Conflict in the Collapse From an Unlikely Direction

David Trammel's picture

Ran across this article

Which discusses the idea that in a pre-Collapsing civilization, it is the over population of the Elite which can lead to trouble. By Elite the scientist means not just the 0.1% uber Rich but also the 5-10% of highly educated upper middle class professionals, who find their jobs are being fought over by more and more competitors.

Another article, in more depth, about the same scientist and their work.

This past year has been rough on us all, and has taught me clearly, that those of us on the bottom of the economic ladder are all on our own.

Very interesting. I can see how an over population of office fauna could be a problem. Seems to be already.

Hard times have always come and gone. The underlying key for normal people is to be part of a community that can make sure you're fed and housed even if you're eating beans and rice with your in-laws and sleeping on the floor.

You cannot owe money. Debt makes you a slave. So does not having skills. So does being controlled by your appetites.
If you can't control yourself, it's so much easier for the elite to control you.

Interesting times ahead! Time to stock up on more rice and beans.

David Trammel's picture

Due to pandemic, and my decision to quite my job just before it began, I didn't work the entire year of 2020. I'm 63 and frankly couldn't risk getting the virus having no insurance. My plan had been to move in with my sister and then find a simple low paying job to ride out the next two years before I took social security. There would be about a $300 difference if I wait.

I had options because I had about $50K in 401K money, and live fairly frugally. I did rack up a bunch of credit card debt at the start, thinking it was better to keep my cash in reserve than spend it on pandemic related supplies and living expenses.

The move got slowly pushed back with some needed construction there and the chaos of everything happening. Looks like it will be finalized at the end of April. And I may go ahead and accept a lower monthly from SS to have money coming in now.

I'm leaning towards declaring bankruptcy to wipe out that debt once I move. Seems like all the Rich and Moneyed do it when its in their advantage. I don't see any honor in continuing to pay 23% for interest to be a complacent little debt slave in the big machine.

Talk to a bankruptcy lawyer first. Every state has different laws. Some states are far more forgiving than others.

And yeah, you are right. The Rich and The Moneyed do all kinds of financial shenanigans and walk away from their debts when it suits them. Poor people are expected to pay.

As for Social Security: that's a really tough decision. Bill and I are 61 and 60. When do we file? If we wait, we get more.


That's assuming the money will be there. I agree if the U.S. government defaults and doesn't pay out its Social Security obligations, we all have a much, much, much bigger problem.

Even so, we had a similar choice with a small pension from one of Bill's newspaper jobs. We could sign up for a smaller payout or wait until age 65. We took the money and are we glad. The company is having deep financial problems and they may end up in bankruptcy and default on all their obligations.

Pension holders are at the end of the line. It's true the federal government may provide some guarantees but they are pennies on the dollar as everyone around here who used to work for the steel mills in Steelton and Bethlehem can attest.

If you take the lower payout now, you've got the money now. If you wait, you've got more money later on.

You're betting against the actuary tables. Good luck!

lathechuck's picture

The latest projection I heard said that the system might only be able to pay something like 80% of the planned amounts, if nothing is done to change the rules. The wild card is "what will that payment be worth, when it's delivered?" If inflation comes roaring back, you may not be able to buy as much as you expected. Alternatively, if diesel fuel gets much more expensive, that'll ripple through the agriculture and transport sectors to make food much more expensive (even if other sectors get cheaper to compensate). If housing gets more expensive, expect to see more disease, because COVID-19 spread seems to have a lot more to do with overcrowded living spaces than with raw people per square mile population density. (It's common sense: if you can't isolate an infectious person, everyone in the house will get it.)

For what it's worth, Social Security is adjusted for inflation, at least on paper. If I remember correctly, private pensions generally aren't, though.

Now, that doesn't mean everything's necessarily fine in a high-inflation environment. Our current measure might be fine -- since nothing's perfect -- when inflation is low but break down in other circumstances. A postal scale is great for weighing letters, but it's not much help in tracking the progress of my diet. There's also the temptation for the legislature to amend the law to remove the adjustment or for officials to quietly meddle with the underlying inflation calculation.

Even if the measure of inflation stays fine, there's also the fact that the payments are continually playing catchup on the value they've lost since the last adjustment. That's already the case now, but it's too small to really notice.

So bottom line? My best guess is that in such a scenario you'll get a portion of your promised benefits and they'll partially protect you from inflation. Maybe not enough to rely on by itself, but as a supplement to other sources of support it could provide at least a little extra cushion.

David Trammel's picture

I did a bankruptcy in the early 80s, following a car accident so I'm a little familiar with them and their fall out. Its not something I'd planned for but then I hadn't planned for many things at this state in life. Its a sad state of our society that down the street in a strip mall there is a walk in bankruptcy service.

Sweet Tatorman's picture

Except for the SS disability portion, I consider myself to be an expert on SS regulations and claiming strategy. For a single person that does not have one or more prior spouses that either died during the marriage or managed to last at least 10 years of marriage, I strongly recommend delaying starting your SS benefit as long as possible, preferably to age 70. This is advice I followed for myself. Some of the more interesting claiming strategies are enabled by having a whole collection of 10+ year spouses, preferably decreased though I am not suggesting this be arranged, and/or 9+ month and deceased while married spouses.

Your suggestion about having 10 + year spouses -- one after another -- leads to the plot and motive for a murder mystery!

The mystery of the extra benefits.

It could work. Mysteries have been written with less plausible motives than fraud.

Sweet Tatorman's picture

I have an ex that I have not laid eyes on for over 30years. If she were to die July 2022 or later, my yearly SS rate would *increase by* ~17K/year. It has occurred to me that were she to "up n' die" under mysterious circumstances there likely would be some investigator show up wanting to talk to me ;-)

I'm not suggesting you do this, naturally.
However, as a longtime gardener and varmint remover, you already know the basics:

Shoot, shovel, and shut up.

More crimes are solved because the miscreants couldn't keep their mouths shut than you would believe.