On the morality of storing

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This is written in response to Brett (SavyDad), and to some of his comments in another thread. It is published for all to read, and is occasioned by two factors.

The first is that in the days to come we are going to hear voices that label anyone who has prepared as immoral or an enemy of the people to use Peter de Jagers phrase.

The second is Bretts ducking into email to respond to me and my belief that if something is worth discussing, it is worth discussing in public. And, I think this is worth discussing -- again.

Brett makes the argument that storing in excess of 3 months of food is immoral, and that we all should simply grow our own. Furthermore, he asks who gives me (or anyone else, by definition) the right to store more than 3 months of food.

I was going to ignore these questions, but have become convinced that they will be heard a lot in the near future. So, I will address them now. Recognize that Brett becomes a straw man for governments and bleeding hearts who will raise the questions later. And, while Brett raises them now, in the context of this forum, the others who will raise them won't be so benign Sorry, Brett, but thats what you get by being first.

So, I treat Brett's arguments as a straw man. I am not attacking Brett, (Brett, please don't feel that I am), but I certainly am looking through the arguments he has put forward in an earlier thread at what we may be in for.

First, lets look at some very basic stuff -- the food supply chain. Assume that everyone decided to store 3 years of food, but that they started in 1997, slowly increasing their cache. That means the amount of food going to consumer pantries doubles on the average, but it does so at a slow rate. The supply chain can keep up with it. On the other hand if everyone decides to store only 3 weeks of food, but waits until December, 1999, the shelves are soon emptied and can not be restocked in time. The consumption rate is identical (weve doubled the rate at which food is sold). The issue is not the total amount of food that is stockpiled, nor the rate at which it flies off the shelves but is the time the system has to respond.

The rate at which food flies off the shelves and the time the system has to respond are both controlled by corporate and government spin on the situation and by government statements. As long as John Koskinen keeps telling us that everything is just fine, the majority of Americans will continue to ignore Y2K. Therefore, the government is the factor controlling stockpiling. As long as that happens, neither I, nor any one else is doing anything to harm others.

In other words, I see Bretts argument about stockpiling being immoral is absurd. Brett admits the absurdity of his own argument when he notes that storing wheat, beans and rice is OK, but hes really talking about canned goods. Lest anyone have doubts, if things get really bad, it will be wheat, beans and rice that feed our nation. This will be especially true of the poor who have not been able to lay aside food.

Second, Brett has questioned my right to determine how much food I choose to lay aside. So, lets examine the very concept of rights. These are very basic ideas that go back to the founding of our nation. I happen to believe that our nation prospered and flourished when these ideas prospered and flourished.

If you disagree that these ideas were expressed by our forefathers, Ill recommend that you find a good translation of the book, Democracy in America, written in 1835 by Alexis de Tocqueville.

This book is the definition of early America and of the principals on which our nation was founded. Tocqueville portrayed the very strength of America as a series of concentric circles, in which a free man, endowed with rights by God, was able to influence community, then state, and finally nation. Sounds a bit like Y2K prep.......catch on, then individual, then community, then state, and so forth.

In answer to one question, who gave me the right to decide to stockpile more than 3 months of food? I will make two responses:

First, Brett doesnt know how much food I intend to stockpile, nor is it any of his business. However, should I choose to stockpile even decades worth of food, this leads us to the second response:

Rights are given only by God. Not by man. That statement on the source of rights is one that Brett should be able to find in our early writings if he cares to research. If he read the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights some day he might be surprised to learn the answer to the question, who gave you the right..... In other word, I must examine my own actions. As long as I am not harming others, I have every right to stockpile. Until the panic begins I am not harming others. Once panic sets in, I should refrain from doing damage. Let people fight for whatever is on the shelves. My previous buying wont have contributed one iota to what is happening.

That statement -- Rights are given only by God. Not by man. -- is not changed by Bretts beliefs. Rights do not come from him. So, when he asks who gave me the right to stockpile more food than he decides is necessary for my well being, he is inserting himself in the place of God as a giver of rights. Sorry, your majesty, we dont operate on that system here. My right is the right of a free man, and is God given.

Furthermore, I totally reject his attempt to pin blame for problems on those who choose to prepare. The blame is not ours, but lies with a central governing body that has lost sight of the source of our strength. Neither I, nor anyone on this site, nor anyone who buys food or withdraws money from the bank or buys Alladdin lamps is responsible for shortages of food, cash, or Alladin lamps. Such shortages could have been averted by honest assessment and reporting that led to a prepared citizenry

If Brett must engage in blame placing, I suggest that he try governments and corporations that have been less than truthful about the situation. But, the time for blame placing is long past. Now its time to prepare.

