The morality of hoarding

Examples of social decline, especially in the UK

The morality of hoarding

Postby Elliott » 21 May 2012, 22:32

This issue is not related to real-world decline, though it would certainly come up in the event of the endgame we have been discussing.

I recently watched the 1980 children's TV series Noah's Castle. Far more intelligent and serious than any drama that would be produced for children nowadays, Noah's Castle is about a man preparing for a food crisis by stockpiling food in his cellar and fortifying the house. The cellar is stuffed: chest freezers full of meat, shelves full of tinned vegetables, and even bottles of fine wine for bartering. When the crisis comes, the man and his family live comfortably, whilst everyone else is malnourished and many people turn to looting. The government put out a warning: hoarders will be jailed.

This series, while very low-budget, conveys the situation quite convincingly - enough that I was moved to contemplate the moral questions that it raises. As is often the case, the result of all this contemplation is that I really don't know what to think! I will not bore you with the series' own treatment of the problem (which is surprisingly leftish for something made by a small company right after Thatcher was elected), but instead present the problem itself.

From the man's point of view, anyone could have done what he did: prepare for the bad times by buying and storing lots of food while it was plentiful. He thinks they have only themselves to blame, and that they are now reduced to stealing and begging is of no concern to him. He thinks he has done right by himself and, more importantly, his family. If other people starve to death, it's their own fault for not being more responsible. He is absolutely dogmatic: he will not give up a tin of food for somebody else if it endangers his family's survival.

His children - four ungrateful, whining lefty adolescents - are "ashamed" of what their father has "done".

What has their father done? He has built a mechanism for survival, without the help of the government or the state, but purely with his own hands and his own money. Since he cannot amass enough food for his community, and in any case is not responsible for them in that way, he has concentrated on his foremost responsibility: his wife and children.

He is an old-fashioned (for 1980) type who approves of "community spirit" and "doing work for the community" etc., even while he sets himself against the community who would break into his house and raid his stores. His children have a rather different view of community. For them, responsibility towards one's fellows never ends - for their father, it ends when it endangers one's own survival. His children think that one's own survival is no more important than everyone else's - so, if giving my food to 5 other people means that I will starve to death, that is the right thing to do and I should put my selfishness aside and do the right thing: commit delayed suicide. From the conservative point of view, that kind of behaviour is admirable for its saint-like generosity, but not necessarily more moral, for it endangers those to whom one bears much more responsibility: oneself and one's family. Responsibility to one's community is important, but not pre-eminent, and it must ultimately give way to those responsibilities closer to home.

Back to the series... when the government announces that hoarders will be punished, it is taking the side of the majority, thinking that whatever food is available should be shared equally among the greatest number of people. Of course, if pursued indefinitely, this policy would lead to everyone having a crumb of bread each, and everyone starving to death in glorious unison. It also ignores the moral question of taking from those who have been responsible and giving to those who have not.

For me, the key question is this: if everyone had hoarded during the good times, would that not have meant the food shortage would have come about much sooner? In other words, our main character's survival depends on everyone else having been feckless. If everyone had bought 2 slabs of meat instead of 1, he wouldn't have been able to buy 10.

But perhaps even that doesn't resolve the issue, because it is still the case that he did buy 10 slabs of meat and preserve them for the long-term, whereas everyone else, even when they knew the danger of a possible food crisis on the horizon, chose to hope for the best, or hope that the government would sort it out and they wouldn't have to exert any effort, or spend any personal money, to protect themselves.

And perhaps, regardless of the morals of letting other people starve to death, it should be done anyway, because that way those who have been responsible are a) not punished for it, and b) stand a much better chance of surviving.

I am very much undecided.

Of course, in the event of this actually happening, morals and societal visions would go out the window and everyone with a brain between their ears would look after their own. But nevertheless, the moral question bears examination and I would be interested to know other people's views.
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Re: The morality of hoarding

Postby Caleb » 22 May 2012, 04:28

I would unashamedly be like the father. Indeed, I would take it one step further and say that the fecklessness of everyone else was a moral failing, perhaps even of society. I think any society should encourage such things as planning ahead and being frugal and should make such behaviour a virtue. Likewise, the opposite kind of behaviour should be socially discouraged and frowned upon (and certainly shouldn't be encouraged or subsidised). It wouldn't eliminate such behaviour entirely, but it would eliminate a significant proportion of it.

I assume everyone has recalled a memory one day that he or she hadn't thought of in years and years. A few years ago, such an instance happened to me. Between the ages of six months and five and a half years, I lived in England (though that's actually inconsequential). I have a memory of going on a school excursion one day. We all ate our lunches (brought from home). At the time, I saved some biscuits or a cake for later. A couple of hours later, we were all taking a rest and I took out my lunch box. Some other kids saw that I had some food and wanted some. The teacher made me share it with them, though interestingly, not with everyone (I hate that whole ethos of sharing for its own sake, and it's so prevalent amongst a particular type of dim-witted, bovine, frumpy primary school teacher). I found this profoundly unjust at the time. Even as a four or five year old, I could see what was wrong with the situation. I wonder to what extent that particular event may have really influenced my outlook on such matters.

I actually have virtually no money in Australia these days as I find the government (and taxation) there to be particularly driven by a politics of jealousy (not to mention downright wasteful). I have my money in the U.S. for a number of reasons, but one of them is that that country is still quite capitalistic in spirit and doesn't hate people with any money. If it ever ceases to be that way, I will move my money again. If it eventually meant acquiring a different/additional nationality, I would also do so.

