An anonymous reader writes: I like to think of myself as an optimistic pessimist.
It's great that the world didn't end in 2012 (who really thought it would based solely on some Mayan calendar thing anyway?) but if the US dollar tanks in the coming year and Barack Obama transforms into a ruthless dictator in command of one of the most terrifying nuclear arsenals in the world, the predictions of armageddon may not have been that far off after all.
As have presidents for the past half century selectively disregarded their Constitutional responsibilities, Obama has already taken unprovoked military action against the sovereign nation of Libya without Congressional approval or Declaration of War, and is potentially violating international law with an embargo of food and medicines to the people of the sovereign nation of Iran. We may not get along with our neighbours and we may disagree with their principals, and they may even say nasty things about us, but we would never have the right to invade or limit the freedoms of our neighbors and enforce our personal beliefs or habits on them. The leaders of Libya and Iran may be assholes, but who are we or anyone else (including the US President) to judge the leaders of foreign sovereign nations? It is up to the peoples of Libya and Iran to decide their own fate, just as the US did in the 18th century and many countries have undergone since. If terrorism is really the concern, the US Government along with the rest of the international community through organisation like the UN would be building relations with Iran to work together to combat any direct and tangible threats, with constructive intelligence gathering combined with internationally supported and Constitutionally authorized targeting by special forces operations. Unfortunately maintenance of the “petrodollar” empire and special interests are the real driving force behind US foreign policy.
The US is in the midst of financial ruin thanks to the Federal Reserve and the corruption of excessive government power, the US Government organization is huge and has infected every aspect of society to the point where there is more capitalism in China than in the US, with the ideals of liberty and a free capitalist market having been insidiously distorted in such a way that many are oblivious to their loss of their economic and personal freedoms, with a dispropotionately large population being entirely dependent on the state.
There's no point preparing to any great extent for likely shortages of goods and fuel as anyone more prepared than most will merely become a target for the unprepared masses. Perhaps the most useful thing that we can do as individuals is learn as much as we can from the information resources available to us right now (such as the Internet) before access to such resources becomes more scarce.
Particularly within a society in crisis, the less honourable traits best described by mantras as 'survival of the fittest' and 'every man for himself' will become the norm. In the US, years of government brutality will be used to justify personal brutality. Fortunately, the best of humanity is also often demonstrated in a crisis, and we will see this at the community level. Eventually some semblence of community order will prevail, but only after weaning off the habits and reversing the psychological impact instilled by years of government opression.
Keep your eyes and ears open, but don't believe everything you see on TV or read in the newspapers though. Read between the lines. Don't assume that because something is happening so far away that it can't have a direct and immediate effect on you. For example, if you live outside the US but work for a company owned by US interests (you may not even realize if it is) you may simply not be paid after the US dollar collapses. Your superannuation will basically vanish unless you have invested in tangible assets like gold or silver (though even they cannot be secured under political, economic and civil unrest). The landscape of the Internet will shrink significantly, with companies like Google and Facebook disappearing, along with unreliable and plummeting bandwidth connections to the rest of the world as datacentres and satellites for telecommunication and DNS services are no longer maintained or shut down completely. There will be shortages of processed food and manufactured products.
I've read about the threat of a supposed New World Order before and largely dismissed it, but with the impending collapse of the global reserve currency, I can envisage a unique opportunity for powerful special interests to mould a new type of global economic system over which they could potentially have total control.
I'm not religious, but I'm gaining more of what might be considered a kind of spiritual hope that things don't go to shit. If I'm completely wrong it would be the best possible outcome, or maybe the worst could be delayed for another year. In any case, make the most of every day as if it could be your last, and have a safe and happy new year 2013.