Showing posts with label EMP. Show all posts
Showing posts with label EMP. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Economic Crack Binge and Coming Effects

The best comparison to our countries economic situation and coming problems I can think of is Charlie Sheen. Our problems with massive deficits are like Charlies problem with crack cocaine and alcohol. Lets call derivatives the Charlie equivalent of prostitutes/ porn stars.

Now I cannot predict the specifics of Charlie Sheen's next breakdown/ meltdown/ fail. I can however confidently say 100% that there will be one. Maybe he will shoot his celebrity fiance, hold a knife to the wife's neck at Christmas dinner, manage to mess up staring in the top rated sitcom on tv, who knows. (These are all things Charlie has actually done;)

 Disturbingly our upcoming economic problem is like Charlies upcoming breakdown/ meltdown/ fail. Just maybe we will manage to kick the proverbial can a ways down the road. Maybe it will be 70's era stagflation. Could be the standard South American currency devaluation/ hyperinflation or an all out Argentina like economic collapse. The old adage that big powerful countries do not go broke, they go to war (a la Germany) could prove accurate again. Maybe a combination of crumbling infrastructure and weakened defense makes an attractive time for an old enemy to attack or just use an EMP to keep us distracted internally. Maybe one of the dreaded black swans pops up in the time we are able to handle it the least.

What can we do about this? Well the usual advice to buy bullets, silver , gold and emergency food is always sound. Things like water filters might become important as infrastructure crumbles or breaks and standards just plain drop. (Yes that is a lot of linkeage in a paragraph. Got to keep the bill payers happy.)

Being as healthy as possible is prudent. Get fit, take care of lingering issues you may have, go to the dentist, order a couple spare sets of glasses and stock extra medication.

Buy food. Yes it is getting more expensive but basic staple food, even the long term stable stuff, is still a great deal. Right now food is ridiculously cheap by historic percentage of income. Most people here can probably make some choices to put a few bucks into food and fill up the pantry.

Learn skills. Specifically learn skills that will let you do things yourself instead of paying somebody else to do them.

Get ready to protect yourself. Things aren't getting better. Have realistic and sustainable (if it's not comfortable you will not do it) plans to carry weapons while still going through your normal life.

Most of these things are not new. In fact they are generally the same stuff I talk about. Best get too them before they are more expensive and harder to do.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

What Did You Do To Prepare This Week?

Think I missed this one last week but oh well. Been tweeking my EDG/ GHB. Added a bit more food.

This week a lot happened. We got the Sentry Safe Home Defender which is pretty sweet. Along those lines I put together some "bump in the night' pants with 2x rifle and pistol mags, a holster and an IFAK. They sit next to some soft body armor by the safe.

Also built the lower receiver for Project AR Upgrade so it doesn't have to mooch half of my other rifle anymore. Pretty psyched about that.

Also put some key electronics into a Faraday Cage which came, along with another ECWS sleep system, from Old Grouchs Military Surplus. I don't worry too much about the specific effects of various Black Swan type events but having a few key items protected from a variety of things including an EMP for a nominal cost seems smart.

Today we went and did the big shopping trip to finish stocking the pantry. Some extra cereal, spices, lots of dry pasta and sauce, extra PB and J and such. Since we move fairly often it doesn't makes sense to go too deep in this stuff but some sure seems smart.

Also filled up a 5 gallon gas can. Got to order some more of those tomorrow or whenever I get around to it.

Of course there was plenty of lifting weights, running and general fitness awesomeness.

Anyway that is what happened here this week. Hope you have been up to some good stuff too.

What did you do to prepare this week?

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Quick Shout Out To Old Grouch's Military Surplus

My recent sleeping bag order from Old Grouchs Military Surplus arrived. They called them excellent and as far as I can tell it is new. I really like these sleep systems and it would be an uphill argument to say there is a better option out there anywhere near the same price point. They raised the price to $100 but they are still availableCommander Zero noted they are now selling the new MARPAT ILBE Rucks for $100.

I also picked up one of these to keep the NOD and a few other key electronics in. It would be pretty handy for a variety of scenarios.

Old Grouchs Military Surplus are a company I just cannot think of anything bad to say about. Their products are priced below or near competitors. Descriptions which are significant in the pricing and utility of surplus stuff are conservative if not outright generous in the favor of buyers. I am always surprised about how fast the stuff shows up. This time they tossed in a P-38 which is a nice touch.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Book Review Lights Out by David Crawford

I am a bit tired and kind of out of it so if this post is a bit more disorganized and erratic than usual that is why. This book follows a middle aged man, his friends, family and neighbors through a grid down (EMP) event. The setting is Texas and while they don’t get into exact dates it occurs in contemporary times. Now we will go on to the usual format for these things.

