The Billionaire Bunker Question: Who Gets to Survive?


It’s no secret that I am in the market for an underground bunker to wait out the apocalypse. But I don’t want just any bunker; I want the kind of luxury “doomsday bunker” that is becoming ever more popular with billionaires these days—a bunker with a gym, swimming pool, sauna, Jacuzzi, tennis court, movie theater, wet bar, dry bar, cereal bar, karaoke bar, sand bar, private chef, masseuse, library, smoking lounge, wine cellar, coffee shop, arcade, ping-pong table, golf simulator and casino. I’d also like a meditation garden, dog park, and fly-fishing pool, but if space gets tight I’d settle for a bocce ball court, or maybe a patch of grass to play lawn darts. 

I know, I know—this all may seem a bit much. But if these amenities seem extravagant to you, it’s probably because you are not a billionaire. There won’t be much to do after the world burns and everyone else is gone, so things could get pretty boring down there, one-hundred feet below the earth’s scorched surface, while we wait for the radioactive dust to settle. We’ll need to entertain ourselves in the interim, so including a few extras to help pass the time is not unreasonable. After all, there’s no law that says life in an underground bunker has to be miserable. But there is a law that says billionaires can build whatever they want, wherever they want, however they want, and no one can say a damn thing about it. This will be especially true after everyone else in the world is dead, so it’s not something we as a class tend to worry about. 

Now, I know what you’re thinking: Tad, you’re not a billionaire, so why did you use the word “we” in the previous sentence? Let me explain: 

I used “we” because, although I am not a billionaire yet, I intend to be one by the time the world ends. There’s plenty of money to be made in pre-apocalyptic capitalism, and I have a surefire idea: I am going to start a construction business that builds moats and drawbridges around the estates of the fabulously wealthy to keep the torch-and-pitchfork crowd out. The motto on the side of my truck is going to be: “High-tech security is fine, but for true peace of mind, you gotta go medieval on their ass!”

This will be fun, for a while. But at some point the world will collapse into apocalyptic mayhem and all us billionaires will have no choice but to retreat to our bunkers and wait. For how long, no one knows, which is why it is so important to have a number of entertainment options available. That’s why so many billionaires have been putting off watching “Game of Thrones”; they know there will be plenty of time to see it after the atmosphere is incinerated and (spoiler alert!) nuclear winter has indeed arrived. 

Elite entertainment facilities will be especially important in luxury-bunker complexes designed to house more than one family of billionaires and their respective support staffs. Billionaires need a great deal of support (otherwise they go crazy), so there will be plenty to do if you are a valued personal chef, masseuse, chiropractor, nanny, astrologist, or psychic to the super-rich. But billionaires themselves—especially captains of industry who made their fortunes building multi-national corporations—will have to find other ways to amuse themselves. 

The problem is that billionaires currently spend most of their time building their businesses, managing their investments, and trying to persuade reasonable people to think unreasonable things. But when everyone else in the world is gone, there will be no customers, no need for businesses, no use for money, and the sort of intellectual jujitsu billionaires use to justify their good fortune will fall on dead ears. Without businesses to build and competition to conquer, billionaires will have nothing to do. Their skill set will be obsolete. And for many, transitioning to a life of perpetual leisure is going to take at least a week or two, so it will be important to keep them/us occupied. No one wants to be locked in a room with a bunch of restless billionaires, because with so many dicks swinging around in a confined space, someone could get hurt. 

The point is, without a multinational conglomerate to run or some massive hedge fund to manage, billionaires will need to take up a hobby of some sort; otherwise they’ll go nuts. Personally, I look forward to the day when I can devote more time to my music and recording career. My bunker is going to include a fully equipped music studio, where I will record the catalog of post-apocalyptic ballads I plan to write. Songs like “Suck It, World,” “Eat My Dust (‘Cause That’s All That’s Left),” “Warm Enough for Ya?,” and one I’m sure will be an instant hit among my bunker-mates: “Boom, Boom, Boom, Ha, Ha, Ha.”

Survival isn’t just about staying alive, after all, it’s about being alive when everyone else is dead. And what better way to honor our good fortune than to sing about it at the top of our lungs! Earlier generations were taught that survival means huddling in a dingy basement for months at a time, eating nothing but canned beans and saltines. But our generation is proving that it doesn’t have to be that way. Survival can be fun. In fact, if we do it right, life without millions of testy rabble-rousers outside can be pretty fantastic. It certainly doesn’t need to be depressing. For billionaires, avoiding the post-apocalyptic hellscape should be cause for celebration. Let’s not forget, if we are locked in our bunkers with no way out, it means we won civilization! We kicked Mother Nature’s ass! Hell, we even beat the oceans! Deep in our bunkers, protected by six-feet of steel-reinforced concrete, we will finally be free to enjoy the rewards of all that winning. 

Of course, having written all of this, I’ve gone and gotten myself all excited about life after life as we used to know it. I just need a year or two to get my moat-and-drawbridge business up and running, and another year or two to build my awesome bunker. After that, I don’t much care what happens to the rest of the world, because my existential exit strategy includes several cases of Glenlivet XXVand everything Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime ever streamed. Watching these shows won’t just be idle entertainment, either—it will be important, because many are cautionary tales about how not to destroy civilization, if and when we get another chance. I’m also looking forward to watching the whole “Mad Max” series again, to see how accurate it was. 

I used to worry about climate change, nuclear weapons, loss of biodiversity, biological superbugs and all the rest. But now that I have a plan for surviving the apocalypse, I look forward to hanging out with my billionaire buddies and sharing stories about those heady days of yore, when making money was as easy as picking up the phone and calling your lobbyist. The only thing I worry about is what’s going to happen when all those hundred-millionaires out there want an awesome doomsday bunker too. You know, people like Tiger Woods, Tom Brady, Gwyneth Paltrow, Roger Federer, and Bono. I’m sure they’re all nice people, but I’m sorry, if you haven’t made at least a billion dollars in your time on earth, the question has to be asked: Do you deserve to live?

From where I plan to be sitting—in my chiropractically amazing luxury recliner, sipping the liquid gold that is The Macallan 1926—the answer is no. Because you know exactly what is going to happen—they’ll burn through a hundred-million or so trying to keep up with the likes of Gates and Bezos, then come whining to us for money. Subsidizing the existence of a bunch of ex-celebrities and sports stars is not what me and my billionaire friends want to be doing during the down time between the end of the last civilization and the beginning of the next one. Besides, we’ll have all their best work in the archive, available for viewing any time, so why would we even need them? 

Answer: We wouldn’t. All we need is us, a little entertainment, and a well-trained support staff to survive in the style to which we’ve become accustomed. And are entitled to. Because, you know, we won life, and deserve to enjoy what’s left of it.###