Mac Slavo
Thursday, March 15, 2012

With real unemployent approaching 25% of the population, 50 million Americans on food stamps, and the prices of essential goods rising every month, it’s no surprise that black market peddlers are turning to new product offerings to make a buck.

In What Is Money When the System Collapses? we highlighted some items that would take the place of traditional currency in the event of a catastrophic financial and economic collapse – things like food, fuel, firearms and footwear.

But for many, the world as they know it has already collapsed. Unable to afford retail prices for home essentials, these people will do what they need to in order to survive, and that includes the bartering and exchange of goods similar to what will happen in a complete economic meltdown. As Brandon Smith of Alt-Market recently pointed out, when the totalitarians squeeze the masses, those rebelling against the system because they have been left with no other choice will turn to the free (black)  market to make ends meet.

These most recent thefts have law enforcement officials ‘puzzled’, but the reasons behind them are pretty simple to understand if you consider the bigger picture:

Law enforcement officials across the country are puzzled over a crime wave targeting an unlikely item: Tide laundry detergent.

Theft of Tide detergent has become so rampant that authorities from New York to Oregon are keeping tabs on the soap spree, and some cities are setting up special task forces to stop it. And retailers like CVS are taking special security precautions to lock down the liquid.

One Tide taker in West St. Paul, Minn., made off with $25,000 in the product over 15 months before he was busted last year.

“That was unique that he stole so much soap,” said West St. Paul Police Chief Bud Shaver. “The name brand is [all] Tide. Amazing, huh?”

Tide has become a form of currency on the streets. The retail price is steadily high — roughly $10 to $20 a bottle — and it’s a staple in households across socioeconomic classes.

Tide can go for $5 to $10 a bottle on the black market, authorities say. Enterprising laundry soap peddlers even resell bottles to stores.

“There’s no serial numbers and it’s impossible to track,” said Detective Larry Patterson of the Somerset, Ky., Police Department, where authorities have seen a huge spike in Tide theft. “It’s the item to steal.”

Source: The Daily

While detergent soap, in this case Tide, may be the item of the day, it’s only a small part of the expanding black market for home essentials and critical goods.

Nutritional assistance benefits are another example of a black market that moves millions of dollars of goods monthly. Those receiving benefits – often times through fraudulent means – will utilize government issued EBT cards to purchase meat, cheese, milk and other products at retail grocers, only to redistribute those items at 25% to 50% discounts on the street. In this case, both parties win. Buyers stay ahead of food inflation by getting items at discount, while sellers are able to make a living in an environment plagued with job losses. Everyone’s a winner – except, of course, the taxpayer who has  to foot the bill.

So long as the economic situation in America continues to deteriorate, these black markets will continue to expand. This is exactly what happened in crumbling economies of the East Block, where cigarettes, alcohol, food and Western goods became hot commodities in underground circles.

This, and the crime that will come with it, is an inevitable outcome of a nation that has bit off more than it can chew.

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