Prepping has an image. It’s not very fair, but it is persistent. When the average person thinks of a prepper they think rural homes, with chickens running around the yard or in a chicken tunnel and a gun rack on the truck parked out front. They think red state working class who don’t trust the government. The truth is that preppers are a lot more diverse than this image suggests. We’re just ordinary people from all walks of life who think it’s a smart idea to be ready for trouble, because history tells us that trouble will come again sometime.
It looks like more people are waking up to that reality. Most preppers in the past have tended to be working or middle class, and a majority live in rural areas – mostly because it’s a whole lot easier to actually be prepared in a rural area – but now the preparedness trend is spreading into some of America’s upmarket neighborhoods. Is this something we should be positive about? Or is it a worrying development?
A few weeks ago there was an article in the liberal New Yorker about how many of the USA’s richest people are waking up to the need to be prepared. The magazine spoke to several Silicon Valley execs who have bought themselves plots of land – or even private islands – and started stockpiling ammunition and other essentials. What surprised the article’s writer was how many wealthy Californians and New Yorkers were involved in this new, upscale survivalist movement.
Some aspects of the wealthy prepping scene are just laughable. For example there’s the premium bug-out bag that contains a three-day supply of grapefruit face cleanser, peppermint shampoo and cilantro conditioner. There’s a selection of organic super-food snacks and premium teas, and it all comes in a handy leather and canvas doctor’s bag with no shoulder straps and a big bright red cross logo than might as well say “Steal me”.
Things like the Prepster luxury survival kit aren’t for people who want to be prepared. They’re for people who want to show off to their friends how prepared they are. Basically they’re a joke. On the other hand there’s a serious side to this upscale prepper movement, and maybe it’s one that should worry the rest of us.
Traditional preppers aren’t politically connected people. We don’t have access to the insider discussions where the real state of the world gets talked about; we just have a feeling that things aren’t as secure as they could be, and that history – which was supposed to have ended when the Berlin Wall came down – might have a few surprises left in store for us.
What’s happening now is that the people who are politically connected are starting to make their own preparations. Why? What do they know that we don’t? Because these people – not the ones who drop $500 on a designer bug-out bag; the ones who’re actually preparing – are not messing around. They’re spending serious amounts of money on getting themselves ready to survive a social collapse.
How serious? Very. The average prepper might get themselves a generator, lay in a supply of flour and rice, add a few extra tinned goods to the weekly shopping list and stock up on ammunition and gun spares. With the economy still in a fragile state that’s the limit of what many people can afford to do. Others can do more, but compared to what some of these rich preppers are doing we’re all in the pocket money range.
People are spending thousands on corrective laser eye surgery, so they aren’t relying on contacts or glasses after the SHTF. They’re stockpiling gold bullion for when the electronic finance system crashes. Some are building up real estate portfolios – an investment that also gives them a choice of bug-out locations. One told the New Yorker that he keeps a helicopter gassed up at all times; the same man has an underground retreat with an air filter system installed.
In short, these new preppers are investing five or six figure sums in their emergency plans. This is not something people do on impulse, and it definitely isn’t something you do as a conversation piece. You might show someone the useless designer survival kit you bought, but are you going to show them your stash of gold coins or take them for a tour of your underground survival retreat? I doubt it. The rich didn’t get rich by showing off their valuable secrets – and, reading between the lines of the New Yorker article, a lot of them are keeping their preparations very discreet. They don’t want anyone outside their immediate circle to know what they’re up to.
So why are they doing it? For some, the spark was the rising tension during last year’s presidential election. It’s hard to think of a more vicious campaign, and President Trump’s inauguration hasn’t done anything to calm it down. In fact, some on the left just seem to have doubled down on the crazy. Protests erupt into violence for the smallest reason, or even for no reason at all. Activists openly talk about resisting the government, overthrowing the system. Many wealthy preppers are liberals themselves, but they’d have to be pretty misguided not to realize that, if widespread far left riots break out, the rich are going to be early targets.
It’s also a fact that the wealthy, even if they don’t work in finance themselves, usually know people who do. They invest through these people, socialize with them and pick up the latest gossip about what’s happening with the global economy. If there are rumors of an upcoming crash they’ll hear about it long before we do. Is that why so many of them have suddenly decided a stash of bullion and guns is such a good idea? It just could be.
Also, remember that a lot of rich people are wired into political networks too. It costs so much to campaign now that anyone who’s running for office goes out of their way to cultivate the wealthy. We like to think they wouldn’t do anything as blatant as trade sensitive information for donations, but really, who knows? It’s a fact that wealth buys access, and right now the people with the access are spending some of their wealth on survival retreats and high end bug-out vehicles.
If there are rumors of political instability, or the possibility of a major war, the rich will pick up on it before anyone who relies on the mainstream media for their news. If the economy is going to crash they’ll hear about it from their brokers. If the country is in financial trouble behind the scenes, and the government’s trying to hide it, the elite will hear about it through their networks. They have an advance warning system that will pick up just about any SHTF scenario that’s coming down the road. Is that system sending out alarms right now? Is that why the rich are stockpiling food and ammo?
Here’s something to think about – a lot of the country’s richest people are getting into preparedness in a big way. One estimate put it at over half of California’s tech billionaires. The elite are taking prepping seriously, so maybe the rest of us should step up our own efforts.
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