“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness… it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us…” — Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
I cannot shake a sticky feeling of optimism about 2014.
It rose in me for the strangest reason yesterday. CNN was providing background noise when a term caught my ear: “bug out bag.” This is a portable kit of the items you need to survive for 72 hours. The Red Cross suggests keeping one on hand in case it is necessary to quickly evacuate your home due to a disaster. But the term “bug out bag” is most often associated with survivalist “cranks” who are prepping for when TSHTF (the sh** hits the fan). That is, they are preparing for an economic and social collapse.
CNN was discussing bug out bags because respected financial guru David John Marotta had advised his wealthy clients to prepare one against “the possibility of a precipitous decline.” In short, he warned against a collapse from which city-dwelling clients should flee. Marotta wrote, “Firearms are the last item on the list, but they are on the list.” The broadcasters seemed dumbfounded by the words coming out of their own mouths. They hastily assured listeners that Marotta was not predicting a financial apocalypse. Rather he thought a slow European-style decline was more likely. That’s the reassuring news?
Well, actually it is. “Slow” means there is still time to make preparations. And if figures like Marotta are recommending “prepping,” then the reality of the economic situation is going mainstream.
To make preparations, however, it is useful to have a sense of what to expect. This leads directly to my predictions for 2014, which I introduce by three caveats. First, predictions are a territory into which financial guru Doug Casey says people should not wander if they intend to include an event and a time; I recklessly include both. Second, predictions should be made vague in a manner perfected by psychics who proclaim “you will meet a stranger…”; I offer specifics. Third, the next year will be volatile and largely defined by unintended consequences and unexpected reactions; 2014 is not the raw material required for accurate predictions.
Yet there are specific events that I think are more likely than not to occur within the next 12 months. The year 2014 is likely to resemble the opening sentence of Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. It will be a wild mixture of both the best and the worst of times. The ratio of good to bad that impacts people’s lives depends largely on whether they are ready to embrace the best and marginalize the worst. Happiness and liberty are similar to luck; they tend to favor the prepared.
30 Possibilities For 2014
Here are some of the “best of times” that I expect in 2014:
- More individuals wake up and take control of their lives. (A large rise in subscribers recently at The Dollar Vigilante shows this.)
- Edward Snowden continues to make opposing the state look trendy.
- Libertarianism swells in popularity, as evidenced by media attacks.
- Biotech “miracles,” including the reversal of aging, edge toward being real.
- Ditto on tech breakthroughs, including robots and self-driving cars.
- 3-D printing creates a cornucopia of cheap and accessible goods.
- The correction in gold prices ends.
- More States legalize marijuana; a crack in the drug war spreads.
- Bitcoins stabilize and are more accepted by the mainstream.
- Republicans win the House but not the Senate; bipartanship deepens.
- Virgin Galactic begins space tourism flights in August, on schedule.
- The dollar fades as the world’s reserve currency; the Yuan fills the void.
- The use of cash increases due to concern over ID theft and privacy.
- The Supreme Court rules against Obamacare in at least one key case.
- The backlash against “global warming” grows, led by Canada and Australia.
Here are some of the “worst of times” that I expect in 2014:
- True U.S. unemployment rises, despite what is officially reported. The housing market crashes again, especially in Canada.
- Israel attacks Iran’s nuclear facilities, perhaps covertly.
- New minimum wage laws sweep America, driven by Democrats.
- The 29-hour week is standard for most new employees due to Obamacare.
- The American economy lumbers into zombie mode, similar to that of Japan.
- The 1 percent is richer; the middle class is poorer; the poor… don’t go there!
- A terrorist attack occurs somewhere in Russia during Olympics.
- The prices of food and energy soar.
- A series of American cities declare bankruptcy.
- Snowden is still in Russia; Julian Assange is still at Ecuadorian embassy.
- Social unrest grows worldwide, including racial unrest in America.
- Obamacare is a train wreck; insurance companies balk at paying claims.
- Quantitative easing continues worldwide.
- The Taliban control most of Afghanistan; the United States does not remove all troops.
- “Lone shooter” events occur increasingly throughout the United States.
My synopsis for optimism ensues:
- In terms of prosperity: The innovation and energy of individuals is driving the economy, despite the desperate effort of governments to clamp down and to control. We live in an age of miracles, wrought not by religion but by science and technology — that is to say, by the mind of man. Our species deserves a standing ovation.
- In terms of politics: Decent and productive people are waking up to the corruption and thievery that is the state. They are becoming independent enough to weather economic and social hardships that could otherwise break them in two.
- In terms of liberty: The key factor in how freely people live is how thoroughly they reject the state from their lives and deal with it only under duress. I see this happening everywhere. It is in the air, like ozone before a storm.
Your personal choices have never been more important. And there is still time, but time is shrinking.
Every day you’re alive to fight the good fight is a good day. But time is of the essence if you’re going to continue leading a semi-free life. With mainstream financial advisers now telling clients to organize “bug out bags” in case major cities become uninhabitable, there can be little doubt in the thinking man’s mind that these might just be the worst of times. When you realize that the Federal Emergency Management Agency and local news channels are beginning to parrot the same theme, you might begin to wonder: “Why is it exactly that I am still here?”
As you can see, as Jeff Berwick often says, things are moving quickly. The worst thing we could do as individuals is panic. Remember: It is also the best of times. By figuring out and focusing on clear goals designed to protect ourselves and our families financially (and physically, etc.), we can lead the happy and secure lives we deserve.
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For 2014, it simply makes sense to ensure your future today.
Wendy McElroy is a renowned individualist anarchist and individualist feminist (not the kind of feminist you are used to) and now a staple at The Dollar Vigilante. She was a co-founder of The Voluntaryist in 1982, and is the author/editor of 12 books, the latest of which is The Art of Being Free. Follow her work at http://www.wendymcelroy.com.