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Rebuttal: Doomsday Preppers are Socially Selfish

Rebuttal: Doomsday Preppers are Social Selfish
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This Friday morning I was sad to discover an article on emergency in the “Disaster Academia” section entitled Doomsday Preppers are Socially Selfish.   Why do people think Preppers are selfish? It amazes me how someone in emergency management that claims through her “academic” title to be intelligent fails to grasp how preppers actually contribute to safer communities.*

Both federal, state, and local emergency management agencies, as well as NGO’s (non-governmental organizations) like the Red Cross constantly educate the public on the need to have basic preparedness kits to be able to take care of themselves until the emergency response resources can be organized and distributed.  The CERT program (community emergency response teams) is a federal/state program with a proven track record.  The program takes citizens with an interest in disaster response/emergency preparedness and provides training in urban search and rescue, first aid, and other vital response skills.  The goal of this emergency management program is to reduce the load on “professional” responders by using trained citizens based in their own communities. No one is better suited for CERT than preppers.

Ms. Valerie Lucus-McEwen goes on to say:

You might wonder why someone like me, who has been in the business of encouraging disaster preparedness for a very long time, is so critical of people who are doing just that. It’s because they are being socially selfish – preparing themselves and the hell with everyone else.  Instead of spending time and energy making changes that would benefit the larger community, in their very narrow focus of loyalty they are more concerned about themselves.

This is false on many levels, but I will pick out a couple.  First, even if Preppers are Selfish, by logical extension so is buying car insurance.  It is spending personal resources to protect against a potential future problem.  Does Ms. Lucus-McEwen want me to pay for everyone’s car insurance if I am to have some for myself?  Prepping, like insurance, is something everyone can get, and everyone makes a decision how much they want to invest.  It is not saying ”to hell with everyone else”, its saying I am going to be socially RESPONSIBLE, and spend time and energy making changes that benefits the larger community by freeing governmental resources to go to those truly in need.  No government, organization, or person can afford to be totally prepared for everything, we have seen the devastation caused by Presidential Disasters like Katrina, Gustav, and  most recently Sandy.  The government has good plans, and some great people, and a deep pocket to pay for response, but it is not the solution to every problem, nor can it be.

She then goes on to say:

Emergency Managers can’t afford that kind of attitude.  It is diametrically opposed to everything we do. Our job is to prepare individuals and communities and jurisdictions and regions and – ultimately – the globe for disasters, knowing we won’t always succeed.  I could find statistics about how unprepared some citizens are, and then show you hundreds of active and volunteer CERT teams preparing whole communities. In major disasters (think 9-11 or the Christ Church earthquake or Superstorm Sandy), survivors for the most part WANT to help each other.

I too am a professional emergency manager, my degree is in Emergency Management, and I have responded to several large disasters during my tenure in this field.  My experience causes me to feel the exact opposite.  I cannot afford  to not assist preppers.  Personal disaster preparedness is EXACTLY what we should strive to induce in the American populace.  Personal responsibility and self-reliance has made this country great.  Instead of looking down our noses at citizen preppers, and smugly judge their reasons, we should focus on what we have in common, and learn to work with them because we, as emergency managers have more in common with preppers than we have differences.


The website has changed names and the article has since been removed.

Published inGeneral Articles


  1. lucsmom lucsmom

    Mormons are only asked (not forced) to get prepared…sadly only about 10-15% have listened.

  2. Lucifer's Taxi Lucifer's Taxi

    Up here in Canukistan, we don’t talk about stuff like this. I wetnurse a 70 unit apartment complex, (that’s about 140 adults, perhaps another 30 teenagers.) One other prepper on site- of the rest, perhaps 30% don’t have enough braincells to walk and chew gum at the same time!?!
    I subscribe to Packwood’s Law: ‘Sufficiently advanced stupidity is indistinguishable from evil.’
    Sorry about that. (And don’t expect me to waste my time, teaching them how to stay alive.)I am not my brother’s keeper!

  3. PrepperGalCO PrepperGalCO

    (Original on

    The fact is, I can control my own family’s preparedness, but I can’t drag my neighbors, kicking and screaming, and force them to be prepared. My preps, therefore, do two things: 1) it lets me be able to care for not only my household but hopefully help others as well, and 2) removes me from the list of those the government has to care for, leaving more for my neighbors. I’ll bet none of those affected by Sandy who found a neighbor who would share a generator or provide a hot meal for everyone on the block would call that prepared neighbor selfish!

  4. Elizabeth Elizabeth

    My friend Ian is the perfect rebuttal to their argument. He is a “quiet” prepper living in New Jersey. In the days after Sandy, he organized people in his community to remove downed trees blocking the roads. He shared power from his generator to charge batteries, provided freezer space and ICE to his neighbors, provided internet access for anyone who wanted to bring over a laptop, and shared food and fuel with his neighbors. All of this was during that first 72 hour window, when emergency services were stretched the thinnest. Emergency Managers should cultivate this get-it-done attitude, not squash it.

