Back in January, when the COVID-19 pandemic was beginning to catch globe attention, Selco wrote an article stating, “It’s not the virus you need to worry about. It’s the system.”
Virus or illness on itself might not be a problem in its essence, but the impact that it brings to the system and people might be so huge through the media that it causes the system to stop working in the normal way. So you could find yourself in a collapse not necessarily because of a huge pandemic, but because of the reaction to it.
Another case might be the simple unwillingness from the system to admit how bad the situation is in order to stop the panic when folks realized the truth.
So, what might bring the system to collapse might be a real pandemic or a reaction to the pandemic (which might or might not be controllable) or simply the government’s poor or late response to the pandemic. (source)
As things were just beginning to unfold, the article took a lot of heat on social media, with people saying Selco didn’t understand how things would go because he is not American and doesn’t know how things work here. Whoops. I guess that’s rather embarrassing in retrospect.
Because here we are, seven months after Selco wrote his warning, and our system is indeed falling apart.
Our system is failing in many ways.
It’s indisputable that our system is now failing in numerous ways. Some of these things directly relate to the virus and the subsequent lockdown, while others are tied to the nonstop riots that have been going on in some areas for more than 100 days. The riots began after the death of George Floyd when a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck until he suffocated.
From the economy to the justice system to the infrastructure, our system is grinding to a halt in a variety of manners that stand to completely change the American way of life. Let’s take a look.
As predicted, our economy took a massive hit when government-mandated lockdowns closed the doors to many businesses. Despite billions of dollars in relief (much of which went to large businesses in an act of crony capitalism), the new economy has been nothing short of disastrous.
Millions of jobs are gone and are never coming back. Millions of small businesses have fallen. Corporate landlords aren’t getting paid rent and mom and pop landlords are being forced by the CDC (that’s right – the Center for Disease Control) to house people who can’t pay their rent, while still maintaining their mortgages.
Obviously, this trickles down to the average American who just wants to go to work and pay his or her bills. If you’ve lost your job, you are now in a heated competition for the few jobs remaining. The effect on the economy was “swift and severe” according to a paper published by the Brookings Institute. Now that the CARES Act financial assistance has run out, more and more families are being pushed into desperate levels of poverty. (If this is happening to you, please check out this article for essential advice on surviving this situation.)
But it goes even further than that – in a puzzling turn of events, our country is running out of coins. Many stores no longer give out change that is less than a dollar. You can choose to donate your change digitally to the charity of the store’s choice or get it back on a store loyalty card. Many people are concerned that this is a push toward a cashless society, something that would cause even more day to day financial problems for people who are already struggling. (And this is not as far-fetched as it might seem – it’s happened in Venezuela, too.)
And what about the folks who do have money? Well, spending it might be harder than it used to be.
Remember when the first hints of a looming lockdown occurred and store shelves across the country were emptied? And remember when all the shortages were blamed on those selfish hoarder preppers? And remember when they said if you would just buy for the next few days or for the week all the inventory would quickly be replenished because the supply chain was A-OK?
Yeah. I remember that too. And guess what?
Store shelves are still pretty spotty in many parts of the country. Some places still have limits on how much meat or toilet paper you can buy. If you go to your local Target, it’s difficult to find things like bedding and certain cleaning supplies.
Food plants continue to close due to outbreaks. Canned goods are still in high demand. (source) And what is affecting us even more is that we still aren’t getting the shipments from China that we used to receive. When all of this began, I posted a list of essentials that we were getting from China which might affect our supplies, and unsurprisingly, many of these items remain difficult to find.
When you can find supplies in your local stores, you may find that the selection of options is far more limited than before. This is pretty startling, but something that I noticed when I spent several months abroad was that most other countries don’t have chicken cut in 12 different ways or 47 different brands of laundry detergent. What feels like a “shortage” to us is somewhat normal elsewhere and this is something you can adapt to fairly well.
At the same time, limits on purchases make it incredibly difficult to stock up for the future, and you can also expect to see fewer and fewer choices in the months ahead unless something happens to change the situation dramatically.
One of the first casualties of the lockdown was the education system. Most schools simply gave up and didn’t continue the school year after the March lockdown. Colleges and universities turned to distance learning. Graduations were held virtually, if at all.
The new school year looks a lot different too. The schools that have reopened for in-person learning have stringent – and somewhat unsettling – social distancing policies. Many schools are only open for distance learning via Zoom or other online portals. (And don’t even get my started on the privacy issues this has unlocked – not to mention the overreaction of at least one school so shocked at the sight of a Nerf gun in a boy’s room that they called the cops and suspended him.)
