WARNING: This is an editorial, of sorts, and contains some snark.
Hi everyone! I’m back.
Early in October, I decided I needed to set aside some time to work on a book project (more about that later) and take some time relaxing. Over the past few months, we have worked toward moving our family and all our belongings and animals to Texas, a daunting undertaking with more than a few setbacks.
The last week, in particular, has been amazing. I’ve been in Park City, Utah, enjoying brisk autumn weather in the company of my kids. Hubby had to work.
My own complicated circumstances, though, pale in comparison with the turmoil our country has endured this month. From wild-eyed EBT users emptying Walmart shelves, to the USDA directing states to stop funding EBT cards and renegade Park Rangers, it’s been a wild month.
If we ever wondered how our fellow citizens, at least some of them, might respond to a truly SHTF scenario, I think we got a really good idea from the Walmart event. In case you weren’t following the news, here’s what went down.
On October 12, customers using EBT cards in 17 states discovered, to their horror, that when they took their carts of food and other products to the cashier, their cards were declined.
Now, I’ve had that happen to me before with my debit card when I wasn’t paying attention to our bank account balance. It’s not fun, and many of these people have truly fallen on hard times. With record numbers of Americans unemployed or underemployed, I’m sure that some of you have had to sign up for government assistance. There’s no shame in asking for help when you need it.
However, there’s another whole group of people who eagerly take dishonest advantage whenever the opportunity presents itself. In Walmart employees were instructed to go ahead and let these shoppers shop. Well, they ransacked the store, filling multiple carts with anything and everything, promising store employees that yes, indeed, their EBT card would cover their purchases once the glitch was fixed.
One woman who swore she had more than enough on her EBT card to cover the $700 worth of merchandise in her carts had only a .49 cent credit.
Here’s the official explanation for lapse of EBT card funds:
“Xerox, which is the vendor for the EBT systems across Oklahoma and other states, experienced a power outage that caused the system to go down.” — Sheree Powell, Director of Communications for Oklahoma Department of Human Services.
I happen to know that buildings that house banks and other “critical systems”, have engineers available 24/7, so things like this don’t happen. They regularly have drills and multiple back-ups to their back-ups, so I’m highly, highly skeptical of this explanation.
Then just days later came news of the infamous USDA letter. It instructed states to stop transferring EBT funds in November, which would effectively cause millions of families across the country to experience the same scare as those EBT shoppers on October 12. I’ve searched the internet for more details and verification, and the letter is legit. It was referred to in this Utah news report, and I’ve read through it twice.
Just as worrisome is this report from Massachusetts that if the shutdown had continued, the state wouldn’t have been able to continue rent payments to landlords of Section 8 housing.
And if that wasn’t enough, armed Park Rangers blockaded open air monuments, set up barriers so Americans couldn’t even view Mount Rushmore, and then harassed a busload of elderly tourists, refusing them even the opportunity to use a restroom! Shameful and embarrassing.
What a mess!
So, while I was relaxing and basking in a hot tub, miraculously, the shutdown came to an end and (some) Americans breathed a sigh of relief. But, the budget problem wasn’t solved. Not hardly. As a matter of fact, our government hasn’t even operated on a budget since 2005! There are no constraints, no financial rules to follow, and nothing was solved just because the players in this game arrived at a temporary resolution.
Well, there’s always at least one lesson to be learned in any type of event, so here’s what I learned.
1. At the first sign of any type of disruption in our banking system, stay away from malls, stores, banks, and, especially, Walmart. If you aren’t prepared to hunker down for the duration, whether it’s a few hours or several weeks, then it’s too late and you’re in trouble. Making an emergency trip to the store to stock up after the fact leaves you wide open as a target. I mean, do you really want to be pushing a full grocery cart through a parking lot when dozens of angry people haven’t been able to access funds, whether by EBT, Visa, or otherwise?
By the way, a “disruption” could be reports of banks limiting their hours, closing early, setting limits on the amount of withdrawals, or a “bank holiday.” All are warning signs that something is seriously wrong and a signal to be as fully prepped as you possibly can be.
2. Bureaucrats, by nature, are heartless. In a single letter, millions of people were threatened with starvation by the very government that promised to give them the support they needed. In a collapse, expect no help whatsoever from official channels. If some form of help happens to come your way, say “Thank you,” ever so nicely and move on.
3. If Park Rangers, of all people, can be turned into an armed force, willing to go to the extreme measures we witnessed during the shutdown, then so can all the other various branches of government that we think exist to protect and serve us. After all, we pay their salaries, right?
Public servants, I believe they’re called.
This particular Ranger doesn’t look too thrilled with what he’s been ordered to do, but then he obeys orders after all.
I hope you’re convinced that it’s time to be prepared for a crazier-than-this future. At the very least, in a corner of your home, begin stashing canned foods, soap, over-the-counter medications, toilet paper, and other necessities. My book, Survival Mom, details how to prepare your home and family.
Another financial crisis is right around the corner. It could be another shutdown scare, Congressional budget battle, stock market crash, bank closures, or a complete collapse of our banking system and economy.
What we don’t know is what the full impact will be. So, prepare for the worst and hope for the best. That’s what every Survival Mom and Survival Dad can do.