Collapse

Okay, I’m sick and tired of hearing in every group I belong to that “Doom, gloom, the end is coming soon.”

Now, I join with you in thinking that we’re on a difficult path and with the pool of two joker-Americans to pick from for the presidency, it might be a mighty step for joker-Americans, but the rest of us are going to suffer a worse economy, diminished prospects and likely, in either case, because hyenas smell blood, war at home and abroad.

The severity of all of these could range from a continuation of the last eight years or to much, much, much worse.

How far worse?

Well — sigh — we stand to lose a lot of our liberties. This will slow down the rate of improvement in the sciences and tech, or bring it to a halt all together.  Our children will face yet a more diminished world and eventually, sometime around our great grandchildren, if this goes on, they’ll be about as poor as the rest of the world.

I mean, let’s be real, okay?  I’m more than sick and tired of people envisioning a plunge down into the middle ages, or the stone age.  I’m more than sick and tired of people imagining that tomorrow we’ll be Venezuela.

There is a lot of ruin in a country, particularly a country as rich as the US. And no, you have no idea how rich you are.  Nor do Europeans guess how rich we are.  They tend to think it’s “about like them” or worse because less government assistance, but take it from someone who’s been all over Europe and a great part of the US: you have no idea.  I once read that the equivalent for Europe was about two social levels down.  So, if you’re a secretary in the US, you live as well as doctors in Europe.  And that’s by and large true, with adjustments.  For instance, in the US things are easier to find, particularly specialized gadgets/food/clothes are much easier to find and take less time.  OTOH in Europe, (at least in the Southern part of it) you’re more likely to find cheap household help.

But what I’m trying to say is that the crash rarely comes the way you expect it.  Oh, sure, civilizations in the world have been destroyed suddenly and no two stones have remained together, but that was when the world, and civilization was smaller and more easily squelchable, and even then I wonder if life changed that much between the before and the after for the average peasant on the outskirts of the city.  We know that when we dig beyond the historical accounts of fierce battles and entire populations of cities put to the sword, what we find is far less radical, far less scary and often far less heroic.

Even Rome, we think now, fell not in one great glorious invasion, but because the d*mn barbarians kept trickling over the border, and the Romans found them too useful to kick out, or even defend the border from (stop me when the tale sounds familiar.  Never mind.) Sure there were military invasions, but Rome qua classical Rome was already long gone.

And then there was the rest of the Empire.  Did Rome really fall?  Come walk  the streets of Portugal with me sometime, and tell me that.  And then we’ll both laugh at how things change, without changing.

There is, I’m trying to tell you, an inertia to good things as well as bad.  As hard as it is to change society for the better, it’s also difficult to change it for worse.   Sure things can get worse, slowly and incrementally, but even with horrible management, with terrible presidents, with laws restricting our freedoms, your wealth won’t vanish overnight.  Barring a cataclysm of epic proportions, you’re not even going to go back to the days of two tv channels, much less to the days of tube radio, or of no mass entertainment at all.  Barring a cataclysm of epic proportions, computer programmers won’t become farmers.  Barring a cataclysm of epic proportions, instead of really a lot of small cataclysms and difficulty obtaining things, you’ll find that you’re better off in a somewhat suburban community near the city, where you can get the best of both worlds than in the middle of nowhere, where there are no jobs and food is hard to come by, unless you grow it yourself.

Look, things are going to get worse.  We are so rich you might not notice it for a while.  It’s more a matter of less new stuff, fewer vacations.  Then they’ll get yet worse.

In the seventies, we stopped baking at all, unless it was someone’s birthday because baking used too much fuel.  Even for birthdays, things like “pancake cakes” where you fried each layer on the stove top started being popular, because less fuel.  VISUALIZE having to consider how much gas/electricity you’re using to cook a meal and adjusting your lifestyle accordingly.

There’s a long way for the US to even get to that, much less to compounds and growing your own food, and shooting intruders.

Yes, I know, you’re going to say “what happens when the welfare checks fail?”  Supposing that happens, instead of them just being diminished or devalued?  The recipients will prey on their own neighbors and riot.  And then they’ll die.

Most of what we’re seeing about Venezuela, which is a LOOOOOOOOONG way from where we are (yes, richest country, blah blah, yeah, sure but FAR more uneven than here) is about the POOR.  My family there which is anti-Chavez and solidly middle class is AT MOST being inconvenienced.  Sometimes they can’t find what they want in the store; the choice is smaller; they have to contrive. The black market starts figuring BIG in everyone’s life.

But isn’t there a lot more crime?  Well, yes.  There has always been, also the idea that crime is caused by poverty is a Marxist thing.  Crime is caused by criminals and people constitutionally not inclined to obey the law.  If I understand Venezuela (and I claim no more knowledge than what I overheard from relatives, then policing was always like in any Latin country, dependent on bribes and on “if you commit a crime but pay me” — that has just gone more out of control, as, I’d guess, the police become less zealous.

BUT crime can be way worse before life dissolves.  People tend to imagine welfare recipients becoming destitute and descending on other neighborhoods.  This is not the way it happens.  The way it happens is that they mostly sit in place and lament and try to use their victimhood to get stuff (from charity, from politicians, from…) A few of them will spy targets of opportunity and strike, but that’s just an INCREASE in crime, not total lawlessness.  It means fences go up and people hire neighborhood security patrols.

Look, I’m not saying any of this is GOOD.  I don’t want a diminished future for my children and grandchildren.  I don’t want greater crime. I don’t want medicines and electricity and the comforts of civilization to be irregularly available.  And I definitely don’t want us to lose our freedom. Not only because that’s the real engine of our growth, but because it is our hope for a better future.

BUT what you’re imagining is not what’s likely to happen.  Compounds out in the middle of nowhere, as Ferfal pointed out, never work out.

Don’t quit your job and become a goat herder.  This is not the way to survive.

If you can stay in place.  If you can’t, find a place where you can be safer and still keep your job/get groceries/etc.

We’re more likely to get hit with what happened in Argentina, and is happening in Venezuela and Zimbabwe than with the “no two stones together” thing.  And the strategies are different.

Your first priority should be to maximize your income or your wealth.  In collapses, it is the poor that suffer the most.

Your second priority is to make sure your home is safe, even if all it means is installing an alarm, getting another gun, or putting a bigger fence around your home, so you don’t make yourself a bigger target.

Your third priority is making sure you’re safe.  This might mean guns, but self defense courses are also encouraged.  AND most of all being situationally aware.

Your fourth priority is to have enough supplies laid by.  Not the world in supplies, but enough that you can survive a week or two of disruption.

There are other things you can do, like lay by a supply of used gold and tradeables.

In the end these will see you better off than the armed compound in the middle of nowhere.  (Though if that’s an option/you don’t have a job that requires attendance, and you feel you will enjoy it, go for it.)

However, even as you prepare for the worst — or at least the very very bad — keep fighting.  This is no time to go wobbly.  Fight in culture and civil society before you have to fight with weapons.

Be not afraid.  And don’t give up.

 

 

 

 

330 responses to “Collapse

  1. Rome & Portugal? Is Portugal then, at deepest heart, a patron / client paradigm? Actually, whether that’s what you’re saying or not this is a great. Please do chase it in your abundant spare time…

  2. great rabbit, I meant to say.

  3. Someday please visit Fortress Duntemann in Phoenix. I have gargoyles guarding the front gate. And I’ve taught our four bichons to sound like seventeen pit bulls. All the rest is classified.

  4. Bismark is reported to have said, “God takes care of children, drunks and the United States of America.” I don’t really know why he said it.
    I believe that it is still true, but it requires a great deal of faith.

    • I’ve seen many variations of the following quote, and don’t know where it first started.

      “One of the serious problems in planning the fight against American doctrine, is that the Americans do not read their manuals, nor do they feel any obligation to follow their doctrine…”

      We’ve traditionally not been good rules followers.

      • And related similar quote:

        “The reason the American Army does so well in wartime, is that war is chaos, and the American Army practices it on a daily basis.”

      • I think it started with Rommel.

      • I heard that one as “It is pointless to read the American doctrinal manuals, because they don’t.” — Walter “Bitchy” Model

        and, related, “The Americans learn faster than any other soldiers I have fought.” Erwin Rommel

        • Less to unlearn?

        • Randy Wilde

          Speaking of Rommel, putting things in writing can have its downside, too…

          • FlyingMike

            Possibly true in North Africa in 1942-3, but it’s difficult to make the case that what the US and British armored formations accomplished in Northern Euope in 1944-5 had much if anything to do with what Rommel put in his book, at least on anything more than a most basic “stay mobile with combined armor-infantry forces” and “don’t get sucked into stupid frontal assaults” level.

          • So true. Then again, Erwin had a point when he observed “Training errors are written on paper; tactical errors are etched in stone.”

        • You need the whole quotation to get the point. Erwin Rommel said, “No one goes to war less prepared than the United States. And no one learns faster.”

          • Randy Wilde

            Major Strasser: You give him credit for too much cleverness. My impression was that he’s just another blundering American.

            Captain Renault: We mustn’t underestimate “American blundering”. I was with them when they “blundered” into Berlin in 1918.

            • OffendedMan

              We really need a way to “Upvote” some of these comments. +10 for the Casablanca reference.

  5. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    Nod.

    There was a conversation about what actually happen when the Anglo-Saxons-Jutes conquered Roman-Celtic Britain.

    The “traditional” story was that all of the Roman-Celtics peoples & institutions were destroyed & replaced by Anglo-Saxons-Jutes.

    Apparently there is new evidence many of the Roman-Celtic institutions (Church organizations, etc) did survive after the Anglo-Saxon-Jutes took over.

    Also there is our strange language English.

    It has interesting differences from any of the other Germanic Languages.

    While some of these differences come from those invading Frenchized Vikings (the Normans), others don’t.

    John McWhorter, in his book “Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue”, argues that there was a strong Celtic influence on the development of what we call English.

    Obviously, if there is a strong Celtic influence in English, there had to be Celtic speakers remaining after the Anglo-Saxon-Jutes took over.

    So while the Roman-Celtics may have thought that it was the “End Of The World” when they lost to the Anglo-Saxon-Jutes, it appears that they survived the conquest. 🙂

  6. Yep – I rather think that it will be small things which will change for the worse here in the US. Items that one just can’t find any more on the store shelves. Other things such as utilities being more and more expensive. Not caring to – or being able to afford travel outside of a certain area. Not being particularly trusting of the national government or the national media. A vestigial military, and certain cities following Detroit down into the whirlpool of extreme dysfunction. The Ruling Classes separating themselves more and more from ordinary citizens. Things like that,

    • That’s what I’m seeing already in some ways. Out-of-season produce is getting poorer quality and sparser, certain brands of things are going away, less foreign travel or long-distance travel, smaller runs of things in catalogues (“I’m sorry, we’re out of that and won’t be ordering any more” two weeks after the catalogue arrives at Redquarters), those seem to be the first signs. It is getting more difficult to get into certain medical practices around here (neurologists, ob-gyn) as well, and we’re the medical center for a five state area. It’s a slouch downhill rather than a race to the bottom.

      • The worst of it is that the Progs are turning the slide into a self-fulfilling prophecy. All through Obama’s presidency they’ve been quietly telling everyone that things will never again be as good as they were. That there’s no way to go back to the way that things were. That the reason why Obama hasn’t made the country super awesome again is because that was a hiccup, and if it weren’t for Obama, things would be even worse.

        /scowl

        • Joe Wooten

          And those wreckers and Kulaks have been obstructing the “Great One’s” path to redeeming the USA, causing things to go downhill……

          • My family name derives from “Kulak”. Think I’ll go buy some precious metals. Steel, lead, and brass.

