What in the world is happening – or why you should be concerned with preparedness and survival I wasn’t always a prepper. But I was, from my very early years, a current events and news junkie. That all changed in 2008. This is when the last big financial crisis hit. I realized suddenly that our current US system (society, civilization, whatever term you like to use) is unsustainable. And, if the US system is unsustainable, the world system is unsustainable. The threats to “the system” are many and growing. Economic. Geo political. Religious. Demographic. Sociological. Biological. Technological.
When I am asked by friends and family what I believe will happen, here is what I tell them.
In my humble opinion, the very best scenario we can hope for is a long, slow (or relatively slow) slide down a slope to economic collapse. This is virtually a certainty. And it will be painful beyond what we can imagine. The Great Depression will look like a picnic. But, as bad as that sounds, there are many things that can “shove us violently off the cliff” before or during the slide down economic ruin.
I pray that I am wrong. I earnestly do hope and pray that I am wrong because I, like all of you, have a family and dear friends.
I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy, let alone on myself and my loved ones.
I will shortly explain why I believe this, but first, some background on me.
I have a bachelor’s of science degree in Economics from what many would consider a very good university. I have a masters of business administration. My experience and viewpoint are not only shaped by academia. I also have served as a commissioned officer in the military, worked for a Fortune 500 company, and also served in municipal government. I grew up along the US – Mexico border. I have seen crime, drug abuse, drug cartels, etc., up close and personal. Suffice to say my viewpoint is shaped from a wide and varied background.
Why do I believe our current US and world economic systems are unsustainable? There are short, long, and longer answers. Here I will offer short and slightly longer answers.
The short answer is debt. Personal and public (government) debt has spiraled out of control and now cannot ever be paid back. Ever. It is a mathematical impossibility. I will start here at home in America. Governments at every level (local, state, and federal). Total US federal debt as of January, 2015 is $18 TRILLION dollars. Please read that again. That’s trillion with a “T.” Now, I know these numbers can be hard for us normal lay folks to get our minds around, so here is some context. Our debt to GDP ratio is about 101% as of this writing. In other words, it would take every single dollar of value produced in the US in one year to pay off our debt. In reality, it wouldn’t quite do it. We would still owe that one percent. Every SINGLE dollar would go just to the debt. Not one cent for anything else. Nothing for national defense, education, Medicare, Medicaid, etc. etc. Nothing. And, if history is an indicator, this will continue to get worse and worse. What about the states? Many states are even more in debt than the federal government. States such as Hawaii, New Jersey, and Illinois come to mind. Total state government debt is approximately $1.1 trillion while total local debt brings another $1.9 trillion to the party. And these staggering figures are only “direct debt.” They do not include trillions more in unfunded liabilities such as Medicare, Social Security, and worker pensions, to name a few. Some economists recently started reporting that it is now mathematically impossible to ever pay off the debt. Thanks to them for penetrating glimpse into the obvious. What’s that you say? We are now in a global economy? Well yes, that is very true. Japan, the world’s THIRD largest economy has a debt to GDP ratio of 227%. Makes ours of 101% seem almost healthy. The rising dragon of China will buoy up the world economy you say? China is a massive bubble waiting to pop. Want proof? Just google “China ghost cities.” Then google “China” and any combination of bubble, debt, etc. and see what you find. Germany and Europe? Again, google Greece, Spain, Portugal, Iceland, or Cypress and debt.
So, have we covered the financial system sufficiently?
Now, as I wrote, a slow economic collapse is the best scenario I can foresee. An economic collapse however, can happen more quickly. Read up on the 2008 financial crisis. The world came very close to plunging off the cliff. Make no mistake. An economic collapse will almost certainly lead to societal collapse. And, a big contributing factor to an impending economic disaster is the continued growth of world population and the resulting conflict over dwindling resources such as food and water. Sao Paolo, the largest city in Brazil and the twelfth largest city in the world by population, is running out of water. Here in the American southwest and west, many areas are also facing water shortages.
