Showing posts with label communism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label communism. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wall Street Occupiers, Crony Capitalists and Shoulder Holsters

Our good friend Hermit left a couple of comments which I feel like replying to on the main page. It also brings us to other points worth talking about.

This whole Occupy Wall Street protest thing. I am completely ambivalent about it. Moreso I think some of the regional spin offs are just stupid. Instead of standing around and bothering productive people they should do something to better their own circumstances.

To this recent post "Quote of the Day" Hermit said "I was thinking I'd like to go throw some molotovs at Goldman Sachs myself. The more I think about getting screwed in 2008, the more I think I should start learning the words to "The Internationale"."

I can definitely see his point. This is one of those times where there are multiple complaints which can be logged against a group from different angles. I do not think they are bad people because they make a lot of money like the protestors do. However it is quite apparant to me that at least some folks involved knew what was going on and were "Shooting the Moon" so to speak. Like Enron but on a massive scale. I think there are/ were some issues of crony capitalism, fraud and such going on. I don't know much about securities and banking laws but to me it is pretty apparant that some bad stuff was going on. Lots of people should probably go to jail.

There is a saying that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" and sometimes (if just temporarily) that is true. However other times the enemy of my enemy is also my enemy. To me this whole Wall Street protestors thing falls into that scenario. I am not a fan of crony capitalism and the fraudulent practices which it leads to but the last thing we need is more government involvement (which breeds more crony capitalism) and socailist redistribution. I do want change but not the change these protestors are advocating, if they can form a cohesive enough message to even say what they want.

On my recent post about Appendix Carry Hermit asked if I prefer it to a shoulder holster. The simple answer is yes. I carry IWB because it lets me wear a normal shirt (albeit a loose one) and conceal a compact sized pistol comfortably. This lets me wear a slightly modified version of my normal attire and carry.

Shoulder holsters require a relatively heavy (not a light shirt) over garmet like a windbreaker, vest or a warmup jacket if not a coat for concealment to work. I could go for a vest but for somebody my age (as Hermit has noted older men in the south wearing vests is common) a vest, particularly a 5.11/ photographers type vest screams I am concealing a gun. They do have a place in my book as they bring a couple of benefits. First they do not require pants with a belt to use. This is an advantage sometimes as you can just toss one on, cover it up and be discretely armed. Also they are particularly good for long drives and carrying particularly heavy handguns.


Monday, October 10, 2011

Quote of the Day

"What is the matter with youth today? Why does everyone believe that they are owed something? Get off your asses, and go get a job, hippies!"

-A guy I know (the picture I got from him also)

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.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Traveling Fun

Yesterday we went to Praha (aka Prague). It was totally amazing. It is probably the most amazing city we have been to yet in Europe. Thanks to missing out on the large scale destruction other cities faced in WWII and then getting stuck behind the communist iron curtain for decades after the city is very well preserved. The food is great also. The beer is great. Thanks to a free market economy and not being on the Euro stuff is cheap. I got a nice beer stein as a souvenir for 25USD.

We drove there and spent the remainder of the day sight seeing. At about 8:30 we had a real nice dinner at a place near the castle. Headed back to our hotel from there. Woke up this morning and after a quick breakfast we did some more sight seeing. Spent the afternoon and evening driving back home. A couple staus and a bit of rain added hours to the trip. Really it was too long of a drive for a one night trip. I am pretty tired and Wifey though she lived the trip is totally done for.

That really doesn't have much to do with anything except that we did it and it was a lot of fun.

Friday, August 13, 2010

quote of the day

"The American people will never knowingly adopt Socialism. But under the name of 'liberalism' they will adopt every fragment of the Socialist program, until one day America will be a Socialist nation, without knowing how it happened."
-Normal Thomas

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

quote of the day

You can’t get good Chinese takeout in China and Cuban cigars are rationed in Cuba. That’s all you need to know about communism.

—P.J. O’Rourke 

Monday, June 21, 2010

Quote of the Day

In order to pass the bar you have to be like "a sheep munching through the meadow." Hey, I know how to do that, I grew up in Communism.

