This Is What a Real-Life Economic Collapse Looks Like

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By Daisy Luther

Did you ever think about what your life would be like if the stores were closed? I’m not talking about a post-apocalyptic Mad Max scenario or a winter storm that clears the shelves. I’m talking about a long-term disruption of services caused by an economic collapse.

What if you couldn’t run to Wal-Mart to get soap?  What if the grocery store had supplies so limited that they were rationed out to people in such small amounts that the food you got was not enough to meet your needs? What if there were no diapers for your baby or aspirin to cure a headache?

This is exactly what happens in a serious economic collapse. It happened a couple of years ago in Greece, and it’s happening right now in Venezuela. reports a scene of desperation:

Long lines, some stretching for blocks, formed outside grocery stores in the South American country’s capital as residents search for scarce basic items such as detergent and chicken.

“I’ve visited six stores already today looking for detergent — I can’t find it anywhere,” said Lisbeth Elsa, a 27-year-old janitor, waiting in line outside a supermarket in eastern Caracas. “We’re wearing our dirty clothes again because we can’t find it. At this point I’ll buy whatever I can find.”


Inside a Plan Suarez grocery store yesterday in eastern Caracas, shelves were mostly bare. Customers struggled and fought for items at times, with many trying to skip lines. The most sought-after products included detergent, with customers waiting in line for two to three hours to buy a maximum of two bags. A security guard asked that photos of empty shelves not be taken.

Police inside a Luvebras supermarket in eastern Caracas intervened to help staff distribute toilet paper and other products.

“You can’t find anything, I’ve spent 15 days looking for diapers,” Jean Paul Mate, a meat vendor, said outside the Luvebras store. “You have to take off work to look for products. I go to at least five stores a day.”

“This is the worst it has ever been — I’ve seen lines thousands of people long,” Greisly Jarpe, a 42-year-old data analyst, said as she waited for dish soap in eastern Caracas. “People are so desperate they’re sleeping in the lines.”

So what a real economic collapse looks like is  actually this:

empty shelves in venezuela

photo credit:

Here’s a video via The Dave and Chad Show:

The situation is dire, and shows no signs of improvement on the horizon.  Why is the economy so bad in Venezuela? A report by JD Heyes of Natural News gives a snapshot:

A combination of economic factors has all contributed to Venezuela’s disintegration — a lack of foreign capital and declining oil prices among them — but the country’s socialist economic policies are at the root of every problem.

There are shortages of virtually everything, from car batteries to toilet paper — even McDonald’s french fries. Annual inflation rose to 64 percent in November.

The government there sounds a lot like the government here.  Military forces have deployed to the nearly barren stores to “protect” shoppers and store employees. Meanwhile, like something out of a dystopic movie, Interior Minister Carmen Melendez took to the airwaves to utter blatantly untrue propaganda in an attempt to assuage the hungry and increasingly desperate citizens.

“Don’t fall into desperation — we have the capacity and products for everyone, with calmness and patience. The stores are full.”

This reminds me of that scene in “The Interview” where one of the main characters, Dave Skylark, discovers that the abundance he was assured of wasn’t real and that the food in the grocery store window was actually made of plastic.

If you’re paying attention, you’ll be able to see the writing on the wall. More and more businesses are closing here in America, and we could soon be going down the same chaotic path as Venezuela, and Greece before them.

Prepping Is Not the Answer

You probably never expected to read that on a preparedness website, did you?

You might think that if you’re a prepper, you’re immune to all of this. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.  In the case of Venezuela, prepping became illegal last fall.

Today’s lesson is that when times get tough, the government can and will persecute those who have planned ahead.

The Attorney General of Venezuela, Luisa Ortega Díaz, called on prosecutors to target people who are “hoarding” basic staples with serious sanctions.

She called on prosecutors to seek their detention.

The attorney general called on people to remain calm, not to fall for provocations, and not to be afraid of the “alleged” food shortage.

Based on the figures provided by the Central Bank of Venezuela, shortage hit 20% in August; in other words, 20 out 100 items are missing from the shelves.

According to a press release, the Attorney General Office has designated an ad hoc group of prosecutors to work nationwide with other authorities and cope with the threats against food security and, consequently, against the State. (source)

So basically, the Venezuelan government intends to treat those who prepared ahead of time like domestic terrorists…sound familiar?

Executive orders are already in place to crack down on preppers should the government decide to do so. The game pieces have already been moved into place to ban “hoarding” in America.  In 2012, President Obama signed an executive order that gives the federal government authority over every resource and infrastructure element in the United States. And “every resource” includes your pantry.

Michael Snyder recently wrote about the war on preppers on his site, The Economic Collapse Blog:

There are approximately 3 million preppers in the United States today, and often they appear to be singled out for punishment by bureaucratic control freaks that are horrified at the thought that there are families out there that actually want to try to become less dependent on the system.  So if you use alternative methods to heat your home, or if you are not connected to the utility grid, or if you collect rainwater on your property, or if you believe that parents should have the ultimate say when it comes to health decisions for their children, you could become a target for overzealous government enforcers.  Once upon a time, America was the land of the free and the home of the brave, but now we are being transformed into a socialist police state where control freak bureaucrats use millions of laws, rules and regulations to crack down on anyone that dares to think for themselves.

So, what can you do?

“What can you store?” is not the answer to this conundrum.

“What can you make?” – that’s the answer.

Your focus has to be on long-term sustainability, frugality, and self-reliance.  Don’t get me wrong – a stockpile is sensible and an important course of action. It should definitely be part of your preparedness plan.

However, you need to also be ready for the time when the supplies in your well-stocked pantry are no longer available.  You need to be able to meet as many of your own needs as possible or you’ll end up being one of those people wearing dirty clothes because you can’t find laundry soap or going hungry because you can’t find any food at the stores – or can’t afford it if you can find it.

Lots of us have taken steps to free ourselves from the chains of the local Wal-Mart, but we can take it a step further.

We can learn to be self-reliant.

This means:

It’s only by reducing your need for the things sold in stores that you can exempt yourself from the chaos and desperation that will erupt when or if an economic collapse situation occurs here.

Take the time to revisit the situation in Greece a couple of years ago. Families were so desperate they gave up their children to be raised by the state when they could no longer afford to feed them.  People worked longer hours for less money, while the cost of everything went up, causing instant crippling poverty for the former middle class. Suicide rates sky-rocketed and the country’s lifestyle changed dramatically – and not for the better.

Books can be your best pre-collapse investment.

Knowledge and skills are among the most important things you can “collect” to prepare for an economic collapse. However, if you haven’t been at it your entire life, it’s difficult to remember everything. Create a library of references to help you in your quest for self-reliance.  These are some of my favorites:

Here’s the challenge.

I’d like to issue a challenge. What can you do right now to reduce your reliance on the stores?  How can you take your prepper skills to the next level? Can you start making your own soap? Heat exclusively with wood? Grow sprouts in your windowsill? How long can you go (dipping too deeply into your stockpile is cheating) without a trip to the store for consumer goods? How can you stretch your groceries and make your supplies go further? Can you cut down on the supplies that you require from the store? Pick one thing (at least) and let us know about it in the comments.

This isn’t just for people who live in farming communities or for those who are off-the-grid already. Nearly anyone can lower the amount of consumer goods they require, regardless of their living situation. Please share your ideas  – the challenge you take on might help someone else in a similar situation see a way to reduce their dependence too, when they previously felt there was nothing they could do.  None of us are trapped in a hopeless situation. We can prevent ourselves from being those desperate people being policed and rationed in the near-empty stores by learning self-reliance skills today.

Picture of Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3), an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

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  • I like your site and advice, but not everyone has the DIY options as described above. Also, for this of us who have been preparing, money starts to fall short AND prepare for what? Economical collapse? Pandemic? Terrorist attack? Bug in, bug out? It all gets to be so overwhelming. Now this article says, well…the government can and will likely take your shit if you have been prepping. WTF???

    • Hi, Wendy!

      I’m sorry if it seems overwhelming. I’m just presenting the information that I see in the news right now.

      It’s really important to emphasize self-reliance, first of all. Everyone has to live within their circumstances, and that includes location, physical limitations, family members, and finances. I want to offer as many suggestions as I can so that regardless of your situation, you can choose a few steps you can take.

      As far as that Executive Order is concerned, this underlines why OPSEC is paramount. I’m certainly not saying this is what is going to happen, but I think it’s vital information that laws are in place that allow for it to happen. If we don’t know what we’re dealing with, there’s no way to prepare for it, and unconstitutional Executive Orders like this are very pertinent to those of us who prepare.

      For me personally, I plan to bug in, but have a back-up option of evacuating. I stock up as I can, and I try to be generally prepared, as opposed to planning for just one specific catastrophe. We’re taking steps to learn more homesteading skills because self-reliance will be there if the preps run out. Even if you can’t put these skills into action right now because of your situation, I encourage you to learn them. There are some great resources on the internet to guide you, for free. (Several of my favorites are listed in the article above.)

      If you have any specific questions or concerns, please share them here or feel free to email me. If I can’t answer them, I’ll do my best to find resources to help. 🙂

      ~ Daisy

  • this is so BS, I live in Venezuela and that’s absolutely not the case, I wonder how much do they make writing nonsense.

    • Just to be clear – I’m not lying. I’m reporting something from a source I consider reliable.

      With that out of the way – I’d love to hear more about the situation there. Where do you think these stories are coming from, if this is untrue? And what’s the purpose of telling the world this is what’s going on in Venezuela? There must be an agenda, if this is indeed, untrue.

      Are you seeing any evidence of economic unrest? I’d be very interested in your story. 🙂


    • Kindly give us a short list (since a long one would be impossible) of the laws that have been passed by sitting politicians that actually make sense.

    • desertspeaks, this world or more specifically the world of Man, contrary to popular belief does not run on logic or consistency. The world of modern man instead runs on “rules” (big difference). If you are not part of the inner circle or elite, you will always have a vise around you.

      The whole point of this insanity is to bring about a new normal. Whether that new normal be socialism or communism or Marxism the results and goals are always the same. Absolute centralized control of your property, your religion, your family even your body will no longer belong to “You” anymore. It will belong to the “super state” under the New World Order.

      But in order to do this they have to bring about changes that are incremental, subtle almost “insignificant” to the average person. The devil is truly in the details. To some ignorant folks, prepping is seen as a mental disorder and should be handled by the government for their own well being. Those types of people have the inner maturity of a baby child, no sense of independence from the system because they have made the government their mother and father subconsciously.

      What you see happening now with all these apparently “insane” or “stupid” laws is anything but. Those laws are well calculated incursions via the legal system to steal everyone’s autonomy from right under their own noses in public.

  • I hope my soundcloud or whatever media made it to you. I have a list of perennial animal feeds I’m willing to send off. Although the Isra-helli’s do it by digging up olives, I doubt our governments would make notice of them. Perennial animal feeds is a good start to self-sufficiency in general. I can barely read what I’m typing in the new format. C’est la vie and cheerio Daisy!

    • Lance, would you be interested in writing a guest post about growing your own perennial animal feed? I think everyone would LOVE that.

  • This article was very timely for me. I feel pretty secure in our preparations but often worry about the fact everything could be seized by the government should things get too bad. (I could easily get sidetracked with that topic but I won’t).

    What keeps me from despair is that knowledge that I have a pretty deep skill set. Knowledge and skills can not be taken away from you. I know how to cook from scratch, grow and preserve food etc and know many others who have skills I don’t (herbal medicine, home repair etc). Some skills I practice regularly, like the ones I mentioned above. Others I use less but have tried a few times just to have an idea of how it’s done (making cheese, raising chickens, cooking over campfire). It’s now become my hobby to learn “forgotten” skills or do things from scratch people just don’t do anymore (curing and smoking meats is my current delicious hobby).

    We happen to be in the middle of a 30 day no-spend challenge. We don’t spend much anyway but it is a challenge in different ways. I’m digging deep into the pantry and getting creative, using up last year’s frozen veg, those many jars of jam etc. It has shed some light on our habits and cravings (good thing I make wine!).

    “Stocking up” on skills has empowered me, given me confidence, brought out my creativity in amazing ways, made me new friends, a bit of money and an appreciation for all things hand made. What’s not to love?

  • What you see here is an example of OUR SYSTEM after the the neoconservatives (R) and neoliberals (D) steal the commonwealth…

    Top Ten Lies and Mistakes of Austrian Economics


    A Simple Model – Beyond Left and Right

  • If a true economic collapse occurs, no one will be able to get into the stores to see the shelves that were emptied by those who heard about the collapse first, since the stores will be closed and guarded against looters.

  • Hi, nice article. I was looking for something like this, didn’t expected to find one about Venezuela :P. I live in Venezuela and can tell you that this has only started, the economy hasn’t collapse yet, it is collapsing right now and will probably collapse in the next months (2 or 3 months) maybe sooner because people is buying everything they can and things are getting pretty intense. In a couple weeks they bought the inventorys of a couple months.

    The government is not going after preppers, they’re going after the “bachaqueros”* this people buy all the products they can and then they resell them for 3 times their price. they’re also going after the supermarkets and the industry. why? well, they need to blame someone… so, for now the preppers are safe, just don’t share your stuff with people you don’t know.

    Bachaqueros > Bachaco ( )this ant is known, aside the cuisine, for their predatory behavior, they cut all the leaves of the plants to feed a mushroom like the bachaqueros buy all the products in the supermarket. lol

  • Everyone DOES HAVE DIY options. Even if you live in a apartment you can readily amass 3-4 months foot supply in your closet and under your bed. And this not be just for collapse. Job loss is always a real possibility, and isn’t life a little better when you can put your money towards rent, gas in the car and your cell phone bill rather than also worrying about where your meals are coming from for the next few months?

  • With regard to Venezuela’s socialist policies, the one that guaranteed empty shelves was the declaration of government regulated prices and freezing. Once you remove the possibility of making a profit selling something there is no incentive to sell it and therefor to buy and stock it. Empty shelves. But those nice price guarantees from the politicians sure sound so nice and compassionate.

  • There is one difference, and a significant one at that, between Greece, Venezuela, and the USA. We are armed to the teeth, they AIN’T. And that spells bad news for the US govt. REALLY bad news….

    Reason; Many folks are right on the edge NOW, as far as this govt is concerned. This pressure cooker has been building for 6 years, and People are pissed! And when the collapse scenario unfolds, many if not most will be of NO mind to take any crap from govt representatives, ESPECIALLY the federal variety. Why SHOULD they? Why should THEY follow edicts, orders and laws when our very OWN GOVT WILL NOT EVEN FOLLOW LAWS? Remember, folks are not only gonna be stressed, worried, desperate and scared…. They’re gonna be furious with the GOVT. Bad time to go knocking on doors and demanding citizen’s food, supplies, manpower and guns….. And I don’t think that even THIS govt, is THAT stupid.

    Unarmed societies are at the mercy of govt enforcement entities…. We are not. All of these arms, bullets, and the like you see the govt amassing? My gut tells me these are more for DEFENSIVE measures against an angry populace than they are for OFFENSIVE activities. Hell, they’re building an Uber-fence around the WHITE HOUSE! What’s THAT for…To keep the angry SOCCER fans out? Hardly….

    Firstoff, they do NOT have the manpower to go nationwide, and begin kicking the citizens around, especially preppers. That’s a fact.. As an example, federal employees number approximately 1.9 million souls. Of that 1.9 million, only 668,000 are authorized to render firearms in it’s service. Compare that to the number of gun owners in America, approximately 125 MILLION, PLUS their pissed off family members, and ANY grandiose plans the govt may have post collapse are going to turn to shit in a real hurry THE SECOND they begin leaning on citizens. Especially when the DESERTIONS begin. More on that below….

    Plus, if the dollar has collapsed, those govt employees AIN’T getting paid. Do you think they’re gonna risk their necks out there for barack and friends, and not even be COMPENSATED for it? HA! I think not….

    I refer back to Hurricane Katrina here for the manpower blueprint. During and after the storm, 68% of NOPD REFUSED to report for duty. Why? Because they opted to stay home and protect their OWN families from the chaos. If it’s getting real out there, then there isn’t a SPOUSE ON THE PLANET that will want her mate NOT home when it’s hitting the fan, especially if there are children to protect. Would you allow YOUR spouse to leave you home alone with kids, perhaps elderly relatives to boot, to fend for yourselves while he was out doing barack’s bidding? “Here’s a .38, babe… you’ll be fine…..” I don’t think so….
    On the other end of that, i’ll be DAMNED if I’d leave MY family to fend for themselves in the chaos. Why? For the benefit of THIS govt? HA! It’ll take 10 to 14 days MAX for desertions to begin DECIMATING federal ranks. They are the LEAST of my worries.
    My more immediate concern, will be the unprepared, the unfulfilled drug addicts and alcoholics, and the marauder-types. THEY will pose the more immediate problem in the first 2 weeks of formal collapse. The natural bullies will begin to prey upon the weaker. Many of society’s douchebags will be weeded out within the first 14 days….. When they get desperate, they’ll take unnecessary chances. Be prepared to take advantage of those moments when they present themselves.

  • Wouldn’t preserving your own garden produce be the same as “hoarding”canned goods? If I can my tomatoes, won’t the government take those too?

    • I wish I could do that – but I’m not the seller. They’re all available through Amazon. 🙂 They are well worth it – I have every one of them myself.

  • Remember the citizens of Venezuela made a choice of what government they wanted. As for America, GOD bless them. There will come a day when it will take a man’s weekly wage to purchase a loaf of bread. There is no doubt in my mind that all Americans need to prep. Tell your families to prepare as well. The more that do the better off they will be.

  • There are many useful plants that grow in many places.

    I have started a binder for each of my children. I copy and print a picture of such plants (so they will recognize them) and info how to use them.

    Plantain – Medicinal Properties and Herbal Use
    It is a common weed that can be used to treat snake bites, bee stings, spider bites, pain relief (earache, toothache) and even severe blood poisoning.

    Type in “medicinal uses” in the search bar at
    A number of common plants and their uses will come up.

  • The real problem with most people is that they have been turned into sheep without realizing what has happened to them. People have been programed to believe they can not think for themselves. Case in point. Several of us old retired guys decided we wanted to put up a green house to start some plants. We are children of the 1940s when the depression was still on the mind of our parents and WWII was raging. Nothing went to waste. Everything was saved. Aluminun foil was reused. So when the decision to build the green house was made, everyone involved brought what ever material they thought could be used in the construction. We framed a 8 foot by 12 foot green house with double lined 6mil plastic walls, a window for venting, a storm door for entry, and wooden plastic lined water tank to float plant trays. The water tank is heated with a foraged water bed heater. This whole building project was completed with an out of pocket expense of $5.00. I was gone the day the plastic was stretched and I had the staples for the plastic at my house, so they had to buy $5.00 worth of staples to attach the plastic. Does it work? The plants are already coming up in the trays floating in the 75-80 degree water. I have built a 5×7 at my house using material I had saved from other projects, and since I had staples for attaching the plastic, my cost is zero. Well almost zero. I had to feed my 8 year old grandson when he was here helping me. I cut the boards and hold them while he puts everything together. Teaching the next generation to use all their fingers instead of just their thumbs is a whole other story.

  • cowdoc: you are so right about teaching the next generation & this is one of our goals. Every time grandchildren come to visit we do something they might not do at home like making buns, jam, or picking berries & canning, or weeding garden. Most like the game we play called V8 night. When they are here in the summer we try to find 8 different vegetables in the garden that are ready to use & that is all we have for supper. They have to try at least a little of every vegatable. Some times a trial for the picky ones but some are surprised at how good an unfamiliar veg. is.

    A major new skill I am looking forward to is curing & smoking our meat. Never done that & neither has our neighbour. Come fall when their pig is ready to butcher we are going to get together & try making hams & bacon. I’ve bought the books & they are raising the pig. Of couse we will buy our half.

    I have made sauerkraut a number of times but bought a book on fermenting vegatables. Never knew you could ferment so many kinds. Also looking forward to trying many kinds this summer.

    It is becoming a game to me to try new things. I’m looking forward to receiving ” The Preppers Blueprint” It will be the last of the books I ordered to come in. I am always looking for new ideas. God bless you Daisy for all of your wonderful ideas.

  • One doesn’t always have to wait for an economic collapse to have these skills come in handy! Our fall garden preserves, frozen and canned, venison in the freezer, stocked pantry including items for personal use have carried us through the past few months (with bi-weekly trips for milk and fresh fruit). Although, both of us are fully employed, the past few months have been super tight and it’s been nice to be able to eat well and not feel depleted. Thanks for the post on Venezuela, a reality check for me this afternoon 🙂

  • @AK Johnny1 = Hat tip.
    You nailed the “difference” that makes AMERICA the land of grass blades with a rifle behind everyone! And, our Constitution/Bill of Rights is the basis.

    We are prepared. Every day, every hour – let’er roll.

    Someone forgot to mention there are over 1 million ham radio operators out there, many of which have not been counted in that previous 3 million figure, but, most are within that 125 million figure..

    Remember to check out a local source of Quick Lime – we’re going to need a few pallets of it during these first days/weeks. This is not something you want to try and store long gets very active from humidity and rain…You’re going to go on some shopping trips during those first evenings anyway…just make this one stop you make with an empty truck/trailer – might as well get some sand and sandbags while you are there…eh? And, don’t forget to grab some of those LONG BIG TIMBERS there too…you’ll need to put up an OP/LP tower, that will support sandbags, eh?.. 20-foot, above roof lines, is’s called the high ground and you want it for yourself!..

    And, remember, IF you are not “off grid” with PV’s already… Stock enough genset fuel to run 4 to 6 hours per day to keep your freezer going until you can eat up that “current load” of food in there…no reason to go immediate to rice and beans, eh?.. Same fuel could help with your shopping trips in the evenings too. You might want to think about taking your genset down to the gas station along with a tank truck…plug ‘er in and fill ‘er up, eh?… Take enough friends with you for security while you do this… You may have to hot wire direct to a pump, with all these computer links, etc..

    Never say die. Check-6 … See you all on the other side.

  • I have been gardening for 50 years. I grow vegetables because I like to. That being said, in a survival situation I would ignore almost all foods acquired from the plant kingdom, and focus on foods from the animal kingdom where calories are a whole lot easier to harvest. Aside from domesticated starchy garden plants like potatoes, you won’t find enough calories in the plant kingdom to subsist on. Foraging for wild edible plants usually expends more calories than are acquired. I’ll say it again even a possum is smart enough to feed itself without outside help, or grocery store.

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