Social Unrest and Global States of Combustibility

by | Jan 1, 2010 | Forecasting, Headline News | 10 comments

Do you LOVE America?


    The Economist says that 2010 could be a year the sparks unrest in the Global Tinderbox:

    “IF THE world appears to have escaped relatively unscathed by social unrest in 2009, despite suffering the worst recession since the 1930s, it might just prove the lull before the storm. Despite a tentative global recovery, for many people around the world economic and social conditions will continue to deteriorate in 2010. An estimated 60m people worldwide will lose their jobs. Poverty rates will continue to rise, with 200m people at risk of joining the ranks of those living on less than $2 a day. But poverty alone does not spark unrest—exaggerated income inequalities, poor governance, lack of social provision and ethnic tensions are all elements of the brew that foments unrest.

    States of Combustibility Map:


    We are surprised to see Argentina in the high category, as there has been quite a bit of positive news on the stability of this country with lots of alternative investors, like Doug Casey, promoting real estate and agricultural investments.

    Mexico, however, is a given, and should probably ranked in the very high category. This country is a disaster, as evidenced by the thousands of deaths on the northern border related to narcotics trafficking, gangs, and mafia. Couple that with a population that has no jobs, and is now losing revenue from family members in the US, and you can have a serious breakdown in social order. It would be no surprise if these local wars make their way across the border into Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.

    We think the Very High rating for the Middle East is dead on. If World War III is going to break out, this is where it is going to start. With religious wars spanning millennia , and resources  underground being drastically reduced through increased consumption around the world, it’s no wonder that this part of the globe is what one could deem a current SHTF scenario, and it’s only going to get worse.

    It is also interesting that The Economist rated China as “High” risk, what with all the positive news about the new capitalist leanings and increased freedoms for their people. Here at SHTF Plan, we don’t doubt this rating one bit, considering the fact that all the hooplah about China being “decoupled” from the US economy and being the engine that’s driving the world, is just that, hooplah. Any economic problems in the USA are going to have a direct and immediate impact on China. End of story. That being said, if the mainstream is so incompetent as to see this relationship, I don’t think their competency can be trusted about understanding capitalism and how it functions in a politically communist system.

    We do wonder about the USA. For the most part, things seem stable now, and save a few days of tea parties in 2009, nothing seems to be brewing. Though many have lost their jobs, the poverty levels have not increased significantly, at least not significantly enough to drive millions of people into the streets across major cities in the entire country. However, poverty, as opined by The Econmist, is only part of the combustibility equation, so we must consider the other aspects noted in the article:

    • Exaggerated Income Inequalities – This is a potential time bomb, as private sector, hard working Americans are seeing their 401k’s deteriorate, the values of their homes collapse, and their wages decline. All the while bankers and financiers on Wall Street pay themselves hundreds of thousands and multiple millions of dollars in bonuses. On top of that, the average salary of a government employee in America is almost double that of the private sector. Eventually, the plebs are going to realize that they are doing twice the work for half the pay, in some cases, fractions of pay. Will this happen in 2010? Maybe not, but it seems that income inequality could easily become an issue that sparks unrest.
    • Poor governance — Do we even need to go here? Really? The people have already had enough. When 90% of America calls Congress to reject the TARP bailout program prior to the vote, and then Congress pushes it through overwhelmingly, what is that? Good governance? How about raising property taxes, adding new health care taxes, eliminating Bush’s tax cuts and even taxing plastic bags from grocery stores? Is that considered good governance when your constituents are losing their jobs, defaulting on their credit cards and having problems putting food on the table?
    • Ethnic tension – Racism is not dead in America just because Barrack Obama was elected President. We can play these games all we want, but white people, black people, hispanic people, asian people — we have a hard time getting along. I mean sure, we get along for the most part and we’re cordial and all that, especially while everything is going smoothly in the system, and their isn’t a hiccup. But any number of events can set off this powder keg — with anti-immigration protests being just one. There’s a reason that Rodney King’s famous line, “Why can’t we all just get along?” still gets chuckles nearly 20 years later no matter what color the person is that makes the joke. Because the point being made is apparent to everyone that hears it.
    • Lack of Social Provisions – Maybe everything seems to be ok right now insofar as the recipients of social distributions are concerned, but at the rate we are going, social provisions MUST be cut. Look at California, just one of many examples. California is so broke that it is going to have to pull the plug on some social programs. What happens when welfare, medicare, medicaid, unemployment assistance, or a host of other programs need to be cut? Sure, the Federal government may bail out the states — at first — but then they themselves go broke, and they  have to make cuts. Those living on the very edge will lose what little support they had, and then the SHTF.

