Forbes Says Self-Reliant Homesteaders Are “Delusional” and “Mooching” Off “Civil Society”

By Daisy Luther

It’s always interesting reading when someone smug and sanctimonious writes a clueless diatribe about another group of people being smug and sanctimonious. So when I saw that an economist for Moody’s and Forbes had written an op-ed calling self-reliant homesteaders “delusional,” I knew I’d be in for some misinformed hilarity.

The article, entitled, “Dear Homesteaders, Self-Reliance Is a Delusion” was published a couple of days ago on the Forbes website. You’ll be forewarned that the article won’t be deep in the first paragraph, when the author presents his claim to knowledge about self-reliant living comes from the fact that he is “a big fan of shows about doomsday preppers, homesteaders, survivalists, generally people who live off the grid.”

And the well-informed opinion of this arbiter of self-reliance?

…there’s a central delusion in these shows that is never far from my mind when I’m watching these shows: off the grid people are not self-reliant, but instead are mooching off of the civil society, government, and safety net the rest of us contribute to…

The people in these shows often describe a very romantic vision of the lives they have chosen the ethos underlying it. They describe themselves as fully self-reliant, and criticize the rest of society as being dependent and lacking in this self-reliance. It is morally superior, the story goes, to provide for yourself, take care of your own needs, and often, be prepared to survive if society collapses.

First, let me segue a little bit and tell you about the author. According to his bio on

Adam Ozimek is an associate director and senior economist in the West Chester office of Moody’s Analytics. Adam covers state and regional economies, as well U.S. labor markets and demographics. Prior to joining Moody’s Analytics, Adam was Senior Economist and Director of Research for Econsult Solutions, an economics consulting company. He received his Ph.D. in economics from Temple University and his bachelor’s degree in economics from West Chester University.

So, based on this, I’m going to guess that homesteading and off-grid living aren’t his jam. I mean, he might head down to the Westtown Amish Market there in Pennsylvania, but I’d be willing to place money on that being his closest brush with any real, live, self-reliant homesteaders.

His ill-conceived argument seems to be mostly focused on health care. He is baffled about what will happen if a homesteader becomes ill or gets injured.

On Live Free Or Die, a man in his mid sixties named Colbert lives in the Georgia swamps alone….I always wonder what will happen if he slips and falls, and can no longer provide for himself. He’ll likely end up receiving hospital treatment paid for with Medicare, and perhaps end up in an assisted living center paid for by Medicare as well.


Another example from Live Free or Die is Tony and Amelia, a couple who live on a simple, off-the-grid homestead in North Carolina. When I watch them I wonder what would happen if one became extremely sick, and simple, off-the-grid home medicine couldn’t treat them. Would they say “we’ve chosen our fate, and now we die by it”, or would they seek treatment in a hospital they couldn’t afford which would be covered by the hospital’s charity care or perhaps Medicaid?

One thing that Dr. Ozimek is missing is the fact that most homesteaders are tax-paying citizens. Does he think that living on a homestead exempts one from property taxes? Does he suppose that their vehicles don’t have license plates or that their fuel is purchased without the requisite state gasoline tax? Or that maybe they have some special card that lets them buy things like feed without paying sales tax? Perhaps homesteading equipment like tractors and tools and off-grid appliances are likewise purchased without any gain to “society.”

As well, he’s under the assumption, based on his vast body of knowledge gleaned from watching TV, that self-reliant homesteaders don’t make any money or have any insurance. I know homesteaders who are retirees from other jobs who have a fine pension and excellent health insurance. I know others who make a good living with their homesteading endeavors. And there are still others who live simply after working for years to pay cash for their homestead, or families in which one spouse works a full-time job to support the homestead.

But, Ozimek, whose informed point of view comes from only the most extreme of the group featured on for-profit-and-ratings television shows, doesn’t understand that. He continues to espouse the superiority of the non-agrarian lifestyle:

If we all lived “self-reliant” lives like Tony often implores us, spending most of our time on basic agricultural subsistence, then modern hospitals couldn’t exist. It’s only because most of us choose to not live agrarian “self-reliant” lifestyles that this care would be available to Tony, Amelia, and perhaps someday, their children. And what if both of them become too injured to work the land anymore? Would they starve to death, or would they survive off of the social safety net our government provides, like food stamps?

In fairness to Tony, Amelia, and Colbert, perhaps they would refuse the modern medical care and modest safety net in the case of an accident or illness, and would simply choose to die. I don’t think most homesteaders would, but we don’t know.

Yeah, because homesteaders can’t do anything but homestead.

Some people are producers and other people are consumers.

Ozimek thinks that someone with the extensive skills required to live off the grid would be completely unable to find employment and would have no option but to become a welfare recipient should their homesteading endeavor fall apart.

What he’s missing is that his cushy “civilized” lifestyle is completely reliant on the type of people he scorns. He forgets that someone, somewhere is growing his food. Someone, somewhere, is assuring that his energy reaches his home. Someone is ensuring that his plumbing works, someone is repairing his furnace if it breaks, and someone is transporting the goods he purchases to the store, where someone will sell him those goods.

But, that’s what happens when someone is only a consumer and not a producer. They think that producers are somehow less worthy, and that if they couldn’t produce what the consumers consume, they’d be totally out of options.

The cool thing about self-reliant homesteaders is that we aren’t one-trick ponies. We can produce all sorts of things and provide all kinds of services. It’s called “having skills.”

Most self-reliant homesteaders aren’t reality TV stars.

Since his entire argument is based on the TV programs he watches, the author doesn’t understand what self-reliance means to those of us who aren’t reality television stars.

It means:

  • We provide a lot of our own food because we prefer to know where it comes from.
  • We raise our own meat because we object to the way factory-farmed animals are treated.
  • We use our own sources of power because maybe we’re green at heart or maybe we just prefer not to be tied into the “smart” grid.
  • We learn to make our own products for cleaning, bathing, and making life pleasant because we don’t want to bring chemical toxins into our homes.
  • We’d rather skip the middle man and spend our time actually making the things that most people work for hours to purchase from someone else who made them.
  • We are far less likely to spend time at the doctor’s office because a) we aren’t huge fans of pharmaceuticals, b) we can take care of small things ourselves, and c) our healthier lifestyle means we tend to be less likely to be ill. (Although this isn’t always the case – even self-reliant homesteaders can get sick. And when we do, we use our insurance or we pay for it with savings. Just like everyone else.)
  • We don’t need as much money because we just don’t need as much stuff.

But to someone who buys all of their food and other goods from the store and gets all of their medicine from the pharmacy, it can be difficult to understand the satisfaction that comes from evading those places.

But, safety…

Of course, if self-reliant homesteaders pass all of the Forbes columnist’s other tests, he can still dismiss their achievements by going full-blown statist.

Yet even if one refuses help and care, however, they still benefit from the modern civil society thanks to the private property protections, rule of law, and military that provide them with safety and security.

Many off-the-grid folks like to fantasize that their personal fire arms collection and self-defense skills are actually why they are safe. But how far would this take them in a society without the rule of law, an effective government, and law enforcement? The homesteader who is confident their security is in their own hands should go live off-the-grid in Syria and find out how far self-protection takes them.

And it’s not just police and a military that keep homesteaders safe. It’s also widespread prosperity. In the developed world, a basic education is available to all, and most people who want a job can find one. Living in a prosperous, modern economy means that homesteaders can take a good bit of their own safety from violence for granted and roving bandits are not likely to take their homes from them.

So, by the mere fact of our existence in this country, according to Ozimek, none of us are self-reliant. It boggles the mind that this fellow successfully wrote and defended a doctoral thesis.

This is how reliant people justify their reliance.

I guess what it boils down to is that this is what helps Ozimek and people like him justify living their lives without any practical skills. If things did go sideways in a long-term kind of way, who is going to be better off: a person who can claim a Ph.D. in economics or someone who can actually produce food?

The fact is, the less we require from society, the less power that society has over us. Our lifestyles give us some distance from the hustle and the bustle. We don’t have to make as much money because we don’t live in the consumer matrix that engulfs so much of society. We are content to live simply instead of hustling from one non-productive activity to another.

Most of us don’t eschew all the benefits of living in a modern society. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Having a corporate job doesn’t preclude growing your own tomatoes any more than having a herd of goats precludes having health insurance.

