Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: “_____ and _____ are worried about an economic collapse.” National Geographic should simply change the name of their hit show from Doomsday Preppers to Surviving Obama and be done with it.
Where was I? Oh, I remember.
Brad and Krystal are the parents of three near Tulsa, Oklahoma, and worried about an economic collapse. They’ve been preppers for several years, and have amassed enough food stores that they are beginning to overwhelm their 2,000 sq. ft. home. Their closets and rooms are overflowing to the point that just to get into bed Krystal has to climb over Brad; her side of the bed is packed with canned food.
Moments after we are introduced to the family and shown around their warehouse/home, we shuffle off to the shooting range, where the family is intent on introducing their youngest son, six-year-old Carson, to shooting.
Putting a six year old in charge of a firearm sends up a big red flag to many people, whether they are shooters or not. In the end, it is a call that the parents and instructors have to make: is this specific child mature enough to follow instructions to the letter? Is the environment controlled, with limited distractions? Are all the basic safety rules being followed, and is that child’s exposure to the firearm tightly supervised, and restricted to the firing line? Is there a need/way to restrict the muzzle of the firearm so that it can only point downrange?
As a rifle-shooting instructor, these are some of the concerns that ran through my mind when I heard they were going to put Carson on the firing line, and it turns out those concerns were well-grounded.
The family can’t even get out of the house without serious safety violations, such as when their kids walk out the front door holding uncased firearms by the stocks, and young Carson is pointing the muzzle of his .22LR singe-shot at his sister’s ankles and their concrete driveway. Oy vey!
Here’s a ProTip™: leave your firearm in the case until you arrive at the firing line, and control the muzzle at all times. Of course, since the family didn’t case their weapons, Carson immediately muzzles his mother’s feet once they get to range, and while the camera crew didn’t catch it in their shot, their instructor noted that some of the firearms were loaded when they hit the range.
This family doesn’t have the most basic of safety rules down, and I hope that the instructor takes the time off camera to pull Brad and Krystal aside and explain that they are on the fast track to a negligent discharge that could wound or kill someone, and that it is their responsibility as parents to learn the basic safety rules and impart them to their kids. As it stands now, they’d get reamed by every line boss and range safety officer I’ve ever known, and they’d be lucky if they were allowed to ever come back.
Brad and Krystal then buy a 10′x30′ underground bunker, which they bring into their suburban backyard, swinging it over the fence and trees in broad daylight with passers-by gawking, to bury in their backyard.
The more I read about prepping, the more I realize that surviving a disaster in any urban or suburban area is as much (perhaps more) about building relationships than stockpiling supplies. There is no mention whatsoever of this family working in conjunction with their neighbors to establish relationships or a plan.
This $50,000 purchase isn’t a refuge. If the worst does happen, it’s a target, and eventually a tomb.
Despite spending $70,000 in prepping, the show’s experts from Practical Preppers gives the family four months of survival time. They’re being very generous. Unless they include their neighbors in their plans, I’d estimate their survival time in weeks.
If going it alone and failing to include your neighbors in your preps is the downfall of many preppers (and it rather obviously is), then the only way to possibly compound that error is to alienate them entirely, or move to a part of the world where you don’t share the same language or culture. Kevin Barber and his family have chosen the latter.
Worried about a pending economic collapse, the Barbers are ditching all their friends and family in Shawnee, Kansas, and moving to Costa Rica, where they don’t know the culture or speak the language. It’s an escapist fantasy turned escapist reality. Obviously, the Barbers never watched 1986′s The Mosquito Coast.
They seem to think that if there is an economic meltdown in the United States, that they will somehow avoid the global effects of such an event by living in the jungle. Tourism to that jungle is a major part of Costa Rica’s economy, and if the tourism industry collapses — which it almost certainly would in a global economic collapse — then the nation’s unemployment rate will skyrocket to more than 30%.
Kevin wants to bring all his firearms with him. He seems to be unaware that there is no Second Amendment there, that all guns must be registered, and that they can confiscate or deny entry to his AR-15 since it is a semi-automatic rifle. They also banned recreational hunting in 2012, so I’m not sure what good hunting rifles are going to do for him, either.
Don’t get me wrong; Costa Rica has a lot going for it, including a culture that is largely agrarian, self-sufficient, and “green,” with a great life expectancy (better than ours here in the U.S.) and a government that is largely hands-off. But is jumping to a radically different culture and climate really going to give your family better options in the event of an economic collapse?
Nat Geo is wildly obsessed with the food the family may need to eat in Costa Rica, and puts on a display of exotic insect cuisine ranging from mealworms, to crickets, to scorpions.
Frankly, it’s absurd.
Costa Rican cuisine is built on a foundation of rice and black beans, fresh vegetables and fruits, and, of course, various meats of two-legged and four-legged origin. Frankly, there isn’t a huge difference from other Latin American dishes. The family would have been better prepared for their dietary transition if they simply went to Mexican restaurants. The display of insect foods is nothing more than survivor porn.
Likewise, slaughtering a turkey in front of their children seemed a very unnecessary moment created for the camera, simply to capture the revulsion of the children. I found it rather shameful. Costa Rica’s central markets are in every town. They don’t have Walmart, but they aren’t out capturing and slaughtering their own foods. It’s not our kind of civilization, but it is civilization, and to treat the family like they’re “going native” under a triple-canopy jungle is duplicitous.
The experts from Practical Preppers give the Barbers nine months of survival time. They could have accomplished the same without dislocating their kids and themselves from family, friends, and their nation. If the Barbers wanted to leave the United States, they are perfectly within their rights to do so, and Costa Rica looks like a great place. Calling their relocation “prepping,” however, is pushing the definition of the term, and I don’t see where they’ve done any actual prepping in Costa Rica at all.
If anything, the Barbers remind me of people from “blue” states that have screwed up the places where they’ve lived through bad decision-making, and instead of fixing what they’ve messed up, they’ve run to “red” states without changing. They’re runners, not preppers, and they’re seeking the easy way out.