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Forbes Says Self-Reliant Homesteaders Are “Delusional” and “Mooching” Off “Civil Society”

Forbes Says Self-Reliant Homesteaders Are “Delusional” and “Mooching” Off “Civil Society” thumbnail

It’s always interesting reading when someone smug and sanctimonious writes a clueless diatribe about another group of people being smug and sanctimonious. So when I saw that an economist for Moody’s and Forbes had written an op-ed calling self-reliant homesteaders “delusional,” I knew I’d be in for some misinformed hilarity.

The article, entitled, “Dear Homesteaders, Self-Reliance Is a Delusion” was published a couple of days ago on the Forbes website. You’ll be forewarned that the article won’t be deep in the first paragraph, when the author presents his claim to knowledge about self-reliant living comes from the fact that he is “a big fan of shows about doomsday preppers, homesteaders, survivalists, generally people who live off the grid.”

And the well-informed opinion of this arbiter of self-reliance?

…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.

First, let me segue a little bit and tell you about the author. According to his bio on

Adam Ozimek is an associate director and senior economist in the West Chester office of Moody’s Analytics. Adam covers state and regional economies, as well U.S. labor markets and demographics. Prior to joining Moody’s Analytics, Adam was Senior Economist and Director of Research for Econsult Solutions, an economics consulting company. He received his Ph.D. in economics from Temple University and his bachelor’s degree in economics from West Chester University.

So based on this, I’m going to guess that homesteading and off-grid living aren’t his jam. I mean, he might head down to the Westtown Amish Market there in Pennsylvania, but I’d be willing to place money on that being his closest brush with any real, live, self-reliant homesteaders.

His ill-conceived argument seems to be mostly focused on health care. He is baffled about what will happen if a homesteader becomes ill or gets injured.

” On Live Free Or Die, a man in his mid sixties named Colbert lives in the Georgia swamps alone….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.”


“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?”

One thing that Dr. Ozimek is missing is the fact that most homesteaders are tax-paying citizens. Does he think that living on a homestead exempts one from property taxes? Does he suppose that their vehicles don’t have license plates or that their fuel is purchased without the requisite state gasoline tax? Or that maybe they have some special card that lets them buy things like feed without paying sales tax? Perhaps homesteading equipment like tractors and tools and off-grid appliances are likewise purchased without any gain to “society.”

As well, he’s under the assumption, based on his vast body of knowledge gleaned from watching TV, that self-reliant homesteaders don’t make any money or have any insurance. I know homesteaders who are retirees from other jobs who have a fine pension and excellent health insurance. I know others who make a good living with their homesteading endeavors. And there are still others who live simply after working for years to pay cash for their homestead, or families in which one spouse works a full-time job to support the homestead.

But, Ozimek, whose informed point of view comes from only the most extreme of the group featured on for-profit-and-ratings television shows, doesn’t understand that. He continues to espouse the superiority of the non-agrarian lifestyle:

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.

Yeah, because homesteaders can’t do anything but homestead.

Some people are producers and other people are consumers.

Ozimek thinks that someone with the extensive skills required to live off the grid would be completely unable to find employment and would have no option but to become a welfare recipient should their homesteading endeavor fall apart.

What he’s missing is that his cushy “civilized” lifestyle is completely reliant on the type of people he scorns. He forgets that someone, somewhere is growing his food. Someone, somewhere, is assuring that his energy reaches his home. Someone is ensuring that his plumbing works, someone is repairing his furnace if it breaks, and someone is transporting the goods he purchases to the store, where someone will sell him those goods.

But, that’s what happens when someone is only a consumer and not a producer. They think that producers are somehow less worthy, and that if they couldn’t produce what the consumers consume, they’d be totally out of options.

The cool thing about self-reliant homesteaders is that we aren’t one-trick ponies. We can produce all sorts of things and provide all kinds of services. It’s called “having skills.”

Most self-reliant homesteaders aren’t reality TV stars.

Since his entire argument is based on the tv programs he watches, the author doesn’t understand what self-reliance means to those of us who aren’t reality television stars.

It means:

  • We provide a lot of our own food because we prefer to know where it comes from.
  • We raise our own meat because we object to the way factory-farmed animals are treated.
  • We use our own sources of power because maybe we’re green at heart or maybe we just prefer not to be tied into the “smart” grid.
  • We learn to make our own products for cleaning, bathing, and making life pleasant because we don’t want to bring chemical toxins into our homes.
  • We’d rather skip the middle man and spend our time actually making the things that most people work for hours to purchase from someone else who made them.
  • We are far less likely to spend time at the doctor’s office because a) we aren’t huge fans of pharmaceuticals, b) we can take care of small things ourselves, and c) our healthier lifestyle means we tend to be less likely to be ill. (Although this isn’t always the case – even self-reliant homesteaders can get sick. And when we do, we use our insurance or we pay for it with savings. Just like everyone else.)
  • We don’t need as much money because we just don’t need as much stuff.

