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Human survivability with supply chain disruptions and its effect on populations

 
Harper77

User ID: 28254692
United States
11/25/2012 11:03 PM

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Re: Human survivability with supply chain disruptions and its effect on populations
Great and interesting thread. Very thought provoking. Do you think this break down will take place in 20 days or so?
Harper77
Harper77

User ID: 28254692
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11/25/2012 11:14 PM

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Re: Human survivability with supply chain disruptions and its effect on populations
I fear for Americans if anything comes down in the way you point out. We are so pampered. None of my real time friends will even talk about any form of societal breakdown. I wish there were ways to wake up Americans to think beyond Walmart shopping and American Idol and dancing with the stars. I might need their help one day. I have the feeling most of us in rural areas will wake up the next day after a collapse and be fine except for having no idea what struck. No skills. No plans. The shock and awe will be so overwhelming to most that they will die so to speak without a start to survival.
Harper77
SilverPatriot

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11/25/2012 11:48 PM

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Re: Human survivability with supply chain disruptions and its effect on populations
I fear for Americans if anything comes down in the way you point out. We are so pampered. None of my real time friends will even talk about any form of societal breakdown. I wish there were ways to wake up Americans to think beyond Walmart shopping and American Idol and dancing with the stars. I might need their help one day. I have the feeling most of us in rural areas will wake up the next day after a collapse and be fine except for having no idea what struck. No skills. No plans. The shock and awe will be so overwhelming to most that they will die so to speak without a start to survival.
 Quoting: Harper77


If anything is to be learned from relatively minor events is that you need to be prepared with water, food and other supplies as the government will not ride in on steed to save you.
Anonymous Coward (OP)
User ID: 1110734
United States
11/26/2012 12:00 AM
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Re: Human survivability with supply chain disruptions and its effect on populations
Great and interesting thread. Very thought provoking. Do you think this break down will take place in 20 days or so?

I fear for Americans if anything comes down in the way you point out. We are so pampered. None of my real time friends will even talk about any form of societal breakdown. I wish there were ways to wake up Americans to think beyond Walmart shopping and American Idol and dancing with the stars. I might need their help one day. I have the feeling most of us in rural areas will wake up the next day after a collapse and be fine except for having no idea what struck. No skills. No plans. The shock and awe will be so overwhelming to most that they will die so to speak without a start to survival.
 Quoting: Harper77


First question: No. I'm not a Mayan calendar proponent. If it does, it does.

The more important question is the original one about survivability. I hope you prepare an answer for that one.

Winter though is the worst time, and truthfully the lean time for most tribal people for much of history. Why? Water, enough food, and disease. From November-June was an extremely tough period with many deaths. The best prepared suffered least as long as contagion didn't take hold. That wasn't as likely due to limited travel. People who were hunter/gatherers didn't venture out very far from winter camps for there is such limited food supply versus expended energy to harvest it. You could easily be disabled by an accident especially if alone. You could snowblind. You could fall into a crevasse in the ice sheet.

For supply chains, a consideration is weather and its affect on transportation. Ice and snow can make traffic perilous on declines. Of course bad weather in the scenario will only worsen the supply chain disruptions. It also would limit anyone bugging out. It also would delay military and technicans deploying to regions. If rivers are frozen, then it limits barge traffic. They often bring in more salt upon higher demand, and likewise issues of less coal coming in.

Rural folks do have agriculture, at least the potential for it, as well as a few who do raise crops. But there's a flipside, isn't there? Warehousing for items will largely be in urban locations and scattered hubs. Most of those rural people are needing supplies too.

Consider this: as refugees flee, where do they go? The likely answer is a little down the road to a place where they wipe their brow and think, "It's probably far enough." The problem is they'll buy whatever they can from merchants in that location. Because initially this will fuel a temporary massive sale of inventory, a lot of rural merchants will be pleased. At some point, they'll be concerned as massive amounts of credit cards and debit cards are no longer going through.

A lot of franchises are in these rural areas, and those companies have administrators watching. They'll wonder if those bills will ever get paid by the banks and by people on credit. The same with check transactions.

Rural folks who are not worried could suddenly see empty grocery, drugstores, restaraunts, gas stations, use up all their supplies. Motels will be sold out. How will you evict people taking up residence and using your water resources.

Some smart motel user will sell water out of their motel room. Wait and see.

The refugees will be like locusts consuming up rural inventory. Rural people are not safe from this, not unless their city is far far away from the main interstate.

As there are progressively longer traffic jams, many will pull off to secondary roads with typically slower traffic, but will actually go faster. They'll do the same things to these smaller communities who don't normally get so many sales, and the same things will play out.

At some point, alarmed residents will rush to also buy up items...what few remain.

Some residents, and most likely county sheriffs will consult with their mayor and probably block off exits. They don't want to get hammered with new residents that may shoot livestock for food, a very likely scenario versus hunting. Think about it. Isn't it plausible?

Try to imagine the events in the scenario, then think of reasonable things that would happen.

Let's go back to items in stores and service stations. Some people will have cash. Store owners will be glad for it. One in every a hundred transactions is done in currency today. It helps the merchant reduce handling it, and registers being "short". However, they may not have the capability to make change. So if that happens, then sales stop.

Think outside the box, but in realistic ways.
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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11/26/2012 12:57 AM
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Re: Human survivability with supply chain disruptions and its effect on populations
Medicines

We have long lives in many Western nations due to two things: clean water and inexpensive pharmaceuticals. I know a lot of you complain about drug prices, but compared to living as long as say a person a 100 years ago, it's a very cheap means of longevity.

I've discussed water, but not the effects of regularly maintained purified water. It was a novel idea once, and long term studies by health experts have universally concluded that filtering and bleaching have been the most important health benefit for the populace. In a way, it's a universal medicine versus simply drinking water from wells and rivers.

“What!”, you say. “Well-water is pure.” It wasn't always. Leaching into groundwater happened from fecal sanitation issues from livestock and humans. So did chemical fertilizers. Water utilities ensured regular sources of sanitized water. Even today, well-water is filtered to ensure safety. This works as long as good practices exist, for much of rural water is from wells, but likewise high livestock populations, so as long as filter supplies last, then the well-water is clean enough to drink.

Have you considered the implication of disruptions in both over-the-counter medicines for routine ailments like fevers, diarrhea, asthma inhalers, vomiting, etc? These are just as critical, for someone can become very allergic from woodstoves, gets an infection and loses the ability to control their temperature, gets a case of stomach flu like the Norovirus, etc. Norovirus (sometimes called Norwalk) tends to go through entire households. It causes both vomiting and diarrhea. Improperly disposed of fecal matter will leach into groundwater and local water reservoirs like lakes and rivers.

Most people purchase their prescriptions on a monthly basis. Why? Usually it's a money issue. Most can purchase up to three months based upon the number of refills.

How do oral medicines work? A dose is taken, and it passes into the stomach, then it's absorbed by a network of blood vessels around the stomach. Then the active ingredient passed through general circulation and goes through the kidneys (for they are a high pressure filter) and the liver(the main-most filter). Those organs diminish their potency, but in time the drug overwhelms these organs and builds up to a therapeutic dosage in the bloodstream. This is why you must take medicine for a length of time to build up, and when you stop taking it, the level in your blood drops.

Some drugs are metabolized quickly. The level drops faster if it's not regularly taken. Those lack of those drugs, if not available, will begin to create symptoms in the patient. Things like sudden renewed high blood pressure (rebound hypertension) will happen with the sudden stopping of some heart medicines. Other drugs have their own effects.

Think about how many people in those urban and rural areas rely upon routine medicines of either kind. Many of these folks will likely be refugees. Some will stay at home and do without medicines. Both will have massively more physical activity but less water and food. Both will suffer from exposure. They'll have seasonally depressed immune systems. They may have significant return of physical and mental symptoms.

Winter is a primary time for reduced immune systems. People get exposure from being outside. They don't dress warm. Maybe they're rushing around and get less sleep. Maybe they don't eat right. They get bacterial infections. There won't be antibiotics to treat the illnesses, unless some wise administrators flex and use similar veterinary antibiotics, which are often the same compound, but with less quality control to ensure potency, efficacy (they might get more isomers), or purity. Most of the large veterinary caches of antibiotics are either in warehouses or in rural locations due to higher demand.

A reduction in medical inventory could be no saline coming in. No surgical gloves. No oxygen. Lots of shortages. Less cleaning products other than what's in inventory.

If you're a doctor, nurse, medical tech, respiratory tech, x-ray tech, etc, do you think you'll be allowed to leave the medical center to check on your family? If the administrators let you leave, how will they know you'll come back? The only reason to come back is altruism. Will that be enough to motivate a married person or a parent to come back? I don't know.

What emergency surgeries will not happen due to supply chain disruptions? What elective surgeries will not occur and may be postponed for long periods of time.

What about nursing homes, mental health centers, long term care facilities, etc do with fewer and fewer people returning to work? How will they repel sociopaths from stealing medical supplies?

