This prepping and survival blog post is just a quick overview of ongoing problems that might turn into some type of short- or long-term disaster. Sometimes a disaster occurs with little warning, like Superstorm Sandy, or no real warning, like an earthquake. But other times, a disasters is many months (or years?) in the making. I would put economic, agricultural, and perhaps some socio-political problems in that latter category. Keeping an eye on these issues would be prudent.
Yes, the U.S. went over the Fiscal Cliff as of today (01/01/2013). But that event is relatively minor. Congress is close to a deal, and they can make the new law retroactive, as if we never went over the Cliff. However, the budget deficit will not be solved by any such deal. Congress will continue to spend more than it takes in, for the foreseeable future. See: The Looming Fiscal Cliff: how bad is it?
Then there is the debt ceiling, which needs to be raised by a new act of Congress, or the U.S. could, theoretically, end up defaulting on its debts. Congress is almost certain to raise the debt ceiling soon, but this does not really solve the problem. Setting a debt ceiling, and then continually raising it, is essentially futile. It does nothing to stop the rampant increase in the national debt.
Oh, and we also went over the Dairy Cliff today. See Is The “Dairy Cliff” Real? One law expired and it was not replaced by a new law. So, theoretically, the USDA is now obliged to buy vast quantities of milk, in order deliberately to raise the price. But again, a bill to fix the issue is in the works and may be passed soon.
So we have three discrete economic events, and each would be a significant economic disaster in its own right, if a fix from Congress were not imminent. Now I’m not suggesting that Congress will fail to fix those three issues. What I am saying is that each problem is a symptom of much deeper economic disorder in our nation. The fixes are all relatively superficial. The underlying causes remain unaddressed.
So, in 2013, we need to keep an eye on these economic problems: national debt, federal over-spending, and the misguided regulation of businesses (especially agricultural ones).
I think the vast majority of Americans do not realize how bad the drought situation is, especially in the Midwest, Oklahoma, Texas and Georgia. Most of the States with high agricultural production have been under a drought for many months now. The drought began in 2011, mostly in Texas and its neighboring States. Then in July of 2012, the drought lessened in those states, but intensified in the Midwest States. Currently, the drought is severe in both areas. See: Update on the Drought and Corn Yields and Why the impending Bacon Shortage matters.
The summer of 2012 drought devastated the U.S. corn crop. Yields plummeted and commodity prices skyrocketed. See this USDA ERS Corn Backgrounder. Costs for livestock feed shot up, and, as a result, many producers culled their herds. The result is the current low stocks of domesticated livestock, and impending high prices for meat and poultry. High prices for a wide range of foods are expected to hit consumers sometime in 2013: USDA: Drought 2012 Farm and Food Impacts.
Keep an eye on the U.S. Drought Monitor in 2013. If the drought continues in spring and summer, price increases will be greater. And there may even be shortages or disruptions in supply and distribution for some foods. So prepping a supply of stored food as well as some way to grow food is particularly important at this juncture.
A local short-term civil upheaval is possible in almost any year, especially in a city setting. But there are a few reasons why 2013 might see a significant outbreak of civil unrest. First, economic problems often lead to unrest. There have been protests that turned violent in Europe in recent years, especially in reaction to economic problems. The introduction of “austerity measures” to deal with economic problems that are spiraling out of control by France, Greece, and other nations has been followed by widespread protests and unrest.
And don’t think that the same type of problem cannot occur on this side of the Atlantic. Congress has been unable (which I think just means unwilling) to cut spending and increase revenue in order to address the budget deficit and the national debt. Eventually, harsher measures, much like European-style austerity measures, will be necessary. And people will not be happy. Not at all.
If the drought continues, it will lead to high food prices and disruption in food distribution. Protests and civil unrest could result. The combination of economic and food problems would make civil unrest all the more likely.
Another possible trigger for civil unrest is the impending gun control legislation. As far as we now know, the Feinstein bill is much harsher than the Clinton error legislation. It might outlaw hundreds of different models of guns (supposedly 900 models) as well as all hi-cap magazines. There has even been a report that the law might require NFA-type registration of all grandfathered guns — or else you would have to turn them in.
As for myself, I will non-cheerfully comply with whatever the new gun control law says. But I know that some gun owners consider their guns to be important to their freedom and survival. If the new law is too restrictive, I am reasonably certain that peaceful protests will sweep the nation. The chance that some of those protests might become chaotic and disruptive is real. Of course, I expect the reaction of the vast majority gun owners to be reasonable and within legal limits. But the danger of an over-reaction, to a law that is itself an over-reaction, is not out of the realm of possibility.