Posts Tagged ‘economy’

Doomsday Preppers: Bret and Shane Maggio

The other half of this episode is spent with Bret and Shane Maggio of Fruitland, Utah:
© NatGeo/Sharp EntertainmentThey’re supposedly preparing for a “collapse of the US economy that will lead to a lawless society”, at which point one of the guys points a pistol at the camera, with his finger on the trigger.
Bad form, sir. Remember, folks:
the four rules of gun safety(Also, this is exactly the kind of macho, guns-as-macho-posturing-accessory bullshit I was talking about last week.)

Since pretty much their entire profile is spent in pointless-diversion-land, I’m gonna focus more on what they say than on what they do, and try to unpack their comments.

To begin: people around the world get by just fine (likely better than Us, in fact) living in what folks of Our Culture would consider ‘lawless society’. Just because there are no Hammurabi-style stone tablets (‘laws’) telling citizens ‘Thou Shalt Not __ for Fear of Retribution From the State-sanctioned Brutes Allowed to Use Violence to Strip You of Your Rights/Property/Life (‘police’)’, doesn’t mean that these societies were/are bloodbaths, with people running about willy-nilly raping and killing each other on a whim. Unlike civilized/statutory law, groups with functioning tribal laws are aware that people are going to misbehave. Instead of having a group of top-of-the-pyramid, above-the-law elites telling citizens the things they aren’t allowed to do (knowing full well that they will do them anyway) and then punishing them, tribal laws focus more on group decisions to decide consequences for actions on an individual basis.

Sidebar: take a minute to notice how violence in pyramid societies always flows downwards—you never hear about about police hassling Congressman, but they sure do love to bust heads when it comes to the ‘homeless’—but when violence is directed upwards, they call it revolt and rebellion. Hey kids: think about defying gravity.

“When the dollar loses its value, the government isn’t getting paid; systems collapse! Imagine turning on the faucet, but there’s no water; going to the grocery store but there’s no food on the shelves. These systems could collapse at any time, leaving people no choice but to fight for survival!”
Yeah, guys, these systems could collapse at any time (because we continue to increase their complexity and therefore their inherent fragility), but if people took proper steps before said collapse (organize, localize, communitize), they wouldn’t have to fight for survival.
Also, the system that allows for city water in the desert and Just-In-Time resupplied grocery stores is a fundamentally unsustainable one powered by ancient sunlight, a blip on the long timeline. The only smart thing to do would be to consider ways of living outside that matrix of control, or better yet, make it obsolete!

Next comment: in their collapse scenario, “Nobody’s going to be able to be governed.”
WAIT, WHAT? I’m pretty sure this means ‘The government won’t be able to govern its citizens!’, or, more accurately, ‘The top-of-the-pyramid elites will have lost their grasp on the systems used to exert control over the rest of the pyramid’.
C’mon, what would be so bad about that? You’d think such a scenario would be fully embraced by an open-minded citizenry of ‘freedom enthusiasts’, because I don’t think any sane person really wants to be governed—but then again, we live in a culture that’s been drilling into our heads the meme that we should want to be governed for the last 5,000 years, so sane people are a rare commodity.

They conclude their talk-to-the-camera portion by admonishing “If you don’t have a plan to get out of civilization and get to a bug-out location, you’ll be caught up in the mess!” Hey, for once, we are in agreement!: getting out of civilization is the only way to ensure one’s survival.
endangered-species
So why are these guys not taking their own advice (we’re told they live in the ’burbs and have corporate jobs, which would suggest they’re entrenched in the very System that makes their collapse all but inevitable)? I guess when they said ‘get out of civilization’ they just meant ‘get out of the city’, not ‘get out of the entire life-destroying Matrix’. Ugh. Hey, don’t expect things to change if you can’t see the bars of your cage.

