Doomsday Prep for the Super Rich

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Booklady
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Doomsday Prep for the Super Rich

Post by Booklady » Sat Jan 28, 2017 6:35 pm

NOTA BENE: This article comes from the New Yorker ;)

"Some of the wealthiest people in America—in Silicon Valley, New York, and beyond—are getting ready for the crackup of civilization."
By Evan Osnos

:o :shock: :(

Doomsday Prep for the Super-Rich

Image
An armed guard stands at the entrance of the Survival Condo Project, a former missile silo north of Wichita, Kansas, that has been converted into luxury apartments for people worried about the crackup of civilization.

Steve Huffman, the thirty-three-year-old co-founder and C.E.O. of Reddit, which is valued at six hundred million dollars, was nearsighted until November, 2015, when he arranged to have laser eye surgery. He underwent the procedure not for the sake of convenience or appearance but, rather, for a reason he doesn’t usually talk much about: he hopes that it will improve his odds of surviving a disaster, whether natural or man-made. “If the world ends—and not even if the world ends, but if we have trouble—getting contacts or glasses is going to be a huge pain in the ass,” he told me recently. “Without them, I’m fucked.”

Huffman, who lives in San Francisco, has large blue eyes, thick, sandy hair, and an air of restless curiosity; at the University of Virginia, he was a competitive ballroom dancer, who hacked his roommate’s Web site as a prank. He is less focused on a specific threat—a quake on the San Andreas, a pandemic, a dirty bomb—than he is on the aftermath, “the temporary collapse of our government and structures,” as he puts it. “I own a couple of motorcycles. I have a bunch of guns and ammo. Food. I figure that, with that, I can hole up in my house for some amount of time.”


Survivalism, the practice of preparing for a crackup of civilization, tends to evoke a certain picture: the woodsman in the tinfoil hat, the hysteric with the hoard of beans, the religious doomsayer. [But in recent years survivalism has expanded to more affluent quarters, taking root in Silicon Valley and New York City, among technology executives, hedge-fund managers, and others in their economic cohort.


Last spring, as the Presidential campaign exposed increasingly toxic divisions in America, Antonio García Martínez, a forty-year-old former Facebook product manager living in San Francisco, bought five wooded acres on an island in the Pacific Northwest and brought in generators, solar panels, and thousands of rounds of ammunition. “When society loses a healthy founding myth, it descends into chaos,” he told me. The author of “Chaos Monkeys,” an acerbic Silicon Valley memoir, García Martínez wanted a refuge that would be far from cities but not entirely isolated. “All these dudes think that one guy alone could somehow withstand the roving mob,” he said. “No, you’re going to need to form a local militia. You just need so many things to actually ride out the apocalypse.”


Once he started telling peers in the Bay Area about his “little island project,” they came “out of the woodwork” to describe their own preparations, he said. “I think people who are particularly attuned to the levers by which society actually works understand that we are skating on really thin cultural ice right now.”


In private Facebook groups, wealthy survivalists swap tips on gas masks, bunkers, and locations safe from the effects of climate change. One member, the head of an investment firm, told me, “I keep a helicopter gassed up all the time, and I have an underground bunker with an air-filtration system.” He said that his preparations probably put him at the “extreme” end among his peers. But he added, “A lot of my friends do the guns and the motorcycles and the gold coins. That’s not too rare anymore.”


Tim Chang, a forty-four-year-old managing director at Mayfield Fund, a venture-capital firm, told me, “There’s a bunch of us in the Valley. We meet up and have these financial-hacking dinners and talk about backup plans people are doing. It runs the gamut from a lot of people stocking up on Bitcoin and cryptocurrency, to figuring out how to get second passports if they need it, to having vacation homes in other countries that could be escape havens.” He said, “I’ll be candid: I’m stockpiling now on real estate to generate passive income but also to have havens to go to.” He and his wife, who is in technology, keep a set of bags packed for themselves and their four-year-old daughter. He told me, “I kind of have this terror scenario: ‘Oh, my God, if there is a civil war or a giant earthquake that cleaves off part of California, we want to be ready.’ ”

[snip]

