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The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
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2010 Reads > TMIAHM: A model of self sufficiency

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Brad T. | 217 comments When we were discussing World War Z, we tapped into a discussion about preparing for a zombie apocalypse. We discussed ways to be self sufficient through the use of bug out bags, guns, etc.

In this book, Mannie describes a form of protest through self sufficiency. He describes how his family unit has a farm that is paid for. They create their own food, electricity, water, and supplies as much as possible and even give back to the city through the distribution of excess power. In today's world, we call this "living off the grid." In the spirit of full disclosure, I am working towards self sufficiency myself and trying very hard to live off the grid as much as possible within the next 5 years.

Those of attempting to live off the grid are seen by many as nut cases, radical survivalists, extreme isolationists, or dangerous to the survival of our country. Think about it for a minute, when you hear that someone in your area is stockpiling food or even worse weapons, what immediately pops into your mind? Was it "militia," "terrorist cell," or "crazy?" Our news media does its best to create that image because it sells.

For me, its more about preparing for whatever life throws at you. I was just laid off two weeks ago without a separation package. And to make matters worse, they are even fighting me on unemployment. All this after 13 years of employment and annual evaluations stating that I exceeded expectations for the last 4 years running and merit bonuses.

Thankfully I was prepared. I have no debt other than my mortgage, I have 6 months of food in the house and I have a years salary in the bank. I have the ability to run half my appliances using a solar battery system I built myself and I have a two gardens with enough fresh food growing to extend my 6 months worth of food to about 9 months, perhaps even a year if I went vegetarian.

If every person in this country had my backups, what affect would this have on our government's ability to rule? Bringing this discussion back to the book for a minute, how would the citizens of Luna bring power back into the their own hands by being self sufficient?


message 2: by Philip (new) - added it

Philip (heard03) | 381 comments If everyone had your backups, that would severely limit the government's power over the citizenry. The power of government is in direct proportion to the people's dependence upon government. That's why some(if not a majority of) politicians promote programs and policies that encourage people to depend on the government. Unemployment insurance for 99 weeks? Really? That's almost 2 years, if it takes 99 weeks to find a new job, that person wasn't looking very hard. By the way, that is in no way a comment upon your present unfortunate circumstance, Brad.

But we are so unreasonable, how can we expect anyone to buy chrome rims for their SUV or a new 50" flat screen if they're actually setting aside some of their money for emergencies? ;0)


message 3: by Patrick (last edited Jul 14, 2010 06:07AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Patrick | 93 comments I see nothing wrong with living off the grid. Reducing your dependance on the outside does impart some degree of security.
"If every person in this country had my backups, what affect would this have on our government's ability to rule? Bringing this discussion back to the book for a minute, how would the citizens of Luna bring power back into the their own hands by being self sufficient?"

In the book the "Authority" exerts control because of it's monopoly on basic needs like air and water. It really does nothing governmental like providing defense, a code of laws or legal protection. It's more like a corporate monopoly. In fact it sort of resembles the company towns that required the employees to rent the company housing and buy from the company store.

So by living off the grid are you reducing your dependance on the government or on the corporate entities that supply your power and food?


Stan Slaughter | 359 comments The simple fact that you, "...have 6 months of food in the house" makes it obvious that you do not have teenage children. :)


terpkristin | 3497 comments Stan wrote: "The simple fact that you, "...have 6 months of food in the house" makes it obvious that you do not have teenage children. :)"


I assure you, even when my brother, sister, and I were teenagers, we had more than 6 months of food in the house. And now that we're out of the house, my mom STILL has a truckload of food in the house. I like to joke with her that if there was a sudden crisis where we were stuck in the basement, as long as we had a knife (to open the cans) and a source of fire, we'd be set for YEARS.


Hilary A (hilh) | 40 comments Unfortunately you are considering this from a not-urban setting point of view. Having grown up in land-scarce, tropical Singapore(think mad heat & humidity), unless you are rich, you wouldn't have the luxury of storing 6 months worth of food - no basement, no space, plus any dried food will go bad eventually due to the humidity.

Any one have any ideas on how people in studio apartments that don't necessarily have the space for 6 months worth of food to be prepared for a crisis? It seems like if you *have* a basement, having a back-up plan would be wise, but if you have a lack of space, what then?


message 7: by Brad T. (last edited Jul 20, 2010 05:34PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Brad T. | 217 comments I keep 6 months worth of food in a small bedroom closet. It doesnt take much room to store food. I also have 5 gallon buckets filled with 2 weeks worth of food that can be picked up and taken very quickly. We live in an area with wild fires so we may have to leave vry quickly. Humidity wouldnt be an issues if you pack stuff in sealable containers and threw in a couple cheap 02 absorbers. Heres a good web site that can help http://foodstoragemadeeasy.net/. I also like www.dehydrate2store.com.


message 8: by Tom (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tom Hansen (scarhoof) | 48 comments We also keep extra food, mostly staples, things that will last a long time. I also purchased 2 100 gallon tanks to keep water in (we live in AZ desert). I figure it can last us a couple weeks if ever there was something bad happening here. As far as insurance goes, I haven't felt as good about buying any other type of insurance as I did when I got those water tanks home and filled them.


