So far outside the box you can't even see the box from here.
Monday, November 26, 2012
A Lesson in Collapse
Once again we turn to the handy dandy example of Greece. By any reasonable assessment, the country is undergoing collapse. Unemployment is high. Living standards have plummeted. Suicide is up. Unrest is rampant. There are riots in the streets. People have turned to barter and the underground economy.
In spite of all that, the country functions -not well, but it does function. Most of the cops are still on the job. There is more bureaucracy, not less. A majority of companies do at least some business. Government benefits, while much reduced, are still being provided.
Greek collapse will look fast to the historians. To the people in the middle of it, it’s a long slow grind.
Now picture an American prepper. Let’s say he’s better prepared than most. Assume a good year’s supply of food, and $10,000 worth of precious metals. Because he’s an American, he has a big assault rifle and 25,000 rounds of ammunition.
Early in the collapse, he loses his job. For a year, his family does well enough. There’s enough food and his precious metals cover other expenses. Property taxes still have to be paid. The utility bills keep coming in. Maybe there’s some doctor or dental expenses. His car needs gas. Actually, he does pretty well to make that $10,000 last a year.
Year two it starts to get interesting. The stored food is gone. Savings are gone. Any government benefits are exhausted. His resources are pretty much gone, except for that assault rifle. That’s not doing him much good either, as he can’t even afford a hunting license. The game wardens are still on the job.
Eventually, he’s going to get evicted from his house. Where does he go? Maybe he had a plan of bugging out to the National Forest. How would that work for him? It’s fine to camp there for a while, but eventually he’d have to move on. What if he’s got school age children? They can’t just disappear from the system.
He probably had some idea that when he’d bug out to the forest, he could do what he wanted: clear land, build a log cabin, set up game traps, build a fish weir, plant a garden -all the things a homesteader would do. Of course, he can’t do that as there are still rules and people to enforce them. Maybe fewer people, but enough. In fact, because of government shortfalls, fines and penalties may be a lot higher.
In a collapse that takes years a different strategy is needed. What’s working in Greece? Most people are getting by. Families have crowed in together. The quality and quantity of food has gone down. People with gardens, fruit and nut trees, are glad they have them. Lot’s of informal work goes on -off the books. The barter economy has replaced part of the money economy.
Government gets less and less effective (which is saying something for Greece), but it does not go away. Most police still come to work. Politics are getting harsher. Fascism has gotten a solid foothold. People are desperate and willing to try desperate solutions. The collapse keeps on grinding down. Relationships are important. Who can help you and what skills do you have to offer others? Family and friends become more important than ever.
How will it play out in other countries? There will be similarities, but different countries have different national characteristics. Some expect collapse in the US to get more violent and sooner. (maybe that assault rifle won’t be a bad investment after all.) If you’ve lost your job, the collapse is well underway -at least for you. There are already plenty of desperate people. Collapse is here, but not evenly distributed.
It’s rarely a single event. For the individual, it manifests as a series of ever more serious challenges to be dealt with. Don’t think of it as an event but a process. The more adaptable a person is, the better off they are. It’s true in Greece. It’s true everywhere.
I live in an area of NH known as the Great North Woods. I'm in my dome-i-cile out in the county with my lovely wife and a varying number of family and friends
-part red neck, part hippie but all country. Experimenting and enjoying the adventure of life.