I have the feeling that there is something terribly wrong in the world. I don’t believe I’m alone.
I could start with the Federal deficit: every day the government spends about $10 billion, of which maybe $6.5 billion is funded by taxes. The government must then borrow approximately $1 trillion every year to fund the rest. There is no sign that tax revenues will increase substantially (perhaps a few ticks, but not enough to make a dent) or that spending will drop (everyone loves to talk about it, but no politician actually wants to cut spending) to make a difference.
Debt serves a useful and necessary purpose an a productive economy: it enables people to do things today on the premise that they will be paid for by future productive activity. And as long as the new debt does not outstrip the rate of growth of productive activity, the whole system floats skyward and everyone is happy. Bad things happen, as they do now, when debt grows and productive activity is stagnant.
The debt problem is causing trouble all over the world. The Cypriot parliament was considering a measure this week to tax people’s bank deposits (not just the interest, but the actual amounts on deposit) to help fund a bailout. As of now, the thought is to tax only large deposits. Alternately, Cyprus could end up being the first country to be tossed out of the Euro zone.
Meanwhile, back in the US, the government is becoming increasingly authoritarian. If the powers that be wanted it, I could get locked up at any time and the key thrown away, on suspicion of being a ‘terrorist.’ And who exactly is a terrorist? A terrorist is anyone deemed as such by our leadership.
So what can I do about it?
It’s beyond my power to change politicians or public policy: I can write to my elected representatives, but I’m better off saving my breath to cool my porridge. I can vote for the other guy, but even if he wins, nothing changes.
OK: what can I do to save myself?
I know the conventional prepper wisdom: move out to the boonies; arm yourself; stockpile food, water, and ammunition; don’t tell anyone your plans, unless you’re positive that you’re in the company of like-minded individuals.
But I bristle at some of these suggestions: I’m a city boy, always have been, and was bored to tears–literally–living in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; I don’t know how to shoot and don’t have time to learn; I live in a relatively small apartment without very much storage space.
And then I ask, what am I preparing for?
The prepper answer is some kind of extended public emergency, with no electricity, no banks, no supermarkets, no police, no ATMs, for a period of weeks or months, if not longer. It is typically accompanied by widespread destruction, either as a cause or a consequence of the emergency.
But is that a realistic assumption?
I look back through history for an event in which civilization in a region simply shut itself off in a period of days or weeks and didn’t try to restart itself. I’ll exclude events resulting from an attack by a foreign military, and I’ll consider events in the last 200 years.
I was coming up empty until just before I wrote this, but there is an example: the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia, which emptied the cities and forced everyone to work in the fields.
As much as I wonder what our government may be up to, I don’t see that as a realistic alternative.