How many wealthy Americans are really making preparations for a catastrophe? It’s hard to know exactly; a lot of people don’t like to talk about it. (“Anonymity is priceless,” one hedge-fund manager told me, declining an interview.) Sometimes the topic emerges in unexpected ways. Reid Hoffman, the co-founder of LinkedIn and a prominent investor, recalls telling a friend that he was thinking of visiting New Zealand. “Oh, are you going to get apocalypse insurance?” the friend asked. “I’m, like, Huh?” Hoffman told me. New Zealand, he discovered, is a favored refuge in the event of a cataclysm. Hoffman said, “Saying you’re ‘buying a house in New Zealand’ is kind of a wink, wink, say no more. Once you’ve done the Masonic handshake, they’ll be, like, ‘Oh, you know, I have a broker who sells old ICBM silos, and they’re nuclear-hardened, and they kind of look like they would be interesting to live in.’ ”


I asked Hoffman to estimate what share of fellow Silicon Valley billionaires have acquired some level of “apocalypse insurance,” in the form of a hideaway in the U.S. or abroad. “I would guess fifty-plus per cent,” he said, “but that’s parallel with the decision to buy a vacation home. Human motivation is complex, and I think people can say, ‘I now have a safety blanket for this thing that scares me.’ ” The fears vary, but many worry that, as artificial intelligence takes away a growing share of jobs, there will be a backlash against Silicon Valley, America’s second-highest concentration of wealth. (Southwestern Connecticut is first.) “I’ve heard this theme from a bunch of people,” Hoffman said. “Is the country going to turn against the wealthy? Is it going to turn against technological innovation? Is it going to turn into civil disorder?”


The C.E.O. of another large tech company told me, “It’s still not at the point where industry insiders would turn to each other with a straight face and ask what their plans are for some apocalyptic event.” He went on, “But, having said that, I actually think it’s logically rational and appropriately conservative.” He noted the vulnerabilities exposed by the Russian cyberattack on the Democratic National Committee, and also by a large-scale hack on October 21st, which disrupted the Internet in North America and Western Europe. “Our food supply is dependent on G.P.S., logistics, and weather forecasting,” he said, “and those systems are generally dependent on the Internet, and the Internet is dependent on D.N.S.”—the system that manages domain names. “Go risk factor by risk factor by risk factor, acknowledging that there are many you don’t even know about, and you ask, ‘What’s the chance of this breaking in the next decade?’ Or invert it: ‘What’s the chance that nothing breaks in fifty years?’ ”


One measure of survivalism’s spread is that some people are starting to speak out against it. Max Levchin, a founder of PayPal and of Affirm, a lending startup, told me, “It’s one of the few things about Silicon Valley that I actively dislike—the sense that we are superior giants who move the needle and, even if it’s our own failure, must be spared.”
To Levchin, prepping for survival is a moral miscalculation; he prefers to “shut down party conversations” on the topic. “I typically ask people, ‘So you’re worried about the pitchforks. How much money have you donated to your local homeless shelter?’ This connects the most, in my mind, to the realities of the income gap. All the other forms of fear that people bring up are artificial.” In his view, this is the time to invest in solutions, not escape. “At the moment, we’re actually at a relatively benign point of the economy. When the economy heads south, you will have a bunch of people that are in really bad shape. What do we expect then?”

[snip] :o :shock:
A saucer of cream will do for me, thank you for your kindness.

Cyclamen persicum
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Re: Doomsday Prep for the Super Rich

Post by Cyclamen persicum » Sat Jan 28, 2017 8:46 pm

.

Why not move away .. to more safe place when and if that thing hits the fan

Move to safer places .. Australia , New Zealand , Alaska , Canada

ex Nuclear Bunker in Wichita ? ? ? :lol:

.

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Booklady
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Re: Doomsday Prep for the Super Rich

Post by Booklady » Sat Jan 28, 2017 9:08 pm

Cyclamen persicum wrote:.

Why not move away .. to more safe place when and if that thing hits the fan

Move to safer places .. Australia , New Zealand , Alaska , Canada

ex Nuclear Bunker in Wichita ? ? ? :lol:

.
Why not farther? The Moon? Venus? Saturn? Who know, yes no ? ??? :mrgreen: :mrgreen:
A saucer of cream will do for me, thank you for your kindness.

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SteveFoerster
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Re: Doomsday Prep for the Super Rich

Post by SteveFoerster » Sun Jan 29, 2017 10:51 am

Cyclamen persicum wrote:.

