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I don’t care what it is that you might be preparing for, there comes a time when it’s time to stop preparing and start doing. It’s too late to prepare. When the guests arrive, it’s time to stop preparing for the party.
That’s true even if you aren’t prepared. I’ll guarantee you that pretty much every prepper feels unprepared, when the time comes that they actually face a disaster. Oh, they’ll feel like they’ve done some preparing; but they don’t really feel prepared. It’s all too easy to focus on what isn’t done, forgetting about everything that is.
One of the problems we all face, is understanding the transition point between prepping and surviving. We can all recognize what prepping is, just as we can recognize times when we have to survive. What we don’t easily recognize is when the transition point is.
This became extremely obvious in 2020, when preppers were wondering if they should treat the pandemic as a pandemic, using their survival stockpile, even though they had prepared for a pandemic. Other disasters in that same year hit us in a similar way, sliding into our lives, without announcing themselves in a way as to make it obvious that we were living through a disaster.
Having seen this happen more than once, we should all take a fresh look at our disaster plans, specifically at the part which talks about how we determine that we’re in a time of disaster. Now that we know that there isn’t a clear line of debarkation between “normal times” and “disaster times,” we need a new set of criteria to be watching out for, so that we will know when to shift gears from prepping mode to survival mode.
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Legacy News Harping on a Story
Leving politics aside, which is the mainstay of the legacy news media, when they start harping on a story, you can count on problems. Not that the story itself is necessarily true; but the fact that they are harping on it will make the general population take it seriously, especially those who depend on the legacy news to inform them.
Such reporting can easily create a self-fulfilling prophecy. This is especially true when it comes to things like shortages or problems dealing with things we all need. If they keep talking about gas shortages, for example, you can expect to see your corner station run out of gas.
Keep in mind that these sorts of problems are artificial. As such, they won’t last. We might go through a couple of weeks where there’s a problem getting something we need; but after that it will be back in stock. What that means is that we can use our stockpile with confidence, knowing that we’ll be able to restock it in a few weeks. Just don’t forget to restock it.
Stores Start Emptying Out
The first serious sign of the COVID-19 pandemic was the great toilet paper shortage of 2020. It still seems odd that there would have been a run on toilet paper, due to what turned out to be a respiratory disease. I get the idea of Kleenex running low, but toilet paper?
We can learn a lot about how people react to shortages from that experience. All this time we’ve been expecting a run on the stores, to the point of people breaking the window glass and looting whatever they could get, more along the style of a riot.
But in reality, it took about a week for the stores to empty out. That’s probably because it was a slow panic, rather than an immediate one, since it took some time for people to realize that we were entering a time of crisis. That’s a whole lot different than a hurricane hitting suddenly.
The thing we need to realize here, is that when we see stores start to empty out, it’s time to do our own last-minute stockpiling. That may not be necessary, if you’ve been stockpiling for some time; but if you’re relatively new to prepping, you always need more.
A Run on Anything in the Stores
Building upon that last item, we shouldn’t be waiting for a general clearing out of the stores to recognize that there’s a problem. While the grocery stores were pretty bare after a couple of weeks, it started out with only a few items: toilet paper, alcohol, hand sanitizer, masks, and cleaning supplies (especially bleach).
Based on that, I’d say that anytime we see a run on any small list of items, like that, we should expect it to be followed by a general run on the stores. People panic easily and we’ve seen how they react to that panic.
Another key supply-side issue we saw, early on, was rationing. It wasn’t government rationing however, it was the stores themselves who were doing the rationing. Stores are able to react to shortages much faster than the government does, as the government has to study the situation thoroughly, before taking action. They’re further from the source, so they don’t have their finger on the pulse of the marketplace.
With the ongoing shortages that we’ve seen, I would say that if you see anything being rationed at the store, which you use, buy as much as you can. Make trips back, with each member of your family buying the limit. Get it while you can, because if the stores are rationing it, they’re thinking they won’t have any to sell before long.
Banks Closing Permanently
Banks are fairly stable institutions, with most being run very conservatively. Banking laws requires that, as the banks are responsible for protecting other people’s money. So, when banks go bankrupt and close the doors, that’s a big deal and the bigger the bank is, the bigger a deal it is.
If there’s just one bank that does, that can indicate that there’s something wrong with the management; but when several banks shut the doors at the same time, that indicates something wrong with the banking system, which could lead to a total financial collapse.
We’ve got a couple of examples of this in recent times. The first is the problems that have been happening with cryptocurrencies. While the only ones that most have heard of are the big ones which have made the news, there have been somewhere between 1,700 and 2,500 total cryptocurrencies which have failed.
Most were small and never reached a point where their failure made a major impact on the economy in general; but you can be sure that it impacted the economies of those who invested in them. Watch out for these, as some are still listed, even though they are “dead coins.”
The other example we have is the failure of Silicon Valley Bank, which triggered the failure of a few other banks as well. While the federal government moved in quickly to shore up the bank and keep it from failing completely; the fact that not only that one bank, but others as well, reached that point, tells us that there was something systematically wrong with our banking system.
What was wrong? Put simply, they were making financial decisions based in ESG, rather than sound financial principles.
Banks Closing Temporarily
Of bigger concern than a few banks shutting the doors permanently is when all the banks shut their doors, either on their own volition or under government orders. This is a defensive move done by the banks, to prevent a run on the banks. It only happens when there is a major economic problem which causes people to lose their confidence in the banking system and our nation’s economy.
