Doomsday Preppers

Rich Americans Keep On Prepping

Regular readers of Survival And Prosperity know that I’ve been observing and blogging about “prepping” for several years now. Case in point, this 2011 post recapping a new TV show called Doomsday Preppers (ever heard of it?).

Early on I noticed wealthy Americans were getting into preparedness. They recognized and took steps to deal with potential TEOTWAWKI scenarios- just like their lower-net worth compatriots.

And such activity continues to this day, spurred on not just by concerns over major emergencies and man-made/natural disasters, but fears of a financial crash, civil unrest/war, and impoversihed and angry masses turning against the rich.

Earlier this evening I finally got the chance to read an article from the January 30, 2017 issue of The New Yorker entitled “Doomsday Prep For The Super-Rich.” Evan Osnos penned:

Survivalism, the practice of preparing for a crackup of civilization, tends to evoke a certain picture: the woodsman in the tinfoil hat, the hysteric with the hoard of beans, the religious doomsayer. But in recent years survivalism has expanded to more affluent quarters, taking root in Silicon Valley and New York City, among technology executives, hedge-fund managers, and others in their economic cohort…

The lengthy-yet-interesting piece took a closer look at the prepping mindset and priorities of the wealthy these days. One notable passage was:

I asked [prominent investor and co-founder of LinkedIn Reid] Hoffman to estimate what share of fellow Silicon Valley billionaires have acquired some level of “apocalypse insurance,” in the form of a hideaway in the U.S. or abroad. “I would guess fifty-plus per cent,” he said…

There was also this from Osnos:

In building Reddit, a community of thousands of discussion threads, into one of the most frequently visited sites in the world, [co-founder and CEO Steve] Huffman has grown aware of the way that technology alters our relations with one another, for better and for worse. He has witnessed how social media can magnify public fear. “It’s easier for people to panic when they’re together,” he said, pointing out that “the Internet has made it easier for people to be together,” yet it also alerts people to emerging risks. Long before the financial crisis became front-page news, early signs appeared in user comments on Reddit. “People were starting to whisper about mortgages. They were worried about student debt. They were worried about debt in general. There was a lot of, ‘This is too good to be true. This doesn’t smell right.’” He added, “There’s probably some false positives in there as well, but, in general, I think we’re a pretty good gauge of public sentiment. When we’re talking about a faith-based collapse, you’re going to start to see the chips in the foundation on social media first.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

I’ve noticed a growing amount of anger directed against President Trump and the Republicans on my Facebook “home page” these days.

“Early signs” of significant civil unrest coming?

If you’ve got some time to spare, head on over to The New Yorker website and check out the Osnos piece here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Prepping Now $40 Billion Industry In U.S.?

Last week, I blogged about a Chicago Tribune article on the current state of “prepping” in America.

Last night I came across another insightful piece on the status of prepping in the U.S. on The Daily Universe (Brigham Young University) website in which Sarah Averett reported Monday:

Preparing for emergencies has become a hobby and lifestyle for an increasing number of people throughout the U.S. who call themselves “preppers.”

Preppers are enthusiasts of all things emergency preparedness, ranging from interests in survivalist techniques and homesteading to food storage and first aid. The term “prepper,” popularized by National Geographic’s Doomsday Preppers series, refers to people who put time, money and effort into learning skills and collecting items that will help them become more self-reliant.

The prepper world has experienced exponential growth in recent years, according to preppers throughout the U.S.

“It’s really hard to identify exactly how many preppers there are, but since 2007, we’ve gone from a $10 million market to a $40 billion market space (nationally),” said Scott Stallings, founder and CEO of PrepperCon…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

An interesting read, which you view in its entirety here on The Daily Universe website.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Sky News Investigates Preppers

Our cousins across the pond are taking a particular interest in preppers these days.

Last week, it was the folks over at The Economist (UK).

This week, it’s Sky News.

Dominic Waghorn investigated preppers for a report entitled The Doom Boom which aired on Britain’s Sky News last night. The U.S. correspondent started with:

I’ve reported from around the world on countries coping with adversity. In America, I’ve witnessed terrorist attacks, extreme weather, civil unrest. But I’ve never felt society here is on the brink of collapse. And yet it seems, an increasing number of Americans do. I want to find out why, and what they’re doing to get ready.

Waghorn then met with several preppers (a few of Doomsday Preppers-fame), including:

• Holly Blevins
• Jay Blevins
• Catherine Bryson
• Jamie Bryson
• Braxton Southwick
• Colton Southwick
• Kara Southwick
• Rylee Southwick

Sky News did a pretty good job with the report. It wasn’t the usual hit piece many have come to expect from the mainstream media with regards to preppers.


Sky News: The Doom Boom
YouTube Video

However, some in the preparedness industry who viewed the production may have been a little irked with the association of fear and providing goods/services to the prepper community. Consider the following from Waghorn:

And for those who trade on fear, business has never been better.

Larry Hall has made a name selling to people with a lot of money, and a lot of fear.

