Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Business as usual

Ben Newman
[Update: After a lot of unthinking “but we Americans have guns!”-type comments, I held my nose and added a paragraph on that vile topic.]

Thinking about collapse is very useful because it allows you to prepare for it. And preparing for collapse is very useful too—from the pragmatic perspective of risk management. Consider the possibilities.
  • If you prepare for collapse and it doesn't happen, then you look a tiny bit foolish.
  • If you don't prepare for collapse and collapse does happen, then you look a tiny bit dead.
Now, which would you prefer to be, foolish or dead?

This type of reasoning is very basic, and is used for such things as calculating the amount of insurance to buy or the amount of cash to keep in reserve in order to avoid being bankrupted should the worst-case scenario unfold. In order to do that, you have to have some idea of what the worst case scenario is. People seem comfortable with this kind of reasoning.

There is, however, a problem: most people don't seem to be able to wrap their minds around the concept of collapse in the sort of unsentimental, dispassionate way that is required for engaging in practical risk management activities. They can think of a nuclear accident, or a tsunami, or a hurricane, or an earthquake, or a pandemic. They might be able to think of all five at the same time, but that's a stretch for most. But the scenario that few people can react to adequately is the sort of gritty reality that is quite probable. Let's try a couple of scenarios, and see how you react.

Scenario #1. You live in a major city. Banks are closed and ATM machines are defunct. There is no electricity. Shops are closed and looted. Gas stations are burned out. There is no pumped water and toilets don't flush. There is no heat or air conditioning. Garbage isn't being collected and there are piles of it everywhere. Roads are impassable and neighborhoods are barricaded from each other with concertina wire and piles of burning tires and patrolled by armed gangs. Home invasions occur with gruesome regularity, especially in the wealthier neighborhoods where there is more to take. Police are nowhere to be found, but there are army checkpoints on all the major roads leading out of the city where people are turned back.

Scenario #2. You live out in the country. There is no electricity, no heating oil or propane deliveries. Gasoline is no longer available, and you can no longer drive 30 miles to the nearest supermarket or Walmart. In any case, these stores are no longer open for business because merchandise is no longer being delivered to them. You used to be on friendly terms with some of the neighbors, but now everybody is afraid of each other. In any case, it's too far, and too dangerous, to walk anywhere. Your drinking water used to come from a deep drilled well via an electric pump, which no longer works. There also used to be a sump pump and a dehumidifier in your basement, which is now permanently flooded and filling with black mold. Armed gangs are filtering through the landscape, looking for caches of food and other supplies. They are increasingly expert at what they do, and most people either give up their stockpile voluntarily or die trying to defend it.

Presented with such scenarios, most people react in one of three ways: denial, paralysis or panic.

Denial is where you tell yourself that these scenarios are so incredibly unlikely where you live that thinking about them is a complete waste of time. You may be right about that, but who is to say? Subjective judgments of likelihood are not particularly useful in risk mitigation.

Paralysis is where your gut feeling tells you that this could, in fact, happen, but you can't think of anything constructive that you could do about it—beyond trying to not think about it, to avoid distressing yourself to no purpose.

Panic is where you decide to act—by stockpiling food and weapons, or by developing plans to flee in some direction. Once you've done your shopping and planning, and the panic attack is over, you go back to paralysis (nothing more to be done) and then drift back toward denial (since it is mentally the most comfortable).

There is a fourth reaction worth considering, even though it amounts to an ad hominem attack on me as the messenger of doom. It goes like this: “Dmitry, your collapse scenarios are crap. They are depressing, distressing, and none of us can do anything about them except be depressed and distressed, or panic and go shopping for spam, shotgun shells and machetes. Would you please cut it out and stop bothering people with this collapse nonsense?” Sure, got me there, I'll stop.

