Thursday, November 13, 2008

SHTF: Food Riots

A long time ago, I wrote a post which basically laughed at concept of "food riots". For the most part, I stick by what I said which is "food riots" are unlikely in our present situation.

BUT and that's a big but, there are some situations which would lead quickly to rioting over food.

Here are some real scenarios which might lead to food riots.

Long term trucking strike - Teamsters (and truckers in general), emboldened by a new Democratic political leadership and inspired by repeated bailouts and favors for other strained industries demand lower fuel costs, increased wages, lower taxes on their rigs and better working conditions.

When Congress and private business is unable to meet their demands, truckers begin a sudden and rapid shutdown of trucking across the country. At first average drivers notice less traffic on the freeways and enjoy their shorter commutes. But as gasoline deliveries cease, and businesses start closing for lack of deliveries, the country begins to worry.

The president considers issuing an emergency order temporarily nationalizing critical parts of the trucking industry which further exacerbates the problem. Consumers start to make runs on banks, grocers and retailers to stock up so they ride out the crisis.

Grocery stores run out of critical products in the first day and within three days are nearly out of stock of most items. The President orders National Guard troops to start transporting food stocks from distribution warehouses, but the allocation becomes a political nightmare as various members of Congress, state governors and well connected city mayors get preferential deliveries to their constituents over other, less well connected leaders.

As the accusations start to fly, people begin to panic. Convenience stores, vending machines and restaurants are stripped of anything edible by roving mobs caught up in the situation. Criminals begin targeting homes for food stocks rather than cash or jewelry. Grocery store managers and owners are targeted for violence and kidnapping.

As some deliveries make their way into the cities, mobs overrun the trucks and distribution points leading to shootings and gun battles with police. Several cities go under curfew and the Guard is called out.

Hospitals, day care centers, schools and other institutions are either out of food or on short rations leaving the most vulnerable to starvation and illness. The situation spirals out of control as the President comes on television to announce to a hungry nation he is ordering national martial law and nationalization of the entire food production chain in the U.S. for the duration...

A distant war
A sudden flash fire war breaks out as Israel drops conventional bombs on Iran which escalates to a small scale nuclear conflict in the region. As a result, all oil exports cease suddenly leaving the Western world, dependent upon 70% of its fuel from oil products, without little fuel.

Naturally, the government steps in and declares immediate rationing and curtailment on fuel usage. Farmers need fuel for their machinery, truckers and trains need diesel to run and homeowners need fuel oil for their heaters and winter is setting in. Mathmatically, there is not enough fuel to go around and to make matters worse, Mexico and Canada are stopping all exports to supply their own country's needs.

The Strategic Petroleum Reserve, designed to tide the U.S. through these types of crises, has only a 90 day supply of crude and most of that is of a grade unusable by U.S. refineries. The situation worsens.

What started as an inconvenience for the American worker and consumer has become a life and death struggle as grocery stores are emptied by panicking mobs. Police and ambulances, running on rationed fuel, are unable to respond to emergencies and the problem explodes.

Mobs fight over food from stores, restaurants and each others homes. As soft politicians used to polls and backroom deals are unable to confront the crisis, new strong men spring up and quickly demonize farmers who are "obviously hoarding vast quantities of fresh produce, meat, eggs and other foods" from those who need it more than they. Impromptu allocation forces (raiders) begin the task of spreading out from urban areas to "inventory and request" (loot) any agricultural operation within traveling distance.

The situation deteriorates as the violence leads to civil war within the U.S....

Food riots can occur in certain situations. Hopefully they won't..

Best to get ready anyway...

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