One thing people forget about the Great Depression is that it, too, lasted a long time. It started in 1929 and was still going strong through the whole of World War II - something like 20 years. Government policies and massive government spending did nothing to alleviate the pain of people on the street.
What we are enduring now, euphemistically called the Great Recovery, is an order of magnitude worse than the Great Depression. Some will say, we have a great social safety net with welfare, food stamps and so on. Folks, we are only 5 years into the Great Recovery. That safety net will run out of money. There won't be any money to pay those ridiculous pensions that public unions have negotiated. There won't be any money to pay policemen or firemen. There won't be any money to pay doctors or hospitals.
What we are entering, in 2015, is a serious deflation phase. Deflation doesn't mean that prices or interest rates may go down. They may, or they may not. What it means is that the supply of money and credit will go down, way down. There will be no money. You will have no money. The bank and the store will have no money. This phase will last for a very long time.
In the 1930s people didn't buy new things. There were hundreds of automobile manufacturers that went out of business, for example. The reason the Model T is remembered so fondly is that people were still driving them into the 1940s.
The next ten years will be like that, too. People won't buy new things. The problem we have today is that things are not designed to last very long, nor are they designed to be easily repairable, like the Model T. Newer stuff breaks faster. In 20 years it won't matter if a thing is 25 years old or 35, what will matter is how easy it is to repair. So if you're buying something these days, look for repairability. If the battery on your new cellphone or laptop can't be easily replaced, it will be trash in a few years. I've talked about this in another article.
What I'd like to think about here is what life will be like, very soon, so you and I can get ready for it. This is not a "doomer" article. This is not "gloom and doom". People got through the Great Depression, and they will get through the Great Recovery.
Forget about any political solutions. Politicians walked us right into this mess. They are part of the problem, not part of the solution. Government, through massive mismanagement of resources, got us into this problem, so they are not part of the solution either.
Very soon, you will be buying no new things. "No new things" will be the key thing to remember. There won't be many new things you could buy anyway - stores and banks will mostly close up.
Prescription medicine is not likely to be available. Keep your old prescriptions. They may be expired, but they will work better than nothing. Try to wean yourself off of any medicines you take regularly. Make friends with your doctor. Maybe you'll be able to pay him in cash for anything you need in the future; the huge edifice of insurance, hospitals, and "healthcare" we have today will collapse in a heap of debt. Hospitals already charge $3,000 for an emergency room visit that accomplishes nothing, and $1,500 for a single Tylenol. They will close up when nobody can pay their bills.
Get a good bike and keep it working. Look for solid steel parts. Avoid plastic parts. Plastic gets brittle in a few years and breaks easily. Aluminum is OK for non-structural pieces.
If you have or see an old CRT monitor which works, stick it in a back corner or closet. It may be your only monitor in a few years. LCD flat panel monitors generally have fluorescent backlights which fail.
Scrape up some paper money, cash, and store it someplace well hidden. You should have at least a few hundred dollars. You'll need it for the next "bank holiday".
Now some of you will be saying, Jim Kunstler and John Greer have been saying things like these for many years, and yet we are still driving to Walmart and Dollar Tree, and buying loads of Chinese plastic stuff that breaks in less than a year. Yes, they have; and Jim Kunstler likes flowery, explosive verbiage that makes for a tough read; and John Greer mixes grains of good ideas with loads of archdruidish nonsense. But none of that makes them wrong. Was Jules Verne wrong in predicting submarines and moon flights? Was Isaac Asimov wrong in predicting household robots by 1960? No, they weren't wrong; they just expected things to happen more quickly.
Things are not going to happen that quickly. There will be sudden disasters and stock market crashes, yes, but deflation itself is going to move in slowly, inexorably, inevitably, and grind on for many, many long years. You will not be buying any new things for a long time - at least twenty years.