On Montana’s Second Home Migration And The Ravages Of Late-Stage Capitalism

by William Skink

It wasn’t prescient of me to speculate that possible vectors bringing the pestilence to Montana would be wealthy people with second homes, it’s just common sense.

When you pay attention to things and then remember how your community was once described as the ideal place to ride out the zombie apocalypse, well, you are less than surprised when data backs up your hunch about a second home migration to Montana.

First, let’s recall how a writer in New York five years ago pegged our community as being the last best place to avoid zombies:

The Wall Street Journal talked to researchers at Cornell University who have pinpointed the perfect place to hide during a zombie apocalypse. It apparently isn’t Scranton, Pennsylvania, which is perfectly positioned to host hungry hordes of the undead after they destroy all the nearby major metropolises.

That’s right, according to science, fictional characters Jim, Pam, Dwight, and Michael Scott would all die if a hypothetical zombie apocalypse were to happen.

The safest places to hide are rural areas in Montana and Nevada, which are so remote that they could avoid zombies for months. In other words, Cliven Bundy will probably be the last person left at the end of the world.

Nice to know those smart city folk fleeing their urban hot zones think we’re all Clive Bundy out here. Remember that when you see one of ’em yelling at a wage slave at Lowe’s to hurry up and load that second generator in the Land Rover pronto!

Here’s more from New York:

Missoula, the city named one of the safest places to wait out a zombie invasion, probably also benefits from a local sword business called “Zombie Tools.” One of its owners told NBC Montana, “The idea that you’re just going to survive with your gun is going to last the first few weeks until you run out of ammunition,” and that “we are a serious business we take pride in our craft, zombies or no zombies, we’re thinking about unicorns next.”

However, the Journal adds, “the subject matter is completely hypothetical, of course. But the Cornell team’s zombie simulation could have applications for modeling real-life outbreaks.”

That’s right, city folk, we have specially forged steel to handle any mindless zombies who come here all entitled to feast on our brains. I myself have several blades from the ZT crew.

We don’t have to deal with the threat of being bitten (unless by one of these increasingly feral children I’m tasked with rearing), but we do have to navigate increasingly congested outdoor locations where people are flocking to remain sane.

I’ve still got a few spots that haven’t been overrun, but as more people of means flee to Montana, I worry one of my strategies to keep my family from killing each other will be compromised.

The data showing this predictable migration comes from AirDNA and was first reported at Montana Free Press:

LIVINGSTON — One day late last week, Dan Vermillion, owner of Sweetwater Travel in Livingston, woke up to a flurry of emails.

There were seven different requests to book his vacation rentals for up to six months. Normally, a booking is three days, five days, maybe a week.

“Something had changed very quickly,” Vermillion said.

Across Montana, the big sky and wide open spaces that attract tourists year round for skiing, fishing, hiking, and wildlife viewing are suddenly valued for a new reason: plenty of room for social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic.

While short-term rental properties on sites such as Airbnb, VRBO, and Homeaway nationwide are seeing a downturn in visitors, business in Montana has been up, according to research from AirDNA, which compiles industry-wide booking data to provide short-term rental estimates.

The selling points that has made Montana an attractive location for residential investment properties has a new point to add now that we are being fear-conditioned to see other people as a threat to our own survival.

So far the local real estate scene has only seen a slight dip in activity. Here’s a sociopathic-sounding comment from a real estate agent:

“My phone isn’t blowing up like it was a few weeks ago, but it’s still busy,” he said. “We’re still seeing people list properties, and we’re getting good activity on them. Obviously some buyers are going to be taken out of the equation due to what’s going on, but some aren’t. And they’re hoping it’s going to be an opportunity because there’s not as much competition with other buyers.”

When this agent says some people will be “taken out of the equation” I don’t think he intended it to be read as people will die and that will be a great opportunity for buyers, but it’s hard NOT to read it like that, considering we have a death-cult relationship with capitalism, where bankers suggest millions be exposed to a virus to save the stock market while younger people eagerly describe this pandemic as a boomer remover.

There are opportunities that could arise in the wake of this pandemic to reorient our systems and institutions to a more scaled down, local, resilient form of human interaction with each other and our environment, but to get there we will need to discard what hasn’t worked.

The agents of wealth we call politicians, who just passed a “bipartisan” two trillion dollar corporate bailout, is a great example of a discredited trickle-down mentality that MUST be discarded in order to move forward with a modicum of hope we won’t descend into a Mad Max dystopia.

If the deep pockets who have transformed our tax system into a giant sucking vacuum of greed that they barely contribute to don’t change their ways, then they need to be forced into sharing the horrors of this late-stage capitalist system they have used to enrich themselves with.

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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1 Response to On Montana’s Second Home Migration And The Ravages Of Late-Stage Capitalism

  1. john mcnaught says:

    good blog, keep up the good work. It is appreciated

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