Getting back to the theme of TEOTWAWKI. What I see coming up is a drop off in several stages. There will be three stages and we are around halfway through phase one.
This is when we shift over from abundance and having an excess of everything to a system where there is enough but it will have to be controlled and well-distributed to make sure that everyone gets their share. The big box stores will try to control this distribution network and centralize the profits, but the truth of the matter seems to be that with fuel costs at a high and likely to stay high, the "warehouse on wheels" is due for a fall. We will struggle mightily to re-develop a system of local distribution and merchandising, but there will be some pretty wide holes and there will be serious inflation and occasional shortages. Figure this phase to last for two or three more years.
This is where the fun will really start. I am assuming here that Peak Oil is a reality. It is about here that we will start back the other side of the oil supply curve. Couple this with the rest of the world demanding their share of the pie and the cost and availability of fuel and heat will start becoming seriously constrained. America will begin having shortages in a fairly serious manner and the Lumpen will start getting frisky. I see the beginning of societal unrest here as the Haves of the baby boom start retiring and sucking money out of the system and the rest of the country begrudge them the right to take more than their fair share.
The local governments will start stepping up here. They will start demanding that Washington do something, but by this time Washington is broke so the local governments will start implementing local solutions. Some of these solutions will not be thought well of by the Kumbaya crowd.
Taxes will start going through the roof as you gotta start paying off the bills. Folks are going to be pissed and they will start pushing back against taxes in a big way. I figure Washington will cave and then start running the printing presses. It ain't gonna be Weimar, but it ain't gonna be pretty.
I figure this phase will be from around 2010 to around 2016. You gotta give me a little slack on either side, this ain't an exact science you know.
This is the stage where there isn't enough to go around. Folks will have their saving evaporate and the investments collapse. Getting around is going to become and issue and getting manufactured stuff and food is going to become problematic. Some hunger and some serious social unrest here my friends. This is when bullets start flying. Keep you head down and stay safe. Have some getaway money put aside, and have a way to put some miles between you and the crazies.