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The Inevitable Societal Collapse of the USA and How to Prepare and Cope
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Dullenplain
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Old Feb 16, 2009, 11:42 PM Local time: Feb 16, 2009, 10:42 PM #1 of 15
The Inevitable Societal Collapse of the USA and How to Prepare and Cope

Just a few days ago, Dmitri Olrov, author of Reinventing Collapse, a book describing and offering suggestions on downgearing American society to pre-20th century proto-anarchic conditions in the eventual and devastating effects of Peak Oil, has given a rather lengthy talk offering his view on the current stimulus plan, his idea that it is just stemming the inevitable, and offering a vision on how Americans could cope with the prospects of life after, but not transcending, petroleum.

Here is the full transcription of his talk.

And here are some excerpts, since the entire thing would probably be tl;dr for one post:

Quote:
. . . If there is one thing that I would like to claim as my own, it is the comparative theory of superpower collapse. For now, it remains just a theory, although it is currently being quite thoroughly tested. The theory states that the United States and the Soviet Union will have collapsed for the same reasons, namely: a severe and chronic shortfall in the production of crude oil (that magic addictive elixir of industrial economies), a severe and worsening foreign trade deficit, a runaway military budget, and ballooning foreign debt. I call this particular list of ingredients "The Superpower Collapse Soup." Other factors, such as the inability to provide an acceptable quality of life for its citizens, or a systemically corrupt political system incapable of reform, are certainly not helpful, but they do not automatically lead to collapse, because they do not put the country on a collision course with reality. Please don't be too concerned, though, because, as I mentioned, this is just a theory. My theory.

I've been working on this theory since about 1995, when it occurred to me that the US is retracing the same trajectory as the USSR. As so often is the case, having this realization was largely a matter of being in the right place at the right time. The two most important methods of solving problems are: 1. by knowing the solution ahead of time, and 2. by guessing it correctly. I learned this in engineering school – from a certain professor. I am not that good at guesswork, but I do sometimes know the answer ahead of time . . .

. . . But this talk is about something else, something other than making dire predictions and then acting all smug when they come true. You see, there is nothing more useless than predictions, once they have come true. It’s like looking at last year’s amazingly successful stock picks: what are you going to do about them this year? What we need are examples of things that have been shown to work in the strange, unfamiliar, post-collapse environment that we are all likely to have to confront. Stuart Brand proposed the title for the talk – “Social Collapse Best Practices” – and I thought that it was an excellent idea. Although the term “best practices” has been diluted over time to sometimes mean little more than “good ideas,” initially it stood for the process of abstracting useful techniques from examples of what has worked in the past and applying them to new situations, in order to control risk and to increase the chances of securing a positive outcome. It’s a way of skipping a lot of trial and error and deliberation and experimentation, and to just go with what works . . .

. . . But let’s take it apart. Starting from the very general, what are the current macroeconomic objectives, if you listen to the hot air coming out of Washington at the moment? First: growth, of course! Getting the economy going. We learned nothing from the last huge spike in commodity prices, so let’s just try it again. That calls for economic stimulus, a.k.a. printing money. Let’s see how high the prices go up this time. Maybe this time around we will achieve hyperinflation. Second: Stabilizing financial institutions: getting banks lending – that’s important too. You see, we are just not in enough debt yet, that’s our problem. We need more debt, and quickly! Third: jobs! We need to create jobs. Low-wage jobs, of course, to replace all the high-wage manufacturing jobs we’ve been shedding for decades now, and replacing them with low-wage service sector jobs, mainly ones without any job security or benefits. Right now, a lot of people could slow down the rate at which they are sinking further into debt if they quit their jobs. That is, their job is a net loss for them as individuals as well as for the economy as a whole. But, of course, we need much more of that, and quickly! . . .

. . . Food. Shelter. Transportation. Security. When it comes to supplying these survival necessities, the Soviet example offers many valuable lessons. As I already mentioned, in a collapse many economic negatives become positives, and vice versa. Let us consider each one of these in turn . . .
Various things can be discussed on this alone, whether it is the validity of using the Soviet example as a model for how the United States may collapse, the degree to which you think society will downgrade to better maintain a modicum of exitence, or even if society will able to cope at all in the way Orlov imagines it will have to.

Or you can just call him a doomssayer crank, which may or may not be within forum guidelines.

Jam it back in, in the dark.

