Daisy Luther, Contributor
My inbox was filled with a barrage of hate mail and a number of people felt compelled to leave angry (and rather ignorant) comments on my website. I got messages from people that called me “batsh*t crazy”, messages from gun control advocates, messages from people who directly blamed me and all other preppers for the massacre, and even one particularly hate-filled email from a person who said “I hope that your kids are killed at the next school shooting.”
All of this leads me to reconfirm my belief that people sincerely do not understand why we do what we do, and that ignorance leads to fear.
Am I saying that preppers are all visionaries and sages? Not in a mystical “Joan of Arc” sense – but I am saying that preppers are willing to see the writing on the wall and search for a deeper understanding.
Many preppers are preparing for an economic collapse and the subsequent social collapse that will be close behind.
If you don’t think this is realistic, then you aren’t paying attention to the world around you.
People have this image of hunger – they see it as the skeletal dark-skinned children in some third world country, bellies protruding as malnutrition sets in.
But the face of hunger and poverty today is as close as your next door neighbor. Millions of North Americans can barely afford to put their next meal on the table. They are living in their cars, if they’re lucky, and without shelter if they are not so lucky.
For many people the economic collapse has arrived. Their “end of the world” event has already occurred in the form of a job loss, the foreclosure of the family home, or an illness that has caused such massive personal debt that there is truly no way out of it.
Less than 60% of Americans who are of age to be in the work force have a full time job. When you tally that, it means that more than 100 million people are out of work. More than 100 million people in the United States have no jobs. For more than 100 million people, the economic collapse has arrived in full force.
Meanwhile, as people all over the globe (think Greece, Italy, Spain, Argentina, the UK) struggle with high rates of unemployment, the prices of everything have gone up. People are struggling to keep such simple necessities as running water and electricity. Grocery costs have skyrocketed – the World Bank released a statement that global food prices increased by 10% in ONE MONTH – July 2012.
And it’s only going to get worse – the Farm Bill was blocked by the US House of Representatives, and this means that the prices will skyrocket, as farms are no longer subsidized. This will cause the industry to revert to the Agricultural Act written in 1949, meaning that the government is obligated to purchase dairy products from farmers at a cost that is twice what they are receiving now – this means that the price of a gallon of milk may skyrocket in January to as much as $8 per gallon. This is not an endorsement of government subsidies – this is a simple cause and effect observation to explain the reason people will be shocked when they go to the dairy case come January.
The price of food is increasing rapidly and dramatically. Mac Slavo, of SHTFplan, wrote,
We’ve seen what happens in countries where the populace is forced to spend 50% or more of their earned income on food. Despite how the media portrays it, the riots we’ve seen in the middle east, Greece and Spain have been largely fueled by cost increases in food and the inability of individuals to provide the basic essentials for their families.
Americans have been, for the most part, immune from these pressures thus far. But the social safety nets are very quickly becoming overburdened and prices at grocery stores are rising consistently and without pause.
With the consumer economy coming to a standstill, continued central bank monetary easing, job losses and wage reductions, and the urbanization of millions of people, it is only a matter of time before Americans are forced to spend 50% or more of their paychecks just to stay alive.
When you read the above information, the case becomes clear for stocking a long-term food storage pantry. It makes personal economic sense to purchase commodities like grains for your family at today’s prices to be consumed when the price skyrockets even further.
It seems, from some of the comments I’ve seen and received from non-preppers, that stockpiling food is acceptable, if somewhat eccentric. But being able to defend that food is strictly out of the question.
“I have no problem with anyone stockpiling water and food for their ability to prolong their agonizing but inevitable death should this generation experience the ‘end of the world’. Unless you have a new planet in your back pocket that is complete with an oxygen supply, food and water, your efforts to live past the rest of us will be the least enjoyable time spent here on earth. I believe it is the preppers’ need for stockpiling ammunition that is the bizarre twist on these so-called survival skills that is the ‘killer’. Pardon my pun. You see, if your survival depends on killing others than the world in which you will exist will not be worthy of keeping.”
“They are delusional anti-social people. If you try to reason with them, you are attacked in the forums. You try to point out to them the truth, they slander you. These ‘preppers’ should ALL be arrested , their food stockpiles distributed to the homeless, their guns conficated [sic]. Start with the people on the survivalist blogs.”