MZ- Law student from Bulgaria

Friday, May 7, 2010

Need a Reason to Prepare?

Most of my readers do not need any more reasons to prepare. Their heads are constantly filled with various threats and what they can do to mitigate them. For a few folks who are either more towards the liberterian or gun side of the house, as well as the elusive armchair survivalist, a bit of a nudge might be needed.

I think there have been survivalists in some form or another for ever. Back when people lived differently they were just a person with a bit more food, equipment and weapons than the norm. In the Cold War bomb shelters were the cool thing to do. There was a brief lull after the commies went broke and suddenly became very enthusiastic capitalists.

In the last decade I can think of 3 big reasons to get prepared.

The first was September 11th, 2001. The end of the Cold War brought a tense and potentially very dangerous situation to an end. However when that tense situation ended it was replaced with a very chaotic and in some ways far more dangerous one. [A sane if hostile neighbor with a rack full of guns really isn't a threat because they want to keep life going on. However a crackhead with a razor knife might do something crazy.] By and large that chaos and danger was kept to people in 3rd world counties killing each other.  While a revolution here or a civil war there might bother someone that keeps track of international news or worries about random people they will never meet it doesn't affect your life in Omaha or whatever. There were certainly signs that September 11th was coming but like all things it is a bit easier in hindsight.

On September 11th 2,974 Americans died. Terrorism struck America for real. Not some criminal with vague revolutionist leanings but legitimate and serious terrorists. It was a big deal, I don't think I need to tell you that.

Lots of people got scared. People bought guns, stored food, water and all that. Some would say that their risk is next to nothing because they live in a remote or less populated area. To a certain degree I would agree with that theory. In my home town 6 military aged Arab national males would stick out like a sore thumb. It would be 50/50 if they could manage to shoplift gum from the grocery store, let alone some larger more nefarious thought. However I would submit to those people that some risk likely exists. Over the course of a year most people get on a plane, or go to see a pro sports game or take the wife to the big city to do some shopping, attend a business conference, etc. It doesn't matter if you spend 364 days a year working at your isolated retreat if you happen to be shopping at a mall (or whatever) on the day a bomb goes off.

So depending on your location and lifestyle there is at least a small risk you could be caught in a terrorist attack. 

Hurricane Katrina made august 2005 pretty darn interesting. No point in whipping a dead horse but the government and emergency response was depressingly lacking. Katrina made it explicitly and painfully clear that if there is a significant regional disaster you're going to have to fend for yourself. It was really Welcome to the Jungle time. More than any other single factor Katrina pushed me into preparedness.

Probably more interesting than how crazy NO and the region got was how long it took for real organized relief efforts to get on the scene and provide logistical support (food, water, ice, medical). The old and fairly accurate advice that several days of food and water was plenty got tossed out the window. Four to six weeks is probably more reasonable. [Not suggesting to only prepare for that parse. If nothing else charity would be a reason to store additional food.] Also some people ended up firing a lot of warning shots. The legal and tactical use of warning shots is another discussion but lets just say that 25-50 rounds of ammo for the pistol/shotgun/ whatever would not give me a warm and fuzzy.

So depending on your location and lifestyle there is at least a small risk you could be caught in a terrorist attack.  Some regions, like say the Southern Atlantic and Gulf Coast and in particular areas there below sea level are more dangerous than others. However all regions are prone to some disaster or disasters. If these disasters are major and on a large scale you could be on your own for weeks instead of days.

The Subprime Mortgage Crisis and consequent worldwide economic downturn was a huge event. There have been booms and busts forever. When cave men were living as hunter gatherers they had booms and busts of roots and woolly mammoth meat. In any case I got two meaningful things out of this whole mess. First for awhile there it looked like there was a real chance our entire financial system would collapse. Of course it didn't but if things had gone a slightly different way.... Second and to me more significant it was a big fat reminder that events far and removed from you can radically change your life. Even if you didn't own any derivatives the value of your 401k probably took a big hit. Maybe you don't have an adjustable rate mortgage but the value of your home almost surely changed. If you don't own a home or stocks but lost your job because of the overall economic downturn it sure affected your life.