But, it is this attempt to blame people who are preparing that I find offensive in the first place. Brett seems to have established his own set of rules -- no more than 3 months supply -- and has now begun to attempt to place blame on anyone who disagrees with those rules. This is simply an extension of the bankers chant that collapse of the banking system will be blamed on anyone who takes their money out of the bank, rather than on the system itself. We can note here the first attempt to define hoarding, as opposed to stockpiling. Later on, governments may change that definition to 3 weeks, or even 3 days.

Bretts are really not well thought out rules. As one person pointed out, Bretts concept of becoming self sufficient through gardening is great -- if you have at least 10 acres. Doesnt work for apartment dwellers. Doesnt work for people living on 1/4 acre suburban lots, either. Self sufficiency gardening requires land. Move to the country? Some people can not do this. To insist that everyone can is ridiculous. There isnt enough room in the country for everyone to go rural, there isnt enough time, and a lot of people would die as a result of crop failure.

Bretts concept indicates that hes in a position to do what he advocates. Thats great. Go for it. But, dont require everyone else to fit that mold. And dont pin labels on those who dont.

Some are bound by family or other personal situations, some by jobs, and still others have determined to ride the storm out in the cities because they have determined that is where they can be of greatest benefit to others. I know of one pastor who has decided to remain in a dangerous location because he believes thats where God calls him to be. Brett's argument would consider this God-fearing man, who rejected the temptation to flee to safety in order to minister to others, to be immoral if he chose to store more than this arbitrary 3 months supply of food. Please, spare me.

The people staying in populated areas have made a choice, and they have the right to prepare as they see fit. Again, that right is God given, and can not be taken away because Brett decides that they must limit preparation to 3 months of food.

Again, while I use Brett as a straw man, please recognize that many others will take this view........they didnt stockpile, so we are immoral if weve done so.

The next step in this little tableau, of course, is that since weve committed an immoral act we must be punished for our sins by the will of the people, that demands that our stockpile be stripped from us. In this case the giver of rights isnt Brett, but has become the people. I reject this as well........rights are God-given

Understand this......I disagree entirely with this attempt to force this concept of morality -- store less than 3 months food so that everyone can buy more -- on me or on other persons who choose to prepare.

But, I disagree just as strongly with the mindset that caused Brett to use email. Not because I object to getting the email, but if the point is worth discussing, its worth discussing in public, not in a series of private exchanges. In case youre interested, thats another concept that came out of our early liberties, in the form of town meetings in New England.

Maybe its time for us to return to the roots -- God and Country -- that made our nation great.

-- De (dealton@concentric.net), March 06, 1999


Dear De, I think that it is a good idea to hash this all out since these ideas will be repeated over and over again, here, on talk radio, on TV, and in print many many times over the next 9 months.

I'll start with a reply to an e-mail I recieved. I may choose to assume it is from Brett SavyDad@aol.com but since the poster didn't identify his/herself I can't prove anything. Maybe some kid's gigging me, who knows, who cares. Point is this, it really doesn't make a bit of difference who said what, it's the ideas that are important. What's that quote? "Small people talk about other people, greater people talk about events, great people talk about ideas?" [e-mail follows with comments in <>] Subject:Food Date: 05 Mar 99 12:10:46 From: rogersb@steelworksinc.com (Brett Rogers - DM) Organization: SteelWorks, Inc. To: kenseger@earthlink.net (kenseger) Ken, I happen to live in the country, , surrounded by farmers who are my neighbors. Our low commodity prices are not determined by your purchase of product at the grocery store; they're determined by global factors, which right now suffer from deflation in other countries. Please don't vaunt yourself as the savior of the family farm when you buy a whole host of goods. Maybe you read the WSJ too much.

As for the apartment dweller who buys a year's supply of food - show me the apartment that can store one year's supply of food. Unless you're single with two bedrooms too many, 1200 sq feet of living space won't withstand that bulk.

The lifeboat with leaks, which our society has aplenty, doesn't need ignorance. And it doesn't need people climbing on top of each other to save themselves either. Here's a quote: "I'd rather look foolish and say nothing, than open my mouth and remove all doubt."


[end of e-mail]

De, You have taken a Christian perspective to the concepts of rights. I'm certian that if Ayn Rand, an aethist, were still alive and on this forum that she would state you you are completely correct but for the wrong reasons. She would passionately argue, and hopefully persuade, that the rights of man to self determination flow logically from the nature of the human animal and the nature of the natural universe. I won't attempt to summarize 10,000 pages of Rand, other than to point out that both Christians and Randians find that collectivists and their strong arm tactics are their mutual enemies.

