However, at the same time, almost no one has done anything to prepare for bird flu. Only 2 percent of people polled said they had actually talked to a doctor about Tamiflu or other antiviral medications. This lack of preparedness across the board is what I've been warning you about, folks. For those of you who have been paying attention to the coming bird flu pandemic, it is time to prepare now, before this becomes a human disease, and before the other 98 percent of the country wakes up and suddenly realizes that they'd better do something about it.
You can rest assured that, when this 98 percent wakes up and tries to take action, whatever it is that they're attempting to buy will not be available. Antiviral herbs, medications and preparedness products will all be wiped out if that large a percentage of the population decides to do something at the same time.
Seventy-five percent said that if human outbreaks occurred, they would reduce or avoid travel. That number right there would bankrupt every airline in the country. That would set off severe economic consequences, going far beyond what we saw in the United States following the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001. If you recall, after Sept. 11, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grounded air traffic for a period of several days, which produced enormous economic consequences for the country. Trade shows were canceled, businesses couldn't conduct business, people couldn't visit their loved ones, travelers were stranded... it was a giant mess. Now, imagine that effect multiplied by six months or a year. That's what we could see in this country if human outbreaks of bird flu occur.
Seventy-one percent of poll respondents said they would skip public events. That's a very smart strategy. It means that people understand how infectious disease spreads. During an outbreak, it's smart to stay home, stay away from other people and try to ride out the pandemic in relative isolation.
On the other hand, I don't think these people have really thought it through. Sure, they can avoid an outdoor concert, a picnic or a movie, but how are they going to buy food? Are they going to avoid grocery stores? How are they going to get basic supplies? How are they going to work? How are they going to get paid? What's really going to happen to these people when they start thinking about other interactions they have with potentially infected people? You see, these poll results indicate that 71 percent, seven out of 10 people, are going to try to avoid contact with other human beings. The economic consequences of this will be far-reaching and enormous.
Think about this very carefully: If two-thirds of the people stay home, don't go to work, don't go out and spend money, don't go and produce something, this country will experience severe economic consequences. Not just a recession, not just a depression -- but a sharp, and hopefully only temporary, collapse of basic economic activities.
That's what we're looking at, and let me translate this into real terms for you. This means two-thirds of the people who run the oil refineries won't go to work. Two-thirds of the people who run the power plants and the water plants, who drive trucks and deliver all the goods and food across this country, won't go to work. Two-thirds of the schoolteachers; two-thirds of government workers; two-thirds of your local police officers, firemen and ambulance workers; two-thirds of the hospital workers -- the doctors, the nurses, the anesthesiologists; two-thirds of bridge maintenance workers and street repairman -- none of these people will go to work.
You get the idea here. What happens if two-thirds of the workers in all these basic infrastructure services are suddenly missing because they're staying home, attempting to save their families from the bird flu outbreak?
I'll tell you what happens: We will experience a shutdown of essential services in this country. And following that, have no illusions, we will see a declaration of martial law because the military will have to be called in to run some of these basic services and establish order. If two-thirds of the police officers are not on the street, then somebody has to be brought in to prevent mass uprisings, mass protests and mass chaos.
You saw what happened with Hurricane Katrina. Caught in the chaos without any real help from FEMA, many New Orleans police officers said, "This isn't worth a paycheck!" They turned in their badges and left town. If I remember correctly, over a hundred police officers quit. What do you think is going to happen when a low-level police officer -- who makes $25,000, maybe $35,000 a year -- has to choose between staying on the job and facing potentially armed rioters vs. staying at home and protecting his family? What do you think he is going to choose? He's going to quit his job and stay home to protect his family, and this is going to happen across the board. It's a no-brainer.
This is not to say anything bad about police officers. I have great respect for the law enforcement professionals who help keep the peace today, but you cannot expect them to sacrifice the safety of their families for what is essentially a job. It's an unreasonable expectation. In fact, anyone who wants to reduce his or her risk of contracting the disease will stay home, regardless of what they do for a living.
Where does this leave you as the end user of these services? It means that you'd better be prepared for a situation in which you may not get these basic services for an extended period of time. You might not get these services for a week, a month, six months or perhaps even a year, because that's how long this epidemic could last.
How will you live without water service for six months? How will you live without electricity, heat or gasoline? Without a bountiful supply of food delivered to your local grocery store every single day? How will life be without all the stuff you buy at Wal-Mart, Kmart and other convenience stores? How will you wash your clothes? How will you keep yourself bathed? How will you keep yourself and your family fed? How will you protect your household and your community?
The fact is, it can happen here and right now. It's happening to the chicken industry in France, which is now severely infected with bird flu. France is a first world nation, too. France is about to experience a major collapse of its chicken industry. There is already a 30 percent drop in chicken consumption in France as of this writing, and now bird flu has been found in the U.K. as well.
It can happen here and, as this poll is telling us, if it does happen here, the public is going to react in a way that will inevitably cause the interruption, or possibly even the temporary collapse of, essential public services such as law enforcement, electricity, fuel, energy, food, emergency services and so on.
This is why, for two years now, I have been urging people to prepare. I am a strong believer in preparedness. I actually live my life with a philosophy of preparedness, regardless of external events, so I am not concerned about a hurricane, tsunami, earthquake, tornado or pandemic. I can survive them all, can you?
That's a question you had better be asking yourself as this viral threat approaches, because it is getting worse. This virus is very aggressive. This pandemic is spreading from country to country in a way that we have never before witnessed in the history of modern civilization. Nothing like this has ever been recorded -- not even in 1918, when a similar virus ultimately killed 50 million people worldwide.
The virus we are seeing in the birds today is far more virulent and far more dangerous, and if it does jump to humans, you'd better be prepared, because this poll is shouting right in your face, telling you exactly what's going to happen: Two-thirds of the population will stay home and basic infrastructure will collapse. Do the math on this one. It isn't rocket science.
My book, "How to Beat the Bird Flu," talks in great detail about preparedness. I review products, offer a preparedness checklist and show you exactly how to get ready for infrastructure failures. I even explain how to beat the bird flu virus, so you can greatly reduce your risk of infection and increase your chances of surviving an infection if you do get one.
It's a very timely book that is already in extremely high demand. As of this writing, we are expecting to run out of printed copies within a matter of days. Of course, we'll print more, but there's always a delay in that. Our friends in Europe are buying these books up like crazy right now.
Even if you don't buy "How to Beat the Bird Flu", I urge you to start preparing on your own, right now. Set aside some stored water. Think about how you're going to live, potentially without electricity or natural gas, for some period of time. Think about preparing for a big storm or hurricane, but one that could last several months. Think about stored food, and what you need to do in terms of basic medical supplies and basic personal hygiene. Because if you are prepared, you will not be a victim of this.
Of course, if the best case unfolds and this doesn't become a human pandemic, then guess what? You are already prepared for anything else that could come your way: Power grid failures such as those that hit the East Coast a few years back, terrorist actions, storms, hurricanes, earthquakes, riots -- you are prepared for it all. Preparedness is the key. Start now and make it a lifelong habit.
Remember, if the bird flu virus becomes a human pandemic, there will be three kinds of people after it's all over: