Preppers run the gamut from individuals who prefer to homeschool their children, watch less TV and eat organic, local food to militia members who are prepared to take on hostile military forces. Having a Bug-Out-Bag at the ready is a helpful step, but if the economy ever descends into full on collapse there is no bag big enough to carry you through the impending chaos and disarray.
Surviving an economic collapse will take calmness, planning, organization and logical thinking in addition to resources.
The purpose of this article isn’t to discuss how to survive an economic collapse, but to determine the odds of a collapse happening within the next twelve months.
What is the Economy
The economy is a measure of societal functioning in a way that is much broader and far reaching than financial data. In addition to financial markets and businesses the United States economy is also a reflection of the political landscape, the military stability and strength, the power grid, the transportation and communication network, and the daily interactions that comprise the culture at large.
The Collapse of 2008
Doomsday aficionados have been predicting a pending economic collapse in the U.S. since shortly after 1776. However, the housing market collapse of 2008 revealed to many the wobbly underpinnings of our country’s financial system. Home ownership and value, through the process of bundling and reselling of shares in mortgages, were commodified into abstract derivatives.
In many instances the actual owner of a particular home was divided fractionally amongst thousands of people. In other instances the owner could not be legally determined. The value of homes, without suffering any physical damage or noticeable changes, plummeted massively.
(The commodification of healthcare and education, two basic tenets of civilized life, have followed similar paths of financialization, inflation, debt and bankruptcy in recent years.)
Wall Street speculators essentially pumped and dumped the bundled housing shares, leading to a massive foreclosure and bankruptcy crisis. Government, held hostage by campaign contributions and reports of impending riots and breakdown in the streets from experts, bailed out massive institutions that were deemed ‘too big to fail’. The taxpayers were left to fend for themselves while funding the endeavor known as Quantitative easing.
Independent economists remarked that this transfer of money from the public treasury to private companies was the largest transfer of wealth ever witnessed in history. A decade later, the nation, despite positive economic indicators, is still struggling to regain its footing amidst record personal and corporate debt and a destructive opioid crisis.
Prepping for Independence
Even the casual observer noticed that if a home’s value could be controlled through abstract market forces in NYC and Washington, DC, then the entire economy was unstable. The sanctified Market – objective arbiter of value, model of efficiency, praised by traditional Keynesian Republicans – was revealed to be operating at a level above and beyond the influence of the vast majority of Americans.
The Prepper movement, already in existence throughout the country, gained legions of new followers and devotees. The common goal of the movement is to acquire a degree of independence from the overarching system of banking and government, or at least attain a degree of survival readiness should an even worse collapse ensue.
Since 2008, there has been increasing interest in hard currencies such as gold and silver, alternative health care, homeschooling, sustainable off the grid energy, water filtration systems, victory gardens, and other reliable, small scale means of economic independence.
Independence of thought, measured by the ability to freely express one’s opinion in the public square is also the focus of many Americans. The struggle to gain and maintain independence of thought, amidst a 24/7 media landscape dedicated to broadcasting a limited point of view, is real. Censorship and the threat of repercussions for stating dissenting beliefs in public loom large over the academic, corporate, social and political landscape.
The internet, at first, seemed a beacon of decentralized communication and freedom. Websites operated by less than a dozen people were able to compete with mainstream media networks that had dominated the flow of information for decades. But recent crackdowns on dissent through the centrally controlled platforms of facebook and twitter have had a chilling effect.
Any successful purveyor of ideas that threatens the mainstream narrative risks being de-platformed and losing access to essential tools such as online payment processing.
The physical and intellectual struggle for independence has revealed to many Americans how deeply entrenched the prevailing system is when it comes to controlling many aspects of our lives. Independence is nowhere near as easy or simple as stockpiling some food and ammunition and shutting off the TV. But that is a good start.
Political Unrest + Instability
Since Trump’s election in 2016, a bloodless civil war between competing political factions in the ruling class has escalated and shows no signs of abating. The semblance of civilized debate has vanished and the divisive tools of false accusations and sexual politics are on full display.
