Thursday, February 11, 2010

To Stockpile or Not To Stockpile

I've been spending a lot of time recently exploring "survivalist" blogs, and it's fascinating. I consider myself a "doomer", but I am so not in the league of a lot of folks who've adopted the same label. On one blog, there was a very lively discussion about what to do when TSHTF (the shit hits the fan) with regard to neighbors, relatives or *others* who haven't prepped, but know that you have, and might want to "share" (or take, as is the real concern) what you have.

One woman received a lot of flak, beacuse she said, out right, that she would shoot her neighbors, because "they know too much", and when her freeloading, useless family arrives, she plans to shoot them, as well.

I'll admit that I've been concerned about this issue. It's kind of the grasshopper and the ant. I've done a lot of work to plant a garden, and preserve the harvest, and to raise our animals. And while most of it isn't hard physically, it is time-consuming. I've been spending time doing these things, and time learning skills and learning about living without as much energy and exploring options, when I could have been at the amusement parks or the beach all summer ...

... like some of the people I know who've told me, *if* TSHTF, they're coming to my house. Comments like that, especially from people who haven't even taken the tiniest steps, irritate me ... just a little, because they know something is happening, but they aren't even trying to change how they're living.

And maybe it will turn out like Y2K with a lot of build-up and an unremarkable finale.

Maybe it will turn out like the Great Depression, and we'll end up very poor and/or destitute, but recovery will be swift (and to be sure, those who lived through the depression didn't think ten years was "swift", but in the greater scheme of human life, ten years is less than a blink).

Or maybe, it will be as has been predicted, and there will simply be a slow descent down the decline slide, and the life of luxury we have enjoyed this past century is truly over.

My guess is door number three - the slow slide -, and I don't think we'll know *until* it happens, but more likely than not, we won't know it's happening, even then. Only in retrospect will we be able to say, "Ah, and when x happened ...." No one called it the "Great Depression" during the Great Depression, and my guess is that most people didn't know how truly bad things were until after the world was well on its way to recovery.

I think that's the point most of us preppers are missing. It is more likely that we will just be living through some very hard times that just don't get better. Instead, we'll just get used to life as it becomes.

I had an interesting discussion with a homeschooler last night. He was talking about computers (MAC vs. PC), but his point is applicable here. I said I didn't want to transition away from my PC, because it's what I was used to, and he said, that he had felt the same way before switching. His point was that people are incredibly resilient, and what seemed hard, at first, becomes habit after a while.

That's the way I believe descent will be. Life will continue with its ups and downs, with existence for those of us who are accustomed to a very luxurious lifestyle experiencing more downs than ups for a very long time.

Life will be hard, but people will carry on. We will adapt. There will be places where there is violence. There are always places where there is violence, even right here, right this minute in one of the safest countries in the world, but based on what we've seen of human behavior in the past, I believe we will see a lot more of people just trying to get by (and being willing to cooperate) than of people intent on hurting others to take what they have.

I don't think stockpiling is a bad idea. For short-term emergency situations (like a potential flu quarantine or a storm), it is a very good idea to have consumables stored, but for long-term prepping, it's going to be an exercise in futility. At some point, the supplies are going to run out, and then, those people who concentrated solely on stockpiling will be up the proverbial shit creek having lost their paddle and with no knowledge on how to make a new one.

I just think, if our goal is to secure our future, and not just to "survive" for a little longer, that for some things (like cases of frosted raspberry flavored Pop Tarts and cigarettes - if one doesn't smoke), stockpiling is not, necessarily, the most prudent use of one's resources. I think if one has $100 to spend, it might be a better use of the money to purchase a non-consumable resource (like a book on edible wild plants) or to pay for a class that will teach a skill, like basket weaving or moccasin making. Baskets for carrying things and shoes become much more valuable than money in the kind of world ours is becoming, and knowledge can't be stolen with a gun.


  1. Hey, I'm sorry; I didn't mean for that comment to sound bad; I was just a little surprised by the site. Please just delete my comment. I thought the post you wrote was good.

  2. Edifice - Please don't worry about your comment. I thought your comment was completely appropriate, and definitely not bad. It wasn't because of your comment ;).

  3. Have you ever read the 1632 series by Eric Flint? It's fiction, but you might find it fund and interesting, especially the how-people-handle-hard-times situation.

  4. The thing about a long decline is that it likely would create (even more) ideal conditions for a collapse of some sort, especially financial.

    Also, if, like the Great Depression, 25% of Americans were unemployed, it would be much, much more difficult since most now live in cities and have neither the knowledge nor resources their ancestors did (farming, gardening, hunting, etc.). My grandpa shot a lot of rabbit and squirrel as a youngster during the GD, they had chickens, picked berries, knew how to sew, and so on.

    How many know that now? Not nearly enough. That creates conditions ripe for civil unrest. Increasing taxes on those with jobs probably won't be an option since they'll already be super-taxed to pay for the current deficient spending as well as the baby-boomers who've retired.

    And consider what got us out of the GD; war. Any such WW as a cure now would be far, far worse than the disease.

    Our civilization is now so dependent on technology, "just-in-time" delivery, cheap energy, and an addiction to deficient spending (govt and private).

    My solution to the doom is to prepare to survive it. Though I'd use that $100 to buy a used .22 rifle. ;)

  5. Thanks for the recommendation bibliotecaria - I ordered a copy on ;).

    suburbansurvivalist - yes. We are in the perfect storm right now with financial collapse eminent (seven - very large- states out of fifty are already bankrupt), crazy weather patterns causing all sorts of problems across the country, and the looming issue of energy scarcity, but I don't think there will be that one, defining moment (like in the book The Road, when he wakes up and starts filling the bathtub, and then the world ends) when we *know* with absolute certainty that *it* has happened. It will be (and has been, actually) taking place over many years' time, and only when we've either adjusted to living differently, or when things "get better" (which they won't), and we're reading back through the history books, will we be able to pick a day or two that seemed significant (like the Stock Market Crash of 1929, which didn't actually affect the entire nation in one fell swoop - it took a couple of years before some places even realized there was a Depression). I just don't think that the trucks will all stop at the same time, and what will happen is that some trucks that deliver certain items to certain places won't go to those places anymore, and then it will build up from there - one domino falling at a time.