Prepping: Are You A “Buyer” or “Maker?”

Here’s one of those questions in Education that also applies broadly to Life, but also in spades to the idea of prepping.

Ask yourself (honestly):  Are you a buyer or a maker?

Elaine and I were talking about this recently because we have from friends who are “stuck” in their life because (to put it delicately) they are both totally locked-in as buyers.

Since E and I have both lived on the buyer AND maker side, some discussion is important, we feel, because if TSHTF, it may drastically change what the rest of your life will be.

First, some definitional concept grounding:


  • Most Americans are buyers.  That is, we have as a country bought-in to the semi-fictional “specialization of Labor” concept.  This isn’t a bad thing per se.  You don’t want your dentist or neurosurgeon having raw hands for laying up fireplace block and mixing mortar all weekend, for crying out loud.
  • Buyers also take the “easiest prepackaged solutions” to whatever Life brings along.
  • The price for taking the “packaged answer” is that Buyers tend to limit out-of-specialty innovation, thinking, and ability to perform.
  • Buyers therefore also tend to have limited learning styles.  Because they don’t have to think, except maybe “Where’s the checkbook?” they don’t hit instructables or read Make Magazine.
  • Buyers also have a better “look about them” and in the workplace setting, they may be expected to advance their careers a bit faster.  Since they don’t spend much time innovating, they have more “PPCs”  (personal processor clicks) that can be devoted to “coloring inside the lines” and therefore are likely more often to be seen as the “safe choice” for promotion at work.  One of the “wrong tactics” of Ure’s life (there have been a few) is to figure too late that people above you in the corporate food-chain won’t promote you if you can see what limited, self-righteous, corporate suck-ups they are…
  • There are more payoffs for buyers:  They don’t worry too much about money – the refi route and continuation of debt is just the “modern way” to them.  They can travel, take vacations, and drive newer cars.  Why?
  • Because, dear reader, they have mastered the art of BUYING.

Now let’s take a look at the Other Class of people in modern ‘Merica.


  • I’ll do this point-by-point to you can follow along.  Makers don’t buy into all this specialization of Labor crap.  Oh, sure, you want a dentist who has graduated dental school and a neurosurgeon who knows who Dr. Ben Carson is.  Sure, sure.  BUT, specialization of labor is something that closes down the instant they leave work.  That’s because their function is not to BUY a life but to MAKE a life.  In order to do that, they have an encyclopedia thirst for not only underlying theory, but they gobble us as much as possible of what we edjumacators call practicum.  That’s better known to the Great Unwashed as “Hands On Ability.”
  • Unlike Buyers and their prepackaged, one-size-fits all, the Makers detest all answers offered by corporations because those are driven by something they know will kill the planet in the long term:  Planned Obsolescence is the Sworn Enemy,. Every nonworking moment is a chance to take yesterday’s answers and rethink, re-[purpose, retool, and re-implement a highly customized future.  Sneakily, they realize that the goal of work is not to make the boss look good, but to have a life when their personal goals can be nurtured and developed.
  • Makers will have a different look about them than a Buyer.  When George’s son shows up (now and then) he travels looking very much the medical profession.  Short hair, North Face or better logo clothing, and that oh-so-hip tactical look.  Once he’s here though, it’s into beat-up work clothes because work is a different thing.  Since he’s been  indoctrinated with this kind of thinking over the years, he looks like a buyer (which police, law enforcement, HR types and headhunters can spot in an instant) yet he’s a very capable “Maker” when the “game clothes” get changed for “real.”
  • Makers worry about money all the time.  The reason is that they are working on something far grander than backing down to idle power on the off-shift.  They are acquiring materials, skills, tools, prepping stores, and a lot more because it’s what makes the difference between really OWNING a life at the hands-on level OR, like Buyers, just renting a life.
  • Makers, to my way of thinking, have a different – much deeper send of Self and self-confidence as a result.  They don’t have to depend on Others….instead, Others can Depend on Them.

The hip shot to all this is the little matter of BalanceIt’s not something that just comes to you overnight.

One of the thing that impressed me about Donald Trump – totally missed by the mainstream media and political commentators who come almost exclusively from the Buyer Class, is that he made sure his son Donald Junior could actually Make Things.

When Trump II got up and started talking about being able to run power tools, chainsaws, and bulldozers, it was like a breath of fresh air.  Obviously, someone knows how powerful this distinction between Buyers and Makers is, otherwise the defenders of the Nanny-State/Status Quo and dominance of the Buyer Class would not put 2+ years of energy into destroying the Trump family.

