Why preparedness? I don’t like to use the term survivalist because it has become freighted with all kinds of negative images such as the armed survivors who actually relished the coming of the end of civilization hunkered down with cases of food and beer waiting to mow down bad guys and refugees alike. I feel that, as husband and father, my obligation to my family through thick and thin includes planning for all probable contingencies. Meticulous planning is a critical component of good luck.
What is the reason to hunker down and prepare for doom and gloom? I have been involved in preparedness since the early eighties during the peak of the Soviet atomic threat to these united States. The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists used to employ a clock that would dictate how close to midnight we were for nuclear apocalypse or "The End of the World as We Know It" (TEOTWAWKI). While I think the organization is filled with lefty scientific illiterates, I still agree that the clock is justifiably closer than at any time since then for a variety of reasons.
I would suggest that nuclear Armageddon is a distant possibility with the interlinking nation-states rising now to challenge Earth’s singular superpower but the more pressing and immediate threat is the planetary alignment of economic catastrophe looming here and concomitantly, abroad. The national debt, enormous government spending, deficit service of the debt, Treasury printing with no adult supervision, regulatory overreach, aggregate tax burdens on all sectors and the looming complex banking crisis all possess precursors that make the Great Depression seem like a subtle economic interruption under RedDR. Y2K may have been an illusion but this a clear and present danger. We are facing an economic abyss from which we cannot shrink or retreat; we are committed to wandering through a valley for which Americans have no contemporary experience nor preparation. The more affluent the nation, the harder the fall and we are heading for a collapse.
I offer the scenarios here with a broad brush but these are simply candidate events and there may very well be dozens or hundreds of other variants looming. Three events will directly affect the American population in concert with an economic meltdown. There will be a grid-up collapse that will be a hyperinflationary environment in which no major services are disrupted but the downturn will lead to massive un(der)employment or dislocation of services. The more severe will be a grid-down scenario that embraces the worst of the latter in a collapse in which basic services will diminish or cease to function at all such as power, water and waste treatment complexes. The last and worst scenario is a nuclear fallout event in which its initiation is independent of or in concert with the first two scenarios. I cannot predict which of these will come to pass nor if they will even become reality. So how will we prepare for these rather anomalous scenarios?
There are three levels of preparation. I would offer the caveat that no matter how prepared you may think you are, you will always discover shortcomings in training and matriel as your plans evolve. The ruralite will have an instant advantage over the urbanite for two reasons — city folk pride themselves on their lack of self-sufficiency and country dwellers are positioned to advantage simply because of where they live. If you have any doubt of this, consider what the big cities will be like after the power has been off for more than three days and the ambient temperatures in refrigerated/freezer containers start to set food to rotting. I discussed guns and training in an earlier essay and will not emphasize that in this one. While I think the firearms battery is a cornerstone, it is simply a component of a larger matrix of skills and materiel that make for a well-rounded survival plan. Remember that you will never exceed your highest level of training.
The beginner will have completed the most difficult step in preparedness — acknowledgement that a severe problem is emerging that will endanger both the individual and his family. The inventory of skill sets and materiel shortcomings will commence and an enormous task will now present itself for you to get ready for the contingencies you are planning for. It is not within the scope of this essay to provide the comprehensive means to equip for the coming bad times but I will provide some link and book recommendations to get started. The first stop for both the novice and experienced preparedness family should be Jim Rawles’ outstanding site: www.survivalblog.com . If there is one-stop shopping for both the beginner and the expert, this is the place to be.
The intermediate family will have already acknowledged the looming crisis and taken steps to ameliorate some of the more unpleasant aspects of the disturbance or cessation of goods and services. This family may have put in a deep larder of foodstuffs either purchased at a big box store, a specialty store, or canned at home. They will have a generator set, the appropriate fuel storage and the means to defend themselves. More importantly, they will have mastered or dabbled in some skills such as welding, vehicle repair or orienteering.
The advanced preparedness family will have done all of the above, located themselves so they live at their retreat 365 days a year, thoroughly trained in all the essential elements from primitive skills to gun-fighting courses, and have the deep larder to be self-sustaining for more than one year.
So where to start? Wherever you may be in the preparedness continuum, you will discover that every new skill mastered or new widget purchased will identify another potential shortcoming to be addressed. Make no mistake; this is a lifestyle choice that will have benefits for any family if a collapse never materializes. Some of the trademark attributes in the movement is to get out of debt, get closer to the business end of food delivery (such as growing gardens and raising livestock), become proficient at fixing your own vehicles and learning 19th and early 20th century skill sets. Use scroogle or metacrawler to find the endless variety of sites dedicated to this subculture.
I recommend that you purchase one book to get you started and this will in turn through your own research lead to other areas of inquiry. Your bookshelves will be groaning soon enough if you decide to get ready for the coming bad times. The book is The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery and it is worth every penny.
Next, go to Lindsay’s Technical Books and explore the amazing variety of offerings for books on everything from steam engines to metalworking. You will also be amazed at the advancement of technology in the days of old because we have this cultural conceit that things now are always better than they ever were.
There are a variety of magazines out there and I tend to stay away from the gun-centric-kill-’em-all scribblings that think preparation is all about the largest and latest piece of firearms hardware. I would recommend three to begin with: Backwoods Home, Countryside, and Backwoodsman magazine. The editor of Backwoods Home, Dave Duffy, is a self-professed libertarian whose editorials will bring a smile to any reader of LRC.
This is simply a primer to get you started on the path to self-sufficiency, and come what may, you will be richer for it.
Gold, guns and groceries.