Source: Peak Prosperity, by Charles Hugh Smith
About that bug-out plan…
A flurry of recent headlines has highlighted the financial elites’ interest in secure retreats (a.k.a. bug-out locations) should the trucks stop rolling. That those with the most money and access to expertise are preparing safe havens has moved the conversation about bug-out plans from the alt-media to the mainstream, however briefly.
The basic idea is to develop some measure of security in an increasingly insecure world, and pursue some measure of independence in an increasingly fragile system of global supply chains.
The intuitive solution to many, from the super-wealthy on down, is some version of a hideaway in the woods: a remote locale known only to the owner, where the owner can burrow safely away until the storm passes.
It turns out security and independence are tricky qualities, and surprising reversals are not just possible but likely: what appears to be secure at first glance might be highly insecure, and independence turns out to be highly relative.
The Remote Cabin in the Woods: The Perfect Target for Theft
The first problem with the remote cabin in the woods (RCITW) bug-out plan is that “remote” and “secret” are two different things. As I explained in my 2008 essay The Art of Survival, Taoism and the Warring States, the local residents have a much different view of what’s remote and secret than outsiders.
Simply put, if humans are settled anywhere nearby, nothing is remote or secret. I have come across guys on foot in extremely remote logging roads miles from any paved road, much less a settlement. I’ve been startled by hunters on family-owned wooded acreage far from neighbors or towns.
Throw in drones, Internet access to terrain photography that was once the domain of spy satellites, and humans’ healthy curiosity, and “remote” and “secret” just got even scarcer.
A local news story some years ago illustrated the point: some luckless outsider’s entire bug-out cabin was stolen: not the contents, the entire cabin. The “owner” returned to a bare concrete slab.
“Remote and secret” means “easy to steal”: nobody around, plenty of time to take the whole darn thing.
I put quotation marks around “owner” because “owner,” “possessor” and “occupant” are different things.
Consider the broken window problem. A kid tosses a rock through the window of an unoccupied house, and people notice the window doesn’t get fixed. So somebody has the bright idea of breaking in and looking around. Next, some unsavory characters discover the back door is open, and they start using the place as a crash pad and drug haven. Now the property is occupied—by squatters.
“Squatter’s rights” have a long history, and the rights of possession could once be transformed into outright ownership back in the day. Evicting squatters can require quite a bit of legal work and money, and of course squatters being evicted tend not to be overly respectful of the house or its contents.
Lest you reckon this possibility is out of the question: a surprising number of abandoned homes in middle-class neighborhoods slide into becoming squatters’ druggie havens.
It turns out security is less a function of “remote and secret” and more a function of eyes on the street community and full-time occupancy.
About That “Rugged Individualism”…
There’s a whole other set of problems with the remote cabin in the woods (RCITW) bug-out plan: the owner of the RCITW is typically as dependent on the fragile supply chain as any urban dweller.
The proud “rugged individual” on the remote homestead may have his own well, a solar panel and a garden, but if we observe him closely we find he drives his hugely inefficient vehicle into town weekly to fuel up at the gas station, fill his propane tank, pick up his medications, cash his government/ institutional check (Social Security, SSI, pension, etc.), buy 98% of his food calories, get spare parts for his water pump, and so on.
This “rugged individual” is as dependent on the trucks rolling as any city dweller. He is dead in the water without abundant cheap fossil fuels, functioning supply chains for industrial-manufactured parts, constant delivery of cheap food calories, and money from the state or some financial institution.