While Americans are distracted by gay athletes coming out of the closet and ice skating scoring controversies at the Olympics, people in Syria have other things on their minds.  This is a picture from Damascus the other day when thousands turned out to get food packages handed out by the UN.

Credit: AFP/Getty Images

This is not a movie set, this image has not been Photoshopped, this is reality for countless people in Syria.

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I’m sure more than a few people said “oh snap” at Wal-Mart the other day.

When the EBT card system went 404 the other day, chaos ensued.

Now imagine if there was an EBT outage for a day or a week or even a month.  Bob Owens notes that agitators will use outages like this one to stir up trouble through disinformation and paranoia.  This made the problem worse and caused unnecessary waste as products were damaged or spoiled during the outage.  As Monty writes over at Ace of Spades, the nightmare scenario is when the cards stop working permanently because there is no more money to give out.  Think about what that would entail…

There is a larger issue though, that being the definition of “compassion” and the role of government in people’s lives.  As we saw with the EBT outage, there is a multifaceted dysfunction in government-run programs that is corrosive to independence.  Jon Gabriel over at FreedomWorks stated it best when he wrote:

It is immoral that so many poor Americans feel like they must rely on an incompetent government to provide their daily bread. There is nothing compassionate about turning able-bodied adults into helpless wards of the state or grocery store looters…A truly compassionate system would allow businesses to grow and hire, providing our fellow citizens with paychecks instead of handouts. A compassionate system would allow Americans to devote more of their money to effective charities instead of having so much seized by an incompetent government.

So what should a prepared person do to mitigate situations like this?  Here are a few actions you can take that will make you more resilient during an interruption:

  • Stockpile food, water, and other necessities now.  Have a supply (3-days worth, minimum) of essential items on-hand so that you don’t have to go to the store.
  • Have extra cash at home, preferably in a safe.  Electronic payments are great…when everything works correctly.  When they don’t, have some money in various denominations so you can get through the interruption.
  • If you find yourself in a food riot or other civil disturbance, be ready to leave the area as soon as possible.  Crowds can get violent when they are hungry and scared, you want to get away from them immediately.
  • Be ready to protect your home and family if there is a civil disturbance.  Take steps now to protect your domicile by purchasing high-quality locks, installing stronger doors, motion-activated lights, and reinforcing your door jambs.

There is more you can do, which I will cover in other posts.  The key takeaway is to know that civil unrest can take place anywhere when there is an interruption and to make plans now to deal with it.  You can ride the storm out by becoming better prepared and taking the initiative to plan for unplanned outages of all sorts.

How fast does it take for societal collapse to take place?

Credit: Getty Images

If the recent history of Libya is any guide, the answer is very fast.

Think about it, less than three years ago Libya was relatively stable and a major oil exporter.  Its former leader had given up supporting terrorism and foreign investment was starting the flow back in.  Libya was in decent shape for an African country, all things considered.  However, the combination of an Arab Spring, simmering tribal disputes, and deep social divides produced a civil war that exploded with almost no warning.  The results are a collapsed society, destroyed infrastructure, and lingering violence that has no clear end in sight.

With this in mind, how prepared are you for a descent into chaos?