We’re told that their family has ‘been preppers’ for 40 years, going all the way back to their grandma. They say that their “family has a preparedness mindset”…yeah, guys, because you’re Mormons; it’s a tenet to have years and years of stuff stored up, so that the members of your made-up cult will outlive the other made-up cults.
‘Show-off preps’ time: food stored, water and filter, and 5,000 gallons fuel, “so that when doomsday comes, we’ll have all the comforts of home for several years.”
Hey guys, you do realize that all those comforts of home are part and parcel of that civilization you said to get out of, right? If the aim of your post-disaster living is just to prolong and perpetuate the unsustainable pre-disaster lifestyle of comfort and convenience…well, you’re just setting yourself to fail. Again.

Anyway, the guys think that all their preps “will make them a target”. Well, yeah, now, because they’ve broadcast the details to the world. If they actually downscaled and lived quietly off the grid, who would know? Of course, that would make for ‘boring’ (read: possibly educational) TV, so they decide to build themselves a ridgetop ‘sniper tower’ (with zipline)!

Man, one thing’s for sure, watching this show has really strengthened my ability to read between the lines. I would guess what we’re really seeing here are a couple of city slickers building a zipline tower for the kids to play on when the family gets together at grandma’s house, calling it a ‘sniper tower’ to get it on TV and/or have NatGeo pay for it, and bringing in a prior serviceman to complete the illusion.

So Bret and Shane get their vet sniper to come in, take some long-distance shots, and give the project his seal of approval. We then waste some time watching kids work harder-not-smarter dragging materials up the hill. There’s a discouraging moment when one of the guys’ younger cousins observes, “Prepping seems like a lot of hard work: you have to buy a lot of stuff and build a lot of stuff!” Well, yeah, if you’re going off what we’re shown on DP, or if your goal is to continue living within the System and become a capital-P, self-identified Prepper.
On the other hand, rewilding/unlearning/unbranding, enlightening oneself on big-picture issues (learn to recognize root causes!), building community, and increasing one’s self-reliance are often extremely cheap, if not gratis (and pay off way more!).

Once they get the ‘tower’ built, they string a cable down to a tree at the bottom of the hill—allegedly a quick-escape zipline. As a ‘professional zipliner’ (I am literally paid to fly through the trees), this is an area in which I have extensive experience.
Now, on my outfit’s 440-feet-long, 30-feet-of-drop zipline, most folks hit speeds in the mid-twenties (mph). And yet, simple trigonometry tells me that our line has a downward angle of only 3.9 degrees. Compare this to the Maggio’s homemade cable, which we’re told is 250 horizontal feet, with a vertical drop of 70 feet; this works out to a downward angle of around sixteen degrees! And yet, when they send a couple of sand-filled tires (to approximate someone’s weight) down the line, the guys act totally surprised that they come in like a meteor and plow into a tree! Well, duh! Those tires were probably pushing 60!
Also, for the record, I’d really recommend using a proper harness (bonus tactical points!) and a double trolley (Petzl makes good ones).

Once their platform built is finally built, they bust out the black guns and execute some watermelons to prove they can…but only at like, 150 yards. What gives? I thought the point of the tower was to be able to hit trespassers at their property line 400 yards away?
And then they explain how if they can’t eliminate an intruder from the tower, then they’ll go down on the zipline and fight at ground level? Dudes, just stick with the high ground.

At the end, the experts say their tower is ‘not effective from a military standpoint’, probably because a ridgetop is a terrible place for ‘sniping’ (silhouettes against the sky and all that). Whew, good thing we’re talking a family fun tower, and not actual military!

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Doomsday Preppers: Greg

© NatGeo/Sharp Entertainment
Our other prepper in this episode is Greg (no last name, though this is his website, and youtube channel)
Greg lives in the ‘burbs south of Nashville with a wife, daughter, and son. His prevailing worry is for an “economic collapse and the chaos that will follow”.
He goes on to recite the usual mantra about how after a collapse, money will be worthless and one’s savings account will just be numbers on paper. However, what he (or anybody else, for that matter) doesn’t seem to realize is that said money is already inherently worthless—everyone just treats it as valuable because everybody else still goes along with it. ‘Money’ is weird that way.

