The Billionaires Are Going Bunkers

Superiority bias has ruined the future.

The Billionaires Are Going Bunkers

In 1893, George Pullman was one of the richest men in the world during one of the worst financial depressions in history. He ran his own private city, where his workers earned starvation wages. When he died, Pullman demanded to be buried in a metal tomb, eight feet underground. He was terrified his employees would rob his grave and desecrate his corpse. His funeral was held in secret, in the middle of the night. These days, the super rich want to live in metal tombs underground, for many of the same reasons. They're scared.

Magazines love doing fluff pieces on billionaire bunkers. Hundreds of elites ranging from celebrities to investment bankers chat about their doomsday plans over social media. They throw little parties where they show off their supplies and secret locations. Some of these bunkers cost tens of millions or even hundreds of millions of dollars. They come with everything from moats to tunnels with flame throwers. The corporate media teases these stories with headlines like, "What do they know that we don't?"

It's not about what they know.

It's about what they don't.

In addition to their bunkers, the super rich have been preaching survivalism while selling little orange doomsday kits to the upper-middle class, instead of promoting sustainability and community. A third of Americans admit to prepping now. It's an $11 billion industry now. Bunker-building companies see skyrocketing demand every year now. They're having a hard time meeting demand, or even securing the materials to build these things.

Certain members of the super rich have even tried to build their own secret supply chains. A private military contractor named Arrett Moore conned tens of millions of dollars from clueless rich families in the 2000s, promising to build an entire network of bunkers and supply depots. After spending all that money, on top of wracking up hundreds of thousands in credit card debt, Moore had little to show for it other than a few disorganized warehouses of guns and freeze-dried food, with absolutely no plan about what to do with it all.

There's another infamous story about a Kentucky bourbon baron named C. Wesley Morgan, who listed his doomsday bunker on Zillow. It went viral. An ex-military commando invaded his home and killed his daughter while trying to secure it as a nuclear fallout shelter.

Now it's an Airbnb.

We've seen how these efforts turn out. Cybertrucks can't hold up under a simple carwash. Titan submarines implode minutes after going underwater. These people don't know how to plan for much of anything.

Even now, they think they can host conferences and economic forums with air purifiers and high tech badges to keep out disease.

They can't.

About two years ago, I started learning about prepping. I studied everything from food storage and micro-farming to atmospheric water generation. I looked at climate maps and projections. I calculated how much space it would take to store food for different numbers of people for different lengths of time. I read histories of plagues, economic depressions, and famines.

It led me to one simple conclusion:

The problem isn't learning to survive.

It's other people.

If you can't organize a neighborhood or a city around a common purpose, then you don't stand a chance. Even if you manage that, a fascist government will do everything it can to destroy what you've built. That doesn't mean you should give up and wait to die, but it should temper anyone's notions about what we're up against. It doesn't matter how much food you have. It doesn't matter what kinds of weapons, either. If you can't trust the people around you, then you're not going to make it. In the world we're headed, trust is more valuable than gold. It's even more valuable than water. You can't buy it. You can't force it. There's only one way to gain trust. You have to build it.

We're so close to so many major advances that could make life excellent for everyone. We've found a way for adults to grow new teeth. We've identified the part of the brain that controls your immune system. We've discovered cures for diabetes, even some forms of cancer. We're figuring out ways to treat and even reverse some autoimmune disorders. Major breakthroughs in technology are cutting our workloads in half.

Every single time, the super rich intervene.

They privatize these advances. Their relentless thirst for profits diminishes or ruins them for almost everyone. They hoard the benefits of these advances for themselves, and they sabotage any discovery that would make the planet livable for billions of us. Their greed has left everyone, including them, on an overheating planet, surrounded by death and disease.

Time and again, the super rich respond in the same way. They demonstrate the same fallacy when it comes to these collective threats. Helen De Cruz recently described it as the illusion of separateness. Douglas Rushkoff has described it as "the mindset." I'll give it a name:

Superiority bias.

We all know what superiority bias looks like. Those who fall for it don't see themselves as part of humanity. They see themselves as better than everyone else, on every possible level. They think they can insulate themselves from the consequences of their own actions. They think they can hide in a bunker while the rest of us starve or die from disease.

They're not thinking it through.

Deep down, I think a lot of us wish we had a place where we could hide from the world. It's often a harsh, nasty place. Even during quarantines, our physical separation is merely an illusion.

We're always connected.

Even if we never see each other's faces, we depend on each other for survival. Nobody can make it on their own. Even the world's most famous hermit, Christopher Knight, lived on food he stole from more than a hundred different families in the area. He stayed warm with sleeping bags that someone else made and paid for. He was part of a community, whether he ever realized it or not. He wasn't self-sufficient at all.

It's fun to fantasize about the end of the world.

Almost everyone does it. Psychologists and sociologists have studied our fascination with the apocalypse. They've concluded that most of us conflate doomsday with the end of our social responsibilities. If the world ended, we wouldn't have to go to our lousy jobs anymore. We wouldn't have to put up with all of these annoying constraints on our freedom.

We could do whatever we wanted.

That's just not true.

We don't have to court apocalypse to make a world we actually want to live, where we can mostly do what we want, where we don't have to work 70 hours a week just to have food and shelter.

That's a choice.

The real end of the world is already happening on every corner of the globe. It's power outages. It's droughts. It's hunger. It's chasing down a water truck when it shows up, and filling up buckets.

It's no hot showers.

It's going to the bathroom in a trench. It's losing your home in a fire or a flood, and waiting years for anything close to an insurance payout. It's getting singled out by a government and selected for extermination, because a bunch of investment bankers want to turn your home into a hotel.

That's the real end of the world.

The irony is that governments are now telling their citizens to do more to prepare for climate disasters by stockpiling some food and water, maybe a first-aid kit. While that's always been a good idea, it's almost comical to consider that a reasonable response when it's offered without any effort to build disaster and climate-resilient communities.

What these elites are planning has nothing to do with survival. They're not trying to survive a future of collapse. They're trying to preserve their comfort and convenience. They're trying to protect themselves from an imaginary mob of plebeians they think are coming for them.

They don't get it.

There's not going to be a mob. I don't know about you, but if the end of the world starts tomorrow then I don't want to be anywhere near a bunch of investment bankers with guns and crossbows they barely know how to use. They'll take themselves out long before anyone else starts to think about it. These billionaires can only imagine a world where everyone wants their stuff, because they've spent their entire lives stealing from everyone else and then wasting it all. As climate hell descends on us, their doomsday fantasies won't come to pass. It's going to happen in ways nobody can predict.

In this future, a vegan homesteader stands a far better chance of making it than a billionaire with an island bunker.

More than anything, it's superiority bias driving the state of things. It's why our politicians and their donors are refusing to do anything about our problems, whether it's bird flu or mass shootings. They simply try to insulate themselves from the problem, while leaving the rest of us to fend for ourselves. The problem always reaches them eventually. They just can't get their heads around the fact that their own comfort, convenience, and even their survival depend on our survival as well. They hate that idea.

They want so badly to be rid of us, they're trying to outsource everything we do to robots and artificial intelligence.

That's not going very well, either.

That's their bias. It's a bias steeped in arrogance and paranoia. It's wrapped up in the myth of rugged individualism and self-reliance. They want to be on their own, but they can't make it on their own. They need us, and that idea drives them crazy. It keeps them up at night. The more they realize their reliance on humanity, the harder they try to kill it.

The billionaires have gone bunkers.

Their bunkers are tombs.

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