Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Doomsday Preppers and SHTF Ruminations:

I have watched the latest episode of Doomsday Preppers and I had some ideas jumbling around in my head that I wanted to get down in writing.  If it comes to too much rambling, I'll probably cut it short at that point.  You've been warned.

First off, let me say that I think Doomsday Preppers has run its course.  In my opinion, they should have cut that show off after the first four or five episodes.  The problem for me is that they seem to have shot their wad early in the season by showing guys like Southernprepper1, that one guy whose entire family is all trained in a different skillset, and that guy who turned his entire backyard and pool into a self-sustaining mini-biosphere.  I mean, seriously, how cool was that?  Now, each episode is starting to feel like they're scraping the barrel.  I mean, each episode just seems to be getting worse and worse.  As an example, I hold up the thug looking guy with three kids who was some shopkeeper in the middle of town.  "In a SHTF situation, I'm going to bring my family to the shop where I have all my preps stashed, and we'll hide out in the basement*!" and then it repeatedly shows a scene where they're interviewing his wife and she's crying because she's upset that this guy has been taking all the family money and spending on preps, instead of the lifestyle they used to have.  I was surprised they showed it, honestly because for some reason they tend not to.  There have been other episodes where you could tell the spouse absolutely was not into prepping, and they would make a point at some point in the episode of showing a scene where the skeptical spouse is suddenly all "I am totally onboard with it, now!"  Staged?  What?  Nooooo.  Never!  It's no secret that NatGeo has been creatively editing the show to sell the agenda that preppers are crazy, so you'd think they'd LOVE showing people who DON'T agree with their spouse spending every cent the household brings in on preps because it's "just so crazy".  Guess I'll keep watching and find out how much farther down the hole they can go.

That said...

If you've been reading, you'll note that I tend to treat the prepper/survival subject with an entire bag of salt.  What this means is that while I DO think prepping is practical, and just an all-around good idea, I don't think some peoples' ideas for doing so have been very well thought out.  I've mentioned my BS Detector, and nowhere does it buzz harder than while watching some of these videos and blogs talking about "OMG when SHTF!" or "When America collapses..." or "When the dollar collapses..." or "When martial law is enacted, REMEMBER KATRINA!" and so on.  I feel like these people just aren't things through completely, and I'll tell you why.

You know, a hundred years ago, prepping wouldn't have even been a hobby, or term used to describe a hobby (or for many, a lifestyle).  Back then, and into the early to mid 1900s, people generally did not live extravagantly.  They put money aside when they could, and stored all the food and household necessities they could, just in case bad things happened.  Which, of course they did on Black Tuesday (the major stock market crash) which kicked off the Great Depression which lasted the entirety of the 1930s until WWII showed up to get the country back to work.  People who lived through that time period were generally very frugal all throughout the rest of their lives.  I have had several elderly relatives who, when I was younger, I remember them telling me stories about that time.  Clearly, these folks were preppers in every sense of the word.

Fast forward to today.  You have millions of Americans who aren't frugal.  They live paycheck to paycheck, and often, not by necessity.  New cars every couple of years, a house full of electronics, closets full of nice clothes, personal hobbies based around the collection of items instead of experiences, "We only eat name-brand food", and so on, all lead to a three-fourths of the country that is only moments away from personal financial disaster at any given time.  I have plenty of firsthand observational examples of this in my personal life.  I knew a guy in college who had to let a car sit in his driveway for six months (that he was still making payments on) because he had modified it and damaged his engine and had to save up for a new one.  What a young guy making $15 an hour (something like that, if I recall) was doing with a car that cost him $600+ a month, I have no idea.  I knew a girl who graduated and got a job after college and then ran up all her credit cards buying a lifestyle she thought a college graduate should have, instead of the one her $20 an hour salary afforded her.  The housing market bubble bursting hit our area pretty hard, leading to steep devaluation of homes and plenty of people either declaring bankruptcy or going into foreclosure because they had bought more house than they could afford, or took undesirable loan terms because they just figured things would keep going like they always had.  The problem is that in the long term, a lifestyle of excess is NEVER sustainable.  Fuel costs, food costs, housing costs, amenities (such as clothing) costs, all are going up, and yearly raises don't keep up with them.  At some point, people need to wake up and realize that they need to make some changes.  If you are a paycheck away from your children not being able to eat, or you not having a warm, dry place to sleep tonight, then something is fundamentally wrong.

