What may emerge
I recently offered up my predictions for 2009. I decided to stick my neck out. Based on everything I’ve been reading, I looked at possible outcomes for 2009. One of the things I really think will occur is increasing civil unrest due to continuing (more likely worsening) economic conditions. I also wondered whether some employers might cut workers’ pay due to global economic woes and whether there would be a return to a simpler life.
Well, a few items popped up in the news over the last week showing that my “predictions” might not be totally scatter-brained!
A US Army think-tank report has been released, which warns that the economic crisis could lead to civil unrest within the US and call for military intervention. The report is entitled Known Unknowns: Unconventional “Strategic Shocks” in Defense Strategy Development and you can read it here. In part, the report says:
“Widespread civil violence inside the United States would force the defense establishment to reorient priorities….to defend basic domestic order and human security. Deliberate employment of weapons of mass destruction or other catastrophic capabilities, unforeseen economic collapse, loss of functioning political and legal order, purposeful domestic resistance or insurgency, pervasive public health emergencies and catastrophic natural and human disasters are all paths to disruptive domestic shock”. (p32)
It also suggests that the Obama Administration could face a “strategic shock” within the first eight months of office (p2). The report reminds us that the Bush Administration faced the strategic shock of 9/11 within its first eight months. Of course, the report is based on scenarios that may or may not happen. That’s an Army think-tank’s job. But civil unrest seems to be a prominent scenario.
Remember that I blogged about the return to the Homeland of the US Army 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team in October 2008 and the death of Posse Comitatus. I asked whether the return of a highly trained military team to the US was in anticipation of civil unrest. If you missed these posts, go here, here and here. Combined with this report, I do wonder whether the US Army is preparing to work with civilian authorities in containing civil unrest they believe will arise as the US sinks further into Recession during 2009.
Seems a return to a simpler life is happening. The New York Times reports that the economic downturn has led to a boom in craft sales because people are starting to make gifts themselves. Sales at a crafts store in Portland, Oregon in the run up to Christmas 2008 were up 33% whilst department stores and other traditional retailers faced a 7.4% decline in sales. For the first time, I made my Christmas gifts – calendars and mousemats of my photos.
And finally, a CBS news item tells of employers forcing employees to have time off without pay. Universities and factories in the US, for example, are requiring employees to take a temporary unpaid layoff to cut costs. The number of temporarily laid off workers has hit a 17-year high. The University of Maryland Medical Center told 67,000 of its 80,000 employees to take unpaid time off as it struggles with a budget crisis. And Professors at Winthrop University in South Carolina are taking nine days of unpaid leave but have been told not to cancel classes or miss meetings. In other words, business as usual but you get no pay! I believe that 2009 will see more of this – enforced unpaid leave, workers being asked to take a haircut on salary and being told to work harder for less.
UPDATE: I’ll keep adding to this post throughout 2009 as I find more that supports what I think will be happening. Prez-elect Obama has declared the US economy is “very sick” and the US job figures due out in early January will be sobering with economists expecting the jobless figure to rise by 500,000, bringing the total US job losses for 2008 to about 2.5 million. (6/1/09)
7/1/09 China warns of social unrest. Despite increasing unemployment, 80% of jobless migrant workers will remain in the cities rather than returning to the countryside. A recent public security report says that the first half of 2009 will witness social unrest triggered by the global financial crisis.
18/1/09 Eastern Europe braces for a violent “spring of discontent” as global economic downturn is generating a dangerous popular backlash on the streets.
18/1/09 UK unemployment to soar to 3.4 million as global financial crisis deepens.
19/1/09 THE BRANDS are beginning to be affected by the global financial crisis. Recession fears stalk Milan catwalk.
20/1/09 many Russian workers agree to take huge salary cuts as GFHF hits Russia.
21/1/09 Iceland’s Government is on the point of collapse as angry protesters stake out the Parliament in Reykjavik.
26/1/09 Obama increasing US trade protectionism.
29/1/09 The IMF is slashing global forecasts and is forecasting the worst year for the world economy since the Great Depression. The IMF puts global growth at 0.5 per cent in 2009 — a dramatic revision downwards from a forecast of 2.2% just two months ago.
1/2/09 Protectionism was one of the factors that turned a US financial crisis into a global depression in the 1930s. The US House of Representatives has tagged a Buy American clause onto the Obama administration’s $819 bn (or more) fiscal stimulus bill.
24/2/09 Economic crash will fuel social unrest.
5/3/09 Mass unemployment escalates in Europe & US, inviting social & political instability.