Let's do something else instead: let's consider that nothing will particularly change, and that things will stay on the same trajectory. Let's define some scenarios that seem pretty likely to most of us, because it's the sort of gradual change we've been seeing already: the economy will continue “recovering,” meaning that the rich will continue to get richer, the poor—poorer, unemployment will hold steady (as more and more people drop out of the labor force), debt levels will continue to explode, food and energy prices will continue to creep up and so on.

Security theater. We had the shoe bomber and the underwear bomber, so now the TSA makes us take off our shoes and gropes our genitals (or irradiates us with the naked body scanner). We had the wannabe jihadis who got entrapped into trying to smuggle a two-part liquid explosive on board (which, according to chemistry Ph.D.'s, wouldn't have worked anyway) so we can't bring liquids through the checkpoint (except for mother's milk, but even that has to be tested for explosive potential). Next step: somebody tries to smuggle a bomb in their rectum, and the TSA forces everyone to strip naked and subjects them to a body cavity search, prison style. Even if you can still afford to fly somewhere, would you want to?

Note that this security theater insanity only applies to flights originating from or terminating in the US, and that it has nothing to do with stopping terrorists. You stop terrorists by spotting them, and you do that by interviewing just the promising candidates. Testing for exploding breast milk is just plain idiotic.

Debt slavery. In the past year, student loan debt has grown from 1 trillion to 1.2 trillion. More and more students are realizing that they will never be able to pay back their student loans. Instead, the government, which guaranteed the loans, will garnish their wages, and eventually even their social security payments (should these still exist by the time they reach retirement age) for the rest of their lives.

Borders locked. More and more of these students will realize that their only real option is to leave the country forever. Facing a massive outflow of college graduates, the government introduces exit visas, which require a credit check, and refuses to grant them to entire families, so that a hostage is always left behind. The government also refuses to renew passports for expats who are in arrears on their government-guaranteed debt, creating a refugee crisis. Just as this happens, more and more countries, increasingly fed up with US State Dept. meddling in their internal affairs, decide that they've had enough Americans for now, and close their borders to US nationals.

Retirement cancelled. The already dire demographics, coupled with the flight of educated people mentioned above, mean that there will only be a couple of working-age unskilled workers supporting each retiree. Desperate measures, such as rolling IRAs and 401k's into the Social Security Trust Fund, postpone the inevitable somewhat. Eventually the government finds that it has no choice but to raise the retirement age to 100. The vast majority of the baby boomer generation, which did not save for retirement in any case, will find itself destitute.

Medical confiscation. Thanks to ObamaCare, people between 55 and 65 are being forced into the Medicare system. At the same time, Medicare covers fewer and fewer services, with higher and higher deductibles. Since most people lack sufficient cash savings to cover them, they are covered by placing liens on property. Adult children living with their parents (an increasingly common situation) are then forced to sell the house as soon as they inherit it (or walk away from it). The other, increasingly popular option, of course, is to forgo medical care.

Demise of the dollar. So far, because of the US dollar's reserve status, the US has been able to fleece other countries while taking on debt at an artificially low rate of interest. As more and more countries (China and Russia especially) are moving away from using the dollar for international settlements, especially in buying and selling energy, the status of the dollar continues to erode. As this process runs its course, the US government will be forced to resort to fleecing its own people. Raising taxes is politically difficult, and so instead lots of other measures will be put in place. There will be lots of so-called “bail-ins,” where depositor funds are used to bail out insolvent banks. Those who own precious metals will be forced to sell them for a fraction of their market price, as has happened before. There will be a low limit on daily cash withdrawals, as has recently been the case in Argentina, Cyprus and Ukraine.

Corporatization. The trend is to concentrate more and more wealth and power in the hands of fewer and fewer corporate entities. To this end, the government will clamp down on small businesses (which are already suffering because of, among other things, onerous health care insurance regulations). Eventually the government will outlaw self-employment, herding all owner-operators and freelancers into minimum-wage corporate farms. It will be made illegal to buy and sell products or services except through a major corporation (good bye Craigslist). All property transactions will automatically be taxed: sales tax plus capital gains tax. The limit on gift taxes will be dropped to zero: the giver will pay the gift tax on the value; the receiver will have to pay income tax on all gifts received, plus capital gains if they are ever sold. Together with the low limit on cash withdrawals, this will make it virtually impossible for people to directly give each other money without being taxed, or breaking the law.