But to someone who buys all of their food and other goods from the store and gets all of their medicine from the pharmacy, it can be difficult to understand the satisfaction that comes from evading those places.

But, safety…

Of course, if self-reliant homesteaders pass all of the Forbes columnist’s other tests, he can still dismiss their achievements by going full-blown statist.

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.

So, by the mere fact of our existence in this country, according to Ozimek, none of us are self-reliant. It boggles the mind that this fellow successfully wrote and defended a doctoral thesis.

This is how reliant people justify their reliance.

I guess what it boils down to is that this is what helps Ozimek and people like him justify living their lives without any practical skills. If things did go sideways in a long-term kind of way, who is going to be better off: a person who can claim a Ph.D. in economics or someone who can actually produce food?

The fact is, the less we require from society, the less power that society has over us. Our lifestyles give us some distance from the hustle and the bustle. We don’t have to make as much money because we don’t live in the consumer matrix that engulfs so much of society. We are content to live simply instead of hustling from one non-productive activity to another.

Most of us don’t eschew all the benefits of living in a modern society. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Having a corporate job doesn’t preclude growing your own tomatoes any more than having a herd of goats precludes having health insurance.

There is a joy in making a meal that came entirely from your own backyard that these people will never get to experience, and having spent many years in the corporate world, I can tell you which provides the most satisfaction for me.

In this society where nearly everyone is digitally connected 24 hours a day, it’s nice to step away from all that and break the addiction to constant stimulation. It’s nice to not always be trading the hours in your day for the things that someone else made while you were working on something that, if we’re being honest, is kind of pointless in the grand scheme of survival.

If Dr. Ozimek wants to talk about delusions and superiority, he could find all the inspiration he needs by taking a look in the mirror.

The Organic Prepper blog

32 Comments on "Forbes Says Self-Reliant Homesteaders Are “Delusional” and “Mooching” Off “Civil Society”"

  1. onlooker on Thu, 3rd Aug 2017 7:36 am 

    I would not say that preppers are mooching from society. But, I would say that all the prepping in the world will not guarantee survival as we progress along the timeline of Consequences to overshoot. Modern society has offered those primarily in rich countries, top notch medical care, sufficient food and yes a stable and safe environment. None of this will be necessarily there in a post collapse world. However in lieu of this Post collapse people will have much more solidarity than now and they above all will have skills to allow them to live with what their surroundings afford them. However, it is safe to say that many this century will perish before being able to adapt to future conditions as people currently for the most part are woefully unprepared to disengage from all modern Society affords.

  2. Davy on Thu, 3rd Aug 2017 7:37 am 

    What can you expect out of Forbes? We live in a world that is based on the insanity of separation. Humans against nature and humans against ourselves. Forbes epitomizes this insanity. Doomers and preppers come in all shapes and sizes. There are plenty of nutters that give all of us a bad name.

    I am a balance doomer and prepper. I believe in using the status quo to leave it. There is no place to run and hide from the status quo of modernism and techno optimism. The best a balanced doomer can do is criticize these people and try to get them to be more sober with humility and balance. If the status quo would embrace a few strategies of decline we may have less pain and suffering. Instead we are doing more of the same and claiming that is not making things worse.

    A true balanced doomer and prepper accepts the direction of life as inevitable and through the yielding principal he adapts to this blind journey into collapse we are all caught up in. Prepping is not rocket science. It is basic risk management and honesty to reality. We have always had a precarious existence as a species it is only recently we have been habituated to a false stability and a narrative of exceptionalism of growth and development. A doomer tries to remind the cornucopian spirit in modernism of our past and the reality of limits. The prepping is a natural response to a world that is on a runaway path to overshoot.

    The key for a balanced doomer and prepper is time frame, location, and scale. When and where is the worst going to occur and how bad. Prepping won’t save you but it will buy you time. A balanced doomer is not caught up in the Hollywood scenarios of collapse. Collapse may be a longer drawn out affair with plenty of boredom punctuated with extreme dangers. Who knows but one thing is sure the status quo does not know and this article is a prime example of this self-deception.

  3. deadlykillerbeaz on Thu, 3rd Aug 2017 7:49 am 

    Water has to be tested, taxes must be paid, inspections from health officials are a must, insurances for liabilities, insurance to protect against losses to properties, maintenance of vehicles and machinery, all to provide food stuffs for civil society, people like Dr. Ozimek would starve to death in a matter of days if those food products weren’t there to purchase.