Some schools reopened only to close again within a week when a new outbreak erupted. Huge outbreaks are occurring at universities as (big surprise) students party without a lot of regard for social distancing. Many colleges are fighting this by offering as many classes as possible in an online format. This is causing many families to question why they’re still paying the same exceptionally high prices for the education as they did when everyone spent time in the classroom, used campus facilities, and had the benefit of an active social life.
The postal service
The US Postal Service has been losing money hand over fist for years. After the COVID pandemic, it lost a whopping 2.2 billion dollars in the second quarter. In a recent Senate hearing, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy testified that they could not guarantee the ability to deliver mail-in ballots for the November election in a timely manner.
And it isn’t just the mail-in ballots that are a problem. There have recently been massive delays with the mail. These delays have led to mailed prescription drugs arriving late to patients who depend on them, thousands of dead baby chicks, and shipping delays that are causing unprecedented issues for small businesses that mail products to customers – and 70% of small businesses use the USPS regularly.
Many have blamed changes made by Postmaster General DeJoy, who donated to President Trump’s campaign, for the crisis.
The new leadership of the U.S. postal service has come under fire from lawmakers and advocates who worry that a slower mail system will affect the presidential election in November. But the impacts could disrupt everyday life for Americans in many other ways.
The U.S. postal service, which has suffered from financial troubles for years, has lost billions of dollars amid the coronavirus pandemic. But last month, new Postmaster General Louis DeJoy issued a number of orders aimed at cutting costs within the agency. Those changes include eliminating employees’ ability to log overtime and barring workers from making extra trips to deliver late-arriving mail. DeJoy’s changes have been blamed for reported widespread mail delays.
“Let me be clear about the reasons behind our restructuring and the need for our plan. Our financial condition is dire,” DeJoy said in a memo sent to USPS staff on Thursday, NBC reported. “Our critics are quick to point to our finances, yet they offer no solution.” (source)
Regardless of the specific cause, it appears a reliable postal service has been yet another systemic casualty. One recent video even came to light of massive bags of mail simply being dumped in a parking lot.
The legal and criminal justice system
After the death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, the country erupted. Protests were widespread. The organization Black Lives Matter reached peak popularity. The movement was quickly co-opted and groups like Antifa and the Occupy movement took over. Protests soon turned into violent riots that saw cities across the country turn into battle zones.
The unrest has lasted for more than three months and shows no signs of slowing down soon. Armed conflict has broken out in numerous cities. In fact, a demonstration promising to “lay siege” to the White House is planned for later this month through the election.
This goes hand in hand with calls to defund the police in many of the cities where the protests/riots are taking place. Massive budget cuts have already occurred in Minneapolis, New York City, San Francisco, Washington, DC, Los Angeles, Baltimore, Oakland, Portland, Philadelphia, Hartford, Salt Lake City, and Seattle, just to name a few cities. (source) It’s important to note that some of these cities have been the sites of extreme upticks in violence, looting, destruction, and arson.
And it isn’t just the criminal justice system breaking down. The court system in general has been on hiatus. Family court closures have halted divorce and custody hearings. Civil suits are at a standstill. Once the courts reopen, the massive backlog will mean even further delays.
The wheels have simply stopped turning.
The upcoming election is the next broken element of the system. This year hardly feels like an election year in the first place.
Many people are hesitant to vote in person due to the virus. The postal service has said they may not be able to get ballots to people on time. Big rallies are a thing of elections past. We have yet to see a presidential debate between the candidates. We probably won’t know who won on election night. In fact, it could be weeks before a winner is announced, and even then, it looks as though Biden and Trump are both intent on questioning the outcome if it isn’t in their favor.
In short, it’s going to be a huge bone of contention that is likely to escalate the violence discussed above for weeks, if not months. We could have the fifth contested presidential election in American history. (And I’d say that isn’t just a possibility, but a likelihood.)
If an already divided country can’t agree on who won the election, would that be the final nail in the coffin of our system?
What can we do?
A lot of these are “big circle” things that are out of our personal realm of control. We can’t do anything about imports from China, we can’t stop the riots in Seattle, we can’t fix the postal service.
But we can focus our energy on getting as prepared as possible for what promises to be a bumpy road ahead. And we must also stop focusing on a system that is broken to solve our problems. Selco wrote:
Do not forget one basic fact: you as a prepper/survivalist, at your core, most probably do not trust the system.
I am not saying you hate it, but you just do not trust it completely.
So, watch the news and announcements. Help if possible, obey if possible (and if it makes sense) but always keep in mind that the system at its core has a very basic obligation: to keep that system running. If that means the system has to lie to you or let’s say, bend the truth, it will do it, because to the system you are an individual, and the system is machinery that needs to run.
So, keep some common sense, and trust your gut instinct. (source)
Pieces of the system are tumbling over like one domino after another. Every stressor added is knocking out more of the system as time goes on.