            • Bumper sticker on my previous car: Invest in precious metals – Brass, Lead and cold blue Steel

        • That was a popular theme during the Carter administration as well. Please note that things did get better… Eventually.

          • The Carter Administration came on the heels of Vietnam and Watergate. The feeling is summarized in Merle Haggard’s Are the Good Times Really Over?. It also coincided with a eschatology craze, but that’s a symptom, not a cause. But while the feeling was that we were in decline much as the UK was no longer an empire (and I heard Dean Rusk give a speech on that point, which was offered as a warning and not forgone conclusion), there was not the feeling that our freedoms were irrevocably gone.

            That’s what has me despondent. That’s my feeling of doom. Never had the idea that economically we were headed to a Mad Max situation though I don’t look for things to improve. The doom that has me despondent is more that our ideals we believed in are gone.

            This is someone else’s blog and I won’t argue the issue, particularly since it probably would be at odds with our hostess. But I will mention this: The way the Republicans have acted in government gives the impression they are nothing more than Democrat puppets, Does how we vote really make any difference, since all they do is cave? That’s a real question, from someone who used to believe, and wants to believe again, and is one huge reason why I’m despondent right now.

            • The unfortunate reality in the US is that there has become so much federal regulation that the crony capitalist lobbyists have long since bought the loyalties of the majority of long serving Congress Critters of both parties.

              Sanders is a “Left Loony True Believer.” He has been extraordinarily successful against the Democrats chosen establishment candidate. Cruz is a constitutional, free enterprise “True Believer.” Most here probably consider Sanders stupidly delusional and Cruz sane. Both were doing much better than the establishment candidates. Jeb wasted hundreds of millions proving that money don’t buy elections. I truly believe Cruz would have been the Republican nominee if not for a true Black Swan event.

              Trump is the ultimate anti-establishment candidate in that he just refuses to play by what the American political class thought were the rules. Many people claim to be pragmatists. Trump may actually be one. I don’t trust him but I am resigned to living through at least one Trump administration. Traveling rudderless into the future is scary. But that is life.

              • See, I find it weird that Trump is considered an “outsider” and anti-establishment candidate when in reality he has been schmoozing with establishment politicians (both D and R, though more D) and buying influence for decades.

                • Well he certainly is experience buying politicians. I guess people figure that he won’t be as easily bought. I figure his ego would get in the way of selling out America. I pray that his ego pushes to excel as president. He has seen both success and failure in business.
                  The current occupant of the office has been raised as a protected hothouse flower and suffers the delusion that he is one of the great presidents. He fancies that he is transforming the country for the better.

                  Trumps projected opponent is a power mad, greedy criminal who suffers the delusion that she is fated by destiny to go down in history.

                  Trump scares me the least of the three. Not to say that the prospect of his administration isn’t terrifying. This election has me parsing the gradations of terror/horror.

                  • I guess people figure that he won’t be as easily bought.

                    I’ve never understood this argument. Someone who has spent his whole life acquiring money will somehow become averse to acquiring more?

                    • Me, either. I’m thinking Libertarian this Nov, especially if Austin Peterson gets the nom, but even if it’s Johnson he’d be better than the crooks and socialist.

                    • My fear is Trump sees the presidency as an investment. After all the Clinton gang has shown how Ill gotten gains are acquired.

              • Sometimes it feels like Trump is the real-life equivalent of “The Mule” in the Foundation series, the wild-card that Hari Seldon didn’t predict. Not sure if that makes me feel better or worse…

            • I’m not going to defend the GOP leadership in DC, but we’re developing a mighty fine crop of conservative up ‘n’ comers in the states, while depriving Democrats of much needed political oxygen. I expect to see the cream rising to challenge DC entrenched interests within a decade or two.

              The ship of state is designed to be a barge — it carries a lot of weight and changes course slowly. There’s very little the Captain can do to nimbly change its course although, as we’re seeing, a determined president can head it into the current and toward the rapids.

              • Assuming they stay that way, of course – all the idiots in DC were young firebreathers once

                • The fires are damped one little lobbyist encouraged compromise at a time. Go along to get along. After a while you’ve lost your soul.

                • It is also assuming the population wants to change course in 10 or 20 years instead of wanting more free stuff.

                  At this point I’m resigned to it changing when Congress has to choose between honoring US Treasury bonds or SSA bonds. Given defaulting on the former means an inability to keep borrowing and defaulting on the latter in the end means squat I know which they will choose.

                  And then all hell will break lose.

      • I’m seeing more and better produce out of season. But then, Wegmans is good at sourcing. But out of season produce is something that will disappear altogether in a slow decline.

        I do note that brand choices are going down. But methinks that is due to marketing decisions to carry fewer SKUs of any duplicate type product. Even the smallest store carries at least four brands of regular potato chips. Larger stores in my area all seem to have recently dropped one brand, but each one a different brand.

        From working in retail, I do know that on big ticket items, chains are and have been tightening inventory. If you don’t buy your air conditioner in season, the odds are you’re not getting it at the end of season blow out, because there won’t be any left. That’s probably the explanation for the short catalog runs. Selling everything at full catalog price means a higher profit margin then selling 10% more at full price, then dumping 5-25% of the production run at reduced pricing.

        My family doesn’t have a problem gaining access to medical specialists. But we have good insurance, and are double covered with TRICARE. For those with ACA insurance, yeah, they’ve got a problem. I doubt anyone paying cash has a problem.

      • The first things to go are the luxuries. Favorite small stores of mine are gone. A small on-line jewelry line I loved went out of business a year ago. There’s another on-line store of fantasy dragon figures and such that I’m worried about – their current stock is a lot smaller than last year. The people who were making a go of small niche markets. In Houston, a local fantasy art print store is still there, but focusing on framing more than art prints now, but the animation art store is gone. Houston lost so many little unusual places during the crash in the early 2000’s, and we never really recovered enough for things to come back. Now we’re losing the ones that have managed to hang on this far. And Texas is one of the better-off places in the US.

        • So, give us a link to the dragon store. Yes, I’ve noticed the little, “odd” stores disappearing. Specialty teas. Take out Greek food. Used bookstores…

          • The upscale supermarkets carry those specialty teas. They’re getting the shelf space for a zillion different teas by cutting the brands of staples to just two: one national name brand and the house brand.

            When the US falls back to the level of the 1970s (no superpremium ice cream, for example), then I’ll fret.

          • Laurie Ann May

            Windstone galleries, for anyone who has money burning a hole etc (though the paint-your-own gallery is a lot cheaper)

            http://windstoneeditions.com/

        • Not many stores can survive as Amazon showrooms…

    • You know, not being particularly trusting of the national government or national media doesn’t strike me as a change for the worse.

      • BobtheRegisterredFool

        There are trade offs. We are suffering now the consequences of an excess in trust for people who are not in any real sense Americans, and whose only sentiment towards us is that of matching neck to chopping block. However, that trust is part of the trust that the American populations of the next state or city over are not entirely interested in slaughtering us. Which trust is fairly well placed and functional.

        • Ah, but trusting that the people in neighboring communities aren’t trying to destroy us is quite a different thing from trusting that the national government has our best interests at heart, or that the national media only wants to inform us of what’s actually happening in the world.

          • BobtheRegisterredFool

            People don’t necessarily make distinctions so fine, nor do so in any deliberate or measured way.

            • Actually, I think they do. Do you really see the same level of distrust for the citizens of the next locality west of you, or for an adjacent state (or the belief that those folks could really affect you in any greatly deleterious way) as you do for the national government or the national media? I don’t.

              • It depends on the neighboring community. I’m pretty sure Boulder would love to go completely LibProg on all of Colorado.

                • Actually, Boulder has a built-in dichotomy that a lot of liberals/leftists complain about. At least, it did the last time I had a job there and read the Boulder news sources. A significant portion of the property owners (home and business) are relatively conservative, but the University of Colorado provides a massive enough counterweight to make it look otherwise, particularly with the number of small businesses that cater to students.

                  The way it works out is that local media (radio stations and newspapers) are reliably liberal, as is the overall ambiance, but votes can go either way, depending on the issue.

              • BobtheRegisterredFool

                It may be that I live in one of my state’s worse places.

                Are you saying that enough disappointment in the trustworthiness of others will not influence one’s evaluation of those who are neither known trustworthy allies nor known dishonest enemies?

                • No, of course not. If you’re constantly seeing reasons not to trust those around you, you will certainly begin to apply a certain skepticism when evaluating the trustworthiness of others.

      • The issue isn’t trusting the sociopaths on top, but the lower level ones. If you believe the IRS will audit your business for you saying the wrong things, you might not say them. Or you might run your business underground, and not be able to reach a lot of your target market. If you believe law enforcement is corrupt, you won’t cooperate with them.

        This could be a rational response, but it raises the friction in the economy.

        • I think you’re conflating two different things here. The IRS is most definitely part of the national government, and not trusting anyone working there is part and parcel of not trusting the national gov’t. Law enforcement is state and local unless you run afoul of the FBI somehow, and if you distrust them you have substantially greater possibilities of getting your reasons for distrust addressed than you do at a national level.

          • True. I was thinking about social trust in general – distrusting the IRS is bad, distrusting the police is worse. If it gets so bad people don’t even trust the fire department, the best solution is probably to raze the city and start again ;-(

            • In a case like that, the concept would be self-fulfilling. We’ve already seen it where fire fighters are fired upon when they respond to a fire; they just stop responding to fires in those areas. If the citizens are willing to try to resolve the problems they have with their local authorities they usually have some reasonable chances to do so, but if they completely refuse then the authorities (demonstrably) may in return refuse to provide them with the services they are intended to provide.

    • Last year I drove from Atlanta to Seattle. The state of our infrastructure is appalling and there was not much maintenance/repairs being conducted.

      • Joe Wooten

        Insufficient opportunities for graft in maintaining things. Better for politicians to spend on new construction where graft can be hidden better.

        • My daughter spent some time in California last year – and even then she was absolutely appalled at the condition of the streets and roads in the greater LA area, in comparison to Texas roads.

          • Joe Wooten

            Texas has the least corrupt and most efficient and well funded state highway system in the US. Texas roads are by far the best in the nation. The legislators and governor also cannot touch the tax money set aside by law in a road fund for anything but roads, so none of it goes for those mass transit boondoggles, like Gov. Moonbeam’s high speed railroad to nowhere.

      • Roads are state matters, despite Federal funding of projects. This includes Interstates, and while states can follow the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices, they don’t even have to do that. Which is why Tennessee uses different turning arrows than Georgia (and how, when the traffic is heavy, how I first notice I’ve crossed the state line). So how much is devoted to roads depends on where it’s at in the state.

        Complying with everything required slows things down to a glacial pace. There are projects that’s been in the planning stage for 25 years or more. Even fast track projects don’t move all that quickly. Right now I’m doing the utilities portion on a first submission set of plans, and unless there’s a pressing need to get it done, I probably won’t see the second set for several years, and may be retired before the project begins.

        • Regulations are causing the slow down. After the TARP, one major company could find only 3 shovel ready projects. I worked in construction management and plans are drawn up, placed on the shelf and not made “shovel ready” until the money is available because regulations, local, state and federal keep changing. In my county, contractors are adding at lead 5% to cover uncertainty.

    • There used to be a product consisting of aluminum chips and lye. When wet, a vigorous chemical reaction produced heat, hydrogen, and a churning swarm of chemically sharpened aluminum chips. Man did that cut through grease in drain traps!

      Don’t get it on your hands. Don’t light the hydrogen. Duh.

      At some point we’uns got told we wasn’t grown up enough to use such grownup tools. This may partially account for my perpetual snarl.

      • You can make your own… the materials are available on eBay.

        I used to buy a product called “Red Devil Lye Soap” at the grocery store. It’s basically a strong caustic. It came in convenient pound packages instead of having to buy a 55-gallon drum of it for cleaning engine parts.