So, here's my issue with the whole "SHTF!!" as a preparation goal.  People who generally use this term (a term I'm sure you can tell that I detest, at this point) aren't using it to describe something well within the realm of feasibility.  They are using it to describe something that realistically won't happen.  SWAT team storm troopers aren't going to march down Main Street America and start clubbing people.  The President isn't going to declare nation-wide martial law.  "They" aren't coming fer yer gunz!

Because frankly, if we're being absolutely honest, America's decline is happening already.  It's already everywhere around us.  Ignorance, racism, civil unrest in urban areas, people having no problem breaking into other peoples' homes, the economy hasn't bounced back, bad news on TV every day, entirely incompetent government leadership at every level, everything from a gallon of gas to a gallon of milk is approaching record levels of cost and a dollar doesn't buy nearly what it used to, people everywhere are on edge, the whole SHTF scenerio?  It's happening right now.  Problem is, there was no sudden moment which alerted us to the situation.  There was no specific moment where it was suddenly time to grab your BOB, AR-15, and race out the door to your backup location.  There wasn't a singular instance where you knew it was time to lock the doors, turn off the lights, and start eating canned Spam and freeze-dried food from a five-gallon bucket.  So, when I hear people talking about what they'll do when "SHTF!!!", I have a private laugh to myself.  I mean, what you will do?  What you should be thinking about is: what are you doing right now?

See, the fact of the matter is this.  It's been happening right under our noses for years now.  The signs are everywhere for the person using common sense and a view of the "Big Picture" to see.  The skyrocketing prices of college educations have young people graduating with debt levels that ensure they'll never build any meaningful wealth nor get ahead in life**.  Fuel costs ensure that everything else goes up also (since most items in stores get there by truck, which runs on what?), while oil companies continue to post absolutely mindblowing profits.  At every turn, our politicians pass bills, or try to vote legislation the American people do not support into law.  And that's not party-specific.  They are ALL dirty.  Obamacare?  The news channels were FULL of outrage against that bill.  It passed.  Another example?  The whole "Fast and the Furious" debacle, where it was discovered that Attorney General Eric Holder in efforts to sell Mexican drug cartels weapons (which were then used to kill Americans!!!), so that the incident could be used as incentive to get more stringent, more anti-Second Amendment gun control laws passed.  A third example?  How about this latest Trayvon Martin case?  The New Black Panther Party put out a bounty on George Zimmerman's head, which is absolutely illegal.  Know how many Black Panther party members have thus far been arrested?  None.  No one else has been arrested over what is essentially a wide-open, clear death threat either.  And of course, can't forget the Illegal issue.  The state of Arizona issues laws that were based entirely on Federal laws already on the books in an attempt to get a handle on the issue of all the illegals who were bleeding the state dry, and what happens?  The Federal Government actually SUED Arizona!!!  WHAT?  So, let me get this straight, the state has decided to enforce laws the Fed won't enforce, and now you're going to sue them to ensure they don't carry out those laws YOU'RE supposed to be carrying out?  What?!  What sort of surreal Bizarro-land BS is that??

With all these examples, it then becomes clear that what they want, is Americans engaging in things like endless divisive arguments over topics like Abortion, religion, class warfare, or gay marriage, because quite frankly, those topics don't actually mean anything.  If any of those topics are a huge issue for you , (the reader) above and beyond issues like the economy, the dollar, skyrocketing prices, and politicians doing whatever they want, then I'm sorry.  There's something wrong with you, and you are doing exactly what the Government wants you to be doing.  It all boils down to this for me, people who talk about what they'll do when "SHTF!!!" are comical, because the fan blades are already covered in so much, it's a wonder the damn thing is still spinning.  Time to wake up, folks.  Stay safe out there.

- Unnamed Prepper

"Politics, n. A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage."
AMBROSE BIERCE, The Devil's Dictionary

*Really a crap plan when the only way down into the basement is a set of farmhouse double-doors located on the outside of the building right next to a busy street.  Yeah, really discreet.
**An example: you learn in Finance class about how if you utilize the power of Compound Interest and start investing $500-$1000 a month in your early twenties, you'll have a millions of dollars come retirement time.  And then you graduate from college with $35,000 (or more!) in educational debt.  How are you supposed to have $500-$1000 free a month to invest when you have the price of a car hanging over your head, and you don't make that much for the first several years of your working life?  Absurd.

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