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Old Feb 17, 2009, 03:14 PM Local time: Feb 17, 2009, 02:14 PM #2 of 15
In my personal opinion he's totally right. I'm not sure that the collapse of the united states in inevitable though. In a perfect world the conservative media misdirection complex wouldn't have detracted the attention of the people away from these issues when they were on the horizon. What it boils down to, in my mind, is that people need to realize that the age of conservatism is over, and people need to start moving money back into the system to keep it lubricated, to put it simply.

I say this as a staunch liberally minded person, and am willing to admit my bias, but the conservative media has done such a good job of keeping the minds of many Americans from actually thinking about politics, and focusing on the sensationalized vision of the people who appear to have the power to change the social status quo. Fox News has done such a fantastic job of convincing people that if the Democrats legalize gay marriage it's going to make it mandatory, and all of a sudden you won't be able to look left or right without seeing a gay couple. So these people fight tooth and nail to get Bush and the neo-cons elected, then re-elected. The only way to get out of this cycle is witness a collapse like we see right now, manage to squeak a democrat into the white house, only to have the media try to pull another Clinton on us.

If there's one thing we need to get rid of, it's the status quo in the states. So many of the problems listed above in the speech could be solved. Increase standard of living by providing socialized health care to those who need it is just one example.

Of course, the driving force behind anything is money. Conservatism guarantees lots of money to a few people, those people will be given power, and a status quo is set in stone. What i'm asking is for the upper 1% of the population is to allow some of their immense wealth to flow back into the system, and when the wealth is distributed, it will keep moving. I know this will never happen, but it bears discussion.

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Old Feb 17, 2009, 06:01 PM Local time: Feb 17, 2009, 05:01 PM #3 of 15
You've missed the essence of what Orlov is explaining, in that, in the face of rapidly diminishing resources, the biggest issue would not be whether the government would provide the basic benefits in a first world society or how upheld universal rights are, but rather can the population even survive and how would they survive when they find that the energy infrastructure that a first world society, government, and economy is built and run on for the past 50 or so years is no longer sustainable, with the alternatives too costly and energy intensive to establish in time to create a relatively stable transition.

It is not so much whether one will be able to afford medical care without draining your funds, but whether one will be able to not starve when the cultivation and distribution systems have broken down. Is it important that gays have the right to the benefits of marriage or the community is able to protect their assets in light of opportunistic latter-day warlords?

What Orlov "warns" of is that the current issues that we're trying to correct would end up being a costly error that would serve to hasten our descent into collapse a vulnerable and unprepared society.

This thing is sticky, and I don't like it. I don't appreciate it.

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Old Feb 17, 2009, 07:18 PM Local time: Feb 17, 2009, 05:18 PM #4 of 15
Quote:
replace all the high-wage manufacturing jobs we’ve been shedding for decades
Aren't most of these high-wage manufacturing jobs actually low skill manufacturing jobs that had their wages artificially increased via unions and other collective bargaining organizations? I mean, I'm against exporting all of our production, but it's hardly because I think laying off overpaid mill workers is bad.

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Old Feb 17, 2009, 07:28 PM 1 #5 of 15
Is it important that gays have the right to the benefits of marriage or the community is able to protect their assets in light of opportunistic latter-day warlords?
I want to call this a false dilemma, but this would be a massive understatement.

I was speaking idiomatically.
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Old Feb 18, 2009, 01:03 AM Local time: Feb 18, 2009, 12:03 AM #6 of 15
What Orlov "warns" of is that the current issues that we're trying to correct would end up being a costly error that would serve to hasten our descent into collapse a vulnerable and unprepared society.
I guess i didn't make my point clear (and i realize in full that i didn't. I kind of lost myself in my train of thought). I kind of disagree, and though money is a cancer on human nature, it can be put to positive use. I'm a believer that wind power, hydro power (by way of dams, wave, and tide generators), and solar power and any resulting mix of the three could provide an alternative to the petroleum addiction we've found ourselves in. We've already proven that we can build and manufacture efficient and practical electric cars. GM showed us this with the EV1. Other auto makers followed. They all jumped ship for many reasons that aren't widely known, but i say it's cause money was still in fossil fuels.

Our first world infrastructure isn't doomed to die, suburbia, yes, is probably doomed to fail, but even roofing houses with solar panels to ease the intake of power to the home is a step in the right direction, allowing us to get a leg up on abandoning our dependence on oil.

What kind of toxic man-thing is happening now?

