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The Supply Chain's Troika of Trouble
From:
Albert Goldson --  Cerulean Council Albert Goldson -- Cerulean Council
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: New York, NY
Tuesday, August 31, 2021

 

 

Image from Post and Courier
The global supply chain in transporting goods relies onthree inextricably linked types of transportation: maritime, rail freight andtrucking. Each one can be considered a bridge from one to the other over hardinfrastructure which allows goods to be transported from manufacturer to itsfinal destination.

In the present-day landscape all three are alarmingly weakand vulnerable. It has been extensively reported and documented that the maritimeand trucking industry have difficulty in securing enough equipment andpersonnel to meet new demand because of extensive furlough of personnel,shortage of trained personnel and imbalance of availability of equipment.

Little mentioned and equally critical to these links isfreight trains which is an indispensable component in hauling imported goodsfrom ports to major cities and distribution points as well as the domestic transportof agricultural products.

SHIPPING & PORT INFRASTRUCTURE

Ocean freight consists of 85% of total global trade whichmakes it the most critical “bridge” of this troika. Even during the best oftimes there has always been port congestion and shortage of containers, howeverbecause of the extreme supply & demand imbalance, these mundane industryproblems have been extraordinarily exacerbated.

The Financial Times article on 10 August 2021 entitled PortsFace Biggest Crisis Since Start of Container Shipping provides acomprehensive overview and challenges of the status of the container industry.

To paraphrase the issues in this article, ports worldwidepre-pandemic have dealt with congestion and delays. For this reason investmentis required to increase capacity and change the layout configuration toaccommodate the super-sized container ships, deeper docks and bigger.

The largest container ships, the super-size category cancarry 20,000 20 ft containers that when laid side to side would stretch beyondthe distance from Paris to Amsterdam or 315 miles. The process in normal timesof ordering and installing of a new crane to expedite their unloading can take18 months.

With respect to congestion in the US, container ships arewaiting 33 hours in 2021 for a berth for unloading vs 8 hours in 2020.

 TRUCKING

 The following article 11 Incredible Facts About the $700 Billion US TruckingIndustry, in Markets Insider, 3 June 2019, provides a comprehensiveperspective as to the criticality of truckers’ role in America’s economy andsecurity.

 In 2017, the US truckingindustry posted revenues greater than the GDP of more than 150 nations.

  1. Approximately 5.8% offulltime jobs are related to trucking.
  2. Walmart alone employs8,600 truckers.
  3. Trucks move more than70% of goods transported around the USA.
  4. More than 40% of alltrucking jobs are held by minorities, 6% by women.
  5. Not one of theregulators charged with overseeing the trucking industry was ever atrucker.
  6. Most grocery storeswould run out of food in three days if there was no long-haul truckersstopped driving.
  7. Many experts believethat the trucking industry needs to hire 900,000 more drivers.
  8. Most truck drivers earnless than most Americans in annual income.
  9. The average professionallong-haul driver logs more than 100,000 miles per year (vs the averageAmerican motorist who travels 13,500 miles annually)


Truckers’ Demographic Dilemma

 According to the figures a trucker’s average age is 55 in aprofession whose working conditions don’t encourage a healthy lifestyle whichin turn aggravates underlying health conditions. According to the articlepublished by MSN Money 12 March 2020 How Coronavirus Could Hit America’s 1.8 Million TruckDrivers 38% of truck drivers lack health insurance with unhealthylifestyles which are considerably higher than the average populationencompassing obesity, morbid obesity, cigarette smoking and diabetes. Theshortage of qualified truck drivers has persisted for many years.

 This has compelled some trucking companies to offer generoussigning bonuses up to $8,000. But as observers noted, these bonuses are notattracting “new blood” rather encouraging current drivers to jump too othercompanies because the profession is demanding with limited upside.

 The aforementioned dilemmas are almost identical in Europeand Asia (except Africa) making it a global problem that will not be resolved inthe near future.

 RAIL FREIGHT

 Rail freight has received far less publicity than theirtransportation associates yet face the same operational dilemmas. The WallStreet Journal article 22 July 2021 entitled Shortageof Railroad Workers Threaten Recovery discusses the shortage of railroadworkers affecting operations.

 To paraphrase the article freight companies are runningfewer trains with more freight cars because of higher than expected attritionand deeper personnel cuts. This change in operations was initiated by Canadianrailroad companies called “precision scheduled railroading” in 2017. It entailsrunning fewer trains, longer distances, tighter schedules which require fewer locomotives,workers and facilities.

 With respect to experienced personnel, freight companies aretrying to ramp up by recruiting, often with monetary incentives and training. Thepresent-day employment level below pre-pandemic levels currently at 47,444 vs51,800 according to the Standard Transportation Board.

 

INFRASTRUCTURE

 Crumbling Bridges

 Even with improvements in maritime, trucking and railfreight, the infrastructure they must traverse has also been on a downwardtrajectory for decades. The proposed infrastructure bill falls far short of therequired repairs financially and technically.

 The Wall Street Journal article dated 17 June 2021 entitled OneFailed Bridge in Memphis is Costing Business Millions underscores thedecades of negligent inspections of America’s infrastructure. According to thearticle the Arkansas DOT inspections in 2019 and 2020 missed a crack in the50-year old bridge which carries 40,000 vehicles daily and Memphis a criticaldistribution hub. For this reason that vehicles must use an alternate, narrowerbridge that crosses the Mississippi River resulting in massive congestion whilerepairs are made.

