Since the start of the pandemic we’ve had a chance to prove what utter asshats we can be. We’ve also proved that NOT being an asshat is possible. Take it away, Ted!
Toilet paper – it was the thing that proved human asshattery knows few limits, almost a year ago now. People proved the Politics Of Controlling Supply in spades. See, it’s a very cold survival technique we’re born with. And in times past it served a purpose, in contemporary times, not so much.
The thing with hoarding isn’t so much about having stuff as it is about denying that stuff to someone else. Yes, you do finish up having this stuff to tide you over leaner times when the stuff may not be available temporarily. But there’s also a more sinister purpose to it, one that we may very well be actively not seeing.
Others around you will become weaker if you have the stuff and they don’t.
Yes, we humans need other humans in order to survive. Genetics alone dictates that we need a huge gene pool. But we are going to be the one at the top of that pool… If others around you are weaker due to not being able to get their hands on the stuff, that makes it easier for us to be the big fish in the pool.
Food (and other stuff like shelter, clothing, tools) has been weaponised all throughout our history. Starting with controlling hunting grounds and taking prey off weaker tribe members, that was the resource at our disposal, so that was the resource that we’d hoard or attempt to hoard.
That developed to cover each resource as we added it to our resource pool. Keep the cave to your gene pool, keep your genetics alive. Control food in your region by tithes and ‘Royal Granaries’ and you could a) keep your royal lineage alive longer than any other, b) keep your enforcers stronger than the workers, and c) keep your serfs and lands going longer than the surrounding domains.
So it’s no surprise to see that we still have hoarders living in houses with full fridges and pantries but starving.
Thing is, I’m a food hoarder. Shocking? Not really. We ALL have this hoarding instinct. Some collect stamps, some collect every issue of the newspaper and then don’t have the heart to throw them out so they get stacked up in the corner of the lounge room, then the whole lounge room, then the hallway and the spare bedroom and next thing you know you’re that hoarder down the road.
My survival hoarding instinct is to keep a pantry that’s always stocked. I differ from that person in the article only in a few things – I use my stock and rotate through it regularly, I freely provide it to family, friends, acquaintances, and neighbours during times of need, and I use the pantry to smoothe out our financial burden by buying on special and in season.
When TP became the scarce item, I wasn’t one of the panic buyers worsening the situation. When pasta became the target of those control hoarders, I was able to keep up our normal menu and also help out others as needed.
I drew the line at hoarding meat because you need to have more freezer space than I have, or else a canning setup suitable for safely canning meat. But the control hoarders don’t care – they’ll buy extra freezers, and deny others around them the food, just because. Nyah.
So – sensible hoarding, (aka readiness for minor emergencies / disasters) is actually a good thing in times like the present, with the pandemic always creating hiccups and bubbles in production. Too much hoarding and not enough preparedness to use your investment is a waste of resources and therefore not good for you, other people, and the planet. Also hoarding weapons and explosives to protect your hoard is a disaster waiting to happen.
If you know where the instinct comes from and how it works, you’re ideally placed to manage and use that instinct to everyone’s advantage. And what the virus has shown is that the time for solely looking out for #1 is in the past, and we now need to use every resource at our disposal to look after everything.
Buy wisely, store wisely, share wisely.