    The Economist focuses on the risks of social unrest in 2010. While the above points may be on the back burner for now, they are slowly simmering. Serious civil unrest, the kind that might warrant a Medium or High risk rating, does not seem to be likely this year. Though, this may be argued by a number of other forecasters who see this as a distinct possibility for 2010.

    Rather than making a forecast that predicts that we will either have civil unrest or we won’t, we’ll try to make our views as vague as possible, so that a year from now we can say we were right no matter what happens: Maybe social unrest in America on massive scales is not probable, but it is certainly within the realm of possibility. We hope that makes everyone feel better about it all.


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      1. Hi.  I am writing because my family lives in probably the most endangered red zone: Israel.  Should Iran nuke the center of our country, only the very southern section of the country will offer any chance of survival.  The biggest problem for survival there is going to be water — it is full-on serious desert and the local water plant is not going to be piping water.  We’ve been making a lot of preparations in “the event” of a nuclear strike or any other global happening that shuts down everything (safe shelter, food supplies etc) but access to water is the issue we’ve not been able to resolve (only so much room and not enough to store enough bottled water for more than a couple of weeks and that only for drinking).  We’re hoping someone here might have some suggestions.

      2. I have no idea what the percentage of the population are prepers.
        If you consider those without the financial resources to prep and those who are clueless and don’t prep.                                           The non prepers must be atleast 80% , if not more.                      Just think….. All those people with nothing but anger and fear.                            

      3. Just think all those people with nothing No jobs, No Unemployment,No Money ,No Home and Nothing left to Lose but Life itself!  These people will take what others have by Force ! Go ahead and prep because if the Government doesnt take it away the hords will!

      4. Happy New Year Mac & Fellow SHTF’ers!

        I see we’re not waisting any time in 2010….heheh

        Great post Mac.

        Regarding your statement:  “For the most part, things seem stable now…… Though many have lost their jobs, the poverty levels have not increased significantly…..”

        While I saw much mention of the decline in Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance yesterday, only one or two noted the sharp rise in Emergency UI recipients (the claimants have exhausted their State benefits). This indicates that the number of long-term unemployed continues to rise. The decline in Initial Claims merely indicates that workforce cuts have slowed.

        My thinking on that is businesses in aggregate are now in a wait & see mode pending confirmation of the so-called ‘green shoots’. If we are only stabilizing (or still deteriorating) – as opposed to moving into a full-on recovery – I would expect U3 to resume it’s upward trajectory. So between the issues with employment and the ongoing deterioration in housing, those alone would be enough to get things ‘brewing’ rather quickly.

        A stock market crash and/or a price spike in basic neccessities might act as accelerant on a fire. A widespread financial panic (while still unlikely) could unfold over a matter of days.

        Keep prepping. Stay alert. Be well!

      5. Tom, I think your assessment on small business is right on. I know that our business is in a wait and see. We actually utilize contractors more than anything else, but insofar as overall spending goes, we are not spending on anything new or untested. We are conserving as much cash as possible, and if that means we can’t grow are business at the same rates as 3 or 4 years ago, so be it. I know that other businesses are doing the same.

        I also agree that we need just a single catalyst for the system to come unglued, with a stock market crash, spike in oil prices, strike on Iran, widespread next wave of H1N1, and European credit defaults being just some of the possibilities that lead to an accelerated deterioration system-wide.
        Aviva – I think in the event of an emergency, you will have some serious problems with water acquisition. Personally, I stay as far from the desert as possible and prefer lush green pastures here in central/eastern Texas :) 

        Here is a link on building a last resort desert solar still :

        Might I recommend you try and build this before anything happens to make sure it can provide adequate water? The last thing you want to do is use up all your energy (and water) building this thing and then finding out it doesn’t work for you when it is too late.

        I realize Israel doesn’t get a whole lot of rain — maybe 20 – 30 inches per year? — nonetheless, in an emergency, even this could be life saving, so I’d recommend looking into building a rain harvesting device such as the one found here:

        It, like the solar still, is not fool proof, but if you can combine several different water harvesting technologies, you may be able to produce at least some water, enough to keep you alive.

