Jeff Brackett On: Preppers

Jeff Bracket, the author of Half Past Midnight, is a friend of mine who I met through the Red Adept Select author’s group. He’s a warrior for intelligence, an adamant researcher, and just an all around good guy. Every piece of insight he’s collected into the world of independent publishing can be found on his blog, HERE. Jeff is a humble dude. He will be the last one to tell you how smart he is. I have asked him to do a piece on survivalists, or as he refers to them; preppers, because I know the subject is an interest of his. Jeff can see both sides of an argument, much like myself, and explains his views with verve. 

Ladies and gentlemen, The Brackster!

Ruminating On: Preppers/Survivalists

First, I want to thank Ed for turning over the soapbox this evening.  When he asked if I’d consider addressing the topic of survivalists (or the more recently PC term of preppers), I jumped at the chance.   But let me warn you before we go any further here.  Ed and I have very different styles.  You may have noticed that  Ed is a little outspoken in his opinions.

Call it passion.  He’s young, and cares about people.  He rails against injustice, and wants the world to be a better place than it is.

Me?  I’m an old fart.  If you want to listen to my little nuggets of wisdom, great.  I’ll get all warm and fuzzy inside later.  If you don’t?  Well, I long ago accepted the fact that I’m not going to be able to please everyone, and  I’m okay with that.  Maybe that’s why I’m a prepper.  I’ve given up on trying to change the world, and instead I’m concentrating on trying to take care of my little corner of it.

Which brings me back to the topic at hand – prepping.  See how I segued in there?  I’m just so freaking clever, I amaze myself!  🙂

Yes, prepping is a big interest of mine, and it plays a prominent role in some of my writing.  In researching for that writing, I got to know quite a few folks that are preppers.  Here’s what I found.

First of all, unless you already know about someone who is a prepper, chances are good that the only exposure you’ve had to the lifestyle is through TV shows like “Doomsday Preppers” and “Doomsday Bunkers”, or the so-called “reality” shows like “Survivor” and “The Colony”.  Or maybe you’ve seen advertisements for one of the “Doomsday Single” dating services?  Well, for the most part, the folks shown on those shows are either NOT what prepping is really about, or their real story has been so misrepresented as to make it unrecognizable.

Let me assure you, that’s NOT what the real prepper movement is all about.  That’s the media doing what it always does; finding the sensationalism in something that’s outside what most people see in day-to-day living.  So let me ask you to do a little self-examination.  (Hey, YOU! Get your hands out of your pants!  It’s not that kind of self-exam!)

Obviously, I can’t speak for all preppers, but let me try to get you to see something from my perspective by asking you a few questions.

Do you have flood insurance, or earthquake insurance, or fire insurance?

Have you studied some kind of self-defense so you can protect yourself?

Do you stock up on essentials in the winter in case you get snowed in?

Do you have (or wish you had) a portable generator for times when bad weather knocks the power out for an extended length of time?

If you answered yes to any of these, watch out!  You are leaning toward the prepper mentality.

Not convinced, eh?  How about this then?

What happens if you’re caught in a massive flood?  Major earthquake? How about a hurricane?  Who can you count on to take care of you?  Will it be your dear old Uncle Sam? (Can you say Katrina?)  Sure, government help eventually arrives, but how quickly?  And have you seen the news headlines during the aftermath of any of those natural disasters? One of the most common scenes on the news is that of empty store shelves, as people scramble to grab supplies after everything they own is lost.

Preppers, by definition, are the folks who have already prepared with stored supplies – who have prepared themselves with the knowledge of how to grow their own food (and usually have much of it already stored) for when the grocery stores are empty.  They are the ones who have prepared escape locations (aka “bug out locations”, or BOLs), and have prepared to get the hell out of Dodge in a “shit hits the fan” scenario.

And yes, since such disasters often bring out the worst in people, they are usually the ones who are prepared to defend themselves and their loved ones if need be.  You think that’s extreme?  You don’t think people can get crazy when it’s shtf time?  Come on people, we have idiots rioting after sporting events!  You honestly think it’s paranoia to think the same thing could happen in an actual emergency?

And here’s the real kicker.  Those nutcase preppers that everyone is so quick to point at and paint with the “crazy” label?  They’re also the ones that would absolutely LOVE to help their neighbors learn the same skills.  Because one thing almost all preppers agree on is that it’s better to survive together as a community, than it is to survive alone.

So you may ask, how can that be?  Don’t preppers have a reputation as anti-social, reclusive, nutjobs who want nothing to do with the rest of the world?

Maybe.  At least, that may be the reputation they have.  But it’s been my experience that most of them are very social.  They just have a lifestyle that promotes growing their own veggies over depending on the produce aisle.  They would rather use solar panels on their homes than depend on the local power company – hunt game animals instead of buying from the local butcher.  In short, they believe in self-sufficiency and independence.

I admit that a lot of us (and I include myself in this) distrust our government.  And we feel that the government distrusts us.  A lot of that may be because a lifestyle that embraces self-sufficiency and independent thought bucks the current system.  When the government says that the economy is recovering, but the dollar is constantly loosing value on the world market, do you believe them?  I don’t.