 A superb example as to the criticality of even a smallbridge was entertainingly explained by actor Stanley Tucci in the movie Margin Call (2011) abouta financial firm at the brink of a meltdown. He brilliantly articulated with ashort storytelling narrative on the impact of the role of a small bridge hedesigned in Middle America:

The following chart entitled WhereAmerica’s Bridges Are Crumbling provided by the American Road &Transportation Building Association (ARTBA) gives a startling quantitativefigure and areas of extreme need of structurally deficient bridges in 2020:

 

 In theirassessment ARTBA stated, “Infrastructure by finding that more than220,000 American bridges need repair work. 45,000 of them were deemed structurallydeficient and Americans cross them 171.5 million times daily. At the currentrate, it would take more than 40 years to fix all of them and cost an estimated$41.8 billion. The good news is that the number of structurally deficientbridges has declined for the past five years but that trend has been temperedby more bridges being downgraded from good to fair condition.”

 Furthermore,“Out of all U.S. states, Iowa has the most structurally deficient bridges,4,571 or 19.1 percent of its total bridges. Pennsylvania comes second on thelist with 3,353 of its bridges falling into the same category, along with 2,374in Illinois. West Virginia has the highest share of bridges classified asstructurally deficient at 21 percent while Nevada has the lowest at just 1.4percent.”

 The trend for increasingly severeweather has also accelerated decrepitude of these infrastructures in terms ofshutdown or collapse.

 Although a mammoth bipartisan infrastructure bill has passed,the following chart entitled Infrastructure:The US is Falling Short on Investment provided by the American Society of CivilEngineers, shows the astounding investment gap between funded and unfunded.Whether the newly approved monies for this new bill will be spent in thecorrect areas – historic mismatch of funding based on politics than engineeringand economic need.

According to TheAmerican Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) its report on 17 major infrastructurecategories on a range of criteria such as capacity, condition, funding andpublic safety scoring A to F, USA score climbed from D+ in 2017 to a C- in2021, the first time out of D range in two decades. Nonetheless the overallimprovement was uneven in which 11 of 17 categories were still graded D.

Dammed If You Do

In an area where the US is eliminating an expensiveinfrastructure maintenance cost is dams. According to theUN Institute for Water, Environment and Health, the US is the world’sleader in dam removal because of the burdensome risk and cost. In the past 30years the US has decommissioned 1,200 dams. About 18% of US dams are highhazard risk. Texas has the most dams. Most were constructed to provideirrigation to water scarce regions. Only 3% of the dams are for hydroelectricalpurposes.

The following chart entitled Where Dams HaveReached “Alert” Age provided by the UN Institute for Water, Environment andHealth shows average age of large dams worldwide.

In an era of severe drought this may not seem urgent howeverthere are huge costs and manpower in decommissioning dams.

Infrastructure Bill Provisions

Included in the Senate-approved $3.5 trillion infrastructurebill includes the following for ‘hard’ tangible projects such as roads,bridges, etc. projects:

Hard Projects

Senate Approved Amount (inbillions)

Roads & bridges

$110

Rail: Amtrak and nationalnetwork

$66

Public Transport

$39

Airports: runways and terminals

$20

Airports: air traffic control

$5

Ports & waterways

$17

Power Grid upgrade

$75

Grand Total

$332

 

 

Lacking the Brick & Mortar Know-How

America’s failure in the educational sciences to graduateengineers and other technical professionals fall short of personnel regardlesshow much money is thrown at these infrastructure problems. We’ve spawned a newgeneration that excels at writing virtual software but not for repairing brick& mortar hardware. America’s multigenerational degradation of math andscience technical education and paucity of American students pursuing thosefields creates a national security problem.

To eliminate the shortage of experienced professionals andtechnicians, planners, engineers and the blue-collar operations manpower is amulti-generational endeavor under the best of circumstances. The government canalways print more money but is unable to create more qualified technical peopleas fast.

As the adage goes, “A chain is as strong as its weakestlink” which neatly applies to the supply chain and the infrastructure itutilizes. Even of two of the three supply chain bridges were magically broughtback to pre-pandemic service, smooth world trade would still depend on everycomponent working in harmony.

 

© Copyright 2021 Cerulean Council LLC

The Cerulean Council is a NYC-based think-tank that providesprescient, beyond-the-horizon, contrarian perspectives and risk assessments ongeopolitical dynamics and global urban security.

 

 


It’s the summer of 1939 as the looming darkening cloudsengulf Europe. The last gasps for peace have vanished as Nazi Germany is at thecusp of unleashing its fearsome blitzkrieg and plunge the world into yet anotherworld war far more devastating than the first.

Unlike 1939, there is no one specific, tangible sovereignenemy in 2021 against whom to defend and counter-attack, rather a series of decades-oldemerging and sadly preventable threats that include the Pandora’s Box deluxe collectionof pandemics, climate change with severe resultant worldwide droughts, floodsand heat waves, fragile supply chains, food shortages, inflation and stupefyingsocio-economic inequity all which can trigger a global economic implosion ofpoverty, starvation and subsequent social unrest.

Behind Closed Doors of the New Normal Urban Landscape

Many analysts have provided their macro academic predictionsand perspectives in general terms as to what the “new normal” will look like. Howeverfew have dared to describe the prolonged, daily dystopian dark & grittyworld most citizens will inhabit on the streets and behind closed doors afterthe economic downfall takes place before the end of the year.

Violent Crime

This summer wildfires are everywhere most notably the80-plus wildfires in 13 western states a heat provoke the equivalent intensityin the form of social unrest in the urban jungle. Millions of law-abiding citizensrisk homelessness and will not hesitate to resort to violent methods to feedthemselves and their families. Housing moratoriums are ending at the same time foodprices are rising because of shortages which are pushing everyone to theeconomic and psychological brink.