Many retirees take seven or more drugs (polypharmacy) in order to cope. A very common one is hydrochlorothiazide as a diuretic to reduce blood pressure. Another is Synthroid to artificially raise metabolism. They won't have them.

Many people take medicines to cope with either high blood pressure or lower lung capacity. Both will be unable to work in their normal manner, but will have increasing amounts of work needed to survive.

Drug abuse
A lot of people “self-medicate”. They take illegal or quasi-legal substances to cope with stress. Many are physically and psychologically addicted. The drugs often produce dopamine in their brain, and so they'll want that to occur to make them calm. It induces this, just like a gambler needs to gamble. It also makes them high.

Where will they be likely to take medicines from since dealers won't be able to get supplies or manufacture them? Probably they'll steal from retirees who use prescription pain medication. Retirees are at risk for multifactorial reasons.

Question: What will be the effect on a population's longevity in one month's time. What will be the cumulative effect from lack or minimal medical care in a year's time?
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 6936262
Australia
11/26/2012 02:38 AM
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Re: Human survivability with supply chain disruptions and its effect on populations
I seriously doubt mass starvation in the situation you talked about,

Short of nation wide catastrophic shutdown of all transport say via an EMP its not going to happen.

The first world is very different place to what it was when like in Ireland during the potato famine also very different to and recent famines in 3rd world countries.


Look at this picture.

[link to www.lowyinterpreter.org]


Some countries in a situation you suggested will suffer badly, and people will go hungry/suffer but a significant drop in population is not going to happen to America.
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 6936262
Australia
11/26/2012 02:41 AM
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Re: Human survivability with supply chain disruptions and its effect on populations
Unless the scenarios I presented earlier happen
Wide spread starvation and death will not occur. in the US.

Many other countries yes!
535
User ID: 1326993
United States
11/26/2012 03:49 AM
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Re: Human survivability with supply chain disruptions and its effect on populations
I have decided to answer this.

You should decide to listen.

-----------

The scenario you describe is as follows:

A local collapse (United States centric) of the economic system, coupled with a severe isolationist political leadership which contracts U.S. global military resources.

Your question:

What happens over the course of a year?

The scenario will not play out as you have outlined. The last action of the first U.S. empire will be an unleashing of the military to usher in the second, and more powerful, supranatural overt empire.

Regardless, to your questions, I can answer to the contingency plan requirements.

1. The most effort from governmental resources will be to preserve the following (in order):

Military command and control.

Political command and control.

Major infrastructure command and control.

Major production command and control.

These are the top four. The largest population centers will be the last given help. Understand that large cities are not production centers, but rather concentrated centers of consumption. The personnel, infrastructure, and assets to provide and organize are of the highest priority.

Food, water, energy, sanitation, and weapons are of primary importance. Those that are not within these basic structures of production will, in effect, become second class citizens. They will be left out.


2. Water:

For the short term, your overall analysis is correct.

After one week of water disruption, the population impact is negligible, as the short term solutions you have listed are perfectly viable.

After one month, the population impact will be negligible in regions with large amounts of freshwater, either frozen or in liquid form. For example, the Great Lakes regions and Alaska. Other areas, which have only become habitable recently in the south and west because of cooling and irrigation technology, will have large dead zones. At least 15% of the population will effectively be deceased or become "water refugees".

After one year, assuming your worst case situation, at least 40% of the population are relocated or deceased. The Chicago area will be the last major city left at this point.

By the third year, the military built nuclear desalination plants necessary will be functioning, rendering the problem solved. A full 60-75% of the population should be eliminated by this point in time, ending in an acceptable loss.

3. Food:

Easily the most overblown factor in the equation as a whole, but not at the individual level. Again, if part of the priority system, not an issue.

For the common, the outlook is difficult, at best. Food, water, and electricity cannot be separated in any way in regards to industrial scale production. As a result, the numbers will exactly match the water projection numbers.

The time-frame is also accurate.

4. Medicine

Very salient points, but (to beat the proverbial dead horse), in the end it will not matter. After 3/4 of the population has been eliminated after a solid 3 years have passed, industrial medicines will be plentiful again for the reduced population.

This is all about surplus, nothing more. Currently, within the U.S., there is a surplus of food, power, and water. Remember that the only reason there are "water shortages" is because people do not like to live where it is cold. Not because there is a lack of water.

The surplus is currently tight, but it is there. This means that short term disruptions (weeks) are of little concern for survival, but rather of comfort. This being said, the surplus is not large enough to cushion a long term disruption (years). What this means is simple - the population will naturally drop and relocate until a balance is reached. The population will begin to grow once a surplus begins to be built.
Anonymous Coward (OP)
User ID: 1110734
United States
11/26/2012 04:26 AM
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Re: Human survivability with supply chain disruptions and its effect on populations
Cities Commandeering Distribution Centers
(short-term)

If you're a city administrator and you have a distribution center of any kind in your region, then there's a good chance you'll seize the goods within it, and offer a promissory note for the contents you need. If you think about it, the alternative is for some well-armed and organized group to steal it, and since you need those items, better to be safe than sorry.

The items will stay put most likely, just be guarded 24/7 with local law enforcement of some kind and boosted with new security guards..

Of course, perhaps you won't need all those items, but another city has distribution center supplies that you do need. This will likely be the means of first trades between local governments. If you're sitting on pool shock and you need antibiotics, well I think those two local governments will trade by deciding on the new market value. They'll be lots of other trades too, but contingent upon shelf life. After all, if you have the utilities working because you have a coal surplus, then another city has butchered beef but is losing refrigeration, then one may trade at a big disadvantage. Caveat emptor (Let the buyer beware). Bad trades are likely to be the disruption of future trades.

It's highly likely that railroads will move many of the supplies, for even now trucks are routinely hijacked by the Mob.

Here's the thing...how long before the state government decides that they'll lose power unless they're the ones seizing goods? The governor can order the state militias to act as their soldiers, but only if they can control deployment. That requires that locals will muster up. That may be highly doubtful if they don't like the goods being transferred. How long before the federal government seizes goods, particularly since laws have been passes recently to do just that in a state of martial law?

The sticky widget is power to back it up. Yes, a soldier can enforce it. That takes time to make command decisions to redeploy them from overseas, transport them, reassign them to hot spots and troubled zone . By the time they get there, and know what was in it, the sale and transport may already have concluded. The military might “appropriate” it, basically hijack it in-between locations. That all will get very messy fast, for one transaction may have already gotten to the new owners and the other seized.

Who gets the goods inside the distributions center? Most likely critical infrastructure folks maintaining services in some haphazard fashion. That will get very ugly.

We'd don't have much data or research. We do know from pandemic concerns that many position papers were drawn up about trade and supply chain disruptions from a pandemic. If you think about it, dollar collapse is like it in some ways, for it's not an issue of contagion, but a lack of confidence in the dollar that still results in the same supply chain disruptions. Regardless, if anyone wants to read these:

Question: How much will violence over unequal distribution of resources will occur in a month's time due to supply chain issues. How will happen cumulatively in a year?

[link to assets.opencrs.com]

[link to www.sph.umn.edu]

[link to www.cidrap.umn.edu]

Up next gangs and organized crime: possibly a short-term phenomena due to water
Anonymous Coward (OP)
User ID: 1110734
United States
11/26/2012 04:44 AM
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Re: Human survivability with supply chain disruptions and its effect on populations
I have decided to answer this.

You should decide to listen.

-----------

The scenario you describe is as follows:

A local collapse (United States centric) of the economic system, coupled with a severe isolationist political leadership which contracts U.S. global military resources.

Your question:

What happens over the course of a year?

The scenario will not play out as you have outlined. The last action of the first U.S. empire will be an unleashing of the military to usher in the second, and more powerful, supranatural overt empire.

Regardless, to your questions, I can answer to the contingency plan requirements.

1. The most effort from governmental resources will be to preserve the following (in order):

Military command and control.

Political command and control.

Major infrastructure command and control.

Major production command and control.

These are the top four. The largest population centers will be the last given help. Understand that large cities are not production centers, but rather concentrated centers of consumption. The personnel, infrastructure, and assets to provide and organize are of the highest priority.

Food, water, energy, sanitation, and weapons are of primary importance. Those that are not within these basic structures of production will, in effect, become second class citizens. They will be left out.


2. Water:

For the short term, your overall analysis is correct.

After one week of water disruption, the population impact is negligible, as the short term solutions you have listed are perfectly viable.

After one month, the population impact will be negligible in regions with large amounts of freshwater, either frozen or in liquid form. For example, the Great Lakes regions and Alaska. Other areas, which have only become habitable recently in the south and west because of cooling and irrigation technology, will have large dead zones. At least 15% of the population will effectively be deceased or become "water refugees".

After one year, assuming your worst case situation, at least 40% of the population are relocated or deceased. The Chicago area will be the last major city left at this point.

By the third year, the military built nuclear desalination plants necessary will be functioning, rendering the problem solved. A full 60-75% of the population should be eliminated by this point in time, ending in an acceptable loss.