Last edited by Helloween; Feb 18, 2009 at 01:14 PM. Reason: Late night and spelling don't go hand in hand
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Old Feb 18, 2009, 03:41 AM Local time: Feb 18, 2009, 02:41 AM #7 of 15
If it hasn't been apparent by now, I should state that I do not subscribe to Orlov's perspective on the future, I simply use his views as springboards towards whatever points are being discussed.

Like Helloween, I do have faith in the idea that the tools we have now will continue to improve the lot of our lives, maintaining the flow of progress, at whatever speed it takes. However, being employed in the petroleum and natural gas industry, I have a more tempered view towards the eventual transition from fossil fuels to cleaner energy, in that I view the current use of fossil fuels as more a waste of resources that would be better put towards other uses than producing energy (whether for electricty or transport), as opposed to something more ominous as the addiction label would make it to be. While current developments in green tech have shown vast improvement and potential in becoming a significant component to our energy, scaling it upwards may take more time, so one possible path is to look into nuclear energy, which also has been progressing in development towards safer and more efficient methods.

On the other subject, I personally do not see the urban/suburban relationship future as an either/or, since I am probably one of the few post-college youth who finds suburban living more to their liking than denser landscapes. The biggest problem that may well be on its way to be solved without much action is the further expansion away from community centers that lead to the explosion of suburbia in the previous decades. Now that the housing collapse and economic downtown has more than guaranteed new expansion would be untenable, the next step would be to begin constructing the social communities and centers of society in existing suburban developments, creating township-like entities that would ease the burdens of a central metropolitan center. Thus, as hinted by Helloween with the rooftop solar panels, there would probably be the need to massively retrofit existing infrastructure to adapt to future needs, therefore ensuring greater communitarian development without the mass exodus that Orlov suggest would happen.

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Old Feb 18, 2009, 04:06 AM #8 of 15
They all jumped ship for many reasons that aren't widely known, but i say it's cause money was still in fossil fuels.
Anyone who is even remotely interested in energy storage and usage can easily point to the following chart as that reason "[not] widely known." (apologies for the transparency. I can't be arsed to fix that.)


Our most effective, mass-producible artificial energy storage method to date (EEStor's low-leakage capacitor system) has ~1/15 the energy output by weight as diesel in the most efficient diesel engines (%70 energy lost to heat, and assuming perfect electric motors).
That essentially means that you can travel 15 times as far on one pound of diesel fuel than you can with all the energy contained on a one pound capacitor.

The answer to The Mystery of The Electric Car need not require these guys:



As for the subject at hand, it seems to me that Olrov's predictions are rather schizophrenic. The crux of his argument is that fossil fuels dry up and become an unfeasible source of energy for our society. Assuming we give that to him, he suggests that there will be a mass migration of people out to rural locales so that families can remain self-sustainable. He then proceeds to make the argument for a mass migration of people from the suburbs to urban centers.

Also Dull, Liberal thinkers have been waging war on the suburbs for a long time now. Revolutionary Road is just one of a long list of petty, fairy tale anti-suburban diatribes for the purposes of generating artificial opponents to rage against. Olrov doesn't impress me with his eager incorporation of this.

As a whole, I find his predictions to be needlessly dire, and entirely dependent upon a number of erroneous assumptions, particularly about the rigidity of Western society.

Thankfully we have a rather free press that enables us to be aware of the world around us, and empowers us to adapt to the constant changes in the world, economically speaking. American society has been very capable in gauging these sorts of trends and riding with them, if not on top of them.
The same could not be said for the pre-fall Soviet Union. For the greater part of a half century, the USSR allowed nothing but state controlled propaganda and news, which left its citizens mostly in the dark as to the condition of their economy and government. When Gorbachev instituted glasnost, the press wrested itself from state control. The revelations that resulted from this openness destroyed the confidence the people had in their state and controlling party. I suspect the Russian people were left rather disoriented after this.
It certainly did not help that the Soviet economy was developed to centrally control the distribution of goods and services. Gorbachev attempted to counter the Soviet economy's lack of adaptability by decentralizing it, but it was too little too late, and just gave an inroad for the satellite states to avoid paying taxes to Russia.

By contrast, the generation of value and the distribution of goods and services are intrinsically intertwined in the American system. That system is also not as dependent on the purse-strings of the American government as the USSR was.