“With all due respct [sic], many people are missing the point. Our Constitution garentees [sic] us the right to bear arms, but not to stockpile an arsenal. You folks who stockpile food and supplies are wise. It is the guns and huge quantities of bullets that are the problem.”
“Guns dont [sic] kill people. People who have no friends and have basements jammed full of ammo and canned goods kill people.”
“You know…this is just a bunch of gun nuts going out and buying all the guns they can get before the laws become stricter. Just a bunch of weak people living in fear of nothing. I choose not to live in fear and if the apocalypse comes…oh well. Sure, I’ll stock up on food when a blizzard is in the forecast…but do I have an arsenol [sic] in my basement…no. Honestly, people like peppers need to stop thinking all hell is going to break loose, and just live in REALITY.”
So, this leads us to the next misconception about preppers – why do many prepared individuals feel that there might be social collapse to go along with the economic collapse? Why do they feel that in the wake of a disaster that they and their families could be threatened?
There are very good, well-documented reasons for this. Recent history tells us that frightened, hungry people become desperate and often violent.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, CNN reported that the city was under siege.
Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown said his agency was attempting to work ‘under conditions of urban warfare.’ Police snipers were stationed on the roof of their precinct, trying to protect it from armed miscreants roaming seemingly at will. Officers warned a CNN crew to stay off the streets because of escalating danger, and cautioned others about attempted shootings and rapes by groups of young men.
A similar experience occurred after Hurricane Sandy struck the East Coast in October. The unmitigated violence and looting had residents terrified, especially after dark. Via Twitter, people actively planned “looting parties” as the storm bore down on the area, according to a report by Paul Joseph Watson.
One resident described the scene to the Huffington Post. “People are turning on each other — they’re attacking each other. Even when there’s no disaster, this building is disastrous. But after the hurricane, it just got crazy.”
Unfortunately, it isn’t just in the wake of a disaster that the need for personal security is rising. As the economy plummets, violent crime is in the upswing. In 2011, the overall rate of violent crime increased by 18%. (The numbers aren’t in yet for 2012. As funding to police departments is reduced, the criminals have a larger window of opportunity. The police are throwing up their hands in defeat – they feel that they cannot protect people. In Detroit, the police department warned people to enter the city at their own risk as budget cuts result in fewer police and shorter hours of operation.
As the economic collapse increases and more and more people are going hungry, the need for proper security and self defense will also increase in a direct ratio, particularly for those who live in highly populated areas. Desperation breeds crime.
People must educate themselves on the relationship between economic need and violent crime. Only then can they make a reasonable (and morally acceptable) plan to protect themselves and their families.
The economic collapse is not some far-fetched, end-of-the-world fantasy. It is the reality that is occurring all around us, incrementally. The collapse that has been occurring since 2008 has been one of 1000 small cuts as income goes down and expenses go up.
Ask the people in Greece whether they regret not having stocked up on food supplies when those supplies were abundantly available. Ask the people in Argentina whether they feel the need to be armed against roving gangs and home invaders – violent crime increased by 35% in one year. One study went so far as to call property crime a tool of redistribution:
Overall, these results suggest that property crime has been used as a redistributive tool for the poorest to compensate for their impoverishment during the last decade and in particular during the ultimate crisis in Argentina.
This stuff is not fantasy – I have provided links to support every fact I have mentioned in this article. Hunger, cold, crime and fear are the daily realities in many countries that once enjoyed a similar standard of living to that of the average North American. That debt-based standard of living is unsustainable, though, and you must be able to connect these trends with what is happening in your own country in order to see the need for preparation.
For those who say it is selfish for me to plan to take care of my responsibilities, I respond that it is selfish of you to expect me to take care of your responsibilities. You have the same opportunities that I do to prepare. I am far from wealthy (our income is actually below the “poverty line”) but I make room in my budget by eschewing foolish expenditures like twice-yearly vacations, new cars and the latest I-gadgets.
I don’t live in fear – I live in security, knowing that through my personal responsibility, my trust in my own instincts and my faith, I have done everything possible to protect my family from poverty, hunger and crime. If you aren’t currently prepared, I hope that the facts and statistics I’ve provided cause you to consider doing the same thing.
Daisy Luther is a freelance writer and editor. Her website, The Organic Prepper, where this article first appeared, offers information on healthy prepping, including premium nutritional choices, general wellness and non-tech solutions. You can follow Daisy on Facebook and Twitter, and you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org