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Old 12-29-2008, 01:02 PM
 
Location: West Texas
2,441 posts, read 5,247,266 times
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I was thinking about this the other day. I think as a parent, it's my responsibility to raise my children to be functioning, contributing members of society. They must learn how to appreciate the freedoms afforded them, but still maintain the responsibility to a society. Basic economics, work ethics, responsibility, and accountability are all facets I should teach them. I have my kids get jobs at 16 years old. I tell them to make sure they put some of their paycheck into savings, and to pay what they owe first, then themselves... whatever's left is theirs. I have taken them along on community give-back programs like Christmas in April (where the community pitches in to fix/repair homes of elderly or disabled persons) and Meals on Wheels (in which we deliver food to those that can't always shop for themselves).

But at a deeper level, I also think it's incumbent upon me as a father/parent to prepare them for what the world will hold for them in the future (as far as we can tell). And this is where I'm stuck. With the steadily increasing population, world economies, recent insurgence of personal freedom over societal responsibilities, clashing cultures, and increasing scarcity of resources, I'm not sure where the world is going to be in 20-30 years. How many people will there be? Will we have overused the resources available on the planet? Will wars be more prevalent as everyone thinks their ideas, morals, or religion are more important than the next? I can only really see three futures:

First is what I call "the postman" scenario. Much like the movie of the same name starring Kevin Costner... war will have devastated much of the U.S., and only pockets of communities will exist. They will be concerned primarily with the preservation and sustaining of themselves because of scarcity of resources (food, water, etc.). They will have stepped back a little in terms of technology because of power supply limitations (or damage).

The second is the "streets of New York" scenario. This is where America is run by gangs, more or less. All the available existing resources are controlled by gangs or cartels of some sort. You either submit to a gang, or face starving or living on the edge. These gangs supply what the local community needs, but at a cost (they get more, and they get other benefits/perks for providing the food, water, clothes, security, etc.). It would be more of a dog eat dog world.

The last would be the utopian view, I guess you could say. We use technology to our advantage, even to the possibility of sending portions of our population into space. We find a way as singular race to handle all the politics and other events in a more constructive way. We find ways to feed everyone, provide medical care to everyone, etc. Money would have less value over providing essential needs to a population (yeah, I know it sounds a lot like socialism, but think more futuristic).

Does anyone else agree with any of these or have other thoughts about what it might hold? What do we tell our children they are going to inherit? How do we prepare them for the future, and what kind of future do you think we will be leaving them over the next 20 to 30 years? How do I leave my kids a better place than I got? Or is it even possible in today's world?
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Old 12-29-2008, 01:55 PM
 
Location: Orlando, Florida
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I think I am more prone to tell my kids and grandkids that I have confidence in them enough to know they will rise to the challenges of their own generation. I don't know if the world they get will be better or worse.....and maybe it really doesn't matter. All that matters is that we give them the tools and unction they need to take responsibility of whatever is thrown their way and come out on the winning side.
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Old 12-29-2008, 02:11 PM
 
Location: NYC area
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Despite all the dire predictions, the world has been getting better and better since World War II and actually (despite the world wars) throughout the 20th century. We have luxuries today that our great-grandparents could not dream of, that we take for granted. A hundred years ago, a lot more babies died, and a lot more grown-ups too. Life expectancy has skyrocketed. War casualties have plummeted (at least for the industrialized nations). We have air conditioning, and notwithstanding all the whining about the rising prices of Cheesy Poofs, Americans' biggest food-related problem is obesity, not malnutrition. We have air conditioning, cars, the Internet, and plentiful shampoo. And yet, it is fashionable to believe that somehow, things have never been more dangerous than now. It is a nifty mental exercise that lets us face our own mortality (safely), but I believe, it is not truly supported by reality.

