A Helpless America..???

I’m going to change the focus of this blog with this piece although it does have ties to learning to live successfully in south central Alaska.  A buddy of mine who blogs on this site recently posted some thoughts about the uncivilized behavior in large SE cities tied to the approach of another winter storm.  I completely agree with his thoughts and observations but wanted to take some of the reflections a bit further.  Like Pete I was shocked to see and read about the uncivilized behavior in some SE cities regarding ‘runs’ on grocery stores to grab food before the predicted storms arrive.  I saw similar when I lived just north of Cincinnati; when NWS would predict just four inches of snow the days leading up to the storm would see long lines in groceries, full grocery store parking lots and short stocks of many items.  Although I grew up in Michigan I can relate to the southerners not wanting to have to drive once the storms hit.  Up north we always laughed at their inability to negotiate just a few inches of snow; however, once I experienced a few of these storms I understood the issues.  Said storms almost always start with ice and then sometimes change over to snow.  I’d dare even the most savvy northern driver to safely navigate two to four inches of snow atop a glaze of ice!  And these cities are not equipped to handle such storms with respect to salting, sanding and plowing.

But my issues don’t center on this situation but rather the entire concept that people seem ‘driven’ to clear out groceries in the event of an approaching storm.  Are so many folks literally living day by day purchasing the food they need for each meal just prior to when they need it..?!?!?  My sense is ‘no’!  Virtually all of use have refrigeration and I’d wager most fridges have at least some food items in them; if not why are people paying for the electricity to operate them?  In addition I’d bet most people have at minimum a few cans of soup, some rice or pasta, some cans of fruit and vegetables along with maybe some cans of meat or fish and additional food like peanut butter, oatmeal, bread, crackers and similar.  If you have even just some of the aforementioned you have food for days if not longer!!  Sure, it may not be up to the standards you’ve become accustomed to enjoying but it’s not like you’d be eating garbage, either!  I’d wager half the world would kill to be eating that type of cuisine on a daily basis.  While mixing a can of tomato soup with some rice and adding some cheese may not be gourmet fare its solid, sustaining food.

And in the final analysis, let’s get real here; the average human can last for at least two weeks and probably three to four without food…period.  Sure, it’s not comfortable and one does run out of energy and struggles with other effects after maybe five days of starvation but it’s not completely debilitating.  So having to subsist on just Mac and Cheese or pasta and mushroom soup or peanut butter on bread is hardly the end of the world.  So just what drives people to run and strip stores bare with the approach of a winter storm..?  I suspect at least part of the mania is fed by the lame-stream media hyping the approaching conditions and ‘we the people’ being willing to let them lead us around by the nose instead of thinking clearly and critically about the event.  The worst of these winter storms ‘paralyzes’ a large SE city for no more than five days and generally for less time; as I stated any of us can easily go five days without any food.  So why the mass rush on food and supplies?  Sadly I’m sure some of it is because as a people we Americans have become wimps with little ability to actually care for our basic needs.  I see two facets to this group:  1) those who are so used to be given things they have no ability to truly understand what they require to survive, and 2) those who only know how to survive using a high degree of technology.  I know a lot of folks in the latter category; if they cannot pull a processed meal from the freezer and pop it into the microwave they are helpless regarding preparing a meal.  And, yes, I was once in this category myself long ago; sadly many males remain so even at advanced ages.  Obviously things had to change when I moved to rural south central Alaska because the closest grocery of any size is 60 plus miles to the south; however, I have been self-reliant regarding my meals and all ‘domestic’ chores since my middle twenties.  I only needed to step up my preparations by a notch or two after relocating up here.  No, I do not hunt for my food but if I was forced to do so I could and I also know how to butcher wildlife if I was forced into doing so to eat.  Sadly I’d bet I’m in the 1% of American males being able to make such a claim…

Those in the former category are largely products of the ‘nanny state’ and showcase all that’s bad about cultivating such a system.  Yes, there are folks in this group that have seen truly horrific times and are just using the system to regain their ‘footing’ such that they can move ahead; for them I gladly give up my taxes that support such functions.  But there are many who just subsist on handouts and would be completely incapable of surviving without a government supplying them with food, drink, a roof over their heads and the like.  These people are ill-equipped to survive large-scale disasters of any kind because once their handouts are gone they lack skills to allow them to fend for themselves; after all, the government has always been there to prop them up.

This is something all Americans should reflect upon as I believe it’s not a matter of ‘if’ but rather ‘when’ the country will face a truly massive disaster that quickly overwhelms all government assistance.  Iran is known to be test firing intermediate range missiles from the decks of ships; now imagine if they could put even a modest sized nuclear warhead on such a ship based missile.  It would be child’s play to sail the vessel to American coastal waters and launch the missile such that it detonated at a very high altitude over the central US.  The resultant EMP would likely fry 80% to 90% of solid state devices without shielding.  This means no cell phones, no broadband, no TV, no radio; in addition most vehicles on the road rely on some form of solid state device to operate the engine.  If this is only 70% of the total vehicles imagine 7 out of 10 cars, SUVs and trucks unable to operate.  Now understand that grocery stores stock just three days worth of perishable goods and not much longer for non-perishable foods.  If the trucks cannot run then how will groceries get their product?  The military has spent millions hardening their gear against EMP but if this event affected most of the lower 48 are there enough of them to maintain order when people begin to go hungry?  The mob mentality that has raised its ugly head in advance of some winter storms would hardly be a pale shadow of what would happen within a week of such an attack and happen in any and most likely all large cities.

This is just one plausible scenario that could wreak havoc upon our technologically based society; there are many tens of others.  As a people we are ill-equipped to survive such occurrences yet as we progress we become even less able to endure such disasters and more dependent upon government for our day-to-day needs.  This is a sure path to eventual chaos yet we seem locked into this dead-end.  And so I find myself once again reviewing my own preparations and find even them lacking although compared to most Americans I am very well prepared.  Even though I can make this statement I take no pleasure in it because there are so many Americans without a clue as what life might be like without our technological base.  If you think life without sat TV or cell phones or your computer is unthinkable you might want to reflect upon life without electricity.  Sadly few folks can do this accurately because they’ve never been without the electrical grid; trust me, its amazing just how many things require electricity in our world.  This is the classic case of not realizing just how important something is until it’s no longer available…  Our forefathers knew how to supply themselves with food and shelter from a variety of sources; sadly we as a civilization have become ‘one trick ponies’ in this important skill set.  In our current existence this seems superfluous but I guarantee you that should the worst occur there will be millions of people wishing they’d learned just a bit more about general survival skills…

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