The scope of acceptable debate on the Left has been broadened to include riots and violence. Death threats are now more prevalent than reasoned and persuasive counter arguments. The civilized realm of discourse is receding under threat.
The country is divided politically and fragmented culturally. The urban and rural divide is especially apparent when viewed on red vs. blue voting maps from the 2016 election. The politically correct edicts handed down by the social engineers seem to have increased resentment amongst the races rather than united them. Radical feminists, driven by vengeance against men, want to tear everything down.
With so many chaotic elements at play in current day U.S. culture, many commentators are predicting civil war and economic collapse. Given a long enough timeline, anything is possible.
But what are the odds of an impending economic collapse in the next twelve months?
Well first we must understand, amidst all the chaos, what is the glue that is holding the economy together.
Headed for Bankruptcy
If one were to look at only the financials of the U.S. government, one would be right to predict impending collapse. The U.S. debt burden is technically insurmountable given present conditions. The likelihood of the U.S. government ever being able to pay off its debt is extremely low. Instead the government is focused on servicing its debt.
As interest payments continue to grow some analysts predict that they will eclipse the entire Pentagon budget in less than a decade.
To relate to this financial situation on a personal level, imagine an individual who has maxed out several credit cards. His only hope of staying solvent is to work hard to pay the minimum payment every month on the credit cards. However he is still maxing out his cards every month. He will never touch the principal debt and be freed from the burden of perpetual credit card payments.
While doing this he still manages to acquire new credit cards and proceed to max them out as well.
An individual who devoted a large portion of his income to paying interest on credit cards without hopes of ever paying off the principal would be considered to be financially struggling and wise to consider bankruptcy. Bankruptcy would likely be imposed upon that individual in the near future anyway, when he reached his credit limit.
The U.S. economy is described as prosperous and booming, and in many ways it is, but the underlying fundamentals of debt are unmanageable and point to inevitable bankruptcy. The U.S. seems to be operating on the assumption that it has no credit limit. If the U.S. does indeed have a credit limit, what that number is, who determines it and by what metrics, is not a matter given over to public discussion.
While it is undeniable that the U.S. seems headed for bankruptcy, there are many who say the U.S. is currently bankrupt and others who say it has been bankrupt for generations.
Were the banks to call in the outstanding debts today neither the government, most corporations nor most individuals could pay. This would give the banks the right to foreclose and gather people’s possessions as collateral on the debt.
Most homeowners (real estate debtors) do not have the cash on hand to pay off their mortgages today. This is also true of car owners (auto debtors), education owners (student debtors), and credit card debtors. Many corporations seem to be structured to gather debt and pass on wealth.
When you owe more than you have, you have a negative net worth and you are fundamentally bankrupt. But credit, a system of financial faith in a better tomorrow, allows for the financial game to continue.
Any attempt by the banks to call in their outstanding debts would cause chaos and disruption on a monumental scale. Can you imagine if legions of tow trucks pulled into driveways and streets across the nation to repossess millions of cars? What would happen if tens of millions of homeowners came home to find their locks changed on the front door? The logistics of such a situation are completely unmanageable.
That is why it’s important to look beyond the financials. Technically speaking, most American individuals and companies are bankrupt, because they have a negative net worth. However, the banks continue to issue credit, write off bad debt and grease the wheels of the economy.
Whether or not the U.S. government is technically bankrupt is a different story. The U.S. does not hold enough cash in it’s treasury to pay off its debts. However, measuring the assets in its possession is a complicated equation.
In addition to the land, the mineral and energy resources beneath the land, and the infrastructure atop the land, the U.S. government lays claim to the most profitable asset on Earth. That is, simply put, you and me.
The future tax earnings of the U.S. taxpayer are an enormous asset. Considering that taxes and interest rates can be altered, the U.S. government could even be considered solvent.