        Then it wasn’t available any more. The store owners claimed the state had blacklisted it as something used to make methamphetamine. So I buy it five pounds at a time off eBay now, along with ammonium and potassium nitrate, which are no longer carried by the farm supply store, “because terriss” or some shuck.

        • A farm supply that doesn’t carry ammonium nitrate? For shame. There’s no problem getting that locally (though it probably helps if you’re known locally), and won’t raise the same eyebrows as buying a bale of sugar (a practice once of moonshiners).

          • Nope, it went away as part of the counter-terrorism flap after 2001. All I can buy locally is ammonium sulfate.

  7. A few of them will spy targets of opportunity and strike, but that’s just an INCREASE in crime, not total lawlessness. It means fences go up and people hire neighborhood security patrols.
    ————————

    Had my car broken into in my apartment complex a while back. Nothing important was taken. The repairs cost more than the loss of the stolen items (and if the person taking them had actually checked what he was taking, he probably would have left it all in the car). A gate and fence went up a year or two later.

    My parents live in a nice neighborhood. There’s been a problem over the last year or two with people coming in from outside the area, and stealing packages off of front porches. And the thieves are pretty brazen about it, too. My Mom mentioned that there have been instances in which home owners had cameras watching the porch, and the thief smiled right at the camera as he picked up the package and walked away. So far as I know, the cops have yet to bust anyone for the thefts.

      • BobtheRegisterredFool

        De-criminalize vigilantism.

        • FlyingMike

          As The BlogFather likes to note, the criminal justice system is, at the most basic level, really about protecting criminals from their victims.

          • BobtheRegisterredFool

            1. Vigilantes are not dangerous to innocents, have no victims, and are a waste of prison space.
            2. Vengeance and feuding are alien to human nature, and impartial bureaucratically administered cruelty plays no role in minimizing such behavior.
            3. The license fee for state vigilante certification would make a difference in government budgets.
            4. Legal vigilante killings would be safe and rare.

            Could any one give me some names of right wing dictators who killed communists and weren’t particularly evil and incompetent?

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              2. Vengeance and feuding are alien to human nature, and impartial bureaucratically administered cruelty plays no role in minimizing such behavior.

              Alien to human nature? Is that what you meant to say?

              History is full of cases of Vengeance & Feuding.

              • Free-range Oyster

                Pretty sure the gain on your sarcasm detector is a little low. 🙂

                • Randy Wilde

                  Vigilantes are a women’s health issue.

                  • okay, now I want an explanation for this.

                    • BobtheRegisterredFool

                      ‘Abortions will be safe, legal and rare.’

                      Vigilante killings will be safe, legal and rare.

                      In other words, I figure my statements were deeply untrue, and that legalizing the murder of those who might be criminals could easily get into tens of millions dead territory. I should say that I think it would probably be a bad thing.

                • BobtheRegisterredFool

                  Or maybe out of bounds registered as zero.

                • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                  Must have been. 😀

                  • BobtheRegisterredFool

                    I like:
                    1) Telling the truth as I see it to the best of my ability, sometimes relying heavily on precise wording.
                    2) Sarcastic comments delivered with a straight face, sometimes with the only clues depending on carefully parsed wording and knowledge of my character.

                    It is almost like this tends to confuse people and get me in trouble. XD

              • BobtheRegisterredFool

                I was just at an event honoring a lawyer I know. I had given a presentation on capital punishment, and attempted to do so impartially. That lawyer’s response strongly suggested to me that they haven’t deeply considered the extent to which the official judicial system competes with private revenge. I suspect that the teachings surrounding the ‘professional ethics’ of the lawyer predisposes them to analytical blind spots about the limits of their ability to influence matters.

                As Americans, we tend to see enough of a very abnormal society that we are blinded to some of the possibilities of human nature.

                But maybe I’m crazy.

                • FlyingMike

                  I think that is Prof. Reynolds’ point – by heading off and preventing mass vigilante justice, a functioning and trusted legal system prevents all the collateral damage and feuding and reprisals and so on that result.
                  I think it’s obvious that when a legal system breaks down, the result isn’t only criminals running wild; it’s also the unchecked masses running wild, and there are a lot more of the masses than there are of the criminals.

            • Are Franco and Pinochet considered “evil”, or “particularly evil”?

              • BobtheRegisterredFool

                I’m not sure, and would be happy to hear arguments either way.

                Mostly, I don’t have notes from all the discussions I’ve seen, and am not sure whether, say, Peron was right or left. Or how to find out.

                • Pretty sure Peron was a leftist. They don’t make sympathetic musicals about right-wing dictators.

                  (‘The Producers’ excepted, of course… 😛 )

                  • Yep. He was. Evita was a disgusting extreme leftist.

                  • As if that was not about a leftist. Just a slightly different off-ramp.

                  • BobtheRegisterredFool

                    Noriega? Gaddafi? Stroessner? Yew? Suharto? Salazar? Marcos? Vargas? Padilla? Batista?

                    Wiki trawl turns of a lot of the names I remember seeing, and more, but I of course do not trust wiki’s evaluation.

                    • Salazar was national socialist. Consider that “right” if you wish. BUT not in American terms, he wasn’t.

                    • kenashimame

                      Just remember to the average SJW, right wing means anyone to the right of Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin.

                    • BobtheRegisterredFool

                      Yeah. Wiki right means nothing.

                      How do the leftists they killed compare to leftist policies implemented and normal people killed?

                • AFAIK the highball figure for Pinochet’s death toll is dwarfed by avowedly socialist/communist dictatorships in countries of similar size. And he left voluntarily.

            • Vigilantism is what happens when there is inadequate law enforcement, or people no longer trust the law or government. Vigilantism is what you get when the only law that exists is what they take into their own hands.

              Do not welcome vigilantism. Morn it.

              • BobtheRegisterredFool

                Yup. But I’ve finally found my less inflammatory parallel to arguments for the legalization of acts which in my eyes might best remain criminal.

                I can also use my intuitions about Libertarian arguments for legalization and the old practice of outlawing.

                ‘End Police brutality. We also want to do it.’

                🙂

            • Pinochet……

            • Was Pinochet particularly right wing? I’m not sure he had any ideology other than “f- those guys who are ruining my country”

              • Patrick Chester

                Didn’t Pinochet eventually hold new elections, run as one of the candidates and… stepped down when he lost?

                If so, that is not fitting in the usual pattern of 20th-century dictators.

        • Like that’s going to happen in California.

          The State Senate here just passed a law that requires background checks for ammunition purchases, and includes several other items. They’re doing everything that they can to remove the possibility of citizens actually doing anything to harm criminals.

          Hilariously, one of the regulations was originally introduced by State Senator Leland Yee. He’s the State Senator that got busted by the FBI for major arms smuggling.

          • The Other Sean

            There’s nothing really funny about it, just basic business sense. His black market arms business was surely more valuable with impediments on the legal arms market.

  8. VISUALIZE having to consider how much gas/electricity you’re using to cook a meal and adjusting your lifestyle accordingly.

    There’s a long way for the US to even get to that.

    That depends on where you live. The effort to end coal electricity production will not create evenly spread pain. Here in Atlanta we’ll face brownouts and blackouts much more than, say, Hartford, CT. And before you say, “gas stove”, natural gas distribution is heavily electricity dependent both in terms of infrastructure and in your home.

    So, yes, we have more ruin: we have large distributions systems that allow for quicker allocation of reserve resources. We need to destroy those first by getting people to switch back to retail distribution again before undermining supply. However, the government is hard at work at making distribution systems illegal and unreliable.

    When we have a deliberate destruction of wealth, such as Cash for Clunkers, we get a lot faster down than road than just poor mismanagement.

  9. Tomorrow we will be Venezuela? I don’t speak Spanish. There is no hope.
    Well, not much. I think there are cinnamon rolls left over from breakfast, and I can make coffee. I can make it to dinner.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Obamacare is definitely a major battle in the Federal War On Doctors. The electronic medical records requirement and the ban on new doctor-owned hospitals are a deliberate attempt to ‘herd’ doctors away from private practice and into working for Large Medical Company Inc. Narrow networks and reduced access to specialists is not a side-effect, it’s by design. At this point, the best case scenario is for lots of docs to adopt a straight fee-for-service model, sidestepping the government and insurance crap altogether.

    • Joe Wooten

      At this point, the best case scenario is for lots of docs to adopt a straight fee-for-service model

      Soon to be banned as soon as someone can convince then RINOs to vote for it.

      • Anonymous Coward

        Let ’em try banning it. I’d love to see the Feds argue for a ‘Doctor Exception’ to the 13th Amendment before the Supreme Court.

        • Baron von Cut-n-Paste

          Interstate commerce. Until Wickard v. Filburn is explicitly repealed, the Feds pretty much have carte blache to do whatever they want.

    • Apparently some insurance companies are penalizing docs who take cash payments from patients who also have Brand X insurance. I managed to squeak by at the dermatologist last year because I could honestly say “I’m between carriers after my old policy was cancelled and will be paying cash.” My current one is with Brand X, and they dermo has to submit a claim, have it denied, and then bill me. If I have Brand X and they know it. I suspect it comes from MediCare, where docs get hit hard for taking cash from patients for small stuff but also submit MediCare claims for larger procedures.

    • Thus concierge medicine’s rise. Once the Obamadon’tcare model inevitably collapses the hospitals and insurance companies will not be able to ostracize such practices. Instead they will work with such providers, probably in tandem with some form of catastrophe care and HSA combo — you pay your concierge physician (aka, primary caregiver) and all routine out-of-pocket expenses from HSA and insurance is there for a medical emergency.

      • Anonymous Coward

        Oh my God ! Paying for one’s own ‘regular maintenance’ health care and using Major Medical insurance for catastrophes – how Eisenhower-era !
        On a serious note, the Feds are setting Obamacare deductibles so that health insurance policies can either be Obamacare compliant or HSA compliant but not both. There is a War on HSAs, and the media has (of course) largely refused to cover it. See : http://bit.ly/1MaSDRV

      • Baron von Cut-n-Paste

        You mean medical insurance will go back to being, you know, actual insurance? Quelle horreur!

  11. There’s wisdom here. In the main, things are unlikely to collapse suddenly barring a Black Swan event. The collapse is slow, and generational. I make about the same money, roughly adjusted for inflation, that my father did at my age.

    Yet my lifestyle is much more modest, and budgets are much tighter. Among my friends of similar age… I am one of the most well-off. Most people are doing significantly worse than their parents did, though parental support for some of them obfuscates much of this. I have one friend that maintains a relatively middle-class standard of living only because his parents gave him a townhouse. No rent or mortgage allows him to make up the difference.

    The future is going to have a lot more of this sort of thing. What you need to do is what my friend’s family did. Scrimp a little, rely on family and friends in a mutual capacity. They will help you, and you will help them. A casual example: my whole family shares a cellphone plan, and we alternate paying the bill accordingly. The shared plan results in something like 40% savings over what we would all pay individually.

    My father helps me out when the A/C unit goes on the fritz. I help him when his computer has trouble. Doing all this makes a tighter budget much more workable than otherwise. Those families who will survive the rough times ahead will do more of this — don’t be surprised to see multiple generations living in the same house again soon. Nursing homes and childcare alike are expensive, and yet so long as the grandparents are in their right mind, the two expenses can cancel each other out.

    America’s once-exceptional wealth is slowly draining to fund the ambitions of an entrenched political class of tyrants. But smart families will survive it intact, if not so well off as they once were.

