Saturday, December 10, 2011

Lessons for a declining economy

What does life look like when the economy turns bad?  John Robb extrapolates from some of the northern Mexican experience, looking at the impact of rising criminal enterprises.

Let me extract some lessons which might be useful for us, just in case.  One caveat: we don't have a lot of crime up here.

National networking: "There will be a diverse mix of local and national organizations" - this seems right, given the deep national nature of much of American life, especially with digital networks.  Even if the national economy seizes up, there's a lot which can still operate.  For example, "[m]ost of the rest of the municipalities (90%) are either on a smuggling route or a market."  I imagine some Vermont towns would serve as such connectors, especially the ones pointing towards others, more populous areas: Brattleboro->Massachusetts, Bennington and Vergennes->denser parts of upstate New York.

Local violence: "The election of'"law and order' politicians/parties at the local level increases violence" - this makes sense for Vermont to a degree, since we have huge amounts of guns, and a very strong libertarian streak (for civil rights).  Robb's vision of how this plays out - "gun fights/battles, lots of bodies, collatoral damage, kidnappings" - makes sense.

Towns take on new networking roles: "Crackdowns in other municipalities may cause your municipality/town to suddenly become a node in a smuggling network" - a key thing to look out for, especially given the sheer number of towns up here.

Regendered work - "When a town becomes a node on a smuggling route... leads to a fall female workforce participation (fear)."   Vermont doesn't have the conservative/Catholic gender role heritage Mexico does, but I can definitely see a shift like this happening.

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