Or what about when the State of Michigan recently began a liberal enforcement of a 2010  law to control “feral pigs”?  That sounds like a good thing, right?  Well tell that to Dave Tuxbury, who was forced to destroy his entire stock of pigs because the Michigan Department of Natural Resources decided that nearly any species of pig that isn’t the “normal” white pork pig that is raised in one of the mass production confinement facilities, is now “feral”.  Many other small pork farmers, exotic game ranchers, and even pet owners suddenly found themselves in violation of this new interpretation of the term “feral”.  To add insult to injury, many of them were given an ultimatum – slaughter your livestock, or the state will forcefully do so, and fine you for the “service”.

Of course, it’s no surprise to find that the law was supported and lobbied for by the Michigan Pork Producers Association.  It gives a whole new meaning to the term “pork” in government, doesn’t it?
But that’s just one crazy, isolated incident, right?

Want more?

Well, did you know that it’s illegal to collect rainwater from your own roof to water your garden in many states?  Or that it’s illegal to dig a water well on your own property in many states, even when you can prove the water from said well is cleaner than that being provided by the state?  Or that some cities and HOAs want to make it illegal to plant vegetables in your front yard?  (Didn’t we used to call these “Victory Gardens”?)

So yes, many of us have little trust of the government.   It’s like the old saying, “just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you”.

But I can tell you this.  Whenever we see those “Doomsday” shows, the true survivalist community is shaking its collective head right along with you in a mixture of amusement, amazement, and concern.  Let’s face it, some of the stuff shown on those shows is often hilarious, and sometimes a little frightening.  As a prepper myself, I roll my eyes and cringe any time the media highlights a prepper’s arsenal  and jumps up and down screaming “survivalist nut job!”  The bad thing is, in some cases they’re right.  There are some extremists out there in the prepper community, just as there are in any social group.  And it doesn’t help things when the programs edit their shows for “content”, so as to emphasize the wildest material they can get.

Just like anything else in the media, they will find the most extreme people out there to try & make their points.  I know of one person who hosts a survivalist podcast who was invited to participate on one of the television shows mentioned (I don’t know if I should mention the show so I’ll err on the side of caution).  After sitting with key people from the program, he was told very candidly that they had absolutely no intention of presenting an unbiased view of the lifestyle-that they were only in it for the money.  After seeing informal interviews with a few of the people who did participate, and hearing how their words were distorted and taken out of context, I have no trouble believing this to be true.

So, as Edward is so fond of asking, what do you think about the matter?  Are preppers a bunch of paranoid wack-a-doodles, hoping for the fall of civilization so that we can live out our crazy fantasies?  Or are we simply trying to prepare for whatever curve balls life might throw at us?

Comment away…

5 thoughts on “Jeff Brackett On: Preppers

  1. I am not a prepper. I do wish I could grow veggies. In no particular order, I also wish I could sing in tune; do complex math in my mind; and parallel park. The veggie-growing is the only thing that will help much in an emergency, so perhaps I should concentrate on that? As far as the other preparations, I will say that Hurricane Isabel of ’03 taught me the value of having a backup generator. I didn’t have one, so I absolutely concede the value a generator would impart to a survivalist. At the very least, it would ensure a steady supply of coffee. I solved my lack-of-generator problem by moving to Central Texas, away from (most) hurricanes. Knock on wood, but so far, so good!

    Nice to meet you, Jeff! And, E, thanks for sharing Jeff’s post with us! Although I am being a little silly in the comments, I do believe that these things are important to consider; thanks for the well-written and engaging reminder!


    1. It’s a pleasure to meet you as well, Aniko (love the name, by the way). And one should NEVER underestimate the value of a good cup of coffee, right? 😎

    2. Ours was hurricane Opal, 1995. One week, four days without power. A generator was purchased the day power came back on. Hated that damn storm. We had just moved to Alabama from California, so all of your stuff was on my brother-in-laws flat-bed trailer (he was a truck driver). When the storm came in, it lifted everything off the trailer and sent it all flying.

      Sad Panda. But, you live, you learn.


      1. I live in the Houston area, so we\’ve weathered our fair share of hurricanes. And living where we do means that we also occassionally get winter storms for which we as a community simply aren\’t prepared. I mean, who would expect freeways to ice over in Houston?!?! But it happens on occasion.

        Last summer, wildfires ran people from their homes in the Austin area, and spread all the way down to Magnolia, just northwest of Houston. I recall seeing the smoke from the Magnolia fires on my way home from work. Believe me, we made sure we were ready to bug out on that one.

        And flooding here happens about every other year. Sometimes its minor, sometimes not so minor.

        Story time – In 2001 I lost a friend during Tropical Storm Allison. She drowned in an elevator, of all things. Kristie Tautenhahn was a member of the Woodlands Writers Guild. She was at work in downtown Houston when she heard that the parking garage was in danger of flooding. People with cars on the lower basement levels were instructed by a security guard that they should move their vehicles to higher ground. Unfortunately, the water shorted out the electronics in the elevator, and she was trapped three floors underground. By the next morning, the garage was flooded to street level.

        Prepping is less about guns, and more about learning how to avoid and react properly to threatening situations. Because, let\’s face it, Mother Nature doesn\’t care about us as individuals any more than we worry about the bugs in our yards.

        Wow, talk about bringing the room down…. Sorry. 😦

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