Meet Your Neighbor, The Survivalist

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There's a new breed of Americans stocking up on canned goods and ammunition. It's not the guy hiding out in a backwoods shack. It's your neighbor.

Jim Wiseman is a fire protection contractor who works "with my hands and the sweat of my brow," and a 54-year-old father of five. He lives about as far away as you can get from Washington, DC, and Wall Street...La Jolla, California.

La Jolla hardly seems the sort of place where you'd find a man stocking his garage for disaster, but Wiseman's not alone.

More Americans who are concerned about the teetering financial system dependent on government handouts are preparing for a potential doomsday scenario. They've been dubbed "Suburban Survivalists," and they're one reason the stocks of companies like Cabela'sand Big Fivehave more than doubled since the start of the year.

"I got involved in this six months ago when I became concerned about the financial meltdown," says Wiseman, standing in a garage piled high with enough canned goods to feed ten people for a year. He was concerned that the government's response to the banking crisis wasn't to let the free markets work, but to hand out money. "If this was our response from the government to fix the problem, then I can't depend on them to provide for me and my family."

In the last six month he's spent about $20,000 on food, a 250-gallon water storage tank, a water filter, medical supplies, a grain mill (which can be operated by hand if there's no power), a generator for his RV, and guns and ammunition. "I believe I'm pretty well set." Wiseman says he spent $6,900 alone on food, much of it from online companies which specialize in disaster kits. "I wanted to get it done before the rush happened," he says, adding that his timing was good. After he started ordering, the companies which make these kits were overwhelmed with orders, and some goods are now on backlog.

Wiseman realizes that not everyone thinks he's acting rationally, but he's not holding a grudge. Those who mock him now may thank him later, as he's intentionally bought more food than his family would ever need. "It's going to be disastrous for everybody, and we have to have compassion for those people who haven't prepared." Wiseman says he knows what it's like to go without. As a child, his mother lived on welfare for a time. "I'm not going to take a chance with my children if (disaster) happens, having to look in their faces when they're hungry and asking for something to eat."

So why not move to another country? "I think America is still worth the investment of our lives, it still is the best country in the world...I have faith that, at some point, 'we the people' will stand up and take our country back."

The food has a 25-year shelf life, but even if he never uses any of it, he calls this a wise investment. "It gives me peace of mind to know that I'm not going to be caught unprepared," Wiseman says. "That is worth all the money I've spent, even if I never need it."

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