To be sure, the manipulators have made huge strides in wiping our that dangerous concept Free-thinking, Self-Sufficient, Inventive and Creative Sovereign Individual that has – until recently – been the core back-up power source that keeps America strong despite an ignorant and derelict Congress and crooks of institutional bureaucracy who regularly – and with impunity, ignore the Will of the People.

So, here’s a test:

  1. When was the last time you did something simple yourself rather than “buy the corporate answer”?  Could be something as mowing the yard or changing your oil….
  2. When was the last time you got off a day of work and spent 4-hours after work building your own special future? It doesn’t matter whether it was teaching your children how to insulate themselves from group-think, or learning a new skill like welding down in the basement.  When did you last do that?
  3. When was the last time you went through your clothes and consciously said “At this end of the closet are my “game clothes” while this end if “work clothes”?
  4. How many meals a week do you eat out?
  5. When was the last time you walked a mile.

Let me give you our answers before we wrap up.

Ours are usually “Today, today, last week, zero, and today.”

Pretty sure that makes us serous “Maker” types.  Don’t get me wrong, last time we did one of our “vacation breaks” it was great hotel, Ruth’s Chris, logo labels, and the only exercise was a casino floor…  I mean, come on, I can’t make 350,000 square feet of gaming space…but we sure as hell can drive there.  And no, Tom Jones would not come by the ranch to belt out a few tunes.

On the other hand, if you seldom do any of the above, the very real prepping risk you have is something the medical profession calls “Weekend Warrior Syndrome.”

Click over here to flip through a short, to-the-point from Dr. Mark J. Lemos, Associate Professor, Boston University
Director of Sports Medicine at the Lehy Clinic.  It’s short, to the point, and will give you one other important difference to consider between Buyers and MakersWeekend warrioring is a risky thing.  Ask your cardiologist.

We all play both roles, buyers and makers, to one degree or another, but I’ll give you one guess who to place your bets on when the SHTF.


Write when you “is one…”

author avatar
George Ure
Amazon Author Page: UrbanSurvival Bio:

20 thoughts on “Prepping: Are You A “Buyer” or “Maker?””

  1. I could never figure out why so many ham radio operators BUY antennas. Antennas are one of the simplest things one could make for dirt-cheap dollars. Simple materials, simple methods.

    I imagine the question must apply to numerous other pursuits as well.

    Even so, as I get older (74 now) my time is worth a lot to me, so some things I could make easily enough, I do just buy and use in the interest of speed.

    There’s also a hybid approach, where I buy major components and sub-assemblies, and I do the Systems Integration — tie all the bits into a functional, complete Thing.

    I did that with my small-scale solar power system. I bought the panels, the charge controller (Genasun) and various voltage monitors and switch and distro panels — and all I did was integrate the bought bits.

    To my mind, conceiving the system was the Prime Creative Act. Collecting the parts and subs was the rote part, more efficiently simply purchased in this case. Other things, I scratch-build.

    But I swear, I’ll N*E*V*E*R buy a dipole…


  2. George
    I might be a Maker.

    She who must be obeyed visited her friend Ruby. The clothes dryer in Rubies house died. She who must be obeyed brought the kill a dryer virus home. Our clothes dryer instantly died! It was the control board which cost about $300. I didn’t have $300, but I did have several boxes of residual electrical parts from past projects. A look at the dryer schematic showed that I could bypass the control board with my own power relays and get it working again.
    To date I have built and installed a relay box and wiring which I can manually control to run the motor and heating element. I have also fabricated a control box with switches and indicator lights witch will be used to automate the relay box. I happened to have a small industrial PLC, (programmable logic controller), that was bought for a project eight years ago but not used. The program for the dryer is about 90% complete. I expect to have everything finished next week. I did spend about $70 on some items I did not have but it’s been a ton of fun. Just like the old days when I did this for a salary!!!
    It’s getting to the point where I can almost do anything with nothing, so I like myself!

  3. Great one George. I believe my maker not taker is a parallel to your maker not buyer definition. Now I just have to figure out how to “make” the wife understand how important that recent MIG welder purchase was after I picked up that honker 15 drawer roll away at a derailed freight outlet for a song. Had to do some sheetmetal repairs my old Forney stick welder just couldn’t handle. “Made” it good as new once I find matching paint……wait where’s my HVLP touch up gun? Crap!

  4. Prepping has to be a long term, social commitment. It is great to have all your food, water, ammo, generator, tools all set to go, but if you are prepping alone it is only delaying your death. Watch the TV show Alone.

    To quote Hillary ” It takes a Village to Raise a Prepper”. To survive when TSHTF, you would be better to be part of a group with different skills to survive the long term. Plus resources could be pooled to buy the supplies & land needed for long term survival. Additional land can be procured as the population declines.

    Even the Mountain Men living alone in Alaska need help from outsiders to survive. Also, a group would have the people needed to scour large areas for need material left behind by others.

    You can’t be a successful Hunter, Warrior, Protector, & Provider long term if you are living alone with your family. Also, your group needs to build the initial survival camp before TSHTF to prepare & practice so you work from muscle memory as the world explodes around you.

    Even our military knows, plans are great until the first bullet is fired. That is why they constantly train.

  5. Hey George, Good piece, you have seen pics. of my shop and work that I have done so you know where I fall on the subject. And I have had a very rich and rewarding life for it, what upsets the crap out of me is how the elites of this world vilify people like me who work with our hands! It starts in grade school and does not stop, unless you are an “artist” then it’s ok, just look at how many vo-tec schools and shop classes have vanished, look at the one that was in Tacoma, WA they took out the machine shop class that Boeing hired 80% of the grads and replaced it with a glass blowing class! I am sure Boeing wants those people LOL!

  6. I believe that one of the main reasons for being a maker is so that one doesn’t have to worry about ‘money’ and thus a more personal connection to a process or a thing.

    If I buy a blanket as a gift it might be very nice, but if I make a blanket – one, I choose the colors and patterns for the individual, but two and more important for this discussion – I have a ‘investment’ in the quality of this and the reaction of the recipient.

    Sorry I don’t see Donald Trump and his children as ‘makers’, but nor are they buyers – I see them as a third type – takers. Takers do not contribute to the ‘common good’, but expect everyone else to do. They are the reason for our country to be in such ill straits.

    • Listen to Donald Jr as he talks about running power tools and dad teaching him,. You don’t get that many buildings “taking” – there’s a lot of make in the mix…

  7. 1) Making;
    i make what i want so i can get closer to exactly what i want.
    2) Buying;
    When making something, if appropriate to the design, i try to use readily available off the shelf hardware, so the design can be easily replicated by me or anybody else.
    3) If a part i need is not available, then it must be made.
    4) I used to alter lots of scrap junk to get close to what i wanted, this saves time and money, but does not support easy replication unless there is a plentiful supply of material as used in the original design.
    5) Sometimes it is easier quicker to make the part rather than to order it or go to town to get it.
    This is why i think the 2nd most important tool a metal shop should have is a Metal Lathe. If one has to one can make most anything, that part you need or the tools to make it originally was likely made with a machine tool.
    Oh yeah, the other part of the metal Lathe is the tooling and Knowing from Experience how to grind/set up and use it.
    The 1st most important tool in the shop is of course the imaging visualization design ability of the Maker. Long ago i read only ~10% of people know how to do this.(think in pictures) >being Autistic helps.

    • Good work! The downside of ASD is that it’s NEVER good for your social life. BTW, not everyone on the spectrum thinks visually in pictures, but there are many other ways to conceive, refine, and actualize ideas, even if you have to draw an the idea out on paper just to see it. The important thing is that you create and build rather than just think about it.

  8. Answers: Today, today, this week(work clothes never go in a closet), zero, yesterday. Welding probably creates more value quickly than almost any other skill. There are always projects and getting seriously creative can occupy every waking moment, so you have to draw a line somewhere.

    This weekend I was able to repair 20K in tractors back to usable condition for their intended purpose. Then I graded in back of the house for better drainage. There’s more to be done, but the machines are functional. Total cost, one starter motor(from Ebay), some pipe fittings, welding rods, and a lot of work. Total outlay – around $100.00. The best part is that it’s not a taxable event!

    Some things are better bought. Starters are cheap(right now) online, and I’ll rebuild the old one as a spare when and if I need to.

  9. I saw the title and instantly thought: “Both.”

    Sometimes, one needs “quick & dirty.” – You buy to have a working solution.

    Sometimes, one needs “long-lasting and reliable.” – You build, to have exactly what you need. You have complete control over the quality of the materials, and can predict with fair accuracy, the item’s obsolescence curve.

    …And sometimes you buy old stuff and if necessary, repair or rebuild it. A kitchen mixer is an electric motor – with a potentiometer or a rotary switch and resistor stack on its backside, and a bevel or worm gear (or occasionally a pulley) on its frontside. So’s a blender, or a chopper, or a juicer, or a grain mill. Dead simple. An electric range burner is a piece of ceramic-coated nichrome wire and a switch. So’s a warmer or hot plate. Add a potentiometer and you’ve got a wafflemaker; remove the ceramic and you have a toaster, and so on.