    • Is your lifestyle really more modest then your father’s was? I’m 60. My cellphone works a whole lot better than my father’s cellphone did. Oh, wait. He didn’t have one. And my laptop computer is far more powerful than his was. My 60″ LCD screen has a much better picture then his state of the art console TV did. I carry my entire music collection with me wherever I go, and listen to whatever part of it I want to it anywhere I want. Without having to make sure I put the needle down in the right groove on the selected disc. And I could go on.

      Our parents had fewer things to spend money on. And didn’t go into debt buying them. House payment or rent, one car. I live in rural America. Every married couple I know has 2 or more autos. Single parent families have only one. Usually in need of repair.

      I try to remain optimistic. I think that unless we have a real SHTF event, we may have a downturn, but it won’t last forever.

  12. Your fourth priority is to have enough supplies laid by. Not the world in supplies, but enough that you can survive a week or two of disruption.

    I’d say a minimum of 30 days in order to survive two or three shocks of 1-2 weeks in short succession that do not provide the ability to restock completely. My worst CT winter tells me 30 days is probably an outside limit on what you can face in back to back diasters (read sever storms in this case) before the breakdown is larger.

    There are other things you can do, like lay by a supply of used gold and tradeables.

    Useful skills are a key tradeable plus the parts and tools they require. If we move to a Venzeula type direction the ability to replace a broken cord on a fan or lamp becomes as valuable as the fan or lamp because they will be harder to find in stores. If the time is 20 minutes to walk down to your house and have you put on a new cord in exchange for a couple of dozen eggs compared to an hour drive and wait to the only Walmart that has fans (and has agreed to hold one for you) plus the gas cost your neighbor will happily give you the dozen eggs.

    Also, I’d recommend silver dimes over gold.

    • I would recommend brass and lead in the form of loaded ammunition in common calibers as preferable to either gold or silver. Not just for personal use, but also as very desirable trade goods.

      • FlyingMike

        From my dip a few years back into the intertubes prepping subculture, one general recommendation is to have 22LR ammunition as compact, valuable in actual usefulness instead of theoretical commodity value, easily incrementable and easily transportable barter fodder.

        Also booze, albeit less compact and dividable.

        If you have to get gold/silver stuff, acquire a variety of relatively cheap jewelry instead of bars or coins. You don’t want to be known around town as “that dude who has gold coins.”

        And I think from Ferfal, if you can swing getting concealable body armor now, well before any outbreaks of overenthusiastic youthful hijinkery, you will appreciate having it later, if only for peace of mind durig runs to any stores that still have stuff.

        Of course the best bet would be to get rich enough to have a fully staffed volcano mountain lair as the Internation Lord Of Hate is building, but HR is such a pain to manage, and you have to set up the 401k plans, and health insurance is just a nightmare.

        • Booze I think the knowing to make is better than the having.

          • FlyingMike

            Brewing/winemaking/distilling are definitely not a bad skill family to have acquired, but I bet that booze will still be generously available in stores a lot longer than other stuff. Maybe not the really good stuff, and certainly in a slide the craft brews and beer-from-Hawaii and wine-from-New Zealand won’t be in Costco anymore, but booze a class of product – I think it will be around.

          • Baron von Cut-n-Paste

            I don’t know about that. In a slow slide rather than complete collapse scenario, I could easily see high end booze being a valuable and fairly liquid trade good. “Sure that moonshine will get you drunk, if you don’t mind the taste of paint stripper, but wouldn’t you rather trade me for this bottle of Johnny Walker Blue?”

            • kenashimame

              Hmm, Blue Label; If you can get me an Ardbeg Corryvreckan, I’ll give you an extra 10%, I’ll double it if you can get me a Shackleton…

              • Ethanol and methanol have lots of other uses besides drinking, anesthetic and antiseptic being two. Plus they burn nicely, for making cocktails of all sorts.

                • If you’re going to use a single malt as a molotov cocktail I may just have to trade you 230 grains of lead for the bottle.

                  (Unless you’re under extreme duress of course.”

        • Anachronda

          If you have to get gold/silver stuff, acquire a variety of relatively cheap jewelry instead of bars or coins. You don’t want to be known around town as “that dude who has gold coins.”

          Interesting thing I heard about Argentina was that folks would have gold chains, so they could pay for things by clipping a few links off.

          • I’ve read that the ends of ancient silver ornaments (torques and the like) recovered in Northern Europe often show signs of having been shortened with a knife or sword where the owner needed an ounce or two to make a purchase. “Hack” silver had an advantage over coins in that removing that silver pretty from an armed man’s neck was a lot trickier than removing his coin purse from his belt.

          • Suddenly, I’m wanting to make scale mail from silver dimes and quarters.

      • Interesting. I think the raw materials beyond brass to reload, including the ability to cast lead, and the equipment and knowledge to do so to be more valuable than large ammo stores directly.

      • My plan is to never use anything for barter that might get used against me. Ammunition would be on that list.

      • We’ve been buying ammo for years. When people come over to shoot, we tell them to bring their own ammo. If they are going to borrow one of our guns, we tell them what ammo to buy. It’s expensive, more expensive than it ought to be.

        • The manufacturers are all claiming that the Army is sucking up all their production… but after 15 years none of them have ramped up production to meet demand. Meanwhile, lobbying to keep foreign ammunition out of the market.

          You don’t have to look too hard at the situation before the words “collusion” and “profiteering” come to mind…

          • trailing wife

            Ammunition manufacturers have indeed ramped up production in response to the significantly increasing number of gun owners doing more shooting in recent years — adding extra shifts and buying more equipment in the usual way. Also in the usual way people have been stocking up when they find a supply, exacerbating the situation and leading to stores imposing purchase limits, etc. The war blog http://www.Rantburg.com has a weekly column each Saturday called “This Week in Guns” that’s been tracking the prices of a variety of ammunition sizes and the guns that use them, baseball stats style, since shortly after prices started rising and supply became spotty.

          • Might be a factor in a few military calibers, but for commercial ammo not so much. Ammunition plants have added shifts and minor expansion, but the industry has been reluctant to make major investments in new permanent infrastructure for what might turn out to be a transient demand.
            I place a good deal of blame on ammo scalpers who haunt those vendors such as WalMart who still sell ammunition at list price. They swoop in, buy the stores out, then turn around and sell it online for two or three times what they paid. Once the supply side is saturated and that practice no longer possible I am hoping things calm down a bit.

            • Scalpers are doing Go- er, the economy’s own work. If a business insists on selling below the market price they have no right to complain about people equalizing it.

              • Scalpers apply the same distortions to the market that monopolies or corner positions do; when that happens the usual theorems about the market do not apply.

    • Sara the Red

      I also foresee someone who has the ability to either teach useful frugal skills (how to preserve food cheaply, how to grow a small garden, how to do basic repair/construction stuff, even IT stuff) or provide them as services might also have a valuable commodity in terms of “I will trade you this service or teach you how to do this in exchange for “)

      It’s not post-apocalyptic stuff, but I cannot tell you how many women younger than I (and I’m not all that old) have begged me to teach them about canning…and it’s not just because they think it would be cool, it’s because they’re beginning to realize that–especially when you have children and live in a virtual food-desert–the ability to grow and preserve even a small (relatively speaking) amount of food can help the tight budget. (And it can, if you’re willing to put in the amount of work required to offset it–it’s basically a full time job, but that’s how my parents put a lot of food on the table when I was a kid, and we weren’t even poor.)

      • I managed successful food canning the first try, and there wasn’t even an “internet” thing with video instructions to hold my hand at each step.

        An hour ago I was talking to a guy who was having a computer problem. I asked what kind of hits he’d gotten when he searched for similar problems. Nope, he hadn’t bothered to type a few words into Google or Bing and sift through the results, better to just bang his head against the keyboard for hours before sipping from the internet firehose… and he *knows* better; he had broadband for a decade before it was available in my area, and he and I set up an ISP years ago…

        It’s not that he doesn’t know how to search the web for help, it’s that he doesn’t seem to think to look… and when he does, he gets overwhelmed. I’ve watched him (and others) spend ten minutes squinting at sample lines on the search result, trying to guess what page might have what they’re looking for, instead of just looking to see. I call it the “bon-bon effect,” from the way people will try to pick the good candy from a box of identical-appearing chocolates, some of which are yummy, and others filled with disgusting chemical compounds like “toffee.” Instead of just breaking them open with their fingers to look, they’ll ponder their selection like some food version of Minesweeper…

        • Sara the Red

          (How can you not like toffee?! 😉 )

          Yeah, I do find that approach puzzling. I mean, sure, my mother taught me to can, but it was largely limited to safety precautions (where the pressure canner was concerned) and why it’s a Good Idea to bleach every surface in the kitchen before you start, and then a quick basic ‘this is how and why you do this.’

          Same with tech support–I’ve been doing my own for more than a decade now, thanks to Google, but you’re right: an awful lot of folks get outright panicky about even attempting it.

          • Baron von Cut-n-Paste

            The reluctance to perform one’s own tech support could be a function of the price of some of the gadgets. I’ve noticed that I’m a whole lot more willing to perform amateur hour “streak-knife surgery” type fixes on my cheapo economy laptop than I was on my old higher end expensive one.

            • Sara the Red

              Admittedly, this is one of the reasons I have never (and may never) bought a laptop and prefer a desktop PC: they are MUCH easier (if you buy the right kind of desktop) to dismantle and fix/upgrade/repair. And certainly, I could not do any kind of physical repair on, say, my smartphone or my tablet (which is why tablet, in particular, is handled with GREAT care, because I intend it to last a good long time).

              Though to be honest, I have almost never had to do physical repairs on a computer. Combating a virus, or a motherboard that had freaked out in the programming? Absolutely. Not so much with physical repairs–those, I prefer a ‘if it’s not working and/or obsolete, I’ll just replace the part’ approach.

  13. This post puts a lot of what I’ve been thinking on these past few months much clearer than I could manage. Yes, things are going to be bad (for variations of bad), no matter who ends up in office. Consequence follows action, and we’ve a metric butt-ton (as my godson would say) of actions whose consequences are very soon now going to be felt.

    We’re *not* helpless victims of those actions. Call friends and family, keep in touch. Make sure those bonds are knit tight, and that they know they can rely on *you* in a pinch. Build trust with folks who are trustworthy. Share a meal with them. Take Thales’ advice and help out when you can.

    If you can do nothing else, live a good example. It’s a heck of a lot more effective than scolding or preaching (those have their place- it’s just a lot smaller than some might think). Good luck folks- keep working hard and laying your plans well. We will get through this.

  14. If we get Trump things will be bad, but he will face pushback from every direction.
    If Clinton wins, she will be full of herself, drunk with power, have the support of the Dems, her base, and most of the media. She will pack the Supreme Court with her toadies, and I fully expect wage frontal attacks on both the First and Second Amendment. Remember, one of the crowning achievements of the first Clinton term was the 1994 Assault Weapon Ban, which died ten years later when no one could prove it had made anyone a lick safer. Should she attempt to recreate those glory days, say with an implementation of the Australian solution, it will be met first with passive resistance, and if pressed by armed revolt.
    People simply are not willing to place their security in the hands of an oppressive government that has proven time and again to not give a flip about their safety, placing idealogical caused above the needs of the citizens.

    • > If we get Trump things will be bad

      Even if he tries to rule by Executive Order, it would take either incompetence or collusion from the senate and congress for him to do much.

      Hm. Put like that, maybe I should check my stockpiles too…

      • Do not for one moment imagine that the MSM will fly close air support for a Trump administration they way they have for Obama and would for Hillary.

        Heck, they won’t even grant him the benefits of the doubts accorded George W Bush.

        • From this point of view, maybe a Trump presidency is not to be feared that much – it might get people on the left to be more interested in their protections from an overbearing government? Maybe the press will really harp on what the government does wrong – and we can change some of those things?

          Also, seeing how the don is opportunistic – what happens when he realizes how good removing civil asset forfeiture is? Maybe we can get that terrible idea out of the feds playbook?

