Possible timeline of death of post-collapse scenario if self-sufficient communities form
(Probable only if a slow decline)
If there is a slow decline in being able to provide for individuals and families, then some adaptation will occur. Some intelligent folks will begin to learn skills, eat more cheaply to provide adequate nutrition, and begin gardening this Spring. Some will decide that it's wise to raise small animals for regular protein consumption and also lower their food costs.
This will not go unnoticed by mass media. More and more articles will be written about local production of food and it's preservation. More articles about sewing, knitting, leather-making and crafting, mechanical repair, energy generation, carpentry, hunting, and trapping.
When there's a rise in an activity, usually by corollary there's a rejection of that activity. The people who embrace the return to old skills will be labeled “Luddites”. They will be mocked in general by those who feel it's an anti-intellectual movement.
More homeschooling occurs. A movement to decrease real estate taxes happens in response to lower real estate values coupled with less people having children in public school systems. A sharp decrease in government insured college loans. Lower employment among teachers and administration and support crews. Fewer young people attend college or universities due to less availability to work in those potential professions. Some increase in technical colleges, but even here less work initially leads to lower census at these schools. Long-term an increase in employment in those technical professions if “buying locally” becomes successful.
Self-reliance will become a common mantra. People will desire to purchase locally produced items paid for by a fair wage. People won't have money to purchase new things, and will insist that when they do buy things it will only happen by trading for them quietly by barter. Many people will become craftsmen and technicians in order to be able to trade items and acquire rarer and rarer affordable things and food.
Water prices rise. Strong rainwater legislation is enacted. More people will dig wells. More people will purify water rather than rely upon city water purity. Many will learn how to purify water at least by creating their own created charcoal systems. Some people will begin to make charcoal. More people will make biosand filters rather than purchasing water bottles. All of this will happen even worse if the drought continues.
Very high taxes are enacted, while simultaneously less government workers are needed. Severe cutbacks happen and as they do, many businesses falter which relied upon government contracts.
Fewer and fewer people go to restaurants and bars. Many of the young educated people who have taken jobs in this service industry become unemployed. Healthcare legislation results in very few full-time positions. Part-time people with declining gratuities will leave because it will make little sense to stay.
A big drop in new pornography. New laws requiring condom use and less demand will result in far fewer productions. Less people will be able to afford Internet use. Less people will be able to attend stripper bars. Some few performers will become prostitutes. Higher and higher drug abuse will occur among those who remain.
Very high unemployment leads to people rioting. If it happens as slowly as it has happened in Greece and Spain, then probably it won't occur until it reaches 25%. Cutbacks in government aid may occur, but will be so politically unpalatable that most politicians won't do this.
Many unemployed people with time on their hands will become preppers in order to survive. It will be a natural thing to do as a sign of being pragmatic. Churches will begin to teach prepping, but won't call it that. It will be labeled “frugality” as that's less emotional a term.
Many more people will attempt hunting and fishing. Many people in rural areas will begin trapping quietly. Many people will begin poaching, and you will see an increase in game wardens getting involved. Some of these will altercations will become violent. Tacitly ignoring the issue will occur due to lack of enough game wardens and too many people doing it. Higher hunter injuries send several to the ER and on to surgery.
People cut back on gift giving, and many create their own presents. Most presents are practical gifts. Far few electronic gifts are purchased.
Less demand to luxuries means less movies are produced. Lower support of art in general. Schools begin teaching less art and more practical arts instead.
Some new communities will form in rural areas in which people “gift” items rather than call it bartering. Of course it's a euphemism for trading skills and abilities, but will avoid revenue and provide cheap services. It'll be an act of survival.
The successful ones will prosper. Lower incomes result in a cascade of lower state and local government services and it will feed into the developing phenomena. As the populist movement increases, more politicians will cope by switching sides, becoming supporters, or new politicians will be elected who support the movement.
Those who don't act frugally and prepare will be labeled as less educated and aware. Social forces will apply pressure for people to adapt by teaching their children new skills or abilities based upon learning old previously thought archaic agricultural methods. More young people become farmers or ranchers but if there's a drought they there will be a lot of failures.
Some influential people communicate ideas about living frugally and closer to nature. A new “Back to the Land” movement begins in earnest and some pilot communities like the old communes develop. Some of these are religious; some are “permies”; some are sexual; all will have similar political and philosophical ethos. All will be along a wide continuum of beliefs. These communities will grow their own food and animals, grow their own feed, have wells, produce their own energy, have their own industries, create their own clothing and shoes, educate themselves, etc. These communities will seek out professional people with skills to form a more self-reliant community that won't need an outside doctor or veterinarian, law enforcement, firemen, legal specialists, teachers, etc.
Existing urban places will decline into anarchy in some congested areas. In those places people are not self-reliant. With a decline in government services, more and more uncertainty will develop there. Many attempt to leave and few are accepted in small communities due to lack of skills or technical ability. Some will be able to transition. Some will claim discrimination.
Wealth will be measured in self-reliance versus digital instruments of stock, gold, bonds, etc. Most people will have lost their retirement funds due to mismanagement of investments. Only those who learn skills can hope to survive into old age.
Deaths begin to occur due to malnutrition and lack of medical care. Routine illnesses become exacerbated by this. Many elective surgeries don't happen. Less and less people are able to live in long term care facilities or nursing homes. Socialized medicine has happened, but practical issues such as a lack of nurses, a lack of investment in pharmaceutical research, low employment, etc will mean it will have a negligible effect.
Higher and higher child abuse occurs from the Malthusian stresses. Many cases of outright neglect. Very high child infant mortality in some areas.
An increase in murder, rape, violence, burglary, etc particularly in urban areas. An increase in acts of murder from acts of passion in less urban areas from people having more firearms. Stronger rioting occurs in urban areas and spills over in large communities that can't be self-reliant. It degenerates from there.