He shows off his preps in the ’burbs home—rain barrels, eight months of food, a garden, and rabbits. Not bad! Plus, we see that most of that stored food is home-canned, which is even better.
In addition to the house in the ’burbs, he also has a 30-acre property at an undisclosed rural location.

On this property Greg wants to build an innovative shelter for his family—instead of bugging out when things look rough, he wants to bug up. Apparently, Greg has had this idea for an ‘invisible treehouse’ for a while, and the producers thought it was so crazy they helped him make it happen. And so the majority of the segment is spent building this mirrored-box-on-stilts in the woods. Basically, it’s based around the idea of ‘adaptive camouflage’ so that it will always reflect its surroundings, which is handy for changing seasons. Of course, if you go out at night with a flashlight it’d be seen a mile away.
Semantically, I’m not even sure they should be calling it a ‘treehouse’—which in my mind, should involve being built in/on/around an actual tree. This thing is more of a ‘high hide among trees’. Whatever.
© NatGeo/Sharp Entertainment
In the larger scheme of things, however, this ‘treehouse’ really just takes the place of other preppers’ underground backyard bunkers, in that they speak of escaping to them without a real plan in mind. Sure, you might stash some foodbuckets in your shelter, but to what end? How long do you expect to be staying there? How are you going to occupy your time while you’re there? These things deserve serious consideration.
Anyway, since Greg’s hypothetical scenario involves his family holing up in the ‘treehouse’, while—like the previous subject—he remains their sole protector (get them involved), he digs a little ‘spider hole’ nearby to help him get the drop on any intruders. Hey, at least his little periscope is pretty neat.

Oh, and in the interest of drama, Greg’s wife is scared of heights and so is unwilling to climb the rope ladder into the treehouse? His solution is to screw a board behind it so that the climber doesn’t swing while climbing; however this addition kind of negates the whole camouflaged point of the structure. Meh; whatever.

Doomsday Preppers: Curt S.

This episode only spends time on one other person, ‘Curt S.’ of Somewhere in Oregon.

His artificial, single motivating fear is yet another ‘economic collapse’. While we’re just one episode in, I have a feeling that lone issue will continue to dominate the fears of those profiled on the show, just as it did last season (in which fully 50% described their fear of ‘economic collapse’, while none ever suggested that they understood why such a collapse is historically inevitable. It’s simple sustainability, folks).

In his mandatory talk-to-the-camera soundbite, Curt explains how “Government has been infiltrated by corporations, banks, financial institutions, labor unions, and special interests.” Alright now, ♪one of these things is not like the other ones!♪  Can you spot it? If you picked Labor Unions, you’re right! I’m not sure where this guy stands on the US&A two-party-political spectrum (I’m guessing it’s somewhere in the vicinity of Tea Party), but what’s wrong with labor unions? I pick up that they’ve got a reputation for taking mandatory breaks (“laziness”), but when the alternative is to treat workers like expendable cogs—as our prevailing production economy is designed to do—unions are about the only ones doing the right thing and treating workers like actual humans (or at least giving them the best possible treatment, given the work-or-starve coercion inherent in a civilized production economy).
There’s also a timely bit where he describes how there will be “very little commerce happening in America when the debt is due and the government shuts down!” Haha, how about that?! Of course, our most recent partial shutdown ended by kicking the debt-can down the road another six months, so we’ll likely have to go through the whole compounding Mess all over again soon enough. Also, he’s clearly operating under a civilized, limited concept of ‘commerce’. Believe me, folks on this continent were shipping useful stuff all over the place sans central government long before Whitey showed up.