As the cost of living continues to go up and salaries continue to stagnate, corporations will negotiate special corporate discounts with each other in order to make it possible for their employees to continue functioning. People without a corporate job will find their access to products and services severely restricted. But what really makes it possible for more and more corporate employees to survive is the increasing use of food stamps (EBT cards). Now at 50 million, participation in the food stamps program will grow until it becomes virtually universal, while at the same time the nutritional value of the food it makes available will continue trending down, nurturing the trifecta of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

Criminalization. With small businesses and private enterprise made illegal, most people will be forced to resort to illegal activities, under the watchful eye of the NSA. But since putting even more people in jail will be prohibitively expensive, a new, streamlined process of dispensing justice will be put into place: the NSA and the Justice Department will link computer systems, and verdicts of fraud and suspended sentences will be issued by a computer program, in absentia. In keeping with current practice, both the charge and the evidence will be kept secret. The newly minted felons will be dropped from voter rolls, their passports cancelled, their bank accounts confiscated, and their employment (if any) terminated. They will receive form letters informing them of their sentence but most of them will be unable to read it because functional illiteracy rates will go from the current 40% to 80-90%.

Paragon of democracy. The effect of dropping much of the population from voter rolls will paradoxically result in much higher voter participation. After a while the only people allowed to vote will be the politicians themselves, their families, government workers and contractors, corporate functionaries and, of course, the ever-richer 1%. Since those barred from voting will not be counted as voters, it will look like voter turn-out is much higher than ever before. Everyone will celebrate the health of American democracy.

Demise of public education. Public schools will become dumping grounds for mental and physical defectives—junior prisons, if you will, where students are endlessly frisked and strip-searched by heavily armed security personnel and train for life under lockdown. The more promising students will be shunted to highly profitable charter schools, many of them virtual, where students get to sit in front of computers all day, training to take standardized tests, and a single unaccredited teacher oversees more than a hundred of them. Beyond studying for tests, the students will become increasingly resistant to remembering anything at all—why know things when you can Google for them?

Strafed to hell. The US has spectacular and ever-higher levels of gun ownership, along with the use of antidepressants and antipsychotics. It also has a large, well-armed military, which isn't very good at achieving policy objectives, but is very good at killing civilians, having killed hundreds of thousands of them in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as those dozens of countries the US has invaded over the decades. This military will have to be brought back home due to lack of resources. If this weren't enough, the police in the US is already highly militarized. Throw in the narcocartels, which, as I predicted previously, are diversifying away from drugs and into all sorts of other lucrative activities. Add to this already volatile mix a large set of long-standing grievances, over racial discrimination and other injustices. Make the antidepressants and antipsychotics unavailable, throw everyone out of a job, destroy every last vestige of hope in a brighter future and what do you get? That's right, a hail of bullets. Those who think that they will be able to stand their ground and defend their homestead need to realize that this is not for amateurs. Dispensing violence is a profession, like surgery. But if everybody has a scalpel (whether they know how to use it or not) then what's a surgeon to do?

What should our risk management strategy be in light of such probable, predictable, and rather un-apocalyptically boring developments?

Do nothing? Well, you might not die, at least not right away, but then will your life be worth living? Even if you can't think of anything good to do, you might still consider doing something—like drinking a lot.

Prevent them? You'd have to start with some sort of grass roots political campaign to change the entire system. Suppose you are amazingly successful at it, and manage to change the entire system. And it only takes you 30 years. Oops! Too late.

So, what do you do?

I have an idea, and it's really, really simple. What's more, it's quite cheap, and it totally works... for the time being.