And then, there are any number of possible external shocks.
Here is a list of possible “external” shocks that could shove the world off the cliff (slippery slope of economic collapse that we are surely headed down:
A major regional war (or wars) breaking out in the Middle East (Israel – Iran, Saudi Arabia and her Gulf allies against Iran), Europe (full blown war in Ukraine), or Asia (China – India, India- Pakistan, China – Japan, I could go on here, but you get the idea). In reality, it seems that two are already underway. The first is a coalition of Western powers and Islamic nations (Jordan, Egypt, UAE, and even Iran) against ISIL (ISIS). The second is the war in Ukraine. Russia and the West seem unable or unwilling to slow the descent into a full-blown regional war. Possibly, even a World War. Think I’m kidding or crazy? Anytime you have Russian and NATO (including US) troops in close proximity (Ukraine, Balkans, Poland, etc.) you should be extremely wary.
An electro-magnetic (EMP) attack on the US or Europe (by Islamic terrorists, North Korea, Iran, etc.) – I know some folks dismiss this, but I assure you that EMP is real and the threat is real and these facts are backed up by multiple Congressional reports, hearings, military reports, etc. Just one large detonation high over the US could cause unbelievable destruction. Depending on the scope of the attack and which report you believe, we would lose the majority of our electronics and be instantly pushed back to anywhere from the 1950’s technologically to perhaps as far back as the early part of the twentieth century.
A nuclear or “dirty nuke” terrorist attack on the US or Europe (please see above under EMP). The US government (and state and local governments have shown time and time again that they are unable to deal effectively with a major disaster in even ONE city at a time (consider the LA Rodney King riots, Hurricane Katrina, Super Storm Sandy, 9/11 attacks in New York, and most recently, the riots in Ferguson, Missouri). Now, just imagine the sheer devastation and chaos from a nuclear or dirty nuke attack on a major US city. Or, what about multiple attacks on 2, 3, 4 or more cities? The government would be wholly incapable of responding effectively.
A biological terrorist attack on the US or Europe. It has been tried before but failed. Imagine the Ebola scare times 10. Or times 100. Many believe we got lucky and dodged a major bullet. Perhaps it was the skill of our public health officials. But this was a natural outbreak we were able to contain. What about a deliberate outbreak started by multiple attackers in different cities. Are you still confident our public health system would be able to cope?
A massive cyber-attack. If you connect the dots, you will see we are already in a cyber-war with Islamic terrorists, China, North Korea and possibly Russia. Imagine for a moment that a cyber-attack manages to crash a large part of the power grid. Many people know this is a possibility. Fewer know that cyber-attacks have already been shown capable of causing physical harm. The Stuxnet virus that attacked Iran’s nuclear program was able to destroy hundreds (perhaps thousands) of centrifuges by simultaneously speeding them up while sending false “normal” signals to controllers. The equipment literally destroyed themselves. Some believe that cyber-attacks were also able to cause explosions.
Notice I have not yet touched on any “natural” disasters. We all know that earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, fire, blizzards, and tsunamis can hit us, depending on where we live. Then there are the outside possibilities such as asteroid or comet strike. A huge solar flare or solar storm (see EMP above).
So, my friends, this is why you should be prepping. The “why be prepared,” if you will. The blog covers the “why” on an ongoing basis and also a great deal of “how to prep.
”There is an old saying, “You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.” I think an appropriate modification for our day is “You may not be interested in disaster, collapse and war, but they are interested in you.”
When one considers that any early chance of solving these myriad problems rest in large part on politicians and government bureaucrats, both in the US and internationally such as those in the EU. Many of the problems we see today come from career politicians and bureaucrats that are no longer in being public servants, but are more interested in being served by the public. Hard to see where true, long term solutions will come from.
The Chinese have a proverb that is often also curse. “May you live in interesting times.” Folks, we live in interesting times.