(By Daisy Luther) The United States of America is basically closed for business, leaving citizens jobless, broke, and without options. We’re facing restrictions on movement the likes of which our nation has never seen. The stores that are open have never fully restocked after the “panic buying” of previous weeks, leading to shelves barren of things like meat, flour, toilet paper, and rice.
It’s only a matter of time before these issues combine to become the flashpoint that leads to an explosion of civil unrest and violent crime.
The financial situation
Unemployment skyrocketed, with 3.3 million claims last week, and the Fed estimates that number to climb to a whopping 47 million due to the virus. Many of these jobs may not come back after the Covid-19 virus has run its course through the nation – businesses small and large are going to be defaulting on their April rent payments, and many simply won’t be able to catch up later.
So far, a lot of people in the area where I’m staying seem to be treating this break of business like a surprise staycation. It’s nice to see families out walking together, playing games, and spending time with the people they love.
But this happiness may be shortlived. Despite generous government-mandated disaster pay, unemployment, and stimulus checks, the money may not arrive in time for former employees, self-employed people, and gig workers to pay their personal bills. And when the money does arrive, for many folks it isn’t going to be the same amount they were earning before the shutdowns. Most people don’t have emergency funds, so things will be dire in short order.
Of course, this affects landlord, mortgage companies, utility companies, retail businesses…the list could go on and on.
The supply situation
A lot of people are blaming “hoarders” and preppers for the shortages seen in stores. Of course, it’s nonsense to blame preppers because we’ve been buying our things over a course of years. And honestly, if it was only “panic buyers” causing problems, wouldn’t the stores be replenished by now? After all, people have hardly been able to shop for two weeks in many states due to social distancing measures.
In reality, there are major issues with the supply chain, a problem many folks aren’t seeing because they’re not at the store. Distribution systems are breaking down.
A source at a Walmart Superstore recently confided that the trucks were only delivering a fraction of the items needed to restock shelves. Imports aren’t arriving in California ports, at least not anywhere close to the degree they were before.
And because more people are eating at home than ever before, the demand on grocery stores has increased dramatically. This also comes at a time after farmers have been driven out of business by the trade war. (source) We have actual shortages here, and it isn’t just due to “panic buying.” That only exposed the dangers of the Just In Time delivery philosophy used by retailers.
Some folks are reporting that the shelves in their areas are full, but many others are reporting the exact opposite.
Restrictions on movement
The third worrisome factor is extreme restrictions on movement. Never in my lifetime have I witnessed such a thing in the United States as we’re seeing now.
Texas and Florida have checkpoints where they’re testing travelers for health problems, escorting them to quarantine, or turning them away. Rhode Island police went so far as to go door-to-door with the National Guard, searching for “New Yorkers” who had fled the virus in their home state.
Most states have closed non-essential businesses and schools for the foreseeable future. Local authorities are beginning to crack down on groups of people and innocent Americans risk being questioned when they leave their homes to walk the dog or go to the store. Last week, thousands of Americans considered essential workers were given “travel papers” to show the authorities if they’re stopped when they are going to work. Travel papers. In the United States of America.
Don’t count on 911
Some places, like Cincinnati, are limiting in-person police responses to crimes “to reduce unnecessary contact between officers and the public to reduce the spread of COVID-19.”
During the coronavirus outbreak and beginning Tuesday morning, Cincinnati police officers will no longer respond in person to the following reports: criminal damaging, dog bites, lost property, lost or stolen license plates, phone harassment, property damage or found property.
Police will no longer respond to assault reports, unless a suspect is still present or the victim requires medical attention, breaking and entering reports unless a suspect is still present, menacing reports “unless suspect is expected or threatens to return or is part of the elements of domestic violence” or theft reports “where there is no possibility of immediate apprehension.” (source)
How long before officers just stop coming in to work and instead, stay home to take care of their families? And, can you blame them if they do?
Other countries are seeing civil unrest.
The Covid-19 lockdowns are resulting in violence in other countries.
Italy has begun to see chaos. People are running out of food, money, and patience.
Videos are appearing on social media of people struggling to cope with the effects of the lockdown. In Palermo, Sicily, police have been forced to head to supermarkets after reports of people stealing food to feed themselves, and groups have appeared in recent days looking to organise raids on supermarkets.
A video has been widely shared around Italy showing a father beside his young daughter, who is eating a solitary slice of bread, telling the Italian primer minister Giuseppe Conte “We’ve already been inside for 15 to 20 days and we are at our limit. Just like my daughter, other children in a few days won’t be able to eat this slice of bread. Rest assured you will regret this, because we are going to have a revolution”. (source)
It isn’t just an Italian problem. As soon as restrictions were partially lifted in China, citizens began to riot, beating police with their own shields and overturning police cars.
This could be the perfect storm.
It’s only a matter of time before the factors above combine to create the “perfect” conditions for widespread civil unrest and crime. When Cat Ellis wrote her book about surviving this pandemic, there’s a reason she included detailed information about securing your property and preparing for potential assaults on your home or retreat. You’ve got your supplies. Now you need to focus on defensive planning.
And if you think that is far-fetched, then why are retailers across the country boarding up their windows? Zero Hedge reports:
In Beverly Hills, the Pottery Barn and West Elm stores near Rodeo Drive were spotted with boards across the windows according to TMZ…
…Meanwhile, stores in New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Paris, Vancouver and elsewhere were similarly boarded up. (source)
I suspect it isn’t just luxury stores that need to get prepared. The rest of us need to be ready, too. Many people in the preparedness community have noticed with discomfort the increasing number of people saying, “I’ll just come to your house” or “It’s not fair that selfish preppers have all this stuff and they’re refusing to share.” Many of us have been asked by friends, neighbors, and family members if we can spare some toilet paper or hand sanitizer.
The people who suspect you may have food will show up at your door one of these days when they run out of food. First, they’ll come asking for it. Then they’ll come demanding it. And not just from you but also from local businesses. The ensuing theft and violence will lead to harsher crackdowns from law enforcement and vigilante justices as people stand up to defend their homes and businesses. And if you think the Constitution is being trampled now, hold on to your halo. Eventually, this will lead straight to martial law and totalitarianism the likes of which we’ve never seen in our country.
Don’t think for a second that it won’t happen here.
Virus or no virus, people are not just going to quietly stay home and watch as their families starve to death.
What happens when people start running out of the food they hurriedly purchased before the lockdowns? What happens when overloaded unemployment offices are unable to get people’s payments to them in a timely fashion?What happens when the stimulus checks haven’t arrived yet and there’s no money in people’s wallets for groceries? What happens when stores aren’t able to replenish enough to keep people fed?
I think anyone who has been in the preparedness world knows exactly what happens.
Anger. Violence. Looting. Uncontrollable hordes of people storming stores.
Sort of like every Black Friday except this time, people won’t just want inexpensive bath towels and televisions. They’ll want food to keep their families from starving to death. And they’ll be willing to take down anyone who gets in their way. Whether that’s a parent defending the supply they’ve carefully acquired to take care of their own children or a store security guard, it won’t matter to those who have not prepared for this.
Every year, I show video clips in the Black Friday Hall of Shame. And every year, I write, “If they’ll act like this over home linens, what happens when those same people are hungry?”
This may be the year that we find out what happens.