Disappointingly, if you are counted as an asset in someone else’s portfolio, you are economically speaking, a piece of property. Practically speaking this makes you a slave. But cheer up, we’re only discussing financials – i.e. numbers on a spreadsheet. What would you rather be holding when TSHTF – a spreadsheet or a rifle?
The U.S. Has Been Bankrupt for Generations
There is a tremendous amount of opinion and research available online regarding the creation and management of the U.S. Federal Reserve system. There is also a strain of thinking which asserts that the U.S. went bankrupt in the 1930s and was claimed as an asset by the FED in a hostile takeover.
The evidence for this is the ‘Emergency Banking Act’ of March 9, 1933 and a speech in the congressional record by Senator James Traficant of Ohio in which he remarks on the U.S. being in Chapter 11.
Further research points to the U.S. subsequently operating under maritime law, as evidenced by the gold fringes on U.S. flags in courtrooms. If one goes farther down the internet rabbit hole there is research and speculative theory regarding ruling class bloodlines, the royal families, and even otherworldly entities leading back through the creation of the Egyptian pyramids.
Once one begins asking the questions of who we are, how we got here, why do we live the way we do, and who is in control, there is no shortage of interesting and provocative answers.
The U.S. is Functioning Right Here Right Now
For the purpose of gauging whether or not the U.S. will slip into economic collapse it is important to recognize that financial bankruptcy is not the only gauge.
Whether we are headed for bankruptcy, are currently bankrupt, or have been bankrupt for nearly a century, the U.S. still exists today. While many U.S. citizens struggle, the majority of the people within our borders enjoy a standard of living and material comforts that are historically unprecedented. Our poor struggle with obesity, not starvation. We remain a fully functioning economy. So financial bankruptcy alone, is not a strong enough force to produce a full scale economic collapse.
Import + Export
Since the U.S. has transitioned from a manufacturing economy to a service economy it’s built up enormous trade deficits with China and other countries. We import more goods than we export. So a trade balance lingers.
Considered in a different light, the dollar has become our largest export. And in our new service economy, servicing the resulting debt may be the biggest industry.
The U.S. sends piles and piles of digital dollars (well files and files, and bits of data really) to China in exchange for goods. The dollars, in and of themselves, aren’t worth the paper they’re not printed on. But they are tokens of belief in continued U.S. strength and power.
Should any foreign countries doubt that power, the U.S. military, with a budget larger than the rest of the world’s military’s combined is willing to sail an air craft carrier strike brigade into your port to talk about it. As I mentioned in a previous column, our dollars, while no longer backed by gold or silver are backed by lead. Lead being the prime ingredient in bullets.
Trump seems to understand this exceptionally well. In his personal life, Trump underwent bankruptcy several times and somehow miraculously emerged a multi-billionaire and President of the U.S.A. Fitting that he should find himself elected at this particular moment. There is possibly no one else more suited to manage a large scale bankruptcy with nothing but bluster, innuendo, and muscle than Trump.
Trump has elevated military spending to unprecedented levels. He makes sure to remark about this on global stages like the U.N. and in many public speeches before the media. While many dismiss this as typical Trump braggadocio, he is clearly sending a message that U.S. hegemony must be respected.
So long as the world continues to accept our dollars, the economy remains intact.
Europe and much of the world relies on the U.S. military for protection. Only Russia and China fancy themselves strong enough to hint at challenging the rulership of the dollar. Some historians suggest that the underlying reason for the destruction of Libya and Iraq was the prior regimes attempt to move away from dollar supremacy. No one has ever done this successfully since the U.S. became a world power.
But the idea that the world will go on accepting U.S. dollars indefinitely is currently being challenged. Russia and China hint at seceding all the time. One can assume that efforts to do so are constantly under way. Iran, of course, would love nothing more than to circumvent U.S. dollar supremacy.
Recent moves by several European countries along with Russia and China to create an alternate payment plan in order to avoid U.S. embargoes on Iran are troubling indicators. If these countries cooperate in a scheme to overcome Washington’s influence in the region, could they be further encouraged to reject dollar hegemony?
