According to Forbes, Self Reliance is a Delusion. Agree or Disagree?


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Categories: Homesteading

Here's what Forbes said.  Agree or disagree and why?  

Let's start by understanding the definition of self reliance.

The word was first used in 1815 and means "reliance on one's own efforts and abilities"

But in this Forbes article written by contributor Adam Ozimek states the following:

"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."

"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."

"A stated or assumed claim is that specialization and gains from trade are a failing rather than an integral part of prosperity. It's true that these individuals don’t appear to value many goods and services beyond relatively basic subsistence. But 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."

"But put those material goods aside, and let’s accept that the consumer gains from a prosperous society don’t matter much to them. Even if this is true that they don’t benefit from the wide variety of inexpensive goods and services available from society, they nevertheless benefit tremendously from society."

"The first example that I think about when watching these shows is the safety net of modern medical treatment. 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."

"In fairness to Colbert, he lived a long life in a regular, high paying, financial job. So while the risks of his no-savings lifestyle may be borne by society, he has paid into the system substantially. The same cannot be said of many other homesteaders. Although based on his Go-Fund me campaign (yes, that's right) his self-reliance has hit a limit already."

"Another example from Live Free or Die is Tony and Amelia,  a couple who live on a simple, off-the-grid homestead in North Carolina. When I watch them I wonder what would happen if one became extremely sick, and simple, off-the-grid home medicine couldn’t treat them. Would they say “we’ve chosen our fate, and now we die by it”, or would they seek treatment in a hospital they couldn’t afford which would be covered by the hospital’s charity care or perhaps Medicaid?"

"If we all lived “self-reliant” lives like Tony often implores us, 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?"

"In fairness to Tony, Amelia, and Colbert, perhaps they would refuse the modern medical care and modest safety net in the case of an accident or illness, and would simply choose to die. I don't think most homesteaders would, but we don’t know. Yet even if one refuses help and care, however, they still benefit from the modern civil society thanks to the private property protections, rule of law, and military that provide them with safety and security."

"Many off-the-grid folks like to fantasize that their personal fire arms collection and self-defense skills are actually why they are safe. But how far would this take them in a society without the rule of law, an effective government, and law enforcement? The homesteader who is confident their security is in their own hands should go live off-the-grid in Syria and find out how far self-protection takes them."

"And it's not just police and a military that keep homesteaders safe. It’s also widespread prosperity. In the developed world, a basic education is available to all, and most people who want a job can find one. Living in a prosperous, modern economy means that homesteaders can take a good bit of their own safety from violence for granted and roving bandits are not likely to take their homes from them."

"Self-reliance is for the most part a myth. Unless they live in an extremely remote region, use all homemade tools, and will refuse the safety net if they need it, most homesteaders are far from self-reliant. To the few homesteaders who have achieved true self-reliance, I congratulate them. Seems like a hard life but to each his own. But most homesteaders and off-the-grid types benefit from cheap goods and services, access to modern healthcare in an emergency, safety, and the rule of law. 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."

What say you? We would love to hear your comments.

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