Finally, if I am interpreting him correctly, Olrov's predictions assume that American society will live in denial and strive to maintain the current status quo until that indeterminate point in the future when it will become completely untenable, and society as we know it will disintegrate. This is just silly in a nation where we have a press that is more than eager to dish out day-to-day dire predictions. Already there are many companies picking up on the predicted changes in the world and are developing more "sustainable" means of living, ranging from power-sipping consumer electronics, to modular energy efficient homes, to even hydroponic skyscrapers. Not to mention the drastic uptick in solar panel sales and waste-energy harvesting methods such as electricity-generating automotive shock absorbers or vibrational generators.
The similarities that Olrov loves to draw between the American system as it is now, and the pre-collapse USSR I feel are shallow at best, and misleading at worst.

There may very well be a significant change in global economies in the coming decades, but I doubt the change will be nigh-apocalyptic, forcing us all into small agrarian tribes.

I sure hope my history is accurate

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Old Feb 18, 2009, 06:04 AM Local time: Feb 18, 2009, 12:04 PM 3 #9 of 15
Thankfully we have a rather free press that enables us to be aware of the world around us, and empowers us to adapt to the constant changes in the world, economically speaking. American society has been very capable in gauging these sorts of trends and riding with them, if not on top of them.
Hahahahahaha, that's a good one. America's press is some of the most politically motivated and controlled in the world. American society takes an age to adapt to anything, primarily because yours is such a vast and diverse country that getting everyone to agree on anything is damn near impossible and people naturally fear change, especially people who live in insular communities and believe everything they see on tv.

Quote:
By contrast, the generation of value and the distribution of goods and services are intrinsically intertwined in the American system. That system is also not as dependent on the purse-strings of the American government as the USSR was.
Whilst this might be true internally, America is not big on free trade globally. If the prtectionist trade policies your central government has had in place for so long were removed, following the collapse of central government for example, your producers might well struggle to survive once they were exposed to the commercial realities of global markets.

Quote:
Finally, if I am interpreting him correctly, Olrov's predictions assume that American society will live in denial and strive to maintain the current status quo until that indeterminate point in the future when it will become completely untenable, and society as we know it will disintegrate. This is just silly in a nation where we have a press that is more than eager to dish out day-to-day dire predictions. Already there are many companies picking up on the predicted changes in the world and are developing more "sustainable" means of living, ranging from power-sipping consumer electronics, to modular energy efficient homes, to even hydroponic skyscrapers. Not to mention the drastic uptick in solar panel sales and waste-energy harvesting methods such as electricity-generating automotive shock absorbers or vibrational generators.
The similarities that Olrov loves to draw between the American system as it is now, and the pre-collapse USSR I feel are shallow at best, and misleading at worst.
Again, this is pretty much nonsense. In America the personal use of resources far outstrips pretty much every other country on the planet and you're hugely resistant to any efforts to curtail this. Consumerism is the driving force behind the economy and the thought of people giving up their cheap goods or accepting a cut back in lifestyle is laughable.

I think America would deal very badly with a catastrophic collapse. That you're willing to spend billions on securing middle eastern oil reserves but won't sign up to global initiatives to reduce emissions because it would cost your businesses too much is a pretty strong indicator of the general mentality. I don't think the comparrison with the last days of the USSR is too far off the mark really although your slightly more cordial international relations might soften any potential blows slightly and you don't have quite the same risk of chunks of the Union splitting off at the first sign of central government weakness.

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Old Feb 19, 2009, 02:18 AM #10 of 15
...and you don't have quite the same risk of chunks of the Union splitting off at the first sign of central government weakness.
The South might try to succeed again. Well, not the whole South. Just localized groups of idiots.

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Old Feb 19, 2009, 03:35 AM #11 of 15
The South might try to succeed again. Well, not the whole South. Just localized groups of idiots.
Actually, the only state that has even the remotest chance of seceding from the union would be New Hampshire, what with the Free State Project established there.

The south has a much greater sense of ownership over the the Union than they did in the Civil War era, and are as likely to secede from the U.S. now as California was under Bush.


As for the limey, I would strongly suggest it be a point not to build your position on flimsy stereotypes.

Markets are already anticipating the "game changers." From my point of view as an electronics engineer, I have noticed an almost seismic shift in the direction that the industry has taken in the last 5-10 years. Manufacturers and suppliers have been anticipating huge changes in the cost of raw materials and energy, and are feverishly developing methods to compensate for these changes. I think it is fairly safe to say that the electronics industry isn't an isolated incident of such foresight.

American consumers are "resistant to change" only to the extent that they can afford to do so. When the game changes, the behaviors will follow suit, though most likely with some bitching. But I would hardly call that the makings of a national destabilization.