- Ken Seger (Who Uses His real Name@theinter.net)

-- Ken Seger (kenseger@earthlink.net), March 06, 1999.

Those who vilify the preparers may as well damn mother nature...the ants, the squirrels, the bears, the beavers...etc.

-- Tim (pixmo@pixelquest.com), March 06, 1999.

Okay, being ignorant of HTML, I'll guess that putting text inside <>s makes it go *poof*. Live and learn. Or given the Zeitgeist of our age, "Whom shall I sue?" ;)

One more time, this time, using --- to bracket my comments hoping that --- doesn't do something in HTML....

[beginning of email]

Subject:Food Date:05 Mar 99 12:10:46 From: rogersb@steelworksinc.com (Brett Rogers - DM) ---this might be BrettSavyDad, who knows, who cares, could be some kid gigging, the idea is what is important, not the person speaking--- Organization: SteelWorks, Inc. To: kenseger@earthlink.net (kenseger) Ken, I happen to live in the country, ---lucky you, others are not all so blessed--- surrounded by farmers who are my neighbors. Our low commodity prices are not determined by your purchase of product at the grocery store; they're determined by global factors, which right now suffer from deflation in other countries. Please don't vaunt yourself as the savior of the family farm when you buy a whole host of goods. Maybe you read the WSJ too much.

---Maybe I do, but I've also been listening to my BIL for 20+ years who grew up on a farm, farmed and ranched his entire life raising irrigated sugar beets, beans, chipping potatoes, ranched beef, feedlotted beef, played the futures market, etc. and is now retired. BIL's favorite hobby is telling me all about farming, giving me tours, taking me to ag seminars, etc. While my individual purchases have no effect, aggregrate purchases make a profound and immediate affect on what the farmer makes. I'm sure that BIL would be happy to tell anybody the same and would have 50+ years of experiance, prices, and satelite feeds, to back up his opinion.---

As for the apartment dweller who buys a year's supply of food - show me the apartment that can store one year's supply of food. Unless you're single with two bedrooms too many, 1200 sq feet of living space won't withstand that bulk.

---Clean miss. My point was, How does an apartment dweller GROW 1 year, 3 month, or 3 weeks worth of food? Storage is easy. One layer of 5 gallon pails (33# of wheat or whatever) under plywood, under a mattress = one bed. One futon over a stack of boxes of 6-#10 cans = one chair or sofa.---

The lifeboat with leaks, which our society has aplenty, doesn't need ignorance. And it doesn't need people climbing on top of each other to save themselves either.

---We agree on the problem, we disagree on the cure. My opinion is that compensating for just in time inventory (called stockpiling or if one is an alarmist hoarding) is the correct method to patch lifeboats and to build more.---

Here's a quote: "I'd rather look foolish and say nothing, than open my mouth and remove all doubt."

---Isn't it nice that people currently have the legal right to say what they want? Usually those rights are first abridged by those that feel they have the moral obligation to force others to do what they perceive is right.---


[end of e-mail]

Further note to De -

Returning to the roots of freedom and individual self determination will help rebuild the US. Two people can come to the same correct conclusion for different reasons.

-- Ken Seger (kenseger@earthlink.net), March 06, 1999.

Just want to say thank you to everyone( well, almost everyone) who is on this forum. I am constantly amazed at the absolute superiority of the BRAINS on this forum. I find it mind boggling since I live in the "Big Scrub" (remember The Yearling??) of Florida. They ain't too bright deep in these here woods. But they will survive as they always have. Gotta give 'em that. I also want to thank you who make up the links for the rest of us and for those like Diane and Puddintane who ferret out the articles for us. God Bless y'all. Us dummies would be in a real hurt without you.

Know how to cook 'gator tail?

-- Taz (tassie@aol.com), March 06, 1999.

The "morality of storing" as defined by those who want to prevent panic is that it's moral for the power players in Washington and their friends to be stockpiling at their Maryland eastern shore estates. But peons like us are supposed to wait until they're finished so we don't inconvenience them by emptying the shelves before they're done.


-- Wildweasel (vtmldm@epix.net), March 06, 1999.

Ken, yup, you're right. (I've read most of Rand.) Many, many areas of agreement, especially when confronted with collectivism.

-- De (dealton@concentric.net), March 06, 1999.

