In my first blog entry on economic collapse, I made the assumption that basic goods and services will still be intact, that there are jobs still available, goods and services can still be purchased, just with higher prices and higher unemployment. In this one I explore an even gloomier, although less likely scenario, the complete and utter collapse of the economy.
Although it is unlikely, the weakened state of the United States economy could result in a complete and total collapse of all systems and infrastructure. Unfortunately that is a lot harder to prepare for, as basic law and order may even break down.
There are signs that the coming depression may go that far. Already in some communities in Syracuse, NY, the banks themselves are abandoning foreclosed properties, and shanty-towns are springing up around Los Angeles, CA. These properties, without any owners, are being taken over by vandals and criminals.
Truckers are finding they are making a loss on each trip due to the rising price of fuel, and if this trend continues, interstate shipping will no longer occur. There is already talk of a nationwide trucker strike, and basic economics will force an end to shipping if a strike does not occur.
The crisis could also be triggered is if the government does initiate war with Iran. That will dry up fuel supplies and may easily be escalated to a nuclear conflict, which would lead to counter measures by the rest of the world.
The worst place to be in the event of a complete collapse is inside a city. The first problem would be the food crisis. The larger cities have only a few days worth of food inside them, which would prompt a very hasty and dangerous exodus from the city. Smaller cities can last longer, but eventually the inability to transport food from the farms to the cities will cause panic, mayhem, and eventually starvation.
Meanwhile, out in the rural areas of the country, food panic will not be a problem because that is where the food is grown. Farm towns will not receive fuel for the farm equipment, but at least the food itself will be there. In the country people are also more likely to own large livestock that can be used as alternative means of transportation.
A necessary item to own in the worst case scenario is a firearm, preferably several of them. In a panic and riot it happens that not only are those who have stockpiled resources the subject of looting, but innocent people are often assaulted or killed in random acts of violence. Law enforcement will be too busy combating the population to provide any security, leaving it the job of the individual instead.
For those who do live in the city and want to prepare for the worst, the best advice to give is to purchase an RV, preferably a Class A or Class C (the motorized RVs.) In the event of a crisis the owner of an RV can leave in a hurry. Some people are thinking about acquiring property in remote areas, outside of easy government control. The advantage of an RV is that one can more easily transport the family to those areas, and can also move again if worried about discovery. A place to live is guaranteed no matter where one travels, the only difficulty being the effort to find sufficient fuel and fresh water. If necessary the grey and black tanks of an RV can be dumped anywhere, not just in an authorized drainage facility.
A collapse of this scale will destroy certain concepts of ownership, due to massive property abandonment and the dislocation of the population. There will be a new round of homesteading, recognized primarily by common law instead of government. Those who still maintain ties to the government, such as agents of the Bureau of Land Management or Internal Revenue Service, will find their intrusion to be far less welcome than is currently the case. Conflicts between homesteaders and the military may occur, destroying some communities, but ultimately most areas will be considered beyond the reach of the government.
Those who live close to the ocean can also take advantage of a slightly more expensive, but ultimately more versatile, alternative, and get a yacht. While commonly considered a recreation for the rich, they can also be dwelling places for middle class ocean enthusiasts. With a yacht, one can quickly leave the territorial waters, and simply moving away from the dock enables the owner to avoid any riots that may be happening on the shore. Once in international water, the owner can travel to any country that has a beach to seek safe harbor, or can go to any wild beach and life off the land as a farmer or hunter.
The hope is that events do not grow this bad, but if another war starts or a domestic police state with price controls is established, this does become a possibility.