Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Crisis spurs spike in 'suburban survivalists' -- What? We can't blame the NRA and paranoid gun nuts?

Go here and read liberal heresy. Note two things. First, that these are not your "traditional bitter clingers," hence whatever is panicking them is NOT the NRA. Second, they don't even mention firearms, but you can bet Great Aunt Tizzie's voluminous bra that folks who are buying supplies are, at least some of them, buying firearms too.

In my neck of the woods, these are what we call "newbies."


Crisis spurs spike in 'suburban survivalists'

May 25 12:37 PM US/Eastern


Associated Press Writer

SAN DIEGO (AP) - Six months ago, Jim Wiseman didn't even have a spare nutrition bar in his kitchen cabinet.

Now, the 54-year-old businessman and father of five has a backup generator, a water filter, a grain mill and a 4-foot-tall pile of emergency food tucked in his home in the expensive San Diego suburb of La Jolla.

Wiseman isn't alone. Emergency supply retailers and military surplus stores nationwide have seen business boom in the past few months as an increasing number of Americans spooked by the economy rush to stock up on gear that was once the domain of hardcore survivalists.

These people snapping up everything from water purification tablets to thermal blankets shatter the survivalist stereotype: they are mostly urban professionals with mortgages, SUVs, solid jobs and a twinge of embarrassment about their newfound hobby.

From teachers to real estate agents, these budding emergency gurus say the dismal economy has made them prepare for financial collapse as if it were an oncoming Category 5 hurricane. They worry about rampant inflation, runs on banks, bare grocery shelves and widespread power failures that could make taps run dry.

For Wiseman, a fire protection contractor, that's meant spending roughly $20,000 since September on survival gear—and trying to persuade others to do the same.

"The UPS guy drops things off and he sees my 4-by-8-by-6-foot pile of food and I say 'What are you doing to prepare, buddy?'" he said. "Because there won't be a thing left on any shelf of any supermarket in the country if people's confidence wavers."

The surge in interest in emergency stockpiling has been a bonanza for camping supply companies and military surplus vendors, some of whom report sales spikes of up to 50 percent. These companies usually cater to people preparing for earthquakes or hurricanes, but informal customer surveys now indicate the bump is from first-time shoppers who cite financial, not natural, disaster as their primary concern, they say.

Top sellers include 55-gallon water jugs, waterproof containers, freeze-dried foods, water filters, water purification tablets, glow sticks, lamp oil, thermal blankets, dust masks, first-aid kits and inexpensive tents.

Joe Branin, owner of the online emergency supply store Living Fresh, said he's seen a 700 percent increase in orders for water purification tablets in the past month and a similar increase in orders for sterile water pouches.

He is shipping meals ready to eat and food bars by the case to residential addresses nationwide.

"You're hearing from the people you will always hear from, who will build their own bunkers and stuff," he said. "But then you're hearing from people who usually wouldn't think about this, but now it's in their heads: 'What if something comes to the worst?'"

Online interest in survivalism has increased too. The niche Web site SurvivalBlog.com has seen its page views triple in the past 14 months to nearly 137,000 unique visitors a week. Jim Rawles, a self-described survivalist who runs the site, calls the newcomers "11th hour believers." He charges $100 an hour for phone consulting on emergency preparedness and says that business also has tripled.

"There's so many people who are concerned about the economy that there's a huge interest in preparedness, and it pretty much crosses all lines, social, economic, political and religious," he said. "There's a steep learning curve going on right now."

Art Markman, a cognitive psychologist, said he's not surprised by the reaction to the nation's financial woes—even though it may seem irrational. In an increasingly global and automated society, most people are dependent on strangers and systems they don't understand—and the human brain isn't programmed to work that way.

"We have no real causal understanding of the way our world works at all," said Markman, a professor at the University of Texas, Austin. "When times are good, you trust that things are working, but when times are bad you realize you don't have a clue what you would do if the supermarket didn't have goods on the shelves and that if the banks disappear, you have no idea where your money is."

Those preparing for the worst echo those thoughts and say learning to be self sufficient makes them feel more in control amid mounting uncertainty—even if it seems crazy to their friends and families.

Chris Macera, a 29-year-old IT systems administrator, said he started buying extra food to take advantage of sales after he lost his job and he was rehired elsewhere for $30,000 less.

But Macera, who works in suburban Orange County, said that over several months his mentality began to shift from saving money to preparing for possible financial mayhem. He is motivated, too, by memories of the government paralysis that followed Hurricane Katrina.

He now buys 15 pounds of meat at a time and freezes it, and buys wheat in 50-pound bags, mills it into flour and uses it to bake bread. He checks survivalist Web sites for advice at least once a day and listens to survival podcasts.