          Maybe just getting the press to be critical of the government would be the greatest accomplishment of a Trump presidency?

          -John

          • Also, seeing how the don is opportunistic – what happens when he realizes how good removing civil asset forfeiture is? Maybe we can get that terrible idea out of the feds playbook?

            I would more expect him to use it as a weapon against his rivals.

    • Baron von Cut-n-Paste

      This is easily the best argument for The Donald I’ve seen, and the only one that’s seriously tempted me to the dark side. A Trump presidency is the only thing I can imagine that might cause Congress to take back some of the powers they’ve ceded to the executive. It sure as hell won’t happen under a third Clinton term.

  15. History is replete with dynasties and nations that rose and fell. The people remain and farmers, smiths, merchants and drovers retrenched and rebuilt in a different form. Chaos at any level allows markets to operate and free exchange is the basis of cooperation.

  16. Joe in PNG

    Empires tend to collapse in pretty much the same way- not in some sort of cataclysmic return to the stone age, but in a slower fashion, sometime playing out as a reverse of the Empire’s founding.
    Just look at the USSR, the English Empire, the Austrio-Hungarian Empire, and the Ottoman Empire.
    The outlying bits tend to want their own way, and after a bit of initial resistance, they’re allowed to go. Cost too much to keep troops there. so let them go to hell in their own way.
    Others maintain formal ties with the government, but are pretty much utterly independent.

    • I get what you are saying but I would consider the fall of the Russian Empire to have been catastrophic for the average Russian within 10 years. The AH and Ottoman were better although the Ottoman collapse had its moments.

      • Joe in PNG

        These things are not especially nice for most of the inhabitants.
        For one, lots of Imperial infrastructure gets neglected and eventually stops working- from aqueducts in old Roman provinces to various institutions begun by the British.
        Another thing, laws increase, but enforcement decreases- usually for a small financial consideration.

  17. And thus we’re looking at properties in the desert. Not for a while but it’s definitely on the radar. Both of our jobs can transfer at about the same pay scale but the cost of living will be about half. Now, just to make it until the kiddo graduates…

    • And thus we’re looking at properties in the desert

      Why on earth the desert? it’s difficult to grow a garden, raise stock, and game tends to be scarce. They all require water, which is rare in a desert. Most have underground aquifers, but you will need power to pump it out, and desert aquifers also tend to be heavy on mineral content.

      • Because the land is cheap and where we’re looking is about 30 minutes away from a major city. Which has places where my husband and I can transfer to for work. We’re not preppers, we’re broke and looking for a more sustainable lifestyle.

        • Joe Wooten

          Land may be cheap, but infrastructure like water wells and treatment systems will be expensive. Make sure you include everything you need to live comfortably in calculating costs. Water and sir conditioning will be the critical in a desert area. If you build a solar passive home, be prepared for very high costs as compared to traditional construction.

        • kenashimame

          Also, not all deserts are the same; the Sonoran isn’t like the Yuma, nor the Mojave, or the Great Basin. And none of those, ‘cept maybe the Yuma Desert, are like the Sahara. Which is the default desert in most peoples minds.

          I’d even be so bold as to say the Sonoran Desert is probably the most habitable of all of those listed.

          • The Sonoran is where we’re looking. I’ve been very impressed by some of the stuff we’ve seen people doing with the land (prickly pear margaritas?). And there are worst things in the world than having your own well and enough solar panels to keep the fridge running if the power goes out.

            • kenashimame

              Prickly Pear margaritas are a wonderful thing. So’s prickly pear jam/jelly/preserves. The trick is to wander a ways off the road before harvesting the fruit (and to watch out for Javelinas, they like prickly pear too.)

              The Sonoran Desert also has a fair number of “Sky Islands” which reduces the concerns about game and such (plus it makes a convenient escape in the summer prior to the monsoon.)

              • Yep. We’re also looking into bees and chickens though I think the chickens will just be feeding the local predators.

  18. As “gloomy” as I am, I agree it won’t be widespread; However, large (relatively) sections of “Cities” will become “wastelands.” Much of the “collapse,” IMO, come from disease. The welfare “vegetables” will stay put, until disease drives them out/kills them. _That_ will collapse the local medical system, which will expand the problem. In many “big” (D run) Cities, the will to “Stop/fix” the problems, is not there (now, or in the future.
    The *real* problem is like Jenga. How many “support” blocks can you pull out, before it collapses? My hope, is “A lot.”

    • Joe Wooten

      Detroit and the south and west sides of Chicago……

    • sabrinachase

      I dunno…Kowloon Walled City was pretty much anarchy on stilts and it lasted a long time–forty years or so.

    • Atlanta south of I-20 and I do expect that to take the gentrification in East Atlanta Village with it…they will be targets of opportunity right there.

      Probably North of I-20 and west of I-75 as well but how far North is an open question. I don’t know it well enough to know the natural barrier there.

    • Three fourths of the problem or solution is your neighbors. Solid neighbors, and you’re golden. Shifty ones? Trouble. I’ve got too many I haven’t met and two who are of questionable reliability. One because he’s a total jerk, and the other an alcoholic.

    • We are out in a rural area – close enough to a major city that some commute to it – but it is a LOOOONG commute. We have farms nearby, etc. So while we might have some walkers coming in (I doubt it) – we might just become more rural and get by. We also have good neighbors nearby.

      -John

  19. > wealth

    Perusing the magazines at archive.org, which holds the entire runs of “Galaxy” and “IF” among others, I found this column by Larry Niven from Fall 1986, titled “Staying Rich.”

    https://archive.org/stream/1986-Fall-If#page/n61/mode/2up

    • Dawn Dreams

      Good link. Thanks, TRX. (And for those who follow the link, if you can’t read the whole page, it’s there, just zoom out a little.)

  20. I’m kind of wondering if the larger problem isn’t that we won’t manage, but that we will. Things get bad. We manage. Things get worse. We still manage. Things get even worse. And still we manage.

    And nothing ever gets made better.

    • You just described Europe. I don’t think so, because we poke around things by nature, but it might.

      • Some of us still poke around things by nature. More than ever I’m hearing the teachers at the MS where I work expressing shock at how the students are utterly incurious about the world around them, and yet are utterly convinced that they are perfect and any issue that crops up is due to *you* having a problem.

  21. Umm, some of us are goatherders because we like goats, you know. They are often much nicer to deal with than human beings.

    • LOL. I wasn’t talking about you Beth.

      • In truth, I didn’t imagine you were. 🙂

      • Given what is being done to our energy supply, I suspect there might be a booming demand for Mohair, Cashmere and Angora wools.


        I advise against trying to breed Naguas for their hide.

        • Naguas? Or Naugas? I got some fine Corinthian Naugas I’m raising; a herd of a jundred (Montalban spelling) or so.

        • There is more of a market for mohair these days because more people are learning the old crafts like spinning and weaving these days. From what I see, it’s mostly people who have retired or been forced to retire looking for something satisfying to spend their time learning.

          • SheSellsSeashells

            I don’t know about textiles; I’m seeing a boom in people wanting to learn home cooking/gardening/canning. I am a rank amateur and *still* get a lot of “…you can CAN? Teach me!”

  22. There are other things you can do, like lay by a supply of used gold and tradeables.

    Lay in a good supply or ironware, bar stock for chains and manacles. Sure as farts stink, slavery will be back and owners will want equipment.

    If you’ve ore available you might even invest in a small forge.

  23. Meh. I don’t think the collapse will get too much deeper.

    Why? Because there’s going to be a nuclear war–and the US won’t be in it. Cleaning up after, yes. But my bet is that we talk to Russia and neither one of us fires a shot.

    Could be Pakistan-India, or All Arabs/Isreal, or S.Korea vs who bloody knows. China/Taiwan/Japan?

    Hard to say. But I think a whole bunch of manufacturing will come home, and exports will boom because of loss of manufacturing infrastructure abroad.

    And I hope I’m wrong. But America has enough food and oil to keep going no matter what the rest of the world is doing, and a population that will get fed up and replace incompetent government.

    • Free-range Oyster

      Pam, that has got to be some of the gloomiest optimism I’ve seen in a long time. 🙂

      • Yes, but it is the only real way to bring back the “Golden Age” of middle class manufacturing jobs called the 50s. The only difference is instead of being the largest (and damn near only) industrial nation left standing was accomplished not in the wholesale destruction of a 1-25 day nuclear way but in 8 years of routine bombings and barrages (starting at the Second Sino-Japanese War) that did the destruction retail.

        I’ve been saying the way to bring back the 50s was general war that didn’t touch the US mainland since the early 90s. People don’t like hearing it.

        The reality is Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Kokura, Yokahama, and Niigata were intentionally left standing by the 20th Air Force as atomic weapons targets as all other similarly sized and larger cities (with the specific exception of Koyto which had been on the list and was removed for non-military reasons and replaced with Nagasaki) had already been burnt down by normal incendiary bombing while Germany and other parts of Europe had already been leveled by conventional bombs as well.

      • Once “the world’s policeman” say eff it all and walks off the stage . . .

        Once all these little nations with grudges and feuds and ambitions get nuclear weapons . . .

        They will be used. Because everyone knows they are magic. Use a nuke, there’s total destruction, and you win the war. There’s going to be a lot of reality hitting the fans when someone finally does it.

        • Good Lord. We’re the Captain Vimes of the world, aren’t we?

        • The thing is, policemen get paid. I can imagine the US becoming a nation of mercenaries, bringing in money by providing military protection.

          “Nice little country you have here. Be a shame if your neighbors marched it and took it.”

          • I am reminded of the people who refer to the US as an “empire”.

            If we’re an Empire, we’re doing it wrong. Money flows toward the Empire. Buffer and Client states should be paying us.

          • kenashimame

            Switzerland used to perform this function in Europe, until one of those treaties ending the Wars of Religion in the 16th/17th Centuries prohibited the Swiss from exporting troops to anywhere but the Vatican.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      You know, I mostly hadn’t gotten past ‘counter proliferation and deterrence are fucked’. Thanks.

      a) Nuclear war might not knock down that much industry.

      b) We may find out that nuclear war is so overhyped that we will find less nimbyism for nuclear power plants.

      • I think NIMBYism will die a sudden death when the soft left realizes they really could be killed by these picturesque nuts they’re coddling.

        • When they figure out their gated community won’t keep the riot out…….

        • I’m watching the Czechs, Hungarians, Poles, and now Austrians digging in and saying “You and what army, Brussels?” And wondering if the German nuke plants and other coal plants will get restarted, along with the nationalist governments.

          • Joe Wooten

            ….German nuke plants ….

            especially when you are paying over 40 cents per kWH….

        • snelson134

          Not at all — witness the various episodes where crime victims have been interviewed saying they deserved to be robbed / raped because white privilege.

  24. There has always been, also the idea that crime is caused by poverty is a Marxist thing. Crime is caused by criminals and people constitutionally not inclined to obey the law.

    While this is true living under Marxism, in addition to creating poverty for most, also appears to cause more of the population to become criminals.

    • I would argue that people respecting the law depends on how much respect the law is worth. With good, but few laws, the vast majority will be law-abiding folks who look down on the lawbreakers.

      With the amount of laws that Marxism requires, and the amount of doublethink required, breaking the law becomes as easy as having a ham sandwich (apologies to Instapundit). So Marxism, by design, makes everyone lawbreakers – because there are so many laws that you break some of them without meaning to. And if you will break laws anyway, why not do things that will profit you?

      -John

      • Yep, the more laws the more chance a few are self-obviously stupid… and the respect decreases.