And your last point is just absurd. I can't imagine any nation or society would deal with a "catastrophic collapse" well, seeing as how it would be cata-fucking-strophic.

This thing is sticky, and I don't like it. I don't appreciate it.

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Old Feb 19, 2009, 05:56 AM Local time: Feb 19, 2009, 11:56 AM #12 of 15
And your last point is just absurd. I can't imagine any nation or society would deal with a "catastrophic collapse" well, seeing as how it would be cata-fucking-strophic.
Not really. Germany dealt pretty well with their economy collapsing under hyper-inflation in the '30s and that was catastrophic. Japan bounced back ok after having two major cities wiped off the planet in WW2 which some would probably describe as a catastrophy. Possibly I was using slightly over the top language but that doesn't make my point any less valid. Look at New Orleans for example. A city built below sea level in a region prone to storms gets hit by a storm then floods and people start raping and murdering each other. What's going to happen when one of the big cities built on a fault line gets hit by a big earthquake? Everyone's going to calmly leave, roll with the changes and carry on elsewhere? Of course not, it'll look like a warzone and given the proliferation of firearms, will possibly become an actual warzone. The kind of localised chaos caused by what cannot be callled anything other than a catastrophic event in a single city, magnified up to a national level in the event of a proper economic collapse and failure of government represents, I would say, the end of your country as you know it.

Now I'm not suggesting that a similar event in any other major city wouldn't result in a similar situation. Should the Thames barrier fail and London get flooded, I'm sure it would be chaotic for a while and given our country's terrible infrastructure for these kinds of things, it'd take years to get over it but I honestly believe you'd see more of people helping each other out than you would of people shooting each other to defend the sodden patch of earth they used to call a house and at the end of it all, there would still be an infrastructure and everything woudl eventually get back to normal.

Obviously I don't know all the ins and outs of every facet of American life and business or whatever, I can only comment on what I know from news reports and opinion (Which I get from a rather less devisive source than you I'd wager) and when you see how much people were bitching when the price of petrol went up a bit last year, I can only imagine what would happen if the petrol just stopped.

And we've actually had that situation here a few years ago when the fuel depots were all blockaded. Sure it was annoying but life pretty much carried on. People just didn't drive, they got on trains or worked from home and there were certainly no fights at petrol stations or any of that nonsense.

I just really think you're over-estimating the ability of the majority of Americans to adapt to even the slightest change, let alone something as fundamental as a life without oil.

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Old Feb 19, 2009, 12:41 PM Local time: Feb 19, 2009, 12:41 PM #13 of 15
You obviously don't know much about America or any of the number of disasters we've had to endure and somehow not result in national chaos. I'd almost say your broadcasting of mass riots and secession from an earthquake is a part of some sick wish fulfillment.

America will be the country worst hit by oil shortages because our infrastructure has been designed around there being cheap oil forever, not because we lack any sense of community or any of that greater good claptrap you limeys act like you believe in.

I was speaking idiomatically.
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Old Feb 20, 2009, 05:34 AM Local time: Feb 20, 2009, 03:34 AM #14 of 15
Since that last post on the subject of Peak Oil the price of oil has crashed. (Weeeeee! This investing stuff is easy!) Major projects for future supply have been shut down because they're not financially viable. Which means this oil left in the ground will push the Hubbert curve back a few years or decades. Postponing the unavoidable crash of society and popularity of cannibalism. Then there's the whole worldwide economic crisis that's bound to reduce demand.... Oh, and about the American consumer... the fearful/poor/bankrupt/homeless/debt-serf American consumer. Anybody think the next generation will want to emulate that? HAHA!

A major gap in Orlov's thinking is his belief that politics will not accomplish anything. I don't blame him for having that opinion considering he's a product of the failed Soviet system, but to ignore the contributions that Putin had in the revival of Russian fortunes is foolish. Orlov mentions Putin once or twice in his book. Unless I'm missing something he didn't even get an honorable mention in the presentation. Okay we get it. The people who make's such epic failures probably won't clean them up. That doesn't mean the void left behind will not be filled. Whenever the old economic system and government fails, a new system of power rises to replace it. Anybody that can organize the masses behind them (such as Putin did), and provide for the general welfare will wield immense power. It could turn out unbelievably bad (Like Hitler bad!) or it could turn out to be less of a disaster. Like the transformation American went through during the Articles of Confederation > Constitution phase. The country defaulting on it's debt, an economic depression, hyperinflation, open rebellion, sympathy for the French. The country went to shit I tell ya! One thing is for sure; envisioning a dystopian (or utopian) future lacks any sort of originality unless it involves zombies or aliens. I only say that because I am fully prepared for the inevitable zombie apocalypse. I have nothing to be worried about with all my hard training!