3. Food:

Easily the most overblown factor in the equation as a whole, but not at the individual level. Again, if part of the priority system, not an issue.

For the common, the outlook is difficult, at best. Food, water, and electricity cannot be separated in any way in regards to industrial scale production. As a result, the numbers will exactly match the water projection numbers.

The time-frame is also accurate.

4. Medicine

Very salient points, but (to beat the proverbial dead horse), in the end it will not matter. After 3/4 of the population has been eliminated after a solid 3 years have passed, industrial medicines will be plentiful again for the reduced population.

This is all about surplus, nothing more. Currently, within the U.S., there is a surplus of food, power, and water. Remember that the only reason there are "water shortages" is because people do not like to live where it is cold. Not because there is a lack of water.

The surplus is currently tight, but it is there. This means that short term disruptions (weeks) are of little concern for survival, but rather of comfort. This being said, the surplus is not large enough to cushion a long term disruption (years). What this means is simple - the population will naturally drop and relocate until a balance is reached. The population will begin to grow once a surplus begins to be built.
 Quoting: 535 1326993


That was quite an extraordinary read. I'm curious if you'll expand upon it? Why is my scenario less plausible? Do you expect another more plausible scenario to a dollar collapse that results in a total war scenario? Or do you think something entirely different will come about that will usher in a total war scenario?

No disagreement on anything. Converting permafrost in Alaska to water is energy intensive to convert snow to water.(8-12 inches of snow = 1 inch of rain)

You believe that we adequate food supplies for critical infrastructure?

In my belief, if it were to go to full collapse, why not withdrawn to deep bunkers for two months (with the critical personnel you listed), let the chips fall where they may, massive population decline, then send the military topside to use minimal force to reclaim those areas.

Yes, with a vast reduction in population, then there's plenty of natural resources to draw from the carrying capacity of the forests, farmland, game animals, etc.

Yes, the initial move to try to control urban areas will be pointless and not feasible versus retreating to bunkers, but then a military invasion from China is likely.

Withdrawal of military forces to concentrate them in the US, will also lead to invasion from China. Perhaps a joint invasion from Russian and China.

All of that means nuclear war and end game.

It's possible that a dollar collapse would be intentional. Then the corporations that assume they control the military regear up oil production in the US using oil reserves that are not commonly known. They collapse the value of Middle East oil by the vast new reserves. Then propose a new currency based upon US reserves...in effect a new petro-currency.In effect, the Middle East in no longer relevent. The US wouldn't need foreign oil whatsoever, which is the basis of petro-dollars (money exchanged by purchase of Middle East oil in exchange for US bond (debt) instruments.

That scenario above might lead to a military coup d'état. It's highly likely that the US military would try to restore the Republic, otherwise the multinational corportation would be completely in charge.
Anonymous Coward (OP)
User ID: 1110734
United States
11/26/2012 05:03 AM
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Re: Human survivability with supply chain disruptions and its effect on populations
Why I don't believe gangs can loot enough to survive

Let's say a gang goes house to house robbing from each apartment owner. They're liable to knock down doors with home-made battering rams (similar to SWAT teams), and merely brandish arms, for to shoot means possible death on both sides and loss of ammunition. Easy pickins' to steal; risky to shoot at close quarters and penetration.

As they accumulate wealth (an abundance of supplies in this case) and valuables, then they'll get loaded down by them. They have to either a)hole up in one of the other apartments, or b)have a wheelman and a vehicle in the form of a truck to haul their loot back to a headquarters.

The former means it's probably not any more defensible than the other apartments, it's just that they have more weapons. This means at some point, when they sleep or are high (both very likely), others will see their wealth and steal from them, because they concentrated all of it in one location.

The latter means transporting it down to the vehicle, at which point it'll probably be stolen as it's being moved to the street, or else as it accumulates at their headquarters, then it's all concentrated at that place....a lot of wealth. Now unless they know strategy and have a bunker with machine guns, it'll be taken, either from any police or soldiers left standing, or another gang since they have the loot they need.

In that case, a large portion of them will be annihilated by the other on either side and huge amounts of ammunition will be used, but tear gas and flash bang grenades are more likely since both sides wish to not waste ammunition. It may be easier to simple burn them out, for there's no rules anymore. It's a loss of supplies, but removing the threat is probably better. It's that or a siege just like medieval times, and this means manning it 24/7.

All of that is contingent upon enough firearms, ammunition, affiliated gang members, a working vehicle, and fuel sources. That's a tall order.

Most won't know how to source water other than stealing it. Even if they have a great location up high such that they can maintain lookouts, then they'll have sewage issues, won't they?They'll be forced to leave. Even at ground level, that will become a major issue, and people will get sick quick, just like they have in the history of warfare in conflict zones.

Highly organized crime families are a different breed altogether. They could survive since they have power structure, connections, more arms, supplies, but they don't have survival skills. They will run into the same issues of clean water and sanitation. In both cases of organized crime or gangs, there's liable to be a coup d'etat to knock out the current boss. Maybe a series of them as conditions deteriorate.

Actually, I think a lot of gang members will run, for they'll see the handwriting on the wall, and they'll either think a) start my own thing b) get the heck out of Dodge.

The only way I can see sociopaths making it, will be if they locate and seize supplies early from a warehouse or series or warehouses. These are most likely to be commandeered by local governments and law enforcement/soldiers, aren't they?

Is there something I'm not seeing?

Remember, the only reason criminal win, is that law enforcement can't use the same tactics of essentially no rules. If law enforcement can literally have no rules, the criminals can't last. The only way they could would be a loss of law enforcement due to collapse, leading to martial law enforced by soldiers.
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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11/26/2012 05:48 AM
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Re: Human survivability with supply chain disruptions and its effect on populations
The value of money is about stability, generating wealth, and trust

(Digressing to explain why currency collapse is a big deal...)

Currently in order for most oil trades to occur, the buyer of the oil must purchase dollars first. Then they exchange dollars for the oil. This is what is known as a petrodollar transaction. Many nations don't like the fact that the dollar is the basis for oil exchanges since there's such high deficit spending in the USA. In many cases, the major players have been working on direct trades of their own currency to purchase oil, and thereby reducing the need for dollars and a subsequent lowered demand for dollars likely translates into a lower value for dollars versus other world currencies.

It's a system that was set up to create an exchange between Middle Eastern nations like Saudi Arabia and the USA. They wanted to sell their oil to develop their nation. We wanted to sell our T-bills, Notes, and Long term Bonds and things were relatively stable, and they and most nations invested in US government debt instruments.

As long as someone will loan us money (these debt instruments) then we can deficit spend. Who purchases our debt? China for one. They want us to continue as a nation, for the time being at least. We purchase their products, and as long as their currency is worth less than the US dollar, then their produces are cheaper than another nation's products. They can then export to us in a favorable way.

The value of money, that is not backed by a resource standard of limited availability (like gold), is entirely based upon the stability of a nation, their ability to generate wealth, and trust.

If a nation is unstable, the ability to generate wealth (products, services, and natural resources) is hampered or flat or declining, and there's little trust...then the money value falls. It can fall a lot even plummet.

With lowered real estate values, no great new product or service on the horizon, no resources to exploit, then there's a loss of wealth. Worse, many people are not generating wealth since they're unemployed. If the government decides to artificially create money to pay them (which is what food stamps and unemployment insurance is), and spends far and above what the bonds can bring in, then the cumulative effect is a plummeting amount of wealth.

This is why I believe a collapse of the petrodollar is inevitable baring a new currency for the US to supplant the dollar. That could only happen if there was a new resource of some kind to create stability, create wealth, and restore trust.

A new currency would likely be a verifiable resource within the US, and the most likely resource is little know oil reserves. Since oil reserves can be estimated, the appraisal of those reserves can be used to place a figure on the value of any currency that is supported by that resource.

Vast new oil reserves (hypothetical) should cause a drop in oil prices, for there's an increase in supply. However with oil, there's a huge demand in places like China that's boosting demand as well.

If the US had enough oil for itself, and could even export oil, then would there be any reason to purchase Middle Eastern oil? Given things like the Muslim Brotherhood, and the instability in that region, both now and historically, wouldn't that negate the power of their oil reserves. I think it would.
535
User ID: 1326993
United States
11/26/2012 05:49 AM
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Re: Human survivability with supply chain disruptions and its effect on populations
I have decided to answer this.

You should decide to listen.

-----------

The scenario you describe is as follows:

A local collapse (United States centric) of the economic system, coupled with a severe isolationist political leadership which contracts U.S. global military resources.

Your question:

What happens over the course of a year?

The scenario will not play out as you have outlined. The last action of the first U.S. empire will be an unleashing of the military to usher in the second, and more powerful, supranatural overt empire.

Regardless, to your questions, I can answer to the contingency plan requirements.

1. The most effort from governmental resources will be to preserve the following (in order):

Military command and control.

Political command and control.

Major infrastructure command and control.

Major production command and control.

