In Greek mythology, Cassandra was the daughter of King Priam and Queen Hecuba. Apollo thought her beautiful, so he granted her the gift of prophecy. But Cassandra annoyed the god by not returning his love, so Apollo put a curse on Cassandra that no one would believe her predictions.
Cassandra could see dire events in the future, but no one believed her warnings. A curse indeed.
Lately I’ve sympathized a lot with Cassandra.
Back in 1999, we took Y2K seriously. With an infant and a toddler depending on us, we didn’t want to take any chances. When Y2K fizzed, we received a modest amount of heckling from smug acquaintances who had snickered at our extensive preparations. “Don’t you feel dumb?” was the general sentiment.
“Of course not,” we replied. “We were prepared to be wrong. Were you?” What we meant by this was, if Y2K turned out to be nothing, then we had a whole bunch of useful stuff as well as a lot of knowledge that would remain long after the stuff was gone. Shrug.
But our skeptical friends were not prepared to be wrong. If Y2K had turned out to be a serious disruption in our society, they would be left with no power, no water, no food and (most importantly) no knowledge. They would be helpless and vulnerable.
Fast forward 10 years. Recently a neighbor reported hearing a serious, unfunny interview with actor/economist Ben Stein who predicted that all hell might break loose within about six months. I didn’t hear Stein’s interview so I can’t attest to its accuracy, but somehow it doesn’t surprise me. Frankly it rings a lot truer than Ben Bernanke’s soothing assurances that the recession is over.
As a mental exercise, I’ve often wondered what a prescient person could have done in 1928 to get ready for a decade-long depression. If you knew what lay ahead, what could you have done to make your personal circumstances less dire before the big stock market crash of 1929?
Well, good news. You can play this mental exercise today, because there is an excellent likelihood that something unpleasant may soon come to pass. It’s not just the economy that could collapse, but a whole lot more. So what are you doing to get ready?
There are creepy things afoot in the upper echelons of our government. I don’t pretend to understand all of it, but what I’m hearing frightens me. I’ve heard reputable, rational sources say there may shortly be a catastrophic “adjustment” to our economy and possibly even our Western civilization. Naturally these are merely predictions – foretelling the future – and unlike Cassandra, the accuracy of these claims cannot be read as gospel. On the other hand, I’m seeing enough unstable behavior in the economy and in politics that it scares me. (When I get scared about the economy, I can food. I’ve been canning a lot lately.)
I’ve heard rumors that a thousand banks could close. (Personally I think the FDIC is something of a joke.) The government is debating whether it should bail out failing newspapers, thus bringing the mainstream media even more under the control of the politburo. Our brainwashed school kids sing happy songs about Obama (really creepy). Hyperinflation is predicted in the near future, which would shoot everyone’s basic living expenses into the stratosphere at a time when unemployment is already high. Our country is staggering under massive, massive debt. The government cannot balance a checkbook, much less run a complicated health-care system with any hope of success. From friends who have returned from military service overseas, I’ve heard eerie hints about things that would cause national panic if the general public knew about them. Is it any wonder that some people go so far as to call the future “bleak”?
In other words, I think there are a lot of things we’re not being told. Doubtless some of the reasoning behind the secrecy is so we, the American public, won’t freak. A panicked public won’t predictably vote for incumbents, you see.
More worrisome is how the American people would react to an economic or societal upheaval. We have lost a huge amount of basic skills and knowledge. We’ve lost our ability to survive without modern comforts and conveniences. And we have long ago lost any sense of personal responsibility and prefer to ask the government to fix each little boo-boo. For every ant in this country, there are too many grasshoppers, blithely hopping along and unable to grasp the implications of an interruption in their comfortable lives. It’s unknown how these people would behave should something happen to their money, their food supply, their jobs, their homes … but it’s not likely to be pretty. (Think Katrina.)
So what does all this mean? Are horrible things going to happen to our economy and our society? I think so. Maybe not in six months, maybe not in two years, but eventually. I want to be ready for them.
While there have always been segments of our society who believe in TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It), that sentiment is spreading to a lot of ordinary Joe Sixpacks. After watching the action of terrorists and foreign governments, compounded by our own government’s actions and out-of-control spending, lots of people are getting scared.
The best way to mitigate fear is action – not only civil action but personal action. Buy guns (learn to use them) and lots of ammo. Store food. Secure a source of water. Go to church. Think about the safety of your family. Strengthen ties in your community. There are a myriad of resources online to suggest ways to improve your safety in times of chaos. Remember, knowledge is key.
If the bleep hits the fan, bad things may still happen to you even if you’re prepared. But if you’re not prepared, those bad things can be magnified beyond your imagination.
Unlike Cassandra, I could be entirely wrong about what the future may bring. But hey, I’m prepared to be wrong.