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The Almighty Buck Businesses Earth Government

The World of Luxury Bomb Shelters (vice.com) 286

An anonymous reader writes with this Vice profile of Robert Vicino, founder and CEO of survival prep company The Vivos Group. For a prepaid $35,000 entry fee, you may take shelter in one of his luxury bomb shelters when civilization collapses. "Those who make it their business to equip themselves for a civilization-ending mega-disaster—a.k.a. 'preppers'—are sometimes stereotyped as wild-eyed tinfoil hat wearers who live outside of society, but Robert Vicino caters to survivalists whose fears are backed up by money. The San Diego businessman is gunning to be the vanguard of a multibillion-dollar industry. If we're to follow the entrepreneur's logic, the rich don't live on the same scale as ordinary people in today's society—why should that change after the end of the world?"
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The World of Luxury Bomb Shelters

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  • Scammers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Sunday October 11, 2015 @08:43PM (#50706177) Homepage
    The idea that you can make it to the shelter is ridiculous. If by some chance we need one, we won't have enough notice to do more than move 50 miles. The only people that could possibly be saved by the these luxury shelters are those that work there.

    Honestly, almost all of the people selling this kind of crap are scammers.

    You want to really protect yourself? Get into the distribution/warehouse business - so you have a warehouse full of food, water, etc. on hand all the time. Put a shelter under/in your work place.

    • Re:Scammers (Score:5, Insightful)

      by JustAnotherOldGuy ( 4145623 ) on Sunday October 11, 2015 @08:45PM (#50706189)

      You want to really protect yourself? Get into the distribution/warehouse business - so you have a warehouse full of food, water, etc. on hand all the time. Put a shelter under/in your work place.

      My plan is to find a Home Depot next to a grocery store and move in there.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Someone will leak the list of the locations of the luxury shelters. Then when civilization collapses, they will all become targets of starving/desperate have-nots.
      • My plan is to find a Home Depot next to a grocery store and move in there.

        Good idea! I'm sure no one with guns and homicidal tendencies will think to do that!

        Happy Apocalypse! Sleep well!

        • Good idea! I'm sure no one with guns and homicidal tendencies will think to do that!

          I'm sure those without a sense of humor won't think of it, so that means at least you won't be there.

    • Re:Scammers (Score:5, Interesting)

      by xlsior ( 524145 ) on Sunday October 11, 2015 @08:54PM (#50706211) Homepage
      The idea that you can make it to the shelter is ridiculous. If by some chance we need one, we won't have enough notice to do more than move 50 miles

      Even if you could make it there -- what are the odds that the on-site maintenance people are even going to let you in, rather than their own families?
      • The idea that you can make it to the shelter is ridiculous. If by some chance we need one, we won't have enough notice to do more than move 50 miles

        Even if you could make it there -- what are the odds that the on-site maintenance people are even going to let you in, rather than their own families?

        What do you think the odds of those "on-site maintenance people" surviving that treachery? What of their families and friends?\\

        Are you quite certain that they could get away with it?

        • That's not really the issue, is it? If you had the choice of attempting a takeover and possibly dying in the attempt, or simply dying, which would you pick? Not to mention the fact that the amount of workers there is probably larger than the coming guests, who won't be all arriving at the same time.
          • I rather doubt there are more maintenance staff than in-coming people. Good grief. How many people do you think it takes to keep the lights on in a warehouse?

            Let me guess - you never have and never will plan for any emergency? You'll just steal from the neighbor? (killing them if you think it's necessary?)

            You can't think of any other way this would work out? Where did you pick up your values from? They seem to be somewhere between defective and foul.

            • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

              The reality is there is only one plan that works. Think gold will protect in a collapsed society, why, you can eat it and of course if someone else wants it they will use a gun to take it. Think a gun and ammo are you path to safety, then a sniper will kill you before you even notice they are there. Bunkers at all and nothing more that tin cans to be opened for the goodies inside and that might well include the people inside as consumables.

              Want to be safe, quite simply have more people on your side than

        • by khallow ( 566160 )

          What do you think the odds of those "on-site maintenance people" surviving that treachery? What of their families and friends?

          Pretty good. The bunker is designed to be defensible right? They probably could hold out for years under a protracted siege.

      • what are the odds that the on-site maintenance people are even going to let you in

        That's why I, as a ultra-rich shelter buyer, would insist on running-man style explosive collars for the help.