Why not move away .. to more safe place when and if that thing hits the fan

Move to safer places .. Australia , New Zealand , Alaska , Canada

ex Nuclear Bunker in Wichita ? ? ? :lol:
Agreed. If you're in Silicon Valley or New York, and you have time to make it to Wichita, then you have time to make it to somewhere actually worth hiding out.
Writer, technologist, educator, gadfly.
President of New World University: http://newworld.ac

Cyclamen persicum
Posts: 317
Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2017 10:13 am

Re: Doomsday Prep for the Super Rich

Post by Cyclamen persicum » Sun Jan 29, 2017 12:41 pm

SteveFoerster wrote:
Cyclamen persicum wrote:.

Why not move away .. to more safe place when and if that thing hits the fan

Move to safer places .. Australia , New Zealand , Alaska , Canada

ex Nuclear Bunker in Wichita ? ? ? :lol:

Agreed. If you're in Silicon Valley or New York, and you have time to make it to Wichita, then you have time to make it to somewhere actually worth hiding out.

.

best place, if and when things hittin the fan , to hide , would be in 3rd or 4th or 5th world countries .. somewhere nobody has interest in ..

.

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SteveFoerster
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Re: Doomsday Prep for the Super Rich

Post by SteveFoerster » Sun Jan 29, 2017 7:01 pm

Cyclamen persicum wrote:
SteveFoerster wrote:
Cyclamen persicum wrote:.

Why not move away .. to more safe place when and if that thing hits the fan

Move to safer places .. Australia , New Zealand , Alaska , Canada

ex Nuclear Bunker in Wichita ? ? ? :lol:

Agreed. If you're in Silicon Valley or New York, and you have time to make it to Wichita, then you have time to make it to somewhere actually worth hiding out.

.

best place, if and when things hittin the fan , to hide , would be in 3rd or 4th or 5th world countries .. somewhere nobody has interest in ..

.
Agreed, e.g., Costa Rica or Panama rather than Wichita.

By the way, I'm curious -- why do you end your posts with a single dot on its own line? It's not like you need to do that to terminate a message, as with email in the 1980's.
Writer, technologist, educator, gadfly.
President of New World University: http://newworld.ac

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Doc
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Re: Doomsday Prep for the Super Rich

Post by Doc » Mon Jan 30, 2017 11:31 am

Follow up from NPR

Journalist Evan Osnos, who recently wrote about doomsday prep for the super rich for The New Yorker, tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that tech survivalists are stockpiling weapons and food, and, in some cases, preparing luxury underground bunkers.

"They feel a sense of fragility in our politics," Osnos says. "Our politics have become disorderly ... and [the tech survivalists] look at it and think, 'Well, we're not entirely sure that our institutions are as sound as we've always assumed they are.' "
Enlarge this image

The Survival Condo Project includes an underground pool.
Survival Condo Project

While researching his article, Osnos spent the night in the Survival Condo Project, a 20-unit, luxury underground apartment complex north of Wichita, Kan., The complex is designed to be self-sustaining, with hydroponic vegetables, its own fish farm and renewable energy sources.

"[The project] was developed by somebody named Larry Hall ... and what he realized was that there was a certain kind of buyer out there ... who would be willing to spend, in this case, about $3 million for an apartment underground, or $1.5 million for half an apartment," Osnos says. "Larry Hall has sold every unit in it except one for himself."
Or the possibility of some sort of civil unrest. They take what they've seen in some American cities and extrapolate onto a larger scale and they said, "Well, what would happen?" ...

And then there's another piece of it, which is specific to technology, and that is a fairly prevalent fear in this community, which is that the growth and the development of artificial intelligence, which has become such a big subject of discussion, the idea that you will soon have a car that has no driver, that this kind fundamental change in the American labor force will continue to produce tensions particularly between people who are losing their jobs and people who are responsible for the technology that is bringing about that change. ...

Max Levchin who was a co-founder of PayPal, is the CEO of Affirm, a lending startup, who is opposed actually to this trend of survivalist thinking but is surrounded by it. He said what people worry about is, to use Max's word, "the pitchforks," and by that he means the idea that the sort of tension that we saw with the Occupy movement a few years ago would take on a wider, more virulent form.
The classes and the races to weak to master the new conditions of life must give way {..} They must perish in the revolutionary holocaust --Karl Marx

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