At the time of writing, 11/13/2020, the United States is currently facing two major crises:
A contested political election and an increasingly worse Coronavirus pandemic situation, the latter of which nearly brought the country down on its knees entirely early in the year. Some may think this will be all over soon after this winter. This is sadly not the case.
What can you, the reader, expect from a prolonged political crisis and pandemic?
What should you do to prepare?
Coronavirus: The Real Threat is not to our Lives, but our Livelihoods
Let’s start with the “easiest” crisis to dissect, the Coronavirus aka “SARS-CoV-2”. The entire year of 2020 will be remembered in the history books by this virus and its consequences. As many anti-lockdown activists have pointed out, the lockdown restrictions are having devastating consequences on the economy and it is NOT affecting everyone fairly.
Unemployment and Small Businesses – The Final Nail in the Coffin
As I write this, over 11 million Americans remain unemployed and tens of millions more have relied on some form of social assistance payments (such as unemployment or stimulus checks) to not end up penniless. However, COVID-19 cases are on a rapid rise again, which was predicted due to the colder weather, and currently stands at over 140,000 new daily cases confirmed 11/11/2020. New lockdown restrictions may be imminent in major cities and dozens of states across the country. Will these new restrictions help control the virus? Probably not for a few weeks, as experience has shown. What does this mean for the economy?
The obvious issue with the virus becoming a major problem again, regardless of lockdowns, is fewer people will be outside shopping, going to bars, eating at restaurants, going to entertainment venues, etc. This is not only bad for the economy but negatively affects small businesses the worst, which are already barely able to breathe on their own now after the first round of lockdowns.
Over 90% of small businesses report negative effects from COVID, nearly 10% have had permanent layoffs, and over 75% were seeking financial assistance from the government to survive. This was only from just the first blow of a COVID wave. Nearly half of the country’s businesses fall into the small business category and many are the primary support for their local communities.
Millions, if not tens of millions will be unemployed again over the next few months or remain unemployed if they were already. Thousands of more small businesses will fail or need government assistance again, which may not come. If city, state, or even worse, federally mandated lockdowns are enacted, the situation will go from desperate to dire.
A Housing Market Crash That Will Make 2008 Look Great
With so many focusing on unemployment, an even greater threat looms in the real-estate industry. People who cannot work cannot pay their rent or mortgages, and the same applies commercially to businesses. Investments in real estate five years ago are now liabilities and the landlords or creditors can only be deferred payment for so long before eviction or foreclosure. Compounding this problem, building materials are now much more expensive than they were at the beginning of the year, meaning current housing developments and construction companies are at risk of not completing projects.
Some estimates place the number of Americans at risk of eviction from 30 to 40 million. State and Federal eviction moratoriums are expiring or have expired, and the chances they come back are uncertain. If you think renters have it rough, homeowners are not much better off. About 3.5 million homeowners are currently in forbearance with their mortgages, and nearly 60% of these loans are on an extension. So now not only do we have tens of millions of Americans at risk of becoming homeless, the creditors are not in a good situation here either. Those who remember the 2008 crash ripple effect know that banks and other lenders were just sitting on empty houses, losing money, unable to sell them.
Could the US Dollar Experience Rapid Inflation and Possibly Lose its Global Status?
If you have been paying attention so far, it sounds like the effects of the Coronavirus could not only gut punch the US Economy and housing market but the US Dollar too. This is correct and the dollar has been on a very rocky road this year, with the price of gold going from ~$1530/oz at the beginning of 2020 to ~$1880/oz as of 11/13/2020, a nearly 23% increase in only a year. Why does this matter? Gold has a nearly universal and unchanging value over time, meaning that investors are quickly losing faith in the US Dollar to have worth. While this doesn't correlate directly with inflation, it is a very worrying sign.
The Federal Reserve has not been able to resolve this, with trillions in bonds not able to calm the markets. While hyperinflation is a legitimate concern, it is not the immediate one. Decreasing US Dollar values do help the US compete with exports on the global market (to an extent), though decreasing purchasing power for the workers of the USA has consequences. The main issue is if a different currency becomes the standard for investors and countries to put their wealth into, such as the Euro, Yen, or Yuan. If this were to occur, billions of dollars from around the world would flood onto the market as investors trade. Now comes the hyperinflation.
The current US Federal Government national debt of $27.2 TRILLION does not help this situation.
Can a Country Without a Recognized Leader Continue to Function?
Let’s now discuss the ongoing presidential election: There is no official winner yet, and whoever “wins” will not be good for society as it currently stands with the issues I discussed earlier.
Do not listen to the media on this; until all states report their final count (possibly after a recount), all court cases are either settled or thrown out, and the electors cast their votes for the next president, both Donald Trump (R) and Joe Biden (D) have not clearly won as of 11/13/2020.
So, what would happen in each scenario of the presidential elects winning?
