Peak Ore, Peak Oil, Peak Water, Peak Soil, Peak Food, Peak stable Climate. Globally we are reaching or have passed the peaks of all these things. Since our economy relies on growth in all these to promote growth in population; we have a systemic economic problem hitting all industries and nations.
This is the current situation.
Empires MUST grow to survive, Nations can survive static (Egypt and China for example) for a long time by bleeding off excess population and having absolute control of their most essential resources, but not with a growth predicated economy. No stable nation has had an exponentially growing debt- most have completely forbidden debt or at least compounding interest, only empires and unstable nations trying to become empires can do that, and only for a little while. That debt free existence is where the USA has to go eventually to.
But of course the bankers will have to be reimbursed or killed off to make it happen. And then our global empire will fall without their funding. And we will no longer be able to import, well, almost anything at all, since who would sell to someone who is broke and bankrupt without cash on the barrelhead?
The American Empire had such a great start because of the near extinction of the Stone Age natives, combined with a rewarding of individual initiative. This allowed for great pre-industrial and industrial wealth as we stripped a . Then the empire the wealth founded went on to become global in scope, and did its best to keep pulling in wealth from other countries into its heart land.
And that where we in the USA have been living for the past 60+ years. Nearly a centuries worth of raw material turned into 'disposable' consumer goods sitting in our landfills and junkyards. But our junkyards aren’t going to be enough to maintain empire (especially in the face of national bankruptcy).
Now, because we have been so RICH in raw materials for so long, our trash piles are going to be a vast store of wealth and resources for the future- Tires and plastics to burn in place of the oil they were made from, metal ores pre-refined, glass in excellent purity needing to just be re-melted and shaped, rich organics just needing to be separated from the diapers, etc.
Archeologist of the far future will have little of our trash piles to go through because we will be reusing it all as our civilization goes catabolic. Already junk yards are starting to be seen as resources, and landfills are next. Sure they are full of toxins- recognizing and knowing how to safely deal with such things is a great skill for our grandkids to have- but the resources we squandered previously will not be ignored.
Political scientists and academics see the end of the US hegemony coming, and assume (foolishly) that it will be replaces by the BRIC nations (one or all of Brazil, Russia, India, China). Sure each has some fundamental advantages and some fundamental flaws, but NONE of them have the starting advantage that the USA had, and unless some new resources and energy sources are found they will never be able to compare to the USA at its peak- in fact with our landfill resources the USA should still be able to be player on a global stage with them for the rest of this century, even if the USA balkanizes.
On US balkanization- Sure it will happen, but it won’t be as quick or clean as the fall of the USSR, most states of the union still see themselves as part of the USA, even the most likely to succeed (Texas, Puerto Rico and Hawaii) will have to have a large economic, social, and political hurdles to overcome internally before they even seriously consider succession. Look at St. Louis, New Orleans, and Alaska- each would have a good reason to leave the union, instead each looks to the rulers in D.C. and begs for help, even when what they get is hardly a pat on the head, they don’t take any steps to take care of themselves or leave the union.
Ask anyone in any state and over 98% of the time, no matter how militantly they may be against the current DC rulers, they still claim to be "American" (short hand for US citizen) first and foremost. They might, when pressed also claim their state citizenship or ethnic background but the melting pot still sticks with us and we are going to continue to be "American" even as some take up arms against DC, or the locally appointed authorities recognized by DC, or their fellow "American" tribes.
The enemy of your locality, beyond the gangs and bandits, will be soldiers who will be saluting the same American flag as you, and likely speaking the same language (unless they are Mexican or Canadian invaders, we can likely discount most transoceanic invaders as the resources for those trips will be minimal, and the rewards likewise). Your future enemies will most likely will also claim Christianity as their main religion, and only differ from you in either ethnic background or hometown....
Eventually there is some (faint) hope an energy or science break through will happen allowing for future growth, but since such breakthroughs take time and stability to achieve and implement they aren’t likely to happen during our coming decline, once the decline has stopped and a new normal is formed THEN maybe cold fusion or other pie in sky tech can come to fruition, or the 'inorganic' source of oil will replenish all the old oil fields, but such things can take centuries and millennia to happen.
So this gives an outline of the future we and our 3 generation out descendants have to look forward to.
Maybe you are thinking that as the collapse accelerates you will somehow rise up to become the local chief, president, general or grand poo-bah of your area and be acclaimed as the wisest smartest bestest of everyone in your locality/tribe/village/hood. And maybe you see yourself holding up your plastic poodle shooter as you pose for the picture that will be in all the future history books. If you aren’t now a leader of your area (sheriff, mayor, city/county councilman, etc.) you are dreaming.
And since there is always one 'admiral of the fleet' position and a thousand 'galley slave' positions and you aren’t going to be the top dog, you have to find a way to be positioned above the 'galley slaves' (or whatever the equivalent of the future will be, probably something like nuclear waste disposal laborer).
The best way to get such a mid-level position is to be as independent of the group as possible while NOT being so well off others want to take what you have. Subsistence farmer/rancher isn’t a bad start (with hidden caches to handle the inevitable crop failures.) getting moderately useful PODA skills is another.
James Dakin’s plan positions you to convert to such a position as the collapse accelerates.
You can't hope to have the Idaho bunker, organic farm and militia team of most other plans, if you don’t already have them all, or an extra half million dollars just sitting around. You can however stock up on junk land, basic non-perishable supplies, and collapse early to beat the rush.
Dakin lives the collapse, he isn’t yet practicing the post collapse (get your ranching/farming experience now Jim!) but has clear plans on how to do so.
In my next Guest Article, if the magnificently follicular Lord Bison allows, I will cover my implementation of the Bison survival plan and some ideas on how to tweak it to fit your resources and circumstances.