From economic turmoil and massive riots in the Middle East and Greece, to flash mobs of violent teens robbing citizens and looting businesses in places like Philly and Chicago, to our growing police state where now even 95 year old women in diapers aren’t safe from humiliating pat downs from TSA goon-squads, we are witnessing systems disruptions and collapse of old social orders on an epic scale.
The causes are many, but a common denominator is the world’s gargantuan public and private debt overhang. Positive economic growth, even if it’s false (e.g. fueled by massive debt-based consumption and speculative bubbles), can mask many of society’s warts for a time. But once the Ponzi crashes, the warts become obvious for all to see.
And that’s precisely what’s happening now… The sovereign debt picture worldwide is beyond comprehension and national economies are now imploding due to the unsustainable debt overhang. Our own national debt if you include programs like Social Security, approaches a staggering $14.35 trillion.
Our petting zoo of elected incompetents inside the beltway is utterly incapable of dealing with the looming catastrophe with anything approaching candor or seriousness. Last spring, Congress and the White House could barely manage to cut a trifling $50 billion from the federal budget, less than 1.5% of total federal government outlays.
Just like Greece, we extend and pretend, pushing off the day of reckoning – only we implement mind-numbingly complex programs with confusing names designed to confound the general public and obfuscate the seriousness of the problem. Quantitative easing? Sounds positively melodious… Rolls right off the tongue in fact… If it was called what it is though, “out-of-control money printing”, the public just might wake up from its reality-TV-induced stupor and start paying attention.
As I’ve often said, these systems disruptions and the collapse of old social orders are inevitable and occur throughout history. The comparisons between the decline and fall of the Roman Empire and the U.S. today are too many, and too cliché in any case, to cover in any detail here. But garrisoned troops all over the globe, crushing taxes on the middle class, a debasement of the national currency, and appeasement of the masses with “bread and circuses” – do we really benefit from 828 different news outlets reporting that Kim Kardashian believes Casey Anthony is guilty? – are a good start.
Unless you believe that our U.S. leadership will somehow find enlightenment and get serious about dealing with these problems in a forthright manner, what we face is inevitable: Increasing systems failures, collapse of the old order and institutions, and ultimately a rebirth and rebuilding of new institutions and new systems.
This isn’t meant to be pessimistic, and it’s not meant to be “doom and gloom” either. It’s simply a realistic assessment of where I believe we’re headed… The great era of debt-based consumption and the impossibility of exponential growth is coming to an end. So too, is the great Keynesian experiment — the flawed idea that government can effectively act to increase demand when economies falter.
I’m actually quite optimistic that what comes next – after the “reset” – will be an extraordinarily productive and enlightening time. If I’m right, it will unleash humanity’s productive talents in ways we can only imagine.
Sustainability, self-reliance, self-resiliency, independence and resurgence in community and civic values will be the order of the day. Likewise, the power of central governments to tax, control, coerce, squander resources, thwart human ingenuity and demoralize human capital will be crippled.
We are simply passing from something akin to the changeover from the agricultural revolution to the industrial revolution, or from the industrial revolution to the information age. It’s occurring in a hyper-compressed time frame of course, because of the massive computational power and information capabilities that are available to us today over the Internet.
It’s the interim — the changeover if you will — that will prove most challenging. Things will likely get worse before they get better. Globally, governments will clamp down before they topple. Civil liberties will be further trampled before they are resurgent. Economies will sink before they resurface.
So, what to do about it? Next week, I will begin sharing with you six important steps I believe all families, in fact all individuals, should be taking today to become more resilient and self-reliant. The strategies are based on hedging your risk in the face of increasing economic and political uncertainty in a few important, but manageable ways. They are based on a simple concept: Hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and live life to the fullest in the meantime. In a nutshell they are:
1) Own precious metals
2) Plant multiple flags
3) Take control of your retirement funds
4) Establish food security
5) Open an offshore bank account
6) Build community
I really look forward to sharing these ideas with you, because I have great personal stories for each that I hope will show you how easy it is. Until then…
image courtesy of WilliamBanzai7