The Good: This book was quite entertaining. I read it over the course of a couple days and was quite drawn into it. The story line was interesting, the characters believable and the plot (except parts we will discuss later) was generally realistic. The characters in the book were not some super hero’s (at least for the most part) who had seemingly been training their whole lives for the Zombie Apocalypse but average folks with an average range of skills.

I also appreciate that a lot of the “action” was in and around vehicles. This is quite realistic as well, that is how Americans get around (and will unless there is no fuel) so it is worth thinking how you would fight out of a civilian vehicle (vs a HMMWV or MRAP or Bradley with a crew served weapon and armored frame). Food for thought.

I really liked that the author did not get sucked into it being a walking product advertisement for his favorite kit, firearms, etc. Especially in the area of firearms this was noticeable. Different characters had different preferences and aside from generic observations such as semi automatic rifles are better for defense than bolt and lever guns, .308’s are good at punching holes in stuff, etc there were no caliber/ weapons platform soap box moments. Also there was never a moment where only a whiz banger 72 with a XXXX optic, YYY bullets and numerous other specific accessories (all of which the main character happened to have, how lucky) fit the bill and perfectly carried the situation. That was a breath of fresh air from other survivalist fiction.
The book also had some good ideas about getting organization going among a group of people in a disaster situation. Nothing revolutionary or new parse but some of the incidents that happen would make for interesting “what would you do” vignettes or discussion questions. The old leadership trick of convincing people that what you want them to do is their own idea came up more than a couple times.

The Bad: Early on and even throughout the book it was awful hard to keep track of the characters. I think that they were a little too shallow in developing them or maybe they exposed too many too fast, I am not sure. At one point just into the book I thought there was some swinging action going on between the two sets of main characters then I realized I couldn’t keep track of them. Maybe the fact that I haven’t slept much lately made that worse. In any case I decided to stop trying as it wasn’t really significant any way and just went with it.

The Ugly: 3 things stuck out as downright ugly and I will go through them in the order they appeared in the book.

First the way things go down the main characters do the vast majority of their preparing after an EMP goes off and kills the grid. They were able to keep going to the grocery store, which was being restocked, for a prolonged period of time which allowed them to stock up on staple foods. Also they were able to acquire a wide variety of different things during this timeframe. How exactly that situation would develop could be debated but this seems idealistic. I suspect it is a way to show how they became prepared and it allowed the main characters to not be hard core survivalists (though they were tactically trained and hunters, with solid gun collections which is not totally unusual but still a bit convenient) but also not starve to death.

Furthermore going along with this they were able to pay cash for items which I suspect would become very valuable very quickly like seeds, ammo, fencing supplies, etc. Again it was necessary for the book to work but still awful convenient and potentially misleading. I don’t know that things would go all Mad Max overnight (at least outside of massive urban centers) but I lean towards a more restricted supply situation a la Jericho or maybe One Second After. To his credit the author did work in how it would have been a lot more convenient for them to get this stuff earlier a few times but this whole part was just unbelievable to me. I had to ignore it to continue reading and enjoying the book.

Second I think this book might have been edited by the ACLU and some sort of womens rights group prior to publication. The main characters paused regularly to discuss feminist views and worry about women’s rights. When they were making committees for different areas one woman demanded that a woman be put onto a committee based solely on gender. We will call this gal Quota Girl. Quota girl somehow ended up in charge of all kinds of stuff for her “organizational abilities” and to be honest it just made me sick. They were more concerned with her feelings than having things work well. Also Quota Girl did no actual work and was a huge pain in the butt to the men she supervised who actually did work.

Furthermore I the author clearly made an intentional effort to have a nice, positive character portrayed in a great light of every reasonable ethnicity you could think of. It was ridiculous. Even more disturbingly all bad people were either race neutral or white guys of rural backgrounds. I’m not saying us honkey’s aren’t capable of some bad things but shoving every evil deed in a book off onto us is a bit much.

Lastly there was a classic hypocrisy when it comes to other peoples stuff. Call it theft, spoils of war, whatever but the main characters talk about how they respect everyones right to property and chastise minor characters for considering to acquire anything but then take all sorts of stuff they happen to find. There was some minimal justification but it was a load of BS, the least authors could do is have their characters own up to and be honest about their actions. Even more ridiculous the main characters go to great lengths to vilify bad guys for their treatment of people and then use them as slaves. This was just nuts.

