Barbara H. Peterson

Farm Wars

A hypothetical story about one middle class American caught in the crossfire of a crashing economy and false belief system.

PIC 1 Bank Closed

Just when did I get here, and how? As I look out to see the chaos surrounding me, food lines circling the block, and rats scampering for scraps across the feet of those waiting patiently for a partially full belly, I remember what it was like before the crash. Before everything that I knew turned to dust and was carried away by the wind of change. A change so drastic that I didn’t even realize it was happening until it was too late to do anything about it. And I wonder…  Just what was I thinking?

I worked hard most of my life and thought that I had it made. A good job, house of my own, brand new car, friends with whom I could grab a beer at the local hangout every now and then, and enough cash to make things comfortable. The American Dream. And then it happened…

One day, without warning, the job was gone. Outsourced to another country. Not to worry, though. I had been there for over 20 years, so I had a pension coming. I could do very well on that. Until the retirement fund went bankrupt and the money dried up. But I still had cash in the bank, or so I thought. Then I went to the bank to withdraw some money and found that it was closed for ‘holiday.’ A cruel joke. Evidently a decree had been issued declaring that “Americans would have no access to banks or banking services. They could not withdraw or transfer their money, nor could they make deposits.” So I went home, driving on fumes since I could not buy gas without money from the bank. I was in shock. What now?

Denial took over. This couldn’t be happening. Not in America. Everything will sort itself out and be fine in the morning. I had enough food in the fridge to get by and needed some time to relax anyway. Besides, my favorite television show was on that night and I didn’t want to miss it. This situation was just a temporary glitch in the system. Until it wasn’t.

And so I kicked back, put my feet up, and watched Dialing for Dollars. Yes, things would be just fine. This was America after all, and the President was just on television the other day assuring us that everything was okay. In fact, the latest news report stated that the economy was going uphill, there were more jobs available than ever before, and hunger was  being eradicated by a new and improved way of making food in a lab, courtesy of Monsanto, the chemical company that owned and operated most of the country’s food supply. Ah, yes. What could possibly go wrong? After all, only third-world countries have to worry about things such as poverty. And that can’t happen here. At least not to me. I’ve done everything right. Supported the right candidates, waved the American flag at fundraisers, toed the party line, gave my life to a job that I didn’t particularly like but kept at for the security it provided, and ignored those ‘conspiracy theorists’ shouting that the end was near. Nuts. Every last one of them. Yes, things will be back to normal in no time. Those in charge will take care of it and I don’t have to worry.

The next day, I was still optimistic. I tried contacting the bank and couldn’t get through. The lines were evidently jammed from people calling to find out when it would be open again for business, so I rode my bicycle to the closest automatic teller machine (ATM) to see if I could get some cash to pay for gas for the car and a few groceries. After all, I only had about a week’s worth of food on hand because anything else would be considered ‘hoarding.’ “Funds not available” was what the machine displayed. So, I rode back home and started calling my friends. Most of them didn’t have a clue about what was going on. They told me not to worry, that the situation was only temporary. Things would be back to normal in no time. So I waited another day, confident that the system would not let me down. Then another. And another…

A week went by and my friends had started reporting to me that they were experiencing the same sort of thing. But confidence remained high that everything would work out. All we had to do was wait. And we did. But the fridge was looking bare, my stomach was starting to growl, and watching Gilligan’s Island reruns was not as enjoyable as it once was. I was hungry, confused, and downright angry. After all, it was my money in the bank! How could they just hold it and not let me withdraw any of it? My mortgage was coming due, as well as the car payment, electrical bill, phone bill, cable TV and Internet service. I was not a happy camper. So I decided to use my credit cards to pay the bills, buy food, gas, and whatever else I needed to get me by until funds were released by the bank. Simple. No worries. I had plenty of credit cards, so I would be okay. Or so I thought.

Denial is a powerful drug. It numbs the senses and distorts reality. It is also addicting.

