Preparedness and Its Limits

There’s this special brand of asshole who has always existed, but they have been prevalent in the last year or so. These are the assholes who preach personal responsibility as a way of sidestepping their own responsibility. I’ll probably write about these people elsewhere, but I wanted to acknowledge that this post is not me trying to be one of those assholes. People take responsibility to avoid disasters by paying taxes. They take responsibility to avoid power outages by paying their utility bills. I do my part for society by delivering food, paying taxes, and paying my bills to support the infrastructure that I use a small part of. The government doesn’t get to tell us it’s our fault when they didn’t do their part for society.

With that out of the way, I do think there is a personal responsibility message that needs to be discussed for our future benefit. It’s not something that needs to be discussed after a failure, but long before. On one side of the spectrum we have preppers. These are people who have a year worth of food in their bomb shelter so they can survive the nuclear holocaust. On the other side of the spectrum, we have people who would have starved to death if home delivery had been shutdown during the pandemic, because they have no dry goods in their closet. We all need to be somewhere in the middle, and not just for ourselves. On some level we need to do it for society at large.

“Doomsday preppers or restocking the pantry?” by ritcheyer is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

This feels like one of those old social media games where you talk about three things to buy at the store to make the cashier look at you weird – bleach, toilet paper, and WD-40.

I got lucky where it came to the great toilet paper shortage of 2020. About a month before the shortage hit, I went to the store and bought 24 rolls (because it’s often cheaper to buy in bulk) only to get home and discover that I’d accidentally bought 1-ply. No big deal, I thought. I’ll buy 24 rolls of 2-ply after work and use the 1-ply for backup. At the time, I didn’t realize that I would be using the 1-ply as backup about a month later. But this does play into something that I do frequently anyway with paper goods. When you open the 24 rolls of toilet paper you have in your bathroom closet, it’s time to go buy the next 24 rolls. It’s better than realizing at 2 o’clock in the morning that you’re out… or when people panic buy before a lockdown.

In spite of this, I do get dangerously low on regularly used items often, like my soda supply. I’m more of a pepper than a prepper. I try not to. The main reason to have three to six months of food and supplies in your house is because it means that if you ever lose your job, you don’t have to worry about food and supplies for the next three to six months. If you have three to six months in monetary savings as well, then you’re even better off. Just make sure to rotate the food so that you don’t end up with green beans that were supposed to be opened three years ago on your shelf. The other main reason is because it means you’re not part of the problem when people start rushing for supplies, and in fact if enough people have prepared then there will be no need for a rush on supplies.

“Prepper pantry” by Backdoor Survival is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

The main thing to avoid when building up this supply is to not buy a bunch of stuff you know you should eat, but that you wouldn’t actually eat until you had to. Sorry vegetable farmers, hominy don’t play dat.

No one can prepare for everything. I want to acknowledge that. I also want to acknowledge that there are a lot of things that have happened in the last year or so that people have claimed, “No one could have seen this coming.” Except that there are articles, books, and videos all over the place of people seeing this coming. The job of society as a whole is to acknowledge the potential for tough times and do whatever they can to prepare. You’ll still be caught off guard, because you can’t be on top of everything, but if you can even be prepared for 4 out of every 5 setbacks you’ll be better off than most. If we could get society to be prepared for 4 out of every 5 setbacks, we’d suffer little hardship in truth.

But this isn’t just the job of the common man. The truth about the countries who did the best with the pandemic response is because their economy was built in such a way that shutting down for a month didn’t threaten certain financial depression. The truth about companies that survived the pandemic is that they had monetary reserves to be able to change course over the next year while keeping their workers safe. In much the same way that we would consider those companies irresponsible if they had to borrow money to handle a disaster; a country that has to print money to avoid disaster because it wasn’t prepared is also irresponsible.

Here in Texas, we recently experienced winter storms that shutdown the utilities that we pay for with the understanding that they will be functional when we need them. Instead, they were nice and available when it was a convenience, but not so much when it was a necessity. I would argue that emergency or disaster situations are what we’re paying you to be prepared for. There is no excuse for not being able to handle something like this. If they had been properly prepared, they would have said, “What’s the single highest amount of this utility that we’ve needed to supply in the past?” And then they would have built their infrastructure around tripling that potential output. Then they would update that yearly. It’s not actually too much to ask.

Now back to the focus of this article, which is to prepare during good times not chastise people for failures during tough times. There are habits that we can all do to conserve energy even during the best of times, and just that can go a long way to avoiding this kind of issue in the future. I’m not going to get into it here, but you can always Google it. At the same time, we need to put pressure on our government that we pay for with our taxes, and our utility infrastructures that we pay for with our monthly bills (even if you’re in an all bills paid situation, you’re doing your part by paying rent) and this pressure needs to be to stop making excuses why they can’t do the part for society they’re paid to do. But also, be prepared that they won’t do their part, because they are assholes. That may not be nice of me to say, but I’m calling it as I see it in this moment.

Chris McGinty is blogger, Nathan is a blogger, Miguel is has blogged before, wouldn’t you like to be a blogger too? Remember that song about everybody wanting to be a guitarist? I can’t find it through Google or YouTube searches, so it may be a victim of the Mandela Effect. That group, if they still exist in this timeline, should do a song about everybody wanting to be a blogger.

Leave a Reply