These criticisms aside I did enjoy the book and get some things out of it. Made me think a lot about my current priorities and shift some things around a bit. I would recommend it but would suggest you scheme to avoid paying full price.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Does Preparing For TEOTWAWKI Cover All Other Scenarios?

I have heard it said that if you truly prepare for a genuine full on mad max scenario all the other scenarios are covered by default. I used to say that wasn't quite true. Now I would clarify by saying that it covers you for a lot (versus all) other scenarios.

Obviously if you are prepared for a genuine end of the world event then a power outage or even a Katrina like mid length regional disaster is just a practice drill. Having serious depth in food you normally eat will let you wait till sales to resupply and thus get more food for less money. If you have 15+ mags per gun, cases and cases of ammo as well as plenty of spare parts you are well positioned for any sort of gun ban.

However it is also worth noting what the TEOTWAWKI plan doesn't cover.

It completely ignores all sorts of highly likely financial/ unemployment/ slow slide issues. That Cold War mentality where the only option is that everything will go just fine until the world ends misses this one. You need to be concerned about your overall debt as well as savings for a rainy day. Can you afford your super spiffy retreat if you lose that high paying job? Even if your 'retreat' is paid off it is only yours so long as you can pay the property taxes.

Also I have a concern that this sort of planning can lead one not to worry about the progressively more violent world we are living in because you'll just carry a rifle everywhere if TEOTWAWKI happens. That sort of mentality isn't realistic. My real concern with this bionary approach is that it heavily weights things like owning rifles and stashing sand bags n barbed wire against more practical concerns like concealed carrying a pistol whenever possible and other more realistic home/ personal defense stuff.  You need to be worried a lot more about 2-3 armed criminals who are probably on drugs breaking into your place tonight a lot more than EU/ Russian/ Mexican soldiers enforcing world government upon you.

I think that if you keep a solid financial footing and put plenty of effort/ energy into preparing to defend yourself today then there is nothing wrong with the majority of your energy going toward the kind of worst case scenario deserving of a fiction novel.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Food as a Weapon, Food and America

The idea of massive food shortages in America is an interesting one. I think there are fallacies as well as misinformation in play. Also it would be naive to say there is not at least some some intentional fear mongering involved.

Food as a weapon is a scary thing. It has been used by brutal governments to force a region or group of people into submission in the one of the most inhumane and brutal fashions. To me it is scary because it intentionally targets the civilian population in a widespread and determined way. The history of it probably goes back as long as their have been organized groups of people big enough to communicate and act cohesively at regional and national levels. The British starved the Irish, the Afrikaners, Kenyan's and almost surely some other groups I have forgotten.

The Soviet communists under Stalin starved the Ukranian peasants in the early 30's. The idea of giving up their land and relying on 'the collective' to support them didn't appeal to these peasants very much. The Soviet troops and police took all of their food and blocked the importation or delivery of food aid to the region. Needless to say bad times ensued. Garden Serf wrote about this more. There is a video here that you can watch if so inclined.

Like I said before this is scary stuff and I don't think anybody can watch it without being profoundly effected. It will likely remind you of why you hate communists and make you want to stock up on food and ammo. These are generally good feelings to have so I won't argue against them.

This is however on the balance not a scenario which worries me particularly. It is somewhere towards the bottom of my list of concerns. It is in the neighborhood of a full on genuine Bosnia or Africa style civil war and above war with Canada or anything involving aliens. Though it is true that Americans tend to have (even those evil liberals) a much higher value for human life than some that isn't really the reason. I honestly think Stalin and Mao (or maybe the Illuminati and Trilateral comission) had a running bet on who could kill more of their population. While different cultures (for a lot of reasons) do tend to act in different ways however events can bring about rapid and crazy changes so in that respect all bets are off.

There are two primary reasons this scenario doesn't worry me much. The first is that privately owned firearms are so numerous and more importantly so widespread in America. It is difficult for Europeans or folks from a couple of large anti freedom cities to fathom just how many guns are out there in the hands of normal people. A hunting rifle with the 3 full 20 round boxes of ammo in the gun cabinet and the 4 random partial boxes spread all over or even a pistol in a nightstand with a single box of bullets are enough to cause real problems.

Even if the second ammendment was totally thrown out or ignored (as well as the rest of the Constitution) it simply would not be possible to confiscate anywhere near enough guns to make a difference. It is pretty obvious to me that well armed people are very difficult to forcibly starve into submission. Shooting would start long before that. I cannot say exactly how it would end but this alone would likely rule out such an outcome here, at least on a big scale.