These are the top four. The largest population centers will be the last given help. Understand that large cities are not production centers, but rather concentrated centers of consumption. The personnel, infrastructure, and assets to provide and organize are of the highest priority.

Food, water, energy, sanitation, and weapons are of primary importance. Those that are not within these basic structures of production will, in effect, become second class citizens. They will be left out.


2. Water:

For the short term, your overall analysis is correct.

After one week of water disruption, the population impact is negligible, as the short term solutions you have listed are perfectly viable.

After one month, the population impact will be negligible in regions with large amounts of freshwater, either frozen or in liquid form. For example, the Great Lakes regions and Alaska. Other areas, which have only become habitable recently in the south and west because of cooling and irrigation technology, will have large dead zones. At least 15% of the population will effectively be deceased or become "water refugees".

After one year, assuming your worst case situation, at least 40% of the population are relocated or deceased. The Chicago area will be the last major city left at this point.

By the third year, the military built nuclear desalination plants necessary will be functioning, rendering the problem solved. A full 60-75% of the population should be eliminated by this point in time, ending in an acceptable loss.

3. Food:

Easily the most overblown factor in the equation as a whole, but not at the individual level. Again, if part of the priority system, not an issue.

For the common, the outlook is difficult, at best. Food, water, and electricity cannot be separated in any way in regards to industrial scale production. As a result, the numbers will exactly match the water projection numbers.

The time-frame is also accurate.

4. Medicine

Very salient points, but (to beat the proverbial dead horse), in the end it will not matter. After 3/4 of the population has been eliminated after a solid 3 years have passed, industrial medicines will be plentiful again for the reduced population.

This is all about surplus, nothing more. Currently, within the U.S., there is a surplus of food, power, and water. Remember that the only reason there are "water shortages" is because people do not like to live where it is cold. Not because there is a lack of water.

The surplus is currently tight, but it is there. This means that short term disruptions (weeks) are of little concern for survival, but rather of comfort. This being said, the surplus is not large enough to cushion a long term disruption (years). What this means is simple - the population will naturally drop and relocate until a balance is reached. The population will begin to grow once a surplus begins to be built.
 Quoting: 535 1326993


That was quite an extraordinary read. I'm curious if you'll expand upon it? Why is my scenario less plausible? Do you expect another more plausible scenario to a dollar collapse that results in a total war scenario? Or do you think something entirely different will come about that will usher in a total war scenario?

No disagreement on anything. Converting permafrost in Alaska to water is energy intensive to convert snow to water.(8-12 inches of snow = 1 inch of rain)

You believe that we adequate food supplies for critical infrastructure?

In my belief, if it were to go to full collapse, why not withdrawn to deep bunkers for two months (with the critical personnel you listed), let the chips fall where they may, massive population decline, then send the military topside to use minimal force to reclaim those areas.

Yes, with a vast reduction in population, then there's plenty of natural resources to draw from the carrying capacity of the forests, farmland, game animals, etc.

Yes, the initial move to try to control urban areas will be pointless and not feasible versus retreating to bunkers, but then a military invasion from China is likely.

Withdrawal of military forces to concentrate them in the US, will also lead to invasion from China. Perhaps a joint invasion from Russian and China.

All of that means nuclear war and end game.

It's possible that a dollar collapse would be intentional. Then the corporations that assume they control the military regear up oil production in the US using oil reserves that are not commonly known. They collapse the value of Middle East oil by the vast new reserves. Then propose a new currency based upon US reserves...in effect a new petro-currency.In effect, the Middle East in no longer relevent. The US wouldn't need foreign oil whatsoever, which is the basis of petro-dollars (money exchanged by purchase of Middle East oil in exchange for US bond (debt) instruments.

That scenario above might lead to a military coup d'état. It's highly likely that the US military would try to restore the Republic, otherwise the multinational corportation would be completely in charge.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 1110734


To a certain extent, it does not matter what causes the a breakdown. What is certain, is that a breakdown will occur.

At the root of the matter is this: Might makes Right

This is why third world countries stay as such.

Firstly, the failure would have to be an honest one (unlikely, as they are always created).

Secondly, the failure would have to be for a commodity or complete system which cannot be replaced or fixed quickly.

Thirdly, the failure would have to be a massive AND quick disruption (no reaction time).

The only things that fit would be a CME/Space, massive thermonuclear worldwide strike (strategic or tactical), and earth process (volcano, earthquake, etc).

Even in those catastrophic situations, massive military intervention would be inevitable. If, for example, the United States mainland were to be devastated, then the military would immediately be sent back to the U.S. However, the relief efforts by the military would be minimal at best. A massive build-up would take place on the southern and northern borders. Canada and Mexico would have a very hard choice to make: Give up your land or be annihilated.

In these situations, there is nothing to lose and everything to gain. That is the ultimate safety net of massive military might.

In regards to a bunker solution, you are correct in the sense that it would only weaken the position. The military is fully aware of this. To be sure, much of the political and military leadership would be scattered about underground, in the air, and in space - but the combat personnel would be readying themselves.

China and Russia:

Currently, they are both far too weak to even consider any type of invasion. If anything massive were to happen to the entire population of the planet, they would almost immediately be at one another's throat.

China has massive problems keeping their own population in line throughout the frontier. China has little to no force projection capabilities - in fact, they just finished sea trials for their first true aircraft carrier. It is still not in the open ocean for patrol duty. They did not even build it, nor the airframe that lands on it. As a comparison, the United States has 11 Supercarriers with 1 more (even larger than the other 11) being built. Their ICBM and submarine numbers are comparatively very low. There is a huge land army, buy no way to transport it to Taiwan, much less North America.

Russia is in the same situation as China. They have their own massive problems in Chechnya and the entire frontier border with China. Their military situation is rather dire. Although they have a formidable ICBM and submarine fleet, they are still lagging behind. Their space military force is an open secret and they have no force projection capabilities to speak of. Their only option in battle with the Americans is MADD, only a little better than China.

Together, they have a massive nuclear arsenal and land army. Projections are clear: this is far more problematic for Europe, than North America.

Russia, China, and India also happen to be three large military/population powers that are right next to one another. Neither likes the other very much, and all have little force projection capabilities but massive land armies. It could easily be argued that they hate one another much more than the United States. It would not take very much at all to induce a nuclear exchange between them. Remember this.

Finally we are down to the bone of the animal. The military is, for all practical purposes, already not only a corporation... but also in control. As it has been for almost three-quarters of a century.
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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11/26/2012 06:50 AM
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Re: Human survivability with supply chain disruptions and its effect on populations
There's a surplus, just no way to transport it

In the US we typically raise crops in such volumes that we can largely export many of them. We also raise an abundance of livestock. With the current drought happening in the Great Plains, many corn and soybean crops failed. A majority of livestock is also raised in this region since grain is located there.

Most crops and livestock are grown on corporate farms. The way that they can exist is by transporting supplies toward their production. Then at harvest, this transportation system relocates the crops and livestock to the consumer.

Of course it doesn't flow directly. They're sold to middle men who in turn sell them to other corporations for inclusion in preserved products. Then these are purchased by other corporations who send them to distribution centers as places to warehouse them prior to shipping to retail outlets. That's when the consumer actually gets the products.

All of those steps are monitored such that each movement is minimized. The longer something is warehoused as a component of a final product, the more cost is incurred towards its production, and this cost is passed on in part to the consumer, but based upon competing with other corporations that also sell that item.

A system was developed for inventory control. If a program could minimize ordering supplies and only created products based upon projected consumer sales, and minimized surplus inventory as components and finished product, then each corporation along the chain would have higher profits. The system was created in Japan and it's known as Just-In-Time manufacturing processes. (JIT).

While we do create a surplus of food, we don't let it sit in warehouses mostly. Yes, there are peak seasons with food. It's not like other products. It's grow, and harvested, but many of these corporations purchase from foreign countries. Their growing seasons may be quite different than our own. Still grain sits in silos, because it's possible, but of course we can't let apples sit long, or they'll spoil.

Now food is not the only product, but there are many other kinds of supplies, and these perhaps have longer shelf lives, and they are often created upon demand. This is why it's very possible for shortages to occur, and so transportation must be a finely tuned delivery system to both measure consumer demand and anticipate it as well.

If there's a dollar collapse, vendors will not know the value of the currency. Mistakes will be made, and profit lost, and this creates hesitation. That creates a slower system and shortages. Since many products come from foreign countries, they won't know the value of the dollar. It will be determined by market forces and trust and based upon the perceived stability (or lack thereof) of the USA and expenditures and potential growth.

Of course, we don't spend money that we take in, we borrow it (US debt instruments, corporate bonds, municipal bonds, stocks, mutual funds, etc) because we have a negative cash flow problem that will never create a net positive result. This lowers the value of the dollar too.

We artificially create more money by food stamps and unemployment expenditures (and lots of others), and so we have inflation. This lowers the value of the dollar too.

Other countries don't want our dollar, and why should they? A desire to switch to a stable currency will eventually cause a collapse when inflation gets so high and demand falls so low, that it's no longer in other countries benefit to use it or accept it.

