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IN THE EXTREMISM OF OUR TIMES ARE WHIFFS OF THE DISTANT SMOKE OF CIVIL DISTURBANCE

It comes at times like the waft of distant smoke -- moments when it is extremely vague, nearly undetectable, unthreatening, other days when it "smells" like it's very close (and getting nearer). We speak here of the possibility -- in the not-too-distant future -- of civil disturbance.

There are even protests of the super-secret and super-wealthy Bilderberg Group that meets each year and tries to engineer world events.

It is in the wind. There is the economy: no one knows where it will end up. It has been propped up by loans and "bailouts" and "stimulus" money (debt) but we have seen where debt leads in nations like Greece, where a financial crisis was recently and immediately met with violent civil uprisings. Will the U.S. become another Greece?

Some see a flood of bank failings by 2012 while others warn that the value of the dollar will plummet. Having some gold or silver coins doesn't seem like a bad idea. Are the warnings a bit too radical?

Like a year ago, a cadre of "soothsayers" are again warning of major economic turmoil. Some quick samplings:

"First six months of 2010, Americans will continue to live in the 'unreality... The period between July and October is when the financial fireworks will begin" (Robert Chapman).

"Forty percent devaluation at first -- the greatest depression worst than the Great Depression" (Gerald Celente).

"A very likely second crash by late 2010" (Harry Dent).

"Going into 2010, the trends seemed to lead nowhere or towards oblivion" (Alpha-Omega Report).

"A second market plunge" (Dr. John P. Hussman).

"A massive dollar sell-off" (Peter Schiff).

These are financial analysts and trends analysts.

Are they overly gloomy?

We are not so concerned about the economic as the moral dimensions when it comes to societal collapse (there is far too much focus on money in our culture, vastly too much), but we also have to be practical.

There are ethnic tensions. Arizona has enacted a tough law on illegal aliens, sparking protests among both Latinos and those who want strict laws in their own areas. States are bickering with each other over the new law -- with California threatening economic sanctions (against Arizona!). State versus state? Could the U.S. break into several independent regions?

Or will it all be brought together in a super-union with Mexico and Canada?

In Britain, far-right activists are said to be targeting Muslim communities.

There is politics. No one trusts anyone, and public debate has become vulgar and threatening. One congressman went to meet with constituents and saw that he had been hanged in effigy.  "Democrats Skip Town Halls to Avoid Voter Rage," was a headline last week.  Politicians in both parties have been harassed, their office windows broken.

There are gun sales. These were skyrocketing, and while the peak has faded, from 2011 to 2015 the industry is expected grow at an annual rate of 3.7 percent.

There are militias: increasingly, we hear about those who are rejecting the Big Government atmosphere that has engulfed the U.S. in recent decades.

Will it start with Social Security?

Right now, only forty percent of Americans -- less than half -- are supported by private paychecks. The rest are on pensions, Social Security, welfare, or work for the federal government.

Will there be uprisings against taking so many tax dollars to pay for retirements? (In New York City, it was found that some in the police department retire in the forties with pensions of $100,000 a year. One civic employee gets a pension of $220,000.)

This will spur increased anger as tax rates rise. Baby boomers are set to retire en masse while among our young (18 to 24) the unemployment rate is 19.5 percent. Only God can put such a wayward economy right.

There are fears over martial law. The expansion of government surveillance and control since 9/11 has many concerned that we are well on the way to Orwell's Big Brother, especially in the way of ID cards, new-world-order trends (now undeniable), and microchips. Who controls the banks? Who controls the flow of money? "Obama to snatch up to 75 percent of your income," screams one libertarian news site. There is rage over the environment: The Gulf spill has caused alarm over corporate abuses to skyrocket, to the point where Americans now are more concerned about the ecology than the economy. There is rage at BP. Already, some groups are taking matters into their own hands, such as an environmental group called Sea Shepherds who use controversial methods -- including throwing acrid stink bombs at another ship -- in order to stop Japanese whalers.

These are some of the "whiffs" of distant smoke or perhaps we could say building waves. There is discontent. There is lack of trust. You can witness this by taking a look at the upsurge in "survivalist" merchants. Just last week, CNN did a story on Christian groups that are learning to live "off the grid" -- independent of government and modern technology.

In Michigan, a group led by a priest is learning primitive survivalist techniques in a woodland devoid of even electricity and -- gasp -- cell phones.

There is a yearning among many to obtain a small farm (and admittedly, we don't think going back to the old way is a bad idea).

Want to see what kinds of things are selling? See here. Or here. Or here. Even Costco's is selling emergency supplies. At Wal-Mart, you can get water purifiers. It is no longer a trend just among conservative religious.

Some call it the "prepper movement": Over recent years, "a huge community of preppers has developed. Perform a simple Google search and you'll turn up plenty of prepper-related stuff, including the Web television portalPrepper TVsurvival blogs, podcasts (such as DoctorPrepper and PrepperPodcast), and forums that cover everything from a woman's perspective to recycling to how to handle dead bodies," notes news site.

"There's even a rash of YouTube videos offering tutorials on such topics as how to construct your own nuclear bomb shelter, what firearms you should own, and how to earthquake-proof your stored food."

It can, however, get iffy. There is now "2012," when many expect so much disaster to arrive (as there once was Y2K; beware of dates).

But there is also legitimate angst. We saw with 9/11 and "Katrina" how rapidly our infrastructure can collapse. A sudden flare from the sun or pandemic or collapse of Wall Street could set off a chain reaction. Emergency managers are fond of saying that America is seven meals away from starvation. Many see events as quickening.

As we have strayed from God, our world has unraveled around us. Our infrastructure could easily crumble.

We'll place our trust in God. As the saying goes, you can run but you can't hide. God will lead. With Him, no fear. This is not to say, however, that it's silly to be prepared. We can pray and be led on what we should do. Clear debt? Buy gold coins (in small denominations)? Liquidate to cash? Have a hefty supply of food and water? Store medical supplies? And water filtration? Buy a little farm (or at least have a garden plot)?

When it comes to individual farms, it is probably more of what God intended. That much we'll say.

[see also: Living moneyless, Dollar posed for collapse?, U.S. money supply declines at 1930s rate, Will banks collapse?, Martial law  Racial divide, and The Greecing of America]

  

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