Showing posts with label Stalin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Stalin. Show all posts

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.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Two Things That Are Really Bothering Me

I can honestly say I am a lot more pro law enforcement and government in general then most bloggers. However a couple things have really been hacking me off recently. First are supposed laws which make it illegal to film cops/ sheriffs/ meter maids/ whomever. These really anger me. Second the TSA is recently getting their way onto the same list.

I think the filming thing is one of the biggest examples of jack boot Stalinist tactics out there. They are also probably the biggest example of "lets try to call everything we don't like illegal" that I can think of. Of course some guy with a video camera following youaround would get annoying to anybody. However a cop who follows the rules and generally doesn't act like an Only One/ brown shirt doesn't have anything to fear. It is the cops who do shady illegal stuff all day long knowing that dirt bags (sorry but you know what I mean) who get treated like dirt or strait up harrassed won't say anything. Heck even if a normal non dirt bag complains about a cop of course the cop must be right. Often a recording of some sort by a third party is the only piece of evidence a DA or jury will actually believe that can refute a cops testimony. When bad cops (I don't think they are all bad) lie a video tape is just about the only way to disprove them.

What hacks me off even more about this is that cops try to record everything. I recall the case of some drunk college kid awhile back. He got arrested for disturbing the peace, drunken disorderly and attacking a cop. The kid was in serious trouble. However a few days later a video from across the street came out. The kid staggered around a corner and the cop body checked him with a horse then whooped the hell out of him with a stick. Aside from having too many drinks while watching college sports he didn't do a single thing wrong. The only thing that saved that kid from serious trouble was that video tape.

Some cops need to be held accountable for their actions and also the 'blue wall of silence' needs to be broken down. The only way I see that happening is by citizens holding them accountable in a manner people will act upon which means video (or I guess audio) tapes. This seems like a great cause for the ACLU.

The TSA probably have the biggest chip on their shoulder of any government agency. I think it is because deep down they know they are slightly above minimum wage wanna be security guard lackies. A chip on ones shoulder coupled with a bit of very narrowly defined power breeds a serious attitude problem.They are all over the media these days. They will pornoscan you or feel you up.

The whole thing is just so rediculous I don't even know what to say about it. What does this say about the sad state of our country; that we are more willing to force little kids and grandma's to get felt up by some slightly above minimum wage former mall security guard loser then openly admit what everyone knows anyway that the entire terrorist threat comes from males between about 17 and 40 of Arab nationality. More specifically Arab males who have just recently come to the US. Despite homeland security, the TSA, FBI, CIA and a few other agencies bungling we can at least accurately identify the group in question. There is no need to pornoscan grandma's from Minnessota or grope 10 year old soccer players from Iowa.

Hopefully the backlash against the TSA is finally reaching critical mass to the point where it cannot be ignored. Maybe there will be enough news pieces and people writing and calling their various representatives that they do something about it. I don't think the topic of security or anything that gets pushed under that umbrella should be beyond reproach.

All of this stuff is so stupid and the only real explanation for it that I can see is conditioning. Conditioning people to subject themselves to whatever kind of indignities some random employee of an obscure government agency tells them to. Conditioning them to not ask questions. One more paranoid than I could say the slippery slope to travel passes and inspection checkpoints a la Stalinist Russia isn't that long.

I personally don't worry about it much. Not because I like it at all but because I don't have another option. As a military family and particularly a military family overseas if we want to see our family we have to fly. It would take a lot to stop us from doing that. It is however interesting to theorize about this stuff.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

quote of the day

"I am fine knowing you love Stalin, its the hiding it and lying about it that I have had enough of."
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