Anyway, Curt’s family live on 80 acres of high desert, which it seems they’re eventually working towards making more self-sufficient and off-grid. Towards this goal, they’ve “built” a two-million-gallon lake (water supply), hooked up a 2400-watt pv solar array, and set up a 3,000-square-foot greenhouse (or at least, they’ve erected the framework). And then Curt proudly proclaims that he has thirty bug-out vehicles. Wait, what? I really hope he’s a mechanic or something. I can understand the need for redundancy, but seriously: a man, woman, and two children do not necessitate having that many vehicles. Do they even have the precious Juice to run them all? I doubt it.

And to defend the compound, he boasts of owning 30 firearms and 20,000 rounds of ammunition. Dude, it’s too late, but next time you have the opportunity to broadcast the details of your arsenal to the whole world, take a deep breath…and then, don’t.

He takes the kids out back and they all do some offhand plinking. While there’s some initial anxiety (inherent in getting a nine-year-old girl to shoot a large-caliber rifle (SKS love!)), at least he doesn’t frame it all obnoxious and tactical, and drill the idea that they’re ‘gonna hafta shoot marauders one day’ into the poor girl’s head—it’s simply good skill practice in the backyard.

Curt is apparently very proud of his family compound’s isolation out in the sticks—he considers “not being near anybody one of your greatest defenses”—yeah, if you’re a deluded lone-wolf. If you were part of a community of self-reliant-but-connected (y’know, in the interest of ‘commerce’) families, that isolation would be a major weakness.

There’s a section where he gets a welding buddy to help him make a steel shield to block off the stairs inside their house. Note to producers: you lost an opportunity for more ratings—you could’ve shot at it first! And while we’re not sure how they plan to implement said shield (complete with peepholes and shotgun port), Curt spells out the reasoning behind it loud and clear—to keep people from “getting into my home and taking my Stuff!

Naturally, since we live in a Juice-guzzling, automobile-fetishizing culture and this show loves to pander to the lowest common denominator, a big chunk of this segment is concerned with souping up Curt’s old Bronco into a homemade tank “to survive doomsday roads”. I don’t get it—if everyone else is out of gas, who do they think they’ll have to outrun?

Anyway, they add a couple tons of steel plates, pipes, and a cowcatcher—so I think we can safely assume the vehicle’s fuel economy is now measured in gallons per mile?
Once the rig is finished, they just have to test it out, so they decide to replicate a typical driving situation in their hypothetical doomsday, by making a ‘roadblock’ (pile of burning shipping pallets). The armored truck easily plows through, kicks up some sparks, and everybody hoots and hollers and congratulates each other like they just landed a man on the moon or something. Boys with their toys…
Oh, and there’s another source of drama while all this car-modifying is going on—there’s a forest fire! Everybody freaks out (because I guess they didn’t factor local natural disasters into their plans), and piles into trucks and bugs out. But the fire department gets it under control and they promptly turn around and get back to welding. For future reference, if you’re in an area at risk for large fires, perhaps consider building your survival home from a fire-resistant material (I recommend cob); additionally, think about integrating fire-breaks into your compound’s design (hopefully stopping a fire in its tracks, or else letting it pass by with minimal damage).
Which brings me to woodlands, our country’s management of them…and the application via analogy of one to the other.
When I read articles on the effects of climate change, there’s always a mention of ‘increased likelihood of major forest fires’. Usually the author suggests such fires will result from severe droughts, but as long as we’re talking anthropogenic environmental damage, why does nobody ever bring up Smokey Bear? But what could possibly be wrong with that beloved pants-wearing, shovel-wielding ursine USFS propaganda-mouthpiece, you might ask? Simply this: the success of Smokey’s staunch anti-forest/wild-fire campaign (and Disney’s Bambi, for that matter) has resulted not in healthier forests, but in the conversion of woodlands (especially those Out West) into massive tinderboxes, by successfully applying a human moral code to natural processes, labeling forest fires as ‘bad’, and teaching impressionable younglings that they are to be prevented at all costs. In truth, these ecosystems evolved to rely on periodic burningsto remove undergrowth, enrich soil, and actually ‘activate’ certain kinds of coniferous seeds. By preventing regular burning (itself a key element in the economies and livelihoods of many successful, sustainable indigenous American cultures) from taking place, the Smokey campaign allowed scrub, undergrowth, and dead trees (a.k.a. FUEL) to build up, waiting for lightning or a clueless hiker to ignite it. The addition of climate-change-amplified drought and increased wind patterns into the equation simply means that the inevitable firestorms will be all that more intense.