A few years ago, my father was talking with my mother's brother about the generally socialistic outlook of the Australian populace and government. My father was saying that in the future, the Australian government will take a bigger bite out of the rich. My uncle (who worked a blue collar job all his life, but did a lot of overtime and was frugal) said that it wouldn't affect him because he wasn't rich. My father then said, "Define rich. Who has more money/less debt, you or _____?" (He then rattled off several names of other family members or mutual acquaintances. The point was that at first glance, no one would think my uncle was rich, yet because he owns his own house, has some money in superannuation and has no debt, he is by comparison to the average person. In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. This was quite a revelation for my uncle.

I saw my parents work hard their whole lives. I saw my father put in huge hours, under incredible stress, in his own business. They've done well, and deservedly so. They paid off their house. They put their kids through private schools, they've always had private health insurance. They've never been a burden upon society. They did all of this while other people around them were buying new cars or taking overseas holidays. Yet if you're not super-wealthy, you're a target in many Western nations now. The government, and society in general, wouldn't hesitate to bleed people like my parents dry. They already have. I'd shudder to think of how much tax my parents have paid in their lives and how much they've got back in social services. That's why I don't have my money there, and that's why I would also feel absolutely no sympathy for those same miscreants if they were struggling due to their own lack of foresight and virtue.
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Re: The morality of hoarding

Postby Michael » 22 May 2012, 15:13

I too see absolutely nothing wrong with stockpiling foodstuffs as a precaution. My wife and I live in Edmonton, which is prone to very severe winters and major snowstorms. In the two years we have lived here there never has been an incident where the snow was so bad that the grocery stores could not get restocked, but we allow that it could happen. Thus whenever we travel out to the very large discount supermarket, the Canadian Superstore, we bring along a cart that we load with canned and prepared goods. It's a slow form of stockpiling, buying an extra few canned goods whenever we go out. It will also be very useful if we have to endure a pandemic of influenza or some other virus that could lead to a long period of social disruption.

It's also very convenient - there are evenings when we are both very tired from work and neither of us feels like making anything elaborate for dinner. Then we just grab a few tins and reheat them.

I would unashamedly be like the father. Indeed, I would take it one step further and say that the fecklessness of everyone else was a moral failing, perhaps even of society. I think any society should encourage such things as planning ahead and being frugal and should make such behaviour a virtue.


I agree completely. I recall being stunned when, during the initial months of the current financial crisis, I learned that the rate of savings in the United States and many Western countries was actually negative - people had greater non-asset debts (credit cards, not mortgages) than they had savings.

I have a memory of going on a school excursion one day. We all ate our lunches (brought from home). At the time, I saved some biscuits or a cake for later. A couple of hours later, we were all taking a rest and I took out my lunch box. Some other kids saw that I had some food and wanted some. The teacher made me share it with them, though interestingly, not with everyone (I hate that whole ethos of sharing for its own sake, and it's so prevalent amongst a particular type of dim-witted, bovine, frumpy primary school teacher). I found this profoundly unjust at the time. Even as a four or five year old, I could see what was wrong with the situation. I wonder to what extent that particular event may have really influenced my outlook on such matters.


That's horrible. I too saved treats for later in the day, often for when I had gotten home. Luckily I was never made to share with other people. The very idea of forcing people to share removes all virtue from the activity. It also teaches the terrible lesson to children - have you been profligate and wasted what you have? Well then tell an authority figure, and they will take from the prudent and give to you. I would be outraged if this happened to a child of mine.
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Re: The morality of hoarding

Postby Gavin » 22 May 2012, 17:28

That was indeed a horrible incident and I can understand how it might have a lasting effect. One does have a strong sense of justice even as a child. I remember one occasion where I had been given a set of coloured pencils for Christmas. One was stolen by a "friend" of mine. He insisted it was his and was clearly very attached to it, though it belonged to my set and he did not have such a set. He was a slightly unstable type who used to describe his parents having sex in front of him (he was about 11), but I remember what I actually did was borrowed said pencil one day and broke it before his eyes, so neither of us had it. I also remember demanding of a leftie teacher that a pupil be reprimanded for doing something outrageous. The result was that she was more concerned with the fact I had taken a stand on the matter than with the matter itself. Nothing was done.

Such incidents, though they seem trivial, probably are formative, especially for a person of principle. I would not read everything into them though, as life supplies plenty more examples of injustice further down the road!
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Re: The morality of hoarding

Postby Rachel » 25 May 2012, 21:06

My opinions on hoarding have already been said in the thread so I won't go into that.

I really want to comment on the series Noah's Castle because I also watched it.

WARNING SPOILER AHEAD - If you plan to watch Noah's Castle don't read on.

--------
During series itself I also agreed with the father's political and hoarding opinions, even though his attitude was portrayed unfairly as "the baddie". However I didn't like his general behaviour to his wife and kids. Wasn't he forcing the daughter to go out with a strange man that was staying with them and blackmailing them for food hoarding?
I can't remember..it's been a while since I watched it.

I also remember wishing that his wife would grow a backbone at some points. She seemed so servile at times.
The main thing in the series that stuck in my mind was the great scene at the end when after the father had all his hoarded food looted away. He looks at his family and says something like "I've failed you, I did not provide for my family."
He then explains that his own father did not provide food when he was a boy and he did not want his own family to suffer like he did. Then the daughter hints something about food and material possesions not being enough in looking after your family...or something to that effect. I liked that end bit the best. It mitigated the socialist bits of the drama and was a well written end.

Yes children's programs like this are not made anymore.
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Re: The morality of hoarding

Postby Heather » 09 Jul 2012, 18:28

I also don't see anything wrong with stockpiling food, water, and sundries. I grew up in a place with somewhat harsh winters, and everyone kept at least a bit of extra stuff on hand. I actually feel a little guilty about not having enough right now, and plan to set up a small store when I have a house rather than a small apartment.