For this reason the present-day increase in shoplifting willmorph rapidly into mass shoplifting and eventually into outright looting,specifically on food stores in the absence of social unrest by easily overpoweringand overwhelming unarmed, minimum wage guards.

There are no more urban sanctuaries from crime whether onelives in a well-to-do neighborhood or a modest one hidden, far from the urbancenter enclave, the infamous “sordid underbelly” is coming to your neck of thewoods marking the end of societal stability & civility.

The Cavalry Is Not Coming

The emergency number 911 is nothing more than the vanishing dummycrossing button on street corners which serves as nothing more than a prop. Thecrisis is so serious that not even ubiquitous surveillance cameras serve as adeterrent to the desperate from committing crimes. The diminished presence oflaw enforcement can be summed up with the dramatic change in NY PoliceDepartment personnel similar to what has occurred with law enforcementthroughout the country as follows:

Present-day: 36,000 officers

2020: 2,767 retired

2014-2019: Less than 1,800 retired in each year

We Are All The Omega Man

In anticipation of this growing crime rate many businessesare closing early, even well before sundown during the long summer days. Like CharltonHeston in the prescient sci-fi movie The Omega Man (1971), who takes anexperimental drug to survive after a China-USSR germ warfare has decimated theworld’s population, Heston must return to his urban redoubt before sunset whenthe slow-dying but still active & violent mutants wake up.

A disturbingexample can be found at the Dunkin Donuts at AstorPlace located at the busy crossroads between NYU and the popular East Village inNYC that changed their operating hours and close at 4 pm every day. DunkinDonuts is the quintessential comfort food, takeout hole-in-wall venuenationwide near that doesn’t serve alcoholic beverages. Summer closure hoursbefore sundown in an active, hip, neighborhood is disturbing. Despite being afranchise business that thrives on selling donuts & coffee, they perceive themselvesas a target during socialunrest.

More business establishments have established before sundownclosing times. Furthermore the social unrest threat is so acute that somestores may close permanently not because of lack of demand for their goods& services rather their location where it’s susceptible to sustained highcrime and social unrest.

One could define this as part of a de-gentrification processwhere formerly edgy NYC neighborhoods revert back to their 1970s and 1980s “personalities”such as Bed-Stuyvesant, Williamsburg, Bushwick, Lower Eastside but withcontinuing sky-high rents. It’s the economic twisted irony of living in anincreasingly unaffordable  yet at thesame time high-crime neighborhood as a college-educated resident with a whitecollar job. 

Generational Coping 

The Boomer generation is in a difficult position. Some arein denial. Others identify this emerging period as triggering their psychologicalanti-bodies acquired in young adulthood experiences to prepare and brace forimpact. Regardless as senior citizens of the societal herd they’ve been profiledand targeted members by predators. The savvy Boomers are able to identifythreats well before their offspring generation but because they are out ofshape they will find it physically difficult to escape or defend themselves asduring their youth.

The younger generations such as the Millennials, GenerationX and Y are like younger, coddled animals brought up in the soft Disneyworldbubble. In a ruthless “eat or be eaten world” although they are better able to physicallyescape, they are unable to recognize the threat until it’s too late. This meansthat both Boomers and the young generations are equally vulnerable.

Domestic Violence & The Brothel Next Door

With the progressive ending of housing moratoriumsthroughout the country the homeless population will explode. For this reasonthose fortunate enough to have shelter may be more vulnerable to domesticviolence because there will be far fewer housing alternatives.

Firstly married women in a cohabiting arrangement may beforced to tolerate infidelity for purposes of survival.

Secondly many people who have no family or friends toaccommodate them are loathe to becoming homeless. Single women living alone whoare desperate, unemployed or under-employed, including many middle age, formerlywell-paid white collar professionals, will seek cohabiting arrangements. Thisdesperation will manifest through dating sites, a verifiable cyber-cesspool filledwith sexual predators, seeking clients or sugar daddies creating the brothelnext door.

There will be far more women competing for fewer clients andsugar daddies who themselves are suffering financially and will eliminate or cutback on “entertainment” expenses as their lifestyle and lucrative cash flow isunder threat.

Cybercrime | All in the Family

Expect an explosion in cybercrime internally from family,friends and roommates desperate for funds to either survive or maintain amodicum of their pre-pandemic lifestyle. This scenario is akin to what unfolds inmany action movies in which the hero makes a phone call to the villain whosehenchmen desperately try to trace to location of the call. Suddenly the henchman’stechie yells to the astonishment of the crew, “He’s in the building!” and thenall hell breaks loose because the hero has penetrated their inner defenses.Because of the proliferation of cybercrime, financial institutions arereluctant to reimburse lost account monies and will abide by the letter oftheir policies and law before making any payments particularly if an accounthas been inactive for as little as 30 days.

Alcohol and Substance Abuse

The searing psychological pressure of no job orunder-employment, cessation of governmental benefits, no savings, no medicalcoverage for medications, personal debt and no access to loans because ofcancelled credit lines, plunging credit score, and maxed credit cards will pushmany Americans to the brink.

This trend is disturbingly articulated in the followingchart entitled HistoricSpike in US Drug Overdose Deaths provided by the Centers for DiseaseControl and Prevention as overdoses surged almost 30% from 2019 to 2020. Controlledsubstance demand is robust as demonstrated by the open drug market in NYC’sWashington Square Park.


Suicides

Citizens are losing their jobs, then their residence (ownedor rented) and often their minds. If they believe that their personal financialrecovery is impossible then the suicide rates will spike especially amongst thevulnerable “little guys” – owners of independent, family-owned businesses, gigworkers, young people with high debts (student loans, mortgages), and theelderly on fixed incomes.