Industrial civilization has a lot more inertia then most of these activists realize. With the available supply of natural resources dwindling the old Luddite way of production (domestic industry) married to a household economy could be a distinct possibility. Even a desirable one. Without any sort of subsidies including the benefits provided by cheap energy that nourishes centralized industrial production a reversion to smaller scale decentralized production is plausible. Simply because small scale production is more economically (and environmentally) efficient. Particularly when the cost constricts availability of centralized mass produced goods. The majority of American oil consumption is transportation, so the death of the car culture would be a good start at kicking oil consumption down a few million barrels a day. These old Luddite ideas masquerade as new ideas such as "re/localization" nowadays. Which means there's heaps of irony as well as potential to be found in the "failed" ideas of the past.

I haven't even gotten to how the Amish live while being cut off from the outside world. Contrary to popular belief they live with a surprising amount of modern technology. Oh well, the end is nay! Repent sinner for ye shall likely perish.

Not really. Germany dealt pretty well with their economy collapsing under hyper-inflation in the '30s and that was catastrophic.
Hahaha! Are you serious?! Looting and then "holocausting" a prosperous minority and starting a World War is really coping "pretty well"? If everybody follows the Nazi economic recovery plan I need to start digging a fallout shelter.

The kind of localised chaos caused by what cannot be callled anything other than a catastrophic event in a single city, magnified up to a national level in the event of a proper economic collapse and failure of government represents, I would say, the end of your country as you know it.
Oh, stop. Now you're just embarassing yourself. When cities went bankrupt during the '60's/'70's/'80's stagflation police and other emergency services were absent in areas of daily American life. Sure there was some riots, fires, and looting, but not every neighborhood burned down. Watts did. Though America didn't lose New York City or any other municipal/state government to secession.

Now I know what my grandparents meant when they said. "Oh you kids, you watch too much television!".

Have a nice holocaust.

What kind of toxic man-thing is happening now?
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Old Feb 21, 2009, 12:46 PM #15 of 15
Originally Posted by Shin
And we've actually had that situation here a few years ago when the fuel depots were all blockaded. Sure it was annoying but life pretty much carried on. People just didn't drive, they got on trains or worked from home and there were certainly no fights at petrol stations or any of that nonsense.

I just really think you're over-estimating the ability of the majority of Americans to adapt to even the slightest change, let alone something as fundamental as a life without oil.
Blockaded petrol stations may not be any big deal in England, but hold a football match and watch the injured count rise. I think you're over-estimating the ability of people in general to adapt to sudden change. Yes, the things that set them off vary between nations, but that doesn't change the universal truth that most people are easily panicked idiots in the right circumstances.

I realize it's fun to toss around the typical American stereotypes, but that doesn't make them valid predictors of how things would go in an actual emergency. People did complain a lot about the rising price of gas, but they also slowly adapted at the same time. They drove less, found the cheapest places to get it, and some were persuaded to sell the massive tanks they drove. It was the media making it seem like nothing was changing, with their "experts" claiming that you'd save money by continuing to drive your SUV since trade-in values were so low (god I wanted to punch that woman). There was a period of 2-3 days here when maybe one or two gas stations in the whole city had any fuel at the same time. No riots or fights broke out. The lines were surprisingly orderly and fast, people shared information and set up websites tracking where gas could be found, and businesses and schools were lenient about people being late or absent.

Originally Posted by Shin
Look at New Orleans for example. A city built below sea level in a region prone to storms gets hit by a storm then floods and people start raping and murdering each other.
To be fair, as far as I know New Orleans was a pretty awful place before the hurricane hit too. Despite their delicious gumbos and gaudy beads, you'd never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. Seriously though, you're confusing the government's response with the peoples' response. If you cram thousands of people together into one building, including those who were already rapists and murderers, with little relief in sight there are going to be rapes and murders. That's not a surprise.

What you should be focusing on are the many volunteer groups that aided in cleaning up New Orleans afterwards (groups of college kids alone probably did more work than the feds in that regard), and the communities across the country who offered shelter and jobs to relocated survivors. You're talking about the peoples' reactions to disasters, but you're focusing on the governments' reaction and the media's portrayals.

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