      • I have been trying to find a link to the research but to no avail (despite knowing I saw it brought up again this week). While that might be part of it goes deeper. You can’t make people widgets and expect them to treat widgets as moral actors worthy of respect and deference. You cannot force a man to lie about what he thinks and not expect him to lie about a loaf of bread disappearing. By corroding the worth of people and the truth you get more and more people who don’t value other people and the truth.

      • old surfer

        “Three Felonies a Day”
        “In Three Felonies a Day, Harvey A. Silverglate reveals how federal criminal laws have become dangerously disconnected from the English common law tradition and how prosecutors can pin arguable federal crimes on any one of us, ” Amazon, dollar three eighty

  25. No matter what the future brings, despair is never a success strategy and hand-wringing will not help you prepare for the unknown. Most people who rant about doomsday scenarios are really just trying to rally the neighbors in support of some hoped-for change revolution. And I suppose this sort of outcry offers some degree of comfort to assuage one’s anxiety, but it can be something of an annoyance to those who are busy taking tangible action. If you really want to improve your outlook, turn off the news and learn some new skills.

  26. One of the fellows at the Maker Space where I hang out said something to the effect of, ‘When the collapse comes, find out who the local Mormons are and raid them for supplies.” It took me a bit of explaining to make him realize that this was *not* a good plan for long-term survival – Mormons will shoot back, and there’s usually a lot of them around..

    • Not necessarily the Mormons, per se… The ones you really need to watch out for are all the Jack Mormons who don’t listen to the not-so-bright bishops and elders that espouse turning the other cheek. Many in the church hierarchy are actively against taking “preparatory actions” in regards to arming and self-defense, which is an artifact of the late 1890s and the issues they had with the Feds. Many individual Mormons are common-sensical about this stuff, but by-and-large, the Church as a whole is not.

      Which is not to say that you’re gonna get your ass shot up, trying to loot the local Mormons. It’s just that the ones doing it are likely to be like me–Only peripherally involved with the Church, and smart enough to realize that a community is more likely to survive than not. Come the ugly denouement of all that’s going on, of late, I know damn good and well who I’m going to be forting up with. And, it won’t be the local chapter of the NAACP or any of the other SJW types.

      In other words, don’t necessarily worry about the Mormons. It’s their friends that you really ought to be concerned with, those with “enlightened self-interest” in the good health of the too-nice-to-survive types.

      From what I remember, many of the more “dangerous Mormons” of yore weren’t necessarily “good Mormons”, either–They were men who wound up siding with the Church because they got lumped in with their relatives who were. I forget the names, just remember the lore passed on about them.

      • Sara the Red

        Although I have yet to read his biography, I’m fairly certain that Porter Rockwell fell under the ‘dangerous Mormons’ category. 😀

        Interestingly, ‘enlightened self interest’ was at the heart of the “American Heritage” class (required) that I took when I attended BYU. Great concept, that. And while I’m one of those nice Mormons who would be more likely to share supplies than not (especially where children are concerned), if someone is trying to take by force they WILL get shot up. 😉

        • I’ll admit to not having an exceedingly broad experience of Mormons (though I came close to marrying one, once). Still, in answer to this (and to 60guilders below), Yeah, if you are in need and you ask *politely*, or better yet offer to help slop the hogs, swamp out the cow barn, or weed the garden, the ones I knew would help you out if they could. If you try to *take* what you want from them, well, Katie bar the door.

        • I think Porter believed, so he’s not one of Kirk’s “lumped in with the relatives” individuals. And he apparently had a strong friendship with Joseph Smith. So he had an interest in what the early LDS Church was doing. But, well…

          Reportedly, later in life, after cutting his hair (to make a wig for one of the Smith women), he claimed that he could never keep his drinking and swearing under control. As vices go, there are much worse. But he likely wouldn’t have mentioned it if it didn’t trouble him.

          There was talk at one point to have Kevin Costner portray him in a film. A professor at BYU wrote a fictionalized account of the Utah War. It apparently got picked up for a movie script back in the early ’90s, and apparently Costner was supposed to play Rockwell. But it was never actually filmed.

      • I (born, raised, and still faithful LDS) was talking with my Mom the other day, and she mentioned that she thought something had recently been added to the LDS handbook on emergency prep about owning a firearm. She wasn’t sure, though. And she assumed that it was for killing small game.

        Finally acquiring a firearm has been something that’s been on my mind for a while now. And now California’s making another anti-gun push…

    • (Nods)
      You do not RAID the Mormons. Instead, you offer to help guard their stuff against the idiots who will raid them.

      • There’s a fairly-long history of “hired gun” hangers-on that do the dirty work for communities like the Mormons. They may not be well-accepted, they may not be quite “socially acceptable”, but they are usually around to do the necessary.

        Couple of communities I expect to do well, in the almost-certainly-coming chaos: Mormons, Sikhs, and any other sect that sticks together against the corrosive influence of popular culture. And, in the aftermath, much like the early Christian communities wound up surviving things like the Plague of Cyprian, they’re going to attract adherents, and are far more likely to be of influence than the isolated individuals making up the “enlightened SJW community”, most of whom are likely to be among the first victims in their “urban homestead communities”.

        Keep your weapons clean, your ammo well stocked, and pay attention to who has their shiite together locally; join in with those who do, and defend your own. I’m thinking the local Mormons, actually… The local Sikhs are nice people, but there aren’t many of them.

        What would be interesting is to see the hybridization we will likely get–Imagine a Mormon-Sikh Church Militant, one that has as a precept that members will always go heavily armed, not just symbolically. “No, you can’t confiscate my machine guns and assault rifles… They’re religious icons, and if you try to take them from me, my faith requires I kill you and anyone you work for…”. In a world where the First Amendment is no longer a valid concept, such a faith would likely be the only one to survive. “Oh, the last time we saw the nice men from the Justice Department, they were leaving on that road, over there… No idea where they might have gone…”. That happens a couple of times, and folks aren’t going to give a damn about questioning how you arrange your bathroom affairs at the church facilities. “Oh, yeah, sure… We checked ’em out, boss… Looks fine, they’re following the latest edicts…”.

        Then, too, there’s always the Polish model: Infiltrate and suborn the state structure, turning it to your needs. I was really amazed to learn that the Polish resistance movement was actively doing stuff like what J.N. Stroyar described in The Children’s War, having infiltrators “pass as Nazi”, and serve as double-agents for the Home Army. Interesting possibilities, there…

        • “Oh, the last time we saw the nice men from the Justice Department, they were leaving on that road, over there… No idea where they might have gone…”.

          But the GPS trackers on their implant chips indicate that they are located right about where your apparently newly-planted potato patch seems to be.

          • snelson134

            Never seen a Chip size GPS that can penetrate 6 feet of dirt.

            • BobtheRegisterredFool

              I’d also expect that something that wouldn’t readily turn up while processing the body isn’t necessarily going to be all that effective.

            • kenashimame

              It also depends on the quality of your soil; in Baja Arizona we have a lot of stuff in the dirt that make local made adobe bricks very good at blocking WiFi signals. Even old 75 year old Adobe.

        • > “No, you can’t confiscate my machine guns and assault rifles… They’re religious icons, and if you try to take them from me, my faith requires I kill you and anyone you work for…”.

          Funny you should say that.

          There’s a nation called The Islamic Republic of Pakistan, which is structured amazingly like the USA, except after a nasty little civil war they wound up with a state religion.

          Like many pieces of the former Raj, Pakistan consists of various disparate groups, some of which aren’t very cooperative with the Islamic Federal government. Imposing the national faith on some of them turned out to be more trouble than it was worth, so they were declared “Federally Administered Tribal Areas” and fences and checkpoints were set up to keep the unbelievers on their reservations.

          One of those “Areas” is full of Afridi Pashtuns whose religion, as best as I can figure, is weapons. Used to be knives, until those newfangled “gun” things came out. They’re not interested in joining the dar-al-Islam and they’re armed to the teeth.

          Places like Darra Adam Khel used to build guns using file and hand drills while squatting on dirt floors; now some shops have CNC equipment.

          I expect it’s only lack of resources that has kept them from building giant anime style battle mecha…

          • BobtheRegisterredFool

            Sounds like that explains Setsuna from Gundam 00.

            • IIRC, Setsuna was a Kurd. That’s another group that’s managed to hang on in the region while surrounded by Arabs who would be happy to see them go away.

              • BobtheRegisterredFool

                I’d gathered that all the mid east populations in 00 were fictional.

        • Sara the Red

          Dammit, Kirk, and now I have a plot bunny for a post apocalyptic where the Mormons and the Sikhs DID merge…

          I don’t NEED more plot bunnies!

        • BobtheRegisterredFool

          I need a Chaplain and a Chaplain’s Assistant for a project.

          Of:
          A. A Morman Chaplain and Sikh Assistant
          B. A Sikh Chaplain and Morman Assistant

          1. Which is more amusing?
          2. Which is more realistic?
          3. Which service would be the most amusing?
          4. Does the Coastguard even have Chaplains?
          5. Do the Marines use the Navy’s?

          • There has been at least one Mormon Chaplain in the US armed forces, as I heard one give a talk. I don’t know whether there have ever been any Sikh Chaplains in the US military.

          • kenashimame

            Yes, the Marines use Navy Chaplins.

          • Chaplain’s Assistants are without a single exception that I ever encountered in 25 years service, the most godless heathens you could ever imagine. I don’t know what the hell it is about that job, but most of the ones I met had little or no business being in the god-bothering business, because the vast majority would have been more likely to earn a lightning bolt or two, before doing anything at all to enhance the religious experience of whoever they were working for. It may just be the statistical aberration that I dealt with, but… I’m telling you, a devout Chaplain’s Assistant just ain’t what I ever saw. Couple of feckless idiots, yeah… The rest? Go looking for the alcohol, and any violations of “good order and discipline”; you’ll likely find them at the center of it all.

            Possibly the strangest pairing of Assistant with Chaplain was the Polish Catholic Brigade Chaplain we had, who was paired with a medically-terminated former Ranger Batt Boy that had actually earned his medical termination on the jump into Panama. Father Jerzy was the guy I’d most worry about committing war crimes against either Communists or Muslims, and his assistant wasn’t much better. Every single bloody live-fire range we did, those two were out there, and I swear, he would have been blessing the machine guns if anyone would have let him. It was always a treat to send up the usual set of whiners and goldbricking dirtbags, because by the time the two of them got done whipsawing them, the majority just gave up on their ideas. I swear to God, I think Father Jerzy was going to conduct a couple of exorcisms on several of the more annoying whiners we had.

            To add to that period, we had the guy who was running our Aid Station, a former SF medic. You could count on him to absolutely destroy anyone who went up there seeking a profile for BS reasons, and if you came out of his office with one, nobody would question the validity of it. People who went in seeking to avoid duty…? Yikes. Didn’t work out the way they expected. Between the three of them, I think that the “sympathy” level of our unit was probably in the deeply negative numbers. Probably -11, on a scale of one to ten…

            So, yeah… Chaplain’s Assistants? Religious? Not so much… Not the ones worth a damn, and who are actually effectual. The really religious ones don’t seem to last, or do well in the job, and I couldn’t tell you why. All the ones out in the line units, and wherever I actually encountered them were all a little, shall we say, “unique”. I’m sure there were some that were actually sincerely devout, but I never met any. It may be a side-effect of having to treat everyone as though they were all believers in equally valid religions, and the fact that they were so freaking inconsistent may have warped their minds. You really do not want to hear what the usual opinions were of the “fringe religions” were, like Wicca. Even the putative Wiccan Chaplain’s Assistant I knew made fun of the rest of the Wiccans behind their backs, but that may have been a “sect” thing.

            • BobtheRegisterredFool

              Okay, my assistant grew up a secular American. Maybe that wasn’t how his parents tried to raise him, but it happened. Also grew up patriotic. Fun in the infantry was cut tragically short by the incident that tragically shortened him. Attempts to get back into the fight ran afoul of the kinder gentler military, which he responded to by pretending devotion to principles found nowhere in Sikh teachings. Which got him reassigned to his current duty station.

