America is in a special predicament due to a set of unfortunate choices we made as a society in the twentieth century. Perhaps the worst was to let our towns and cities rot away and to replace them with suburbia, which had the additional side effect of trashing a lot of the best farmland in America. Suburbia will come to be regarded as the greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world. It has a tragic destiny. The psychology of previous investment suggests that we will defend our drive-in utopia long after it has become a terrible liability.
Before long, the suburbs will fail us in practical terms. We made the ongoing development of housing subdivisions, highway strips, fried-food shacks and shopping malls the basis of our economy, and when we have to stop making more of those things, the bottom will fall out.
The circumstances of the Long Emergency will require us to downscale and re-scale virtually everything we do and how we do it, from the kind of communities we physically inhabit to the way we grow our food to the way we work and trade the products of our work. Our lives will become profoundly and intensely local. Daily life will be far less about mobility and much more about staying where you are. Anything organized on the large scale, whether it is government or a corporate business enterprise such as Wal-Mart, will wither as the cheap energy props that support bigness fall away. The turbulence of the Long Emergency will produce a lot of economic losers, and many of these will be members of an angry and aggrieved former middle class.
Y'know, my mom used to say, whenever I caught social flak for being in 4-H, that should nationwide disaster strike and society collapses back to the agrarian level, we'd stand a chance of surviving while all the snotty preppie kids would have to kiss my ass to get a chicken for dinner and avoid starvation during nuclear winter.
I always treated her theory like a joke, cuz c'mon... but now I'm not so sure. And now that I'm over holding high school grudges, I'm not exactly relishing its likelihood. Then again, what do y'all think is the best and/or worst case scenario here? Are we better prepared than your average citizen to deal with losing lots of conveniences? I know I've gotten lazy over the years, but I could probably deal.