Ready for the fun part? May I direct you to Chris Hedge’s latest missive, cleverly pointing out that the American/Corporatcrat system (although his position is completely applicable to the larger Western/Capitalist/Civilized matrix) currently takes the form of an unburned tinderbox. And like the woodlands of pre-Contact America, periodic burnings are required to ensure the health of the forest. The only question that remains is this: where will the spark come from?

Doomsday Preppers: Grace McLeod

The episode (and the mini-season??) concludes with Grace McLeod, of North Carolina.
© NatGeo/Sharp Entertainment
She and her husband Craig claim to be preparing for an “economic collapse, resulting in food shortages and unwelcome visitors.”
Grace is a former police who left Florida for NC, which—let’s face it—is really a no-brainer.
However, it seems that Grace is so special that she has a one-on-one direct line to ‘The Lord’, who apparently directs her every move and decision. Yeesh.  Of course, that kind of talk is pretty much required when you run your own ‘ministry’.

Anyway, it’s revealed that she and her husband have a unique, custon-designed survival fortress. While our narrator informs us that they “didn’t choose a typical retreat”, its location (on top of a 3,000-foot mountain, miles away from the nearest road) sure sounds like an ideal prepper hillfort to me.
The house is 3,500 square feet, and while the parts we see look like concrete, it’s not entirely unattractive—clearly it was designed and built all together, not piecemeal over a long period. Additionally, it includes a one-ton welded steel raise-able staircase (‘drawbridge’), and second-floor-only windows, meaning it could potentially function a lot like an actual castle—are you taking notes, Brent Doomsday ‘Castle’ Senior?

For additional storage, the couple have two shipping containers buried in a nearby hillside. Unfortunately, they haven’t exactly been camouflaged yet, so they’re pretty obvious.
To help them with their defensive measures, Grace invites some PMC ‘security consultant’ guys to take a look around and give some tips. They suggest using trail cameras for the outer perimeter, adding additional locks to interior doors, and a neat trick to buy more time should the house be breached: In the room most likely to be an intruder’s route into the house, they rig up a big-ass spotlight with a motion sensor directly opposite the door; when the door is opened, the intruder gets hit with about a million candlepower beam, which is quite enough to blind you for a good while, especially if it’s in a dark room. Nice to see practical applications like that.

The experts give Grace 69 points, for a year’s initial survival time. Now they just need to start up a raised-bed garden, and not rely on a shipping container’s worth of hoarded foodbuckets.

Honestly, aside from Grace’s annoying habit of chalking everything up to The Lord (where’s your sense of personal agency, woman?!) and lack of gardening, I’d say they have a pretty good setup.

Doomsday Preppers: Moffatt Family

Up next we have a profile of Brian and Sheila Moffatt, of Arizona:

© NatGeo/Sharp Entertainment
They’re supposedly using their 15-acre plot as a ‘doomsday academy’ for their—wait for it!—seven children (with one on the way, of course). From what we’re shown, this amounts to training in a variety of activities one would associate not with disaster or lost-in-the-woods survival, but with being able to ‘take out’ as many hungry ‘fugees/marauders as possible, because surprise surprise – like everyone else, they’re preparing for economic collapse!

