Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What kills you after an Economic Collapse

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.



Anonymous said...

Very informative, Ferfal, good food for thought, thanks.


oofgirl said...

Excellent realistic view. I live in a downtown apartment, so I needed to hear the "riots/mobs/burning is less likely" perspective. I need to focus more on how to survive in my apartment vs how to get away from it as quickly as possible. Thanks!

Shambhala said...

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.

My very respected FerFAL,
Think of wide swaths of the population already acting like miserable, disgusting criminals.

I hope you are right, and I wrong, but you may be sadly mistaken.

DaShui said...

Amigo Mio,

How about drug and alcohol abuse?

In Russia it is a huge cause of early mortality.

Anonymous said...

Great article. Very informative.

Ryan said...

Awesome Post!

russell1200 said...

At the level of economic collapse you are speaking of the end result is that MOST people pretty much die of the same things that they did before the collapse: although I imagine the various stress factors will make the onset quicker in some causes of death.

Anonymous said...

People fortunately have the right to make their own choices in life. But with choice comes responsibility and consequences for any actions be it for good or evil.

I often wondered why the Jewish (and German) people didn't just leave Germany when they must have obviously seen some sign of danger looming in their immediate futures.

I thought about how they must have wished they'd have left long before they were rounded up and transported out by cattle car with what was left of their families and friends.

For this and many other practical considerations that could happen when there is a societal breakdown, I cannot agree that staying in a big city would provide the best option - not for me and my family. But again, this is our choice.

True, we've all become dependent on what we've known and become familiar with and to consider other options or to "think outside the box" is sometimes uncomfortable and might even seem terrifying, especially if we aren't used to making these kinds of decisions.

There are many options in life and the goal to become independent rather than to be tied to the familiar can be exciting as well as at the same time, terrifying because it is "unknown".

I don't want to live where I have to watch my back or carry a knife just to be able to go to the store.
I don't want to live in a war zone, a ghetto or a neighborhood that has become crime ridden with everyone "out for himself". I just don't. But I alone am responsible for my choices in life.

That said, I often think of those people in Germany and how they must have wished in retrospect that they had not opted to stay.

There are always other ways to choose to live rather than to adopt a "wait and see" attitude. I would seriously question myself if in reality it might actually be an excuse to avoid dealing with reality.

As I said, I always thought about how those people must have felt.

gaga said...

"I thought about how they must have wished they'd have left long before they were rounded up and transported out by cattle car with what was left of their families and friends."

Thats a truer picture of your underderstanding of the situation than the reality. If you read contempoary reports by those who were presnt in countries like Poland, you will find that it was a far more complex issue.
Many people did get out, the transporting to camps took a long time - those who were sent first lacked position and money within the Jewish community. Money would allow you to bribe/buy a passport and/or pay for assistance from non-Jews and Jews to get out. Remember, countries like the USA didn't want Jewish immigrants so where to escape to was a problem (this was also a problem for other refuguees. Even today, who wants refuguee's from war zones?).

russell1200 said...

Very early on the Germans encouraged the Jews to leave.

But then they found out that they were taking too much currency with them. The Hitler regime was extremely worried about the unrest that would be caused by another round of inflation. So the Germans changed policy to turn it into a money making procedure for them by leaving huge fees on the procedure.

This stopped the drain, but left many Jews who wanted to leave (and at that point the Germans wanted gone versus dead) still in the country.

Current US policy also does not make it particularly easy to work out of country. In this case the mechanism is through taxing overseas income: something governments rarely due because citizens working abroad are usually a huge gain to their mother country. They cost very little to support, and usually bring a lot of that foreign currency home.

Economic Depression said...

What about suicide? Does that happen a lot there? It's happened more than normal so far in the US. Tragically often, it's a family annihilation then suicide.

Keep up the good work Ferfal. The Argentina scenario is more realistic than Rawles's Total Chaos theory. However, Americans are soft and spoiled. It's a possibility they will just lose it.

Anonymous said...

Human nature, all down through the ages - is still pretty predictable.

Finding excuses why one can't do something is still - just an excuse.

There is a saying that says, "where there is a will, there is always a way".

With most people this will still go right over their heads and they will go right back to watching tv.

Anonymous said...

Hi. I see three items that IMHO should be on your list :

* alcool& drugs, who are a cosnequence of a failing social environment

* substandard goods : out-of-date food, cheap counterfeits whose poor quality standards may include some threats (think of low quality tires, masonry, badly isolated elctrical device, frauded condoms, ...)

* epidemics. The social collapse will make some contagious diseases, especially sexually transmitted ones, more prevalent. Lack of public healthcare, lack of future perspectives, ... can have an effect on Sexually Transmitted Disease prevention. Not everyone, including not every prepper, is a faithfull family man

FerFAL said...

This is why I love blogging, reading mails and comments and writing. You always learn new stuff!

Indeed suicide went up a lot after the crisis, aobut 60%. I'm still doing a bit of research and will post about it when I have more interesting info. Drugs abuse and use went up a lot as well. This is pretty intresting and worthy of another blog post.


Sixbears said...

When the local economy of my home town collapsed, the guys in their early 50s died like flies.

They were invested in the company town. Worked for the company and played by the rules, only to see their retirement disappear -along with all the toys they bought on credit.

Stress related problems killed a lot -heart attacks, cancer, suicide, and plenty just drank themselves to death.

For a guy in his 50s, it's late to have to start all over. They spent 30 years learning specialized skills no one wants now.

Anonymous said...

Shambhala said...
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.

My very respected FerFAL,
Think of wide swaths of the population already acting like miserable, disgusting criminals.

I hope you are right, and I wrong, but you may be sadly mistaken.

August 25, 2010 10:56 AM

Although a natural disaster, Katrina is a good example of how it may go down here in some big American cities. Planning for the worst takes the guess game, the unknown, out of the picture. Should the result be less severe, it is easier to 'back off' or deal with the actual circumstances. a

Anonymous said...

Ferfal, you said that riots in your country did not cause a lot of deaths. While that may be true in Argentina, you have a far different demographic than we do here in the USA.

In fact, there is a segment of our population that is just looking for an excuse for a riot. For example, if they don't like the outcome of a court case (Rodney King) or their favorite pro sports team just won the championship (many examples).

Can you just imagine how they would act if they were hungry and starving?!? Or if austerity cuts took away their welfare checks and food stamps?

This video uses clips from actual riots in Ohio and Los Angeles to wake everyone up as to just how bad it can get.

And don't forget, these people are armed as well. This ain't Greece up here!