The argument that the author makes on the web pages of Forbes is that those who live self-reliant lives similar to the Amish, are a drain on society by living in such a way that they receive government benefits without contributing anything of value. Having a Ph.D. in Economics obviously does not make one immune from turning out poorly-researched articles at times.
The article, entitled, “Dear Homesteaders, Self-Reliance Is a Delusion” was published a couple of days ago on the Forbes website. You’ll be forewarned that the article won’t be deep in the first paragraph, when the author presents his claim to knowledge about self-reliant living comes from the fact that he is “a big fan of shows about doomsday preppers, homesteaders, survivalists, generally people who live off the grid.”
Well, right off the bat we see a problem. Watching entertainment television shows is a poor substitute for real research. “Reality television” is sometimes anything but. The author, Dr. Adam Ozimek, knows better than to base research on information gleaned from television programs, but seems to be informed largely by what it has to offer.
The people in these shows often describe a very romantic vision of the lives they have chosen the ethos underlying it. They describe themselves as fully self-reliant, and criticize the rest of society as being dependent and lacking in this self-reliance. It is morally superior, the story goes, to provide for yourself, take care of your own needs, and often, be prepared to survive if society collapses.
Maybe some believe that, perhaps others do not. But it’s beside the point. His main concern seems to be the issue of health care.
“On Live Free Or Die, a man in his mid sixties named Colbert lives in the Georgia swamps alone….I always wonder what will happen if he slips and falls, and can no longer provide for himself. He’ll likely end up receiving hospital treatment paid for with Medicare, and perhaps end up in an assisted living center paid for by Medicare as well.”
“Another example from Live Free or Die is Tony and Amelia, a couple who live on a simple, off-the-grid homestead in North Carolina. When I watch them I wonder what would happen if one became extremely sick, and simple, off-the-grid home medicine couldn’t treat them. Would they say “we’ve chosen our fate, and now we die by it”, or would they seek treatment in a hospital they couldn’t afford which would be covered by the hospital’s charity care or perhaps Medicaid?”
Check out the basic error he is making on the final page: