A great many people are expecting collapse. I know a few of them personally. If you are not one yourself, you undoubtedly know a few yourself anyway. There is a danger in expecting collapse to solve your problems. The " Truth About Tobacco " campaign says it quite succinctly: "you don't always die from tobacco."
As recently as September 1, 2008 President George W. Bush did get his wish and received a more than plausible reason to stay away from the RNC in Minneapolis-St. Paul. In this case he was relieved to have a major storm event in the Gulf of Mexico to watch from The Whitehouse rather than take a chance on flying to the Convention cities and be caught off guard once again by a tricky hurricane that everyone else could see coming for five days.
As the world approached the most recent millennium anniversary millions of the inhabitants of this Big blue Marble came to believe that the end was near. Preachers with wide exposure on the airwaves warned everyone to repent and prepare. Some people even disposed of all their worldly possessions in order to be more worthy of the Rapture when all the righteous ones would disappear and the graves would be opened as those sleeping in the certain hope of the resurrection would rise and float to heaven. For the dead, this was a reasonable pastime. For the living it was a path toward the Principle of Imminent Collapse.
If a person believes that the end of civilization, nay, the entire realm of Creation, is about to be destroyed by God, then there is no reason to take any action for self preservation or for the preservation of civilization itself. There is no reason to pay off those debts, especially the national ones. The problem arises is when the end doesn't come.
We can see the mentality of the end-time philosophy in the lack of planning by the US Government. FEMA was not anywhere near competent and ready to take any coherent action at the time of Katrina. And we had a President at the time who relies heavily on his faith to guide his decisions. It is all well and good that a parent seeks the guidance of Providence in deciding how to raise a child, but one cannot extrapolate the value of that intervention in national and global politics, because we have to realize that the other sides are praying to the same god and seeking conflicting outcomes.
Many day-trading short sellers have found themselves studying the business end of a Smith and Wesson over the miscalculation of imminent collapse of a particular stock price and hoping that the price falls soon enough and fast enough to beat the margin call.
The residents Heaven's Gate cult compound listened to their spiritual leader Marshall Applewhite and took their lives in advance of the "recycling" of the Earth and their only chance of survival was to depart while leaving their physical bodies behind. Their 1997 escape was a bit pre-mature at the very least. Even if the Earth is to be recycled, the construction schedule has been revised.
Millennium madness spurred on many such actions by less than stable people and groups. Men slay their wives and children. Women microwave their babies. Lone gunmen (boys) rampage on high school and college campuses. The idea that there is nothing to lose takes root and everything else becomes meaningless. The psychiatric imbalance is there all along, latent, imminent, waiting for the Nudge.
Individual borrowers listen to the rhetoric that says 'buy now pay later', extract the equity of your home today, and repay it if you can. And if you die first, have your insurance policy pay off the balance. Do it now, don't be left behind.
Left Behind became a best-selling book series of the tele-evangelist set. It portrays the Rapture of the Church and all of its worthy righteous brethren. Only the most sincere worshippers get to go to Heaven. And the time is now. But like Linus Van Pelt sitting in the pumpkin patch on Halloween, we are all left waiting, and waiting, for the imminent collapse to come.
Some people read into the prophecies that certain events must come to pass before the end actually comes and ushers in the new world. They look deeply into ancient texts and reinterpret what has long been believed. The Bible Code, the DaVinci Code and now the Nostradamus Code follow the 1988 certainty of the 88 Reasons Why Rosh-hash-ana 1988 Must be the Time of the Church's Rapture. A lot of people believed the telling of this lore and acted accordingly, or completely irrationally.
The ubiquitous nature of the Principle of Imminent Collapse must be resisted if we are to not be complicit in its manifestation when it was only latent before. Plans must be made. Consensus must be reached and budgets prepared. The size of the budget might be painful today since we have already wasted too many decades on indecision and wandering around in a legislative quagmire led by inept or wrong thinking Presidents but they will only become even more painful later on.
Hoping for imminent collapse can be an evil thing. The inept and negligent managing of the funding of the Social Security fund had left us with an almost unfundable entitlement. The baby boom birth rate from 1946 to 1964 created the largest population of future retirees in history. That coupled with advancements in health care that greatly extended our life expectancies means that the actual retiring population is much larger than originally calculated. Planners did extrapolate these numbers but legislators did not adopt the plans.
Then we had annual inflation rates created by borrowing and spending funds we did not have and the price of such large volume consumptions like oil quintuples in price. A lot of short term investors made a lot of profits but we were left without the funding of that huge SSI entitlement. Maybe the problem would go away if we ignored it. Maybe a miracle would be bestowed upon us and the problem would go away. Maybe 1 million people who were just ready to retire would suddenly die and not need Social Security after all. A monthly payment of $1,900 over ten years for 1 million people is $2.28 Trillion. Maybe the Rapture is a solution after all.