Preliminarily, the mass media and bloggers TOTALLY blow things out of proportion. Case in point: My husband and I have made it a standard practice to visit places that have been hit by cataclysmic "disasters". Of course, there are true disasters -- like the Indian Ocean tsunami or Bam earthquake -- but 9 times out of 10, the media will make a mountain out of a molehill. In 2003, we went to Portugal, at the tail end of a summer in which, according to the media, all Western Europe was reduced to a smoking, charred rubbish heap after a 3-month heat wave and devastating forest fires. You know what? We criss-crossed the country, drove more than 2000 kilometers in a week, and: on one occasion, we were sent on a 3-kilometer detour because of fire-related repairs, and on another, we drove through a 2-kilometer stretch of burned forest. That's it. Surprise, surprise, all the cities were there and all the castles were there. And we didn't see any piles of burned cadavers. In 2004 (or 5?), we traveled to Prague after Woody Allen mournfully proclaimed that Prague no longer exists due to a flood of Biblical proportions (which was in the newspapers, for, like, a month). And what did we see when we got there? A few basements were undergoing repairs for minor water damage (our favorite restaurant was closed for a paint job) and on some facades, there was grimy film extending no more than half a foot off the ground. But Prague certainly still existed and all the landmarks were in their right places. And of course, any time there is even a little tornado in Oklahoma, the entire population of the Russian Federation holds its collective breath for the evil "Amerika" to slip into the ocean already. The media does not sell news -- it sells stories; and the scarier the stories, the better. To borrow a line from Birdcage: "Louise, people in this country aren't interested in details. They don't even trust details. The only thing they trust is headlines." So whatever you read about overpopulation and such, take a cubic root and divide the result by three.

Second, it would be a gross understatement to say that Hollywood isn't a paragon of accuracy. So instead of looking to popcorn movies for what the world might be like if we suffer a total societal and economic collapse, I prefer to look to history. The precedent that is most apt is, of course, the collapse of the Roman Empire (in the West). I should hasten to add that even the word "collapse" itself is inaccurate, and gets put into textbooks and articles either by people who are ignorant or by those who are desperately trying to pique the readers' interest (see, paragraph above on the Outrage Machine). The Roman Empire and the civilization it built came to a demise at the end of a slow and protracted decline, and even the date of the "collapse", 476, is more of a convention among historians than a real landmark, for the ordinary Roman or Barbarian living in that year would not have experienced an appreciable change.

Hollywood movies about post-apocalyptic deserts or cities run by gangs invariably violate the law of the power vacuum that the history of the Roman Empire so clearly demonstrates: the power vacuum always gets filled. Always. As the central powers in Rome grew weaker, the local powers grew stronger. As Rome relinquished its specific authorities and enforcement responsibilities, local chieftains picked them up. As Roman legions departed, local warlords organized their own armies to maintain their strongholds. (And no, a marauding gang isn't like a "local army" for these purposes -- a true army will safeguard the community that feeds it.) It was a shift to a more federalist form of government, to use modern terms. With the local lords becoming more prominent, society grew more agrarian, less urban. This was the beginning of feudalism. The Hollywoodian view of the post-apocalyptic world as a free-for-all with no rules or enforcement probably provides certain vicarious thrills, but it isn't true to life, because for the last 10 thousand years or so, human beings have banded together to maintain law and order, and barring some dramatic evolutionary change in our mentality, that's the way it will continue no matter what happens on the stock market.

Another thing that Hollywood gets wrong here is people's relationship to revered, historical institutions. The facade of our defining institutions will long outlast their function. The Roman Empire may have ceased to exist in 476, but the last recorded meeting of the Roman Senate took place in the 660's, and popes continued to be elected exclusively from Senatorial families into the 8th century. If marauding gangs do flood our land, they will do so long before the government stops going through the motions, not after.

Post-apocalyptic cinema is also based on a misinterpretation of the "Dark Ages". Serious historians actually hate that term. The single unifying force in the form of the Roman Empire was gone, but cities, markets and institutions of learning continued to flourish right into the Renaissance. Bourgs -- cities -- rose during the "Dark Ages", and several powerful and culturally rich nations appeared, less memorable because their reigns were brief, than because they aren't worthy of admiration.

