Even though by definition the ultimate objective is living, when we talk about urban survival we aspire to a minimum amount of freedom and dignity in our lives. Living as a prisoner, slave or in a cardboard box under a bridge and cleaning windshields for a living is still living, but alas, its certainly not the life quality we want. Its about maintaining the minimum standard of living we need so as to not go nuts. None the less, I though it would be interesting to notice what actually gets you killed after an economic collapse. I think it’s an interesting exercise and it also helps reevaluate our priorities from a more realistic perspective. For this I used some statistics after the 2001 Argentine crisis. Its not an exact science, but it does put together an interesting picture.
Rioting and social unrest: It may come as a surprise for some, but these are by far the ones that kills the less amount for people when these things happen. In our case it was 32 to 38 people across the entire country. About the same amount still dies per week in Buenos Aires suburbs alone during armed robberies and other crimes.
Already in our first stop, we destroy a popular survivalist myth: When a country collapses, hordes will run wild burning every single building to the ground in every mayor city. The idea that bugging out should be some sort of standard procedure when there’s social unrest is simply flawed. The preconceived notion that somehow made it from Hollywood to the real world, that the population can go down by significant amounts in a matter of days with millions dieing is not realistic at all. My dear friends, that only happens in fiction books and movies. It happens to be good entertainment but don’t take it any other way.
Hunger: As of Match 2010, 2.920 kids starve to death in Argentina per year. (source: http://www.elmundo.es/america/2010/03/28/argentina/1269793765.html) That’s children alone and you could easily add another 50% for adults and seniors. Older people have it pretty tough here since most pensions and retirement programs (recently “nationalized”) place the old folks BELOW the poverty line. This means, its not enough to even classify as poor. They can’t buy the minimum calories required per day to survive and the medicine they often need. Lucky for the government, an old person dieing of malnutrition isn’t as obvious or as unnerving as seeing a healthy little boy or girl become a bag of bones.
|Child in a Hospital in Tucuman, Argentina|
In average, at the very least 12 people die per day of hunger in Argentina. This of course doesn’t take into account all the illneses that may caouse death because of a poor diet. In any case, food is of course of extreme importance and history keeps teaching us that storing 6-12 months of food is a life saver during catastrophic events such as an economic crisis, planned genocide (Irish Potato Famine) or civil wars that have long term duration (seriously consider going for 12 months)
Crime: In the Bs As suburbs where I live, 4 to 8 persons are murdered every 24hs during robberies. Like with inflation, the government has its own twisted way of what is actually considered murdered, so I’ll go with the private census and statistic companies which are more realistic. (source: http://www.diegopietrafesa.com.ar/mistextos_detalle.php?id=30)
Poverty: Here's where it gets a bit more complicated to get hold of hard numbers. How does poverty kill you? The place where you can afford to live, how many police officers and patrol vehicles it has available per block, what kind of health services are available. Is it close to some of the polluted dumpsters and streams full of sewer water and chemicals the factories dump in them with no control whatsoever, causing cancer, genetic disorders, malformations and respiratory illnesses? Suffice to say, child mortality rate is twice as much depending if you live in the poor parts of town, compared to the ones that are better off. (source: http://edant.clarin.com/suplementos/zona/2008/02/10/z-03015.htm)
Poverty deaths due to poor healthcare: According to UNICEF, 25 children under the age of 1 die per dau in Argentina of preventable causes such as poor treatment of illnesses that could have been cured, untreated infections, respiratory problems and low weight. If we substract the 8 kids that starve to death each day which we analized earlier, we realize that roughly 17 kids die per day simply because they can’t afford better than free public health care. I pay dearly for my private health plan, but do so gladly knowing fully well what public hospitals have to offer. As a side note, this should be a good example of how well government owned pubic health works.
Poverty deaths due to crime and location: Not all districts are the same. When you see the map of insecurity (these are only the crimes reported to this website http://www.mapadelainseguridad.com/) you see a clear difference between districts. Crime may be 10 times worse depending on if you live in a good or bad neighborhood.
Car accidents: This is something that may surprise most readers and the cause is directly linked to the 2001 crisis, with fatality rates going up ever since. Lack of control of bus drivers (responsible for 38% of the accidents), corruption when getting the drivers license, lots of drunk driving (and no serious penalties for doing so) no traffic or vial education for children in schools (not enough money for that) roads and traffic lights in poor condition ( no money) a fleet of cars that is usually old and in poor mechanical condition because of the general poor population. To make matters worse, we have a liberal government that wont take away a persons license, even if they murder people when illegally street racing. The results? Traffic accidents kill more people than AIDS in Argentina, kills more people than cancer. Argentina has 300% more deaths due to traffic accidents per hundred thousand persons than USA or Europe. 25 persons die per day, 70% of the deaths are pedestrians. You’d do well to check and look all around you when crossing a street in Buenos Aires. Ignoring red lights and not caring about hitting people is pretty common around here. Its not as if you’d go to jail if you kill someone with your car. (http://www.oei.org.co/sii/entrega3/art01.htm)
Stress and heart related problems: And we reach the number one cause of death, directly linked to the crisis. According to studies done by the Favaloro Foundation and the University of Massachusetts, from April 1999 and December 2002, there were 20.000 more deaths due to coronary illnesses than the previous averages.
Stress kills, and no doubt it kills much more after an economic collapse. Note that survivalists rarely ever discuss this, how to avoid it. The lack of hope in the future, financial problems, unemployment, it all kills you slowly in its own way. (source: http://www.cronista.com/notas/186545-epidemia-estres-el-costo-oculto-la-crisis)
How do you stop an Economic Crisis from killing you and your family?
1) Watch your back and look out for criminals. Avoid taking unnecessary risks going out late, going to the ATM when there’s little people on the streets.
2) Careful when driving and pay particular attention when crossing the street. Even when on the sidewalk or the side of the road, listen to car engines rushing your way: You never know when a drunk driver will go up to the sidewalk, even crash into buildings and stores. I’ve seen it happen enough times.
3) Work our two or preferably three times a week. Have a hobby, learn to relax. Go camping, have fun within your means. At least an hour per day, you should do some activity that helps you unwind.
Take care people.