    • I get you.repurposing. Sometimes two beer cans a small piece of pipe a string and a wine bottle make a high pressure lamp..

  10. The following is a cautionary tale:

    I bought a used Haulmark trailer, ~18mos ago and did a halfassed rewire with brand-name “4-flat” to get it on the road. I used it a half-dozen times, then parked it. I needed it a month or so back, and so hooked it up to sort out. One of those newish wires had gotten a nibble, so I cut it back to splice in a repair. (Understand, I solder wires – period. Joints go in marine-grade heatshrink, or are dipped in liquid tape and wrapped in conformal silicone.) I cut the exposed wire, it disintegrated. I cut it back 6″ further, looked a hundred years old, and when I went to twist it, the strands broke & crumbled. 12 more inches – same result.

    I then decided to replace the entire wire (8′ trailer, 14′ wire run) and undid my solder wrap. The heat shrink contained a white powder, and about 4 strands of the wire from the 4-flat I’d bought last year. I very carefully cobbled it back together, well enough to make an 800 mile run. After the drive, I bought partial reels of Allied, American-made, marine-grade PTFE and located 4-, 5-, and 7-wire trailer connectors to which wire could be directly-connected, as opposed to being soldered to a “pigtail.”

    Apparently, even the “name brands” are using Chinese wire with soy-based PVC insulation, now. I’ve known for years that Chinese steel was junk. It didn’t occur to me until last month that they’d also not learned how to draw wire — ‘splains the disintegrating wiring in my Ford truck and in me brudder’s GMC, too.

    The little Haulmark will be the first of my five trailers to be rewired. When I’m done with it, the bed will rot away and the aluminum, shatter, before the wiring goes south again. My homebuilt 18-footer will be second. Even though I ran the wiring through conduit, it’s the same wire, and I now don’t trust it.

    Moral: Trust NO BRAND NAME until you trace it to its source, and trust no handiwork to last, save your own.

    • Don’t forget, Elaine and I had a $400 Lexus wiring harness replaced 4-5 years back. Wintering-ver rhodents loves to jump up in the eng compartment and munch away.
      Soy plastics should be disclosed to end users…but some commercial fraud don’t rise above the bottom lines of the perps, I’m guessin’

      • Oh, I remember. That was the first I’d heard of anyone using soy to synthesize PVC. I don’t begrudge the critters for eating my taillight wire insulation because it WAS a temporary fix, but I’m PO’d that a “copper” wire exposed only to atmospheric humidity would turn into an oxide or hydroxide dust, and in less than two years. The end I undid (a 1 into 2 for the taillights) was soldered, then dipped. The wire was decomposing at my joint and up into the jacket.

        I’ve seen wires which were nekkid to the elements for 30 years, layered in oxidation, yet physically sound and still conducting well.

        It’s like whomever manufactured that wire drew a copper sponge and never annealed the strands, or did, and quenched them in a lye bath… Don’t care, doesn’t matter. In the future, I’ll simply buy MIL-spec or marine and pay the extra. I love doing jobs like this, but I absolutely detest doing them twice! That doesn’t apply to the Haulmark, but I’m gonna have attitude issues while pulling the new wire through the conduits on my homebuilt. I taught my son how to properly wire a trailer with that build, how to use a 6-32 thread tap in steel without breaking it, how to wire trailer brakes, etc…

  11. Hi, George,

    As an important prep item, please don’t forget the great cast iron cookware manufactured by The Lodge in South Pittsburg, Tennessee. We have a collection of these and use them for cooking outdoors with friends. For example, we have a large oblong or oval that can hold two pork roasts. Another large round one holds scalloped potatoes with green chile, and another smaller round holds baked beans. My husband prepares the coals and places the cookware atop one another in pyramid fashion, and they cook for three hours or so. Another large round one holds peach cobbler. We have shopped at the Lodge store some years ago. It is a fun place, very unique. They offer a tour of the manufacturing plant during a certain time in April. We have yet to be in that part of the woods during April but hope to sometime in the future.

  12. Buyers are also sellers…of themselves, including their souls.
    Makers are also users…of their brains, including their minds.

    Soulless buying hollows humans and impoverishes communities. (See monocultures, wal-mart towns, etc.)
    Mindful making enriches self and sustains communities. (See Amish, re-enactors, etc.)

Comments are closed.

Toggle Dark Mode