’t get it they go nuts and will bring down the social system.
• James Rawles interview by The Watchmen Radio Station, 3 Sep 2010:
“…If we were to have the onset of an EMP collapse in summertime we’d see a public health crisis very quickly. If it were to happen mid-winter we’d actually see more people dying of exposure, dying of the cold, than we would of dying of disease, especially in the Eastern United States and the North East. It doesn’t take too long a period before blankets are insufficient – people don’t have any alternate source of heat they’ll be freezing to death in large numbers. In a ‘grid down collapse’ that goes on for more than a year, we literally could see a 90% population loss in the big cities, and a 50% population loss in the suburbs and as much as a 40% loss in non-viable rural areas – I’m talking desert regions or other areas where there’s not a lot of agriculture that goes on.”
4. US Debt:
As of this morning, ~ 4:05AM, Thursday, 9 September 2010, the Outstanding US National Debt is $14,278,946,101,012 dollars—that’s $14.2 trillion dollars and constitutes 93% of the national Gross Domestic Product. With the current US population of 310,383,941 the National Debt comes to $46,004 per person.
The Outstanding US National Debt is the sum of all outstanding debt owed by the Federal Government and includes: Social Security and Federal retirement programs, other trust funds, US Treasury Securities, and Savings Bonds.
Organizations loaning money to the US Government through US Treasuries include: state and local governments; individual investors, including brokers, public and private; pension funds; mutual funds; holders of US savings bonds; insurance companies; banks and credit unions; and foreign investors.
Add the GSE (Freddie/Fannie) debt to that and we are over 18 trillion.
Pile on the unfunded liabilities hidden on the government’s ‘off balance sheet ledgers’ and you will find these figures: Social Security (14.6 trillion), Prescription Drugs (19.2 trillion), Medicare (76 trillion). You owe, your kids owe, all of us owe about $400,000 each.
Considering the median home price on the east-coast is $205,000.00, you now owe for two homes, in addition to anything that you may owe on your existing home, and it’s at a variable rate loan. In fact, principle and interest are subject to change. This debt is just like some toxic negative amortization pay-what-you-can-add-more-to-principle mortgage.”
Considering our economy (and the World’s too)
The annual US Budget Deficit is about $1.4 trillion. The annual budget deficit is the difference between actual cash collections and budgeted spending (a partial measure of total spending) during a given fiscal year, which runs from October 1 to September 30. In order to get an idea how much $1 trillion is, if you counted one dollar every second, you’d need to count for 31,000 years to go through the $1 trillion pile of dollars. About 31,000 years ago the Neanderthal died off across Europe. Our stone age ancestors were just beginning to make engravings on cave walls.
“The downside to increasing deficits and a rising national debt is that public sector spending “crowds out” more and more private sector investment spending. If you like the idea of Congress and the president playing a growing role in the nation’s allocation of resources, then I suppose that should be of little concern. On the other hand, if you think government leaders are far more likely to make bad investment decisions than are private decision-makers, then crowding out is of considerable concern.
The fallout will not be in the form of an unfair tax increase on our grandchildren when the associated debt is paid off because, it will never be paid off. The fallout will come in an increased drift toward an economy increasingly controlled by the federal government.”
“The debt merry-go-round cannot go on forever. When the average consumer runs out of credit, when the US Treasury itself is no longer considered creditworthy, and when the US dollar is recognized for what it really is, then things will get ugly. If you stop making payments on your car, the banks send a repo man to tow your car away. And when entire nations go in to default, it usually signals cataclysmic events. Be prepared.” James Wesley Rawles in How To Survive the End of the World As We Know It
Today the United States has become so reliant on the largesse of foreigners that its needs are now larger than all the savings in the Western world. Someday soon, those foreigners will grow cautious about lending to a country with no self-discipline and demand instead higher interest rates to protect them from a depreciating dollar. Or they could, as hinted recently, insist on lending in Euros or Renminbi, currencies that the American government cannot print.
The unprecedented expansion of central bank liabilities, has made China nervous about holding more dollars and China has begun to dump dollars, driving up prices of dollar based hard assets. China is so concerned about America’s dollar inflation that it has reduced its treasury holdings to $776 billion from $801 billion in May. China has also bought more gold as a hedge against the debasement of the dollar.
5. Then comes hyperinflation – spend it now!
“Hyperinflation is not just an increase in the money supply, after all the central bank increases the money supply all the time, a phenomenon we know as simple inflation and which we come to expect as a constant. Hyperinflation, however, happens when uncertainty in the future worth of the currency causes people to start trading it for things of actual utility and more reliable stores of value as soon as they can, as soon as they’re paid. The velocity of paper money moving through the system increases as people seek to get rid of it.
So hyperinflation isn’t just the expansion of the monetary base, though the expansion is at the root. The expansion is fuel, but the conflagration doesn’t start till the herd panics.
Hyperinflation takes off when the entire population gets wise. The money supply might have been growing in fits and spurts for decades, but the hyperinflationary storm happens when that money really starts to move around as people try to get rid of it. The prices of useful goods get bid up to mind boggling levels. The process accelerates when governments try to stabilize markets…often by adding more paper…because honestly, what else can a government do? Mismanagement and fraud are the only things governments really get right consistently. So, for the government, a problem that’s caused by the theft of inflation can only be solved by…more mismanagement and fraud. The entire process is self-reinforcing and results in the hyperinflationary death spiral to which all currency is heir.
Common threads during a Hyperinflation:
• Early on, leaders see their popularity wilt when public anger over spending increased.
• The banking system soon becomes an instrument of the government.
• The printing of money becomes a priority, the hyperinflation may come in two waves separated by a short, slower inflationary period.
• The government may increase minimum wages by 75 percent.
• Up to 80 percent of the population may become unemployed.
• Living standards may fall 35-40 percent.
• Some stores may sell goods in a reputable foreign currency.
When it’s all said and done, realize this:
Industrial society is built on, 1) a foundation of an organized social structure with feedback loops, 2) an interdependent infrastructure of transportation, homes and utilities, 3) and a massive, energy driven commodity flow that processes materials from the mine, timber and field to operate; diminish any link and the size of the system must shrink, break any link and the system collapses.
Things to keep in mind:
• Where ever you live– the greater the population density of your community and surrounding communities, the greater the resource requirements are, and the faster the breakdown will occur when the supply infrastructure (money, food, water, electricity, auto gas, etc.) is stopped.
• Once the Welfare and Medicare checks stop ‘the poor will take care of their own family’ by taking from the people with an apparent wealth of material goods, people who are perceived to be their oppressors anyway.
• Once you lose that sense of community, it’s basically every man for himself.