PACK ANIMALS

Canines and citizens are pack animals whose group livingarrangements have served them well for centuries. These group bonds are genetic,thus unaltered and unbreakable, and always manifest far stronger in a crisisenvironment.

Abandoned Pets Forming Wolf Packs

As citizens struggle to feed themselves and their families,the heartless will abandon their pets on the streets. During the initial spring2020 lockdown many Americans acquired comfort pets so the resultant abandonmentbecause of unemployment and food insecurity will be much worse.

Because dogs are natural pack animals the desperate survivors– breeds that adapt best in an urban or rural environment - will becomedangerous competitors for food as lethal dumpster divers with the homeless asFluffy’s genes revert to her ancestors’ prehistoric mode as a wolf.

Gangs of New York Redux

The urban gangs never disappeared even throughout theDisneyland 1990s into the 21st century rather just operated low-keyand underground. Sadly like abandoned pets this abandoned youth were already onsociety’s periphery because of dysfunctional families. And because humans arepack animals like dogs, the gangs’ membership will surge and morph into America’snewest fast growing terrorist group that will jack up the crime rate.

Parallel Societies

Equivalent homeless as in emerging countries or even westerncountries such as Brazil and Argentina, will become a long-term fixture onurban and rural streets, shantyvilles and favelas with its own informalgoverning laws, government and security.

DYSTOPIAN CULTURE | DANCES OF DEFIANCE

Regardless of the historical depths of depravity, citizens stillwant to have a good time. Expect parties like a 21st century versionof Studio 54 in the 1970s but far edgier as if there’s no tomorrow becausethere may not be one. The dystopic parties, depraved and overflowing withalcohol and drugs, will be “too big to raid” creating a de factooff-limits zone from law enforcement. They will be similar to the uninhibiteddance bacchanal scene in the Matrix Reloaded inthe face of probable annihilation after attendees were informed that themachines were burrowing furiously towards Zion.

THE HAVE AND HAVE NOTS

As millions of Americas descend into poverty, they may haveto take lessons from the present-day average Lebanese citizen who strugglesmightily every day simply to survive with hyper-inflation. The following short YouTube report released June2021 provides an overview of their daily struggles.

The Elite of the Elites

If you’re curious as to how will the elite of the eliteswill weather the socio-economic storm, here’s a chart entitled ToWhat extent Do US CEOs Outearn Their Workers? provided by the AFL-CIO. According to the AFL-CIO report the averageS&P 500 CEO made $15.5 million in 2020, 299 times the pay of the medianworker which certainly doesn’t endear the employees to go “above & beyond”in their job performance.

 


The Dystopic UrbanJungle

Governmental sources are engagedin a public relations full court press utilizing the word “transitory” todescribe inflationary pressures and other problems as a normal occurrence duringan uneven post-pandemic, re-opening economic recovery. However the citizenry iswell aware that rising prices tend to stay elevated for extended periods oftime and for his reason they consider these official statements as meaningless.

As some states reimpose mask wearingedicts, even amongst the vaccinated, to slow down the new supposedly morehighly contagious Covid variants, we face the possibility of near futurepossible imposition of lockdowns as in many other countries.

Shortages, inflationary pricesand tightening restrictions are placing the citizenry in an ever-shrinking territorymaking everyone more vulnerable to the predators within them. This means thatliterally, as the adage goes, “Only the strong will survive.

 


© Copyright 2021 Cerulean Council LLC

The Cerulean Council is a NYC-based think-tank that providesprescient, beyond-the-horizon, contrarian perspectives and risk assessments ongeopolitical dynamics and global urban security.

 

 

Image from DeviantArt
Setting The Stage

Against the illusion of an economic recovery withpre-pandemic levels of citizens out & about during these summer monthsprovide is the illusion of entering an acceptable new normal way of life.However the dark underbelly of government and big business are pre-positioningthemselves for the inevitability of an economy that could be described, usingthe decades-old Wall Street adage, “An elephant on chicken legs.”

Impacting the common man is a policy change issued by somemajor banks which have suspended or eliminated personal lines of creditregardless whether their credit rating is superb. Everyone at this level iscognizant that there is no more road for the Fed to kick the can as they battendown the hatches for the arriving day of reckoning and its consequences.

What does this mean at the street level for the averagecitizen? A dangerous world in which the cavalry won’t be coming whatsoever.

The Targets

The dominant messages from urban and rural preppers havefocused on food, safety & security along with adjusting one’s mindset withrespect to the greater risk of a worst-case scenario. Translation: Mad Max inAmerica.

Whatever level of preparedness, these individuals aretargets by the unprepared zombies who will aggressively steal their survival motherlode.

Furthermore regardless how assiduously careful one hasacquired and guarded their survival goods, the curse of technology has probablyalready betrayed them long ago. Their dependency on the internet has resultedin dozens of individuals who are quite familiar with both the prepper andnon-prepper’s socio-economic profile, assets and recent purchases. In otherwords they have already been identified, profiled and targeted.

The most insidious and dangerous type of predatory prepper isthe ones you know. A quick summary list includes package and food deliveryservices, sanitation, postman and other service individuals not to mentionfamily, friends and neighbors. Any or all of them who live and work amongst usand probably know us better than we know ourselves can overnight transformthemselves into ravaging barbarians under the right circumstances willing to “aidand abet.”

With respect to food security a target rich demographic are shoppersat high-end venues such as Whole Foods. In a somewhat different but stilllucrative category are shoppers at stores like Costco who buy in bulk and who mostlikely own homes and have families.

Potential online predatory predators include consumerservices, banking and other financial services from which there have beenanecdotal tales of customer service representatives maintaining a list ofparticular clients for sale to the highest bidder.

