Doomsday prepper donates all of his stored food to Puerto Rico was the headline of a news article I read a few days ago. Interesting, I thought. I’ve been at this prepping thing in one form or another for decades now. I’ve always known that the prepper crowd is an overwhelmingly genuine, honest, and good-natured crowd, so this article didn’t surprise me. Okay, it surprised me a bit, because preps aren’t cheap (more on that in a minute). Yeah, you can find plenty of exceptions to the preppers-are-great-people notion. There’s the stereotypical hermit survivalist who preps because he hates everyone. There’s the suburban survivalist who plots how to take all of his neighbors’ stuff when the collapse hits. But those people are just that—exceptions. Most of the preppers I’ve met and spoken to over the years are good people to be around. I’m sure readers of Backdoor Survival feel the same way.
So here is this prepper, Joseph Badame, with a mountain of food doing a very good deed to help the people of Puerto Rico. (Read my last post on preparedness less from Puerto Rico and Hurricane Maria).
“I can’t put into words just how much food there was,” she said. “It was enough to feed a town.”
In the basement were 80 barrels, each weighing 360 pounds. They were filled with bags of rice, flour, sugar, dried beans, pancake and chocolate mixes, seeds and lots of other things that do not spoil and are easy to prepare. The food that the Badames had intended to eat in case of crisis will now feed starving people in two Puerto Rican towns devastated by Hurricane Maria.
“Those people are starving and they have nothing,” he said. “I just can’t sit by.”
Half of those barrels, along with pallets of bottled water and dried milk, will be flown to San Juan on Friday, Barber said. Private trucks will then deliver the goods to her home town, Arecibo, a coastal city 45 miles west of San Juan. The food will feed dozens of families.
I don’t want to discount this man’s good deed, but the reason (in part) that he’s giving away all of this food is because he has to. There’s a lesson to learn about prepping from this man’s story, a lesson that begs the question: Is it possible to over prep? The answer, in my opinion, is yes. This man’s story is evidence of that.
Mr. Badame, you see, is buried in debt from eight years of medical bills and lost income. He is being evicted from his house. The food was to be part of the estate sale. Badame is an architectural engineer. His wife had a massive stroke in 2005 that left her paralyzed. He had to quit his job to take care of her. Then, in 2013, she died from another stroke. He was broke. Everything came tumbling down.
While this unfortunate turn of financial events could happen to anyone, one could argue that it should not have happened to Mr. Badame—if he had prepared properly. Badame, we can infer, was flush with money. He had a custom-built 8,500-square-foot fortress built for his home in New Jersey. It had separate living quarters for multiple families. The basement was equipped with bunk beds, gas-powered refrigerators, laundry facilities, and showers. It was a large-scale fallout shelter full of dry food, generators, fuel, thousands of rolls of toilet paper—you get the idea.
The perhaps obvious lesson here is that while Mr. Badame was preparing for the end of the world he failed to prepare for far more common, more realistic tragedies. He estimates that he spent $1 million dollars on his preps. Read that again: One MILLION dollars on prepping!
Surely he was absolutely flush with money at one point but stayed in an over-sized house and over-spent on everything. If he had taken a FRACTION of that million dollars and paid cash for a more modest second house, he would now be able to live mortgage-free at his other home. Further, why, if they’re making that much money, didn’t they buy long-term disability insurance for both of them? No life insurance either?
There is a tendency, I’ve seen it many times, for preppers to focus on end-of-the-world scenarios at the expense of: paying down debt, building an emergency fund, buying life insurance, etc. Yes, pandemics are a threat. Yes, EMPs are a threat. Yes, civil unrest is a threat. So are the more mundane, more common problems of job loss, personal injury, and death. I’ll be the first to admit that buying additional food storage and a .22 rifle is more fun that putting extra money into your monthly mortgage payment to pay it down faster, but we, as preppers, need to keep things in perspective.
What about you? Are you guilty of this? If not, what do you do to balance preparedness efforts between large-scale societal events and smaller-scale personal events?