We open with a long lingering shot of a biblical quote pinned to the wall—something designed to instill unthinking obedience to one’s parents or something. Ugh, I knew it! Seriously, anytime I hear about or see a family with any more than three or maybe four offspring (who always seem to be creepily indistinguishable), I immediately have to ask myself which evang/fundie snakehandling sect they’re a part of.
Oh, and they homeschool the kids, too. Again, what a surprise!

So…Brian starts us out with the mandatory prepping-rationale soundbite, declaring how “the rate of inflation is absolutely unsustainable!” Yeah, dude, that’s called the end-result of six thousand years of Our culture’s compounding inherent unsustainability coming to bite us in the ass. Maybe prices keep going up because Our culture is built on a foundation of infinite growth on (what we don’t want to admit is) a finite planet, and we’re starting to hit walls as we exhaust the nonrenewable resources we’ve come to rely on to continue prolonging our little experiment?

Brian continues with some blahblah, “…people can’t put food on the table!”
Rhetorical question: has anyone ever stopped to think why people can’t put food on the table?
If (as I assume) he really means, ‘People can’t buy food at the grocery store anymore!’, could that maybe be because Our culture has come to equate ‘putting food on the table’ with ‘being an obedient cog extorted into exchanging one-third of his day in exchange for fiat pieces of green paper’?, all while the so-called ‘value’ of those green pieces of paper continues to drop? What’s the real problem here? Do we want to deal with the symptoms, or the causes?
“You say it’s money that we need/As if we were only mouths to feed”

Anyway…on to the ‘academy’ curriculum. They start the day with some full-contact pummeling (aka Krav maga), and then move onto teaching ‘camouflage’ with stock green ghillie suits. Yet another handy caption reads: ‘The US Army advises adding natural vegetation to suit to blend in locally.’ Moffatts, you live in a scrubby desert – take a tip.
Then there’s a big section where they have shooting practice, at least for the ones over ten years old. I’m sure folks are meant to be shocked about younglings armed with semi-autos, but aside from the obnoxious ‘DOUBLE-TAP IN THE HEAD!!!’ tacti-talk, I didn’t see anything that jumped out at me. I mean, they did at least cover three of the Four Rules of Gun Safety! Thumbs up!
the four rules of gun safety
However, the only thing that seemed off to me was Brian’s comment that ‘shooting skills are only to be used in a worst-case scenario’. So, he’s pretty much telling his progeny that the guns are only to come out to shoot people in a crisis? Not that shooting is simply a valuable skill, or a powerful mental/physical exercise, or a way to humanely harvest game? Mixed signals, much?

Then they do a ‘dad-is-away-from-home’ invasion drill, one of the older daughters gets all shouty and take-charge-y; whatever. I did like the low-tech perimeter alert system made of tin cans!

And to wrap it all up with a bow, Brian says something about how despite all his preparations for collapse, he really just hopes that at the end of the day, everyone can just have food in their bellies so “that we can all have more children!” OH, COME ON! REALLY??! You’re worried about the System collapsing, but you continue to procreate like it’s going outta style?! What the fuck do you think is causing the System to collapse?!?!
Brian, man: barring outside help from an external entity like a comet or whatever, when this little civilizational experiment collapses (just like they’ve all done), history has shown it will ultimately trace its roots to a single Mesopotamian tribe whose top-of-the-pyramid rulers—infatuated with backbreakingly-created agricultural surplii (and mad with the power it allowed them to wield)—began telling a myth of unlimited growth (so long as there was some other tribe next door whose lands they could take), individual competition, the virtues of patriarchy and militarism, a labor-divided production economy, the ‘middle class’, and the wickedness of ‘human nature’ (manifested symptoms which are actually just the result of living in such an abhorrent system), &c., the list goes on and on…
We’ve all inherited this culture’s legacy, and while some of us are trying to do something about it, the Moffats continue to embrace it with all their hearts.

Very surprisingly, the experts give the family only 67 points for ten months’ time.