The next issue is America's ratio of government security forces to citizens. Even if you count all military personnel, federal, state and local law enforcement as well as IRS agents, meter maids and dog catchers (and it would probably be unlikely that they would ALL choose to get involved, but lets just go with it as a worst case scenario) in America the numbers don't work. The ratio of citizens to what could (again a gross oversimplification) be called security personnel just doesn't add up. One of the reasons communist and other totalitarian governments have economic issues is that the ratio of security personnel to citizens is really high. It is really high because people don't like that kind of government. There are also significant budgeting and structural problems because such a high percentage of GDP and the state's budget goes to security. The ratio of people who would be trying to (violently or not) circumvent and bypass any such system to those trying to enforce it would lead to a lot of circumvention.

Food prices are an interesting thing. If you were going to try and specifically design an event to cause massive unrest it would be hard to beat food prices swinging to be either painful or out of the hands of the lower class. Short of a bunch of NeoNazis and the New Black Panthers both deciding to go to the same Waffle house at 2am after a night of hard partying I can't think of a better way to make some crazy stuff go down. While civil unrest is different than an insurgency or revolution one often proceeds the other. This sort of civil unrest has lead to more than one regime change. As I learned from this recent article it isn't so much long term gradual changes like inflation that cause these problems but short term volatile swings. I am not entirely sure why this is. It could be that people have more time to adapt to long term structural changes while someone in true 3rd world poverty can't pay 30, 40 or 50% more for food, even for awhile.

What does this mean for Americans? Well it is a good reminder to use alpha strategy type techniques to use money now to buy goods that will be more expensive later. That sort of strategy also lets you take advantage of good sales. If you have to buy, just for example, a can of baked beans for dinner tomorrow you're stuck paying full price. However if you have a dozen cans of baked beans (or 5 dozen) you can wait until there is a sale in a month and buy 6 cans on sale. Saving .30 cents a can on baked beans isn't a big deal in and of itself but if you do that with a significant percentage of foods you regularly (try for all shelf stable and frozen stuff) eat it will add up to real money.

The more I think about it the harder time I have with Americans who "can't afford food". Now don't get me wrong there are a few Americans with absolutely no income who can not in fact afford to buy anything to include food. However if you really look at the majority of Americans in that boat it is not in fact their situation. According to some reputable seeming website 80% of the worlds citizens live on less than $10 a day. I looked with as much percistence as it was worth to figure out the percentage of their income these folks spend on food and didn't find it. However it is accurate to say it is a pretty high percentage. I want to say more than 50%.

My observation about the Americans who say they cannot afford food is that while their budgeting priorities are fairly sound (unlike say rent food is a flexible part of your overall budget in that if you are flush it can be steak, shrimp and the best of everything; if things are tight it can be pancakes, rice and beans) their actual priorities are completely skewed. The thing is that while to a certain point your food budget can be flexible it is pretty darn important. In reality your actual priorities in order of importance are food, fuel/ energy, housing, insurance and then all that other stuff. While admittedly painting with a broad stroke Americans who are in this situation typically are spending their money on stupid stuff instead of buying food. I would personally like to open face slap everyone who smokes or drinks alcohol and then says they can't afford food.  For heavens sake get your priorities strait. I like to have a drink as much as the next man, unless that man is Mel Gibson, but long before I couldn't feed my family I would be off the sauce.

I just don't see Americans who are one of the richest people on earth getting priced out of the food market at least in significant numbers. Even if the dollar and our standard of living drop significantly most Americans will be fine. According to something I read Americans spend a bit less than 10% of their income on food which is, if you look at world figures, rediculously low. If prices went up most Americans would cut something else out (entertainment, booze, whatever) or practice product substitution which is a fancy economist way to say buying cheaper stuff because the stuff you used to use got more expensive. It would be rough on the very bottom rung of society but the vast majority of Americans would still go to bed with full stomach's. My household spends 7% of our income on food including formula which is 1/4 of that. We could easily cut that by 1/4 if we didn't buy soda, the couple premade convenience foods we get as a luxury, and ate less meat. At subsistence levels with little meat or dairy we could probably spend 4% of our income on food including formula for Walker. We would eat a lot of oatmeal, pancakes, eggs, rice and beans but with some veggies and a little bit of meat now and then and a multi vitamin every day it would be fine for a long time.

So what food vulnerabilities do I see that should concern Americans? As I have said I am not worried about food being used as a weapon or getting priced out of the market. However the incredibly long supply chain between food producers and the end user coupled with JIT inventories is a pretty vulnerable system. A power outage here or a terrorist attack there or some bad weather can mess things up in a hurry. It doesn't take a couple days of trucks not being able to make deliveries and nobody will be able to buy anything.