There are a lot of "prepper" blogs that have of smart suggestions that everyone should be thinking about, like keeping your car more than half filled with gas in case you need to evacuate quickly, having emergency supplies with you, understanding basic defense, knowing first aid or wilderness medicine, etc. But it gets odd when a single man who doesn't know anyone of childbearing age stockpiles baby formula "because we know that someone will be desperate for it and gladly exchange it for something valuable", or when a non-smoker hoards cases of cigarettes because they read somewhere that they do well in the black market. Keep reading and you'll get a creepy feeling that these people actually want something bad to happen, because it will justify all the time and energy they've spent on this little hobby. I think that wishing for a disaster just so that you'll feel smart and special is where hoarding crosses the line into immorality.

I remember the article that totally turned me off from prepping. The author recommended buying small gifts for family members, and squirelling them away for when things get hard. He recommended buying a small gold ring for your wife and presenting it to her when she's having a particularly hard post-apocalyptic day, and she'll be filled with love and gratitude for your thoughtfulness and planning. Just imagine "Hey honey, I know you're having a bad day, but I love you so much that ten years ago I bought you this ring and hid it under a spare pallet of rice, so that I could whip it out at this very moment!" Or he could have just given her the ring as soon as he bought it, and she'd surely be touched then, too. It just shows such a level of excited anticipation for bad times and such a need to be seen as a hero, that I really have to wonder what's going through the brains of people who hoard to such an extent.
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Re: The morality of hoarding

Postby Yessica » 04 Aug 2013, 06:21

I do not believe in endgame scenarios. I do believe that our society might become unliveable... a place like say Detroit, but if it happens it will be a slow process... and I guess that there will always be some safe neighbourhoods, like gated communities. That is my personal worst case scenario and I hope it does not happen. Piled up foods would be of no use in that scenario.

However we have been stocking some foods, because the federal republic has asked their citizens to do so. There is a list of suggested foods and we have stored them without giving too much thought. We have a "Ministry of protecting the people and helping in cases of a catastrophy" (my translation, guess there could be a better one) and they have brochures telling the population how to prep.

We have a radio that runs on batteries which would be useful in case of emergency because there will be an emergency broadcast then telling us what to do. I know they build emergency broadcasting stations which will work however the circumstances. They do have their own generators for example.

I do not understand people who are storing foods for years. I know there are some. I think that it is nearly impossible there will be an emergency for that long. Our State is far too well prepared. However, should there be one being able to fish, hunt and grow foods will be far more useful than having stored stuff.

That story about the guy who bought that ring to give it to his wife... should I be honest. One the one hand I think it is cute... on the other hand I am happy he is not my husband.
Yeah, and like you I do think that some people are hoping for an emergency.

Oh, by the way, what I never get is when a person on a survival blog says: "I am hoarding weapons. So if my neighbours trying to grab my things I will shoot them". The is no scenario under which I can imagine shooting my own neighbours. If I have stuff and they don't I would do everything to help them and then we will figure out together how to solve our problems. That is how our people prevailed under bad circumstances.
Look at the Japanese after Fukushima and see how valuable solidarity is and compare it with New Orleans after Katrina. The Japanses approach was better than the American... though it might work only in somwhat homogenic societies, which the German still is. So it will work.

Not sure if that makes sense, but I think a person can carry civilisation inside herself or himself. As long as the person acts like a civilised person civilisation will always be there no matter how dire the circumstances.
A person might be poor and downtrodden and barely able to survive, but if that person treats everybody right (does not shoot his neighboor for example ;) he is still the middle class person he used to be.
A person might have only potatoes for food but as long as he has got table manners it still can be a civilised dinner.
What is inside of you matters more than anything outside...
Well, I have not been tested so far. no bad things have been happening to me... but I will stick to this in case of disaster should it ever happen to me.
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Re: The morality of hoarding

Postby Yessica » 25 Jul 2014, 11:02

I became more interested in this lately when I learned that in 2012 a big solar storm happened, only a little bigger and humankind would have been thrown back to pre-industrial times for months. Read that at a science page.
What is even worse: The risk of another big solar storm is elevated in the ten years to come. I do not know how high and need to do more research.

What would be the best things to have if it really happened? People I have talked to, who lived in poor and chaotic times said it were cigarettes, you can always trade them on the black market. This of course would be taking an unfair advantage of their addiction and highly immoral.

Re: the guy who is hoarding food and he wouldn't be able to do that if everybody was buying food because it was more expensive. Was he right to hoard? I missed that question.
It is an interesting question. To my mind that guy should at least have tried to warn his neighbours that the danger of food crisis was real... and tried to hoard some food for them in order to be able to help them...
What if they did not listen and he had not the money to hoard more?

To my mind a person cannot be asked to starve to death for the sake of his neighbours but on the other hand people should share in such a situation and try to find a solution together, like I said before, societies who do that are the ones which prevail in the long run.
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Re: The morality of hoarding

Postby Paul » 25 Jul 2014, 22:16

I wouldn't share with any of them. Not one and not a bean.

In fact, a weakness (for so it would be) of allowing just a small donation and/or just to a special friend or neighbour would open a floodgate. Word would get around, it just would, and the feeding of one would become the feeding of the five thousand.

Also, even the individual (or a few!) who were given such charity wouldn't stop there. What if the situation continued? Charity would become dependence, and expectation, and then belligerent expectation, and then a demanding of 'rights'. Violence would follow.

Fecklessness and irresponsibility that was prevalent in their lives before any disaster, wouldn't suddenly disappear in light of such disaster. In fact it could well be worse!