Fear is big business in the U.S., but doom and bloom has spawned an industry worth millions.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Finally, there was this exchange between Larry Hall of Luxury Survival Condo (who also featured in a Doomsday Preppers episode) and Waghorn:

WAGHORN: Because there’ll be people I suppose who look at this and think, well, the whole prepping industry has become an industry and you presumably have made a fair amount of money out of this. And in a sense, what people like you are doing is peddling fear and profiting from it. What do you say to people like that?
HALL: Well, again, I don’t think it’s fear. I think it’s awareness. I think that fear has a negative connotation. I don’t think I’m peddling fear. I think I’m peddling preparedness. And there’s a big difference.

“I’m peddling preparedness. And there’s a big difference.”

Nice. And that may be the case with Hall and a lot of other vendors in that industry. But no doubt there are those “peddling fear” these days, so it pays to be aware of that.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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The Economist Magazine Investigates Preppers

“Some Americans find survivalists sinister. After Adam Lanza shot 26 people in a school in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012, the media made much of the fact that his mother was a gun-stockpiling prepper. Yet there is no evidence that preppers in general are more dangerous than their compatriots. On the contrary, when natural disasters strike, it is useful to have neighbours who know how to stormproof a house and have bandages to spare.”

The Economist website, December 17, 2014

Late this morning, I stumbled on an article on The Economist website about preppers. I just finished reading “Preparing for the apocalypse: I will survive,” and thought I’d blog about it a little. The author (couldn’t find a name attached with the piece for some reason) did a pretty good job writing about preppers/survivalists, not falling victim to the usual stereotypes/generalizing echoed in a comment on the article. From “walrusandthecarpenter”:

Preppers are people who are unhappy with their life and can’t wait for the end of the world to come and the tables to turn. They are excited for it to happen.

Me? I like my smartphone. I have a first aid kit though.

“I like my smartphone.” What a goof.

Like I was saying, the author did a pretty good job (points deducted for trying to link those Westboro folks to preppers) with the material. I found what James Wesley, Rawles of SurvivalBlog.com-fame had to say particularly interesting. From the article:

So how might TEOTWAWKI come about? The biggest threat, says Mr Rawles, is a huge solar flare. The last big one, in 1859, known as the “Carrington Event”, disabled telegraph lines. A similar disaster today would “fry the circuitry” of electronic devices and take out the power grid “from end to end”. It would take years to reactivate. Perhaps 60% of the American population could die, predicts Mr Rawles…

I’ve seen some put that die-off figure at 90 percent.

There was also this about present-day preppers:

Survivalists vary politically—just as they are dispersed geographically—and their views colour their apocalyptic imaginings. Many are conservatives, worried about crime, terrorism and hyperinflation and sure that the state cannot be relied upon to protect ordinary citizens. But a fair number are environmentalists, convinced that the planet can only take so much abuse before it becomes uninhabitable. The movement is broad enough to encompass anyone who suspects that disaster is looming, for any reason. It used to be mostly “Bible-believing Christian conservatives”, says Mr Rawles, “But now we have a lot of alfalfa-munching Birkenstock-wearing leftists.” He adds: “The more the better.”

One more reason for me not to bash specific political ideologies/parties- except when they really ask for it, of course.

(Editor’s note: Any former readers of Boom2Bust.com out there remember when I used to savage “Dubya” and Hank Paulson? Thinking of that reminds me this giant economic mess belongs to both sides of the political aisle.)

Jason Charles, a New York firefighter of Doomsday Preppers-fame (blogged about here), is also featured in the piece.

You can read the well-written article in its entirety on The Economist website here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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World’s Largest Private Underground Shelter Project Cancelled

There’s been more talk than usual in the news about underground survival shelters due to a recent Wall Street Journal article featuring luxury survival condo builder Larry Hall of Doomsday Preppers-fame (blogged about here in March 2012). Headlining that November 9 piece:

“Affluent buyers worried about doomsday are snapping up well-appointed bunkers built in a former missile silo”

Regular readers of Survival And Prosperity know the wealthy have been acquiring survival shelters for a number of years now.

But what about those who would like the perceived safety of a bunker but don’t have the financial resources to acquire one? Well, they may have been consoled knowing there were plans for a more affordable 5,000-person Vivos Survival Shelter & Resort (wrote about in June 2013) to be built in an existing below-ground complex just south of Atchison, Kansas. Encompassing over 2 million square feet, it was billed as the world’s largest private underground survival shelter. But checking on the status of the project today, I read the following on the website of Del Mar, California-based Vivos Group:

Vivos has reluctantly decided to pull the plug on the Atchison, KS project for use as an underground survival shelter from our expanding network. Despite our significant investment of time and expense for the intended retrofit and outfitting of the cave system, numerous concerns arose related to the geological stability and safety of the cave structure that we believe may compromise its ability to withstand the anticipated forces of future catastrophic or earth changing events. These are risks we simply cannot take with potentially so many lives at stake.