And as usual, the closing blurb ‘The Odds’ says that the USA could never fail (because that would mean we’ve been wrong!)! Thanks, status quo media mouthpiece!

Doomsday Preppers: Suzanne Strisower

This episode wraps up with a visit to the California homestead of Suzanne Strisower (on the right:).
© NatGeo/Sharp EntertaimentAccording to her blurb on NatGeo’s page, she “and her life partner Dave (on the left^) are both psychics. She was led to her hilltop home several years ago by her spirit guide.” Man, I’m infinitely thankful that they somehow managed to not touch on this angle at all in the segment—talk about dodging a bullet! (I don’t really have anything against New Age-y types, but I can only tolerate them in extremely small doses).
As it turns out, Suzanne is another one of these folks using her appearance on the show to pimp whatever she’s selling, which in her case is ‘spiritual life coaching’ with runes/crystals/energy-work/past-lives/astral projections/other such that-sort-of-thing. Honestly, if her page used Papyrus font, I would’ve had to punch something.

Anyway, Suzanne maintains a 30-acre plot near the Sierra Nevada mountains, which she is slowly turning into a complete self-sufficient homestead. As the show insists on pigeonholing her as a true prepper, she asserts that she’s getting ready for—surprise!—economic collapse.

However, as she explains, she’s definitely a ‘lifestyle prepper’ instead of a doomsday prepper—meaning that she’s ‘prepared’ only due to the simple fact that an off-grid lifestyle is naturally more self-reliant and therefore less affected by those potential shocks to the System that cause doomsday preppers to lose so much sleep.

In her obligatory declaration of evidence, she explains “The U.S. is doing things that are unsustainable for itself…”
Honey, I got news for ya—it’s not that the U.S. is doing unsustainable things: it’s that the U.S. as we know it is fundamentally unsustainable. And it’s not just us, it’s Our Culture’s entire six-thousand-year-old history of Empire which we’ve inherited and blindly continue to carry on. Read a book, wake up, recognize the bars of your cage, and do something about it.

So…as part of her continuing efforts to maintain self-sufficiency, Suzanne places a big focus on bartering. And why shouldn’t she?—her land supports fruit trees, nut trees, chickens, goats (dairy), and llamas (wool)—she’s got plenty of high-value goods.
After doing some bartering for bulk grains with a neighbor, she takes a trip to the local recycling center and does some more bartering with the gentlemen there. I was kind of surprised at how it played out—usually on the show when someone goes a-bartering, they edit it to make them look all kooky and like it’s so out-there to trade goods instead of pieces of green paper. But not this time—the guys haggle a bit and then go along with it. Suzanne winds up with a junked refrigerator, which is going to be turned into an industrial-sized food dehydrator? Awesome! As an avid dehydrator advocate, I’m really curious to see how that works. Surprisingly, they bring back the post-filming update segment (remember those??) so Suzanne can show off her repurposed-‘fridge-dehydrator. Looks like they just took the top off to let sun in, and put food on screen shelves, which seems like it would actually work pretty well. Thumbs-up.

As you’d expect from someone who wears a giant crystal-thing around her neck, Suzanne is adamantly nonviolent. And as you can imagine, that kind of puts a damper on her efforts to defend her homestead. She goes to the local surplus shop and consults with the guys there. Eventually they decide to hook her up with a paintball gun. I dunno about that. Sure, they sting and leave welts, but is that enough to dissuade hungry marauders? Wouldn’t bear mace or something be more effective?

In her ‘expert’ assessment, she’s given 49 points (four months). The experts’ breakdown—as usual—makes little sense, for example scoring her only thirteen points on water, even though she has over 9,000 gallons stored. Once again, those guys seem unable to accurately assess someone’s preparedness when that approach stems from a completely different worldview from theirs.

Doomsday Preppers: Steve H.

This picture is all you need to understand his survival approach.