    • by gijoel ( 628142 )
      "You want to really protect yourself? Get into the distribution/warehouse business - so you have a warehouse full of food, water, etc. on hand all the time. Put a shelter under/in your work place."

      Except that'll be the first place the desperate, starving hordes will raid. Maybe people should focus on preventing the apocalypse, instead of secretly wishing for it.
      • Re:Scammers (Score:5, Insightful)

        by TWX ( 665546 ) on Sunday October 11, 2015 @09:34PM (#50706363)
        I have a feeling that organized crime, which already has a lot of hooks into the underlying infrastructure of society that people don't like to think about, will probably be some of the best survivors in these circumstances. First, depending on what aspect they use as their angle, they might already have the warehousing and distribution part under their control. Second, as an entity that is already accustomed to using violence in business, continuing to use violence against others that are inexperienced in using violence to further their ends (ie, those that would seek to raid a warehouse of supplies) would have the upper hand in an engagement. Raiders that forced to be violent for the first time will probably not fare as well as veteran defenders that won't hesitate or won't hesitate as much.

        So, it honestly depends on the warehouse owner/manager and the individual connections that the person has.
        • Re:Scammers (Score:4, Interesting)

          by swb ( 14022 ) on Sunday October 11, 2015 @10:05PM (#50706461)

          I think you're mostly right about organized crime types havng some kind of advantage due to their experience with violence, But I think you underestimate the number of non-ctiminals with experience with violence.

          We have at least 100,000 veterans with recent experience in a war zone, many with first-hand experience in urban combat against irregulars. Their training and experience gives them a huge advantage in terms of organization, tactics and strategy. You could expand that 100,000 number into the millions if you factor in non-combat veterans (Navy and Air Force vets, etc) who may not have specific combat experience or deep training, but have experience in military organization and general training.

          The other problem with organized crime as a potential survivor is while they may be experienced with violence, their methods of organization and leadership tend to be chaotic, lacking in trust or reliability. Internal conflicts over leadership and spoils tend to be common, with members often turning on or stealing each other.

        • by khallow ( 566160 )
          For any such organization that survives the collapse of society in good working order, this is an automatic promotion to proto-government though it'll take more work to establish the traditional monopoly on rule that governments tend to enjoy.
    • The idea that you can make it to the shelter is ridiculous. If by some chance we need one, we won't have enough notice to do more than move 50 miles.

      50 miles is well beyond the lethal radius of overpressure of a 10 megaton warhead. Make it that far and you're well on your way to the shelter.

      50 miles goes by pretty quick in a helicopter. I hear the wealthy can afford helicopters.

      The only people that could possibly be saved by the these luxury shelters are those that work there.

      "possibly"? Are you sure that word means what you think it means?

      Do you think the "bolt from the blue" is the most likely scenario for war, let alone nuclear war? No building tensions? Wasn't that idea pooh poohed in Wargames as showing it was unlikely the Soviets were actua

      • 50 miles is well beyond the lethal radius of overpressure of a 10 megaton warhead.

        The 10 MT warheads were all decommissioned decades ago. A typical warhead today is about 250KT, or 40 fold less powerful. The accuracy of modern ICBMs, SLBMs, and cruise missiles has made the big warheads unnecessary. But a nuclear strike is only one possible scenario, and not the most likely. I live in California, and I keep about a years worth of rice and beans, and other basic survival goods, including a vegetable garden, a flock of chickens, and a nice assault rifle. My primary concern is a big qua

        • The 10 MT warheads were all decommissioned decades ago. A typical warhead today is about 250KT, or 40 fold less powerful.

          The 10MT size is for planning purposes. Typical US warheads are smaller, but China reportedly still uses warheads in the 3-5MT range, and the Russians in the 1MT+ range. A growing number of nations fundamentally hostile to the US are obtaining nuclear arms. The threat of nuclear terrorism is likely to grow.

          I think your preparations are wise, and should help in many potential circumstances. Good luck.

    • You want to really protect yourself? Get into the distribution/warehouse business - so you have a warehouse full of food, water, etc. on hand all the time.

      Could you let us know where your warehouse full of food is located? We need to know where to go to get food when the acrapalypse comes. Don't worry, we'll ask politely, we won't open fire unless you refuse to hand over all your food.

