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  • The Pickled Prepper

The Bunker Mentality of the Rich and Famous


If you follow the news, you know that many ultra-rich people have bunkers and secluded retreats, often built on private islands or in New Zealand. It makes you wonder what they know, and why knowing what they know makes them afraid.


I sometimes wonder if they just want to be left alone. Maybe when you are a billionaire, or a famous actor or pop singer, it’s hard to be alone. Not only do they face rabid fans, stalkers, paparazzi, plane trackers, members of their entourage, and hangers-on, there are agents, bookers, PR people, reporters and others who will take up their every waking minute.


What if the only way the rich and famous can get away and be themselves—not worry about their hair and makeup or walk down to the kitchen half-dressed at 2 a.m. to make a snack—is to escape to a private island or an underground bunker where even a drone can’t get to you. Maybe bunkers give the rich back their privacy; they may have swimming pools and theaters, but they don’t have windows. Swing the blast doors out and they are finally alone and unafraid.


For the Rest of us


I grew up in a city where the house next door was 30 feet away. If they left their drapes open, I could see right into their house and vice versa. If someone over there yelled at someone else, we could hear them.


We just ignored it. There were other houses where only three or four feet separate you from your neighbors. It was easier for everyone if you just minded your own business. Today, it seems, no one minds their own business and video cameras are everywhere. That makes it tough for someone famous.


After college, I lived in an apartment building. Not only could I see into the apartments across the way, I could hear my neighbors through the walls. Even less privacy. Townhouses are much the same, but with no one above or below you. Still, you know what they are watching on TV, when they are fighting, when they make love, etc.


When I lived on a couple of acres with a fence and gate, we had better privacy. For example, no one could ring the doorbell unless we opened the gate. That cut down on unwanted visitors and solicitors. It was great!


Now, I have even more privacy. In the winter, when the leaves are off the trees, I can see the lights of another house about a quarter of a mile away, but I can’t see what is going on inside. Plus, lots of trees separate us. We can yell, shout, dance naked, or do whatever we please, and no one can see or hear us.


Maybe Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Sam Altman and all the rest of the uber-wealthy want the same kind of privacy.


No Bunker for Me


I don’t have a bunker, but no one is going to photograph me or my wife tanning on our deck or sharing a kiss in the kitchen. No drones are circling above, and no one waits to follow us when we leave the house. I don’t have to worry about stalkers.


Owning a bunker would be cool; it’s the ultimate prepper accessory, but I’d rather spend my money on a solar system. The day may come when some fallout protection or even blast protection would be useful, but when you withdraw to your bunker, you are trapped there. I’d rather be outside, patrolling, listening, and coordinating with others than locked inside a bunker with no idea what is happening outside.


I think the presence of a bunker, if locals know you have it, might attract an attack, especially when the natives get hungry. Also, if I was a famous person inside a bunker and the world as we know it vanished in a blinding flash, I would worry that my security forces would kill me and take over the bunker for their own use.


Isolation and Privacy


When we moved here, we intentionally chose a location that was isolated and difficult to reach. Privacy was a side effect of that decision. When you are in the middle of nowhere, you tend to have privacy. When you are on a private road that requires four-wheel drive, it discourages tourists and other casual visitors. Heck, even some of our intentional visitors can’t reach us in their compact cars with low-clearance and front-wheel drive.


I like the privacy, but I also like the lack of noise. It’s peaceful. This is the quietest place I have ever lived. I’ve heard a siren once in the more than three years we’ve lived here. I’ve never heard a car alarm, just an occasional lawn mower. It’s quiet enough we can hear them coming if someone drives up the mountain.


When the SHTF and the rule of law disappears, I may wish I had a bunker. I might also wish for a pallet of concertina wire, sand bags, machine guns, and a platoon of Marines. I expect we will manage without any of that.


It’s just a Matter of Scale


If we have the mega-rich tucked away in their bunkers surrounded by armed guards on one end of the spectrum, we have the young couple who have nothing but bugout bags and a vague plan on the other.  My family is somewhere in the middle, isolated and well prepared, but not as well protected or defended as those in a bunker.


But who is to say that out of the three, the couple with the bugout bags aren’t the ones who will survive? Survival is fickle, and there is always an element of luck involved. Plus, they are young and probably in better shape. What if the comet or asteroid that strikes Earth hits close to Bill Gates’ bunker? What if a nuclear missile launched by North Korea gets hit by one of our interceptors and falls to the ground on Mark Zuckerberg’s Hawaiian island where it explodes? Or, what if Sam Altman in on his private jet when an EMP goes off, sending the jet crashing to the ground?


You can have all the money in the world and a bunker on every continent, but that’s no guarantee you’ll survive. To be safe, you’d have to be in there all the time. The rich will have to bug out, too, and when your bunker is in Hawaii or your retreat is in New Zealand, there’s no shortcut. They will have to leave before disaster strikes, just like the rest of us.


Don’t worry if you don’t have a bunker or a retreat. Use that as a goal, something to aim for, but focus on what you have, what you can afford, and what you plan to do. Prepping is a journey. Stay on the trail and take it one step at a time.

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