Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Tough Decisions During Food Shortages

Late last year, Walmart shoppers in New York were caught up in a Black Friday stampede. Their fellow shoppers trampled them underfoot because everyone wanted to be the very first in line to buy cheap televisions, DVDs, cameras, and vacuum cleaners. A maintenance employee died in the stampede, which of course caused Walmart to shut down.

And then…some of the people who were part of the stampede started yelling and complaining that the store wasn’t open. They had just stomped a man to death – a person who was just trying to do his job – and all they could think about was consuming unnecessary crap. Heaven forbid they not get those cheap movies, right?

All this happened because of consumer goods: garbage that is not necessary to our survival in any way, shape, or form. People turned into savage beasts because they were getting really-good deals on these items. They actually killed for this crap, and the most uncivilized members of the crowd showed no remorse for what they had helped to do.

I’ve been thinking about that event lately, mostly because I’m convinced that we’re going to see people acting that way when it’s difficult to find, or afford, food. All sorts of events could mess up the food supply: hyper inflation…a natural disaster…economic collapse…you name it and it’s probably going to have some sort of effect on our food sources.

What are the unprepared folks going to do when you have to line up outside the grocery store, much like so many people do on Black Friday, in an attempt to get into that place before all the food is gone? They’re going to curb stomp each other, of course. Some stampedes will be accidental – fueled by the panic of thinking that you might not, in fact, be able to get your hands on that lousy sack of potatoes and bag of flour.

But other problems will be intentional. Some will feel the need to eliminate a few competitors, so to speak, in an effort to survive. I for one wouldn’t want my grandmother, or my Mom, or any other loved one for that matter, standing in a line, exposed and vulnerable to a bunch of thugs who would gleefully punch, stab, or even shoot their way through the line.

And if you think that law enforcement will be able to keep the peace, you’re probably wrong. Every grocery store, farmer’s market, convenience store, and other place that sells any sort of food in the affected area is going to be overrun by hungry people. There just aren’t enough LEOs in any given area to control a festering, starving, pissed off crowd. Even if there were enough people to do that job, can they really prevent problems? Of course not. They can try, but there will still be violent outbursts. The LEOs could, at best, step in after the violence starts – when it’s too late for the little old lady who’s been shoved into the asphalt and now has a broken bone or two.

The LEOs might be hungry too. What’s to stop them from rolling up and cutting to the front of the lines? Nothing, of course. Oh, sure, they might be brought up on charges after order is reestablished, but what are you supposed to do in the meantime? Stand there and starve, that’s what. The justice system won’t do you any good if you’re hungry now, right?

You and I have thought about all that unpleasant stuff, though, which is why we’re stocking up on food and other essentials as quickly as we can. We see the coming meltdown, and we know that we want to stay at home, away from empty stores and barren shelves, when that happens. We don’t want to be caught up in that situation, so we’re readying ourselves for it now.

The point here, though, is that some of your family members probably aren’t listening to a word you say. They might think that you’re paranoid. They could have excuses, like, “I can’t afford to do what you’re doing,” or “I’m not worried – the government/God/Bono from U2 wouldn’t let that happen.” Or maybe they just don’t care, because they figure that you’ll be there to feed them if it turns out that you’re right about all this doom and gloom stuff.

Should you feed the family members? I mean…why should you? They’ve been ignoring you, and some are actively mocking you for making your plans and putting them in motion. Frankly, some people are just jerks, and probably deserve to suffer because they’ve been so rotten.

But do you really want those loved ones to be out in that crowd, trying to fight off thugs and other unsavory types in an effort to get their hands on a few canned goods? Do you really want them to be out there in the elements, waiting for hours on end, for food that they might or might not be able to get? Do you really want them to suffer to that extent?

As much as I despise taking care of those who don’t even try to care for themselves (I loathe welfare with every single atom of my being, for example)…family is family. If Wayward Brother – the guy who lives a few hours away and wants little to do with us most of the time – shows up on the doorstep, he’s coming in and getting something to eat. He’s my brother. Even though he’s an obnoxious pain in the entire family’s ass, and even though we usually can’t stand to be around him for more than about a day and a half, two days…he’s family. We aren’t going to leave him out there to try and fend for himself if he shows up here.

I’m not saying that we all have to care for everyone we see. I’m not even necessarily saying that you should take care of the most-obnoxious relatives in your family tree. I don’t know your family’s dynamics, and I don’t know just how rotten some of your relatives really are. Maybe some of them really do deserve whatever happens to them.

I am, however, saying that we have to make some tough choices sometimes. It’s not easy to decide what to do in this type of situation. You have to figure it out now, though, because you need to have time to get used to the idea. Even if you’re going to welcome your own wayward brother with open arms and a huge smile…you have to adjust to the idea of helping the guy who’s been tormenting and mocking you for months, if not years, about what you’re doing. If you don’t want to help, you’re going to have to get used to the idea of telling him “No,” and being firm in that decision.

So…figure out, now, what’s really best in your situation, and give yourself time to make the mental adjustments. This is one less decision that you’ll have to make when the meltdown is actually happening, which frees up some of your gray matter to address other, more important things.


  1. That's a good idea. Sadly, most of my family doesn't believe we have anything to worry about in the future for food shortages. Obama is going to fix it all. We just have to trust him and give him time. They all make more than we do and will be able to pay the higher prices longer than we can but if they showed up on my doorstep, I'd let them in & feed them anyway. That's just what family does in my mind.

  2. You know why I'm starting to like your thread? Because your not going all revolutionary and you actually make sense. Your gonna help out a lot more people by stating the obvious and actually teaching people something. So thank you for not ranting. People need to learn to use common sense and good judgement. Thanks

  3. Right, Overworked Mom: family's family as far as I'm concerned, and family helps each other out. Wayward Brother can care for himself...for now. But will that be the case in the future? Dunno. Door's open, though, because he hasn't done anything too horrible. Just generic jerkiness. :)

    Anonymous: I'm down with a good old rant provided that there's some sort of action behind it. I might go off on this blog every now and then, but it's not the only thing I do. We still have our First-amendment rights, and I for one will continue to exercise them. That includes peacefully assembling and petitioning the government - not just ranting and complaining about what I dislike.


“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
-George OrwellAnimal Farm