So depending on your location and lifestyle there is at least a small risk you could be caught in a terrorist attack.  Some regions, like say the Southern Atlantic and Gulf Coast and in particular areas there below sea level are more dangerous than others. However all regions are prone to some disaster or disasters. If these disasters are major and on a large scale you could be on your own for weeks instead of days. Also our current financial system is pretty fragile and events that are far and removed from you (sub primes were only huge in a few states) may dramatically affect your life. Still need a reason to prepare.

I talk a lot about ways I prepare. The fact that I choose to put my time/ money and energy there says pretty clearly they are the ways I see as most prudent. Take my advice and adapt it to suit your unique situation or just round file it, I truly don't care. However the world is a wild and crazy place. All indications show that it is going to get wilder and crazier for the foreseeable future.

Take some steps to prepare for whatever may come in order to best take care of yourself and your family no matter what comes.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Book Review: Passport to World Band Radio

I ordered this book to help me get going with the Grundig 350DL. However because of amazons eccentricities it got here a bit late for that goal. By the time it arrived the antenna had been here for awhile and I had the radio grounded and working well. Anyway I got to reading this book today.

I ended up buying the 2008 version because at that time it is what was available. I don't think it matters much though. It started out with an interesting discussion about radio stations in Tangier. It then went into a great Getting Started section which I wish I could have read the day I got the radio.  Then it got into a long series if reviews on seemingly every radio in existence. After the reviews it goes into a comprehensive listing of radio stations by time, country and frequency. That alone is well worth the price of the book. In any situation where I need this radio to get information it will be either going to be scanning the airwaves blindly or with grid down records already on hand.

It touches on some interesting themes. First of all world band radio is one of the most free form of long distance communication out there. World band broadcasts travel (under the right conditions) enormous distances. This makes it popular for areas that are so massive that AM and FM stations are not a viable option. It has an interesting history of being used to get information into areas with oppressive governments most notably during the cold war. However still today Cuba, China and a few other countries try to prevent free listening. These frequencies are less susceptible to radio jamming than other bands.In a lot of ways Ham/ SW aka world band have been replaced by the internet. However there is the huge bonus that the input for your radio comes from the sky, not a bunch of cables running through the ground. It is impossible to monitor what someone listens to on the waves.

Also I stumbled into the wikipedia article on numbers stations. I stumbled onto one of these some time ago. After about 5 minutes of listening it was pretty darn obvious what it was and since it did nothing for me I moved on. Sort of cool to know a bit more background though. I will open this book again before purchasing any sort of radio gadgets.

Guess I sort of mucked up the usual good bad and ugly format. Oh well.

In any case I would suggest this book for anyone who is getting into world band radio.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Focusing on my own Comings and Goings

Last night I started some pineapple dehydrating. For the last batch I bought a whole fresh pineapple but this time I got a couple cans of pineapple rings. The rings have the benefit of being a lot cheaper because unless you live in the tropics pineapples are expensive. These turned out to be really good. Decreasing the dehydrating time slightly helped but also it was easier to get uniform slices to dry the same. Did I mention these are really good.

I didn't work today. Sleeping in was nice and had a leisurely morning. Took Wifey to work and then headed back home. I have been watching the news but only halfway paying attention. Mainly I have been cooking. I made a big old crock pot full of chili. In about an hour when the beans are all the way done it should be pretty darn tasty.
Chili is best with corn bread. We have used the recipe on the bag of corn meal a couple times and found it grainy and not particularly great. I mentioned looking for a good recipe on Facebook and MIL sent me a link to this post by The Pioneer Woman. I got to cooking this stuff up and it looks pretty darn good.
This whole health care debacle has been in the back of my head all day long. However life is just too short to get all whipped up about something I can't do anything about it anyway. I am going to have some chili and cornbread now. After dinner I will have a drink and do some reading. All things considered it hasn't been a bad day here.