    The food that is sold is clean and safe.

    The amount of clean up and making sure it is worth the effort is astounding.

    You won’t have a market if it comes from the field to the stand all dirty and full of worms and insects.

    People will not buy and you will have no market.

    Dr. Ozimek can only speak when his biscuit trap is not chewing food.

    I won’t generate any sympathy for the fool when the day comes when there is nothing for him to eat.

  4. Makati1 on Thu, 3rd Aug 2017 8:28 am 

    Many ‘careers’ will be found wanting when the SHTF. If you have no survival skills, you will NOT survive. Simple, No? Mother Nature doesn’t look at degrees or bank accounts.

  5. MASTERMIND on Thu, 3rd Aug 2017 8:29 am 

    *Post-collapse Preparation Is the Answer*

    Myth: Well-prepared individuals, groups, and communities will survive our impending collapse and maintain healthy, fulfilling, and productive lives in its aftermath.

    Reality: Those who survive our collapse will be those who can obtain sufficient life sustaining essentials—especially clean water and food—on a continuous basis, both during and after collapse. Those who store large quantities of these essentials and those who attempt to produce food, either individually or in communities, will be easy targets for the vast majority who have neither the foresight to store nor the skills to produce. No matter how remote or secluded your sanctuary, somebody will know about it; and they will come to call when they become desperate; and they will be well armed and devoid of compassion. You can prepare for a last stand, but you cannot prepare for post-collapse survival. Post-collapse Life Will Be Preferable to Our Industrial Lifestyle Paradigm

    Myth: Industrialization has brought nothing but misery and degradation to the human race; our quality of life (and spiritual wellbeing) will improve substantially in a post-collapse world.

    Reality: The post-collapse lifestyle awaiting the few who survive will, under the best of circumstances, share many attributes with pre-Columbian America. Unfortunately, the realities associated with subsistence level existence bear little semblance to the Hollywood accounts. Those who anxiously await our post-collapse world will be disappointed, assuming they live to experience it. The fact that nobody is opting to jettison the amenities afforded by an industrialized way of life in favor of a hunter-gatherer lifestyle today should be sufficient proof that our future way of life is not something to be anticipated. Industrialism is not inherently “evil” or immoral; it is simply physically impossible going forward.

  6. AM on Thu, 3rd Aug 2017 8:43 am 

    please you guys don’t tard so hard ok. we need to kill off the alt-tard media because it’s all BS.

    What’s the biggest reliance that homesteaders use? It’s the intarweb and google. Information is priceless. Forbes does have something to say on this.

    One thing to watch out for is they also contribute content but they never publish their failures, who would?

  7. AM on Thu, 3rd Aug 2017 8:47 am 

    maybe i’m so wrong but self reliance is a myth. it’s all about leeching and stealing.

    don’t believe me because i’m a tard. that’s why as a former paultard i bring out the big gun – frederic bastiat. Cover your ear now.

    “Now since man is naturally inclined to avoid pain — and since labor is pain in itself — it follows that men will resort to plunder whenever plunder is easier than work. History shows this quite clearly. And under these conditions, neither religion nor morality can stop it.”

  8. AM on Thu, 3rd Aug 2017 8:50 am 

    my mistake as a ex-paultard is that i listened to the higher tards. Bastiat said right there that neither religion nor morality can stop it.

    as paultards we resorted to the religion of “muh NAP” (Non Aggression Principle).

    We mainly use the derivative of it (peace) as a club to bash the govt. in the head, especially the police.

  9. AM on Thu, 3rd Aug 2017 9:03 am 

    gusy where do i find a woman like this who wants a tard? even lazy man farming requires someone to make it happen.

    this guy is lucky AF. personally i just want all women to enlist and fight their way out of poverty. this dude is doing too much and he driving his woman too hard.

  10. Cloggie on Thu, 3rd Aug 2017 9:04 am 

    Forbes is afraid of armies of preppers and other crypto-right-wing, gun owning, closet militia types, trying to escape from the Washington-owned tax farm, by George Carlin also described as The Big Club, of which you are not in it, but Forbes does.

    And Forbes has a point, from their perspective that is.

    What are you going to do about it, Forbes?

  11. Jan on Thu, 3rd Aug 2017 10:42 am 

    No one will be safe if there is an economic meltdown. Farms in the UK are already seeing a massive increase in thefts.

    Protecting livestock at night is very difficult, security fencing around hundreds of acres is prohibitively expensive.

