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Dominoes of Disaster

dominos fallingNever before in recorded history has there been such a high potential for numerous, global catastrophic events. Like dominoes lined up neatly on a rickety table, we seemed poised for disaster. Each domino represents a potential to begin a collapse of the entire chain.

One such domino is the skyrocketing debt being carried upon the shoulders of United States citizens. At the time of this writing, the spendthrifts in Washington D.C. have amassed a debt in excess of 13 trillion dollars. This debt represents more than $42,000 per person in the United States. At the current rate, the U.S. government is spending $1,400,000,000 more each year than tax payers are paying into the system.

Of course these figures don’t include the unfunded liabilities from Social Security and Medicare amounting to more than $50 trillion, which politicians have decided to keep off the books in Enron-style accounting.

It doesn’t take someone with a background in economics to understand that this is not only unsustainable, but is in fact creating the setting for an inescapable disaster.

Two prevailing schools of thought exist as to how Washington politicians may deal with the situation. The first option would be to radically slash spending and make drastic changes in the way the government does business. If the politicians behave as they have historically, this option is highly unlikely. The second, more probable scenario, involves a deliberate devaluation of American currency. Such an action would ripple through global economies and last for generations.

A second domino poised to fall is “king oil.” The global recession has created an artificial, but temporary, reduction in demand for petroleum and petroleum related products, which in turn has helped to keep oil prices down. If the first domino does not fall and global economies slowly recover, oil prices will begin to rise with the increase in demand. Simple economic models would dictate an increase in supply, but the fact is that oil resources around the globe are decreasing. Wells are running dry and new wells require advanced and costly technology, some of which has not yet been invented (and may not be developed until oil prices are much higher).

The third domino is perhaps the least discussed but most serious catastrophe. For most developed countries, water remains relatively cheap and accessible. What goes unnoticed is that, according to a World Bank report, more than 700,000,000 people (that’s 1 in 10), around our planet live in countries that are suffering from some form of water shortage. While these shortages go mostly unnoticed by developed countries, budget shortages in modernized societies reduce the maintenance and long-term viability of current water supplies and treatment facilities. Unlike many energy resources, when the water runs out, there is no alternative.

While it may be uncomfortable to imagine a life without gasoline or one with a dollar that is worthless, what happens when you turn on the tap and there is no water? This should challenge any of your survival plans.

Now is not the time to bury our heads in the sand. We must face the uncomfortable reality that the likelihood for global and local disasters is real and predictable. The proper response is to be prepared and not panic. Those who are not prepared are apt to panic and when they do, they will seek out those who have prepared and ask (or demand) help. Start now to find affordable, sustainable and practical solutions to the coming storm and don’t neglect self-defense. For those that are properly educated and prepared, the potential exists to turn disaster into opportunity.

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