When the credit card bills came due and the banks still had not released any funds, I began to really get worried. Now what would I do? My friends were starting to panic too. How would I get by? What would happen? Where would I get food? Will the bank foreclose on my mortgage? Will the car be repossessed? Will the lights go out? How will I watch American Idol? Going cold turkey is hard, and that is what was happening. My supply of money was cut off, and with it everything else that I was accustomed to was circling the drain. Maybe those ‘preppers’ were not so deranged after all. Could the media reports touting a glowing future possibly be wrong? Could they have lied? I was beginning to doubt all that I had seen and heard. Where did I go wrong?

Others were getting restless too. People were roaming the streets, out of gas, out of money, out of food, and out of patience. Desperate people resort to desperate measures. Suddenly, the corner grocery store becomes a means of survival and the friend who owns it a mere roadblock in the way of that survival. Windows break, alarms go off, people who would never think of doing so before become looters, pillaging what they can in the hopes of staving off the hunger that gnaws at their insides like a ravenous beast chewing its way through the stomach lining. Chaos. The end of all that we believed to be true.

And then the police stepped in to impose ‘order.’ Gas exploding all around to quell the crowds of looters and protestors. It burned the eyes and lungs, causing the crowds to disperse momentarily. The beginning of the end of any liberty we believed that we had. Snatched away in the blink of an eye. Those who escaped the police cordon fled to abandoned areas to carve out a meek subsistence hiding from the law, homeless and afraid. Others were rounded up and placed in internment camps because the jails were rapidly overflowing. And the realization hit home that what we had been living was not real. It was a fantasy created by an over-reaching government to pacify the people until the time arrived when that fiction could no longer be maintained. Then the façade was torn down and the ugly truth remained. The truth of food lines, hunger, homelessness and fear. This was the truth that we were living now. The truth that was held at bay by government lies and propaganda. The truth that only a thin line lies between fantasy and reality, which can be erased at any time by those controlling the strings of our existence. And when those strings are cut and we fall? What lies in store is not what we have been told. There is no happy ending to the tragedy of despair.

But it didn’t have to be this way. I think back at all of the times when I should have listened to the small voices around me that I chose to disregard. The voices that shouted: “Don’t believe all that you are told! Turn the TV off! Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.” It all comes back to me now. All of the times that I thought of getting out of debt, learning to grow my own food, storing up for emergencies and getting out of the city. Some did listen. I wish them well. It will not be easy for them to survive what has happened, but they will. A remnant always does. They will escape the camps and learn to thrive in a world turned upside down. This is my hope. My last and only hope in a world that I no longer recognize. A new beginning rising out of the ashes.

As for me? I don’t know how, but I will survive. I no longer have the friends that I thought I had. I only have people around me that I can trust. When things go terribly wrong, only those with strength of character will remain loyal and not turn into predators intent on destruction.

This is the new American Dream. The dream of survival in a world gone mad with its own hubris. The world of tomorrow unless we wake up today and do what is necessary to provide for our friends and family. The most valuable things that we possess are not material goods. Not a new car, fancy house or money in the bank. They are survival skills. When all of the money is gone; when all of the comforts are history, will you be able to say that you did everything you could to ensure your survival and that of your loved ones? Will you stand, or succumb to the devastation surrounding you? The time to act is now.

©2016 Barbara H. Peterson

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10 Responses to “When Brainwashed Middle Class America Loses It All”

  1. Neil D says:

    Is keeping money in a federal credit union bad, too?

  2. I can’t make predictions of day or time, Neil. I just know that this could happen, and if we are not prepared, we are in deep, deep doodoo.

  3. Neil D says:

    This looks like something that very well could happen in the future, maybe sooner than most may think.

    So, um, when exactly would the hypothetical story written here start happening?

  4. Irene says:

    Heavens George ! That is a beautiful ode but I will go along blithely tending my garden and cow and when the parts stop coming I’ll hand milk while my hair falls out and I quietly die.

    When the super volcano blows we’ll be in the crater.
    I’m right there.