        Perhaps even digging a well? is there water underground out there??

        I hope this helps to get you on the road to water prepping out in Israel.

      6. Avia- I honestly feel you have nothing whatsoever to fear from Iran. Your country has 200-300 nuclear warheads ( one hell of a deterant ) Iran has 0, zip, none. They also are bound ( to some extent) by the nuclear non proliferation treaty. Isreal and India never would sign…. My step father was a Polish jew who lost most of his family to the invasion of Poland. I am concerned for all people please dont misunderstand me. What about the plight of the Palistinians. They need water and resources also, which they are being starved of, by your leaders. Isreal is a beutiful country so is Iran ( and I know people in Tehran ) Iran is being played off of you ( Isreal) to create and maintain destabilazation, Syria also. It’s all about financing and weapons not ideology. If you get attacked it would most likely be a false flag operation, like so many others. You may be safer in the US or atleast have the illusion of it. I wish you safety and piece of mind.      

      7. Hi Aviva,

        Our thoughts & prayers are with you.

        Regarding water, you may wish to consider a cistern – essentially a large tank or series of tanks, now usually made of plastic.

        When sizing your cistern, you may wish to include ALL possible uses for water – drinking, bathing, cooking, gardening, animals, etc)  – as well as total the annual (or some subset) amount consumed by each (i.e. ? Liters per person per day drinking – which is higher in desert climates).

        In your situation a cistern could be shallowly buried (as freezing is not an issue). Piping runs from the bottom of the tank(s) to the point where you draw the water - water can be drawn via gravity or pump.

        Introducing water into the tanks can be accomplished actively (i.e. pumping or pouring existing water supplies into the tank) or passively (i.e. rainwater runoff). I will discuss passive.

        I don’t know what your area’s avg annual rainfall is but it is a rare locale on earth that gets zero rainfall. Therefore, collecting enough rain to continually supply your cistern becomes a calulus of the required cisten size as well as the required surface area used as watershed. Rain gutters feed piping to the top of the cistern. If the surface area of the roof(s) is insufficient to supply adequate water, additional surface area can be gained by using plastic sheeting on the ground. The ground under your sheeting should be uniformly sloped to a base location where some form of ‘gutter’ will feed piping to your cistrern.

        Cistern water is generally not potable water however. You will want to purify the water before drinking. There a numerous purificaton products available.  As always, boiling is effective purification too. In the event that neither option is available to you, a ‘solar still’ will also work. This can be devised as simply as using sanitary containers – one larger than the other – and some sanitary food grade plastic. Place ‘raw’ water in the smaller container. Place the smaller container in the larger. ‘Tent’ the plastic over the larger (and smaller) container but within the sidewalls of the larger container. As moisture condenses on the plastic, it will run into the larger container – voila! – distilled water. It’s a slow process yet better than fatal dehydration or the ingestion of harmful virus or parasites.

        This topic is generally called ‘water harvesting’ and has been practiced for thousands of years in dryland climates. There is ample material available to aid you in fine-tuning your approach to this serious issue.

        I hope this was helpful.

      8. It is not often you find such practical, usable information in one place. The articles are good but then the comments also give more information. I seldom see shills or immature comments in here.

        Our thoughts and prayers are with you. When you verbalized your problem with water, I instantly thought of the cistern that Tom mentioned. It may be that you could install the cistern and fill it by hauling water to it. Then, figure some way to catch water to add to your sustainable time in using it. Like, Mac, I prefer much less arid places but you have what you have. There are types of water filters that you could use that, with replacement elements, will remove all bacterial/viral elements of the aproriate amount of water. Consider the ceramic filter type. You would need that only for drinking and cooking. Water for washing, etc, could be used directly from the tank indefinately needing filtering only for drinking and cooking.  Good luck and stay safe!

      9. You are surprised to see Argentina as high?  With Kirchner destroying what’s left of the economy for her and her cronies gain? With crime at incredible levels?  I suggest you do more research.

      10. David, thank you for the insights. I admit, I have done very little research on Argentina, as at this time, I am not looking to make any investments in that country, nor do I plan on moving there in the foreseeable future. And given your comments, it sounds like that may be the best course of action.

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