              • Most of the Chaplain’s Assistants I knew were pretty smart guys; the standards for that job were pretty high, in regards to GT score. As such, you had the common syndrome where they were prone to a.) over-thinking things, and b.) coming up with ideas that led to problems you’d never see in guys with lower levels of whatever the hell the ASVAB is measuring. Most of the ones I knew were all CAT I on the overall QT scale, which would mean they were in the top seven percentiles of people taking that test.

                One of the interesting things about the Chaplain’s Assistant job that a lot of folks don’t get is that one of their basic functions is to act as the Chaplain’s bodyguard. Assuming, of course, that the Chaplain had a problem with defending himself, for whatever reason. Some of them, like the Polish Catholic I reference above, were likely to need restraining, not defending, but, still… That’s one of the basic roles of the job, when they’re out moving around the battlefield on their own. Or, it’s supposed to be.

                Sikhism is one of those odd little faiths I could see someone converting to, and then becoming a Chaplain’s Assistant. Or, vice-versa… I’m not sure how you’d be able to work that into anything historical, since they’ve pretty much banned active service Sikhs until recently, due to the beard, turban, and “always armed” thing. It’s not out of the realm of possibility, either–I knew at least one “Asatru” adherent among the Chaplain’s Assistants, although I’m not really sure whether he was just screwing around with his boss, or an actual devout adherent thereof. He was another former 11B, too…

      • Imagine a Mormon-Sikh Church Militant, one that has as a precept that members will always go heavily armed, not just symbolically. “No, you can’t confiscate my machine guns and assault rifles… They’re religious icons, and if you try to take them from me, my faith requires I kill you and anyone you work for…”.

        Eastern Kyfho?

  27. A few observations and quibbles:

    There is, I’m trying to tell you, an inertia to good things as well as bad.

    When he spoke in 1987, Milton Friedman offered the opinion that the U.S. has been coasting on momentum from the Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries. However, except in the total absence of frictional effects, inertia diminishes logarithmically with time. We could be nearer to the bottom of the tank than anyone realizes. Indeed, the past fifteen years have provided significant bits of evidence to that effect.

    As hard as it is to change society for the better, it’s also difficult to change it for worse.

    I must disagree. It’s a lot easier to destroy than it is to create. Ask the “Palestinians.”

    Barring a cataclysm of epic proportions, computer programmers won’t become farmers.

    And how grateful I am for that!

    Yes, I know, you’re going to say “what happens when the welfare checks fail?”

    As bad as that would be, the cataclysm that would follow the total cessation of Social Security payments could be a lot worse. Many among the poor are able-bodied – Herbert Spencer called them “sturdy beggars” – who could sustain their lives by manual labor.

    People tend to imagine welfare recipients becoming destitute and descending on other neighborhoods…. they mostly sit in place and lament and try to use their victimhood to get stuff.

    If we were concerned only with the “purely” destitute, this would probably be the outcome of a collapse of the welfare system. However, our “poor” are the most entitled poor in history. Moreover, they’ve been heavily leavened with notions of racial and ethnic maltreatment that inclines a significant fraction of them toward “acting out:” violence.

    Don’t quit your job and become a goat herder.

    Good God, no! I want to be a lumberjack! Leaping from tree to tree!…

    Your first priority should be to maximize your income or your wealth.

    It’s equally important to secure it against seizure – a significant feature of collapses in countries inclined toward socialism.

    Your second priority is to make sure your home is safe…

    This tends to be better done as a community effort.

    Your third priority is making sure you’re safe….being situationally aware.

    Nothing can compensate for good situational awareness, especially when one is in transit. However, those who must frequently leave their fortresses to move through populated zones have a particular problem with this. He who can minimize such travel has an advantage.

    Be not afraid. And don’t give up.

    Be a little afraid. Fear can be a useful servant, as long as it falls short of the magnitude that paralyzes you.

    • “Good God, no! I want to be a lumberjack! Leaping from tree to tree!…”

      But are you okay?

      • He just wants to press wildflowers! Why do you have to ask oppressive questions like is he okay?

        • Because he missed a leap from tree to tree while pressing the wildflowers. Less constrictive lingerie might have helped, but the question is an attempt to determine consciousness and if possible obtain consent before beginning medical treatment.

    • Notice how little success the Palestinians have had in destroying Israeli society? Physical capital, by itself, is very vulnerable. Human capital, a lot less so.

      • Notice how quick and thorough the Palestinians have been to destroy anything of capital value the Israelis left for them in areas they deeded over to Palestinian exclusivity and autonomy.

        • So this falls under “burn their own neighborhoods.” We know. So yeah, the underclass will suffer the most and some might actually die of famine. Darwin is a cruel man.

    • How does one protect savings from seizure?

  28. Robert What?

    True. Many, including me, wonder how the house of cards has remained standing for so long. But it is pretty clear by now that it is much more likely to be a long, slow lingering death than a fatal heart attack. Think Venezuela.

  29. Don’t be despondent over the current downturn in current events, particularly the choice between two bad presidential candidates. Our future won’t be determined by politics but by what is being developed in the labs, and that stuff is wonderful. America is the greatest inventor of industries and that will continue. Advances in technology will bring us incredible strong materials, better communications, and more widespread computerization that will radically transform our lives for the better, giving individuals incredible power. All that will be developed in America first. We are entering a new industrial revolution that will give our children God-like powers. The biggest problem America will face in the future will not be scarcity but over abundance.

    • We are entering a new industrial revolution that will give our children God-like powers

      So we are doooooomed!!! Seriously, the way kids (special snowflakes) are these days godlike powers are the last things that they should be given as they WILL NOT take up the godlike responsibilities that go with them.

      • FlyingMike

        And they will live in godlike basements, and play godlike VR games, and yeah, they will eat godlike snack products on the godlike couch.

  30. destruction wont cause crime, lack of rule of law will cause more crime and this is happening without the destruction of infrastructure. Cronyism, arbitrary enforcement, making everything a crime and NO REDEMPTION causes more crime.

  31. Lawrence Larson

    Sarah,

    The left has been subverting and capturing powerful and influential institutions for sixty years. With impunity now, they use them to undermine the family, religion, and any other refuges of individualism. The lamentations you protesting are not snap judgments that things have just gotten bad recently. They are a belated, spreading epiphany.

    The depressed and the doomsayers I meet are smart people who heretofore felt that our cultural capital was sufficient to withstand the usual erosion expected from an input of ignorant, idealistic (aka stupid) college kids and oddball leftist hangers on. The problem is that academia has so degenerated into a leftist propaganda mill that stupid college kids are never recovering. What the doomsayers (and I) fear is that the Obama administration is a result and not the cause of moral, intellectual, and political rot.

    Have you ever read about how close the Glen Canyon Dam came to failing in 1983? Only a few pieces of plywood affixed to the top of the spillway kept it from collapsing and sending a wall of water down the Grand Canyon and into Lake Mead–where it likely would have caused Hoover Dam to fail as well. I hope America’s plywood holds.

    • Good Lord! Those of us born in the sixties who have been fighting against the rot our whole lives MUST be chopped liver. The gains that have, very clearly, been made, the people working the blogs and the homeschooling groups and everything to undermine the leftist narrative of the leftist-industrial complex MUST be invisible to you.
      So be it. But you won’t get your doom just because you really want it. We’ll continue to work against it. So sorry.

      • And in the long view – the leftists dealing with powerful and influential institutions – they will eventually destroy faith in those institutions – and doesn’t that lead to some form of libertarianism? When people don’t look to the government to save them, they will stop giving government power – when the people learn this – the hard way – then we win, they lose.

        We build over, around, and under – and when the Gods of the Copybook Headlines return – we will point out to those with burnt fingers how to do stuff correctly. For now, they think they know – reality will dispel that myth – then we show them how to do it.

        The faster people lose the dumb idea that the government is some form of savior, the better.

        -John

        • But untold numbers of the younger generations were raised to always defer to the Adult In Charge. The AIC focus begins with parents and ends with Uncle Sugar. Most just cannot fathom the fact that the AIC is no smarter than they are. Even less can they fathom that the AIC is often a self-centered, uncaring, career bureaucrat.

  32. “And no, you have no idea how rich you are.”

    What’s clear to me is that we’re so rich that we are basically insulated from reality. No matter what the vast majority of us think, say, or do, we’ll continue to have access to food, adequate clothing, and most of us will have shelter. Probably not forever, but for quite a while.

    And because of this insulation from reality due to this unprecedented wealth, we end up choosing between Trump and Clinton with even someone like Sanders making a plausible showing. If our ability to avoid starvation depended on the next president, none of these folks would be plausible candidates. But it doesn’t much matter to most Americans what happens.

    Reality no longer matters – or at least most of us think that reality doesn’t matter.

    • This is a peril, Bret, but it’s not insurmountable. And the advantage of a slow slide is that there’s a few generations to turn it around, if we work, instead of throwing ourselves on the ground and crying.

  33. Weisshaupt

    I am not sure why you think this decline will happen over generations. I agree it will be more like Argentina, but It didn’t take generations in Argentina. The Government will pay their obligations in devalued dollars.and the economic effects of that inflation will be nearly immediate. Venezuela got that way because of socialist policy. If the govt enacts the same price fixing and totalitarian polices in response to the devaluation – you will get lines, and empty store shelves. It doesn’t matter how “rich” we are now. If the supply chains are broken for a few days – by whatever means – including economic disruption – our “rich lives” come to an end, and yes we are paying attention to how much fuel we are using. To make matters worse, this country is heavily armed, and Obama and the democrats have been working hard to Balkanize it and set people against one another. Hard times have a much higher potential to escalate in to warzone type violence here than in similar situations elsewhere. Any illusions you have about a civil society should be dropped now. Take a look at Ann Bernhardt’s Diabolical Narcissism presentation. One Half of the country feels entitled to what the other half produce. One half of the country doesn’t steal because they might get caught, not because it is wrong and they will hurt someone. A large percentage of the people in this country think fraud and corruption at the highest levels of our government is acceptable – as long as they have a “plan for prosperity” ( that is a quote from my Liberal Mother) , that human slavery to the state is an acceptable means of providing for “the common good” and that breaking agreements and manipulating the language in laws ( “Sex” is a word that determines how you FEEL (oh no I didt grammar good!) , instead of a term defining the type of body you have) is the way to get things done. One half of the country is NOT WILLING to live and let live, or to deal with others in good faith. These people see your civility as a weapon to wield against you and they will do it ever more aggressively as things get worse.
    I don’t know who you have been talking to who suggests this is the end of the world ( no two stones…) Its not. Its the end of the world as we know it, We will be Argentina ( which was a first world nation) or Venezuela – with pockets of Balkan war type violence – especially in urban areas. This will happen within 20 years- with the timing largely determined by external forces who will slowly but surely drop the dollar as reserve ( adding further inflation pressure)
    Obama as already given us a Corrupt 3rd world Banana republic government , and the third world living is not far behind.

    • Argentina was not the US. The only people who can think that Argentina or Venezuela started where we are even now have never visited and don’t have family either place.

      • I think the contention is more in 1900 Argentina and the US started in the same place more or less in terms of wealth and direction (which is not completely true but probably defensible as a first order approximation). The difference is the two paths we took. So the question becomes how long does it take circa 1980-2000 USA to get back to 1900 USA if it turns fully onto the Argentine path (I would argue we have turned towards it but aren’t on it). Tack on about 60 years and that’s how long to get the basket case Argentina is (yes, it has gotten much worse lately but it seems to be cycling around a level that has been set for about 50 years).