The series’ next (or maybe previous—my tivo got messed up) episode (‘Gates of Hell!!!’) opens with a look at yet another posterchild of unsustainable preparedness, ‘Steve H’ of Washington state.

Like everybody else, Steve’s concerned that there’s an “imminent collapse of the US economy”, for which he’s “waiting, watching”, because he “knows what’s gonna happen.” His worst fears will be realized when the guvvmint “comes to take our stuff”, in which case he’ll answer the door with a big ol’ handcannon. Let me know how that works out for ya.

To achieve his preparedness goals, Steve gets the family together to set a weekly family preparedness goal! Like, ‘this week we’re going to hoard twenty cases of canned tomato soup’, and then at the end of the week, they truck the load of soup up to the bugout cabin. There is an interesting bit where Steve shows off an alternative use for a household vacuum sealer—they’re not just good for sealing fish fillets or whatever, they’re also good for sealing up guns! Hmm.

So, in the event of an out-of-the-blue Economic Collapse, Steve intends on bugging out to his family’s little mountainside cabin, 50 miles away. If you ask me, Type I preppers like Steve (with their mongered fear of sudden and unforeseen world-ending disasters) put an awful lot (probably too much) of stock on the assumption that roads will be drivable in an emergency. After the oft-repeated mantra about ‘after three days without food on the supermarket shelf, people go crazy’, I think the commonly-held belief is that all of those crazy people will immediately hop on the interstate in search of Top Ramen and Doritos. So, if you’re worried about such a thing occurring, wouldn’t you want to tailor your disaster plan to avoid such modes of transportation? Here’s an option far too few folks consider—make like a supertramp and ride the rails!
So, Steve’s plan revolves around being able to drive a few miles from the cabin, and then hike in with the family after linking up with two of his son’s wannabe-mercenary friends? Ugh, so much tacticool gear.
During their approach to and arrival at the cabin, they’re constantly tacti-talking about ‘taking out’ any squatters or potential enemies. I have to wonder—if your supersecret isolated mountain retreat can be found and occupied by folks before you get there, perhaps it isn’t hidden enough? Besides, Steve talks as if the worst enemy of all is displaced hungry people. Seriously, the guy has a fourteen-by-fourteen foot concrete bunker he uses exclusively for storing his foodbuckets—if some hungry folks show up at his door, the least he could do is give them a bite to eat. Then again, I’m coming from an uncivilized/tribal approach, in which generosity and cooperation are the foundations of society, and in which letting someone go hungry when you have plenty is the most heinous crime. Steve also says that above all else, he doesn’t want his family to be hungry—but I guess he’s totally fine with other folks starving. And really, if you’re worried about having enough food, where’s the garden? Them foodbuckets ain’t gonna last forever, ya know… And hey, if things do go south for the long-term, if Steve had a big horticulture setup, he could let hungry refugees work his land in exchange for food and shelter— y’know, making him the kind of neofeudal lord I think a lot of these Type I preppers really want to be.

Apparently, Steve’s biggest fear is synchronized attacks by raiders with vehicles? And so (like ya do), he devises yet another big tannerite explosion-for-‘defense’ (although ‘for ratings’ is more like it). This time they put 40 pounds of the stuff in a truck and have a little two-pronged attack simulation (someone shoots TAKES OUT a couple of man-shaped targets while someone else shoots TAKES OUT the truck-bomb. Whoopdy-doo, we’re left with a big crater in the ground…and probably in Steve’s wallet, too.

The experts give them 79 points for 16 months’ worth of ‘initial survival time’. I noted that they gave Steve 16 ‘x-factor’ points, for his ‘construction experience’. Erm, unless his experience is in timberframed strawbale cabins, earthbag domes, yurts, tipis, wigwams, or Pawnee earthlodges, (I’m gonna guess not), that Home Depot-lumberyard-based experience isn’t going to translate very well to the post-cheap-oil world that all these preppers really ought to be prepping for.