Here it is:

Get the hell out of this country!


Unknown said...

All points taken, but I've often thought about , "What country would you go to?" Wherever you go, you will be a foreigner, and not just ANY foreigner, and American... and you will not just be an outsider, but someone who potentially is seen as complicit with the world-wide disaster that's just been inflicted on everyone. I'm afraid if you were going to emigrate, the time was 10 years ago.

Dave Z said...

Hi Dmitry,

I'd add to the urban scenario that supply-on-demand has left most US cities with a nominal 2-3 day food supply.

I hope and believe, however, that there are more action options than stockpiling (of food/weapons), and that action need not be panic driven.

Stockpiling knowledge, tools and skills (a low-volume, portable hoard), developing networks of allies and helping them prepare, social distance from population centers in favor of a reasonably productive ecosystem, mobility and illegibility seem yet viable strategies.

The US is currently leading the world in the kind of abuses you mention and trending worse, but how far behind are other, far more population-dense countries, when push comes to shove?

There's something to be said for 'knowing one's territory' and 'home turf advantage'.

But I'll think on what you've said. Thanks again for another stimulating article.

Dave Z

William said...

I had a pertinent and insightful comment to make here, but then I spent some time looking at that illustration and now I can't...quite...remember...what I was going to say...

sidd said...

"The fiercest serpent may be overcome by a swarm of ants." Isoroku Yamamoto Fleet Admiral Commander-in-Chief Imperial Japanese Navy.

Unknown said...

My wife said that her grandmother in Russia always had a barrel of flour in storage in case of "collapse", i.e. war, civil war, what have you. Having experienced WWII, and Stalin I suppose this was a reasonable posture(gardening on my English mother's side in childhood and by my wife's family just to survive the whole time in Russia round that out- I personally only bought food at supermarkets being a civilized consumer).

As to the rest of your article I find it "entertaining" as always. One wonders whether foreign events could make all of this moot. As we see an unstable region in a sensitive area that overlaps influence areas of great powers becomes easily a tinderbox to light WWIII. Taiwan, Spratlies, West Ukraine, etc. Then lots of activiity destroys lots of lives and infrastructure making for new jobs after the conflagration and reshuffling the power relationships internally and externally. It looks like the Cuban Missile Crisis all over in Ukraine between USA and Russia. USA troops disguised as Ukrainian plus right sector and interior ministry trying to control protestors will provoke a civil war there which could spread across borders. Border changes in Africa, Middle East will be normal perhaps without Great Power enforcment of post colonial maps. There are so many peoples who were thrown together arbitrarily and now all have tons of cheap weapons. How does your article jive with the massive arsenal in private hands in USA anyway. Perhaps private armies would compete with local authorities in massive "no go" areas where the govt. has zero influence. These would grow until only few areas were govt. and then they would be taken as the people there would be soft targets and the mercenaries hired to protect them would not be loyal.

beetleswamp said...

Thanks for the wake up call. It made me go over the options again and re-examine a couple places I thought were reasonable, but everywhere is going to get whacked by climate change and it ain't easy chosing to move out of a future prison to a future parched desert or a future civil war zone. Is it better to choke on malaria with a long time friend or recent acquaintances? You aren't crazy and depressing, but right on the money. Armed citizens will never win the revolution with private arms against tanks and helicopters with night vision, but life is going to really suck once they start trying to play patriot anyway.

Wullow said...

Yes, it's a simple idea, but not so simple in practice. Aside from the logistics of getting out -- including the costs and red tape -- one must say goodbye to those loved ones who will not, or cannot, follow. Never see my sons and grandchild again? No thanks, I'll take my stand when the tax-feeders come for me.

Which brings up another point. Rural America is bristling with guns, and those who have them will not go easily. Shutting down the large cities will be easy, especially under the guise of security. Not so with the boonies; it will be obvious war.

Unknown said...