When that happens, then they'll have to weigh which currency would be better versus the military might of nations versus global security.

Up next: Many countries have worse deficit spending than the US. It doesn't have to be an initial collapse of the dollar. It could happen elsewhere and cascade.
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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11/26/2012 07:56 AM
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Re: Human survivability with supply chain disruptions and its effect on populations
When a collapse comes, components will be unassembled

So we do we have some surplus inventory,but as little as possible due to JIT inventory practices. These are usually components and not many finished products. Let's say it's an inventory of semolina flour, but not packaged noodles. It might be loose leaf tea, but not boxed. It might be transistors, but not radios.

Some many be components of a car. Say that you have axles for pickup trucks, or suspension systems. Those alone would be useful for repairs, but only on specific models as many are not interchangeable.

Those unassembled parts or components of subsystems, even the actual subsystem like a complete power supply for a particular laptop, won't do many people good. Sometimes they'll be edible items and so they could be used, but other times they'll be chemical compounds of say antibiotics, and so of little use without complex manufacturing processes to assemble them, and lots of workers at various stages. Certain industries in a collapse that produce essential items will be of a high value. Other like Ipads? Well, if you can't eat, or have clean water, or electricity, will you need one?

So surpluses exist in pockets around the country. Some will go bad from sitting and won't help anyone. Others will simply sit, and if order is restored, then they can then be assembled.

That will only happen with human labor. We don't have robots to assemble them, over see them, package them, and ship them. Since many people might conceivably die in a collapse, many of these might sit for a long time.

If there is no order, than there's little chance that a complex manufacturing process will gear back up. They all require utilities, manpower, and many other forms of infrastructure to ensure security and supply chains.

If there's military order, then you can bet that will also mean a move to support the military apparatus as a first priority. Then critical infrastructure like health, food, utilities (natural gas, electricity, water), and all the industries that feed into those areas.

If it's civilian, and supported by the military, then it will be prioritized in ways that feed both administration and the military, and communication.

If it's dog-eat-dog and chaos, then it will be a grim time and probably never come back in its present incarnation, and revolution, good or ill could result and massive deaths.
535
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11/26/2012 08:19 AM
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Re: Human survivability with supply chain disruptions and its effect on populations
It will result in a massive realignment of the population. As it must be and will be. Fortunately, this will happen sooner rather than later.
Lady Jane SmithModerator
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11/26/2012 08:49 AM

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Re: Human survivability with supply chain disruptions and its effect on populations
bump
Life is karma and karma always reflects both past and present circumstance. Our time here is short, so choose carefully and behave well, for all of your tomorrows are presently being decided.

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"A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool."
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Anonymous Coward (OP)
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11/26/2012 10:17 AM
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Re: Human survivability with supply chain disruptions and its effect on populations
What other countries have deficit spending besides the USA?

There are many countries which play a significant role in the world economy. Some of them individually are deficit spending. Here's a list recently compiled comparing the expenditures of several governments:
[link to www.gfmag.com]

Most notably:
Country Forecast estimate:
1. USA -9.3
2. Japan -8.9
3. Ireland -8.7
4. UK -8.7
5. Greece -7.0

Obviously, we know about the problems with the EURO. It's not like the EURO would become a new world currency. It's very unstable, and I won't waste time going into that crisis.

Japan's economy has been unhealthy for a long time. They're facing issues with China over the dispute of island territories that date back a long time. They have an ongoing ecological crisis of immense radiation, damage to the area of Fukushima, but also inundating the entire Northern Hemisphere with radiation and polluting the Pacific Ocean as well. There untold health damage to their people as result. In addition, they aging but not growing. The Yen will not be a world currency.

China has been deficit spending, but it's unknown as to the true size of it. For the past several years, they've been investing in materials and stockpiling them as if fearful that their economic boom will fade. They've actually pre-built entire cities to artificially boost the economy, a kind of massive infrastructure investment most likely due to their enormous population. They've negotiated sucessfully with Russia for the Renminbi, their official currency to be traded directly for oil sales. [The Yuan is the primary unit of the Renminbi, and so often people speak of it as the currency.] It's definitely a candidate.
[link to www.forbes.com]

China has negotiated deals with Russia, Brazil, Australia, UAE, and Japan.

If it was chosen, it would be a major boost to the value of it, but that might make their products expensive. Realize this though, when the dollar was artificially adjusted to compete with the Yen, then Japanese investors purchased American businesses for cheaper prices. Chinese investors might do the same thing.

The main power countries purchase each other's government bonds. We are tied together, something that was made quite clear when it was disclosed that the Federal Reserve had loaded 16 Trillion to foreign banks money during the financial crisis.

If an economic crisis affected the dollar, it would seriously harm other countries' assets. Does that surprise anyone? Think back to the Great Depression. It was a world-wide phenomena that particularly devastated Germany's Weimar Republic. The UK suffered immensely as did Canada and Australia, but didn't affect other places like Japan as much

We are far more connected today. If there's an economic crisis in one of the EURO nations, an issue with China, or the USA, we could expect a cascade of runs in all of those countries.

Many have purchased gold as a hedge, and if you've been reading the news, a lot of countries now want physical delivery of that gold within their own countries and not storing it in other nations. This should make a lot of people nervous. Many private investors are also heavily focused on physical gold.

We have a lot of people investing in the stock market and making money when there's great concern about those investments and stability. In some ways, it's a lot like the roaring twenties with wild investment that's akin to gambling, and the derivative scandal is one of the great dangers hanging over all of our heads like sword of Damocles.

The global economy is sick, seriously ill, and it wouldn't take much for a crisis. If we recall the policies of the New Deal, despite all of FDR's efforts, it was only when the US decided to enter into WW2, that the economy began to turn around. I wonder if there's a massive economic collapse, if that won't be the knee-jerk response.
Prostetnik

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11/26/2012 10:41 AM

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Re: Human survivability with supply chain disruptions and its effect on populations
We can always eat useless Canadians.
 Quoting: Russians Tasty 1351603


They are toxic, so must be prepared properly. Very few people have the skills to prepare a Canadian for eating, and will die as a result of their efforts.
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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11/26/2012 11:15 AM
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Re: Human survivability with supply chain disruptions and its effect on populations
Why have US government agencies, even normally benign ones purchased over a billion rounds of hollow point ammunition?

Is there any reasonable explanation why the Nation Weather Service would need this specialized ammunition?

Why so many rounds? It's more than enough to kill every citizen in the USA?

What are the concerned or even afraid will happen?

Has there ever been a time in history that a nation has armed government officials, not in a law enforcement capacity with weapons?

What are hollow point bullets for? They're not for hunting, not unless there's rhinos walking around the United States that I don't know about. While they could be used for hunting, they're designed to kill people with by expanding or deforming and NOT penetrating and causing collateral damage. In other words, when a bullet is fired, it has a velocity and a mass. The shape of the bullet and the velocity govern how it will strike the target. This kind is meant to strike and not pass through. This causes much more damage, bleeding, permanent wounding, and death.

What do you think would be a plausible reason? Don't just answer with wild theories.

Could it be that the US government fears a lot of enemies of some sort? It stands to reason logically. This particular kind of ammunition is not intended for target practice, and even if there was an extreme need for target practice, why so many rounds?

Who could be the enemies that they fear in such high numbers? While it's possible that they fear, say illegal aliens, there's not a billion of them in the USA (population 311,591,917 ). Illegal aliens are estimated to be 11 million, so a billion rounds would be rather excessive.

Wouldn't be game animals? What could it be? A invasion of the Chinese? Possible, they are numerous, but I doubt the entire population of China is coming, and even if so, why purchase ammunition for government officials instead of the military?

The only population of that amount currently in the US that comes close is out own population. More than 3 bullets for each person. It's deeply troubling. Are they anticipating riots so out of control that they'd need to open fire on men, women, and children?
Oh Kay

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11/26/2012 11:39 AM
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Re: Human survivability with supply chain disruptions and its effect on populations
Great topic, very thought provoking.

I was going to guess there would probably be a loss of about 10% of the population after about a month. Due in part to lack of meds & clean water.

After reading 535's response, I can find no argument with his logic.

Thanks for the thread. I look forward to reading more discussion on the topic.
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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11/28/2012 04:20 AM
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Re: Human survivability with supply chain disruptions and its effect on populations
Hurricane Sandy: a test case example of supply chain failure

In the USA, we live under a pleasant fiction that in the event of a disaster, that government agencies will come to our rescue. We think that they come with water, food, fuel, and medical assistance the moment the disaster has finished. Nothing could be further from the truth.

For that to happen, it would assume that they were prescient, and had prepared a huge pile of inventory and personnel to deploy, for that target population. We know that can't happen for many reasons...