  5. Scott M Scott M

    Ms. Valerie Lucus-McEwen is a “team” player. Without her precious government, without her authority to lord it over the rest of us – the lowly prols – Ms. “whatever” would be lost. It’s apparently never occurred to her collectivist mind – such as it is – that every prepared individual is one less drag on the public services which will be demanded in times of emergency.

  6. James James

    Sadly, her title will give additional weight to many of her comments. I would ask her how the preppers purchasing choices make them more selfish than someone buying a MP3 Player of flat screen TV. Both support the economy and provide their purchaser with satisfaction, relaxation, peace of mind, etc. Prepping supplies may one day be necessary and useful. Even if they are never used in the manner that they are being prepared for, how does prepping differ from normal society? Memorizing ways to start a fire without matches, or what wild plants are edible are at worst a eccentric hobby. Do memorizing baseball stats, or playing video games have any more intrinsic value? Yes, eating the wrong wild plant can cause someone extreme illness, but getting a concussion or breaking a limb in baseball is also a hazard. Furthermore, I suggest that by removing themselves from government support, preppers in fact DONATE the food/services/attention that they would require from emergency services and free up that scarce resource to be used on someone who was completely unprepared. Hence, their individual actions DONATE the goods and services that they are “entitled” to (cough cough) from the government entities and allow it to be passed to their fellow citizen, or saved promoting a judicious use of government resources.

    • If you look at her credentials she says “I have been in emergency management for almost 20 years with local government, a national lab and for the past four years with the University of California at Davis. Not too much field response experience, but I do have a lot of letters after my name (MS, CEM, CBCP). I have publications, training, conference workshops, offices and all that on my resume.” While that is impressive and shows her abilities, I think someone with far less letters but far more actual response time would have a much different opinion.

      I love academia, and books, publications, training, conferences, workshops and all that, but time in the field is more valuable. Experience is what creates knowledge, Knoweldge does not create experience.

  7. MrCoffee MrCoffee

    Well sadly she doesn’t “get it”. She doesn’t understand that a LOT of preppers are also CERT and ARES. They prepare themselves and their families for “worst case” so that they are free to respond to emergencies without having to worry (as much) about their own and their families well being.

    She doesn’t get that a lot of folks don’t take the message of preparedness seriously, and when it comes down to getting that new 60″ flat screen or preparing for a emergency, they pick the flat screen every time. Then wait for someone to bail them out. She to impressed with herself to see that preppers make a solid lifestyle choice that means that they can be self sufficient and responsible.

    Oh well, just one more dumbass converting oxygen to methane, nothing new.

  8. I find the notion that preppers are selfish offensive. It’s only by being preppared that we can help others especially when organized emergency response teams can’t reach us. If my family, property and animals are secure, then I’m way more likely to help my neighbor and community. Not only can I provide supplies in a short term crisis but I can also help keep people alive because I’ve taken the time to learn basic survival skills. Really, the burden of rebuilding and organization would fall on preppers. They will be the only ones that will have the time and energy to help because everyone else will be worried about their next meal. I suggest that it’s exactly the opposite: that people who don’t have at least 72 hours worth of supplies are the selfish ones because they haven’t taken the time to prepare.

  9. Sounds like typical Washington DC socialism to me. Worry about those who refuse to worry about themselves. And if the airplane is losing altitude, do we put the oxygen mask on all the people around us before we put it on ourselves?

  10. saintprepp saintprepp

    This is either someone very uninformed about real life (academia) or insidious. I have been preparing for several years and reading extensively. Most articles talk about having supplies for others and giving. I collect shampoo lotion and soap from every hotel I visit. It is not for me but for others in an emergency. People who are self reliant help the over all cause! One less mouth to feed in an emergency. How is “I don’t need help, please help my neighbor” selfish? We, in the community also spread the same message she does albeit a little more realistically.

    • You know I may be naive myself, but I give her the benifit of the doubt and just think she is an academic who thinks they know it because they read it somewhere (probably written by another academic) – I know the lure, I was one also – and its why I try so hard to actually test the junk I read on the internet.

      Your right though, one less mouth to feed is the most basic benifit of preppers, taking action like yours and preparing for to provide charity is a much more common thread among the preppers I know.

  11. Fred Fred

    No logic involved Dave. She just paving the way for the justification of confiscation. JMO

    • I agree, BUT a few weeks ago this same site was moaning that the federal personal preparedness message was not being accepted by the public and that they believe ony 6 percent of the country had a 72 hour kit (and then mentioned that 4 percent of the population were LDS, with a madate to prepare).

      Its idiotic. The message is, It takes time to respond to disasters, so everyone needs to prepare, but those that do are selfish hoarders…

    • Wow, I hadn’t even thought of the confiscation angle. I think you are onto something.

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