I'm going on a trip across the US for four months starting shortly, feeling that the best use of my time & money is to see the parts of the country that I have never and will never see again. Then, possibly in 2015, I am leaving.... the southern hemisphere is a superior choice, the radioactive fallout from runaway reactors and perhaps warheads will be less deadly there.

corvo said...

Great article, Dmitri
Only the conclusion seems weak to me. The idea that this collapse will
hit the US only while the rest of the world continues to enjoy the American Dream is sexy but in this globalized world I see more of a worldwide collapse. Indeed some regions may be better that others, especially remote locations.
Greetings from Nova Scotia!

jkwill said...

As an american who has lived in South America for a longer period of time I have some comments to make.

First, I see a lot of comments talking about the downsides of being an american in another country which are more negative indicating a not so adventurous commentator. In reality, life is more complex and while many of those comments (being unwanted, etc.) are correct they are in some cases and not all. If you wan to leave I`m sure there`s a place for you. You can find that your talents and abilities are different from those of the local population and are needed. Why treat you poorly if you're the chiropracter?

Also, the slow motion collapse you described, I think, is probable in some form and and has been going on in Venezuela for the past ten years. The fact that the population in general is resisting indictes that the regime won`t last long (it won`t negotiate anything and dialogue is impossible so the lack of flexibility makes it too britlle to stand). Complete and total control over the national press, judicial and legislative branches of government, and being able tocontrol the message can only get you soo far if people aren´t eating. So, while the slow motion collapse could last a long time (10 - 25 years) it can´t go on forever. The wealth disparity we´re seeing in the US scene can be brittle as well.

Anonymous said...

The 2nd paragraph on Corporatization reminds me of the "mark of the beast" that the book of Revelation says people will need in order to buy food.

michigan native said...

"The Grim Reality" was one of my favorite posts here. Briefly contemplate the way the US has treated other countries in the world. We have imposed sanctions, embargoes, destabilized entire economies, invaded legally elected governments, assassinated their leaders, and with a lot of bombs, cruise missiles, drone strikes, etc spread our form of democracy around the world to the tune of 53 million casualties since the end of WWII (someone extrapolated that statistic on a social media)

So most of South America has little reason to love Uncle Sam, and his gringos that try to expatriate. We exploit their natural resources for the benefit of the multi national corporations, leaving untold millions to live in squalor and poverty. Ditto that picture in Africa, many parts of Asia, the Middle East.

If FB is any barometer, it seems even masses of people in Europe are outraged at the US. Comments from people from Germany to Wales state "the US can go fuck itself", "I hope Russia and China dump their treasury bonds and silence these wankers up once and for all" to less innocuous, yet still popular remarks "the US is getting really desperate" (over our meddling in Ukraine)

Point is, I was looking into emigrating. The US government is making it harder for US citizens to flee and renounce their citizenship, charging you a hefty exit fee. They don't want their tax slaves escaping.

As I suspected, when the US dollar collapses and our decay is felt across the world, our dollars worthless, many of these people will want to do us "gringos" or "Yankees" or "pigs" great bodily harm, if this account is truthful. Tell me what you think. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0yU2NNb12Y4

BonRobi said...

My wife and I left the good ole USSA about 6 months ago on VERY meager resources (van, tools, naivite, etc) for central america. Despite a lot of chicken little collapse oriented analysts saying it was SO DAMN DANGEROUS south of the border and whatnot (we'd been here often before so knew this was crap). Instead we have found gracious, humble, open folks down here, for the most part. Folks I would not mind partnering up with when the supply lines disrupt. For us leaving has been a wise choice so far (not to mention beating the USSA winter weather). We're not going to set up long term in any large towns, and these governments down here, overall, are laden with a good percentage of the same sociopaths all governments sport (the folks down here just are not in denial of it and openly expect the government to work against their best interests). Plenty of nice places to choose from to weather a collapse and get on with some sound relocalizing. Not to beat a dead horse too rabidly but the benefits (espoused so well in this blog) of nomadism work well in this situation, especially with a sailboat home. One example of many: a nifty riverboat home somewhere like Uruguays Rio Negro, with three other countries to conveniently up anchor and relocate to, as the geopolitical winds shift, on the extensive river system there. Expatriation is not for everyone but is a sound, logical choice given the increasing predations of the USSA STATE.