      • You've never met these people have you? You try that shit with the kind of person willing to do this and you will be looking down the barrel of a Gatling gun, a soviet tank, and a flame thrower. All three of these are legal to own in the places where these yahoos live.
    • by MacTO ( 1161105 )

      That was my first thought too. Just to add to it, who is to say that they would let you in even if you did have enough time to make it to the shelter? If the world has collapsed to a state where bomb shelters are necessary, chance are very high that the legal system would have far more pressing issues to deal with.

  • Take my money! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JustAnotherOldGuy ( 4145623 ) on Sunday October 11, 2015 @08:44PM (#50706183)

    Wait...don't take my money.

    "The San Diego businessman is gunning to be the vanguard of a multibillion-dollar industry."

    Or he'll bilk lots of people out of tons of money and then retire as the company goes down in flames.

    • by hey! ( 33014 )

      Seriously, if civilization actually does fall apart exactly who is going to compel him to honor his promises? There won't be any courts to sue him, and the people who paid him to do their apocalypse preparation for them will be... unprepared.

      So either way the people (if any) who pay for these things will never get to use them.

      • by gweihir ( 88907 )

        Or they will find that the nice-looking areas are exactly the ones looking nice, but things like food and water stores or independent electricity generators and air-filters are sadly missing because they are expensive.

      • Seriously, if civilization actually does fall apart exactly who is going to compel him to honor his promises?

        An excellent point.

        After all the world will be in chaos, hardly a good time to try and serve a subpoena or arrange a court date.

    • he'll bilk lots of people out of tons of money and then retire as the company goes down in flames.

      This, particularly since $35K doesn't seem like nearly enough money for what he's promising. That's enough to build the place, maybe, assuming he got the basic structure for next to nothing (which he probably did), but no way is that enough money to stock it with years of luxury supplies per person, and to keep it all maintained and updated for decades as we await the end of the world. Not to mention building and maintaining the airstrip that will be needed so the buyers have some prayer of getting to the p

      • by aXis100 ( 690904 )

        $35k gets you four people to a room - it's nice, but not opulent. According to TFA, the real luxury ones were $3 - $5 million.

      • Or maybe it's like internet bandwidth and is being heavily oversold? Where average demand of people popping in for the occasional visit is hundreds of times lower than the peak demand if an apocalypse comes.

    • Or he'll bilk lots of people out of tons of money and then retire as the company goes down in flames.

      So you're saying his business will bomb?

  • by iggymanz ( 596061 ) on Sunday October 11, 2015 @08:54PM (#50706209)

    to paraphrase Alice in Dilbert: I don't need to spend the money for a luxury bomb shelter. When civilization ends, I only need guns, burglary tools, and the addresses of luxury bomb shelters

    • You plan to burglarize a place you know is occupied with armed individuals who are already waiting for you to turn up?

      You sure that wasn't Wally you're quoting?

      • by 0123456 ( 636235 )

        You plan to burglarize a place you know is occupied with armed individuals who are already waiting for you to turn up?

        Burglars generally aren't very smart. If they were smart, they'd be bankers.

      • by TWX ( 665546 )
        Even military silos like the Titan II facilities required external security to prevent individual persons or small groups from being able to impact the base from above while they're locked down. Military fallout shelters can only operate independently of the atmosphere for a relatively short time, and I expect that civilian fallout shelters would have even shorter amounts of time that they could operate without being connected to the environment. If the fallout shelter actually worked properly (ie, could
      • In this purely fictional and hypothetical scenario the "shelter" will be occupied by unconscious or dead people before fully breached, no worries. Solved problem by the WW II "shock troops"

  • The rich don't rent space in someone else's shelter. They have their own.

    • by TWX ( 665546 )
      Plus the rich can afford to have very temporary shelters where they expect to be (i.e., at their urban homes) and could also afford to maintain second homes in a rural area away from likely targets plus the transportation to make the trip after it's safe enough to come out of a temporary shelter.

      If you think about the nature of targets, it makes the most sense to attack that which contributes to the opponent's warmaking effort. Known large formations (fleets at sea, any substantial field formations), co
      • by 0123456 ( 636235 )

        Problem is, most of those wealthy peoples' wealth is just bits in a computer.

        I tend to agree about feudal life, but the Lord wouldn't be the rich banker who bought the land before the apocalypse, it would be his bodyguard, who cut his throat and took over just after they arrived there.

