Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Those loony homesteaders

Somebody has been watching too much television.

A couple weeks ago, an article on Forbes saw fit to post this article: "Dear homesteaders, self-reliance is a delusion" by a man named Adam Ozimek.

It seems Ozimek has a bone to pick with those who prefer not to depend on grocery stores for every little thing: "I am a big fan of shows about doomsday preppers, homesteaders, survivalists, generally people who live off the grid. Some of my favorites are Homestead Rescue and Live Free Or Die. But there’s a central delusion in these shows that is never far from my mind when I’m watching these shows: off the grid people are not self-reliant, but instead are mooching off of the civil society, government, and safety net the rest of us contribute to."

Um, putting aside the notion that television, even "reality" television, bears no resemblance to reality, where did he get the notion that homesteaders "mooch" off civil society and do not contribute to the government or social safety nets? Has he any idea the taxes we paid last year?

The author continues: "The people in these shows often describe a very romantic vision of the lives they have chosen the ethos underlying it. They describe themselves as fully self-reliant, and criticize the rest of society as being dependent and lacking in this self-reliance. It is morally superior, the story goes, to provide for yourself, take care of your own needs, and often, be prepared to survive if society collapses."

I have argued in the past that true self-reliance is impossible (outside the occasional Robinson Crusoe or Island of the Blue Dolphin scenarios). There is a reason healthy dependency on community is the third leg of the preparedness stool.

Ozimek further complains "most off-the-grid households do benefit to some extent from cheap second-hand tools, guns, clothes, or inputs to basic home production that specialization, gains from trade, and the modern economy made easily affordable."

Of course we do. No one, to the best of my knowledge, has ever claimed they've mined the ore to forge the metal to make the tools to plow the field to grow the wheat. This isn't 500 A.D. after all.

This being Forbes, the author seems particularly annoyed that "consumer gains from a prosperous society don’t matter much to them (homesteaders)." Maybe he's right. I don't know many homesteaders with a burning desire to own a Rolex.

"The first example that I think about when watching these shows is the safety net of modern medical treatment," continues Ozimek. "On Live Free Or Die, a man in his mid sixties named Colbert lives in the Georgia swamps alone. He does some trapping and trades the furs for money that he uses to buy some supplies, and on the self-reliance scale ranks pretty highly. But I always wonder what will happen if he slips and falls, and can no longer provide for himself. He’ll likely end up receiving hospital treatment paid for with Medicare, and perhaps end up in an assisted living center paid for by Medicare as well."

Okay, that's plain nuts. It's a television show, not real-life. Whoever this Colbert is, how do you know he'll end up in a taxpayer-funded assisted living center? Isn't that kind of a wild conclusion?

"If we all lived 'self-reliant' lives like Tony often implores us," continues Ozimek, "spending most of our time on basic agricultural subsistence, then modern hospitals couldn’t exist. It’s only because most of us choose to not live agrarian 'self-reliant' lifestyles that this care would be available to Tony, Amelia, and perhaps someday, their children. And what if both of them become too injured to work the land anymore? Would they starve to death, or would they survive off of the social safety net our government provides, like food stamps?"

My mind is boggling at the strawman argument this author is spinning. He is turning reality television into reality. He is taking what is viewed on a screen and assuming all homesteaders fit within the artificial parameters he sets up. He sees a Rambo-esque actor bristling with arsenals of guns and claims "Many off-the-grid folks like to fantasize that their personal fire arms collection and self-defense skills are actually why they are safe."

He concludes by stating, "Living off the grid is a fine lifestyle choice, but instead of an air of superiority, homesteaders should be appreciative of the benefits received from living in a modern society."

Sir, my husband is alive today because of modern medicine. So are my parents. My appreciation for modern medicine knows no bounds. Why you think homesteaders don't appreciate "the benefits received from living in a modern society" is absolutely beyond me.

It seems this writer is unseemly hostile to a group of people who just want to live under their own terms, grow their gardens, milk their cows, and gather their own eggs. What’s your problem? Didn't get a sip of raw organic milk this morning?

Strange article, that's all I can say. I wish I could invite Mr. Ozimek to join us for a few weeks to get a taste (literally) of why we live the way we do.


  1. Reminds me of a quote from The Stand: "The plague took the people, but it couldn't take the gadgets, could it? No, they're all still out there. Everything from electric can openers to cobalt bombs, just waiting for someone to come along and pick 'em up."

    Does he think someone's going to offer us a chainsaw to cut the firewood and we're going to turn it down, saying, "No thanks, I've just about got the ore smelted and and I've got my mold of river clay ready and I'm just about ready to pour my axe head?" (or however one does that) As if we'd rather freeze to death on our own than accept help from a neighbor.

    Where do people get the notion that becoming more (not totally, because that can't happen) self-reliant means completely eschewing modern tools and conveniences?

