Monday, October 20, 2014

Guest Post: Mutual Assistance Groups

DZ, today's guest author, is a former
Action Guy turned private investigator
and bounty hunter who, in his own words,
"isn't nearly as cool as he used to be."

To assess risk, you take the probability of an event and multiply it by the loss the event would cause. That's your risk, and that's how much you should be willing to spend to alleviate the risk. So, for example, if I have a 1% chance in any given month of totaling my car, and it's worth $20,000, I should be willing to spend up to $200 a month for collision coverage. That's an incredibly simplistic example, but serves to illustrate the principle.

Now, not everything can be quantified in terms of dollar value, but even if you can't calculate the risk using numbers, the same principle applies. When the chance of something happening is vanishingly small, even if the potential loss is great, it doesn't make sense to expend too much [time/ money/ effort] to avoid it or mitigate it. That's why tsunami insurance hasn't caught on in Malibu.

So why do some preppers spend so much time, money, and effort preparing for things that have little chance of happening? Gas attacks, EMP, foreign invasion, even armed revolution. Now, I'm not claiming these things can't happen, or that it's bad to be prepared for them, but we should focus first on the greater probabilities:  earthquakes if you’re in California, hurricanes if you're in North Carolina, brutally cold winters if you're in Minnesota, tornados if you're in Kansas, floods if you're near the Mississippi River, unpopular legal verdicts in any big city, and on and on and on. (By the way, each of those things shares two likely consequences: partial loss of electricity in even a relatively minor event, and societal breakdown after a major one. Prepare accordingly.)

So what's my point? 

Well, in a word, militias. "But wait! You just said to prepare for natural disasters more than military ops!"

Why yes. Yes, I did. But what is a militia, at its base? It's a group of capable citizens who band together to protect their loved ones, their property, and their own lives. Why could that same concept not be applied to natural disasters and their consequences?

I therefore propose a new kind of militia called a Mutual Assistance Group: a group of capable citizens who band together to clear fallen trees, repair homes, care for pets, provide living quarters for the temporarily displaced, teach each other gardening and animal husbandry techniques, practice marksmanship and small unit infantry tactics, and repel foreign invasion. (Yes, that too.)

See, it's really all the same thing, isn't it?

What's the difference between a MAG and a bunch of friends?

Purpose. Dedication. Organization. Direction.

Instead of
"Hey, Bobby down the street does drywall, let's see if he can help us repair the garage," 
it'll be
"Hey, Bobby down the street does drywall, let's set up a half a day for him to show everyone the basics so we can make at least rudimentary repairs to our own garage because Bobby can't help every family on the block when the tornado comes through."
And instead of
"Susan on the next block has a pretty nice garden, let's see if she has any extra zucchini 'cause the grocery stores are empty,"
 it'll be
"Let's set up weekly sessions for Susan to teach gardening techniques so we can grow our own garden because Susan can't feed the whole neighborhood when the flood disrupts supply lines."
And instead of
"John around the corner has guns and knows how to use them, let's go borrow some guns to stop the looters,"
it'll be
"Let's ask John to help us learn how to shoot and how to choose the best guns for home defense and how to use them."
And instead of
"Our house is unsafe because the earthquake broke down two walls, I guess we have to go to the Red Cross shelter down in the high school gymnasium,"
it'll be
"Hey, Bobby down the street has a fenced yard and his dogs are friendly, he can take care of the dog for a while, and John around the corner has a spare room, we can live there until we can make other arrangements, and Susan on the next block is retired, she can babysit for us while we get things straightened out."
And yes, instead of
it'll be
"Hey, let's get together at least once a month to practice small unit tactics 'cause Dave can't take a bunch of untrained yahoos and make an effective squad out of them when the SHTF."
And a hundred other scenarios.

Uniformity of Look and Purpose

Mutual Assistance Groups need some kind of uniform; something sort of military and sort of civilian. We don't want people to get the idea that the MAG is just a bunch of wannabes, but we do want it to look professional. Something simple and distinctive, like a cargo vest with an official-looking patch. Or solid color BDU pants and a polo with a logo on it, to be replaced with a T-shirt when real work is happening.

Since defense of the community is part of mutual assistance, military training should be on the agenda. Yes, I'm aware that armed militias are a sticking point politically, despite arguments that it's a Constitutional right to form and join them. But with the new name and new additional purpose should come a new respect from the uninitiated, a decrease in ridicule from the opposed, and much better recruiting possibilities.

In conclusion, I hereby announce the imminent formation, upon my escape from California, of 1MAG(AZ), the First Mutual Assistance Group (Arizona). I implore all of you to do something similar.

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