Yes, we’ve all seen scary post-apocalyptic films like Mad Max, or TV shows like Jericho. A real collapse, however, will be quite different from such dramas. And beyond that, there’s a good chance the future will be better.
From where I now live, you could draw a 25 mile arc which would include competent people of almost any imaginable specialty: The guys who know how to build and repair refrigerators, machines of all types, cars and roads and houses and windows and computers and a thousand other things.
So, I’m not overly worried about the dollar going to zero – as long as these guys have two critical things:
- They must be able to communicate with each other.
- They must be left alone, with no one telling them “you can’t do that without our permission.”
If either one of these two things are missing, we’re screwed, but as long as we have them, we’ll be okay. Sure, there will be some bad days, a few tragedies, and a surfeit of terror from the fear factories (that is, the mainstream media), but in general, we productive people will be okay.
I knew men who ran a business through the Great Depression, in precisely my specialties (contracting and engineering). We discussed the difficulties they faced and how they coped with them. They worked through the depression end to end, and did some pretty impressive projects – with absolutely no credit available anywhere.
They paid for things creatively – in sections, with barter, and on trust – but they also got the job done, from the beginning of the depression to the end.
Our period of difficulty (which most of us presume will be coming somehow or another) will be different from the Great Depression, but so long as we retain the two items mentioned above – and I will tell you precisely how we can keep them below – we’ll get through it.
The Bad Stuff
Okay, so if we have a complete dollar collapse, what can we expect? Here are a few thoughts:
- Fear. Scaring the populace will be the first and essential tool of the rulers. Government relies far more on legitimacy than on force, so the rulers will be very keen on using their number one tool to keep people clustering around them for safety. That’s a primary strategy for them.
- Welfare riots. This is possible, and even probable in some places, presuming that government checks either stop, or no longer matter due to massive inflation. However, we all know which areas are likely to be hit and we can avoid them. (If you’re in one, do something about it now.) And, as horrifying as such a thing may be (and should be!), Americans, Canadians and a serious number of Europeans do have guns, and will eventually shoot rioters as they are beating down their neighbor’s door.
- Supply chain disruptions. Since the big corporations are so tightly associated with governments, they will not likely adapt as quickly as small companies do. They may lock-up while waiting for instructions. This is why stores of key commodities (like food) and communication will be necessary.
- War. This is the traditional distraction from disappointments and government failures. Syria seems to be the leading candidate at the moment, or perhaps North Korea or some other distant monster will fit the bill.
- No credit. As scary as this seems to some people, the reality won’t be nearly as debilitating as imagined (except for the mega-corps); people will adapt and go back to a 19th century way of buying and selling. Adjustment will be required, but farmers will still need to sell their food, and they will find ways for productive people to pay them.
- Lack of currency. Dollars will fail in this scenario (along with Euros, Pounds, etc.), but there will be not be a debilitating lack of currency, for two reasons:
- Lots of people have silver and gold, which are always good.
- We have Bitcoin, which is good currency world-wide.
- Shuttered fire departments. The rulers won’t close too many police stations, since they want to retain their image as saviors and because they need people to fear them, but fire departments and other things may be let go. (The scarier things first.) But again, so long as we can communicate and adapt, we can just arrange for necessary services in different ways. Remember, most of us are blowing 20-30 hours per week on TV – we have WAY more free time than we think we do.
The Future Will Be Better if We Take Care of THESE TWO BIG RISKS
There are very simple solutions to our two crucial issues. But remember, simple isn’t always easy. Here are the solutions:
They must be able to communicate with each other.
This one is actually easy. The solution is mesh networks. (You can find a nice PDF primer here.) These are local networks, built with simple wifi devices. These, combined with a few longer links, can create a very nice communications network. You won’t be able to use it for videos, but it will work well for basic communications. (Though you really should keep a small electric generator and some gas.)
They must be left alone, with no one telling them “you can’t do that without our permission.”
The solution to this one is very simple: Do it anyway. Whatever you think of your local government, I very much doubt that you think they have a right to starve you – which is what failing to act in your own survival comes out to. If it’s moral, do it. Stop waiting for permission.
So, while the big collapse (assuming that it does come) will be terrifying to inveterate TV watchers, the reality will be far less apocalyptic than promised… assuming that we productive people act like producers.
And as producers, we have so much more choice than the others. Indeed, in one way, we could see the collapse as an opportunity to start fresh. The future will be better if we ultimately say so.