Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life

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David Swanson

David Swanson is a longtime peace and justice activist and author of 'War Is a Lie'

December 27th, 2011 9:46 AM

24 Items Not to Hoard

1. Toilet Paper. Instead of hoarding toilet paper for the coming disaster and anarchy that should never be out of your mind if you want to remain easily manipulable by cynical demagogues, invest in providing clean and accessible bathrooms for the homeless. This will radically improve the lives of millions of Americans and, as a happy side effect, make it much easier for us to engage in long-term demonstrations and nonviolent resistance actions in public places.

2. Paper Towels. Rather than quietly stocking up on paper towels before the riff raff figure out your secrets and buy out the entire endangered national supply of this critical survival tool, bring all of your paper towels and all of your friends to a community clean-up of every scrubable surface surrounding a nearby fossil fuel burning facility. As a bonus, you'll get to meet some people and together you'll feel less terrified.

3. Coffee Filters. You could stock up on this truly stupid item, along with everything else needed to put it to use, including coffee, a coffee maker, and electricity, or you could just get a coffee maker that doesn't use filters, or — preferably — drop the unnecessary habit of drinking coffee, along with all of your other bad habits, like fear, obedience, subservience, scapegoating, wishful thinking, revenge, racism, sadism, demonization, and the shelling out of hard-earned money for moronic lists of the critical items you'll need to survive the coming catastrophe.

4. Trash Bags. Instead of hoarding this bass-ackward non-solution, try composting the compostable, recycling the recyclable, and reusing the reusable, as well as burning the burnable to generate the heat you'll need when the hot air production from right wing pundits has been silenced by a communist conspiracy catastrophe.

5. Zip type Freezer Bags. This will always be a really dumb thing to hoard, and all of this crap you're hoarding depends on a huge supply of completely uninterrupted electricity. If you want that, you should focus first on a few things you cannot pick up at the grocery store, such as a wind mill, solar hot water, photovoltaics, tight windows, and good insulation. If you want to get off the grid, don't do it by building your plan around a completely reliable grid while buying useless crap at the supermarket. Do it by getting off the grid. Or create small grids with your immediate neighbors. Or get together to demand sustainable solutions as a society that don't destroy the earth's climate, motivate wars, or radically concentrate wealth, all of which factors contribute the possibility of the catastrophe you fear.

6. Coolers, various sizes. I hate to point this out to you, but coolers are for picnics, not long-term survival and food-hoarding.

7. Shovels. Unless you're going to grow extra arms, you can really only use one shovel at a time. And if you're going to enlist your neighbors' arms in a joint community effort, it would probably be a good idea not to be such an ass and hoard all the shovels.

8. Soaps and Cleansers, Sponges and other scratchy pads. Oh, come on! Your freezers are going to work but not your dishwasher? Let's admit that there's a bit of fantasizing here. If you want a disaster, I've got great news for you. There is one. Go help! Go cook and wash dishes in a homeless shelter or soup kitchen right now. Plan a trip to a part of the world suffering from war or hurricane or corporate trade agreement. Join in the relief effort. Maybe the disaster won't spread to your dishwasher after all.

9. Cotton Rounds. Now, if I get cut, I'd rather have a bandaid than a ball of cotton. And if I need to start a fire, I'd rather have matches than anything else. Rather than hoard your cotton balls, I recommend throwing them at your senators and misrepresentatives who are refusing to create a civilized single-payer health system in this country. If they ask you why, tell them you're helping them prepare for the coming communist takeover.

10. Paper. Do not hoard paper. Take a bit of it and go teach somebody something. Teach yourself. Teach your neighbors. Teach children. And educate those who fail to understand the need for a well-educated populace. Hoarding education and education supplies is something only the severely uneducated would do.

11. Pens and Pencils, especially the click pencil type that don’t [sic] need a sharpener. Because you're not going to want a knife. It's more important to have plastic bags and cotton balls. After all, this is not the list of weapons. We're trying to stoke and profit from paranoia without bearing any responsibility for the increased weapons sales, gun accidents, suicides, or murders that result.

12. Rubber bands. OK, we just put this one in here as a paid advertisement for rubber bands, but can you prove they will not be essential? Wouldn't it be smarter to stock up on them before they sell out, in case they turn out to be essential after they're all gone and your neighbors are refusing to share them with you because you hoarded all the shovels and toilet paper?

13. Tape. This can be valuable for capturing terrorists, advertising a debilitating fear of anthrax by pretending to seal your house shut, or building artwork out of your coffee filters. But how much of it do you need? What if you just bought what you needed and everyone else did the same. Then why would you need to hoard it? Are you planning to sell this hoarded stuff at a profit? And if so, wouldn't you rather be the guy who hoarded alcohol than the guy who hoarded scotch tape?

14. Sewing Kits. How are you going to attach the necessary tea bags to your hats? Tape?!

15. Matches. These will be critical for cooking frozen food over cotton balls.

16. Salt. Remember that Gandhi marched for the right to hoard entire four-car garages full of salt rather than expose his family to the mercies of a Socialist government that was telling him salt was bad for his health.

17. Aluminum Foil Wrap. This may be needed for coating your hats after sewing on the tea bags.

18. Candles. These can be used for cooking your hamburgers if you run out of cotton balls.

19. Can Opener. Because planting a garden is a liberal plot to infect you by producing your food in a giant pile of dirt.

20. Basic Tools. You never know what you might have to build: a coffee maker, a waterboarding table, a social contract.

21. Handyman’s Hardware Assortment: screws, nuts and bolts, wire, nails, etc. Because if your neighbors cannot find any nails or screws, they will be more content, more self-sufficient, and less likely to crucify you as punishment for your superior entrepreneurship.

22. 5-Gallon Gas Can Containers. These will be critical for maintaining supplies of our essential bodily fluids.

23. Round Magnifying Glass. Now, let's think about this. Will a magnifying glass, even a round one, provide you with what could have been provided by a group of friends and neighbors working together? Maybe we're trying to focus on the tiny details so much that we're missing the bigger picture. Look at the nations that have nonviolently overthrown tyrants, rejected rigged elections, ended foreign occupations, and abolished systemic abuses of rights? What if those people had hidden away in their houses with large supplies of magnifying glasses and gas containers? And how many magnifying glasses can you actually use anyway? Is the point to provide yourself with something supposedly essential or to deny it to others? Because you are already denying others the essential provision of your cooperative collaboration in building a better world. And by denying it to others, you are depriving yourself as well.

24. Envelopes. Neither rain nor sleet nor plague of anarchy . . . . Oh for godsake, do you really think the mailman is going to bring you mail after you've sat by while the post office was dismantled and then focused your energy on hoarding plastic bags and salt? Let's grow up before it's too late. Let's write some letters and send them while we still can. Let's put something kind and constructive in them whenever possible.

25. If you've already hoarded anything, take it to an occupy encampment now!

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