I came across a Wall Street Journal article this week entitled “Two Years Into Pandemic, People are Still Hoarding.”
This taps into a pet peeve: I hate the word “hoarding.” Seldom has a single word been so misused.
What is hoarding? The dictionary defines it as “to accumulate money, food, or the like, in a hidden or carefully guarded place for preservation, future use, etc.” Put this way, “hoarding” seems like a sensible thing to do, especially if the future is uncertain. In generations past, every rural person would “hoard” their autumn harvest to see them over winter and through spring. Everyone. They had no option. But sometime between then and now, the word “hoarding” has taken on a sinister quality, with overtones of conspiracy.
The Wall Street Journal article begins: “Alexis Abell recently walked out of a BJ’s Wholesale Club outside Buffalo, N.Y., with 24 boxes of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, a box of 50 frozen mozzarella sticks, a 40-pound bag of basmati rice and a 12-can pack of garbanzo beans. ‘I don’t want to be in a position again where I can’t get something,’ says Ms. Abell, a 41-year-old mother of five, who was laid off from her retail job at a quilt shop in 2020 and decided not to return to work. She estimates her family is now spending about 25% more a week on food and staples than before the pandemic, and she is buying more than twice as much of some staples and household supplies.”
So let me get this straight. A mother of five, who is already financially insecure, is “hoarding” because she’s buying a case of macaroni-and-cheese and a bag of rice to make sure her children have enough to eat. The horror!
Granted, 2020 brought out the ugliest side of way too many people who were literally hoarding supplies they didn’t need simply because they got caught up in the hysteria. But there’s a big difference between sensible stocking up and panic buying.
“Retailers and analysts predicted that the bulk buying in the early days of the pandemic, when supplies of many goods were constrained, would subside once people returned to work, stores were able to restock and vaccinations became widespread,” continues the WSJ piece. “Instead, Americans continue to stockpile food and household goods. Many are spending more time at home and remain uncertain about product availability. Some have moved from tight-spaced apartments in cities to more spacious suburban homes, and inflation is spurring a search for savings by buying in bulk.”
Buying in bulk is wise, especially for those with large families. And – listen carefully, this is the important part – this housewife is stocking up on macaroni-and-cheese when there is no shortage of macaroni-and-cheese.
That, dear readers, is the difference between preparing and hoarding. Preparing is simply buying extra supplies ahead when supplies are abundant. Hoarding (by its modern definition) is buying extra supplies when supplies are scarce.
So why do the media frame the latter as the former? Who cares if this woman buys a case of macaroni-and-cheese when she has five kids to feed? It seems to me she has become aware of the fragility of the supply chain in the last two years and has concerns about skyrocketing food prices. What’s wrong with stocking up? Why is sensible behavior being called hoarding?
The answer may be embedded in Tuesday’s release of the Department of Homeland Security document entitled “Summary of Terrorism Threat to the U.S. Homeland.” In this document, domestic terrorists are reclassified not as people who burn down cities in the name of racial justice, but instead as ordinary citizens concerned about the future.
This delves into the realm of the unbelievable. By the DHS definition, well over half of Americans are domestic terrorists. What they’re implying is any measure of self-sufficiency and independence – including a housewife who doesn’t trust the government to feed her kids – is inherently threatening. Branding housewives as hoarders is just one step along the way.
I mean c’mon – all Antifa and BLM did was torch entire cities, topple statues, riot, loot, scream to defund the police, attack innocent bystanders, create autonomous zones, deface urban areas, set fire to police stations and federal buildings, vandalize everything in sight, injure police officers as well as civilians, terrorize communities across the nation and murder dozens of poor souls. But this mother of five? She bought a case of macaroni-and-cheese. She’s a domestic terrorist!
Freelance journalist Leo Hohmann postulates that “hoarding” food and other supplies is becoming weaponized as a tool by an increasingly desperate government régime. In an article entitled “Homeland Security issues bulletin classifying Americans who exercise their First Amendment rights as potential terrorist threats,” he writes: “It is so unbelievable that it borders on the insane. … The Department of Homeland Security in cooperation with the FBI and the Biden administration produced a bulletin declaring that anyone who so much as speaks against these tyrannical policies will be considered a terrorist threat. … [T]he coming war will also put further pressure on already dwindling food supplies, giving the government the option of hoarding what’s left of the food and doling it out to the obedient ones. In short, they will use food to entice people into the totalitarian system that folks would otherwise reject. This will mean you carry an app on your phone that gives them access to your every move and allows you into certain places after you show your digital papers. … The timing of the DHS document is instructive. [Emphasis added.]
There are endless examples throughout history in which food has been weaponized by tyrants. Therefore, Americans who “hoards” food to feed their kids against possible future deficiencies – in short, who are trying their best not to be in a position where they must desperately depend on the government to feed them – become, ipso facto, domestic terrorists.
No less a luminary than Thomas Jefferson apparently believed America’s best chance to remain free of government tyranny was to have at least 20% of its citizens self-sufficient on small farms. This would enable them to be real dissenters, free to voice opinions and beliefs, without any obligation to food producers who might hold their survival at stake. Hopefully, that’s something DHS can chew on for a while.
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