        In fact, the starting in 1900 path comparison is a fairly common one used to demonstrate the advantage of markets, private ownership, and rule of law.

        • Except you don’t “return” to that state. I mean, that’s not how it works. It’s massively more complex and might be better or worse, but it’s not the same.

          • Right. As Mark Twain said, “History does not repeat, but it rhymes.”

          • By “get back to 1900 USA” I meant “getting back to having the reserves of ruin 1900 USA” had. Yes, you never return to exactly there but it is fair to say much of Germany circa 1945 had been reduced to where the same territory had been in 1648 in terms of ability to feed and clothe itself (if not in some ways worse). Was it in the exact same state? No and subsequent developments show that…the tech difference alone allowed for much quicker recovery as did government and alliances. But they were close to that poor.

            • You’re looking at it as “freedom” not wealth. The US is now exponentially wealthier and more productive than in the 1900s

              • FlyingMike

                The comparison between 1900 Argentina and 1900 US, while valid on the surface as to individual wealth, misses the vast difference in resources available to feed growth.
                Just look at coal – even with all the massive US coal production since 1900, the US today still has over 450 times the available reserves as Argentina, with a note that the US reserves are the “easy to get to stuff”. At the turn of the century, I can’t find any coal production in Argentina at all, while the US was already producing 270 million tons annually.
                With no coal, no hydro, and no oil, there’s not much Argentina could do except go agricultural for export, which is what they did.

                • Part of that boils down to mineral rights. Finding oil or coal on your land in the US makes you rich like the Ewings or Beverly Hillbillies. Discovering resources on your land in Argentina means the government displaces you to exploit its resources.

    • The only reason that the dollar is still the reserve currency is that other currencies are manipulated in a worse manner. I doubt that the per second will fall. Fiat money itself may become a thing of the past. Bye bye 401k.

  34. snelson134

    “The recipients will prey on their own neighbors and riot. And then they’ll die.”

    The problem, Sarah, is that since 2012 Obama and his HUD have been systematically relocating them into YOUR neighborhood in cities all across the country. Between illegals, HUDdites, and Muslim refugees, he’s brought the party to you.

    This is not your childhood’s collapse.

    • My childhood didn’t have separate indigent areas, either. And you know what? Mostly they still preyed on each other and whined victimhood.

      • snelson134

        But had your indigents spent the last 50 years being indoctrinated to the idea that you can’t steal from white people because they stole it all first? And that defending it was bad?

  35. BobtheRegisterredFool

    The decline is already here. Look at America’s science fiction and fantasy publishing. Now look at Japan’s. Now look at Hollywood. Now back to Japan’s. Even with their economy screwed up by regulation (even compared to ours) they are making money we leave on the table.

    And people say we are out of things to pay people to do.

  36. >>>Even Rome, we think now, fell not in one great glorious invasion, but because the d*mn barbarians kept trickling over the border, and the Romans found them too useful to kick out, or even defend the border from (stop me when the tale sounds familiar. Never mind.) Sure there were military invasions, but Rome qua classical Rome was already long gone.

    I have to disagree. My source is:
    Mohammed & Charlemagne Revisited: The History of a Controversy
    by Emmet Scott.
    “During the 1920s Belgian historian Henri Pirenne came to an astonishing conclusion: the ancient classical civilization, which Rome had established throughout Europe and the Mediterranean world, was not destroyed by the Barbarians who invaded the western provinces in the fifth century, it was destroyed by the Arabs, whose conquest of the Middle East and North Africa terminated Roman civilization in those regions and cut off Europe from any further trading and cultural contact with the East. According to Pirenne, it was only in the mid-seventh century that the characteristic features of classical life disappeared from Europe, after which time the continent began to develop its own distinctive and somewhat primitive medieval culture. ”

    You have to remember the most historians in America follow the teachings/methods of historians in Britain. British historians delight in finding any way to blame the Catholic Church, while ignoring all evidence to the contrary.

    • This would also explain why classical civilization collapsed more in Britain and northern France then along the Med. Prior to Roman dominance there was a well established trade and intercourse among cities in the Med. In fact, you could argue Rome merely continued, changed, and expanded a pre-existing culture not only in the East but to a large degree in the West.

      In northwestern Europe without the interia of 800+ years of classical civilization and trade that North Africa and the Italian and Iberian pennisulas had the barbarian invasions and lack of contact ran down the much smaller store of ruin in those regions before that interia could civilize the barbarians. Certainly England and its political traditions show a stronger influence from the Anglo-Saxon and Danish invasions than parts of the Mediterrian basin do from Vandals.

  37. When the USD loses its reserve status your world will change Sarah. That .99c can of corn will cost $3 overnight. Why. There are three times as many USD in foreign markets than are in the US. When it all floods home prices will rise instantly.

    • yes, and? That’s precisely the type of “slow slide” I expect. Have you seen prices in Europe and compared them to salaries. THAT’s what I’m talking about.

  38. There are a couple of things that give me hope. The Presidency is almost certainly lost: Hillary most likely, but if not her, then Hillary with a Spray Tan.

    But a couple of things do give me hope.

    One is the example of gun control. Obama wanted it. He made efforts to get it. He lied and cheated in an attempt to drum up support for it. And it failed in Congress. Pelosi said “no” to more Federal gun control. I suspect they remembered 1994 and the Republican takeover of the House. Gingrich’s “Contract with America” was a part of that but so was reaction against the Brady Bill and the AWB. So, I don’t expect Hillary to be any more successful, particularly if we can get more “young blood” conservative/libertarian types into the House and Senate. (More Cruzs, fewer McConnells).

    The Supreme Court? No, I don’t expect the Senate to have the fortitude of the Senate under Tyler and leave the seat open for 4 years. Would be nice, but the next President is going to get to put at least one, probably several, in the next four years. That’s going to suck. But there are limits to what the Supreme Court can do. Even “legislating from the bench” requires something to work from. When the court declared the Obamacare fine a tax to make it “constituional” the law to be made constitutional had to be there. If we can get a Congress that won’t write the laws, then that becomes largely a non-issue.

    States are coming out and saying “no” to federal overreach. That’s guarded optimism since I don’t think the matter has been pushed yet and it remains to be seen whether they’ll stick to it or fold.

    But the big one is more philosophical and comes from watching my daughter, on her own initiative, getting into arguments (usually in video comment sections) taking down libprog screeds. There is hope for the coming generation. 😉 (Teach your children quietly, for someday sons and daughters, will rise up and fight where we stood still.)

    • I am leaning toward Trump on a couple grounds, in spite of my abhorrence of all he represents (when you abhor both candidates, other factors come into consideration, nicht whar?) for several reasons:

      1. The simple vicious pleasure of watching the Progtards’ heads explode, contrasted with the anticipation of their wanton smuggery in the aftermath of a Hillary victory. All other things equal, this is a reason to vote Trump.

      But all other things are not equal.

      2. As recently mentioned, Trump will receive no close air support from the MSM. This alone suggests he will be less damaging to the nation than Hillary, for whom we know the MSM will faithfully transmit any excuse for failure, incompetence, malfeasance and/or corruption.

      3. I have previously expressed the idea that Donald Trump would probably be one of the most easily impeached presidents in history, second only to Andrew Johnson if not first.

      And then there’s this:
      The ShirtStorm Social Experiment
      http://thedeclination.com/the-shirtstorm-social-experiment/

      We need to engage in such guerrilla political argument as this, challenging the myth that there is widespread agreement over “acceptable” shirts, acceptable team names, and acceptable twaddle from our self-anointed “betters.”

      As Arlo Guthrie sang:

      Walk into the shrink wherever you are, just walk in, say, “Shrink, . . . you
      Can get anything you want at Alice’s Restaurant”, and walk out.

      You know, if one person, just one person, does it, they may think he’s
      Really sick and they won’t take him.

      And if two people do it, in harmony, they may think they’re both faggots and
      They won’t take either of them.

      And if three people do it! Can you imagine three people walkin’ in, singin’
      A bar of “Alice’s Restaurant” and walkin’ out? They may think it’s an
      Organization!

      And can you imagine fifty people a day? I said FIFTY people a day . . .
      Walkin’ in, singin’ a bar of “Alice’s Restaurant” and walkin’ out? Friends,
      They may think it’s a MOVEMENT, and that’s what it is: THE ALICE’S
      RESTAURANT ANTI-MASSACREE MOVEMENT! . . . and all you gotta do to join is to
      Sing it the next time it comes around on the guitar.

      You can do anything you want if you remember Alice’s Restaurant.

      We are many, they are few. They are NOT Great and Powerful. Pay close attention to that man behind that curtain.

      • I have a parallel to your #1…it is the pleasure of being able, in 2020, to take all those people who thought Romney, McCain, and Jeb were great ideas and who, for the first two, pulled out the party loyalty card or “you’re electing Obama” but now are having a tantrum and, in 2020, when they say that about whoever they push through in 2020 being able to ask, “You mean like you did for Trump?”.

        A lot of us voted for their lesser evil but now that the lesser evil isn’t one they got to pick (and I didn’t either…I was down to my third choice, Cruz, by the GA primary) they see no reason to do so. I want to be able to shove their own rules up their own backsides in four years when I, like every open GOP primary since 1988, don’t get my first, second, or third choice.

        • Interesting. I don’t know anyone like that personally. The ones who were all squishy before are still saying “vote for the lesser evil.” The ones I know who won’t vote for Trump are a subset of those who were reluctant to pull the lever for the others as well, not cheerleaders for them.

          • Well, a good selection of authors at NR are a prime example. Bill Kristol and his third party movement are another.

            Plus, a ton (and this is where I’ll really be able to ask) in the comments on political boards.

  39. My biggest hope is for Scott Adams’ predicted Trump landslide coincides with yet more Tea Party type politicians to get elected down the ticket. We need to keep moving the state assemblies to the right.

    • I want to see him use the bully pulpit to primary Republican mossbacks right out of the Senate.

  40. Y’all probably know this already, but I was shocked to find out a couple months ago that net small business creation has gone from +100,000 a year to -70,000 a year. Definitely a sign of (slow) collapse.

  41. Good column. I agree with all you said, including the priorities, except for the amount of supplies suggested in #4.

    I spent about 2 1/2 months during the Fall of 1975 in a small village in Lebanon, just as their civil war was getting started in fits and spurts.

    The intermittent fighting in Beirut caused intermittent disruptions of a day to a week in the supply chains to the rest of the country, and those disruptions occurred irregularly for years.

    When the cooking gas supply ran out (it came in the 20# canisters), we cooked in a single electric fry pan. When the electricity went off during food prep time, we cooked on top of the kerosene space heater in the main room.

    When the stores were out of meat, canned goods, and vegetables, we ate apples from the orchard: raw apples, apple sauce, apple pie, more apples, and Spam- I really dislike Spam. Live on apples and Spam for 3 days, cooked on the space heater, and you will definitely believe in stocking up during good times.

    Even when goods were available in some places, we were not always able to lay aside work to take advantage.

    If one is concerned about a slow collapse, with intermittent disruptions, I’d prefer supplies for a good deal more than a week or two. When goods become available, I would do what I reasonably could to restock back to the month/couple months/whatever level.

    Thanks!

    • My stingy ideas on “stocks” might come from the fact we moved 3 times in the last year.

      • Oh, boy. I’ll bet. Peripatetic prepping presents problems.

        You do what you can. A week or two worth of supplies is a lot better than a couple days.

  42. snelson134

    Trump is planning to enable that — witness making Mexico pay for the wall and the Europeans pay for our defending them.

    • witness making Mexico pay for the wall and the Europeans pay for our defending them.

      I don’t know about the Europe one, but he’s already repudiated the Mexico one. And by his own admission nothing he says can be trusted. They’re just “suggestions” subject to change at any time.