Sunday, May 18, 2014

Reply: "Black Swan Event: Can You Prepare for it?"

Anonymous said...
    Choosing to live/work in a high-risk locale and then suffering a disaster is not a BSE, but merely a poor choice for anyone claiming to be a survivalist.
    I've seen umpteen people online try to justify their decision to work at a refinery ('can't ends meet at a safer job') or live in the ghetto ('but the rent is cheap/I like the nightlife') and ignore the very real risks they face by living (12-14 hours) or working (8-10 hours) in those hazardous locations.
    E.g., a true 'survivalist' would not have kept working at the Twin Towers following the February 1993 bombing.
    No amount of 'EDC' gear or any other gadget would have kept you alive if you were at or above the point of impact in the North Tower.

Although academically speaking your statement is correct, I do see why people, even those that consider themselves aware and prepared, sometimes live in less than ideal conditions.

Again, I do see your point and agree with it. I also wouldn’t live in an area where natural disasters are common or in a high priority terrorist target.
Having said that, I lived in a dangerous country like Argentina for many years myslef in spite of knowing well how dangerous it was. I did so having a family and even after publishing a book about modern survivalism, fully understanding that we were living in a part of the world that was just too dangerous.

Why didn’t we leave sooner? Because things just aren’t that easy and I suppose it’s the same for those currently living in areas that are prone to flooding, tornados, earthquakes and such. We just didn’t have the resources yet and we didn’t want to evacuate like refugees, we wanted to relocate on our own terms and it finally worked out just as planned. The experience wasn’t as traumatic for the kids, and I like to think they never felt underprivileged because of it, rather the opposite. 

Relocating isn’t easy. You need money, you need a job, you need the cooperation of your family, your wife or older kids must be on board 100% and you need to take into account what you are giving up when leaving your old life behind. Sometimes, in spite of having to live with the added risk of tornados, everything else just works well for you in that area. You have a good job, good life, the kids are happy and you have good schools for them, you have family and friends that have your back. When you throw all those factors into the equation, sometimes it just doesn’t add up so as to justify relocating.



Greek Caste System said...

People do not relocate easily, promariry because of family ties.
You (or your partner) may not want to live away from his/her parents, brothers, sisters etc.
Another reason is that that many professions (e.g. lawyers) are very dependent on a network of acquaintances that may take years to form.
I know a couple of very successful dentists, they live in the most "downscale" part of the city, just to be close to their clientele.

Don Williams said...

1) One can look at the risks versus rewards of various locations, look at options to handle the risks and make a decision.

2) One of the highest risks out there is losing your job --or not advancing in your career which will lead to loss of the job eventually.

Falling into poverty brings a cascade of additional deadly threats with it: having to live in neighborhoods with high rates of violent crime, maybe having to enter into risky criminal acts oneself to make money essential to pay the medical bills of a loved one, the long term health dangers if you can not afford medical checkups as you get older, etc. Illnesses easily cured can become life-threatening if you avoid seeing a doctor because you don't have the money. The difference in death rates between the rich and poor are startling.

3) Plus everything is more difficult and takes longer if you are poor and have to use public transport because you can't afford a reliable car. Look at the bus schedules sometime -- a trip that takes a driver 30 minutes can easily take 2 hours with the frustrating waits at connection stops if you have to take the bus. Not much time for recreation.

4) Mental depression is a threat with such a bleak and frustrating life -- and self-medicating with drugs or alcohol just makes the situation worse.

5) Re country life, many of the rural jobs that let one earn decent (not great) wages in the countryside have high rates of death and injury: forestry, coal mining, fishing, etc. all have above average death rates.

6) In the 1970s , Mel Tappan urged people to move to rural sanctuaries at least 400 miles from major cities --he himself chose Rogue River, Oregon and some people followed him there.
In contrast, New York had a nuclear bullseye painted on it for much of the Cold War.

7) Yet the major danger of a 1 MT nuclear airburst is 8 miles out or so. With 30 minutes warning, one could have escaped with a boat or, if wealthy, with a helicopter. Manhattan has many
landing pads for helicopters.

The best approach, of course, would have been to make contacts that could provide early warning and to have gotten out of town for the week or so of high tensions --which were rare. Even quitting a job and coming back in a few weeks at another employer would only have cost one a few weeks of (high ) wages and a temporary reduction in salary.

8) Compare the situation of a 60 year old multimillionaire who had an average career trading on Wall Street -- and who built up savings of $6 million -- with the situation of a person who lived in rural Oregon all his life and only has savings of $80,000.

9) Like high explosives, money properly applied in lavish amounts can fix most problems. Who of the two men is better situated to survive black swan catastrophes? Who can pack up and move to the far side of the world if an asteroid is seen heading toward this side?

10) Survivalism itself can be one of the biggest dangers to survivalists -- if it encourages them to evade duties, responsibilities and high priority tasks in favor of ill-judged escapism and endless research on unprofitable topics.

As they will discover when the divorce lawyer submits demands for 50% of life savings plus alimony and legal fees.

Don Williams said...

PS People forget that Mel Tappan married a wealthy heiress. John McCain did even better --married a wealthy heiress to a beer fortune. Although some people say that is earning a living the hard way.

Anonymous said...

There are always safer locations within your own country.

IIRC, Gary North gives the example of a philosophy teacher, who in the 1930s lived and taught in a major German industrial city.

But seeing the Nazi's rise to power chose to switch to teaching mathematics in a smaller town where he could have his own modest farm.
(the city he left was bombed flat, of course, by the end of WWII.)

And say you work for the government - there's a whole lot less risk transferring to the Office of Weights and Measures versus staying in the IRS or DOJ.