Rioters, protesters, whether you love ’em or hate ’em, they are definitely a factor of life these days. Whether you’re in Tunesia, Egypt, England, Greece, Italy or America, if you’re near a big city, you’ve likely dealt with the various ramifications of massive street protests.  I’d wager as we slide further down Hubberts curve more and more people will feel justified taking to the streets.

TIME’s has named the protestor their “Person of the Year 2011.”

The Good – Protestors have ousted dictators and despots. They’ve rebalanced the scales of justice and taken control of their countries’ destinies.  Demands for basic human rights and freedoms resonate around the globe, sparking others to rise up as well. Risking death, injury and abuse, these protestors can overcome obstacles thought unbeatable.

The Bad – Spoiled, entitled people, taking to the streets to wreck havoc and “protest” measures that must be taken or imagined slights or out of boredom. Young people who don’t have or can’t find meaningful work. Older folks who mismanaged their wealth during flush times and are now facing the consequences of that.  Damaging property, beating up casual observers and police, wasting valuable energy, manpower and capital, these types of protests are to be avoided at all costs.   See Jarhead’s post for ideas on safely removing yourself from such a mob.

The Ugly – Earlier this week small groups of protestors blocked ingress/egress from Western ports here in the US. Other protests have shutdown large swathes of public transportation. Oil refineries and power plants often become targets.   Thankfully (for life as we know it) the western ports are too massive to shutdown, not without a large increase in support and manpower.  If the protest movements were to get that support however, things could go down hill rather quickly.  Data from 2007 indicates that 2/3rd of all container shipping and trade went through the western ports.  Can you imagine what would happen to our economy if that was actually disrupted for any length of time? Sure, a large percentage of it is cheap shoes from China, and we certainly could live without it, but what about the shoe salesman who gets fired? Some percentage of that trade is certainly raw materials for our manufacturing plants.  Even a few key components getting caught in the stoppage could bring countless factories to a grinding halt all over the country.  That’s on top of the lost hours and pay that thousands of dock workers will see.  California’s already in a shaky financial position, even a week stoppage could be disastrous for what little remains of their financial solvency.

As preppers, what can we do? The basics, making sure you have enough food and money stored to coast through any shipping disruptions or banking strikes.  If you’re in a position to be directly affected, (i.e. you’re a longshoreman or public worker who’s union might join forces and call a general strike in support) make sure you have plans to survive the work stoppages, and proper plans and supplies to make it home safely should things turn ugly. Keep your reliance on imported goods to a minimum, whether it’s shoes, or components for your home-based business, or favorite foods.  As always, your best bet is to not live near big cities where the critical mass of people necessary for such actions live.  If you “must” live there, or if some sort of protest makes it to your sleepy town, bikes are great for circumventing public transportation strikes.  I hear they have seen a surge of popularity in both Greece and France. If you don’t keep your money in the bank, bank holidays aren’t a big deal for you.  If you have contacts in police units, you may have a better chance of avoiding crackdowns and crowd control actions.  Although with all the new “terrorist” definitions out there, I know I don’t strike up many friendships with cops, but your mileage may vary. I find living out where cows out number people is a great buffer from riots.

Anybody near any of the larger movements? If you’ve got stories I’d love to hear them.

– Calamity Jane