Tom Purcell, 8/31/2015 [Archive]

Preparing for the Worst

By Tom Purcell

After the wild stock market downs and ups last week, I crawled out from under my desk and began Googling plans for a backyard survival bunker.

You see, not being an economist or expert about government debt and spending, I have trouble grasping what is going on in the world and when the next economic collapse will occur.

All I know is that our Congressional Budget Office, a nonpartisan federal agency within the legislative branch of our government, keeps warning the country, as it did again last week, that we are on an unsustainable financial path.

Simply put, the CBO says our debt is growing too fast. Whereas the historical average level of publicly held debt over the last 50 years was 38 percent of America's gross domestic product, our debt-to-GDP ratio is now 74 percent and will hit 103 percent in 2040.

To get back to historical debt levels, the CBO says, we'll have to increase revenue by 14 percent or cut spending by 13 percent. If we don't, we will eventually face a real crisis.

Once creditors doubt our ability to repay our debt, interest rates on the debt will have to increase to entice them to buy it, and it will be "game on."

Some doomsayers predict this will ignite the next economic collapse, which will make the 2008 collapse look like a day at a government-funded amusement park. So I'm wondering about a bunker in the countryside on the edge of the suburbs, where my home is located.

Unlike big, sophisticated, wired cities where people couldn't survive a day if their Internet service went down, the people who live in the country can function just dandy without modern conveniences.

My neighbors know how to grow, trap and shoot their own food. They make their own bullets and are proficient with rifles.

They can boil water from the creek and grow their own food. They can hand-fell trees and build houses that they make cozy with an abundance of firewood — and keep their bunkers warm as they protect themselves from all the suburbanites flooding to the countryside, looking for some grub.

Most importantly, they know how to make moonshine, one of America's most valuable products. For years, moonshine helped settlers convert their corn harvests into a valuable commodity that was as good as gold — and might be again if the doomsayers' predictions come true.

If all heck breaks loose, my country village would be fine. I'd still be able to amble down to the local watering hole and sing Willie Nelson tunes on karaoke night.

We'll never run out of food. Wild turkey and deer pass through my yard daily. All of my neighbors have deer meat stashed somewhere within their houses and ingenious methods for powering electrical generators to keep their freezers cold.

Some analysts say worry about a big economic collapse is overblown. They say the government can inflate its way out of the situation, which could significantly reduce the value of the amount our government owes — and punish people whose savings would also be significantly reduced. But that one sounds fishy to me.

In any event, I hope the big one never happens — I hope the experts who keep meddling with our economy through zero interest-rate policies and expansion of the money supply don't unwittingly thrust us into the mother of all breakdowns.

Still, when the stock market soars up and down as it did last week, I find comfort in smoking and storing large batches of beef jerky, just in case.

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© 2015 Tom Purcell. Tom Purcell, author of "Misadventures of a 1970's Childhood" and "Comical Sense: A Lone Humorist Takes on a World Gone Nutty!" is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist and is nationally syndicated exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. For info on using this column in your publication or website, contact Sales@cagle.com or call (805) 969-2829. Send comments to Tom at Tom@TomPurcell.com.



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