That's most people, and 'most' is an even larger number in desperation.

The lesson might be that in the event of hoarding - tell nobody! Not now, and obviously not in the event of.

Would you tell your family? How terrible to think that your kids might be leftie-inspired and blow the whole scene wide apart. The womenfolk too. Dear me. It's obvious that sometimes, one has to plot a little deeper.

The main thing to hoard of course, in the event there may be even a few-day hiccup, is potable water. A few days with no water supply (or a dangerous one) would be serious trouble for most people. Two weeks and quite a lot of people may well be winnowed out.
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Re: The morality of hoarding

Postby Yessica » 26 Jul 2014, 06:27

Paul wrote:Also, even the individual (or a few!) who were given such charity wouldn't stop there. What if the situation continued? Charity would become dependence, and expectation, and then belligerent expectation, and then a demanding of 'rights'. Violence would follow.


I am not so sure, Paul. In my opinion order would be restored after a while / people would depend on themselves again, e.g. beginning to farm etc. instead of holding a city job.

I am thinking of how governments solved problems like this in the past, they typically introduced ration cards. They did not say: "Okay, the rich did prep by hoarding money, they can buy all the food they want because they can pay whatever price, all the other should feel sorry for being so feckless and die", that resulted in the fact that since a long time very few people died from direct starvation in western europe.

It should be taken great caution that the ones who did prep have enough to live but I think it would be morally wrong to live the high life while you countrymen are starving.

You are also forgetting that prepping does not always protect you from depending on other people, you cannot prep for every eventuality unless you devote your life to it. Let's assume you hoarded big quantities of food but your house is flooded or bombed or destroyed by an earthquake and all the food is gone, or you hoarded food and it turns out you need medication but you forgot to hoard it.

Are you really prepared for every eventuality that could happen tomorrow including outbreak of a killer virus, earth quake including Tsunami, world wide computer crash?

As for water, if you life near a water source: wouldn't it be enough to filter and cook it? That's what I would do.
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Re: The morality of hoarding

Postby Paul » 27 Jul 2014, 12:12

Yessica:

I said 'what if the situation continued?' By which I mean intensified or 'got worse'. It could hardly be described as getting 'better' or even 'stable' - not when you have a situation where people are roaming about looting - looting food - because they haven't got enough to eat. It's an almost Doomsday scenario.

You said 'order would be restored after a while' ........ which is an entirely different outcome. A terrible crisis would then no longer be quite so. Still, who wouldn't then be very wary of a repeat? Maybe the previously feckless masses would suddenly realise the value of a little hoarding and certainly less waste.

(Hey, there's an idea...!)

It's also worth considering how long is 'a while'. We are talking about either a relatively minor (and very quickly rectified) state of affairs or a very serious breakdown of ...... virtually civilisation, in the modern sense.

You seem to have a strong reliance and belief in the state - a benign state. What if they aren't? What if they can't? I would think that if a food 'shortage' became so all-encompassing that people had to loot to survive, then a pretty serious crisis has befallen and the state has already lost control. The only way any order would be restored is highly likely to be at the end of a gun.

Everyone will start farming: Really? Where will they do that - especially in Britain but equally so in the densely-populated areas of Germany? Would people begin to land-grab - and how would that work out fairly and without conflict? Would the state (maintaining some control) just allow that? What about the existent farmers? How many people, particularly previous city workers, would be able to successfully farm, even without conflict, raiding, etc? How easy do you think it might be to live off the land - even say only 50%?

So difficult as be practically impossible for most people I would say. You cannot feed a family from a small house garden - not even for three months. And that's only thinking of things that grow. Livestock would be out of the question, apart from being beyond almost everyone's level of skill required. The livestock would be the first things to go in any case, if the whole town was starving. Dogs and cats would follow. And livestock need feeding too.

In any case, we have gone from a situation where people are looting their neighbours' food supplies (with conflict and violence because that's what it would be) to a suggestion that people will then just settle down to a bit of farming. They have to live long enough to come to that decision for one. Then how long is their fledgling farm going to take before it begins to yield results? As I say above, nobody will have a farm or have much idea what to do if they had.

One severe storm, one invasion of pests - not counting bandits and raiders in the night, and the entire farm produce is gone anyway.

How much food is eaten daily by the huge mass of humanity - just in one town? A mind-boggling amount! I have noticed the number of articulated trucks making deliveries to our local Tesco store, in just a smallish provincial town. They are continually pulling into and out of the loading area, including throughout the night. There is virtually a continuous stream of supplies, every single day. You would have to imagine that 75% or more of these supplies are foodstuffs. Go and have a look for yourself, see what I mean. And of course, in the event of serious food shortages (where looting your neighbours is seen as necessary), the supermarkets will be the first places to be besieged and ransacked - some burnt to the ground in a rage no doubt. At this point the trucks stop arriving - for how long? Two weeks is a hell of a long time. Three months is anarchy and death - or martial law - and death.

I don't think that one could be described as 'living the high life' if those around you are starving to death. You are actually surviving and 'the high life' and moral guilt is hardly the same description. It may be true that some hoarders might have stashed away caviar and champagne (but would they really?) but most sensible people would have squirrelled away much more practical stuff. It wouldn't really be a 'high life', existing fearfully on tinned goods and reconstituted dry food - furtively, behind bolted doors.

I agree you cannot prep for everything. That's life - or otherwise. But if a person does prepare for a possible disaster by way of food storage then that person is much better placed than the masses who rely on McDonalds on a daily basis. If there is a pandemic or an earthquake or a bombing campaign, then that is an entirely different thing. Your hoarded food would not alone (or at all) ensure your survival. But those things would equally afflict the non-hoarders, so I don't understand the relevance of what you have said.