Marcellina said...

I fully expect to find myself within the first rounds of die-off. With that in mind, I can go about my life until then in peace.

Val said...

This is Morris Berman's advice as well. His thesis is that the USA has no future that is worth being a part of. I'm convinced of it.

I very much wish to leave, but since I'm an aging artist with no money I don't quite know how I'll be able to pull it off. I'm happy to consider any reasonably constructive suggestions.

My first choice is Mexico. Uruguay also sounds very attractive, at least at this point in history (for who knows what will happen geopolitically a few years down the road?).

I'd like to do the liveaboard thing. I've bought the plans for a small boat, but have no idea when or how I'll be able to afford the materials to build it, let alone the larger craft that would be much safer to sail abroad in. Maybe it would be best to move down there first, and then build it..? This might prevent some problems with boat registration and county taxation issues.

But to do this I'll need a tremendous slice of luck - a terrific commercial art job in this withering economy - or else I'll have to suck it up, help myself to a big slice of humble pie, and try for a job as a superannuated bagboy at the local supermarket so I can save up for the move.

I don't know what I'll do, but I haven't been happy in the USA for a long, long time. It really is an ever-increasingly awful place.

Dharma Sanctuary said...

Just to be the contrarian's contrarian, it's possible that after a period of great upheaval, with a devalued dollar that makes imports prohibitively expensive, jobs will suddenly come into being due to goods needing to be produced in the U.S. Maybe working in a factory is not your piece of cake, but if it means survival in a new paradigm, you'll take it.

I've always agreed with the coming collapse, but think there are some positive scenarios possible. Whether you can stomach and survive the intervening years is the open question.

Unknown said...

After reading this article, it seems as though you trying to provoke a response from your faithful readers, Dmitri. However, hasn't the whole subject of collapse become somewhat academic? I mean to say, the Northern Hemisphere climate specialists have been issuing very scary reports on the situation in the Arctic for a number of years. To sum it all up, man has triggered the methane hydrate 'gun' in the Arctic ocean. Now methane hydrate destabilization is the worst 'tipping point' we could have initiated. Sam Carana & Malcolm Light over at the 'Arctic News' blog are predicting the ending of all life on Earth between 2040 and 2050.

That means the human race will be in, essentially, hospice care after about 2030. So, what remains is ~16 years in which to eke out some kind of existence, whether we are tucked away in the USA with some pathetic prepper's kit, or residing where the grass is always greener. Take your pick, Rio is nice this time of year!

Lee Grove said...

Seems there really is no solution other than a national policy for wind-down that allows a gradual DIS-integration of the just-in-time everything, the replacement being local everything; failing that, we are fuc*ed.
And I've done the "get out of Dodge" solution--several times; several countries. As a couple of the posters indicated, Americans are not welcome--and they surely will be targets (of at least a few foreign victims of the newly-dead imperialistic murder machine).

You may have been living abroad for years, may have developed quite a network of friends and neighbors, but the one day you take that one jaunt to that one place where you run into that one guy who doesn't understand what a swell Anti-American American you are, it is over...

crf said...

Genocidal war may forestall collapse. This is a very common response to the threat of collapse in the past, even in democracies. Reducing populations gives those remaining a bigger slice. The people undertaking the genocide understand this implicitly, and defer to authority, forestalling collapse in their society.

With climate change and resource depletion, this becomes much more "interesting". (You already know things are grim if people are seriously entertaining the ideas of mining asteroids.) Perhaps whole continents will be eradicated of people in a very impersonal way. Having a depopulated South East Asia, South America or Africa seems more likely to occur than mining asteroids for resources.

