What economics course should you take to maximize your odds of surviving the zombie apocalypse? One blogger suggests the answer is… home economics.
When I was in middle school, I took Home Economics (lovingly abbreviated to Home Ec). I learned how to cook, balance a budget, sew, and… for some unknown reason… create a blueprint for a house. Maybe this skill was helpful for Pa Ingalls to know when it was time to make his little house on the prairie, but as someone who planned to move into houses that other people had already constructed, this skill seemed like the least helpful unit.
… If the zombies came, I was going to be prepared. I would be able to cook a meal, sew my own clothes, balance our weapons budget, AND draw up a quick blueprint of a house so we could visualize our escape plan.
In case you’re wondering, Home Ec is not a course offered by your typical college economics department. But is the author right? Are these the skills you would need to survive?
I suspect not. In the early stages of the zombie apocalypse, there won’t be a lot of building and sewing and budgeting going on. Mostly, it’ll be running and screaming and hopefully some ass-kicking. Sure, you might need those cooking skills, but then again, how much skill does it take to heat up a can of beans you scavenged?
In the long run, some Home Ec skills might indeed be useful. But in the long run, you’re also likely to be living with a group of other survivors in a community of some kind. At that point, when it’s less about sheer survival and more about rebuilding civilization, the best strategy for achieving prosperity probably isn’t to be the human Swiss Army knife of homemaking skills. It’s better to have a relatively small set of in-demand skills that you can specialize in, thereby giving you something you can trade for whatever else you need (a point emphasized in Chapters 3 and 5 of Economics of the Undead).
That said, there is likely to be a transition period between the very short-run (every man for himself) and the very long-run (return to advanced civilization). During this period, while society will likely experience an increasing level of specialization, there will nevertheless be much less specialization than we’re accustomed to — which means you’ll have to do a lot more things for yourself. It could be years before your community has a division of labor extensive enough to support, say, a dedicated tailor or hairdresser. So while Home Ec probably isn’t necessary for either short-term survival or long-run prosperity, it might make life easier during that awkward in-between stage.