1) It violates the known phenomena of “red tape”. Any official government institution has rules and administration. They state when and where and why and how an agency can intercede, and often as a result of local and state governments ceding over their oversight. So while the two argue, then delays are created.
2) Any organization that moves is typically slow with orders within its own organization.
3) Any organization will think, “How will our actions be noticed by the end users and the oversight committee who funds us? Will it be favorable or not to that Senate subcommittee or not? Will it cost us votes?” This makes things slow down.
4) As previously discussed, JIT manufacturing has been adopted by so many organizations, that this will govern how much warehousing is in place to minimize expenditures.
5) Since most government agencies must use a government bid system to get the least expensive items that fulfill the contract, and this contract must be administrated by all of those agencies in the chain of command plus the vendors, then this takes time.
6) Whatever items that were purchased, must be pulled by the customer fulfillment folks in warehousing and then placed on railroad cars, barges, trucks, airplanes, to begin movement. If it's not on a transportation hub, then likely it will move across hubs until then it's trucked the rest of the way.
7) If security is an issue, or fuel sources due to disaster, then those ancillary issues must be addressed as well.
8) Murphy's Law will cause fog-of-war issues with stupid mistakes and weather and bad luck.
9) The only way to go around such issues is to rely upon agencies that act rapidly like the military, and that can't happen often because those supplies were paid for specific uses, not humanitarian effort, and requires a command decision to be made to alter the rules, and that's where the buck stops.

All of these rules plus more that I didn't think of will stop the supply chain.

We know that people need water. They need it in three days or they begin to get dehydrated and die. It's a function of physical activity. In any emergency, it's the first issue next to exposure to the cold which supersedes it. In all emergencies you send water. Now we know that even water had to be “bid upon” and so, even that basic necessity is limited by red tape.

Hurricane Sandy happened over a big area and caused disruptions, but the actual people who needed direct government assistance in an emergency way was quite small, if you think about it. While there's always people needing assistance in a disaster, you triage who needs it most. That number was small but many were also helped with other larger issues. And yet, we couldn't fulfill this small group will basic things: water, fuel, food, generators in a short period of time, but really too many many days.

Years ago, I talked to an official for I live in an area that probably will have an earthquake in the next 100 years [Note: Most you do if you study an seismology charts.] He told me that you need to take care of yourself for two weeks, and then the supplies and personnel will be coming...and these were to urban centers.

Imagine the chaos of a dollar collapse, which of course wouldn't be limited to a small area, but wide-spread across nations, and I think it proves my point that the human cost would be large.
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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11/28/2012 05:10 AM
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Re: Human survivability with supply chain disruptions and its effect on populations
Military support in a disaster is a terrible idea

Since the military has its own support crews in diverse areas, it can rapidly put resources towards creating and maintaining war and operating at a very high tempo. It's common knowledge that they can cut through red tape so they can move personnel and supplies to an area FAST. But should we allow that to happen in the event of a dollar collapse?

We have laws in place in the USA so the military is not used on our own soil. It's not been favorable in history when a nation is occupied by its military. Any student of history can recall military occupation, even when offered in a benign honorable fashion... eventually created conflict and disorder.

Since most people will not prepare for disasters, and not have supplies, skills, and seed, and not be willing to help themselves and others, then most people being helpless will clamor for military assistance. It's not only pathetic, it's an abomination.

Expecting humanitarian effort from an organization whose purpose is to kill and break things is dumb. It would be like asking doctors to fight wars. Yes, doctors do serve a purpose in the military, because soldiers get injured and need treatment, but they aren't strapping on side arms and taking a hill.

The more specialized a skill, the less likely that a technician can do multi-skills.

You don't use a hammer to open the mail. Using the military, is using the wrong tool, for the wrong reasons.
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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11/28/2012 07:10 AM
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Re: Human survivability with supply chain disruptions and its effect on populations
The longer the chain, the more arduous the task of delivery

Imagine living on the West Coast of the USA. An earthquake strikes. Supplies are needed, and the products are far away on the East Coast of the USA. The people on the West Coast not only need those supplies, but they also need personnel to install, maintain, or teach or facilitate their use. Those personnel live elsewhere, but must be brought to the West Coast as well.

It would be easier of course if the personnel and supplies were closer, and this is why duplication of inventory and training of personnel is done to facilitate operations. Still, that requires a lot of foresight and money and the will to apply energy towards both purposes.

We all know that most people will do the least that they have to, for they're busy with their regular activities and use minimal energy for preparedness for something that happens irregularly.

This means that disruptions in a disaster are normal, but shocking for the person experiencing them. They thought is couldn't happen to them because their routine lives are relatively simple because of mutual co-dependency.

That co-dependency creates the potential for an equal disaster should something break the chain of mutual assistance.

The further away the supplies and personnel are, the more expensive the transportation costs will be in fuel, time, wear and tear on vehicles, cumulative personnel's downtime (breaks, sleep, refueling), traffic jams, detours, etc.

The weather will create stoppages of work-flow. Sometimes, the stoppage could entirely halt multiple vehicles and back them up if the sole channel for transportation is disrupted. See issues of barge traffic along the Mississippi River due to drought. It causes a cascade failure. It means river dredging operations by the Corp of Engineers and unloading and reloading of barges.

If supplies are needed in multiple locations simultaneously, then the deliveries that are closest to their end point destinations will arrive first and be installed. Isn't that logical? A delivery of supplies might be diverted towards local effort way before they ever made their way across country.

If a dollar collapse happened, and a driver was attempting to make deliveries and had no way to cope with rising fuel prices, then how would the driver get to their destinations?

Wouldn't you rather have a month of supplies (minimal) and learn skills so you can cope yourself rather than wait for something to arrive and suffer in the interim? If people didn't have food and water for a month, how many would perish? All of them would that didn't have skills to acquire food and water.

In a month after a collapse, a lot of food might be around in distribution centers unless they've been commandeered. Survivors of any collapse could probably locate some supplies amidst all of the wreckage left behind of such chaos.

Based upon the agricultural season, mass amounts of crops and livestock could die or be rendered unusable. Don't count upon them as being food sources.
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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11/28/2012 06:39 PM
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Re: Human survivability with supply chain disruptions and its effect on populations
Thinking within and outside the box in a dollar collapse

Here's some thoughts on a dollar collapse. Some are ones that I haven't seen before in scenarios. Maybe you've thought of them too.

Individuals
The Jones family isn't prepared to handle any emergencies. They're financially strapped at most times, and use the “float” period between bills coming in and credit cards ...as a bridge to keep their neck about the rising water of their debt. They wait to pay bills as long as possible, trying not to pay late fees in the process, but they often accidentally miscalculate and end up owing extra.

Around Christmas, they purchase a lot of extras besides their normal expenditures. They allocate a lot of their limited money on luxury gifts and buy a lot more alcohol and expensive food items. They put a lot of extra bills on credit cards that they don't usually use, and this is their backup financial plan.

The Smith family is frugal. They raise a lot of their food in the garden and in some limited livestock. They all hunt and fish. They haven't taken an expensive vacation in many years. They paid down their debt and tightened their belts instead. They purchase many supplies when things are on sale, sometimes a month or two in advance because they have surplus cash. They rotate their supplies, for to waste money is against their nature.

Around Christmas, the Smiths do buy Christmas gifts for their family, but they make a lot of them too. The gifts tend to be more practical. Many are books to encourage learning skills. The do spend money on extras like everyone else, but it's less of an issue because they have much more breathing room, so they don't have to use credit cards. They have them for emergencies like a tool that they use instead of the tool controlling them.

There are odd stories on the news. It looks like there's a movement to not use dollars as much in the global economy. Less US Treasuries are being sold, and seemingly most appear to be purchased by the Federal Reserve. There's an increase in global tension. A lot of financial experts are warning that the US Debt Ceiling will not get raised due to combativeness by one political party over another post-election.

The Smiths top off their purchases with some fuel for their vehicles, generators, and some surplus. They have adequate water and food to last for six months. They've got extra water as a result of rainwater collection and food-grade barrels. Mainly if there's an issue, they want some fuel options in case they need to create their own power. They have an emergency plan to leave to a even more rural location within 45 minutes of their already quiet location. That would be a last resort, for it mean leaving most of their supplies. It would happen if there was a danger of being overrun.

The Jones are worried and rush down to purchase items last minute. They don't know what they need, and the market is chaos. It's way worse than any Black Friday, and the parking lot is packed. They're laughing but randomly purchasing things they think they'll need. There's immensely long queues of shoppers and it takes forever to get checked out.

Truckers around the country get worried calls from dispatch organizations they work for. All of them tell the truckers to pull over and purchase fuel NOW. They anticipate issues with getting their payloads to their end-points. Some rerouting is taking place, strictly changing normal operating procedures.

Some county sheriffs are worried about the news. They contact their mayors, and make some plans to divert roadways in case they get hammered with urban refugees. They'll block exits if need be to any cars who are not regular visitors.