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.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Germany's Restrictive Gun Laws Drove Ownership Underground

Having an unusually lazy Tuesday morning. Was hanging out at The War On Guns reading about various Only One calamities when I saw a couple of gem's. First Arizona is looking at Alaska/ Vermont style carry which is cool. Second and more interesting it looks like Germans own almost 3 times as many illegal guns as they own legal ones. Ownership, possession and sale of firearms did not go away, just underground. I imagine there are still a lot of WWII era weapons of all types floating around. Plenty of German WWII veterans probably took home a K98 or a Walther or maybe even something really cool  like an MP-40. As firearm laws in neighboring countries and border security have ebbed and flowed I imagine some more guns have trickled in. Switzerland has a vibrant gun culture and I imagine a gun or two has immigrated to Germany from there.

In particular since the fall of the wall, reunification of Germany and collapse of the USSR I imagine unregistered guns have become more common and easy to acquire. I have heard that it is easy to purchase an AK-47 in the Czech Republic. Any time an item is cheaper or available in a neighboring area and a porous or open border is present said item will come through regardless of the legality. The same way booze and cheap smokes will flow across county or state lines guns will also.  

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."

Why I Am An Unabashed Capitalist

We have been real busy at work the past 3 weeks or so. I made special arrangements with my boss to skip out for a couple hours to take care of some stuff. Specifically my read passenger side tire has a slow leak I have been meaning to get fixed. The auto shop on post has a 9-9:30 am walk in time. I got there at 9:02 and said "my tire has a leak". The guy told me "um we are doing an inventory today so you need to go to the skill center". I get that with many businesses the place completely shuts down a few times a year to do a full inventory or what not. This was not the case. The place was open. The fat lazy slob just didn't want to do his darn job.

That would NEVER happen at a normal shop like a Les Schwab or Jimbo's Tires. An employee who blew off a customer like that would get seriously reprimanded if not fired on the spot. Not even Walmart employees would try and pull that garbage.

The thing is this guy doesn't care because there is no incentive for him to. Many mechanics or tire guys or whatnot get paid hourly. The difference is that in a private business they have an owner or a supervisor who is motivated by profit and thus cares about their profit which comes from how many customers get served. 

Though I dislike this particular fellow I can't really blame these guys. People are motivated when they have incentives. Take away incentives (profit) and you take away motivation.

That is why I am an unabashed, unapologetic capitalist.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Radio Log 1

Doing some fiddling with the SW radio. Picked up some Chinese station on 49 meter (5960 to be precise). It is loud but not very clear. Fun times.

Also another station at 7367. It is something about China. I am somewhat unsure. It is quieter than the other one but clearer.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Fall of the Wall

Today is the 20th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall. I remember it on the nightly news when I was a kid. Not well but guys standing on a big concrete wall with sledge hammers and a lot of people who were all happy and stuff. I think the impact of the Cold War (certainly best symbolized by the Wall itself) upon Germany is at least to those in my approximate generation completely under rated.

To me prior to coming here if you had to list things which were significant and involved Germany you would mention the World Wars, and Beer and maybe David Hasselhoff. Specifically I tended to focus in on WWII and The whole attempted takover of the world and genocide bit. I think elements of those things are significant but less so than the Cold War.

I say this because the effects of the Cold War were more significant and longer lasting. Yeah Germany tried to get a bigger piece of the colonial pie which Britain, France and to a far lesser degree Spain had pretty much divided amongst themselves. They pretty much took over Europe for awhile and killed a whole bunch of Jews, Gypsies and other folks. However not that long after the war their situation in relation to the war wasn't that different from that of their neighbors on both sides. A whole generation of young men were pretty much gone, lots of innocent people were dead and the national infrastructure was wrecked. The story of a German woman was probably not that different from that of a Belgian woman or a French woman. Times were hard, her sons went off and some or all of them died, for times food and fuel was limited and things generally sucked. At some point there was some bombing or shelling in the area and at some point strange young men in weird uniforms occupied the area and may or may not have done some bad stuff.