To me the biggest concern about food security is disasters. A bad winter storm, earthquake or hurricane means the normal food supply is going to be disrupted. As we saw in Hurricane Katrina there is a very real possibility that a major regional disaster will put you on your own for weeks (I think 6 is an accurate number). The 72 hour kit that used to be suggested doesn't cut it. You need to be able to feed your family for a few weeks in case of that sort of event. If you are worried about a flu pandemic think in terms of months not weeks. A black swan event like an EMP or a successful NBC terrorist attack could disrupt all sorts of systems and supply chains for at least a couple years.

The great thing is that like most basic preps food is useful in a lot of scenarios. Assuming you buy things you actually eat worst case you can just eat the stuff. Rotate it by eating it and save a bunch because you can wait for sales. So in conclusion I think you should stock up on food, if just for different reasons than others do.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

When Are You Done Preparing?

FerFAL was recently asked the interesting question "When Are You Done Preparing?". I found the question interesting and it sort of stuck in my head. I don't disagree with FerFAL's answer but I do see it from a different perspective. Here is how I see it.

It is worth discussing the difference between maintenance and growth (though not strictly money, also time, energy, etc) of your preps. Maintenance of your preps would be stuff like rotating foodstuffs, practicing to keep your skills fresh, etc. Growth would be stuff like increasing your food storage, learning a new skill, taking a class, buying guns, gear, etc.

I think a certain amount of maintenance is necessary lest your food goes bad, your equipment degrades and your skills atrophy. You've got to rotate food and clean weapons. Car kits and GHB's need to be periodically inventoried and have perishable contents rotated. Even the best shot will get rusty if he doesn't touch a handgun for a year. Personally I wouldn't classify this kind of maintenance as continual preparations. Now that we have that covered.

To the fundamental question "when are you done preparing?" I would reply "preparing for what?" Everyone has different concerns and worst case scenarios they are preparing for. If we imagine white being a very limited power outage and black being a full on genuine One Second After/ Mad Max/ Jericho TEOTWAWKI scenario there are almost infinite shades of grey in between. What you are preparing for has a lot to do with when/ if you can ever be done.

Lets say you are an average guy who lives on the Gulf or southern Atlantic coast. You are justifiably concerned about a hurricane. You know it can be difficult to get fuel in the run up to evacuation time so you keep a half dozen 5 gallon cans in the shed and make sure your vehicle is topped off during hurricane season. You know that the smart thing to do is to leave and you've got a plan with your Uncle who lives a few hundred miles inland to come crash there. You have maps and alternate routes planned out just in case.

Since Katrina showed you that it can be weeks before help can arrive and services are restored you keep 90 days of shelf stable, easy to cook foodstuffs around. A couple extra propane cans will let you cook just about forever on the Coleman stove you use for camping. Keeping a few extra big boxes of batteries will let you run the various flashlights in your house for some time. For water you picked up a filter at the local camping store. After seeing the madness of Katrina you ordered 500 rounds of buckshot for your 12 gauge in addition to whatever hunting loads you have lying around. You also purchased a handgun with a few spare mags and a couple extra 100 rd white boxes from Walmart. Last year you stashed a few hundred dollars in the gun cabinet just in case. Could this guy say that he is done preparing? I think so. Of course there might be a small hole here or there but the broad strokes are covered and he is in a decent spot for the scenario he is concerned with.

Someone worried about a genuine full on Jericho style collapse is probably never going to be done. They will just move from more likely and immediate concerns such as 'how will we eat next winter' to the more obscure and unlikely 'how will my grandchildren make metal tools to replace those which wear out'. A person worried about this kind of scenario is always going to be thinking of something new and trying to deal with progressively more unlikely scenarios.

Personally I do not think I am every going to be done preparing. I am going to have times where the growth slows or stops until I get to another stage (buying a home, having more space, getting some land, etc) over time. However in the big picture over time I am going to progressively work from likely situations to more unlikely ones. It is more likely that we will have to ride out a short to mid term disaster then that we will suffer an EMP or a super aids bird flu pandemic. Assuming the world doesn't end in a few more years I will likely be focused almost exclusively on relatively unlikely scenarios. It is just my nature to want to improve my situation.

It is the very last day to enter our Awesome Ammo Giveaway Contest. Hurry up and enter now so you can get a whole bunch of free ammo.

When are YOU going to be done preparing?