If you mean that one should give one's carefully planned and executed survival strategy (food) away to those who did not plan, on the basis that they will give in return in the event of a non-food crisis, then I think that is fatally flawed. If a food crisis descended to the severity under discussion, then if a further calamity such as a pandemic or a huge disaster of a similar nature subsequently occurred I would say that very many of us are doomed.

However if a non-food crisis suddenly descends alone (or first) then again, I agree there is little one can do. Such is the human condition on Earth. Earthquakes and disease arrive without warning. This has always been the case. If one was lucky enough to remain unscathed, then maybe one would go out into the streets to assist or be expectant that others would assist you if the situation were reversed. The question of hoarding food doesn't come into it.

And how would your rescuers know that you had a secret stash of food and if the crisis had been food-based, you wouldn't have been helping them? Callous I know. But the situations are entirely different.

Let's say the disaster was a pandemic disease. Would you really go out into the streets to help people? And then go back home to sit with your children? Would you help to move corpses? Would you let outsiders into your home?

Also, if we take as a given that very few people would (are) preparing for a food shortage, then we have to assume that even less people will have stockpiled non-food items, such as medication, fuel, tools, etc, etc. Let alone water! There's probably very little help out there, if our carefully constructed, but extremely fragile and complex, state structures are dismantled, overwhelmed or incapable.

The same has to be said for food storage. The government hasn't got endless vast warehouses hidden away, with enough food inside them for tens of millions of people in the event of a crisis. That would be ridiculous. They cannot do it. In the event they have 'some', then that is for themselves - so they can continue to function (they would hope) in such an event. The government have 'prepped'. Of course they have and why not? They would be foolish not to have done. But they cannot look after everybody.

One has to take their lead somewhat and look after oneself and one's family. And why not - it's a moral obligation? Why be looking and hoping that the state will (and always should) come sailing to the rescue? That's the root of a lot of societal problems that have been discussed on this forum. People always expect someone else to sort out their problems - and become indignant (and worse) when this doesn't happen.

Water - there are water sources in most places in Europe. They are all dangerous to drink from. Water-borne diseases remain the biggest human killers. Imagine all those people and they all need water. Everyone clamouring at the river's edge.

Containers? Hauling the water back home? Filters? And then how do you heat it up to boiling point? Gallons per day.

This is the crux of this debate - and including the TV programme that inspired it:

How is the electricity, gas and water still flowing as normal when the situation is so serious that people are starving to death? The whole idea is utterly incongruous. In the TV programme, the man has 'freezers full of food'. Not very clever at all. Surely the lights will go out, at first only intermittently, in the event of such a crisis? The freezers will become health hazards as much as useless.

It all supposes that despite the primary human shortage (food) being experienced, all the other necessities are supplied without hiccup. This presumes that all the power station, water-treatment and similar workers are just amiably and dutifully going to work every day to keep things ticking along. (I agree they should do, some might agree to that necessity and they may be forced to). But they are starving themselves. How will they get to work and do their work? In the event they have been wise and stashed away some food, then would they go off to work and leave that food store unattended? How soon before their seeming resilience would get noticed?

Would all the doctors and nurses be able to get to the hospitals as normal? Would they want to? Do they have some food stashed away, being clever people? Would they not be at home looking over it? Same with all the fuel supply workers. And all the fuel-truck drivers.

So there's also a presumption with all this that motor fuel provision and transport is still running ok. It seems everything is running more or less ok, except that very few people have any food! This is just not realistic.

I agree that much of the above reads like an extreme scenario, which of course it is. Such a thing won't happen suddenly, with all items of produce. (a sudden fuel blockade and no transport would hit hard though and quite quickly) and the signs will (should) be noticed. You might say that we are on the very lowest foothills of such a scenario now. It depends how high into the foothills one wishes to go before taking notice and maybe doing a little planning. Most people will (should) take notice at some point and act accordingly. Some will not. I doubt there's anything much that anyone can do for the latter group. I'm not even sure one should. Some people would get almost to the summit and not make plans - and then expect everyone else to sort them out. My answer remains No. Like I say, I think we will receive ample forewarnings - if we are not already!

I write all the above in reference and in mind of what might happen if the masses take 'to the streets'. We saw in Britain what can happen in two or three days of rioting in 2011. And this was not born out of desperation, or any kind of want, much less of group fear. What might happen if masses of people are starving? Or in fact, initially just hungry? These kind of things might never have happened in Germany nor ever be likely to happen as easily, but that's no answer to anyone living in Britain - nor would I suggest, the USA.

Myself? I've always had at least two weeks (that could be stretched to a month) supply of food in the house. Not because of any paranoia but because that's the nature of my shopping activity. As least times as possible per annum. It's a chore. Plenty and not too often has always been my way. And I like buying some things in some bulk for the obvious economic reasons. Sacks of rice (well, one sack), drums of oil, other dried stuff. The Asian stores near here (ahem) are actually very good for this. I always have lots of tins in store, and conversely don't eat them much. They are 'emergency' supplies for the days when one wants sheer speed and convenience, as noted by others. I do try to rotate them to keep some date order going on. If I was serious about 'prepping' (which I'm not at all) I would get very much more tinned protein in store. Most of my tins are tomatoes, other veg, fruit and the all important British baked bean!

I have idly thought about it of course. Even more right now! Maybe I should amble down to the stores - they're open until 4pm today. What's £100 on tinned protein? And I have the room for it - everyone does.
Paul
 
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Re: The morality of hoarding

Postby Yessica » 27 Jul 2014, 14:04

Paul,

very interesting read. Just a short answer, may be I'll write a longer one another day.