President Trump Remains in Office: A Broken Political System Shows its Colors
At the time of writing, the Trump Administration has filed suit in Pennslyvania over suspicious ballot actions such as restricting GOP observers from watching the vote count and the mixing of late mail-in ballots with those that were sent before the deadline. There is currently a manual recount underway in Georgia, and other states such as Nevada, Michigan, and Wisconsin have some level of allegations regarding fraud, ranging from affidavits to voting software errors.
Are any of these allegations of fraud or improper tallying of ballots true or are they "baseless"?
Well, if even just ONE of these allegations of substantial fraud is verified by the courts, the whole election situation will go from bad to worse. Tens of millions of Americans will lose faith in the democratic process and the election itself would appear invalid, even if the uncovered fraud is not proven to have shifted the victory away from Trump. Conservatives will not accept Biden as president and Trump would have a reason not to concede the office.
While many have joked about having to drag the President out of the White House by force, in reality, Biden couldn't easily make this happen. Sure, some alphabet agency could escort Trump out, but on whose orders or authority? The military is unlikely to remove him and Democrats in Congress do not have the power to remove him either. The only people that could pressure Trump to leave in this scenario are conservative politicians themselves, who probably won't.
Another scenario resulting from proven fraud could be "faithless" state electors, as voters in the Electoral College don't have to vote according to the popular vote in their states, as many states do not have laws that bind them. Even then, the punishment for breaking these binds in states with these laws is minor. If the electors within the electoral college suspect ballot fraud and decide to vote for Trump instead of Biden, it would be legal and retain Trump in office.
Unforeseen Consequences or all Part of the Plan?
Somehow, someway, Trump is still in the Oval Office. A dangerous dynamic was formed from much of the media and the Biden campaign itself already assuring the Democrat base and other left-wing voters that Biden will take office. With the despair of COVID-19 and many still angry over police brutality this year, what would happen if these people think they have managed to get Trump out of the office and it is yanked from right under their feet? It isn't just mudslinging anymore, these people will legitimately see Trump as a dictator who has stolen the presidency, and any and all mob violence will be on the table across the US.
Conservatives now cannot win in this situation, they have become targets of riots and political rage. Trump, Republicans, and other conservatives will be demonized as a political mafia. If conservatives choose to succumb to "Law & Order" via Martial law, any moral high ground on personal liberty and government restriction of force is now lost, and a politcla upheaval could have these same conservatives facing the lines of riot police in only a few years. Many stocked up on weapons incase the mobs came for them and that day has finally dawned, but with the chances stacked against them.
Worse yet, internationally the United States will be seen as an illegitimately ruled state, with possible military or economic sanctions implemented for the country to "reconsider" its path. Trump will also have little in the way to prevent or fix a housing market crash, which would likely put multiple nails in the coffin of the "conservative" economic ideology being good for the economy and motivate millions more to join the ranks of Democratic-socialism. The only good news is that Trump will likely prevent further Chinese aggression against the US people, economy, and military interests, which will stave off a global shift of power from the United States to China even during economic turmoil.
Joe Biden Takes Office as the 46th President. Everything Will be Okay, Right?
From the above scenario I depicted, one would assume the best case is for Biden to take the presidency, even if fraud is proven to some degree. There likely will still be massive protests and possibly some mob violence, but nothing compared to the previous depiction of total anarchy. However, a Biden presidency will have immediate repercussions that will directly affect people in ways other than mobs on the street.
Under Biden, the looming economic collapse from COVID-19 I described above would substantially accelerate. One of Biden's chosen advisers has expressed a desire of instituting a nationwide lockdown for 4-6 weeks, and much of Biden's campaign has supported the lockdown concept. It has already been shown in the first section that the lockdowns had far-reaching and highly destructive effects. Another massive lockdown will grind the stock market and personal wealth in the country to a standstill. Even if the Biden administration itself decides not to pull the trigger on federally mandated lockdowns, he will likely encourage them and many state governors will follow his path.
Coronavirus Assistance: Could We Run Out of Money?
There is another aspect to Biden's lockdown plan that would be dishonest to ignore, however. Biden wants the eviction and foreclosure moratoriums to return along with financial assistance for those who cannot work. However, the types and amounts of assistance his administration desires passing are not hopeful as the second stimulus bill chaos has shown. Republicans are worried about the long-term fiscal effects of additional trillions in debt, particularly how it may affect the value of the dollar as I discussed earlier, and certain "poison pills" embedded in stimulus proposals. With a likely Republican-controlled Senate remaining, any proposed packages will have to receive a majority GOP approval.
The other issue is simply that the state and even federal governments may not even have the money available to pay out to people. This already occurred earlier in the year with hundreds of thousands of citizens waiting weeks, if not months for unemployment relief. Now with state reserves for unemployment assistance all but empty, the chances of COVID relief payments reaching the unemployed and struggling businesses will be improbable at best. The Federal Reserve and Mints of the country would not be able to "create" money fast enough to get to people either. If a Trump re-election via courts would cause mob violence in the streets, millions of workless, starving, and possibly homeless people will make an even worse fuss, especially if the value of the dollar rapidly starts to deteriorate.