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Thinking About Ammunition

Do you have ammunition for your core weapons? At least a  couple hundred rounds per gun? This is one of those topics I haven't talked about in forever. Mostly because after taking care of my own needs it just doesn't come into my thoughts. However it is disturbingly common to hear someone talking and it comes up that they have 35 rounds for the family shotgun, one 50 round box of ammo for their pistol or two or three 20 round boxes (or a couple mags) of ammo for their rifle.

From a certain perspective I can see why average folks might not worry about ammo. They can just go to the store and get more whenever they want. However from survivalists/ preppers this is just difficult to understand. Relatively speaking to historical standards ammunition is inexpensive and readily available. Anybody can pick up a box or two per payday until they are at this very low threshold. It isn't where you want to be if the trilateral commission's UN mercenaries invade but it's sure a good start for any other situation.

If you only have a few bucks now and then the best coarse of action is probably to just hit up a local sporting goods store or Walmart. That is especially true if you are going to be picking up a box of this and a box of that. Usually in that case you aren't buying enough of any one thing to get the good bulk type discounts. Also shipping and handling will often kick your butt. However if you say, need 250 rounds of buckshot and of course a few slugs for the family shotgun or a partial case of ammo for your 9mm I would encourage you to check out the folks at Lucky Gunner.

Also when it comes to bulk ammo ordering here is something I've done successfully in the past. Talk to your gunnie/ survivalist friends and see if they need ammo. That works well when you don't quite plan to purchase enough to get the good (usually half case and then case) prices or meet the breaking point where shipping is economical. So if you don't need or can't afford 250 rounds of buckshot but can sure use 100 or 150 just find a buddy who can use some.

How much ammo is enough? Well I would pose the follow on question, enough for what? A guy worried about a hurricane needs less than someone else worried about an EMP or a full on Mad Max scenario. For the hurricane guy I would say that 500 rounds or so per gun is probably plenty. Plenty that you can fire a warning shot if need be. Plenty that if a single box of ammo gets lost in the closet you aren't non mission capable. Plenty to be comfortable enough to give 20 rounds of buckshot to a poorly prepared but otherwise cool neighbor.

For someone worried about a much longer term nastier scenario I don't think you can have too much ammo. However you can proportionately overspend on ammo. Having a couple pallets stacked to the ceiling with ammo cans would be great but probably doesn't make sense unless the rest of the basement is full of food, medicine, clothing, fuel and tools.

Personally here are the numbers that give me a warm and fuzzy feeling:
defensive rifle- 3k
defensive pistol- 1k
shotgun- 1k
rimfire- 5k
hunting rifle- 1k

Those are numbers PER GUN for core type weapons. I wouldn't worry about that .300 Savage you got from Uncle Earl which just sits in the safe. So if I own for example 3 AR/AK/HK-91's I would want 9k rounds, 4 pistols would have 4k rounds, etc. It probably gets a bit less important as your numbers of weapons gets higher. If you own 10 pistols and only have 8k rounds there is probably not a need to freak out.

Do I live up to this standard? Sometimes. I would say that it is a continual work in progress. Sort of two steps forward and one step back. Usually about the time I get real close another gun comes into the inventory and the ratio takes a step backward. I don't worry about it too much. My warm and fuzzy numbers are conservative enough that if I am close it is OK.

I know some folks warm and fuzzy numbers are a lot higher. I think that is just spiffy. However I would ask if their financial houses are in order, they have other preps (food, medicine, clothing, etc) at commensurate levels as well as cleaning supplies, spare parts, magazines, etc. If so then good for them. If not I would probably talk about balance and allocation of resources.

Do you have ammunition for your core weapons? At least a  couple hundred rounds per gun? Go consult your ammo cans or cabinet and find out. If you don't like what you find do something about it.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

What's Worrying Me

Well I guess I will tell you what is worrying me. I am not particularly worried about power outages or storms or natural disasters. Not to say that all those can't happen. The risk of a storm or whatever is more or less the same as it always has been. Also it helps that I am pretty prepared for that sort of thing. Of course some tin horn dictator or totalitarian state could blow a couple nukes up in the sky and cause an EMP then it would be One Second After. I think those sort of low probability high impact events are worth paying a bit of attention to but I don't think the odds of such occurrence are any higher than a decade ago. I sort of look at them like if I happen to be in line at a coffee shop and 5 guys with AK's roll in and start mowing people down. You do the best you can and that is that.