While I was writing my post I was under the impression that it is most unusual for people in Europe to turn on their neighbours and loot and shoot. I might have been wrong. I did not have the example of the English riots in mind.

I do not think that there has ever been a case of Germans looting Germans in Germany, sure Germans looted other ethnic groups and the Russians looted the Germans, but I have never heard of Germans looting froms Germans.

In the last month of the war many city folks were hungry and they walked to the country folks and asked them for food, which country folks typically gave to them.

I have also heard the stories of the people which were POW of the Russians, which meant a real danger of starving to death. Now I never heard of one POW turning on the other, but that they were VERY solidaric and shared their last bread. People tend to get get misty eyed over the past, so who knows if it is true. That is what I have been told.

I am not sure which catastrophic cenario you are thinking of. When have people actually been starving to death in Europe for the last time (unless been starved to death for political reasons, which is something different and can hardly be prevented by prepping)?

That is something that typically happens in third world countries where the rich are unsolidaric and some hoard fabulous riches while thier countrymen are starving.

Imagine a solar storm throws us back to the level of 1820. In 1820 people were definetly not looting their neighbours in a catastrophic scenerio. While the population was smaller, not all land was farmed, not all land was farmable, some still consisted of swamps which have been drained since. Some land did not even exist because it was acquired from the sea since. Artificial fertilizer did not exist.

It does exist now and would not stop existing because of a computer crash. It is possible to distribute it without computer systems but may be a bit slower.

Everyone will start farming: Really? Where will they do that - especially in Britain but equally so in the densely-populated areas of Germany? Would people begin to land-grab - and how would that work out fairly and without conflict? Would the state (maintaining some control) just allow that? What about the existent farmers? How many people, particularly previous city workers, would be able to successfully farm, even without conflict, raiding, etc? How easy do you think it might be to live off the land - even say only 50%?


After a solar storm the existing farmers would need more hands, also it would be more complicated to hire hands from Poland and so on. I think they would be happy for the help.

I think that in Germany there is actually much land that could be farmed but is not farmed not because a) there is no need to or in other cases b) it is unclear to whom it belongs... at least I have been told so.

As far as I know there is also much land which belongs to the federal republic, I looked up how much and a qucik research turned out circa 1/3 of farmable land in Western Germany belongs to the state and 4% to the churches.

I think that possibilities can be found, I do not exactly know yet what they would look like but I am sure there are more knowledgeable persons in responsible positions who do.

In 1820 people hauled water from wells or little rivers and cooked it, didn't they. Why shouldn't we be able to do that? Were I am from they used two buckets on a stick as I learned visiting a museums. Most people do have buckets as. Why shouldn't a modern day person be able to tie them to a stick and get some water?

Before people understood what bacteria were they took their water from the same rivers the also used as loos, which did not turn out well... but now we know why we should not do that and it could easily be prevented.

Why would one need eletricity to heat the water? Why not heat it over a fire?

Certaily living in a more rural situation is better here. I had no problems getting water, even have a well on my ground and a cellar full of wood. Definetly being from a city that would be somewhat more complicated, in the long run it would be an idea to move to the country side if the crisis continued.

I am pretty sure that even a disaster would not end up in people having to starve RIGHT NOW, because the government has enough food ressources. I know our government does hoard tinned food and while that would be eaten somebody would probably come up with a plan and people could make their own plans.

The problems with prepping it that it cannot really be predicted if something you do is good or bad.

Assume you decide to have a child - good prepping for old age and a break down of the old age insurance, bad prepping for a solar storm - you don't want to give birth/don't want your wife to give birth, while to hospital does not function, you don't want to raise a young baby in critical times

Assume you decide to hoard some gold - great prepping in case there is a famine, there will always be people who will want it and pay in naturals, bad prepping in case there is a communist revolution in your country.

Would you really go out into the streets to help people? And then go back home to sit with your children? Would you help to move corpses? Would you let outsiders into your home?


No, I don't think I would to be honest.
I would definetly let outsiders live in my home in times of crisis but only if that crisis was not a infectious disease.... by the way: why did I need to do that. Their homes would be still intact, wouldn't they?
I think there are be people who should be the first to fight the disease on the street such as the medical community who unlike me had protective gear and after them childless singles.

I definetly would not starve to death for the sake of others but I think a scenario like that is unlikely to happen.


I am going to get some more knowledge about solar storms, how dangerous they are and how to prepare for them now.

What's £100 on tinned protein?


My guess would be that one should buy dried lentils, they have a lot of protein, are cheap, easy to store and have longer shelf life than tins of meat. Just a guess.

I'll find out.

There are lists what to stock from the red cross and various governments, just google them.

In fact we already stored what the government suggested us to store before but that would only help in case of a short time diaster. I think there must be list for long time disaster, I will google.
Yessica
 
Posts: 426
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Re: The morality of hoarding

Postby Paul » 30 Jul 2014, 00:39

Yessica - thanks for the reply.

It's all conjecture of course, even a little fantasy and also one can easily be branded a conspiracy nut, or paranoid, etc. But, it's not entirely impossible and it is thus a theme that has been explored on film and in books. It's probably advisable to give it at least some cursory thought.

I'm not sure about people in Europe not turning on neighbours. Our entire continent is one of wars, over centuries, or even millennia. I know what you mean - within national boundaries or within communities. I'm not so sure of this though. We personally have lived in a comfortable bubble of peace and prosperity and general law and order since WW2. Britain has been nationally stable for two centuries or more, mainly due to rising prosperity. How long will this continue? And we have another looming 'presence' in our midst. Anyway, think of the Balkans. They have a habit of turning on each other - and within recent memory.