The New Barbarians in the Mad Max Landscape

Should things devolve into chaos the urban and rural junglewill roar to life and unleash various types of predators ranging from lions, wolfpacks, hyenas, wild dogs crocodiles to solitary predators such as tigers orsnakes. The assaults on businesses, families and individuals will not be randombecause these predators have done their “due diligence” to determine thejuiciest targets whether based on the specific neighborhood, block, home,family or individual. Make no mistake - everyone has been profiled and targetedat some level. The actual assault will be contingent on priority and ease ofaccess with Ocean’s Eleven precision.

TARGETING PRIMER | THE ANDERSON TAPES

A cinematic analogy to this process is the heist movie entitled“The Anderson Tapes” (1971) starring Sean Connery, Martin Balsam, GarrettMorris, Dyan Canon, Alan King and a young Christopher Walken. The plot in anutshell: thieves plan to rob an entire Fifth Avenue building of wealthyresidents during the Labor Day weekend.

Life’sDouble Standard Stacked Against the Small Guy

Undoubtedly you’ve already correctly guessed that the mastermindand leader of the crew is Sean Connery as Duke. He’s just released from a long prisonstint and wants to hit it big-time right away. Duke’s bitterness to life’sdouble-standards and that justifies his robbery scheme has the same urgency as 21stcentury thugs who are waiting for societal breakdown in the aforementionedvideo.

BirdDogging the Wealthy’s Golden Cage

A key component is the assessment and targeting of eachclient to identify high value items for rapid retrieval. For this reason Duke recruitsan old friend and antique shop owner played by Martin Balsam to perform socialengineering while bird dogging the residences under the cover as an interiordecorator.

Guiltless& Remorseless Robbery

Duke’s recruitment of diverse specialists include an electronicssecurity expert who convinces him, a young Christopher Walken, that there’s noguilt in ripping off Big Business and the wealthy. The movie is already 50 yearsold but human nature never changes.

Highway Bandits on the Mad Max Roadways | American ISIS

The greatest fallacy of escaping a societal breakdown is thedash from the burning cities to the idyllic rural sanctuaries. It’s a deeplyflawed assumption because violent crime has surged everywhere. Mainstream mediahas focused this trend on the urban areas but anecdotally these same trends areoccurring in those supposed safe communities. Taking the quote from the 17thcentury poet Jean de le Fontaine, “A person meets his destiny on the road hetakes to avoid it.”

Because those fleeing the urban areas are wealthier thantheir lower-class neighbors, the thugs will simply “follow the money” andprobably already know the locations of their safehouses. Furthermore, the ruralareas are an illusion of safety & security. Wealthier residents in a far lessdense population environment are target rich will have far less law enforcementto protect them and who would be out-numbered and low firepower against amini-convoy of thugs. It wouldn’t be surprisingly that some thugs have alreadytaken residence in their redoubts as violent squatters.

For those with a choice the question is whether to remain inurban cauldron or rural frontier each one defined by their particular tribalismwhether it be racial, ethnic, socio-economic, or just a familiar regular face.

Taking a logistical page from ISIS, these thugs will useSUVs in convoys just as ISIS used signaturewhite Toyota trucks to terrorize small towns in the Middle East and Africa. Forthis reason there’s the perilous high risk of traveling or commuting betweensanctuaries like the impala, gazelle or zebra crossing a river filled withcrocodiles yet who still have to face wild dogs on the other side.

Finally there’s no safety in rural paradise since some ofthe dangers can be internal with long-time residents and even local law enforcementwho can politely “shake down” those part-time or recently arrived residentswith those easy smiles. Rural communities can have their “sordid underbelly” justas New York, Baltimore or Portland.

Automotive Criminal Anarchy

Furthermore car thefts and car jackings will probably soar forhard to acquire and expensive spare parts. Present-day it’s catalytic convertersand soon it may be tires because of a rubber production shortfall in Asia where93% of the world’s natural rubber is produced.

Additionally the automotive targets won’t be your typicalhigh-end luxury vehicles rather any vehicle. In other words the drivers of 10-15-20year old economy cars are just at risk of a carjacking attempt as the driversin a Maserati.

Militarized Thuggery

Law enforcement has been militarized for years but nowcriminals have upgraded their firepower through the illegal acquisition of morepowerful firearms. The following chart entitled 1,900US Military Firearms Were Lost or Stolen in the 2010s provided by theAssociated Press’ own investigation, shows a breakdown of the weaponsunaccounted for during this period:

 

Furthermore it wouldn’t be inconceivable that the de factowarlords of these groups are battle-hardened ex-military and personallyfamiliar with utilizing military weapons with accompanying home invasion tactics.

Social Breakdown Tripwires

There is a myriad of factors that can provoke a degradationof quality of life whether the degradation takes place over several months,weeks or overnight can trigger a bad case scenario:

·        A severe spike in inflation especially foodleading to actual physical shortage.

·        Progressive end of rent moratoriums resulting inhundreds of thousands homeless.

·        Cyber incident on critical infrastructure -electrical grid, pipeline, food production.

·        A more severe and sustained series of meteorologicalevents.

·        Political risk upheaval and instability ingovernment leadership due to scandal or incapacitation.

·        Stock market crash or a brutally grindingdecline that forces the government to declare a Bank Holiday which freezesfinancial accounts for days.

In sum there are no safe havens, only the degree of risk.Regardless your personal preparation plans should continue unabated with the psychologicalacceptance and adjustment to a grim reality. Finally maintain as small afootprint as possible with respect to your social media profile and communicationsto protect your prep readiness.