So what would happen if the world were to suffer a total economic and social collapse? A return to local autonomy and an agrarian society, for the most part. Lots of local wars here and there, but nothing on a global scale. And there will be law and order and safety and society, though we may kiss the Bill of Rights good-bye. Unlike a Hollywood movie, it will be slow and boring -- and ultimately, not the end of the world, but a new beginning.
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Old 12-29-2008, 02:14 PM
 
Location: Minnysoda
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^^^^^^^
Damn I was hoping to try out my mad max mobile and go pillageing
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Old 12-29-2008, 02:49 PM
 
Location: West Texas
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Redisca View Post
So what would happen if the world were to suffer a total economic and social collapse? A return to local autonomy and an agrarian society, for the most part. Lots of local wars here and there, but nothing on a global scale. And there will be law and order and safety and society, though we may kiss the Bill of Rights good-bye. Unlike a Hollywood movie, it will be slow and boring -- and ultimately, not the end of the world, but a new beginning.
The only problem I have with your articulation of what you believe would happen, is that when the Roman Empire fell, there was a LOT less population, a lot less developed land, and ample room for expansion.

That's not as true today (especially in America, as well in densely populated areas like India and China). Am I wrong that there's a finite amount of space for arable land? I just see that with increasing population comes decreasing land availability (for habitat or farming). We may break into smaller demographic regions (towns, hamlets, cities), but there will be a much larger contingent of people who need the food produced on far fewer farms - have's and have not's.

No matter how you slice it, there will be people fortunate enough to be places that have things that others need, and those that will grow more desperate as they try to obtain it (of course, peaceably at first, but growing more and more aggressive as the need turns into desire and necessity).

Comparing older civilizations cannot take into account the incredibly high number of population that exists today that didn't back then. That was not something they had to consider or even take into account.
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Old 12-29-2008, 02:55 PM
 
Location: West Texas
2,441 posts, read 5,247,266 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Redisca View Post
Preliminarily, the mass media and bloggers TOTALLY blow things out of proportion. Case in point: My husband and I have made it a standard practice to visit places that have been hit by cataclysmic "disasters". Of course, there are true disasters -- like the Indian Ocean tsunami or Bam earthquake -- but 9 times out of 10, the media will make a mountain out of a molehill.
Maybe true. But in 1991, I was stationed in Subic Bay, Philippines when Mt. Pinatubo erupted. Although the volcano was two hours away (by car), our entire city was covered in ash. To make matters worse, a typhoon was hitting the islands, and the ash acted like dry concrete, absorbing the water and weighing down so much, I spent the evening listening to roofs collapsing in the buildings around me, and buildings were even collapsing in Olongapo City because we felt the tremors from the eruptions.

In the time that followed, many of the military and their families departed the islands. I remained and watched the slow deterioration of "friends" into "competitors" for food, heat, and energy. I watched as houses were pillaged for furniture to burn for heat. As local pets were used as food supplies.

You are correct, though. Through it all, there was the "light" of humanity. There were several beacons that served to remind many of us that things would eventually be "alright." But, as I predicted (all doom and gloom aside), there was a degradation of society as basic needs of food, water, heat, etc. were running scarce.
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Old 12-29-2008, 03:35 PM
 
Location: Nebraska
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Wattchit my54ford, there are still a lot of folks around who are armed - and legged - and who are more than prepared for you (although I think overwhelming Tina Turner might be a bit more of a problem - she's a tough bird!)

The fact is that we have been preparing our children since birth to - survive. Not in a Mad Max mindset (well, OK, not SOLELY) but teaching them what the schools and universities do not teach - self confidence, self-knowledge, self-discipline, and self-reliance. All of my children can - fix a broken down vehicle, kill and butcher their own meat, plant a garden from seed and can the produce, sew, weld; cook on an open fire, in an oven, or on a stovetop; shoot straight, care for a baby, manage finances to a profit, gentle a horse or a human, reason out all of the potential conflicts and pitfalls, act swftly and decisively, bandage and stop a bleeder, perform CPR... you name it they can do it, or will attempt it.

THAT to me is what is severely lacking in today's society - the ability to, if not DO it all, to at least know or reason what to do, and the best and most efficient way to do it. Too many folks are startled and confused by things not within their experiences, and wait for someone to either save them or tell them what to do... or just decide to not think about potentials or possibilities at all, but wait for someone to explain everything to them and comfort them.

