At the apogee of the Y2K frenzy exactly ten years ago, many North Americans (perhaps elsewhere as well) prepared for the chaos that would ensue with the arrival of the 21st Century a few seconds past midnight on December 31, 1999.
Now, the world wide hysteria leading to the arrival of the new millennium sounds somewhat trite and ridiculous viewed through the prism of the last decade. No one could have anticipated that the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 would so focus the world's attention on an altogether overriding series of concerns, panic and paranoia. Today some might argue with conviction that the worldwide economic crisis which began with the collapse of millions of highly leveraged home mortgages in the United-States in 2008 can be traced back to that country's reaction to the attacks sparked by radical Muslim extremists on New York City and elsewhere.
Whether its the Y2K panics and/or the post September 11 hysteria, for some unclear reason there has existed amongst our cousins south of the 49th parallel a fringe element of survivalists who have been preparing for the disruption of social or political order and the general collapse of society and widespread world chaos. Perhaps in fact from time to time, even ready to kick start their own version of Armageddon - Timothy McVeigh, a U.S. Army Veteran executed for the Oklahoma City bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in 1995, amongst the more notorious.
Well: With economic chaos looming from America's massive $14-Trillion debt and its out of control spending; and the forecast of the true "Believers" in the abrupt end of our world foreseen in the 5000 year-old Mayan civilization calendar just before Christmas 2012...They're back:
...This time, "Survivalism" has gone mainstream: I am not making this up! Just in time for the holiday season Cotsco is selling everything needed to serve a feast after "The End"!
I have little need for 5 gallon jars of "Cheez-Whiz", and/or barrel-sized containers of dill pickles. Some years ago I gave-up my Costco membership and I am unlikely to reconsider. But! - Doubtless a sight to behold: The "Shelf Reliance Thrive" now in Costco stores in the United States features more than 5000 servings of freeze-dried or dehydrated rice, winter wheat, green peas, diced onions, sweet corn, sliced apples, raspberries, Lima beans and elbow macaroni with a guaranteed shelf life of 30 years. And there's more; including 30 litres of imitation bacon, beef and chicken: Something the retailer describes as textured vegetable protein apparently "consistent with real meat." Yum...
Allan Abel, who is a Canadian living in Washington, reported recently in an American syndicated publication that the products are marketed to our cousins in America as..."everything you'll need if the world goes to heck in a hand basket."
Major retailers such as Costco are just cashing into the prevailing paranoia, catering to perceptions over our "final days." It wasn't that long ago that in a "blog" post I wrote of the Illinois based promoters of "survival seeds" which were then being shilled by TV Evangelist Jim Bakker. Now you may add neo-con Fox News mouthpiece Glenn Beck amongst the proponents..."A desperate lower class demanding handouts. A rapidly diminishing middle class crippled by police state bureaucracy. An aloof, ruling elite that has introduced us to an emerging totalitarianism which seeks control over every aspect of our lives...if you don't have the ability to grow your own food next year, your life may be in danger."
Never mind that (apparently) no one has ever wondered just how the heck they're going to cook all those red beans, grind the wheat, or know how to make bread over a campfire. Back to the frenzy on over at Costco; as America's Thanksgiving shopping "black" Friday gets set to beckon: For $149.99 (USD) you can get the "Food For Health Extreme Emergency Preparedness Kit," including 25 servings of Western Stew; 25 servings of Potato Soup; 20 servings of Oatmeal; a water filtration system; a crank operated flashlight/Radio/Cellphone charger; a survival knife; emergency blankets; Safety Masks; duct tape; toilet paper. Everything, Costco claims, for up to 4 people to survive in the event of an earthquake, pandemic, wildfire or displacement emergency.
I wish (only) that I was making this up. Fortunately I am comforted knowing that Hamilton born comedian Steve Smith, a.k.a. "Red Green," would consider this amongst his proudest achievements.