    If society broke down completely who would carry out operations or cancer treatment?

  12. Dredd on Thu, 3rd Aug 2017 11:05 am 

    If Dr. Ozimek wants to talk about delusions and superiority, he could find all the inspiration he needs by taking a look in the mirror.

    Indeed, and while doing so he should ask the lost soul in the mirror what planet is he “living off of” – Venus?

    He suffers, among other things, from a psychological syndrome “YAH” (You Are Here).

    Someone inform him of the concept “microcosm.”

  13. Darrell Cloud on Thu, 3rd Aug 2017 11:15 am 

    I won’t live beyond a year when the grid goes down. When the blood pressure medicine runs out I am done. I have a son on the other hand who has three little children and a beautiful wife. Congress says that when the grid goes down we will lose ninety percent of our population within the first year. My goal is to make it possible for those five people to be part of the surviving ten percent. With luck and pluck, they can make it through. I have a spot of land. We have food, fuel and ammo. We live in a small town and we have friends and family who still farm. I have a forge and a foundry. I have a machine shop. I have running water out back. I have the components for a wood gas generator and I have generators that run on gas and propane. I will have a functioning machine shop after the grid goes down. I have a library that encompasses blacksmithing, gunsmithing, organic gardening, herbal medicines and a host of other topics. Will my kids make it? God only knows, but I am not going to sit on my hands and wait on a deeply flawed system to rescue them.

  14. MASTERMIND on Thu, 3rd Aug 2017 12:31 pm 

    The US middle class will be extinct by 2035 (Federal Reserve NYC)

  15. Sissyfuss on Thu, 3rd Aug 2017 1:59 pm 

    They’re not mooching, just refusing to participate in the Ponzi.

  16. AM on Thu, 3rd Aug 2017 2:11 pm 

    @sis they’re mooching ..all those high tech toys are created by the “ponzi” dear.

    terminator robots and solar panels. the one the dude with hot wife working hard uses.

    he also uses a backhoe

    cars on an on


    frederic bastiate never wrong bro

  17. AM on Thu, 3rd Aug 2017 2:15 pm 

    @sis could you show me a non “ponzi” shop which sells backhoe and I’ll forget about finding a hard working woman

    I’ll buy it for double the price

    only modern financing could ever produce such a beautiful piece of machinery

  18. peakyeast on Thu, 3rd Aug 2017 2:26 pm 

    No matter the difficulty ahead – preparation will always be better than none – if you want to succeed at all, of course.

    It’s all about the probabilities and making the most of them.

  19. kervennic on Thu, 3rd Aug 2017 4:59 pm 

    Who gives a fuck about what mr ozimek think.
    Canned milk and supermarket fruits just taste like shit. This is why we strive to grow all the food we eat.
    We are in a free world man ! If you cannot give tasty and nurishing food to people, do not expect them to work long hours for your eyes only.

  20. Makati1 on Thu, 3rd Aug 2017 6:00 pm 

    Darrell, those meds will last a lot longer then their expiration date. They may lose some strength but will still help. Stock up, if you can. I have a bottle of aspirin that is three years past their date and they still work.

  21. MASTERMIND on Thu, 3rd Aug 2017 7:55 pm 


    We the Best!

  22. MASTERMIND on Thu, 3rd Aug 2017 7:57 pm 

    Limits to growth are not “predictions” they are scientific models based on computer simulations. They are used in physics, astrophysics, climatology, chemistry, biology, economics, psychology, social science, and engineering. Simple really….when the World Economy Collapses everything shuts down…the end….we’re talking about grids down all over the world and 7.5B people dropping like f*** flies in short order…The collapse will be absolutely horrible..There is no collapse or horror movie ever produced that has even come close to imagining what the collapse of BAU might look like. I’m talking about every corporation and every social program going bankrupt at once. I’m talking about people eating people. I’m talking about the Worst Catastrophe to ever happen in the history of mankind. Nothing has ever, or will ever come close.

    (MIT Smithsonian Meadows 1972)

  23. MASTERMIND on Thu, 3rd Aug 2017 7:59 pm 

    Remember me Makati1!!

  24. onlooker on Fri, 4th Aug 2017 7:03 am 

    You said Mastermind, limits to growth are physical certainties. We live in a limited closed system called planet Earth. We cannot and will not be able to continue to grow. In fact present consumer throughput and population is unsustainable. It does appear that that world Economy is showing serious faulty conditions which means that people will die sooner, be born with more likelihood of dying and all this is good to control population. Not to mentioned the exiting of fossil fuels whether by choice or depletion will also rein in population. Add to that a denuded compromised Earth and the coming shitstorm of climate change and the survival of each human in the coming future is anything but assured. We learn humility and that we are not God or the Creator and cannot duplicate all the varied ways Nature provides for life on this planet. In the long run if some of us make it, it will be a most worthwhile lesson they have learned.