My kids' favorite story growing up was "Rikki Tikki Tavi". Their favorite not-joke was:

There was a man in a flood. When he saw the waters coming, he prayed to God to save him. As the waters rose, he was leaning out the window, he saw folks from his neighborhood, swishing thru the water down below that raged up around their thighs. "Come on down and join us, we'll save you!" The man declined, saying, God will save me."

The waters continued to rise. He decided to go to the second story. As he leaned out of his second story window, he saw two men in a boat. "C'mon, jump in, we'll save you!" "No, God will save me."

The waters rose higher and soon the man was on the roof. A helicopter flew overhead, and one of the Guardsmen leaned out and hollered, "We'll throw down a cable, climb up it and we'll save you!" "No," came the reply, "God will save me."

The man drowned. As he stood before the Great Throne, he said, "God, why didn't you save me?" God replied, "You moron, I sent your neighbors, a boat, and a helicopter - what did you expect, a golden chariot?"

Too many folks expect a golden chariot to rescue them from their foolishness, when the answer to their salvation is right outside their own windows - or within themselves.

Last edited by SCGranny; 12-29-2008 at 03:38 PM.. Reason: spelling as usual sigh
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Old 12-29-2008, 04:18 PM
 
Location: Portland, Oregon
7,091 posts, read 10,490,270 times
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The easiest answer is to say no one knows, but honestly I don't think the future is as bad as people like to think. Emergency preparedness are necessary, one should always have stores and skills in case something does happen...but it's unlikely to be a cataclysmic event, though maybe a local disaster (like flood, fire, earthquake) that is rare but unpredictable.

My own thoughts is that people actually like to be on constant surveillance for terrible things. Most people seem to go on with their lives like nothing bad will ever happen, but when something does happen people go into over drive. It's makes people feel like they are progressing, doing something, and assuring their future survival...when many flail out of balance like an over balanced tightrope gymnast. The media fans these flames IMHO, things that are inconveniencing are turned into terrible bouts with death every night on the news (it gets people to watch). The news always has something like "What you didn't know about X that could hurt you" or "We expose Z that could hurt you and your family, you owe it to them to watch". Even the science channels fear monger on cataclysmic events, I swear Super Volcano (about Yellowstone), Mega Tsunami (about the Pac NW) and Mega Earthquake (about California) are on at least once a week, if not once a day when I go surfing through the channel guide...all have not come to fruition in the time they assured people it would.

If these didn't happen I think some people would invent their own personal disaster, it's amazing how many people come to friends for consolation and help with their issues that caused it themselves. I really think that some people have a little thing in their head that says "Things have been too good for too long, lets %$#@ it up and see what happens".

I just think hope for the best, plan for the worst. You can freak out daily about huge cataclysmic events, but honestly it doesn't help to have an anxiety attack constantly about something with infintesimal chance. Have fun with good experiences, work towards a better tomorrow, and if something happens be knowledgible and have the supplies in case. There will always be emergencies, but things will go on.
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Old 12-29-2008, 04:34 PM
 
Location: The Woods
16,455 posts, read 21,476,969 times
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Balkanization. Possibly civil war, but the feds will become universally hated in most of the country soon. States and groups of states will become independent (large and resource-rich states like Alaska on their own, smaller states like VT, NH etc. may form loose unions. Some areas that are already crime-ridden cesspools will likely fall into anarchy. The real wildcard is how other countries react: Russia and China particularly. Some Russians are already saying they should take back Alaska for instance...that is the true danger.
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Old 12-29-2008, 07:01 PM
 
Location: Nebraska
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Yes, Subsound! I will have to spread some reps around, it won't let me give you any more.
Then there is the most egrigious fearmongering bit on yellow journalism on TV - "It Could Happen Tomorrow". We're all gonna DIE!!! EEEEK!! EVERYBODY - RUUUUN!

Yes, we ARE all gonna die... eventually. Sigh.

arctichomesteader, have you seen the Russian professor's predictions on the US?

"As if Things Weren't Bad Enough, Russian Professor Predicts End of U.S.
In Moscow, Igor Panarin's Forecasts Are All the Rage; America 'Disintegrates' in 2010
By ANDREW OSBORN "

Panarin describes exactly what you do above, in very explicit detail... and has been saying it for years, apparently. It is only now that anyone has been paying any attention to him...
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