I think those kinds of scenarios will happen prior to collapse-type events in advanced countries.

D.Mitchell said...

corporatization is easily avoided.

Dealing with the public school system is easily avoided.

Dealing with the culture of conform or be cast out literally can easily be avoided.

In fact everything you mentioned can be dealt with, without a political grass roots effort.

Neighbors banded together can ward of any issues. If there is cooperation among neighbors on say one block, it can be done.

HS said...

"Let's do something else instead: let's consider that nothing will particularly change, and that things will stay on the same trajectory."

The dramatic increase in government corruption that we've seen over the last 20 years and the resulting record inequality is no accident. It is simply naive to think that Greenspan and company didn't know the inevitable consequence of lowering rates, recklessly loosening credit standards, and allowing quasi-gov't agencies to fund the credit orgy via securitization. The same logic holds for QE--monetizing debt and jamming the proceeds into the equities markets to regenerate a bubble only ends one way. Thus, it is abundantly clear that their goal isn't long term economic stability, but to maximize the wealth transfer to the elite. (In fact, a good argument can be made that the collapse of 2008 was deliberate to provide the justification for the elite to loot the US Treasury directly, via QE.)

In the last decade, the corruption of the US gov't has increased to the point that it is palpable. Even the most ardent Dancing with the Stars fan is starting to realize that their democracy was sold out from under them. Politicians don't even pretend to represent the public any longer--the whole thing is starting to stink of desperation. The question is: Why? After all these years, why are the elite willing to risk civil unrest and global war to make a few billion more? Why would they pursue economic policies that would ultimately be detrimental to themselves over the long term?

Imagine that you're a first class passenger on the Titanic, immediately after it hit the iceberg. Due to your propensity for providing generous gratuities, you've curried favor with the Captain and crew. Thus, they've provided you with a true situational assessment; the ship is doomed and there aren't enough lifeboats for everyone. However, there is a plan. The economy class passengers will be reassured that all is well and then lured to the lower decks with free booze and music. Meanwhile, the crew and first class passengers will debark, after looting the cabins of the riff-raff for anything that might aid in survival. After all, the economy class passengers are already dead, they just don't know it yet.

Barring a scientific miracle, we are headed towards an epic energy crisis. The only reason that the planet can sustain 7+ billion is due to the abundance of a liquid yielding 5.8M BTU per barrel. Global conventional crude production peaked in 2005 and the tight oil "miracle" that the teevee has been selling is more hype than substance. It is very much looking like tight oil has only been able to mask the conventional peak and delay the inevitable. The elite know this and are acting accordingly.

EBrown said...

Curious how doomy the comments on this thread got. I know it's a self-selected group here, but it seems like it took a turn darker than usual.

Yes, the USSA will have huge problems in the coming years. Yes, the government is going to work at cross purposes to the general population's health and well-being. Yes, the pie is going to get a lot smaller. Yes, city living is going to suck. Yes, rural living will get riskier. I think this describes most parts of the world though.

I plan to give it my best shot in rural America. I live in a pretty open and accepting valley in rural NY. I arrived in 2009, and most of the "locals" are open to outsiders. I don't know why it is this way, but I am glad of it. I think I have a better chance here than in many foreign countries where I'd REALLY be an outsider.

Patrick said...

In his first paragraph, Dmitry poses the question: "which would you prefer to be, foolish or dead?"

It seems to me that if even half of the scenarios described in this post and the responses come to pass, the answer is obvious.

Anonymous said...

I've decided to look at it with the perspective that going to other countries does not mean you "failed" or are "fleeing" the USA. It's simply accepting what the government of the USA has been telling us for decades: it's a global economy. We're simply expanding OUR range of employment (and living) choices.

And remember that if you hate it in those other places and you have not renounced your US citizenship, you can always go back ... and you'll have some new stories to tell when you do.

Adam Randolph said...