The economy and inflation are what is worrying me these days. My income is secure. That is quite an intentional choice but still a blessing. I know almost to the dollar (somehow it is always a bit different) what I will get paid on the first and the fifteenth. However I am not entirely sure what it will buy me. If you start talking about 8, 10 or even 15 percent inflation that can reek havoc on any budget.

More concerning than tightening our belt a bit and lowering our standard of living are the second and third order effects of that kind of ruinous inflation. Very quickly banks would realize that the interest they charge needs to not just factor in risk and their profit but that the money they are repaid will buy less than the money they loan out. I recall a friend talking about 15% home mortgages in the late 70's. That would mean the cost for a business to borrow money would be ridiculous. Businesses would be less able to grow or expand. Good luck with a start up. This in turn means more unemployment so fewer people are buying less. Short of the debt trap you don't see many more vicious cycles.

What can I do about this? I think a lot of conservative financial advice suits these times well. In particular stuff like living below your means, saving and avoiding debt is so important. A person with a few dollars put away, reasonable bills and little debt can ride out a decrease in standard of living (from inflation or job loss). The exact same family with the same income disruption but a bunch of bills, a visa card and no savings will be in deep trouble.

We have some money put away and few bills. Between slashing our discretionary spending and going to minimum payments we could live on a lot less than we bring in. If need be we could live off savings for some time. In several months we will have paid off my student loan and will be debt free. 

A small but regular portion of our income gets turned into silver and gold. I buy them as an insurance policy. If they go up 100 or even 300 percent in dollar denominated value I wouldn't sell. If things go beyond ruinous inflation to outright hyperinflation. Some of our precious metals would give our family a little bit of help in adjusting to the new reality and the rest would be our proverbial nest egg.

If we were 20 years older and better established real estate that can produce income would be where I would park money. A little paid off house you could rent would be better than some cash in a mutual fund. However since we aren't at that point in life yet it is a moot point.

Slowly but surely we are preparing for slightly darker scenarios. Argentina and FerFal's blog in particular are of a real help here. I am not so concerned with a full on Mad Max scenario but am working on self contained ways to maintain as normal of a life as possible no matter what disruptions we face. Little things like being able to do laundry easily or brew my own beer or listening to stations far away on the world band radio aren't huge but they start to add up.

There is a higher than normal risk of theft and violent crime. This doesn't worry me so much right now. I live in a pretty small safe world right now. When elsewhere I am pretty cautious about where I go and carry a handgun. However if you aren't a fit young guy who is reasonably trained and carries a gun it might be a good idea to worry about this. Get your body into some resemblance of shape. Get trained with firearms and start carrying one. Be aware of what you do and where you go. Not a lot of people get robbed while buying groceries at 3pm but going to the ATM at midnight is dumb. 

What's worrying you?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Thoughts On The 20th Century

The 20th century was a heck of a time. It probably saw more change for the living conditions of normal people than any other period. Around 1900 most peoples lives were pretty darn close to how they had been since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.  Most peoples lives revolved around working on a small family farm or in some sort of a shop. In big cities people worked in the labor intensive factories and such. By the end of the 20th century the lives of people were radically different. In the US something like 2% of people feed the rest. Instead of a typical farm being a guy with a couple hundred acres and a mule or two it is tens of thousands of acres worked by a man with tractors and combines. Even now massive agricultural businesses are making farming not viable for the typical family farm. Communication and massive technological innovations have radically changed the lives of all but the poorest people (I mean like Zimbabwe poor, not American poor) into something unimaginable back in 1900.

One of the biggest single misconceptions in the opening part of the 20th century was that history was set. It is really tempting to think that somehow the era you are in is the ultimate creation of all of history, but it is entirely inaccurate.  War came about early as in part because the recently unified Germany sought to gain power and territory. The beginning of the century saw the massacre of almost an entire generation in the fields of Western Europe. The fall of the massive and decayed Ottoman Empire happened immediately after the war ended. Also WWI brought America onto the forefront of the world stage for the first time.

It is easy for us to look back with perfect hindsight about how foolish it was for people and nations to think history was set back then but we far too often laugh at those folks but think the same thing ourselves about today. Nations are going to gain and lose territory and power through natural coming of age (India, maybe China) and decay but also the old fashioned way, by taking it from someone else. Also I think it would be a dangerous assumption to think that even Europe is done with war. They may well come out of the shell shock of WWI and WWII and revisit old ambitions, rivalries and feuds. Just as the 20th century saw all of these events the 21st will also.

Economies will collapse. Some will just sputter out because of new developments making areas undesirable and products unnecessary and others will fall apart in spectacular hyper inflationary crashes. When this happens a few rich, smart people will be able to see it coming and prepare. As almost always is the situation it is normal average people who get the worst end of these collapses.

