Thank you Nelson96. We are all a team and work well when information is shared openly. I don't know millions of things. Literally. I can only speak from my experiences in my own subject fields. It's pretty apparent to me that if we all work together to educate each other, our community grows exponentially more knowledgeable. To that task I shall endure.
I'm probably going to be too busy with work the next day or so to provide much by the way of further posts, but I really appreciate the tone of discussion on this forum, which seems far friendlier than most others I've seen. I certainly look forward to your upcoming book for ideas that it will provide in greater detail.
It sounds as if we've got a couple of recurring themes in this discussion to figure out what human threats we may face in the aftermath of natural or human induced events that destabilize the status quo, and how to respond. Here's how I see them in rough order:
If things remain relatively stable (economy improves, the recession continues or we even fall into a bit of a depression but basic civility holds), then the priority remains just maintaining the basic preparedness for routine criminality (i.e. break-ins or the occasional violent activity). People who prep might want to be a bit cautious about their preps in case things quickly change for the worst, while keeping ready for typical disasters that may hit their region from time to time. Barring outbursts of divisions in society (i.e. Rodney King riots, perhaps an acquittal in the Zimmerman trial, an idiot kills the President), crime will probably remain pretty low, even in the aftermath of the typical recurring disaster. It might provide peace of mind to have a CCW permit or some firearms for home self-defence, but those preps shouldn't be anything complicated or take too much of our energies away from everyday living or less dramatic preps that build overall resilience. Choice of where to live or create a second residence will probably have more to do with philosophy and quality of life (i.e. rural hobby farming or owning a secondary hunt camp, cottage or camping getaway that could double as a BOL, etc). I think that people should always try to develop relationships with others in their community that not only enhances quality of life, but could potentially help people band together and help each other in numerous ways should problems arise.
If things turn for the worst, but in a slower, incremental way, we might see increases in criminality that force us to take greater precautions against thefts or more serious violence. That will hopefully just be relatively petty, disorganized crime, but we could see a growth in organized gang activity that may or may not interfere with the lives of everyday people. That brings greater emphasis on choice of locale in order to avoid crime areas in cities, crime areas in the country (smuggling routes or areas that are too easy for criminals and gangs to rob), factoring police and neighbourhood response capabilities against emergencies into ones choices about where to live, greater "camouflaging" of resource preps, and perhaps ratcheting up the community, church and family networks that I mentioned earlier towards more focused responses to the increasing instability. Events related to economic decline, political unrest, or even minor "disasters" might take on a different flavour, as people who might have been more civil in the past take advantage of any excuse to loot and steal. As an example, I'd note the relative orderliness of the 2003 blackout versus the mass rioting and looting that followed a more localized New York City blackout in the 1970s. For those who are really into gardening, small scale livestock production, fishing, hunting and trapping, they might make country living more desirable on account of the greater resilience it offers against economic shocks, but not everyone is going to have that option based upon their resources and how they earn their living.
Things could get much nastier even if everything seems capable of holding together (i.e. we manage to avoid or severely delay the "fiscal cliff") should criminal elements explode like they've done in Mexico. While that would more likely follow from a larger economic decline, l don't think that we should underestimate the ability of a few people to turn really bad if the profits and power/ego boost of gangster stardom gets to their heads. In such circumstances, it becomes particularly difficult to protect oneself, since the criminal element will probably be very intermixed within the broader community and capable of attacking to inflict harm on it's own terms. If it seeks to actively silence all opposition like in Mexico, even our collective preparations to strengthen our communities could put us at risk of reprisals. If the society falls victim to greater threats to its cohesiveness (i.e. the region or country falls into a serious recession or fiscal crisis involving defaults on loans, inflation, etc), then we may sadly need to become VERY vigilant and guarded about protecting our supplies and resources that have been built up and cultivated over the years. People might want to seriously consider the possibility of having to take in relatives and friends or being able to move to other locations (perhaps with other friends and relatives) in the event that people have to flee from criminality, economic misery or the possibility of something worst happening.
I suppose there's always, however unlikely, the possibility of a more thorough breakdown of society through a very serious economic meltdown, largely unanticipated disaster of biblical proportions, or something akin to a civil war, whether openly so or just an angry faction engaging in operations akin to large scale domestic terrorism (i.e. imagine being a Frenchmen living in Algeria during the 1950s or living through the IRA attacks in 1970s Belfast). In those scenarios the state/military remained very strong for the most part, but we could see other scenarios where it's strength and ability to project power is greatly weakened. If the state or military/paramilitary apparatus remains robust, it could either put the civilians stuck in the middle into the same sorts of dilemmas Flippydidit observed in Iraq, or we might see an overly protective militarized state that scrupulously watches and intimidates suspected opponents (i.e.. preppers, religious people, "right-wing extremists" or other groups that have been profiled as dangerous). If on the other hand the state is greatly weakened, or gives up trying to forcibly control things, we could face threats from private factions (criminal gangs, mafias, self-proclaimed militias or liberation movements, organized gangs of looters/land pirates, etc.) that may treat us as people to rob and kill, or perhaps extort for the promise of "protection." In these latter scenarios we may very well need to employ the defensive tactics that posters like Flippydidit alluded to earlier, though just like all of our other preparations to make us and our communities resilient, it's not something to put off thinking about to the last minute! I think that being in the country, mobile and proactive will be advantageous, though the particulars will be very situation dependent.
To wrap these thoughts into a bigger picture (I've gone on longer than I should have), I think that we need to seriously factor in how to make sure that our preoccupation with such matters effects or overall outlook on life. If our preparations make us stronger, more grounded and mature people whatever happens, I think that they contribute to human flourishing in the best sense of the term. If however, we get caught up in fear or disproportionate worry about the most unlikely or extreme scenarios, a lot of our lives could be frittered away hoping for dire predictions to come true so that we might survive in our little ark. Of course there's always subsets of society whose job it is to worry about such potentialities (i.e. military, LEO, EMS, lay and religious and humanitarian organizations, insurance companies and investment forecasters, etc), but we really ought to reflect on whether or how we fit into that picture.
If things ever degenerate into something approaching the scenario that was depicted in the first post, I wouldn't only be afraid of ruthless gangs operating in a state of nature, but perhaps worry just as much about the means whereby they may effectively be dealt with. Post Soviet Afghanistan probably offered something like the closest approximation to that scenario in our time, in which case the Taliban emerged to offer the prospect of peace and order under the banner of their very peculiar version of Islam. I'd be just as concerned about keeping a civilization going that subscribes to the values of our forefathers as I would about simply avoiding the worst in a bad scenario.
I thank everyone for helping to stimulate what looks to be a fruitful dialogue!