Is There Good News for Republicans And Conservatives Under A Biden Presidency?
Some may remember the "Tea Party" movement, strongest from 2009-2010, that galvanized many different conservative voices under a common goal of opposing tax increases, government debt, and seemingly unconstitutional laws. A resurgence of this movement may appear under a Biden presidency accompanied by worsening government debt and an economic downturn. This especially would be true if some level of election fraud is proven and states attempt mass mail-in ballots again for the 2022 election. With a Republican-held senate, the sun may not set on conservative movements around the country, and even possibly grow more powerful than before.
However, it isn't all Sunshine: Enter the Ministry of Truth and Ministry of Public Safety
"Fake News", "Unverifiable", "Anonymous Sources Say", "Baseless", "Independent Fact Checkers Have Reviewed", etc. are all words many have heard the past few years. Some of these "truthers" have exposed legitimate falsehoods or twisting of the truth, others have purposely manipulated the truth themselves or chosen to focus on only one side of the issue without digging further. Either way, the recent COVID-19 and election madness with mass censorship or fact-checking, even of jokes, by social media and news corporations are now blatantly obvious to anyone who doesn't wish to be the one making the checks themselves. Well, many are calling for official structured reporting, fact-checking, and censoring services, a "Ministry of Truth", so to speak. Some have even suggested making a blacklist of all of those involved in the Trump Administration, whether by working for it directly, donating, or even speaking positively of it:
Conservatives can expect a double-down of censorship, attack articles, and expression restrictions to the point where saying the wrong thing could have one's phone service terminated or bank accounts frozen. Good luck even holding a job in the "polite" society with a silence of any dissent and possible COVID restrictions preventing public demonstrations.
The "Ministry of Public Safety" will primarily be concerned with new draconian firearms and ammunition sales and ownership restrictions. While some believe gun violence justifies at least some of these restrictions, the truth is that firearms are the final and most powerful political force regardless of personal ideology. Governments want to control without a fight, and an armed populace is a major barrier to having control, which is why they want to have such a tight grasp on their ownership. The sale of firearms in 2020 have blown records of previous years out of the water, with over 17 million firearms this year alone as Americans believe they are on their own due to the COVID-19 panic and civil unrest. This shows an ever-increasing number of Americans are more concerned with their personal safety than "public" safety.
How YOU can Prepare and Survive, if not Thrive, During the Chaos:
If you've made it this far, you can probably see that the future is not optimistic, even if some of the things I discussed do not end up happening or end up exaggerated. While it is difficult to give advice to readers who have entirely different finances, skills, geographic locations, family situations, etc., there are some tips I can give to help you weather the storm, no matter the situation.
(1.) If you have some wealth but do not own a house yet or want a second house, save up and hold off a bit as housing prices are likely to drop significantly within the next several months. Take advantage of the situation, even if it at someone's expense of foreclosure.
(2.) On saving up, I would be careful about putting money into stocks that are not slow, safe, and stable. You can put your money into precious metal stocks and companies, but keep in mind you do not own that physical gold you have "bought". A better long-term solution is to buy tangible precious metals in the form of coins, bars, or jewelry. If good times come again, you can sell this stock and have paper money again.
(3.) In the case of COVID, pre-make and freeze your meals or have a supply of non-perishables in case meat shortages appear again or if people panic and clear out the markets. Chest freezers are not expensive to buy or operate.
(4.) Have some sort of "bug out" or "get out of town" bag/kit and plan. If civil unrest becomes a widespread reality, the urban and suburban areas will be chaotic and dangerous places. I always recommend to shelter-in-place if you can instead, as your residence is much easier to survive in and defend, but the situation could turn for the worst fast. Have a friend or family member within a 50-mile radius that you could escape to if your current area becomes unsafe.
(5.) Stay under-the-radar online and on social media, mainly regarding political opinions, regardless of your ideology. There are people who are trying to make lists of enemies and others actively trying to report some or publicly shame them for their beliefs, even if they are not extreme. Sit back and observe.
(6.) This is a controversial one and if you do not have one already it is pretty much too late, but get some sort of firearm and ammunition suitable for personal protection and know how to use it. Do not be thinking you will join some sort of community defense force or have to fight off mass mobs, instead have it in case the situation in tip (4) unfolds. There will be bad actors or criminals that take advantage of the chaos to steal or kill.
(7.) Try to start learning a recession "proof" skill, such as electrician, plumbing, HVAC, or utility work. Finance and business jobs may disappear overnight, but unless something truly devastating happens, people will still need and be willing to pay for electricity, running water, and air conditioning. Of course, this is a huge ask of many as we likely do not have time to devote to learning a whole new trade, but long-term it can be well worth it.