Well, this was an absolutely AMAZING read, including the comments, and I'm a little speechless. So, as Tiny Tim said, "God bless, everyone."

M.K. Styllinski said...

Great article as usual.

Even though this collapse is likely to hit us globally (not withstanding environmental disasters which also seem to be increasing) I think it is still a better bet to leave the United States if that is possible.

This appears to be the central hub of of severe change in our current paradigm and as such the social and economic intensity of the collapse is likely to the most intense.

It isn't just the socio-economic fallout but the extremely dangerous and reckless people currently steering the US onto the rocks. What's more a small minority is doing it intentionally to initiate the same phase of boom and bust destruction so that they can arise from the ashes on top once again.

I don't think they appreciate there are other factors here which suggest that once the US goes down it will stay down for many decades as Orlov has claimed. He's dead right. For that reason alone - don't stay any longer than you have to. Europe is suffering and it has the same problems but such inverted totalitarianism is of a different nature, a symptom of gradualism - more Huxleyian if you will.

Reverse Developer said...

As the responses to this post and my own confrontation and acceptance of collapse confirm, the advent of post peak oil precipitates an identity crisis at personal and national levels. This is how collapse feels, as though losing one's self. We identify by what we are as much by what we are not, by where we live as much by where we do not. This is how Rome evaporated: when the people self identifying as Romans, whether or not actually residing in Rome, finally changed their identity. Not all survived the shock to their psyche. Not all survived in their new identities.

Anonymous said...

On the new bits RE: guns:

"...throw everyone out of a job, destroy every last vestige of hope in a brighter future and what do you get? That's right, a hail of bullets."

All you have to do is go to one of the "bad neighborhoods" of any major US city and listen for gunfire, to know how true this is.

Lance M. Foster said...

A great post Dmitry!

The thing is, I am pretty much in Val's shoes. No money, poorly paid job, in terrible debt I will never get out of, and I am already 54. My wife is ill too and can't work, so I guess that's all folks.

And heck, this is my country. Why should I leave, even if I had the money. My flesh will join the soil. Worst comes to worst, I'll buy a nice big bottle of vodka and me and my wife will wait for a blizzard and go out to the woods and drink ourselves into eternal slumber. Coyotes gotta eat too. Everyone's gotta die sometime.

I like that Buddhist koan about the guy chased off the cliff by a tiger, and while he is hanging there between two deaths, he finds a berry, eats it, and it is the sweetest berry he ever tasted. Za druzhbu myezhdu narodami!

GHung said...

"Now, which would you prefer to be, foolish or dead?"

Looks like Michael Ruppert preferred the latter. CollaspeNet is reporting his suicide last night. Perhaps he gazed into the Abyss too long...

Me? I'm staying put in my native soil for as long as I can hold out.

Unknown said...

Mr. Orlov:

All I can say is WOW! I have read a lot of what you have written, and this week you nailed it.

The only thing you did not mention, although it is implicit in this, is that the collapse will result in a mass die off.

I believe that we are in a collapse, however at a certain point it will start to speed up, and events at home (Nevada) and overseas seem to be creating the scenario where events spiral out of control.

As for leaving the country. I think that while it would be difficult to watch the US disintegrate into chaos from overseas, I think it would be far worse to watch from close up. So I am planning to to the Island of Newfoundland. Low population, abundant natural resources a nice cool place to be as the earth warms up. (And many a small village wit snug harbors for you and your boat Dimitry, so come on up)

pdxr13 said...

Density of your region will make a difference in the percentage surviving a drop to local-only supply of fuel-food-water.

Some places have a critical shortage of a critical-something, like drinkable water (Las Vegas Nevada) to go with their electricity and imported fuel dependence.

A place near a hydroelectric plant and farming region may be stressed but do okay. I predict a shortage of people to do the work needed within 3 years of a widespread collapse. Not a shortage of food and water.

Surviving the 3 years is going to be "the killer app".