Sunday, December 18, 2011

Are you ready for Doomsday?

One of the blogs I read this morning contained a link to this article in the Mail Online "Stocking up for Doomsday." The scenario it describes might seem to many of you a bit far-fetched but there are quite a few Americans who wouldn't think so. You don't have to look far to find web forums where people discuss survival plans. These people have guns to defend their families and their food and fuel store. They will use ham radios to communicate when the phones and internet are down.

This Doomsday picture doesn't seem so far-fetched to my wife Olga. Few people in the West even know about this as it received hardly any coverage in the media at the time but in 1992 after the collapse of the Soviet Union Ukraine went bankrupt. Ukrainians who had money in the bank lost it all (and most have still never been compensated for it.) Food disappeared from the shops - not that there was much to start with. People stood on station platforms and begged for food from trains travelling through to Moscow. For years Olga suffered from stomach problems as a legacy from that period when she almost starved. Yes, this happened in a developed country that is right next door to Europe.

The Ukraine government allocated plots of land so people could create kitchen gardens and grow their own food but these were usually a long way from where people lived and anything you did manage to grow got stolen. Olga and her mother avoided complete starvation only because her mother had food coupons as a war veteran which entitled her to obtain military rations.

It's easy to think "it couldn't happen here" but the number of economists who are starting to predict a complete economic collapse is enough to make you start wondering if that is just being complacent. Most of us older people who have savings for our retirement have already experienced anxiety about the security of those savings. We naively trust that the British government will honour its promises to guarantee the first £50,000 of individual savings held in British banks but how do we know it could afford to? And how long would it be before we received that compensation? We'd have starved long before, I'm sure of it.

And what about businesses, whose deposits are not guaranteed: businesses that we imagine would provide the food and services that we would need but which wouldn't have the money to keep trading? Panic buying will have long since emptied the shops of food. What would we do then? Make soup out of five pound notes?

Happy New Year? I wonder.

5 comments:

Paul PC4T said...

Sureness doesn’t exist in life. After the collapse of communism, now the capitalistic system will collapse. That is what’s happening now. We all were too greedy, and there seems to be no end to materialism. A united Europe is a utopia, and so is the euro. 2012 will be the showdown.

Jeff Davis said...

Julian,

My personal belief is that the whole deck of cards is about to topple and then who knows how the reset, if it ever appears, will redistribute things - though I quite imagine that the rich and the powerful will manage to cling to their station in life.

But even if humanity somehow manages to dodge a "long emergency" there are lots of scenarios that can test our ability to survive.

A week long power outage followed a massive ice storm here just seven years ago. It's amazing how unprepared we were with just a few dollars in hand. Though we only live minutes from a cash machine and bank, these were all inoperable without electricity.

The stores had no power and when they finally began to open using generators they would only accept cash as credit cards and checks couldn't be processed.

It was as though in just one moment we had been tossed back into another era and began instantly to see the many weaknesses and critical dependencies that we have built into our "normal" way of life.

Eat, drink and be merry because one way or another, we're probably doomed.

73 and Best Seasons Greetings to you and Olga!

Jeff, KE9v

Casey Bahr said...

Julian,

Sorry, but I see only a vague parallel to Ukraine's situation a couple of decades ago and that of the capitalistic West, except to say that, yes, bad things happen due to sudden changes of historic proportions. Russia has been turning the screws on Ukraine since forever (and they are doing it again) so it's no wonder that they were totally unprepared for the collapse of the FSU.

When Communism collapsed it had capitalism (of sorts) to replace it. If Capitalism collapses, what is in the wings to replace it?

Capitalism is not going away as long as the capitalists have the money/gold/whatever and they are doing a very good job of piling that up as never before. Collapse of the Euro, the Dollar, it's likely, IMHO, but you won't have a collapse of the system, the newly poorer countries will have government service scaled back to the point that we all live in banana republics (wait a minute, I already do!).

All this will not happen in one year, but will grind out for the next decade or so and beyond. Throw in a small nuclear war or two (from any of a dozen crackpot countries) just for good measure and our poor children will have quite the stories to tell their grandchildren if they survive.

Dave said...

Even if the UK government propmtly pays your 50,000 pounds, it is very likely that the money will be nearly worthless. If all the banks are collapsing, it is likely because their pound demoninated assets have lost their purchasing power, and thus the pound has also.

Julian Moss said...

> If Capitalism collapses, what is in the wings to replace it?

"Communist" China?