Hasn't Germany had some riots over the years? I would be under the impression they would be squashed pretty rapidly, but there must be a potential there. Britain is no doubt worse placed still in this regard.

That's believable about the end of the war, and immediately after I would suppose too. The population was less, though still large no doubt. A difference might be a relief in knowing the war was (soon) over and things must improve. People might have felt able to help out more in the expectation of a swift improvement. And of course people were more stoical in those days, and more patriotic - certainly in the case of Germans in the 1940s? And of the English too of course. More benevolent too in those days - certainly in England anyway.

I have read however that millions of ethnic Germans died after the last shots of WW2. From starvation and disease (cholera). I don't know if this is true. Who knows the truth by now? How much is one really told? We will each have been schooled in a different version, or at least in particular emphases of the various facts.

As you say, with the POW stories. Who knows the truth in every instance? One is told that civilian (criminal) prisons are brutal places, but one could say that is different circumstances. They're all criminals for a start and no doubt the worst criminals are the most oppressive. But they aren't starving. Probably it's a different mechanism at work.

Last starving to death in Europe? I'm not sure. During wars or their aftermaths certainly. In England - maybe 200 years, here and there. Elements of the cities during the Industrial Revolution. The turmoil of the French Revolution and the years preceding it - for the French of course. The Balkans quite recently no doubt. It seems a long time but it's not necessarily that long ago, and the population was very much less than today by quite a degree.

In mainstream Europe anyone born in say that last 60 years cannot really conceive it. This obviously underpins our thinking. We may be right, for the sake of ...... not appearing as a conspiracy loon, not taking up some space in our home and not tying up a few hundred pounds in stored supplies. But what if a crisis did occur? What use our pride or our space in the home then?

Having said all this, I've done nothing about it out of the ordinary.

In 1820, events were just seriously getting going and (in England) the population was beginning to soar. My son did a history module at school in the early Millennia that dealt with England between the years 1750 and 1850. I got quite involved with it too and noticed the changes that occurred, which were astonishing. It was a huge century. Alongside three 'revolutions' - industrial, agricultural and transport, came rapid population expansion. The implication drawn is that without the three former, the latter could not have occurred. People would have starved, or at least not been as healthy and fertile enough to support such a population rise. Conversely, without the increasing number of people available, the 'revolutions' would not have proceeded at the pace they did. Our old friend Cholera carried away tens, if not hundreds of thousands.

Water will be the big problem if systems break down, and then sanitation. I just can't see everyone hauling water from a stream or a river if things get that bad. Most people if that thirsty would just drink it. The main dangers from streams and rivers is dead animals and fish upstream and also urine and dung from all kinds of creatures. Rats for example are almost constantly urinating.

Few people would have the materials or even the know-how or the will to boil all their water, if the gas and electricity ceased flowing. There isn't anywhere near enough wood for fires, especially in cities. Until the cities begin to burn that is....!

This is all Doomsday and the outcome is virtually Medievalism. If it gets to that there will have been other factors at work as much as plain food shortages. Nevertheless, most wars are often caused by resource-grabbing. Unless they are caused by religion, but no doubt as a blind for territory and resources in addition.

One would no doubt be better off in a rural area than a city, particularly from the point of view of civil disturbance from a dense population. But there isn't anywhere really that remote anymore in England. It is actually quite a small country.

I wouldn't know how much food the gov't has stored. The mind boggles to think of feeding entirely a population of tens of millions, if there is somehow little food coming in or being produced. Look at the pictures of Africa in famine times and the sheer logistics of supplying food and getting it to where it is needed most.

I don't think it can ever be described as 'bad' to do some preparing - for anything and particularly for the future. As long as it doesn't take over one's life to the detriment of other necessities, nor harm anyone else. A motto of some highly efficient military units is to be always prepared, or words to that effect. One doesn't wish to live one's life like a military campaign, but sometimes - what's the harm in it?

I wouldn't consider having or not having children along the lines of normal (in so far as there is a normal) 'prepping'. That seems to be really getting into the idea.

Gold - I've always wondered about the people who say this. They're obviously anticipating any crisis to be predominantly a financial one and act so mainly out of a speculative nature. They don't really conceive of possibly starving or thirsting to death or of contracting a disease connected to civil breakdown. For what worth would gold be then? You cannot eat gold, nor burn it for fuel nor enable it to reproduce. The man who is hoarding gold, at great expense and toil, isn't doing it so that he can exchange lumps of it for a potato or a cup of water. Or he is a fool if that is the aim. He would have been better storing some bottled water and tins of potatoes, at much less strain upon him in the pre-apocalyptic world. The gold-hoarder expects that he will get by the hard times (maybe he hoards food and water too?) but that one day everything will return and he will have enough gold to proclaim himself King! Or thereabouts.

Lentils. Hippy food, lol. The food of lefties the world over. But seriously, lentils are ok but not enough alone. They are a 2nd-class protein are they not, like most (all?) other vegetable and nut proteins? One couldn't live on them alone for too long. I'm sure that tinned meat and fish is safe for a couple of years via sell-by dates alone. It's probably safer for a year or two longer than that, or even.......

About ten years ago I think, some chap (in England) discovered a few tins of 'Chicken in jelly' in the attic of his grandfather's house, or at least in a certain attic then under cleaning, inspection, building work, etc. The tins were discovered to be from 1939. It seemed obvious that someone had begun hoarding upon the outbreak of war or in the time preceding it. There the tins had lain ever since. One (or all) of the tins were subsequently opened and the chicken inside them was declared fine and fit to eat. I'm not sure I would eat 60 or 70 year old chicken, but there you go. I think modern tins of meat and fish would be ok, and could be rotated every so often to keep them 'fresh'.