  5. George H says:

    I THINK WE’RE ALL A HEADIN – HEADIN TO ARMEGGEDON. Yep, this will be Amerika’s Swan Song. And it’s somehow very appropriate. From the poisoned land, sea, and air, brought to you by an unbelievably corrupt Congress and a govt rotten to the core, we have sown the wind, and we will now reap the whirlwind. Soon, the aluminum rain (nukes) will begin to fall, and mushroom (clouds) will sprout all over the land. While demonic neocons and Strangelove Generals will plot deep in their D.U.M.B’s convinced that WW3 is a “winnable” event, as 3,000 nukes hit the US in the first hour, 200M americans will be dead or dying, and to top it all off, a 20MT nuclear penetrator will set off the Yellowstone Super Volcano. From Sea to shining Sea, nothing but death and destruction. And that one final and fateful epitaph, that one final last gasp of the arrogant Great Hegemon: “My name is Ozymandias, king of kings, look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!” Nothing beside remains: round the decay of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare, the lone and level (nuclear) sands stretch far away. And the United States and it’s sorely deluded sheeple ARE NO MORE.

  6. izzy says:

    Well, it depends on what you mean by ‘survival’, and how bad it all gets. At this point in history, there’s no reason to assume the problem will just be financial/economic. That’s likely just the start of a long slide downhill. I’ve been a participant in the back-to-the-land thing for a good 40 years, and I can say categorically that no one is actually self-sufficient in an absolute sense. Some are much better prepared than others and will have a leg up, but when the supply lines fail totally, those new parts will never come. Reorganizing contemporary society to the level of a medieval village would be a herculean task, and probably impossible in the face of a rapidly decaying biosphere. Put the aftermath of a nuclear war on top of that, and it gets really rough. But try we must. Coming soon – the Eye of the Needle.

  7. Good for you. Mom was fine. A bit nervous and tired, but I arrived home early, so it was only a day and a half. The guy who was supposed to feed simply couldn’t understand why I was mad. And that’s how it is, eh? What’s the big deal? I guess I should have understood that the commitment to feed was secondary to anything else that might have come up.

  8. Irene says:

    I was at least smart enough to have the other animals watched secretly by my next door neighbor so the cow milking person doesn’t rely on someone who can’t and wont milk a cow..
    I hate the politics of delegating duty. The ego stroking required by the more self sensitive over inflated know it all types is repulsive. I hate pussyfooting around ego that have no substance.
    Your horses were probably ok, but how was your mother ?

  9. I can definitely relate to that, Irene. I once was going to be gone for the weekend for an endurance ride and a ‘friend’ volunteered to feed my horses twice per day. He had explicit instructions, and vowed to do so. When I returned, I found that they had not been fed. My mom said that he called and said that he had something else to do for the weekend so she gave them some hay. She was elderly and it was very hard for her to do so, plus she didn’t really know how much to feed them. This was before the era of cell phones. The follow-through is simply not there with a lot of people. And these will be the ones banging on your door when the SHTF, expecting you to take care of them.

  10. Irene says:

    Ok, here is a story:
    I have a cow and she needs to be milked every 12 hours or she will dry up. I have been training 2 different women who wanted to milk my cow for the free milk while I am gone for 5 days.
    These two ladies agreed to milk my cow , one mornings and one nights. One takes direction and advice very well, but the other thinks she knows it all and lays subtle disrespect on me and wont let me show her how it’s done correctly. Against my instructions and warning she dismantled the adaptor and airlines and lost some gaskets so the milker stopped working. When I couldn’t find the parts I asked if she could help find them and help hand milk until the parts come. The parts took a week longer than estimated and She absolutely wont even try to hand milk, so If I let her milk my cow she looses parts and quits.
    Fortunately the other lady is willing to hand milk both morning and night. Even more fortunately the part arrived in duplicate so If it gets lost again there is a spare replacement.
    Both ladies understand the need to prep but one only does it in her mind, not in reality.
    I think this is the case with a lot of people who think they are prepping because they watched someone else prep on TV, or they babysat someone’s garden 5 years ago.