 

© Copyright 2021 Cerulean Council LLC

The Cerulean Council is a NYC-based think-tank that providesprescient, beyond-the-horizon, contrarian perspectives and risk assessments ongeopolitical dynamics and global urban security.

 

Photo from Vox

The Meat of the Matter

Unquestionably global food prices are skyrocketing as worst-casescenarios are colliding simultaneously. Since WW II meat consumption by all socio-economicclasses entered America’s culinary DNA with steakhouses representing the apex redmeat temples, the literal “High-Table” where big business discusses big dealsover bigger steaks paid for by big expenses accounts.

Since then for most Americans a meatless lifestyle is unpatriotic.It’s an American’s culinary Second Amendment “right” to affordable red andother meats particularly during the holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas,and the endless open BBQ buffet Memorial Day through July 4th andLabor Day weekend as plentiful leftovers are de rigueur. Meatconsumption is unabashedly the “American way of life”.

The Convenient Inconvenience

The brief and conspiratorially “impeccably timed” JBS USAshutdown earlier this month represents ‘cancel culinary culture’ that triggeredelevated meat prices.

While the US west is suffering through its version ofDante’s Inferno with severe drought, limited irrigation and potentialfirestorms, the production of beef is the ‘thirstiest’ of foods. According tothe following chart entitled How Thirstyis Our Food? provided by the Water Footprint Network, bovine meat requires15,415 liters of water to produce one kilogram of meat; or 4,072 gallons toproduce 2.2 lbs of meat! [One liter equates to 0.26 gallons; 1 kilogram equatesto 2.2 lbs.].


The blame for this environmental Armageddon in the making hasceaselessly been exclusively heaped on manmade climate change. Historically therehave been cycles with drought and severe drought in the region, however thecrisis was not as dire back in the day because the US had a pre-WW II in 1940 of132 million, a country emerging from the Depression where few people couldafford to eat meat regularly.

Fast forward to the year 2020 with an America with almosttriple the population with 331 million, extensive development and populationconcentration in those present-day drought areas with historically scarce waterresources.

Furthermore the USA is far more prosperous with a soaringdemand for meat and meat-products which require evermore water resources. Forthis reason this creates the inevitable train wreck with droughts and watershortages.

This severe crisis was delayed because of agribusinessscience through potent pesticides and genetically modified crops which in turnhas placed greater stress on the land for decades against a global warmingtrend.

This trend has continued for decades and now mother naturewants to put us on a prolonged fast with her scorched earth policy throughdroughts.

The following chart entitled TheBiggest Producers of Beef in the World provided by the UN’s Food &Agriculture Organization and the US Department of Agriculture indicates the USas the #1 beef producer which, according to the aforementioned chart, wouldrequire substantial amounts of water.


What naturally follows is that the US has the highestconsumption of meat per capita according to the following chart entitled TheCountries That Eat the Most Meat provided by the Organization for EconomicCooperation and Development.

Culinary Counter-Point | Consumers’ Insatiable Meat Appetite

Throughout history meat was a luxury. As prosperity becameglobal, regions where meat consumption was affordable only for the upper class,is part of a regular diet in China, India and Africa whose combined populationis 3.8 billion or 50% of the world’ population. The resources (water, land,feed) required for what has been labeled, “the largest ramp-up in humanhistory” has stressed and degraded the global ecological system.

Domestically the American consumers’ insatiable hunger andthirst has unfairly labeled agribusiness as the sole villain in this spiralingproblem. For this reason I prefer to label them as merely an enabler respondingto consumer demand in an increasingly more prosperous capitalistic society.

As disposable incomes increase consumers become moredemanding for “the finer things in life” as agribusiness responds accordingly bybecoming evermore creative by increasing food yields through science. Forexample in 1925 it took a chicken 150 days to grow to an adult. Today it takesa mere 47 days. The foods and drugs that are forcibly administered to present-daychickens to become so plump so quickly will make your stomach turn.

The question is whether exploding food, particularly meat,prices will be enough to alter Americans’ eating habits. As inflation continuesunabated, meat will become unaffordable except for the economically well-heeled.

The public outcry on meat production shortfall and explodingprices is more symbolic of several generations’ “right” to plentiful andaffordable meat rather than admit meat is neither essential nor a survival food.Nonetheless this change is the uncomfortable symbolism of the downfall of aslice of American way of life.

Cyber-Terrorists’ Next Target

The cyber-attack on mega-meat producer JBS may be one ofsubsequent cyber attacks on food & beverage producers. The one class of producerthat will impact Americans in far more insidious ways than meat is alcohol –yet another item under America’s second culinary amendment.

Traditionally consumed as a social “lubricant” it has many darkfunctions such as a psychological painkiller that has resulted in alcoholism,broken families & relationships, violence, road deaths and alcohol relatedillnesses.

This trend has grown exponentially before the Covid lockdownsas indicated in the following chart entitled Then& Now Deaths From Alcohol in the US provided by the National Institute ofAlcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

 

The trend translates into a 4% increase every year for 18years!  With respect to demographicsCaucasian women accounted for the greatest increase in deaths.

Furthermore according to a report entitled “Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research” alcohol wasdeadlier than illicit drugs including opioids in 2017 with 72,224 drug overdoses,334 less than deaths related to alcohol!

Reducing the availability of alcohol and inevitable rising alcoholprices would deprive many Americans of their ‘fix’ which has exploded since theCovid lockdowns and which continues with many households under financialstress. For family breadwinners with alcohol-related problems, despite higherprices they may follow the Russian story as follows:

The father comes home and tells his children, “I’m sorrykids but the factory has reduced the pay of all workers.” The children then askthe father, “Does that mean you’ll drink less?” to which the father replied, “No.That means you’ll eat less.”