If the world at large stopped accepting U.S. dollars the economy would collapse. However, before that happened the U.S. would initiate war against economic dissenters to prevent any breakaways. No country can afford to be the first to jump ship. Naturally, those who wish to break away would form alliances so that the U.S. militarily would be outnumbered or intimidated.
This is why Trump seems so eager to build up the military. His personal disregard for the social abnegation of world leaders, unlike Obama who literally bowed to them, along with the increasing strength of the military, places the U.S. at a level of increased security and prolongs any impending collapse.
If the U.S. is to avoid economic collapse the military needs to become big enough to take on the entire world at once. And it needs to have a leader who is willing to suffer the slings and arrows of world opinion while doing so. Trump is willing to do both.
At least this appears to be the plan. The other option, which seems to have no political chance of coming to fruition in our present state, was the Ron Paul plan. That consisted of unwinding our empire, bringing the troops home, living a modest lifestyle and paying down the debt. Ron Paul envisioned an end to the Warfare/Welfare state. Not even Ron Paul’s son supports that Libertarian vision now.
Come Take It
While the U.S. may be technically bankrupt that seems at the moment, primarily a concern for the spreadsheet accountants. Our credit remains strong. The real power of the economy is summed up in the phrase, “Come Take It!”. Until another country or alliance fancies themselves strong enough to repossess our aircraft carriers and nuclear silos we will continue to function.
The military itself runs on dollars. The Pentagon gets the bulk of the government budget every year and much of it goes unaccounted for. The press has reported on trillions of dollars that have gone missing. Even some of the reporters who did the reporting have gone missing.
There are the known unknowns of classified black budget operations. Then there are the unknown unknowns of where the money that’s not supposed to be missing actually went.
Could it be diverted to a secret space program? Could it be used to construct doomsday underground bases? Is it a slush fund for all the worlds cooperating politicians and CEO’s? Maybe the elite use it to finance their Eyes Wide Shut parties in hidden castles and estates.
The Pentagon, sitting atop the world’s largest stockpile of weaponry, is not inclined to answer and the press is not inclined to ask.
But who controls the Pentagon’s purse strings? By that I mean who controls the world money supply. The answer is the Federal Reserve.
If you want to delve into who controls the Federal Reserve the short answer is that it’s a private bank so it’s not of your concern. The other short answer is to blame the usual suspects. But unwinding the private ownership of the Fed is a never ending trip down speculative history that delves into wild conjectures.
Or you can blame the devil. Or women. Adam had no use for money in the garden before Eve came along, got them kicked out, and subsequently forced Adam to get a job in subsistence farming.
I prefer to think we’re all culpable to some extent. Very few Americans would be willing to trade in their cars, televisions, microwaves, vacations, new clothes and credit cards in exchange for world peace. Sad but true. So I personally believe in financial original sin.
Who would benefit from collapsing the U.S. economy? Nearly the entirety of U.S. citizens would suffer a drastic and sudden reduction in their standard of living. People with empathy would be hurt to see their fellow Americans lives plunged into chaos and disarray.
That leaves the cold hearted, nefarious ‘super elites’ as those who could possibly benefit. (Cui Bono — Bono?)
Of course, plenty of other countries could potentially benefit. Syria, for example, might enjoy a break from the bombing. And Russia and China might happily envision themselves as stepping into the fray to become world powers, defenders and controllers of Europe, America and Jerusalem. Maybe they would do it together. Maybe they would battle themselves for ultimate control.
For now, our military remains strong enough to keep foreign countries in check. If our economy were to collapse it would have to come from an opposing faction within.
It’s possible that the entrenched power structure referred to as the ‘Deep State’ or ‘The Swamp’ would be willing to initiate a controlled implosion of the U.S. economy rather than surrender to Trump and his red blooded, America First initiatives.