        • by TWX ( 665546 )
          Could be. Depends on the relationship between the bodyguard and the client. If it's been good and the bodyguard himself and his family feel that they've disproportionately benefited from the client and if they trust him to continue to do better for them than they would do for themselves then it might not be a big deal. If the bodyguard either doesn't like his employer, doesn't think his employer will make good decisions in the new paradigm, or thinks that he can do just as well or better without him, you
  • by swb ( 14022 ) on Sunday October 11, 2015 @09:06PM (#50706255)

    How long until the gated community phenomenon becomes the walled/domed city phenomenon? The doming part might be unrealistic, but it's not hard to see the the gated community become the "bunker community" where the master plan includes bunkers and defensive barriers to make the whole thing one huge luxury fortress?

    • by TWX ( 665546 )
      I think that without an external force of law it would quickly descend into something that mimics Lord of the Flies. First, if the nature of the economy is destroyed then money no longer acts as a relative-wealth scale within such a community. Second, local manmade rules that govern such a community, generally relying on an external force of law to be enforced, would no longer apply. Third, those within the community that are the first to realize this and are smart enough to know who to ally with and who
  • Move to Switzerland (Score:5, Informative)

    by mspohr ( 589790 ) on Sunday October 11, 2015 @09:12PM (#50706279)

    Switzerland still requires that all residences have bomb shelters. Most people build an individual shelter in the basement. Some communities have a community shelter. The government also has an extensive (semi-secret) network of bomb shelters in the mountains... also lots of military equipment in mountain bomb shelters.
    They are ready.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Not true anymore.

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      The Swiss complexes have been totally mapped by many other nations thanks to walk in offers by trusted staff going back decades. Lots of cash and shared politics can get copies of any secure paper work.
    • Switzerland still requires that all residences have bomb shelters. Most people build an individual shelter in the basement. Some communities have a community shelter. The government also has an extensive (semi-secret) network of bomb shelters in the mountains... also lots of military equipment in mountain bomb shelters. They are ready.

      The nuclear weapon used to end WWII was rated at 21 kilotons in 1945.

      The largest nuclear device ever detonated (in 1961) was rated at 50,000 kilotons. That's with technology over half a century old.

      Just curious for all those Swiss preppers, what exactly do they figure they'll be sheltered from today?

      Lets hope it's more than mere ignorance, since Swiss architecture doesn't exactly mirror NORAD.

  • by bmo ( 77928 ) on Sunday October 11, 2015 @09:13PM (#50706281)

    ...your best bet is to be friends with and rely on your neighbors.

    If you are a "prepper" and think that you can wait out a siege in your bomb shelter or bunker or whatever, you are sadly mistaken. There are more of them/us than there are of you, and if you are especially one of the people who are already separating yourself from general society because you think you're better, you're hosed.

    Good luck. You'll need it.

    --
    BMO

    • If you are a "prepper" and think that you can wait out a siege in your bomb shelter or bunker or whatever, you are sadly mistaken. There are more of them/us than there are of you, and if you are especially one of the people who are already separating yourself from general society because you think you're better, you're hosed.

      Good luck. You'll need it.

      I don't see anything in there about how you will avoid radiation poisoning and die during the crucial 2-3 weeks that radioactive fallout is most dangerous. Any thoughts about that?

      • I don't see anything in there about how you will avoid radiation poisoning and die during the crucial 2-3 weeks that radioactive fallout is most dangerous. Any thoughts about that?

        Yes, you seal up the windows and other openings to the house, which cuts out most of the fallout. For whatever gets through you take potassium iodide for a while. It's not that hard.

  • Is Vice now a part of Dice Holdings? Anyway, this sort of thing is nothing new, been around forever for toy Paranoid Crowd. Seriously, when civilization falls, most people will not be too much interested in if they have stocked up on enough Crystal champage and Cohebas.

  • "sorry, hoarding food is now a firing squad offense"
    • Food is worth more than gold.

      Bullets are worth more than food.

      If you stockpile stuff you cant tell anyone (and I mean ANYONE) where it is.
      And you have to be able to get to it without being seen.

  • Alternatively, you can die a bit later than the rest of humanity. Like a rat in a hole. But "preppers" obviously do not have the intelligence to think that far, so they fall for this scam.

