Prepping for the Wealthy?

54968295 - man celebrating his wealth

This past month has been full or politics and anger, but has anyone every thought about what they were going to do when everyone is too tired to fight and everything shuts down? Whether it happens tomorrow or 10 years from now, how will you survive?

For over 10 years now, we’ve been openly advocating that folks take action to become more prepared in case of a crisis. And for a long time, this advice relegated us to being labeled “tin-foil hat doomsday preppers”. The media just couldn’t figure out any other box to put us in.

But now, the concept of taking at least some responsibility for your own future well-being by increasing your self-reliance is finally moving towards the mainstream.

In the January 30th, 2017 edition of the New Yorker, reporter Evan Osnos has done an extraordinary job of profiling these wealthy elitists that are “getting ready for the crackup of civilization”.

One American hedge-fund manager who owns two New Zealand homes told Osnos he expected at least a decade of political turmoil in the United States. PayPal co-founder and Facebook investor Peter Thiel also owns property there, and has described New Zealand as “utopia.”

Osnos said it’s unclear exactly how many wealthy Americans are buying property in New Zealand with the apocalypse in mind, while many just want a holiday home there. However, the amount of land they have purchased in the last few years has increased dramatically, he added.

In the article, Steve Huffman, the co-founder, and C.E.O. of Reddit spills the beans on silicon valley’s billionaire preppers. Huffman says that “fifty-plus percent” of his elite Silicon Valley buddies have some form of “apocalypse insurance.”

Well for these elite millionaires and billionaires, Apocalypse Insurance often means a luxury bunker somewhere overseas — primarily in places like New Zealand. Hoffman dishes up the inside scope on New Zealand in the article:

“Saying you’re ‘buying a house in New Zealand’ is kind of a wink, wink, say no more. Once you’ve done the Masonic handshake, they’ll be, like, ‘Oh, you know, I have a broker who sells old ICBM silos, and they’re nuclear-hardened, and they kind of look like they would be interesting to live in.’ ”

According to former Facebook product manager Antonio García Martínez, who was interviewed for the article, Silicon Valley titans are stocking up on guns and ammo. He told Osnos that he “bought five wooded acres on an island in the Pacific Northwest and brought in generators, solar panels, and thousands of rounds of ammunition.”

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who keeps lecturing us on tolerance and how building walls are apparently racist, bought a 700-acre estate on the island of Kauai where he immediately built a wall to block locals from accessing their own public lands.

So why are these billionaires buying survival retreats? Do they know something the rest of us don’t know?

Hoffman estimated that over half of the Silicon Valley insiders were into preparedness – especially since anti-elite sentiment has risen around the globe in recent years. It was intensified by events like Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, he added.

According to the NY article, in the seven days after Trump’s election, 13,401 Americans registered with New Zealand’s immigration authorities, which is the first step toward seeking residency. The number was “more than seventeen times the usual rate.”

Meanwhile, the growing foreign appetite for New Zealand has already generated resentment. The Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa—the Maori name for New Zealand—opposes the sell-out to foreigners, particularly to American survivalists.

Most private citizens expect their government to be prepared for the disaster like this, yet don’t see similarities in practicing that approach to preparing in their own life. In fact, many go so far as to denigrate and even mock their friends and neighbors who do.

And most of us think that it is just common sense to purchase insurance for our homes, our cars, our health, our lives and so many other things, and yet most of the population is completely unprepared for a major crisis.

Perhaps that gap between what’s considered acceptable in a public institution but not in a private home is best explained as abandoning personal responsibility. It happens a lot in our society. Live your life and let the government worry about the scary stuff. They’ll take care of us if something bad happens.

A resilient nation is built from the bottom up, starting with resilient households. Enough of those households creates resilient neighborhoods, and those, in turn, lead to resilient towns and cities. And then counties, and states — you get the point.

So taking steps to be partially self-sufficient in the basics of life – food, warmth, shelter and water – and have useful experience or skills (medicine, fixing things, building, distilling) just makes sense. You don’t have to strive to be completely self-reliant, just position yourself to reduce your lifestyle requirements during times of strife, and to contribute valued support to those you ask for help.

The line between “well stocked” and “stripped bare” is merely a matter of public awareness.  Once people become worried about the possibility of scarcity, their mad scramble to hoard what they can actually create the very scarcity they hold dear. That’s because our system is deliberately run on a just-in-time basis, in order to maximize profit. Excess inventory incurs storage fees; so we “optimize” our supply chains to avoid it. But it begs the question: perhaps the human suffering costs of quickly running out of essentials during an emergency is higher than the dollars saved by keeping inventory levels minimal?

Our fractional reserve banking is structured the same way: it only works if everyone doesn’t show up at the same time demanding to withdraw their money.  If that ever happens, there isn’t nearly enough supply for everyone. Once the illusion is exposed, then people get panicky and start grouping into angry mobs.

Of course, most truly catastrophic events are quite rare. Rather than worry about them, it usually makes sense to simply ignore this and carry on with your life.

We should be hopeful for the future and work for a better tomorrow, but we also need to understand that we live in a world that is becoming increasingly unstable.

Other potential threats to our well-being, however, have much higher probabilities. And yet, most people are quite content to ignore the need to prepare, no matter how high the risks. Few people maintain a deep pantry, which is why the store shelves invariably get stripped as big storm rolls into town. And only a small minority of people living along California’s active fault lines have put together a well-stock earthquake kit.

So unlike these wealthy elitists, let us not be in fear of what is coming. There is no other time in history that I would have rather lived than right here and right now, and I can’t wait to see what comes next.