2020 turned ordinary suburbanites into insta-preppers. Toilet paper grabbed the headlines and dominated the memes because, let’s face it, the twelve-year-old in all of us knows just where the TP is going even if nobody talks about it. Less humorous but equally essential are all the basics our local Costco ran out of for weeks, maybe months: rice, dried beans, canned beans and vegetables, fresh chicken and even olives.
The skyrocketing price of lumber and plywood hit preppers hard, driven through the roof by a new housing building boom and a whole new industry: dining outdoors in cubes, corrals and event tents. Even at Home Depot the price of 2X4 stud doubled and some private yards were selling it for $7 a stick – and that’s in the Pacific Northwest where we grow trees.
The year unlike any other is ending now. Are you anticipating 2021 with cautious giddiness or deepening gloom? Even with infections at record levels, store shelves are mostly fully stocked and panic buying of toilet paper is well in the rear view mirror. And miracle vaccines are rolling out of the freezers and into arms across America. Time to relax? Or should we take advantage of the calm to prep for the next storm?
I’m saying better safe than sorry. And I’m expanding my prep list for 2021 to include stuff I think could get hammered by supply chain issues. I’ll be taking advantage of any decent dips in the price of lumber, adding a few rolls of fencing, polycarbonate panels, bags of mails and construction screws, metal roofing and sheets of steel siding. I’m keeping the freezer and the pantry well stocked, buying extra ammo, tools, headlamps, `work gloves and items like sewing kits and eyeglass repair kits.
I’m prepping because I believe 2021 will be more challenging than 2020. I’m expecting to see increased social unrest, not only from Antifa and BLM “mostly peaceful” demonstrations but from Americans rebelling against the tyranny of lockdowns, outdoor mask mandates and school closures. I’m expecting to see shortages and disruptions of goods and essential services.
There is evidence that the virus may already be mutating into a more contagious (but not more deadly) form. This will only add fuel to the fire. Increased infections will be the justification for more restrictions, more mandates.
Worst of all I believe the vaccines will fail to end the pandemic. There’s still no evidence that the vaccines prevent us from becoming infectious. We could be creating a population of super-spreaders will few or no symptoms. Or the virus could mutate into a form in which the vaccines are less effective. Or ineffective.
The vaccines are Plan A and there’s no Plan B. Think about that for a minute. How will governments and the health care industry react when it becomes clear that the vaccines have failed? First, they will blame the unvaccinated. Second, they will take a page from the flu vaccine playbook and claim that we should still get vaccinated because it will result in milder symptoms. We could see mandatory vaccination laws, requirements to carry proof of vaccination. We could see China-style contact tracing using smartphone apps and widespread scanning and verification. And as the public and the financial markets become aware that there’s no end in sight to either the restrictions or the virus, all hell could break loose. People still have hope for the future. Lose that hope and all bets are off. Start prepping for 2021.