Some smart sheriffs suggest that the city restrict local sales to residents, and contact vendors about their concerns with fuel and food. Vendors agree that there's a potential risk that purchases might not be paid for, and the cities will purchase the vendor's inventory instead. The sheriffs discuss with hotel and motel owners the potential issue of occupants not leaving and using up local water and ultimately not paying their bills. Restaurant owners are contacted about their food supplies. Residents are encouraged to store water in case there's any disruptions. In case of power disruptions, the restaurants have agreed to sell their food at a discount to the city, to be prepared to feed their residents rather than be wasted.

Urban centers don't want to alarm people, and say nothing.

The market opens and US Futures are sharply down across the board. When the US markets opens, panic selling begins and the circuit breaker in charge of market disruptions creates a halt to trading. The market close completely.

Fuel retailers contact each other and their suppliers. They decide to raise prices by collaborating. They anticipate issues with the effect on the dollar. Some break cohesiveness, and prices begin spiraling out of control.

Some people in urban areas take “vacations” to more rural places. These prescient refugees pack up some supplies and head across the country. Since most of them “fill up the tank” at the last minute, there's a rush on gasoline. A lot of people start purchasing fuel in containers too creating a very high demand for fuel. The high demand and the uncertainty mixes with the rising prices and the fuel prices are adjusted and readjusted higher and higher.

This triggers the news media's attention. They run stories about the phenomena. There are pictures of long lines, and counter-intuitively a lot of curiosity seeks decide to fill up and also people watch. This makes fuel prices rise sky-high.

Every city in the nation is seeing impulse purchases. A lot of people begin traveling to small communities to see if their gas prices are lower and food costs too. The increase in demand has resulted in higher food prices overall.

Some patients begin fulfilling many months of prescriptions. They know all too well how dependent they are on these drugs. Pharmacies get hammered with orders. Lines back up in the drive through, and parking lots are filled with people waiting, and then being told they're out of medicines. This kicks in JIT inventory controls and automatic reorders that get reported to shipping companies. Administrators warn their area operation bosses that something is deeply wrong. It looks like very long shipping times due to the volume.

Many drug warehouses don't have the medicines to fulfill orders to be sent to the distribution centers. Their production lines will have to actually fill more drugs by overtime. This will add to costs and prices rise sky high.

Retailers are very happy with the added sales, but these purchases are being monitored by their JIT inventory systems and automatic reorder of stock begins to happen. These large changes in volume get noticed by administrators. Worried shipping companies realize that so many are ordering extra that they can't keep up. Food distribution centers see that they have inadequate inventories to fulfill orders and they contact their administrators too.

Banking notices large purchases and puts holds on many credit card holders' lines of credit. So many declines and issues with volume create a system outage. Retailers can't accept plastic anymore. They temporarily take cash, but can't make change. Those with local checks are the last ones to purchase items before they too are denied.

Many truckers can't get fuel in any timely way. Traffic snarls up in some places. Accidents happen in higher amounts than normal with many more people on the roads darting in front of trucks and accidental impacts. Traffic gets worse. Some truckers decide to pull over and wait out some of this temporary madness. There's a lot of confusion about where to deliver to since a lot of new orders can't be filled, and so many truckers are getting many end-point changes and this results in a lot of them getting frustrated. There's a lot of accidents on highway exits and in merging with traffic.

People who weren't awake to the danger now try to get items and find out that many businesses are closed due to the plastic not being accepted. Many get lost in parts of town they are familiar with, and some go to smaller towns and get lost along the way. There's been some shootings of commuters in some poorer parts of towns. These continue to rise in occurrence.

Several smaller towns get swamped with urban refugees. When they get to these small towns, their credit cards/EMT/debit cards don't work. They try to get cash, but the machines are down for maintenance. Either they've been stripped of cash or they simply don't operate.

The refugees are stranded with no money, low fuel, no supplies, no water.

County sheriffs call other sheriffs and warn their peers to close their roads to newcomers. They drive around their normal routes and see parking lots in every business with out of town vehicles. There's been a lot of disturbances with merchants having to refuse to allow people to use bathrooms, some thefts, people unable to get a motel room, unable to pay for meals after eating in restaurants.

Sound plausible?
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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11/28/2012 07:18 PM
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Re: Human survivability with supply chain disruptions and its effect on populations
Broke refugees that “bugged out”, accidentally or otherwise

Many of these refugees have quite a quandary. They don't have money, fuel, food, or water. Some came to fill their tanks and move on to another destination. Others came to simply get a cheaper price. Some came to watch the spectacle. Some were desperately trying to fill a prescription.

As things get tense, some more vocal refugees will make loud demands. A lot of people enjoy watching a conflict, and they'll taunt the merchants or refugees as they get in heated arguments. Some physical altercations will happen as people “lose it”. Sheriffs will have to jail some people, break up fights, make people leave, etc. They won't get far.

Some portion of every population will bend the rules. Some locals will sell refugees things, and people on both sides of that transaction will occasionally lose and get angry. Some residents will sell them water, let them use bathrooms for a price, offer to sell them fuel or food. Prices will be very high. Some altruists will help people out, then have bad experiences and stop.

In every population, there's some sociopaths. They won't put up with this redneck town limiting their freedom. Several will steal, but will get caught since they can't get far. Some will force their way into residents homes since they must get some water. Some will demand drugs from pharmacies. Some will outright steal by creating distractions.

Some people are sociopaths, but only followers. They'll band with the strongest sociopaths, since that's been their life history. After camping out in their cars for one night, some will begin to take matters into their own hands. How long will it be before open violence happens? How long before restaurants are overrun since no one expects robberies there?

As people are stuck longer and longer, sheriffs and mayors will have to decide what to do. Can we force people to leave on foot? Should we offer to feed people from existing stocks? We have to offer water. I think water stations and bath rooms will be set up as a pressure relief valve to control the mob. They'll be massive lines, and it will be done with security, and imperfectly organized.

Some people may decide that they should leave by driving as far as they can, then pulling over and walking the rest of the way. Many will get home, but to chaos in their urban areas. Stalled traffic on highways will lead many to walk over across medians and communicate with the fleeing people and warning them of what transpired.

Fleeing people will run out of gas. They'll get lost. They'll fight due to road rage. They'll have accidents. Some shootings will occur. Some people will panic and flee into meadows and forests.

I can't imagine a more volatile situation than being a refugee without supplies, a working vehicle, no fuel, no water, no food, etc.

Many people can't walk very far due to poor health. I would expect some heart attacks and strokes.

Up next: Refugees that organize for good and for ill.
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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11/29/2012 02:27 AM
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Re: Human survivability with supply chain disruptions and its effect on populations
Refugees that organize for good and for ill

Many people could be sojourners in these towns, especially if a dollar collapse happened in Winter. Imagine someone walking 20 miles in Winter. Not too many people have a lick of sense nowadays and dress properly. They assume that they won't need a cap and gloves, or a thick coat, or proper shoes...for they're just running a quick errand. The alternative is sleeping in an unheated vehicle and stranded. Even if they got a fire going outside, if it's the open, the wind would cut through them like a knife. Then they would be choosing between a hurried 20 mile walk in the cold or snow, versus all night in cold vehicle. No fun and mostly likely getting sick or frostbite in some cases.

The air is very dry in Winter due to low humidity. Most people wouldn't have any idea how to source water. They'd be entirely at the mercy of a local offering them water. And food? They're definitely not foraging in Winter and finding any amounts that would offset the calories burned.

Most likely this means organizing in a collapse. Some refugees would realize it was better to pool their resources by siphoning from their gas tank and into a reliable vehicle and taking a route that drops people off if returning to their home towns. Of course this means good social skills, networking, and communications. Many more people will be looking for public assistance.

Some good Samaritans are out there. There's always altruistic folks, often spiritual of one kind or another, often from a history of being poor and helping out someone in the same boat. A lot are patriots, or simply kind, and a few will give people lifts. With so much chaos, it's doubtful that anyone will chose to take the road as it's very uncertain what lies in store for them.

Others will take on a gang mentality. The most vocal will organize people to become a group and try to persuade local officials for water, bathrooms, shelter, food, etc. This is liable to cause great conflict. If officials don't help them, it will get out of hand. If they help them, they'll be stuck helping them. It's a no-win situation.

I really expect livestock to be slaughtered by folks who are packing weapons, and perhaps bugging out, for there's not really prime hunting in Winter. Animals have instinct and burrow underground in warm nests with food and water. They seldom are active unless they too are very hungry. Mostly this is a few rodents, and without a rifle or practice trapping, their best option is culling the herd of an animal or two. Taking someone's livestock in a collapse will probably result in severe violence to the perpetrator. See One Second After by Forstchen:
[link to www.onesecondafter.com]

There's strength in numbers, and many refugees will attempt to stay together in order to have some measure of safety. The flip-side is that once out of sight of other refugees, you may get robbed of what meager supplies you have. If a refugee party passes through a town, unless a specific group member has major skills in law enforcement, a soldier, a trapper, a doctor/nurse, an engineer, a farmer, etc then probably the locals will want you to keep moving. If one person in the party steals, then the whole group will get blamed for theft. Do you really want to be walking with them?

Bugging out is almost always a bad idea.