We must realize that banks don’t really have all the money we deposit into them; at least not in physical form. Only about 11% of the total dollars issued by the Fed exist as bills and coins. If there were to be a run on the banks, they would run out of money long before being able to meet all the requests for withdraws.
The second important thing that we have to realize is that a bank’s “assets” are not as solid as yours and mine are. Banks are allowed by regulation to loan out ten times the amount they have on deposit. The theory is that no more than 10% of their depositors will need to withdrawal their money at one time; so the banks will never run out of money.
But in the case of a run on the banks, they might have to sell off assets, just to be able to pay people. If they are forced to do that, they will end up selling them at a discount and taking a loss.
Banks Limiting Withdrawals
Another defensive mechanism that the banks can use is to limit withdrawals. This happened a few years back, when Greece was going through their financial collapse. Limiting withdrawals is tantamount to saying that they don’t have the money that people want. If that happens, it’s time to get everything you can, even if that means driving from branch to branch, making withdrawals.
Government Taking Over Money on Deposit
It’s worse when the government is trying to steal money from the general population, than when the banks are. Of course, governments steal money from their citizens all the time, in the form of taxes and monetary policy that pushes inflation up. But there are even more blatant ways that banks steal money, where they literally take it out of people’s bank accounts, essentially thumbing their collective noses as the population.
Probably the most famous such action was the “pesofication of the dollar” that happened in Argentina. In this, the Argentinian government declared that deposits in Argentinian banks and all government depts that were in American dollars, would be converted to Argentinian pesos, at an exchange rate of 1:1.
The next day, the exchange rate of pesos to dollars was 4:1. In other words, the government quasi-legally stole ¾ of the dollars deposited in their banks and due for payment by the government in US dollars.
A Run on Wall Street
Some of the greatest disasters that have happened in US history were centered around the stock market. The Great Depression of 1929 stared, at least in part, due to the stock market crashing on “Black Monday.” While there were other factors involved, such as the Roaring 20s coming to an end, it was the collapse of market value on Black Monday that was the trigger.
Most people don’t realize that the operation of the stock market depends more on psychology, than it does on finances. If you look at stock values today and try to justify them by the value of the companies that they represent, the math doesn’t work out. That’s a lot like the conditions that led up to Black Monday, making it seem like we’re going to see an instant replay of that event.
The two most common indicators that a country is in a state of financial crisis are high unemployment and high inflation. I’m not talking about the kind of inflation we’re seeing now, or at least not the “official” inflation rate, which is doctored to make it lower; but the kind that gets out of hand, like 20% or more. we hit a high of about 25% during the Great Depression and other countries have had more during their financial collapses.
Keep a close eye on the inflation rate; but the official rate and your own more casual reckoning. If it starts jumping up, we’re all in trouble. That would probably be a good time to spend whatever cash you have on topping off your stockpile.
Prices of Specific Items Climbing Higher Quickly
The Law of Supply and Demand tells us that prices will climb, when there is more demand for a product, than there is supply of that product. That’s why we saw egg prices skyrocketing in the early days of 2023. A variety of problems caused a shortage of eggs, at the same time that the demand for eggs was climbing.
Such things are becoming commonplace, in the post-COVID world we’re living in. as shortages continue, we can expect prices on one thing after another to rise. Foodstuffs will lead the way, as there was a lot of food production capacity that was destroyed during the pandemic. On top of that the food factories that burnt down I 2022 are still making an impact on product availability and probably will for another year or more.
All governments share the same “big stick” they can use to control their populations and prevent the people from doing something the government doesn’t want them to. It’s called “martial law” and is supposed to be used to protect the people, when the government is incapable of doing their job. But in reality, it is used when the government feels it needs to control the people, so as to protect itself from the people. Kind of backwards.
Nonetheless, whenever we see martial law being declared, we can be sure it’s a power grab by the government. How long that power grab will remain in effect and how much the government will retain after the “emergency” is over is up for grabs. We saw a lot of government control during the COVID-19 pandemic, and that was without martial law being declared.
Once the government declares martial law, it’s game over, as far as prepping is concerned. The government will take the viewpoint that they control everything and can confiscate it at will. That includes confiscating your stockpile, if they find out about it.
Checkpoints on the Roads
Checkpoints generally go hand-in-hand with martial law, but can be implemented with out it. After World War II, the military government in Germany (run by the US Army) had checkpoints along the highways.
One of the things the were checking for was the movement of “contraband” or “black market” goods. Under those conditions, someone heading home from Sam’s Club or Costco look like a smuggler, subject to having everything, including their vehicle, confiscated.
It’s common for governments to use checkpoints as a way of showing their authority. I don’t know of any U.S. law which says they can’t use it, other than they can’t prevent us from crossing state lines. Checkpoints, even at state lines, wouldn’t necessarily do that, so they could probably get away with them. But if you start seeing them crop up, just realize that worst things are yet to come.
One of the biggest concerns today is the loss of the electric grid. That’s because we count on electricity for so many different things. But the total loss of the grid isn’t the only risk we face. California has instituted rolling blackouts the last several summers and Texas has jointed them, ever since winter storm Uri. Blackouts are becoming more and more commonplace, even in states where they are not instituting rolling blackouts.
The big problem with a blackout is that nothing works when the power is out. You can’t count on going to the store to buy what you need, because the cash register won’t work. For that matter, you can’t even gas up your car, as the gas pumps won’t work either. Most jobs require electricity too, meaning that you can’t work, so won’t get paid. We’re pretty much shut down without electricity, except for the off-grid preparations that we’ve made.
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