Running with Chicken Little

By Major Van Harl, USAF Ret.


The Colonel and I went out to dinner the other night with a group of retired Air Force medical officers. We went to a fondue restaurant. I don’t know what liberal Jane Fonda type person come up with that dining idea, but I was not impressed. We spent over $100 for two of us to eat. I did enjoy the company, but I could have had a great steak dinner for less and felt a whole lot more satisfied.

As we were driving home, I was complaining about the dinner bill and the fact I could have bought a number of boxes of ammo for that $100. Ammo that could be of great benefit in the near future as our economy continues to go “south.” The conversation went in the direction of my life long habit of hoarding things. I was born in the 1950s and therefore I did not live through the great depression of the 1930s. However, my parents did. My father lived on a share cropper’s farm in Northern Missouri. If it had not been for his maternal grandparents helping out, I am not sure how my dad’s family would have made it. It was not quite Grapes of Wrath bad, but very close.

A friend of mine recently died and left me $300 in his will. I informed my parents about it because I have never inherited anything before. My dad told me in 1939 his mother received a $16 check that was left to her when a distant relative died. $16 does not seem like a lot of money in today’s market, but in 1939 is was real cash. Dad figured that check was what made his family “haves” that year and not one of the many “have-not” families in his community. Thus, I learned to stock up (okay, hoard) from my relatives. If you need one item, buy two and save the other for when you do not have the money. The problem is today, most people if they have the money to buy two, they buy two and consume both right away.

As we drove home from our fondue dinner, both developing upset stomachs, my wife made reference to the fact that as long as she has known me, “the sky was falling.” I told her she was correct. I have been running with Chicken Little most of my life. To this day, walking under oak trees still scares me. I am afraid a big acorn will get me.

I am the one who worked very hard prior to the alleged Y2K disaster to convince my family and friends to get ready for the “big one.” Of course, nothing happened and I got calls and e-mails wanting to know if I was willing to buy up all the unneeded stock-piled emergency items. I offered 10 cents on the dollar with no takers, just complainers.

I attempted to tell my complaining friends that you don’t just get ready for one projected emergency. You plan and prepare for a lifetime of uncertainty. If you never have to use all the items you stored away for a disaster related day, you’re lucky. Let your children have the pleasure of getting rid of all that “junk” at your estate sale. Make them work for their inheritance.

For a $100 I could have bought enough food to feed the family for a month. I would, however, need to have spent the money when food prices were normal and no one was panicking. Panic drives the price of needed consumer goods up and creates hoarding. Our Federal Food and Drug Administration projects that there is a one day supply of food on the store shelves in our entire US food distribution system. It will only take 24-48 hours to turn our wonderful American consumer society from “haves” into “have-nots.”

The fact that you live in a $500,000 home and have two new paid for SUVs in the driveway means nothing if you don’t have food in the house to feed yourself for more than a day. Look at the huge amount of money our Federal Government is printing. We are going to get to the point that our money, if not worthless, will buy very little on the world market. The sky is not falling in yet, but I suggest a bit of Chicken Little in all of us could be a positive survival trait. Do as the squirrels do, hoard you acorns and save your nuts.




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Copyright 2009, 2012 by Major Van Harl, USAF Ret. All rights reserved.

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