The Collapse is an event in the Cyberpunk world.
When the collapse hit it was the elderly that were hit first; the millions of Americans who lived on pensions and investments. The work and savings of their lives evaporated; they became homeless, or were forced to move in with relatives. A lucky few were able to reenter the work force.
Many died from exposure or violence. Sometimes it was treachery from within; Grandma's silver service would buy a grandson a lot of chemical excursions from life's pain. Some families pulled together or were forced into clannish styles of living. Even homeless, they made it, but millions of others died.
Both the World Bank and the World Stock Exchange were gone. The United States government had no one to borrow money from. Federal Bonds were cashed in at a rate so high that the Government could barely print money fast enough. This devalued the dollar and accelerated the process. Faster and faster the ship of state spun into the vortex.
Assets of the Executive Branch, especially the military reserves, were committed in growing numbers in a Herculean struggle to control the violence as it spread like wildfire across America. However worthy, the struggle was futile; the unrest was not limited to "less fortunate" areas and neighborhoods, and could not be isolated. Let it not be said that the men and women who tried to save America did not fight valiantly. They may have saved millions of lives, but in the end, it just wasn't enough.
The military as a whole was not committed until August of 1996. On August 17, a Saturday afternoon, both the President and Vice-President were killed during separate campaign stops (in Maine and California respectively}. The Speaker of the House was undergoing bypass surgery and the Pro Tem of the Senate refused the position of President.
Why? No one is sure. It is entirely possible that, being in the hip-pocket of one Corporation/Organization or another, the Pro-Tem was aware of the plot to manipulate the Vice President (detailed below). After the death of the Vice President, the Pro-Tem may have felt the idea of being a puppet repulsive. No one will ever know; he was killed by an CIA terror squad shortly before the start of the second Central American War. As the situation grew worse, a joint session of Congress was convened to deal with the issue of who would lead the country. Absurd levels of infighting prevented anyone from forming a coalition. Stalled, Secretary of Defense Jonathan Seward was asked to address the Congress and plead for decision. A simple and direct man, he summed things up in this historic address:
The reformation would take time. Several members of the Senate attempted to form Corporate-backed coalitions. These were beaten down soundly. The diplomatic corps attempted to eliminate the trade embargoes that were crippling America. They would not succeed until late in 1998. The greatest problem, however, the one that proved nearly insurmountable, was the Gang of Four.
- MACDONALD, M. Home of the Brave. 1st ed. Berkeley CA: R. Talsorian Games. 1992 (pg.9, 10)