There is a joy in making a meal that came entirely from your own backyard that these people will never get to experience, and having spent many years in the corporate world, I can tell you which provides the most satisfaction for me.

In this society where nearly everyone is digitally connected 24 hours a day, it’s nice to step away from all that and break the addiction to constant stimulation. It’s nice to not always be trading the hours in your day for the things that someone else made while you were working on something that, if we’re being honest, is kind of pointless in the grand scheme of survival.

If Dr. Ozimek wants to talk about delusions and superiority, he could find all the inspiration he needs by taking a look in the mirror.

Hat tip to The Survival Mom

Please feel free to share any information from this site in part or in full, leaving all links intact, giving credit to the author and including a link to this website and the following bio. Daisy is a coffee-swigging, gun-toting, homeschooling blogger who writes about current events, preparedness, frugality, and the pursuit of liberty on her websites, The Organic Prepper, where this article first appeared, and She is the author of 4 books and the co-founder of Preppers University, where she teaches intensive preparedness courses in a live online classroom setting. You can follow her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.

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23 Comments on "Forbes Says Self-Reliant Homesteaders Are “Delusional” and “Mooching” Off “Civil Society”"

  1. Rev. Walking Turtle | July 31, 2017 at 11:39 am | Reply

    “Some people are producers and other people are consumers.”

    And then there are the Professors, such as this (doubtless egregiously well-paid) Forbes Fellow, who rely merely on the public perception of their superior position and claims of knowledge, deriving a degree of authority therefrom to, oh, just Do Whatever.

    And get away with it, No Matter What.

    Attaining such a vaunted, prestigious position is the widespread American Ambition, now ain’t it just? Are not all manner of College Educations sold on such a basis as this? From such an unassailable vantage point, post-graduation, the Favored One can propagate kinderscheiss bullshugganah with impunity and NO loss of salary – at least until a well-armed and sensible Elsie the Goy Cow comes home.

    Which is more or less when the chickens come home to roost as well. So check this well-animated Demonstration of Concept out:

    And that is all. 0{;-)o[

  2. L. A. McDonough | July 31, 2017 at 12:38 pm | Reply

    I’m a city gal, born in Seattle, lived in other cities, now retired in a med. size one in the S.E. and convienent to stores, getting anything I want, etc. Wide choice of grocery stores, etc. A medical hub in this town also. I can’t understand why especially older people would want to live in the sticks away from medical care and work constantly every waking hour, yet living in squalor and bit by bugs day and night, like in a third world country, many without a partner.

    • Douglas Lloyd Anderson | July 31, 2017 at 2:50 pm | Reply

      Yer also BRAINDEAD !
      I guess you didn’t bother to read the article , or you wouldn’t have made those remarks.
      U must be an millennial snowflake.

      • L. A. McDonough | August 1, 2017 at 5:44 pm | Reply

        Douglas and Shabby F.: I am a retiree, not a sorry millennial jerk. These older people like Colbert living in the swamp had lots of money and fancy home and threw it all away, family and marriage, to live in squalor. Maybe he is close to a city with all the perks, but at his age, he could get a sudden medical condition, (which I see happens in town in my area) and no way to call for help unless he has a cell phone which I doubt w/. no electricity. I am using logic, apparently some of you on this blog don’t, according to your comments. Older people seeing their peers needing medical care suddenly know this or an accident /fall for example. I can see a weekend retreat for fun, but these folks are not facing reality in the 21st century. No one stays young forever. Yard work in town is physical exercise which most get mowing lawns, etc. Biking and walking also.

        • Bill the eighth | August 2, 2017 at 3:39 pm | Reply

          Who the hell are you to tell anyone how they must live their life? What business is it of yours? As was stated in the article, these folks pay taxes, have to pay for certain items, so they either have money or they make money during the year. Maybe not as much as it takes to keep you in your life of luxury, but they don’t care. So, you can GFY.

    • Shabby Farmer #1 | July 31, 2017 at 6:29 pm | Reply

      You neglect to consider the obligations that living “in the sticks” brings with it, which include increased physical activity (i.e., exercise), increased mental activity (i.e., memorization of tasks, keeping track of inventory of feed, etc.), and generally a less sedentary lifestyle. Many rural folks also have stronger community relationships which form the basis for qualitative social interactions. Have I missed something, or does this all seems to make for greater longevity on God’s green Earth?

      • Yes Shabby not only that but in many cases (like mine,) to build an economical lifestyle that makes being debt free and inflation resistant a real priority. Would LOVE to see how these social urbanites would function in the face inflation where everything costs 2 or 3 times what it costs now.

        Venezuela is giving us a reminder of inflation as we speak.

    • I am “elderly” – over 80 and I live “in the sticks”. Whenever I have to go into town, I can’t wait to get the hell out. Traffic, smog, loud noise, etc. are all things I say no thanks to. I grow most of my own food and raise chickens and pigs. There is NOTHING I WANT IN THE CITY. As far as medical care?

      Well I can tell you this – that working constantly every waking hour as you phrase it is what keeps me healthy. I rarely sit for long periods of time – too much to do. As far as living in squalor – who said anything about that? You think people who live in the country all live in beat up trailers with no bathrooms? lol

  3. It is as dumb to pay attention to dumbness.

  4. “Ozimek is an associate director and senior economist in the West Chester office of Moody’s Analytics”

    In other words, Ozimek hasn’t created a single tangible or useful thing since (perhaps) he made a burger at his first job when he was 16.

  5. Garry Compton | August 1, 2017 at 2:20 am | Reply

    I homesteaded 50 miles from the nearest road in Alaska starting in the 80s. It was so remote you had to fly or be very good on a snowmachine to come see me. It was beautiful and right up against Denali Preserve. The biggest problem was government BS. From taxing me to wanting permits for this and that, to police helicopters landing on my strip asking to see my hunting, trapping, fishing license. These forbes guys and most people have no idea what true homesteading is all about. Lived in the Bush for 30 years until one day I flew into town and met up with the liein, thieving Police state and their Kangaroo courts. – I gave everything away – and moved to Crimea – long story there too.

  6. I would’ve expected this article from the NYTimes not Forbes.

  7. It’s called a codependent relationship when ‘civil society’ and ‘homesteaders’ decide to pick sides against each other.

    The truth is we are united and serve as a check and balance to each other, when civil society becomes too greedy the homesteaders bring them back to basics.

    When homesteaders become too basic civil society brings them back to a complicated world that wants to go to the moon, and defend itself from natural or man made destruction.

  8. Patrick Wise | August 1, 2017 at 7:14 am | Reply

    There is nothing civil about society.

  9. The true and actual moochers on society are the politicians, corporate officers, staff and employees, whose wealth originated not in their own personal industry, but from moving in on independent farmers and indigenous peoples who have lived upon their lands, self-sufficiently, for generations, but who were “relocated” in order to make room for mass industrial farming, mining, oil excavation, etc, rendering them poor and helpless and in need of public assistance. The wealthy ones who complain that the poor are “parasites” are themselves parasites, living off the taxes paid by people who can barely afford them, while their corporate managers and “elected” officials receive all their sustenance from those taxes, while utilizing laws that were made from the efforts of their own lobbyists to avoid paying any taxes themselves.

    Current case in point: John McCain receiving the most premium medical care available, financed by the people who can’t afford such care themselves.
    The moochers are in charge, and WE are supporting THEM!

  10. And Forbes is mooching off the govt so it looks like this is a draw with the homeschooler’s in the forefront of self-reliability and knowledge learned AND put to good use. Unlike left leaning Forbes.

  11. My family and I are becoming more self reliant, moved out of town and will eventually start my work on the farm. Cities have no destiny for me they are not to my liking.

  12. A great example of projecting your psychological issues onto someone else. It is the writer of the article who is “delusional” and is “mooching”.

  13. the “civilized” society that wants to enslave people while claiming moral superiority…great…

  14. political toilet | August 4, 2017 at 6:37 pm | Reply

    Forbes writers, BoD, etc. would probably be the first ones to rob, pilfer and pillage such a homestead in the event of war or societal collapse, just as their Fortune 1000 and Wall Street weenies would do once they got out of the major cities…

  15. It’s Forbes – not surprising.

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