What to Do, What to Do – Doom and the Working Poor

Clock-Faced Woman

Image by cliff1066™ via Flickr

September 4, 2010

Last week, I read about another government report on peak oil and collapse. This time, it was a report from the German Government. It made me think, again, about doom preps. http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,715138,00.html

Since it’s Labor Day weekend and they make up such a large, if often ignored part of the labor force, I’ve been thinking specifically about the Working Poor in a collapse scenario.  In all the reading on doom I’ve done and all the discussions I’ve participated in, they are given pretty short shrift.  If they’re thought about at all on doomer forums, they are mostly lumped in with the chronically homeless and other “criminals” to form that horde of MZBs that will come pouring out of city centers across America to get us, or as the future inhabitants of the fed ghettoes we’re sure the government is preparing as a response to the catastrophe of peak oil.

So, who are the working poor, really?  Well, as someone who spent much of my working life as a member of that group, I feel qualified to posit that they are neither of the above.  They are the people Barbara Ehrenreich wrote so perceptibly about in her book, Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America.  (If you’ve never read it, shame on you.  I highly recommend it.)  They are the folks that bring those fearless CEOs of  TV’s Undercover Boss to tears each week with their stories of pluck and pride in their minimum wage jobs, the people those same CEOs hadn’t a clue even existed until they went undercover – even though they are the bedrock upon which their CEO livelihoods most depends.

They are not just “hamburger flippers”.  They are   “security guards, nurse’s aides and home health-care aides, care giver jobs, child-care workers and educational assistants, maids and porters, call-center workers, bank tellers, data-entry keyers, cooks, food preparation workers, waiters and waitresses, cashiers and pharmacy assistants, hair dressers and manicurists, parking-lot attendants, hotel receptionists and clerks, ambulance drivers, poultry, fish and meat processors, sewing-machine operators, laundry and dry-cleaning operators, and agricultural workers.”  http://www.thebetrayalofwork.org/ They make up millions of working American families – both single and two-parent.

What troubles me most, as a member of the Doomer community, is that in almost all information dealing with crisis preparation – both short and long term – the fact that these millions of families are barely able to make ends meet from month to month, let alone come up with the extra money most of the prep scenes require, is rarely considered.  Even the government preps information sometimes seems blissfully unaware that they exist.

It’s not that information they could use isn’t out there.  In my own preps, I’ve come across an amazing amount that could help them, as it did me.  (Since I’ve retired and live almost entirely on my Social Security, I’ve now moved from working poor to just plain poor.)  It’s just that the information hasn’t been organized and pulled together in a way they could particularly benefit from.  Yet if, as I’m always harping on here at the Conflicted Doomer, that center of collective conscience is to hold and that ceremony of innocence not drown as we move into collapse, they have to have options, too.

I’ve been collecting such information for three years, now.  I was going to put some of it on here today, but there is so much, I decided to try something else.  What I’m hoping to do over the next few weeks, is organize and consider some of  that information here in a series of posts.  If you are a member of that forgotten group and are concerned about what might happen to you and your family in a collapse scenario or even the next disaster, I hope you’ll come along on this journey.  You can start this next week by taking a look at a pdf called the Post Carbon Reader, by Chris Martenson, of the Post Carbon Institute.  Many of the suggestions regarding preps (solar panels, etc.) are expensive and out of reach for working poor families, but what did impress me was his suggestions on looking at where you are and organizing your thoughts toward preparation – both as a family member and a member of your community.  You can find the pdf here:


I’m going to organize my posts along those lines, so I hope you’ll check out the pdf, even download it to your desktop to refer to as needed and join me here next week.

In the meantime, if it’s not raining where you are, light up the charcoal grill and celebrate yourself and your contributions to society – as member of that all important group, the working poor – this Labor Day.

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