The ethics of "Hoarding"

A few years ago I attended CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) training and it was one of the best things I ever did.

After the training, I met with my neighbors and we talked about the potential threats in our area and what we would do in those circumstances. Most everyone got involved in some way, even if was just a willingness to lend a chainsaw or watch kids while the others are working.

We live in a pretty rural area and assistance from the nearest city is 20 miles away. The important thing is that we now have a network of 6-7 families who have agreed to help each other out in an emergency. So I would absolutely share my food with them. They might get the canned beets while we eat the beef stew, but I would share.

Some of you guys are making the assumption that, if things break down to that extent, people (including your neighbours) are simply going to allow themselves to starve to death while you happily munch on your huge stockpile of canned goods. Or maybe that, single-handedly or with your family’s help, you can hold them off with your supply of firearms.

I suspect a wise use of your canned goods would be to share to form some sort of tribe of neighbours and friends for self-defence, in anticipation of the inevitable attempts by the less fortunate to simply take your food (presumably killing you and your family in the process, and perhaps adding you to their menu).

I don’t fancy my survival chances after doomsday hits. The quality of life wouldn’t sit well with someone as accustomed to creature comforts as me, and (if family history is any indication) I’ll be diabetic within a few years. I’d take one quick death any day over living through *that *shit.

People too ill-prepared to feed themselves are unlikely to be prepared to pirate my food, either mentally or in terms of equipment. Some of us don’t just have stuff. We know how to use it.

Eh. If you assume the ill-preparedness is as a result of not seeing the situation coming, that doesn’t imply anything about their ability (or otherwise, of course) to deal with that situation when it actually arrives. And vice-versa, of course. Planning ahead doesn’t necessarily speak for the ability to plan when actually in such duress.

Besides, the big issues as regards those without but who might want to take what’s your by force are that a), there’s more of them than there are of you, and b) sooner or later “you” run out of supplies for sustenance/defense and become “them”.

Ethical issues aside, of course.

I think it depends on how much you have accumulated and the scenario. Here in earthquake country we all need a stockpile of food and water just in case. But I don’t exactly live in the wilderness (4 grocery stores are in easy walking distance) so I don’t have six months worth.
I figure any disaster bad enough to require six months worth of food also requires you to be barricaded in the deep woods. But if you had six months worth of food, and face a one week disaster, not sharing some would be pretty obnoxious.

I know about the Mormons. The people who owned our house before us were Mormons, and had a room for their stockpile. The first thing I did was go through the wall to expand a tiny bedroom into it to make room for something really important - my books. But what are they stockpiling for? A secular catastrophe or a religious one? Are they saving up to have enough to wait for Jesus to move them to their new planet or something?

This reminds me of the Y2K Doomsday quacks. Of course, Jim Bakker (of Jim and Tammy Faye, and Jessica Hahn fame) is now peddling some overpriced garbage emergency kits.

In general, I’d have a hard time using enough of a stockpile to rotate it frequently enough. I guess I could donate the food at regular intervals- which I do anyway (especially sweet when there are local businesses that give free tickets to events and other incentives for food donations). Otherwise, I’m not going to choose to eat the type of food that lasts that long.

I know some very strong and intelligent poor people. Some also with “equipment.”

Some of the people on “Doomsday Preppers” are so obsessed with this, they can’t take care of themselves and/or their children in the present time. This is why I stopped watching the show.

Probably because I said to ignore the subject of looters in the OP. :cool:

Mainly I was curious to see what other people think THEY would behave/feel if they were sitting on a large supply of food in a true disaster scenario. I know I would be torn, with a bunch of values/instincts in conflict.

Such as, I was brought up to ‘share’, but I’m still a “Me and Mine First” at heart. I hate for others to suffer… and yet I’ve felt put upon when I’ve had to make sacrifices to save someone from something they could damn well have prevented for themselves. Even deciding who to share with (assuming I decide to share) would be tricky.

Base it on geography? As in, the closest neighbors win? Or economic status? The bank president has no excuse for not laying in emergency supplied while the family with an out-of-work car salesman maybe really couldn’t afford to. Or size of family? How about the makeup – is the family with three young children more ‘worthy’ than the single guy?

I really hope I never have to decide anything like this.

I’m old enough to remember when it was used to decry people who, when an emergency hit, ran to the grocery store and tried to buy it out. Stockpiling ahead of a disaster is not hoarding. Trying to stockpile during the disaster, when there’s a finite amount of food in the area for awhile, that’s hoarding.

Talking about the ethics specifically… I believe that every person has an ethical obligation to look to their own needs first.

I think of this in a Kantian sense - if everyone agreed to look out for their own interests, then the only people who needed help would be the ones hit by an unforeseen/unpreventable disaster. That kind of world works. It’s not consistent to argue that some people don’t have to be responsible for themselves (because then who provides for them) or to argue that you must take care of everyone else (because no one person has the resources to do that).

There’s a point of balance here because we shouldn’t neglect the needs of other people when we can help. If we’re in a three-week disaster like an earthquake or hurricane. and you have a year of food, then you should be sharing it.

However, in an ongoing apocalypse, you can’t possibly help everyone and you need to be sure that your immediate family is cared for first. You’d have to simply keep re-assessing the situation and the needs based on your best information at each moment. If it appears that your family will be provided for, then you should spare some of the surplus.

You could give it to me…or we can come and take it.

I remember before Katrina, people in New Orleans and other areas down there were warned to have at least 2 weeks of food and water. It seems that few did.

What gets me is why do they spend thousands of dollars on this, and then go on tv and tell everyone? The smart preppers are very careful with such information.

Hm, both mrAru and I have mothers that grew up in the depression, on small family farms in the midwest [mine Iowa, his Missouri] and we both were brought up in times of plenty with the concept of having enough food to see one through one or more bad winter storms. I know we stockpile enough canned and dried foods to be able to live on a fairly nutritionally complete but boring diet for a good solid 4 months. [and we rotate the dried goods, rice, beans, dried fruit, certain dried veggies, herbs and spices, coffee, teas in and out of stock so they stay fresh.]

I wouldn’t call it hoarding, but stockpiling for winter. As someone else said, it is stockpiling unless it is a crisis, then it becomes hording if you re taking and hiding more than your alloted or fair share.

If you all wear matching leather jackets emblazoned with a catchy tribe name it could actually be fun! :cool:

I’m pretty sure that if you do share your stockpiled food it gives you first right of refusal to feed your family off of the remains of the people you shared the food with :wink:

How did people who couldn’t even be arsed to stock up on canned food suddenly turn into an organized force with the will, training and equipment to successfully assault an armed group of people behind prepared defenses? They may nerve themselves up to being an angry mob, but after a few are shot, I believe they will quite likely lose their enthusiasm for the enterprise. They have nothing bonding them to each other but empty bellies. They have nothing motivating them to accept losing their own lives so that “their side” achieves victory. If they outnumbered my party two-to-one, if they were organized, if they were willing to accept substantial losses, and if they were adequately armed, you might have a point.

Especially since they aren’t even prepared. If you’re spending money, net, on your preparations, then you’re doing it wrong. The truly effective forms of preparation are not only cheap, they’ll actually save you more than they cost even without a disaster.