Stan Slaughter | 359 comments Brad, Tom

I now know who to raid doing the next Zombie Apocalypse (or rock filled canister attack from the moon)

BTW - That was actually a sub plot in the novel, "Lucifer's Hammer". Biker gangs took note of who was storing food and preparing for the disaster - then swooped in and stole it all after the disaster hit.


message 10: by Tom (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tom Hansen (scarhoof) | 48 comments Stan wrote: "Biker gangs took note of who was storing food and preparing for the disaster - then swooped in and stole it all after the disaster hit"

That's why you have guns :-) Gotta protect your family and investment in the future.


Hilary A (hilh) | 40 comments Tom wrote:"That's why you have guns :-) Gotta protect you..."

Which works out even better, because if in any case you die (I'm thinking a particular scene in Zombieland here) the survivors would suddenly find ammo, a la video games.


Brad T. | 217 comments I didn't mention that cache of weapons did I? Anyone is welcome to try. That's all I'll say about that. :)

Seriously though, I chose my home because its easily defensible. I didn't bring that up with my wife when I was looking for a new house but it was a consideration.


Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 2186 comments I grew up in a family that has a room of canned goods, its own fuel tank and generator, and we would spend summers picking, canning, freezing. That was BEFORE 9/11. :)

I think a lot more people have the sense these days that our economy isn't stable enough not to be somewhat prepared, although I think economic collapse is probably more likely than zombies. In that case, I'm not sure having money in the bank does any good, or if money is really what you'll need the most.

I'm learning to garden, but not for that reason. Anyone want to protect my family? I make a mean pesto....


message 14: by Paul (new)

Paul (PaulCavanaugh) | 51 comments Since my wife and I live down here in FL, land of hurricanes and annoyingly spotty electric service, we always keep a stock of emergency food in transportable plastic containers, have bunches of water purifiers, pre-packed emergency backpacks and medical supplies, luggable safe with papers (although most have been scanned and reside in some cloud), interesting 9mm things, but no pesto.
Darn!


message 15: by Matthew (new)

Matthew (matyu) | 4 comments All the stuff that is spoken of is based on a scenario which is short term and while there is an break down of law and order it is not to the extreme. When we have a situation such as the zombie apocalypse we will be driven back to a technology level about the same as the middle ages. The reason for this is that a lot of our technology is not readily repairable even if you have the knowledge but the actual materials might not even be available. For example the battery, rechargeable or non will be gone within 10-15 years. That is all current batteries used or unused will be unusable within that time frame and to make batteries is not easy and if you did have the expertise there is the issue of materials as most are not readily available. For instance the rare earths used to make the high capacity batteries come mainly from Africa or China. That means that if you don't have international shipping (not even trade) the basic materials will not be available. Another example is guns. The making of bullets and its explosive charge would be beyond the ability of most people and so if a bullet is used (they also have a shelf life too) then replacing it is hard.


message 16: by Matthew (new)

Matthew (matyu) | 4 comments In regards to the comments about the government I personally think that corporations would be the ones that are running scared if you did take yourself "off the gird" as it would be one less consumer/serf. In relation to the government as long as you are paying taxes on the fruit of your income (farming) they would be happy as larry.

In regards to unemployment benefits, 10% unemployment is a lot and so it would mean that there is actually people who can get a job even when they are trying. From an macro economic perspective unemployment benefits is actually a good thing in terms of not letting the economy slide further down. Personally whats a little welfare to the poor compared to the HUGE welfare payments out to the middle to upper classes?


message 17: by Stan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Stan Slaughter | 359 comments Matthew wrote: "... a lot of our technology is not readily repairable even if you have the knowledge but the actual materials might not even be available....For instance the rare earths used to make the high capacity batteries come mainly from Africa or China..."

No - They come from Walmart.

The survivors would have more raw materials in the form of previously imported manufactured goods than they would need.

A years supplies of batteries for a small city of 100,000 people is a hundred years of batteries for the 1,000 (high estimate) survivors.

Large numbers scale quickly.

Of course this is only true in the case of a quick kill off, like in the Zombie Appocolypse, or a Nuclear War. A disaster which unfolds over months and years, giving large numbers of people the time to "consume" those dwindling resources would be a different story.


message 18: by Matthew (last edited Jul 28, 2010 05:23PM) (new)

Matthew (matyu) | 4 comments ah ha the only problem is that batteries have a shelf life and so will not be usable within at least 10 years. As all items that rely on chemical reactions will degrade over time (even if you store them in their ideal conditions)and so all those items will disappear before we can get organized to create the infrastructure to manufacture items that we take for granted.


message 19: by terpkristin (last edited Jul 28, 2010 05:22PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

terpkristin | 3497 comments This reminds me a bit of the "safe camps" that the youth were taken to in The Passage. In the book, at one point they found some very old MRE's and were able to eat them, even if they were disgusting and "old." There were other instances of survival and self-sufficiency (and of things wearing out or losing shelf life) but I don't want to spoil anything so I'll leave it there.

But, one thing for self-sufficiency is both short- and long-term self-sufficiency. I joke that my mom could keep us fed for years with the food in the basement, but really that's only a short-term solution. Even if there was a big world-blowout type of event that some people survived with bomb shelters or the like, there's a limit to how many can survive for so long even on rations. At some point, people have to venture out and rely on their more primitive skills. It seems to me it'd be prudent to have seeds and soil and maybe fertilizer for any long-term solution. You'd also need the skills to start fires, build shelters (not terribly difficult). Not necessarily pleasant, but doable (for at least some...Darwin and all) in both long- and short-term.


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