I was ill yesterday, and stayed home. Being bored, and having no internet access, I decided to do something dangerous. I strapped on my Hockey Helmet of Derp, and did a lot of thinking...Not the regular kind, that happens in The World As TGRR Would Like It, but instead about The World As It Actually Is.
It wasn't a pleasant experience.
First, the shattered economy and the so-called recovery: Nothing has changed. Not one damned thing. The financial institutions have the same leeway they've had since 1996, and they aren't interested in the long term. So instead of loaning the bailout money, they're buying T-bills and charging us interest on the loan WE gave THEM. End result, the economy is WORSE, long-term, than it was 2 years ago. It won't be long before that becomes self-evident (those of you who can't find a job already know this).
Second, the bulk of the population is haring off after some mythical "government" that they blame for all of these problems, while defending the utra-rich who are driving the problem. They cheer for tax cuts for income brackets nobody they even know are in, and screech "socialism" every time something that might benefit THEM comes up.
To put it bluntly, you can't fix stupid.
Here's a few things you can expect:
1. Further short-sighted thinking. Expect massive turnovers in congress every election - especially the house - as the people vote out everyone who can't fix 30 years of malfeasance in 2 years. People will then install - again - people who promise easy answers to complex problems. If history is any guide, this congressional impotence has a final result, one that can be reviewed by studying Rome from 60BCE to 2CE, and Argentina in 1946CE.
2. One thing that won't get fixed is infrastructure. Ever since the 80s, anyone who calls for roads, bridges, and dams to be built or even maintained are branded as pork barrel swine, and derided for building "roads to nowhere". As infrastructure degrades, a rise in vehicle maintenance costs will make shipping more expensive, which in turn will mean reduced revenues, which means LESS money for road repairs, etc. It also means more pollution and less power, as dams are forced out of use due to cracks, etc. This spiral, incidentally, has a bottom. That bottom involves local-only traffic and the reintroduction of animal powered vehicles. Don't laugh, we're almost there now in many places.
3. Radical groups will become mainstream, and will begin enforcing their beliefs on everyone around them. This will eventually include the use of actual force.
4. When the military is required to keep the peace, then you know it's the end of the republic. When the power goes off for set time periods, then you know it's the end of the nation.
No exaggeration, there. A republic's breakdown is a fairly understood event, which happens in 4-5 stages.
1. Radicalization that seems to result from a single event (In this case, the economic downturn), but is actually caused by the overcomplexity of the republic. (Happening today)
2. Riots, vigilanteism, and local insurrection. (Within 2 years of last month).
3. Civil war. Military units begin to side with factions, rather than the central government. (4-6 years from now.)
4. Either a despotism/autocracy, or a complete breakdown of society's structure (No later than 2022).
Lastly, if history is any judge, the slide is by this point irreversible. It may get slowed for a while (or sped up, which is more likely), but the root cause (complexity) will not and cannot be addressed, at least in a manner that will leave the USA as a single political entity (England's in the same boat, but can't really Balkanize, so will probably crash a bit faster and quite a bit harder).
So there you have it. Official Prophecy™, and unlike loads of other prophets, I'm willing to put dates on the events. How to PREPARE for the Coming Weird Times is another matter entirely, and one of which I will rant about, but my answers probably won't work in your situation, so you're going to have to, you know, THINK IT OUT FOR YOURSELF.
Or Kill Me.