By Leslee Kulba
You’re stuck in your house feeling helpless while hearing news of devastating suffering all around. Congress has approved a stimulus plan, but even if you get one of the checks, it won’t go far. “The checks are printed money!” you cry, trying to explain the $2,200,000,000,000, including alleged fraud, is going to have to be paid back in higher income taxes today or even higher taxes on future generations to pay down principal plus interest – unless somebody has a Ponzi scheme like Social Security up their sleeve, and that wouldn’t be free, either. What’s more, you know enough about economics to realize drawing one of those “V-curves” doesn’t magically call into existence the means of turning the economy around.
You could start building inventory for when your store opens, but your suppliers are down, and you’re uncertain about what markets, money, or even the rules of society will look like when we get to the other side of this. Government, at all levels, is offering you loans, but you haven’t even paid off your student loans. You don’t want more debt in these times of economic volatility; especially, to government. World leaders are saying this isn’t the Apocalypse, but they’re also saying to expect more crises like this in the future. And, while governmental response to a crisis is often worse than the crisis itself, people still turn to government for help. Buncombe County, at least, is holding up a mirror to those who approach seeking answers.
Only a fool would presume he could control the stock market or the world economy, but there are things everybody can do to buy themselves a few, fret-free days/months during the next crisis. Mass media has been telling us not to hoard, while at the same time telling us to stay home. One way to obey both commands would be to constantly maintain a rotating supply of dry goods. Suggestions include: Buy what you normally eat, even if it’s chocolate; spend as much on as much as means allow and common sense dictates; and keep some cash on-hand in case the ATMs go down or somebody hacks your bank account.
“But,” you protest, “in places like New Zealand, the authorities will seize personal stockpiles during an emergency!” One response would be that now would be a good time to lobby government here to continue to respect the rights of private citizens to look after their own survival needs. For now, though, Buncombe County Emergency Services is offering helpful tips on its web pages under the heading, “Buncombe Ready.” Going through the website with your family would be a fun and useful thing to do while you’re all cooped up.
You could start with your daily routine and pack enough for 3-7 days. Now, what if you’re flooded? Would you like Wellies so you don’t grow mold on your feet? How about insect-repellant to ward off mosquitoes? Do you know how to turn off the gas/water/electricity, and can you find whatever tools you would need, too? What if there’s a mass electrical outage? Do you have means of communicating with the outside world and staying warm and dry? How appropriate is your insurance plan, and does your grab-and-go kit include copies of important documents for rebuilding your life after everything burns to the ground? Given where your home is and your family’s needs, you can brainstorm and decide for yourselves where to draw the line.
It might also help to plan what you will do in different types of emergencies and perform drills to maybe uncover something you forgot. Does your family have a meeting place so nobody has to rush back into a burning home when you’re safe, but on the other side? How will you know somebody’s safe if they’re away from home when a tornado hits? Does everybody in your family know who to call and where to find their numbers in the event of an emergency? Buncombe Ready lists important numbers. It also links to readync.org.
When your family is prepared to weather emergencies, you will be in a better position to help your neighbors. You can start thinking now about who in your neighborhood might be disabled or frail. How could you be an angel for them? Even though we’re all social-distancing, those who aren’t schitzy about social media could join Nextdoor. It’s a platform that lets neighbors form email groups so, in times of emergency, somebody could ask, “Who has a chainsaw?” Even now, neighbors sitting in separate homes could come up with an inventory of essential equipment and/or talents for pooling should the need arise.
With so many variables, it’s uncertain how the world will be changed after the coronavirus situation passes. Those who define the future, however, will likely be among those who make an attempt.