"You kind of have to sift through the people with their hats on a little bit too tight," said Macera, who said his colleagues tease him about the grain mill. "But I see a lot of things (on the Web) and they're real common sense-type things."

"I don't want to be a slave to anybody," he said. "The more systems you're dependent on, the more likely things are going to go bad for you."

That's a philosophy shared by Vincent Springer, a newcomer to emergency preparedness from the Chicago area.

Springer, a high school social studies teacher, says he's most worried about energy shortages and an economic breakdown that could paralyze the just-in-time supply chain that grocery stores rely on.

In the past few months, Springer has stockpiled enough freeze-dried food for three months and bought 72-hour emergency supply kits for himself, his wife and two young children. The 39-year-old is also teaching himself to can food.

"I'm not looking for a retreat in northern Idaho or any of that stuff, but I think there's more people like me out there and I think those numbers are growing," he said.


drjim said...

Well, DUH! When I was a kid, we just called it taking care of yourself and your family and being prepared for emergencies.
When TSHTF, you'd better be prepared!

Anonymous said...

You're right. Newbies.
Every half-faithful follower of the Mormon religion have been doing this for years. A little at a time, building up extra against the proverbial "rainy day". Power outages, natural disasters, loss of job, whatever, whenever, wherever. We are taught that there are certain items to store up to be self-sufficient, and everything else is bonus.

B Woodman

Skullz said...

"newbies" also give their names, locations, and discuss their plans and specific preparations with the AP so that other folks know where to go to get food....

Dakota said...

Hey... if these meatheads start hogging all the gear.... how am I gonna get any bargains?

Well I guess maybe they'll have there own food, at least for awhile. One less thing to worry about.

Anonymous said...

When the disaster hits light, followed by a bear-market rally, newbies start putting prep's in the garage sale to fund a trip to Disney World.

How about a 2300 pound 20KW 2-71 dee-troit dee-sell for $300? A 3KW inverter/charge controller by Xantrex for $200? 20 deep cycle 6v batteries for $5 each? Pallets of late MRE's and #10's of freeze dried whatever for a buck each? Is that too much? This stuff just takes up space in the garage and makes my minivan get dirty.

Do you have any hunting/fishing/archery gear for sale?

Had to ask.


Anonymous said...

"He now buys 15 pounds of meat at a time and freezes it..."

So what's he going to do if the electricity goes down, eat it all?

May as well invite the neighbors for a cookout before it all rots.

I'm sure he has a generator, but that runs on fuel, and that'll run out too, unless he's betting that the electricity will come back on in a week or so.

I'm reminded of the Hill Street Blues episode where the officers are talking to a survivalist that lives in NYC. Stockpiled food, gold, and weapons right smack dab in the middle of a city that was guaranteed to take at least one warhead if the balloon went up.

Defender said...

Anonymous, I have to wonder if the Mormon preparedness philosophy and their interest in Biblical-era battle tactics might be the reason uninformed people -- including the bigger churches -- consider them heretics and smear them at every chance, just like the media vs. the militia. If you're not dependent, you're harder to control.

"Lucifer's Hammer" by sci-fi writer Larry Niven is a well-researched novel about an extinction-level comet strike on the Earth, and how the survivors live afterwards. Freeze-DRIED, dried, canned, bottled, sealed stuff becomes precious. Sometimes the sworn nonviolent lose their careful caches to bad people with guns.

"Dies the Fire" by S.M. Sterling portrays a world without electricity or electronics after a cosmic electromagnetic pulse. Knives and swords become very important in some areas of the world, along with skill in using them.
Mr. Prepared in the article needs to learn to make jerky and pemmican. My Indian ancestors would simply hang strips of venison and fish over a fire on a wooden rack. That and some dried berries and you're good to go. The first MREs.

Anonymous said...

"Dies the Fire" by S.M. Sterling portrays a world without electricity or electronics after a cosmic electromagnetic pulse. Knives and swords become very important in some areas of the world, along with skill in using them.

Electronics (silicon devices which are vulnerable to EMP and require the highest tech to produce) are not a requirement for industrial-scale electricity. Edison had city-scale electricity distribution for lighting and motors, powered by steam engines fired by burning fuels. Instead of diodes in the generators he used carbon brushes. If the transformers all melt into puddles, you can re-melt the copper and draw it into wire again, and remake the transformers and motors. A world of coal, cast iron, poor steel, brass, leather, wood, babbitted plain bearings, natural fiber cloth, and plant oils was sufficient to support the industrial revolution. Today I would add aluminum, which is easier to cast at home than iron, and vast knowledge captured in books. I see no reason for technology to fall below the 1900's level even if the worst world-wide solar flare scare story did occur.