Otherwise it will simply be Plan B in which Americans willseek other sources such as controlled substances to satisfy their cravings.

In other words the withdrawal symptoms are radicallydifferent for each item. Remove meat from the American diet and you have ahealthier citizenry. Remove alcohol from the American diet and you have chaos.

 

© Copyright 2021 Cerulean Council LLC

The Cerulean Council is a NYC-based think-tank that providesprescient, beyond-the-horizon, contrarian perspectives and risk assessments ongeopolitical dynamics and global urban security.

 

 

 

Source: Wallpaper Flare
Evermore people are enthusiasticallyembracing greater freedom of movement with the arrival of warm weather andnationwide loosening of restrictions in public venues due to increased vaccinationsand falling Covid positive rates. For these brief few blissful weeks it mightseem like the Old Normal good old days déjà vu even amongst the “rubble” of aplethora of permanently closed businesses and leisure venues.

As the pandemic recedesto the background of mainstream media and inoculated people’s consciousness,the emerging brutal reality is that certain dynamics are converging that willdefine this New Normal post-pandemic era for the next several years.

Hyper Inflation &Meteorological Madness

The “super cycle” pricesurge in raw materials and commodities are raging through the system and are alreadyadversely impacting the cost of all consumer items due to a severe supply &demand imbalance.

With respect to food emergingsevere droughts globally will continue to super-charge food prices not only forthis spring and summer rather through 2022 because droughts are impacting next year’splanting season.

The followingcomparative charts presented by the US Drought Monitor underscores the severityof the crisis-in-the-making that could lead to a national crisis. The year-on-yearchart provides disturbing comparisons of drought conditions in May 2021 (first chart)to May 2020 (second chart) – a mere one year apart.

 

Drought conditions inthe US May 19, 2020:


In North America these severe droughts are adversely impacting thebread baskets of the US and Canada. According to US Drought Monitor, droughthas adversely impacted 88% of the US West in 2020 compared to 40% in 2020against limited water irrigation.

The California snowpack is a mere 4% or normal and the bigreservoirs are at less than 50% capacity. Furthermore the West, particularlyCalifornia, is vulnerable to another season of severe firestorms, nature’sscorched earth policy.

The severe drought crisisis global causing agricultural havoc. The Food andAgriculture Organization of the UN 6 May 2021 reported the 11thconsecutive month of food price increases.

One overlooked fact isthat climate change has been used as a convenient excuse for water insecuritywhich has increasingly imperiled California and the US West for decades.Historically this region has experienced dry seasons and droughts. But the region’sdwindling water supplies are due to the explosive economic development through populationand industrial growth that ranks California en par with the same population andGDP as Italy.

Hurricane Season

On the opposite end ofthe meteorological spectrum the Atlantic Meteorological Oceanographic Library,the research laboratory of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration organization,has provided their assessment of projected and intensity of hurricanes thisseason as depicted in the following chart entitled Unpredictable Danger:Hurricane Seasons Since 1967.

According to theirforecast they predict 6-10 hurricanes this year with 3-5 of them to be become majorhurricanes rated Category 3 or higher.

Ironically the onset of the hurricane season provides a deluge of rainfallin most areas that don’t suffer from water insecurity - nature’s perverse grossmisallocation of resources.


These intense storms willalso disrupt the fragile supply chain for goods & services as highways,roads, regional power grids will be compromised.

Starvation in the BreadBasket

The following aredynamics that will exacerbate the explosive increase in food prices with actualfood shortages, not just logistical problems.

The continuing laborshortages at food processing plants and truck drivers to haul these food goodsto supermarkets present another kink in the supply chain’s critical path.Furthermore some drivers refuse to haul goods because higher gas prices haveresulted in loss of revenue for the haul. Exacerbating the risk is the shortageof spare parts.

Many large agribusinesscompanies such as Kroger are closing food stores in the midst of increased foodinsecurity for millions of citizens. According to their spokespersons, theclosings are due to those supermarkets’ poor financial performance.Interestingly not only are those supermarkets located in poor communities,their elimination will create additional food deserts forcing the community eitherto spend monies for transportation in search of healthy food or purchase junkfood from local businesses.

An alternative source forthese poorer communities is food banks. However they are close to the breakingpoint in meeting demand and will collapse should food sources dry up.

In a potential prescient scene from the dystopic classic filmalmost a half century ago SoylentGreen (1973) we could see riots at these food banksand distribution centers sites when there is an announcement that the foodinventory is exhausted.

For the wealthy, well-prepared or the clever, one can still enjoy anatural, healthy meal as depicted in SoylentGreen with Charlton Heston and Edward G. Robinson.

New Army of Homeless Families | End of Eviction Protections

On or about 30 June many states are issuing eviction proceedingsagainst residents who have not paid rent. This might create a new army ofhomeless people and families whose only fault was working in the ‘wrong’industry and job when the pandemic arrived. The following article entitled EmergencyBans on Evictions and Other Tenant Protections Related to Coronavirus provide a comprehensive explanation and charts by state concerningthis matter.

Grid Vulnerability

Most people think of power grids becoming overloaded during extrememeteorological conditions combined with high demand and more recentlycyber-attacks. However physical attacks have occurred as far back as2014.

The Wall Street Journal article dated 5 February 2014 entitled Assault on California Power Station Raises Alarm on Potential forDomestic Terrorism when a San Jose substationwas attacked for almost 20 minutes by a group of gunmen. The short embeddedvideo within the article provides a comprehensive overview of the attack andsubsequent follow-up investigation that went nowhere.