  2. Looney liberals always seem to be critical of people who DON'T mooch off the benefits of society and grow soft and fat off the milk the government provides. This guy is bitter because he knows that, if the government were to fall or infrastructure fail for any reason, he'd be screwed, while the people on the shows he watches would have nothing to fear. Libs are all the same. They pretend to hate us while they secretly watch us in fascination and jealousy.

  3. He also fails to acknowledge that the people he speaks of on the tv shows are actually paid to drag around a film crew so that they can film what they do. The tv personalities are the exception. I don't know of anyone who is completely off the grid and living fully independently without any source of income. He seems to dislike self reliant folks, because they may use things he pays for, yet the fact that firearms, ammo, tools, canning jars, fuel for generators and tractors, etc., all cost money. All of this complaining about people who are trying to be self reliant, and he says nothing about the real freeloaders (AKA welfare recipients, illegal immigrants, etc) who refuse to work and produce anything or do anything except feed off the government teat, all the while screaming for more free stuff. The man's a fool.

  4. Adam in Oz is just another city dweller who is compensating for his impotency.
    Montana Guy

  5. "Living off the grid is a fine lifestyle choice, but instead of an air of superiority, homesteaders should be appreciative of the benefits received from living in a modern society."

    My question her is; who's the one with the air of superiority?

    I read this article. This guy would rather blame homesteaders for "mooching," but won't address the millions of illegal immigrants and other welfare bums who actually do. Adam Ozimek is typical of the millenial species; television IS reality to them. Their daily bread is conjured from thin air on the shelves at Wal-Mart.

    All I can say is, WHEN the stock market tanks again, he may be one of the ones who jump out the windows on Wall St. I won't. 'Nuff said...

    Oh; and Mr. Ozimek, I've worked since I was 12 years old.; 55 years, and counting! I served 21 years in the military. What I have I've earned. Point your mooch-detector elsewhere!

  6. he writes these things because he is a coward. his soul desperately wants to live an agrarian life, which is why he loves to watch all those shows on the subject. but he can't do it, for whatever reason. weak, cowardly, lazy, who knows? but he can't, and so he hates those that can.

  7. Maybe he's just disillusioned because he truly believed people could live completely off-grid with no help from bought tools, equipment or other things like that. But maybe some homesteaders (not you!) are to blame in bragging they are completely "off grid" while the pipes that bring their water up from their well, the reins and metal rings they use for the tack that drives their horses or oxen, or their solar panels are mass manufactured. He just sounds angry and disappointed. Sad.

  8. I think two things are at work here, besides the obvious fact that he believes that reality TV is UNSCRIPTED TRUTH (they're mostly sham). First, he'd die before he admitted it, but he's jealous. Second, he's mad because these folks aren't "playing the game." In his mind, if you don't punch a time clock, drive a new car, live in a house bigger than you can afford, belong to the right clubs and go to the right church, you aren't taking your responsibility to society seriously and there's something wrong with you. I've run into the same situation even in the little country churches we used to attend.

  9. Well, he obviously hasn't paid attention to the show Live Free or Die for very long as maybe it was last year I think it was, Colbert told how he had been a big Wall Street trader, made a big bundle, but was not happy/satisfied, and had always wanted to live off on his own in the swamps of Georgia. So he sold his half of the partnership to his partner, sold his house/belongings and moved into the swamp. Built a cabin over 10 years time, and then had it burn down 2-3 years ago. Now folks are watching him rebuild and put his dream back on track. I suspect some of the show is scripted, but it is fun to watch someone be smart/brave enough to have the dream, and to make it a reality. Pretty sure Colbert can pay cash for any medical care he ever needs.

  10. You could invite me and I would appreciate it! And you would get some real honest work out of me, I grew up on a farm and had small farms myself... Real home cooking can't be beat!

  11. Sounds like a liberal progressive who wants big government to carry him from the cradle to the grave.

  12. Unfortunately I'm not surprised that someone with a bone to pick can't be bothered to look at the whole situation and just cherry picks facts to support their position; it is all too common in what passes for journalism today.

  13. Growing up I knew folks on welfare that were hard working folk who just couldn't make enough money given the circumstances of their family. I knew others who were just plain mooches.

    I would imagine the same could be true amongst the prepper/homesteaders crowd. There are folks who work hard and put together a homestead like you, Patrice.

    Then there are others claiming the lifestyle that don't do more that buy an urban chicken coop and a mess of firearms and then sit on their obese backsides that make the rest of the community look bad.

  14. I think this article perfectly describes why I no longer subscribe to Forbes magazine.

  15. In all fairness the various shows purported to show preppers and homesteaders fit his description quite well. Most of them are downright silly. Few if any of them are real and are scripted to keep the sparse audience they have. It is likely that a real show on real homesteaders or preppers would turn off most TV viewers. So we get fake shows instead.