Lots of folks talk about how a hyper inflationary collapse is coming for America. Some say that it is coming next week and that gold will hit $9,734 an ounce. They also often say that a certain type of gold coin is best and happen to be selling them. I do not know if this will happen. Maybe we will just have a period like the late 70's and early 80's with fairly high unemployment and only 15-20% inflation. I know America is a huge, powerful and amazing nation. If anybody could figure a way out of the box it seems we are painting ourselves into it would be this great nation, however I am not so naive to think it could not happen here. If nothing else minimizing debt, particularly adjustable interest rate debt is always sound advice. If you have a few bucks that do not go strait to putting a roof over your head and food in the kitchen buying some silver and gold is a good idea.

"If the 20th century taught us anything it is that life is pretty cheap"- Jim Rawles on Coast to Coast Radio

Lots of people died in the 20th century. World War One darn near killed an entire generation of young European men. World War Two did a pretty good job on the next generation.  Russia has been unsuccessful in proving that a country can kill off its entire population through revolution, war, government produced famine leading to starvation starvation and just plain purges. They do however get an A for effort.

Speaking of famine food has been used as a weapon multiple times in history. Most notably the Holodorm comes to mind.  Seriously I think Russia has a running bet with somebody that they can kill off more of their population than anyone else. Though Pol Pot might have won that one. Anyway things can get bad and people go hungry, not missed a meal, like those starving African kids in the aid commercials hungry.

Sometimes war or economic craziness or nutty national policies mess up the normal flow of food that begins with production (farms, ranches, etc) and ultimately ends up in our kitchens. What can we do as individuals to mitigate this? Storing food obviously comes to mind. Having multiple ways to procure food is probably prudent. Debit cards are good but having cash as a backup is very prudent. If you are worried about a situation where a single currency/ country collapses then having some other currency on hand might be prudent. For a long time this was the dollar, nowadays Euro's, Swiss Franks or Canadian dollars might be good. A single ATM transaction worth of a foreign currency might be a big deal for your family some day. If nothing else it is cool to reference your foreign currency reserves. Again as with the hyper inflationary situation having some precious metals is a good idea if you can afford it. Assuming food is available you can get some of it if you have precious metals, as noted in Zimbabwe. Depending on your situation and how concerned you are about this particular possibility (or saving money, healthy eating, etc) producing some of your own food can be a good move. In my opinion if it is possible with your lifestyle producing some food is a good idea. However it is not a cure all. If a 40 armed men with a tank show up they will take what you have, sorry but it is true. Storing some food off site in a cache might not be a horrible idea depending on your level of concern and overall scenario. Again in a perfect world having multiple ways to get food, multiple ways to grow/ harvest your own food and multiple ways to trade/ barter/ buy food would be nice.

On a tangent I greatly enjoyed the little Reece's peanut butter eggs I ate while researching/ writing about famine. I also like having ice cream while watching Survivor and Lost.

I do not think the 21st century is going to be as bloody as the 20th. If nothing else the combination of Nuclear Weapons creating a MAD scenario between some larger nations and the faster, more technological nature of warfare the body count will almost certainly be lower. However it could still be pretty darn bad under a variety of situations. Also it doesn't matter if the total number of people killed is far lower then the last century if you and your family end up being part of the death toll.

Even aside from fully state vs state conflicts groups of people will kill each other. Sometimes states kill certain minority groups that are present within their society. Also sometimes states sponsor or allow to act without fear of intervention a group that is actively killing another group. Our world started the 20th century with a few genocides and mass killings in Turkey and Russia then finished up with a couple of bangs in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. The time in the middle wasn't exactly calm either.

I would be quite surprised if the  21st century doesn't have a few times when certain groups of citizens are targeted by state or quasi state actors. What can be done to minimize ones risk to this sort of cultural/ ethnic/ racial violence? Well if a place seems like a cultural/ ethnic/ racial powder keg now then it might not be a great place to live, especially if you belong to the wrong cultural/ ethnic/ racial group for that area. It probably isn't politically or socially correct to say that but IMO it is something to consider. Matthew Bracken's books depict some events in the South West and California which one might want to think about.

I guess in conclusion I will reiterate a few key points. History isn't set and nations will rise and fall. It is prudent to take some common sense steps to mitigate your exposure to economic collapses, famine and cultural/ ethnic/ racial violence. This century is going to be a lot like the last one just with computers and Ipods. There are certainly new risks (terrorism, EMP's, etc) but the old ones haven't gone away.

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