Officials have revealed that a physical attack on a substation isfar more effective in bringing down the grid than a cyber-attack because itinvolves the destruction of hard to replace specialized equipment.

Chokepoints are Choking Economies

·        In February a freakish arcticstorm literally froze Texas operations, a leading energy producer and hub, forseveral days.

·        In March there was the unprecedentedshort-term blockage of the Suez Canal by a super-size container ship, acritical global commercial waterway.

·        In May a cyber-criminal groupheld the US East Coast hostage with a ransomware attack that shut down theColonial pipeline.

The next major event may not be short-lived or immediatelyrecoverable as the aforementioned ones. For this reason it could result in anurban security crisis, a different type of pandemic that cannot be resolvedwith a vaccine. It may be a merely question of time that another event couldbreak the proverbial camel’s back.

Violent Crime

The following chart entitled 2020 Saw Unprecedented Murder Spike in Major US Cities provided by New Orleans crime analyst Jeff Asher, compares thepercentage change in homicides from 2019 to 2020.

The report added: “The U.S. alsoexperienced its most violent year in decades with an unprecedented rise inhomicides. The Gun Violence Archive reported that more than 19,000 people diedin shootings or firearm-related incidents in 2020, the highest figure in overtwo decades.”

Updates for America’s two largest cities by comparing the firstquarter of 2020 to 2021, shooting victims rose 43% in Chicago and 78.6% in NewYork with just the borough of Bronx increasing 165.7%!

The following chart provided by the FBI entitled How Americans Are Murdered (2019) examinesthe particulars of how Americans are murdered with firearms, not surprisingly,dominating the methods used:

As the economy worsens the most disturbing upward trend on the“street” level will be the following:

·        Mass Shootings: As jobs shrink those who are laid off are at risk of becominghomeless, distraught or mentally unstable (with or without their medicationsdue to lack of health benefits) and violently take out their frustrations inthe most heinous ways at their former place of employment and/or residence.

·        Domestic Violence: The cracking of the already fragile family unit will result ingreater physical violence, including murder, in the home. Because of theworsening economy women will be unable to afford to leave and move elsewhereunless they can seek sanctuary with family and friends.

·        Random Street Violence: The reduction in public health services will result in evermorecitizens unable to secure medications and other social services. Cast adrift onthe streets, their mental instability will only worsen as they become desperateand aggressive.

·        Petty Crime/Shoplifting: Although there are jobs available for the unemployed they payminimum wage or slightly above which doesn’t allow them to rent a cheapapartment. With “food & shelter” unaffordable the homeless populationincreases exponentially.

Disincentives to Work with Incentives to Riot

This may seem contradictory yet the government’s generous extensionof unemployment benefits on top of stimulus monies disincentivizes the workingpopulation to seek employment. For this reason businesses are suffering fromworker shortages. For certain industries such as warehousing, they are alreadyaggressively installing high-tech automation which not only maintain operationsbut replaces most workers while maintaining a much lower overhead. Once the unemploymentbenefits end far more workers will be on the short end of the employmentmusical chairs game and fuel the upward crime trends.

Summer Blowtorch Weather | Mob Mindset

After the short-lived party, hot and probably hotter than normal weatherwill push desperate people to do desperate things. The vintage-aged andvulnerable grid could result in blackouts, rolling blackouts and brownouts.Food will become a luxury for many including the dispossessed middle classwho’ll join their lower socio-economic brethren and engage in whateveractivities necessary for the purposes of survival.

When it comes to survival, even the good citizens will resort toextreme violence if challenged coming between them and whatever they needparticularly food. In 1906, AlfredHenry Lewis, an investigative journalist, lawyer and novelist, stated, “Thereare only nine meals between mankind and anarchy.”

From a demographic perspective the coddled Millennials, GenerationX and Y have no real-life experience of the street violence and warpedeconomies of the 1970s and 1980s. Self-absorbed and entitled, psychologicallysoft vs earlier battle-hardened generations they are disconnected from theadvice of their Boomer parents and relatives who are the living memories ofthat arduous era.

Furthermore even the mainstream and social media will not be immuneas journalists fall into that youngish demographic by failing to communicatethe daily and long-term challenges to their readership. In other words withouta reference of how to harden one’s mindset the psychological stress to copewill be enormous.

Globally local enforcement has been overwhelmed by increasinglyviolent protests. Domestically they are legally neutered by recently passedlaws that make them personally liable for any lawsuits claimed by a civilian.Depending on the country security reinforcement whether the military, NationalGuard or National Police, greater firepower, more lethality. For exampleFrance’s National Police is answerable directly to the Minister of Interior.Finally, protests can be triggered by faraway incidents such as global protestsover George Floyd’s death.

Initiating Your Prepper State of Emergency

The government and mainstream media have aggressively pushedforward the narrative that the worst is over and that the New Normal will notbe that different from the Old Normal while eschewing economic red flags suchas inflation, real estate bubbles, rising violent crime, among others. The simultaneousgrowth of these trends represent an unstoppable momentum that will notdisappear in the short-term.

The surfeit amount of information provided by the long-term,pre-pandemic, online prepper community to the general public has not goneunheeded however far too many people are in denial that chaos is dancing on theprecipice and can be triggered by either a domestic or international incident.

From a personal perspective preparedness is key going forward notonly through this spring and summer rather well into the winter months. Yourpersonal state of emergency should always proceed the government’s state ofemergency because the only person ultimately responsible for you and yourfamily’s safety is you.

  

© Copyright 2021 Cerulean Council LLC

The Cerulean Council is a NYC-based think-tank that providesprescient, beyond-the-horizon, contrarian perspectives and risk assessments ongeopolitical dynamics and global urban security.

 


 

 

 

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