Not that this would be too suprising but:

I'd prefer to see this same exact discussion framed under the title:

"On the IMMORALITY of NOT storing"

-- Greybear, self muzzled, bouncing off the end of the chain.

-- Greybear (greybear@home.com), March 06, 1999.

At the moment I think American farmers wish more people would buy their products. Agriculture prices have dropped dramatically since 1996. The Asian economic crisis has cut the demand for American farm prices.

There's also the account of Joseph and Pharaoh in the Old Testament.

-- Kevin (mixesmusic@worldnet.att.net), March 06, 1999.

What I meant to say was...

"The Asian economic crisis has cut the demand for American farm products."

-- Kevin (mixesmusic@worldnet.att.net), March 06, 1999.

This reminds me of what my mother used to tell me at dinner time. "You eat everything on your plate because the children in China (or wherever) are starving!"

If I don't buy what is on the grocery store shelves and put it up for the future, does that mean it will still be on the shelves when Y2K comes? And that no one will starve or do without . . . not even the hungry children in China?

When I buy in bulk, the grocer buys more to stock his shelves, I benefit, he benefits, the middle man benefits, and the farmer benefits. The public will probably benefit when it is all confiscated, but will I be thanked for planning ahead? I doubt it!!

-- linda (smitmom@hotmail.com), March 06, 1999.

Brevity! So many words make my brain ache.

Come over to the Christian Forum. Please!

(Prov 30:25 KJV) "The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer;"


-- Mark Hillyard (foster@inreach.com), March 06, 1999.

I have a small problem with the "3 month" limit (let's not even look at the 3 day version). The first problem is that this is probably going to be a January or February event. Three months brings us to June at the best. Assuming that frost out (or ice-out) is in LATE April, and the typical food crop requires 8-15 WEEKS to bear, anyone with just 3 months of supplies is going to be doing a lot of staring and hoping as the months of June, July and August come and go. A MUCH more apropriate time frame for stocking is 9-12 months so you get to the next harvest without having to try to eat dandelions (NOT BAD, BTW) or yard grass and dirt.

Also, a year's supply fits in a 5 foot cube for each person, assuming a 3500 cal/day diet, with a LOT of added foods from the pre-set. ANY long term storage food corp will attest to this (actually, it's a LOT smaller cube)!!


PS MORALITY in this issue is defined as maintaining one's oaths (Honor and obey, in sickness and in health, cherish, provide for.... NAY of this sound familiar????)

-- Chuck, night driver (rienzoo@en.com), March 06, 1999.

I am amazed that anyone would even consider discussing the morality of working to save one's own life, as it is certainly looked upon by many who are "preparing". It is more moral to *not* try to insure your childrens health and well being?

The audacity of anyone to say it is wrong to "hoard", while there are no major or imminent shortages, is ludicrous? At least *my* supermarket was still there yesterday, with all its shelves fully stocked. Does someone think they don't want to sell that stuff? IMHO, non-preparing moralists will likely be the first to think someone else owes them a living if a crunch comes. So let's all go the other way. Everyone must reduce the size of their meals and buy less and less for the next ten months. Will that leave so much *more* available? Who would order it?

Perhaps as we all see the escallation of panic buying in October, November and December, those who have prepared should start bringing back to the store all those items which become missing on the shelves. We should ask for a refund so they can be resold to people who *really* need them.

On a more realistic note, if we personally don't get everything together that may be needed, and I doubt we will, the *next* time we'll just have to be smarter or quicker. Isn't that the tried and true method of advancment for all life on earth? Would picking straws be a fairer way to determine who lived and who died? Nahh!! That system may have kept the do-do bird alive but at the possible loss of the eagle. (Not the best examples but you know what I mean.) The same result would befall the human race. Let's face it. We may be heros for having forsight and being able to feed family and friends. We may fuel the economy. We may save many lives. On the other hand, when its over, we may be ridiculed and mocked for believing as we do (did). Those non preparing moralists will be laughing and laughing, never realizing how close they had come. We'll all have to live with the outcome, at all levels, no matter what we do or do not do.

One more thing. I have read here that some have scoffed up every single item of an available goodie. Did they need every one? Will they use every one?? If not; *that* was wrong. *That* is unforgivable hording.


-- Floyd Baker (fbaker@wzrd.com), March 07, 1999.

Y2k or not, it is the obligation and the duty of every father/mother to provide for his/her family to the best of their ability. Y2k or not. Re: y2k, if you think that requires storing a years worth of food and you can,,, then go for it. WHY IS IT ANYONE ELSES BUSINESS?

-- me (me@me.com), March 08, 1999.

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