    • by Hartree ( 191324 )

      "Alternatively, you can die a bit later than the rest of humanity"

      Isn't that already the case on the day you are born?

      Humanity shouldn't just give up. but hey, if you personally want to, that's your karma.

      If you're in a city, you're largely screwed. If the initial attack doesn't get you, the collapse of the food production and transport systems will.

      But, if you are rural and can get through the first few months, much of the fallout hazard decays away, what's left of society responds as best it can and you m

    • Alternatively, you can die a bit later than the rest of humanity. Like a rat in a hole. But "preppers" obviously do not have the intelligence to think that far, so they fall for this scam.

      The danger from fallout is extremely high initially, but drops off quickly over a couple of weeks. Having the supplies to remain in shelter, and then to begin working to repair and rebuild is quite useful.

      Are you disparaging this because you have made no preparation yourself and prefer to die? Or did you simply not think that far ahead?

      Since Iran will probably have the bomb in a few years, and already has missiles that can reach Germany, it might be something to think about. Since Russia has already threa

  • What happens when their food and fuel run out? For their sake, I hope they have some easily-accessible cyanide capsules.
    • No worries...they'll have LOTS of guns.

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      Re "What happens when their food and fuel run out?"
      A lot of brands will sell wealthy people with remote sites to escape to on complex agricultural supplies and equipment for the years after the provided storable food runs low.
      Find some land, pump clean water, get planting, have spare parts, make spare parts, grow food then preserve, store for next year and the long winter. Get ready for the next crop. A dynamic hobby farm with nice people all around.
      Such complex efforts will not go unseen by huge numbe
      • How many of those locals will survive radiation poisoning? Do the people in the complex have no armory?

        • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
          If wealthy bunker owner is out planting crops for next year the smart locals will be out looking for food too :)
          As for "survive radiation poisoning" question then the bunker owner would be behind the filter system and looking at the routine maintenance schedule for a while longer.
  • The best plan is to practice yoga, so if civilization collapses you can bend over and kiss your ass goodbye.

    It's also more economical than building one of these shelters. And much more practical.

  • http://news.slashdot.org/story/15/10/11/162217/2016-election-cycle-led-by-billionaire-donors
  • It makes it tempting to fake an apocalypse, just to get the obscenely wealthy and the telephone sanitizers to disappear into their shelters, which then can be sealed from outside so that the world can continue on fine without them.

    Since we all have our own phones now, I don't foresee a comeback for the sanitizers, so this won't be at all similar to the Douglas Adams (?) story.

    Unless the phone-borne virus is in non-updated Android phones?

    *scary music*

  • by swell ( 195815 ) <jabberwock@NOSPAm.poetic.com> on Sunday October 11, 2015 @10:22PM (#50706511)

    Buyers should first consider the fate of Prince Prospero who hoped to avoid the death that awaited all the common people. You may have seen the movie "The Masque of the Red Death" starring Vincent Price. Or you may wish to read the very short story written by E. A. Poe in 1842 ... but with roots in the distant past:
    http://xroads.virginia.edu/~hy... [virginia.edu]

  • Getting the lost spot in a disaster shelter will work about as well as bribing yourself onto a lifeboat on the Titanic. Only a bigger gun wins when the shit hits the fan.

  • Better Deal (Score:5, Funny)

    by frovingslosh ( 582462 ) on Sunday October 11, 2015 @11:22PM (#50706693)
    He wants $35,000 for a reserved space in one of his luxury shelters? Heck, for only $24,999 I'll reserve a space for you in one of my four star luxury shelters. We don't even tell anyone where they are until the complete breakdown of civilization, so that the armed thugs don't come and impose their selves on you. But we'll somehow contact you after the complete fall of civilization and take you to your closest luxury four star shelter to sit out the fall of mankind. Note: Minor local inconveniences do not qualify as end of civilization events You can only claim your reserved space in our deluxe four start shelters after the complete collapse of the court system. Send your money now.
  • by Tom ( 822 ) on Monday October 12, 2015 @03:18AM (#50707335) Homepage Journal

    If you're a billionaire, then 35k is not even worth discussing, even the $3 mio. for an actual space is a minor expense. Easily comparable to what we normal people pay for, say, car insurance. So it's really just that: An "just in case" expense.

"But what we need to know is, do people want nasally-insertable computers?"

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