Next up: Some people are in transit at any time on the highway. What happens to them?
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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11/29/2012 04:54 AM
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Re: Human survivability with supply chain disruptions and its effect on populations
Some people are in transit at any time on the highway. What happens to them?

When an economic collapse happens, a lot of people, who ordinarily use the highways, could end up stuck in traffic jams. It mostly depends upon when any exodus occurs to look for fuel or stock up on supplies. If it happens around rush hour peak periods when people are going to work or coming home, then a lot of people could easily be stuck in the madness of the moment.

Many retirees have a lot of free time and travel based upon whim. They could find themselves stuck behind miles of traffic.

People leave for school or return again when attending a commuter college. School children could be stuck on buses. Day care or elder care often take people on an activity.

Salespeople could be traveling to or from their client and on to the next call.

Real estate agents could be coming or going from a house viewing or an open house.

People attend seminars, and save money on air fare by driving instead.

All of these people are at risk in a dollar collapse due to the supply chain issues. Most will not have any supplies in their car, will be improperly dressed for walking, probably won't have more than $50 on them, won't have maps to know about alternative routes.

In Winter, it is wisdom to have some extra things in the trunk, gas up your vehicle, keep it well maintained, have some supplies, extra money, dress for the weather, have some walking shoes, etc. It's just common sense.

Anyone on the highway in a dollar collapse could be stranded and unable to safely get home. A lot of people are thinking it's no big deal to walk 20 miles. It's true that people can easily walk 20 miles on flat terrain like a road, but think...is the road the best path if things are out of control? Or is it smarter to take alternative side roads, walking a little off the highway, shadow the road by walking through a forest with cover in case there are issues, etc? Walking 20 miles this way is quite a bit more of a physical activity and at the average pace of a seasoned hiker on the Appalachian Trail, and not in the average ability of most Americans. Imagine hiking that way with your grandma or a four year old. You probably will have issues.

What happens if physically challenged? What if you're pregnant and quite far along?

What happens if there's trouble ahead as you're attempting to get home? What happens if challenged? What happens if you witness someone being assaulted? Troubling, isn't it?

Up next: A leader may impose price controls, just as governors impose them in disasters.
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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11/29/2012 04:59 PM
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Re: Human survivability with supply chain disruptions and its effect on populations
Price controls in an economic crisis

If you read any history, you'll see that governments often enact price controls in an emergency. This method is used in weather related crises to prevent price-gouging, but usually hurts the locals. For example, during Hurricane Sandy, there was a lot of demand for supplies, but few trucks providing them. Why? The prices are artificially limited so merchants couldn't raise their prices in order to make more from the people who are suffering.

Now this has a positive side and a negative side. If a merchant can adjust prices even though the situation has changed, then sometimes if those changes exceed reasonable operating costs, then why bother to sell in a changed market? Let's say you have fuel at a gas station, but no way to operate the station with your available employees. There are some employes who will offer to come in, but since things are highly chaotic, they demand more hourly wages to compensate them. With limitations on price controls and a slim margin for profiting (gas sales have a very small profit, the profit is made by selling inflated goods in a convenience store, but no one is coming inside), the merchant realizes the risk outweighs the adjustment of wages versus how much volume can be sold.

Or there's not water, food, or generators, but in a nearby area, people could transport these goods to an affected region, but they require longer transportation chains than normal. In addition, the merchants coming in from outside incur lodging and food expenses as a result of coming to the area. They would raise their prices to compensate them, but the governor has imposed price-controls. See why supply chain disruptions lead to inflation or simply a lack of supplies?

Price-controls lead to a lack of supplies because at some point, the profit margin is artificially low versus much high risk. In a collapse or disaster, there's always a chance of being overrun and whatever goods or services you're offering might be stolen. In history, this means more security through weapons and beefy soldiers to guard the merchant. Since security is less of an issue during calm times, the new security requirements are an additional expense, or a vastly higher expense.

What do I mean by services? During wartime, it was not uncommon for doctors to be kidnapped to treat one side or the other's soldiers. In effect, the kidnappers imposed the ultimate price-control....slavery, albeit usually temporary. Far worse things could happen which I won't go into.

Governments in the USA have historically used price-controls to limit prices or even artificially raise prices during economic crises. During the Great Depression, there was plenty of food, but often it was at a fixed price that no one could afford, and hence some food actually was destroyed rather than be eaten while there was starvation going on. The thought was make the food be at a fixed price to protect the farmers, but then they couldn't sell their goods. Everyone suffered: supplier, wholesaler, retailer, and consumer.

Since merchants are limited on profit, then often what happens is black markets. Those products sell at very high prices because their operation has been declared criminal, and so they must have extraordinary security in undisclosed locations, or varying locations that shutdown quickly and restart up in a new location. This exaggerates operating costs and imposes high risk to sellers and buyers, and so prices are HIGH.

Because a government needs supplies as well as the People, and governments in times of crisis are crucially short of funds and not really generating taxes, then governments impose price-controls to reduce their operating costs.

Since governments have critical infrastructure (military, utilities, health, engineering, transportation, etc), then these workers must be paid, and the operations must flow. This uses up supplies (especially ones that are close and have lower transportation costs) and so they're diverted to those areas (at fixed prices) and uses up supplies and services too that other consumers would ordinarily use.

The goal of price-controls is to reduce inflation. In history, when a government went to war, they spent money they didn't have. The people knew that higher taxes had to be imposed to pay for it. While a lot of wealth might be seized through plunder and land transferred to the ruler, usually taxes were needed to offset the lost wealth in the short run. It was largely an excuse, but a war could also be lost and hence the wealth used for warfare would be unrecoverable. Or taxes would allow a double profit.

Merchants would realize that their currency would lose value and also the demand was very high, so they raised their prices to cope. This ends up with the government imposing price-controls. It's popular with the people, but terrible for the merchant, and so in the long-term it will stop the flow of supplies until such time that price-controls are banished.

In an economic collapse, the main issue is panic. There might indeed be reserve supplies, but since there's some chaos created by panic, then that restricts the flow of materials and people. For example, we have a strategic reserve of oil in the USA. It can be released based upon a decision from the commander in chief, but again because critical infrastructure support needs it, it probably will get diverted. Likewise we have food supplies in surplus, but they'll likely be used to feed these folks.

At some point in a crisis, a leader will have a televised message to the people and “urge calm”. There's been no change in the crisis, the leader is only using their charisma as a service to help restore trust. Think to FDR's message after the bank runs. He closed the banks and gave people time to think about withdrawing their funds. Expect something like that to happen again. Will the people listen in a dollar collapse? I doubt it.

Coming up: Bugging in during Winter, might be best done underground.
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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11/29/2012 05:22 PM
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Re: Human survivability with supply chain disruptions and its effect on populations
Wait...you're saying profiteering is good in a crisis?

Some of you may be repelled by the notion that a merchant offering supplies or services should be able to charge more in a crisis. Here's why it's a good thing.

You go to certain grocery stores today. Often you go there because they're conveniently located near your neighborhood and this means less time and fuel for you as a consumer. If there were two that were equally distant, but one had better selection or prices or better meat or produce, then you go to the place that features the qualities and quantities that you need.

In a collapse, if prices rise, then people will pay the higher prices, but then they're upset if the price variation exceeds a certain range. Demand drops, particularly since they're been made upset by the merchant and they go to another store.

If no supplies are coming in, then people are willing to pay more for the same goods. Think about seasonal produce like fresh peaches. They're not always available, so prices must be adjusted based upon the demand and the supply of them. If it's a favorable trade, then the consumer adjusts the importance of acquiring them versus the cost of them. Since fresh peaches spoil, a merchant who has too high a price on them will reduce the prices if no volume of them are being sold. This kind of market forces allow for a reasonable price to be found by negotiation between the supplier, wholesaler, retailer, and consumer.

Yes, hotel prices might go sky high in a disaster, but then maybe they have a very small percentage of rooms occupied during the period or later when no one has money for them. Since an owner must still pay for utilities, employees, and advertising, then they adjust the price based upon the ability for them to make a profit. In an economic crisis, it's very possible that there's a very slim window to make money at all, for maybe once it happens, it ultimately ruins the merchant within a few months. In a disaster, there's not exactly a lot of incoming travelers visiting the area for sight-seeing, is there? The only niche markets for them are journalists and government workers visiting the area.

Here's how it could become very worrisome. In an economic collapse, the competition between merchants will become very strained. Some merchants may not have ways to sell their goods. Others can't get supplies. Others have no employees because they can't pay their salaries. This reduces competition to the degree that monopolies are created. If there's a monopoly on fuel, then a merchant can set the prices as high as they want, and only leadership can step in to limit their profit by creating a restriction, imposing limitations, disallowing government contracts, regulating trade, etc.

However, if there's no competition, usually some merchant will attempt to go into business since they see an opportunity. They'll begin to network to find suppliers, wholesalers, transporters, and then market their goods to the consumer. Sometimes this lowers prices., it depends upon supplies and inflation.

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