The one thing which makes Germany's national experience vis a vi WWII different is a broad sense of national shame. They let a real asshat gain power and then their country tried to take over Europe and killed a whole shit ton of people. The jewel in their crown of guilt is the holocaust. However the way this is expressed is in a sense of real reluctance at wide military action which for different reasons (mainly the shell shock of loosing a huge part of two whole generations of young men) pretty much all of Europe has.

Attempting to disconnect WWII and the Cold War into discrete events is something of a tenuous operation but not entirely undoable if some imagination is used. The war on the Eastern Front (Russia vs Germany) could well have gone differently (more that it could have gone slower for the Ruskies not so much the end result) or the Allies could have moved a little faster and Germany would have been left to recover and rebuild from the war with out a bunch of commies waiting to storm through the Fulda Gap. Interesting what if's aside the two issues can be somewhat seperated.

A good comparison for how Germany rebuilt after the war would be Japan.

It is almost impossible to imagine a country being suddenly cut in half with almost no travel (at least for average folks) in between. The image is particularly stark when you consider Berlin being cut into pieces. Your Mom lives across town, too bad maybe you can see her in a few decades.

To make the contrast between West and East Germany all the more distinct one side got massive aid to rebuild and the other got systematically stripped of anything useful and was run down. The West generally was a decent place to live and the East was not so nice by really any measurable criteria I can think of.

While Germany could have recovered from the war within the time it takes to age a good Burbon the Cold War lasted about 45 years depending on which events you count or where you were. I would submit that Germany is still feeling the after effects of reunification. The East has far higher unemployment and hasn't generally caught up to the developed and productive Western part of the country.

This quote really sums it up best " It was expected that stronger growth would begin reducing the numbers of unemployed by 1995 and that Germany would return to its postwar path toward prosperity. But the absorption of eastern Germany, and the methods by which it had been accomplished, had exacted a high price throughout all of Germany." I would submit that this price is still being felt.

In any case the damn commies (not to be confused with our kind though slightly stern Social Democrat allies:) lost which is always a good thing. 

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Travel Update

Yesterday we went to Trier which was pretty amazing. The Palace and the Porta Nigra were completely amazing. Walking in an intact Roman City gate was completely awe inspiring as was standing in a Roman Amphitheater. We will definitely go back there to see the museums and some other stuff.

Also apparantly Commie Karl Marx was born and went to school there. When walking by the Jesuite school he went to I observed that they didn't teach him very well becausse he turned into a fucking commie which is pretty stupid.

History is fun and it helps give me a sense of perspective on small current affairs sort of stuff.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Motivation and Greed, Classism and Perks- Rant #2

Lets start with some definitions thanks to the might and utility of Wikipedia.

is the activation or energization of goal-oriented behavior. Motivation may be internal or external."

"Greed in psychology is an excessive desire to acquire or possess more than what one needs or deserves, especially with respect to material wealth."

Lets talk about motivation first. We do almost everything we do because of some sort of motivation. I am currently drinking coffee with a bit of sugar and milk in it (pause while I refill my cup), my motivation for drinking it is that it tastes good to me and gets me going in the morning.

Most of us have motivation to work (using work as a generic term for whatever you do for money) from a couple sources. Hopefully we at least sort of enjoy our jobs. Maybe we enjoy some prestige or respect or various fringe benefits of our job. Lastly we get to monetary compensation a la pay. We work because we get money which we use to pay for basic necessities like food, shelter, transportation, coffee and beer. Very few people would still be going to their jobs if they stopped getting paychecks. The ones who would probably have long term secure jobs and think there is a reasonable chance this is just a short term FUBAR time.

Motivation is why we do what we do. It all boils down to motivation.

Now onto that evil thing called greed. Lets read its definition again.

"Greed in psychology is an excessive desire to acquire or possess more than what one needs or deserves, especially with respect to material wealth."