The leaders of the Deep State, one can imagine, have access to global resources and could easily hop on a private jet and be just as well off in any number of exclusive locales. Five star service in Brazil, Switzerland, the Cayman Islands, Balmoral Castle, New Zealand or elsewhere is probably just as good as it is in America.
So I place the odds for economic collapse entirely on the outcome of the ongoing feud and civil war amongst the elites of this country. One can imagine this includes deathly rivalries amongst and within the branches of the military, the intelligence agencies, the banking sector, and their public faces in the Democratic and Republican parties.
We the People
I don’t think the American citizenry will cause an economic collapse. It is possible, however, that a civil war between the right and left in this country could be instigated and used as an excuse to enforce martial law and unconstitutional clampdowns on the general public.
This could result in an economic collapse or an outright shift in our economy towards dictatorship, technological feudalism and tyranny.
The elites have scooped up so much of the wealth of this country recently. Quantitative easing sped up the transfer from the middle class to the elite with quantum velocity. Economic collapse could finalize the deal.
Trump seems to be walking the line between making the ultra rich richer while still creating improved situations for average Americans. The Koch Bros may oppose him politically, but the fact that his tax cuts are earning them a fortune in profits, probably puts the damper on any extreme vitriol they harbor towards him. This attitude is likely possessed by many financial elites and may be the key to keeping Trump in power or, even, alive.
However, the majority of us remain indebted to some extent. If you are indebted for life you are a slave in financial terms, but if only for a limited time, merely an indentured servant.
Any honest accounting of the American populace would reveal that the majority of its citizens are either poor, slaves, or indentured servants. I hate to say it because it sounds so negative.
But it’s also important to remember, a point I’ve made repeatedly in this essay that this is only financially speaking. It is not practically speaking (come take it). The spiritual aspect of our existence is, of course, an entirely different realm that hasn’t even been discussed here (aside from the brief allusion to reptilian shape shifters).
To be sentimental for a moment, we’re nearly all of us better off than our ancestors were in Europe or wherever we came from by an enormous factor.
So, What are the Odds?
The economic outlook for Americans is this. If the Democrats gain power, the country will be likely set back on a path of global harmonization with the rest of the world. This is the communistic plan to raise the standard of living of the third world while lowering the standard of the first world until everyone is equally miserable. All the nonsense about ‘white privilege’ and mansplaining and the rest of the cultural Marxist narrative emanates from this global philosophy.
Preppers, conservatives, and independent minded Americans are right to look on the antics of the Left with disgust and contempt. However, while the Left descends into riots and random violence the Right is also correct to maintain its reserve and composure.
The activist Left itself is mostly a smokescreen of young and weak minded individuals who function unknowingly as useful idiots for the global governance gang. That elite gang is unwilling to show its hand directly. Short of revving up the blue haired shriekers to foment a civil war (they’re not cut out for work, much less sustained fighting) the likelihood of the global elite directly intervening to crash the economy is diminished. It still remains a threat.
Considering hostile foreign powers, a hostile elite, the likelihood of a civil war, and the Democrats vindictiveness and lack of restraint I put the odds of an economic collapse at 70/30. 70% chance the U.S. continues to function with an improving economy and a strengthened military under Trump. 30% chance TSHTF.
Come take it Some More
Independent minded citizens would be wise to continue to direct a share of their resources towards alternate forms of education, healthcare, currency, and security. I don’t believe the existing system will collapse outright. It is more likely that it will continue to gradually weaken. The less we are reliant on it for information, protection and sustenance the stronger we will be as individuals and as a result the stronger our country will be. Ironically, the more prepared we are for when TSHTF the less likely it is to happen.
Democrats want to make everyone dependent on government. The solution isn’t to chant slogans, hold placards or attempt to overthrow Democrats. The solution remains to strengthen our independence and by doing so, keep them out of power. If they gain power again, the dynamics may change dramatically.
In short, the populace should take the approach towards their own government that the government takes towards the rest of the world. Come Take It.
And the unique American combination of Faith, Finance and Force should keep this train rolling.
God Bless America.