  25. shortonoil on Fri, 4th Aug 2017 3:34 pm 

    For high blood pressure stock up on Lisinopril (Prinzide trade name) It has an almost infinite shelf life. Some medications become toxic with time. It is also dirt cheap. 90 pills about $11.00, 12.5 Mg. Half that price out of Mexico.

    You don’t have to die from HBP, but something else will probably get you!

  26. Kevin Cobley on Sat, 5th Aug 2017 6:43 am 

    “op-ed calling self-reliant homesteaders “delusional,” I knew I’d be in for some misinformed hilarity.
    It’s true preppers and self reliant are delusional, when the collapse comes it won’t be small armed groups that come, it will be armies with heavy armoured vehicles, the self reliant and the preppers will just be eliminated.

  27. Davy on Sat, 5th Aug 2017 7:42 am 

    Kevin, mate, maybe it will be the smart prepping self-reliant types who will be leading the armies of others who have survived to eliminate dumbasses that thought prepping was for stupid people. It will be those who take reasonable efforts at preparing for disasters of any and all kind who will be the seeds of the next leadership. Maybe a few dumbass “I don’t care types” might make it. You know luck and all that but for the most part it will be smart prepping people that survive. The “I don’t care types” will not only be eliminated in the first round from having their pants down but also the second round when the surviving people who prepped come around to shoot down the remaining vermin.

  28. boat on Sat, 5th Aug 2017 10:03 am 

    I know a prepper, he has a high paying corporate job. If you want acres of farmland, cows, chickens, goats, barns etc, you need big money. Whats on those barns? Solar. Whats in those barns? A huge kitchen, many freezers, refrigerators, milk processing equipment, tractor, hay and misc equipment. He has two like 20×20 green houses. No time to grow a garden of any size because of time constraints.
    He has 3 wells dispersed around 200 acres.
    Like Davy he takes his prepping serious but most of the world is cash and land poor. What would carbon footprint be if every human prepped like that.

  29. peaktard on Sat, 5th Aug 2017 10:38 am 

    as a former paultard i was supposed to be for liberty but i realized the nature of politics is to shift the wealth from one group to another and to make the masses think some entity is capable of providing for them.

    Jesus refused the devil’s offering when he fasted in teh desert. Excuse me i sound like an extremist tard preacher but i’m not. I like to speak in examples.

    Only Jesus the troll could refuse such an enticing offer. The rest of the masses behave exactly as Federic Bastiat described. They want to plunder and steal.

    I’ve been around druggies and bums and I know first hand how animal like humanity is. i don’t hate humanity when i said duterte should shoot them animals. i do care about animals though. the problem is the human animals have intelligence and they’re menacing AF.

    all i want is a polite society where i’m free to dig the ground and plant for food. i also want to cooperate because i can’t do it alone. this is impossible because druggies and bums and animal human.

    so unfortunately polite society with a lot of weapon needs to control the masses. it’s so easy to fly a drone and drop a tranquilier on a tard prepper ass.

    people tend to stay put. one can’t easily move around like herd animals. that requires a community and that’s not possible.

    boat is right

  30. peaktard on Sat, 5th Aug 2017 4:52 pm 

    why is life so complex and why it’s not possible to be a self reliance tard prepper? and why tar preppers are mooches.

    don’t do the hard work of how manything you need. just take a walk to walmart

    there are thousands of items there. then walk to home depot, thousands more, then your local hardware store, thousands more.

    some overlap

    you need all that.

    then walk into a service shop (nothing to sell but intelligence, papers, ideas, “products” like a bank)

    at some point in your life you will need, and you already did use these products.

    tard preppers produced .0001% of these products.

  31. peaktard on Sat, 5th Aug 2017 4:54 pm 

    could you tell me where to buy a tooth brust from a tard prepper? i don’t want to use a manual one.

    without it i’d ratehr kill myself. having no tooth with an abasess teh size of a golf ball in my face is no fun.

    until i can purchase a top of the line tooth brush from tard prepper i say they’re self sufficient.

  32. Makati1 on Sat, 5th Aug 2017 10:05 pm 

    “Grown-ups used to appreciate being treated as grown-ups, especially by other grown-ups. How is it that today’s grown-ups demand that they be treated like not-too-bright children?” LOL

    “Today, grown-ups beg to be treated like idiot children. Want – apparently – to be parented.”

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