Monday, December 22, 2008

That's usually a call to some sort of action

Not too long ago we were at a sports activity for one of our children. Sometime in the middle of said activity, the door in the back of the gym was opened, setting off an alarm that sounded to me like a fire alarm. Once the door was closed, the ringing stopped.

Now the gym was small enough that it was easy to see that there was no immediate need to grab your children and trample other people on your way out to sweet freedom. In fact, though I initially thought that the alarm was set off by a small child messing around in small child fashion, my husband later told me that someone did actually exit the building to activate the alarm. Thing is, everyone heard the alarm, everyone looked around to see that they wouldn't be personally affected, and everything went on as usual. No one did anything out of the ordinary, unless you want to count whoever tripped the alarm in the first place. Thing is, no one did anything at all. What's the problem, you say? After all, there was no actual emergency. And hey, nobody panicked, causing unnecessary pandemonium and havoc. In this situation, you would be right--it didn't hurt anyone to ignore the alarm bells. But (and I know you knew this was coming :) there are "alarm bells" sounding out in many ways that should usually be a call to action to us all to improve our emergency preparation and food storage. If we are not personally affected at the moment that they are ringing, we may be tempted to figuratively glance up, do nothing, and go back to what we were doing. Which alarms are you/I/we ignoring?

One of the things that has been bothering me is the closure of stores, a subject that I put into a poll not long ago. The poll and poll results were as follows:

How do you feel about the number of stores closing in the U.S.?

I think that it is good that people are becoming more frugal 47%
I'm worried about what it means for the economy 47%
I'm worried about what it means in terms of unemployment 47%
I'm already very frugal, so the stores closing will not really affect me 41%
I think that in the long run it will help the economy 17%
I don't like that it will restrict my choices 0%
Other 11%

I was pretty amazed at how evenly the percentages came out, and you can tell that I didn't vote on this particular poll, because no one chose that they don't like that it will restrict their choices, and I will explain why that particular poll choice is troubling to me in a bit. First, though, the fact that stores are closing is a huge red flag to me, even though at first glance that doesn't really personally affect me. I don't work in a store, and I don't shop all that much, so why don't I just go back to my non-retail, non-shopping activities? Well, when the stores close, people lose their jobs, leaving larger unemployment, and less money to spend in the stores where they get their items, which will affect those stores, who may have to cut the number of their employees, and/or close down--are you seeing the domino effect here? And the only way I can see of getting out of the tumble down line is to have my food storage and emergency preparation items so that I can remain standing and perhaps help others to remain standing as well. If I am not totally reliant on a store for the basic necessities, it does not have to affect me as hard if said store goes down. Make no mistake, however--it will affect me in some way. The bells that are ringing out an emergency for those who have lost their jobs or have fewer hours should be a warning for us as well--to get as prepared as possible while we still can, so we will be in the best possible situation we can be in when the bells get closer. Because they probably will. And if they don't? We'll be better able to help someone else up.

It may seem that I'm awfully self-absorbed when I say that I don't like the fact that the stores closing limit my choices, but the way that I think about it is actually something that would affect everyone. When you have fewer and fewer choices, you could end up with a monopoly situation, where one supplier has all the power, and therefore the option to make the prices what they want them to be--which I would think off the top of my head would not be an ideal situation for the rest of us. There is something to be said for "price wars", where stores actually compete for business, and where people still have options. I'm not talking about missing rampant consumerism--just thinking about some basic components of human nature that appear when those who have power exploit situations in ways that reap the highest benefits for them. Hopefully, monopolies won't happen, and if they do, those in charge won't exhibit such unfortunate human tendencies. Either way, the fact that stores are closing should set off alarm bells even if we aren't immediately personally affected, and if nothing else, we can improve our preparedness situations so that we will be better off when we are personally affected. We may not be able to stop a store from closing, but we can stop procrastinating our preparation.