Our concerns included many issues from a history of previous ‘domeout’ cave collapses, with the potential for unforeseeable and unpredictable future cave-ins; controlling the ongoing humidity and temperature extremes; to a variety of health and environmental concerns expressed by our members and crew who visited the facility with no clear means of mitigation.

We hope to soon be able to offer another shelter within this geographic region of America. In the meantime, please contact us about other immediate Vivos shelter opportunities.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)


“World’s largest doomsday shelter coming to Kansas”
YouTube Video

Too bad the project didn’t pan out. I’ll have to check around and see if a similar affordable private underground shelter isn’t in the works someplace else in the United States.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Survivalism ‘Shouldn’t Come With A Bad Reputation’

“Survivalism: The stark ideology that may have led to killing of a Pennsylvania state trooper”

-Actual headline on the Washington Post website, September 17, 2014

“I love publishing material that readers can sink their teeth into and learn a lot from. I hope to do a lot more of it when things calm down on my end. At the same time, I will blog about some topics that might not be so informative- like prepping as a form of insurance, for example. Why’s that? It depends on the situation really. But in the case of “Prepping As Insurance,” I’m disappointed in how the mainstream media often portrays preppers/survivalists. Many times, the so-called Fourth Estate equates preparedness with anti-social behavior, paranoia (sound familiar?), and/or domestic terrorism. I like to point out that emergency preparedness (something Uncle Sam/other levels of government actively push- even while demonizing it in some instances) can be thought of as another form of insurance and one of our civic duties as American citizens (the emphasis on self-reliance/sufficiency frees up public safety resources in major emergencies) by its practitioners. Letting the idea fester in our society that prepping is BAD could ultimately result in way too many helpless Americans in a SHTF situation. My intention with this post- while not really one that is chock-full of knowledge- is to help torpedo that dangerous idea with hopes (dreams?) of a more resilient society once again.”

-One of my comments in a discussion about last Friday’s Survival And Prosperity post entitled “Prepping As Insurance”

I’ve always thought any negative associations with prepping/survivalism stemming from related “reality” TV shows like National Geographic Channel’s Doomsday Preppers were essentially harmless. As they were rolling out a couple of years ago, I trusted people would be able to figure out it’s only entertainment television– with some useful knowledge thrown in to keep more “demanding” viewers coming back for more. Entertainment TV with a good deal of shock and awe to ratchet up ratings and score as many advertising dollars as possible.

Several years on, and plenty of critics- particularly in the mainstream media- of preparedness/survivalism base their view at least in part of what they’ve seen on TV.

Doomsday Preppers Toilet Paper

Doomsday Preppers Toilet Paper


They just don’t get it. And if you ask me, in many cases it’s because they’ve haven’t researched the subject thoroughly enough (either by choice or lack of time).

And the ones that do but who still try and push the goofy idea that most- if not all- preppers/survivalists are authority-hating, machine gun-toting, wannabe special forces types who are two sandwiches short of a picnic and long for the end of the world (note I’m not including “as we know it” here) to remake it in their own image- well, don’t forget they’ve got newspapers/other media products to sell.

So it was with some relief that I encountered the following article yesterday on the WFMZ-TV 69 News (Allentown, Pennsylvania) website. Talking about the ongoing manhunt for alleged cop killer Eric Frein, 69 News staff wrote:

This weekend, 69 News spoke with the chief of the Greater Philadelphia Search and Rescue about survivalists.

Mark Hopkins believes Frein will be able to evade police for a period of time, but police will catch up with him.

He says to a degree, everyone is a bit of a survivalist, and that description shouldn’t come with a bad reputation.

“I wouldn’t want to see that lumped together and think that all survivalists or all people that are doing this prepping stuff want to hurt people, because that’s not the case; this is clearly an outlawry,” Hopkins said…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

“Everyone is a bit of a survivalist, and that description shouldn’t come with a bad reputation.”

Something the “haters” would do well to remember. But probably won’t, or choose not to out of self-interest or something else.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

“Survival expert believes police will catch up with Frein.” 69 News. 21 Sep. 2014. (http://www.wfmz.com/news/Regional-Poconos-Coal/survival-expert-believes-police-will-catch-up-with-frein/28175968). 22 Sep. 2014.

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‘Doomsday Preppers’ Season 4 In The Works

“i friggin LOVE “doomsday preppers”!”

-Milla Jovovich, American model and actress of Resident Evil-fame, Facebook post, November 24, 2012

Any fans of National Geographic Channel’s Doomsday Preppers out there?

You’ve probably noticed it’s been a while since a new episode aired (season 3, episode 11, “Americans not Ameri-cant’s,” January 7, 2014).

Well, I just dropped by the Facebook page for the TV series and read:

We are currently filming season 4. No premiere date has been announced yet.

That was posted just yesterday, but I’ve noticed the same message has been appearing for some time now. Hopefully filiming is well on its way.

Still, I wouldn’t be surprised if season 4 isn’t rolled out until late summer/early fall, at the earliest.

Stay tuned…

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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