I would say that if one was to get into a bit of hoarding, then a good supply of bottled water is a must. Fuel for cooking (camping gas, etc) mustn't be overlooked either. First aid supplies. Candles. Chests of gold...?

I didn't go to the stores on Sunday by the way. I went in the garden to eat the last of the strawberries!
Paul
 
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Location: Lancashire, England.

Re: The morality of hoarding

Postby Yessica » 30 Jul 2014, 07:16

Paul wrote:I have read however that millions of ethnic Germans died after the last shots of WW2. From starvation and disease (cholera). I don't know if this is true. Who knows the truth by now? How much is one really told? We will each have been schooled in a different version, or at least in particular emphases of the various facts.


To be honest I have never heard of anybody dying of cholera. Google revealed the last Cholera epidemic in Germany happened in 1892.
People died of tuberculosis though. I often mix the two diseases up, may be the same happened to you? Nearly all of whom I know to whom that happened had in common that they where either gentry or former upper class. I think what those unfortunates really died from was their new State hating them. Some had been POWs and brought tuberculosis home and died from it but again that cannot really be blamed on poor prepping.
I have never heard of a person who died from direct starvation but of course tuberculosis is linked to poor nutrition.

I am under the impression that if people had died from starvation in great numbers I would surely have been told that ... from the ... family starved to death.

I have not heard such stories. I must ask some older folks.

I know in the GDR there was scarity of certain foods, the uprising in 1953 which you might have heard of was sparked by a protest against that + the fact that Germans were ordered to work more by the Russians and tributes the Germans were ordered to pay to Russia, but as far as I know there was no looting when that uprising happened. Instead Germans turned against Russian soldiers.

Hasn't Germany had some riots over the years? I would be under the impression they would be squashed pretty rapidly, but there must be a potential there. Britain is no doubt worse placed still in this regard.


There are some riots in Germany, for example people, both Germans and immigrants, are right as there write this riting against the politics of the State of Israel, I heard a synagogue has been torched in Wuppertal (the perps were Muslims in that case). That riot is very odd, it is the first time right-wingers, left-winger and fundie-muslims riot together.
During my life-time I heard of numerous little riots which where started for a left-wing or right wing cause.
In this year alone there was a riot started because some leftist community arts center was closed down, another because of May 1st on which the return to communism has been demanded and now they are rioting to protest the war in Gaza.

I did not want to leave the wrong impression that Germans do not riot, what I wanted to say is that they do not loot their own ethnic group. I never heard of that happening.

Paul wrote:In mainstream Europe anyone born in say that last 60 years cannot really conceive it. This obviously underpins our thinking. We may be right, for the sake of ...... not appearing as a conspiracy loon, not taking up some space in our home and not tying up a few hundred pounds in stored supplies. But what if a crisis did occur? What use our pride or our space in the home then?


That would be pretty bad, wouldn't it?
But what would make such a crisis likely. I can only think of a solar storm... but that wouldn't destroy the goverments food reserves. In case of an earthquake the international community sure would help.
May be a world war? Sure we would know one was about to start and could prep... on the other hand everybody might try to prep suddenly and not enough food for prepping might be available.

It wouldn't hurt us to prep a bit. I might buy some "emergency rations", know what that is? They are used by the military, people working on platforms, polar explorers and so on. They are biquits which are high on energy, vitamins and so on. In Germany BP-5 and NRG-5 are sold as well as the BW-Überlebensration (that of the German military). I think the Seven Oceans emergency rations must be sold in Great Britain, at least it has an english name.
The take little room, are easy to prepare in case of emergency and have a long shelf-life: the trouble with them: I don't think there is any use for them if no emergency comes. You cannot use them up in your everyday cooking and must throw them away... but well better that then being unprepared if an emergency should ever arise.

Alongside three 'revolutions' - industrial, agricultural and transport, came rapid population expansion. The implication drawn is that without the three former, the latter could not have occurred. People would have starved, or at least not been as healthy and fertile enough to support such a population rise
.

According to what I know the most important single thing invented to fuel the agricultural revolution was mineral fertilizer, that knowledge wouldn't be lost would it? How should it?

A motto of some highly efficient military units is to be always prepared, or words to that effect.


Really? That's funny, because always prepared was also the motto of the communist young pioneers.
Two military mottos I know of :
[*]"Semper fidelis" - "always loyal", motto of the US marines (and by the way loyal is the name of a magazine for those on the German reserve list)
[*]"Semper communis" - "always together", motto of the Objektschutzregiment of the German air force.

Two mottos which probably say that it is not good to let your fellow man starve to death ;)

I agree on preparation being a good thing though but think it is not always possible to be prepared for everything.

I will write more later.
Yessica
 
Posts: 426
Joined: 22 Mar 2013, 17:11

Re: The morality of hoarding

Postby Yessica » 11 Oct 2014, 20:58

In addition to the small stock suggested by our goverment I mentioned above and the tinned fruits and veggies we already have we started stocking some more tins, powdered milk, rice, dried peas and lentils by the way. We think if ebola really starts to spread in Europe it is safe not to need to go shopping more than necessary.

We did not buy anything we won't need if there is no ebola outbreak. We just bought things we would typically buy over several months all at once.

We de decided not to buy any things we would not like to add to our normal diet, which typically consists of fresh stuff. The only exception was the powdered milk.

Did you do anything ebola-wise?

I am not to scared of ebola yet and think our precautions will proof unnecessary but better safe than sorry.
Yessica
 
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