Recently, we went out to dinner with a gift certificate we received. We went to a fairly popular family restaurant that is usually (at least when we have gone) packed with people. I was amazed, given the night of the week that it was, and the time that we arrived, at the ratio of customers/employees. Suffice it to say, business traffic did not look optimal. Same good food, same good service, just fewer people to enjoy it. At the end of the meal, my husband asked what the deal was with the slow traffic, and the server started talking about the economy. When you consider how much hourly a server makes, (my understanding is that it is very little) and how much tips figure into their wages, people not being able to afford to eat out becomes one of those dominoes. Again, going back to those alarm bells--if you take the attitude that you aren't personally affected because you don't go out to eat, and people eat out too much anyway, you may be missing the point--when the alarm bells ring, and scream out the necessity to get some food in storage, they are not only ringing for those in the food service industry. They are not only ringing for those in the retail industry. They are ringing out, just like they did in that gymnasium, for everyone present. You may not see how it concerns you just now, but believe me, it concerns you, and it concerns me, and it concerns anyone else you can think of, because we are all in this together. If you/I/we are among the fortunate who aren't in the midst of a crisis right now, you/I/we need to heed the alarms and get ready. To those who are reading this and are already having a crisis, I truly hope that things get better for you soon.

The closing of stores is one alarm bell going off that I can think of. A few others may be the continual rise of food prices, the foreclosure on farms, the seemingly shrinking availability of non-hybrid seeds, the state of the economy in general--how many alarm bells do we need? There are probably some that I am missing, but hopefully there is an alarm bell that will ring for each of us before it is too late to prepare. We won't all be able to prepare on the same scale, because we all have different economic means, but each of us can do something, even if it is only to put aside a very tiny bit at a time. We need to do the best we can when we hear the alarms ringing, and not just ignore what is going on---what was/will be your call to action?

And a second question--is there anyone out there that would be interested in an Idaho preppers network? Like I have mentioned before, there are more qualified people around, so it won't hurt my feelings if someone wants to start one up themselves. However, if there is interest, I could set up a page. Let me know.


Anonymous said...

If you're interested, storable canned meats, cheese and butter are available at (just in case you're not aware...)

Marie said...

Anonymous--It's always good to know where to look for more options--I just hope people are preparing what they need and storing what their families will eat!

Idaho Homesteader said...

I'd love to have an Idaho Preppers network. I would also be interested in posting on it.

I've seen the writing on the wall since the early 1990's and have moved myself and family out to a "built-from-scratch-and-on-a-budget" homestead.

In my estimation, it is almost too late to get prepared. But everyone can at least start on the path to lessen the effects of the world-wide upheaval that is coming.

Marie said...

Idaho Homesteader--You are the type of person I was talking about--someone who is more knowledgeable than I am about the subject of preparation. I think it is scary how fast things are changing, and that it is getting harder and more expensive to prepare, but I also think that every little bit that people do will help in the long run. Everyone needs to prepare for themselves, but not everyone knows where/how to start. I still have a lot to do--I just hope others are working on preparation as well. Thanks for your interest in an Idaho Preppers Network--I'll try to figure out how to set it up, and would appreciate your participation!

Anonymous said...

Excellent Post Marie

Carl In WIsconsin

Marie said...

Carl-- Thanks very much!I hope everyone is preparing already, but it worries me that some people think that being prepared just doesn't apply to them. If they don't prepare, I'm afraid that later they will find themselves in an unhappy situation--so hopefully they will work to avoid such a situation now...

hsjacobus said...

Too true! Even more when that store closes where will those employees go? Some are going to go get jobs at the stores that are still open. There is only so much work to go around and the employers are more then happy to hire more employees and have everyone work less hours. Then after they get everyone down to few enough hours they don't have to provide benefits to their workers. The ripple began long ago and is now in full tsunami mode. It's not a wave that can be stopped, but we can pile up our reserves against its coming to help.

Marie said...

HSJacobus--That's an excellent point--I hadn't thought about the possibility that store owners would cut hours so that they could cut benefits as well. It's a pretty scary scenario all around, and like you say, storing what is needed will help out in the long run--thanks for your comment!