That reads like some commie assed shit to me. Excessive desire to acquire or possess more than one needs or deserves. Who gets to decide what someone else needs or deserves? Maybe a panel of intellectuals and other wise and good individuals should decide. That sounds like socialism to me and I want no part of it.

Example: My Grandmother owns an amazing vacation home which is probably worth around 3/4's of a million dollars in today's market. She and Grandpa both had pretty good jobs and they saved and invested wisely, particularly in real estate. They sold a couple small apartment complexes and ended up buying this place for a bit under 200k twenty years ago.

Does she need this place? No she does not. Does she possess more than she needs? Probably. Could the money gained from selling that place buy several families a nice modest residence and get them our of the rental trap or off the streets? Yes.

Fuck that. She worked hard and got a nice place and now she is enjoying it. She spends 2-3 months a year there and rents it out for most of the rest. We went there while I was home and had a wonderful time. There have been almost two decades of great family vacations and times and it is worth it to her to keep the place so those continue.

Greed does exist and on an individual level it causes some personal grief because they can't be happy with what they have.

On a big picture level greed is a good thing. Would Bill Gates have invented Microsoft and revolutionized our world if he would not make any money? No he would not have. Would he currently be employing thousands and thousands of people at very good wages if he wasn't motivated by making money? No he would not have.

That is just one example, there are too many more to possibly list.

I think almost all complaints of "greed" are just classicist pseudo socialist gripes. Just like the whole "yuppy survivalist" thing. You are just fine but the people two, three or four levels above you are bad.

It is "motivation" when you seek a promotion or a bonus or try to grow your business but it is greed if someone else does the same? These arguments stink. I am not a shill for big business and often I am a serious critic of them (bail outs, buddy buddy legislation, etc) but I fundamentally think that as long as they don't break the law they should try to make as much money as possible.

In my last rant's comment section someone spoke of the difference between legal and "right and wrong". Methinks the argument is mainly theoretical. While we do not live in a zero sum world every time you get a job someone else doesn't get it. Every time your business expands into a new area it probably means that either someone else can not start a business there, is failing or has failed. At the end of the day we all owe it to ourselves to do the best for us that we legally are allowed to. This is called freedom and it is why America is the greatest nation on earth.

Is it "wrong" for a bank to foreclose on a nice elderly lady who just can't pay the last couple years of payments on her modest home? It certainly isn't nice but life is tough. Freedom is free, it is not pretty and it often is not nice.

On a slight tangent I can not help but note some blatant classism in people who gripe about big business or bankers or whatever. These are the same folks who (you could argue rightly) rant and rave about programs, subsidies or preferential treatment for those in poverty. Why should they get a handout, they didn't earn it!

Oh Really. My observation has shown that if it comes from your pocket or helps someone else it is a handout or welfare or whatever other stigmatized phrase you choose. However if it benefits you at the detriment of those who make more money it is fair and much needed, after all it is just letting you keep more of YOUR MONEY.

The concept that you should be able to keep 100% of your income is a fine one. It would not work because at the end of the day we need some level of government (how much can be debated hotly) and that costs money. Saying that you should be able to keep every dollar you make and those below you can be damned also is fine. A legitimate argument can be made that your premace is correct. However I just do not understand how people who want to keep their own money and pet legislation (mortgage interest deduction, etc) without giving any special treatment to those below them (welfare, earned income credit, etc) can be so ademant about cracking down on the earnings and "greed" of those who do better than them via the characterization of these folks as "big business".

It is a loophole when it benefits someone who makes more than you. It is fair and right if it benefits you. It is a handout or welfare if it helps someone who makes less than you.To me this view is at best a bit hypocritical.

I think some laws concerning big business and certain financial institutions are completely wrong and obviously the direct result of cozy relationships with elected officials. I think those elected individuals should be voted out of office (or at least put on notice) and the laws should be changed. However I do not look down on business taking advantage of "loopholes" which exist as any more evil than someone who deducts their home mortgage interest from their income on their taxes or someone who claims earned income credit or whatever else.

This covered a lot of ground and I am interested in your thoughts?
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