Showing posts with label russia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label russia. Show all posts

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Why Putins Phony Wars Work Better Than Real Ones

A very interesting article at The Daily Beast

Russian hybrid warfare capability is pretty impressive.

Right now I feel like I am living in 1935.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

RE: Survival February by American Mercenary

Normally we would be a week into living off of stored food, testing our preps. This year got derailed by German shopping and the situation with Russia, so our preps are for the first time going to be focused on the real world task of evacuating my wife and children.

My thoughts. While the Ruskies were pretty quiet during my time in Europe I have been in this general situation and given the contingency some thought....

The break down of a 3 day 'traveling by bus' pack based tier and a heavier vehicle based setup combined with some food to shelter in place makes sense.

3 day packs-

Cash- I'd stick mostly with Euro's as they are widely recognized.  A wad of cash plus a credit card with a high limit are going to be the kings of this problem set. If you can afford it I would have enough cash on hand for a week living in a hotel, eating in restaurants and 3 expensive plane tickets back home with a bit left over for extra. That is probably about the price of an OK used car but given that banks pay jack in interest these days why not.

Passports- Obviously I'm sure this is covered but make sure they are nowhere near expiration dates and packed in the 3 day kit.

Contact book- Names, numbers and physical addresses of people you might want to get in contact with. A cell phone might get lost or stolen in a chaotic situation.

Vehicle Kit-

Store extra fuel and keep the tank in the car topped off.

Maps- Have physical hard copy maps. You/ she might end up on backroads and the GPS system might not be working.

Shelter in place-

- As to food don't you have a commissary? That should give some better options for more Americanized food.

-Worst case go home and google the ingredients in stuff at the German markets then come back to buy later.

As a final thought I would look at setting up a trigger for the Mrs and kiddo's to go home to the US preemptively.  Call it a short notice trip to visit a sick relative or whatever, the point being they pack some bags and go home for a bit. Maybe that trigger would be 'Russian forces moving 50k west from their current Ukraine positions' and or a widening of the conflict to another nearby nation? The point being to get the family home BEFORE they are fleeing west to get away from the oncoming columns of Russian tanks. Getting it wrong would cost you a few grand in airfare but given the risk the other way (especially if you are in the eastern part of Germany) it's better to be safe than sorry.

So those are my immediate thoughts on that matter. Am curious about what you think our friend should do to help prepare his family for this unlikely but dangerous possibility. Thoughts?


Monday, September 1, 2014

75 Years Ago Germany Invaded Poland

On September 1, 1939, the German army under Adolf Hitler launched an invasion of Poland that triggered the start of World War II (though by 1939 Japan and China were already at war). The battle for Poland only lasted about a month before a Nazi victory. But the invasion plunged the world into a war that would continue for almost six years and claim the lives of tens of millions of people.

As of the last time I checked the news Russia had openly invaded the Eastern Ukraine, not the Crimea but generally just marching west from the border. I'm talking columns of tanks and such. Putin vaguely mentioned that he could take Kiev pretty soon in the news. Honestly Russia is looking to reassert influence in their 'near abroad' specifically the western buffer states that give them time when some Euro's get frisky again. One could argue the western powers caused this by pushing NATO and the EU further east.

Pretty much the entire middle east is in a complete state of chaos. The old strong man states are barely hanging on, Iraq is over all but in name and Turkey is quietly hanging on, for now. Those ISIS/ ISIL folks are doing their best to set up the new Caliphate. Seriously I cannot think of a time the Middle East was a bigger mess.

I am not trying to belabor the point but things are looking bad.  Honestly to me it feels like the beginning of the 20th century when old tired powers were trying to hold on while the world order was being questioned by new up and comers. We all know how well that war went for everyone and that after it's brief interlude it was continued in the form of WWII. Arguably WWII (and the British) caused every war from Korea to the Gulf War.

Like the Chinese saying "May you live in interesting times."

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Russian Siaga and VEPR AK style Rifles Banned by EO

An executive order was signed banning importation of certain weapons from Kalashnikov Concern including Siaga rifles as well as shotguns and VEPR rifles. All of these are basically AK's. Tam's take on it that she is ambivalent about that stuff but concerned about ammo manufacturers being added to the list is in line with my thinking. Personally I have zero desire to get a Siaga shotgun since A) they rarely function well with a wide variety of ammo and B) Anything a Siaga can do an actual AK pattern rifle can do better.

I doubt this ban will be dropped. Heck NORICO stuff is still banned here for absolutely no good reason. As to whether the companies and or weapons involved can be rebranded and get permission to import is an open ended question. Maybe the Siaga could become the Tiaga or something.

My concern is about ammo. Folks running com bloc rifles that shoot stuff like Wolf/ Silverbear/ Tula in 7.62x39 or 5.45 depend on ammo that comes from Eastern Europe to make those rifles economically viable. Additionally the economic viability of the Mosin Nagant depends on readily available low priced 7.62x54R ammo. It is worth noting that much of this stuff is made in other countries such as the Ukraine, Poland and Romania but it is not unthinkable that, due to overlapping company holdings and or political power the ban list could grow.

Personally I am going to take a look at my own situation. I was fine on AK mags and am now definitely good thanks to the help of a buddy. Way above my 20 (per rifle) happy zone. So that is good. As to ammo, you can always use more. If you rely on an AK pattern rifle for defensive use it would be prudent to look at your ammo situation. Hoss USMC's idea to get about 3 years of normal use purchased NOW is a sound one. For me assessing on the heavy side a case of 7.62x39 Wolf ammo would cover it.

Now I urge you to take a deep breath and not panic buy. There are a lot of maybe's here and most stuff banned has competitors from other countries/ brands that can fill the same role. Think about your needs and come to a reasonable decision. If you can use a case of ammo by all means get one but don't blow your life savings trying to make a mountain with cases of Wolf 7.62x39.


Last minute edit to include:
I dug out my inventory to actually see where things stand. Mags, 200% of my stockage goal of 20 per gun on AK mags. Do want to pick up some of the new AK PMAGs just to try em out. If nothing else they are light and not covered in cosmoline, attributes my eastern European surplus mags do not have.

Begin tangent. Personally when it comes to numbers of mags I like 10 per fighting pistol and 20 per fighting rifle. These nice round numbers roughly align (it would be 9 and 21) with 3 full fighting loads per official US Army whatever. These are the numbers where I am comfortable. For a sporting or otherwise not explicitly tactical weapon I would be comfortable with less, say 5 ish.

Do note this is PER GUN. So if you have 4 Glocks it would be 40 mags, 5 AR's would be 100mags.

Honestly these numbers really are not based on anything concrete. A long time ago I thought about it for awhile and these are what I came up with. I figured a combat load of mags, a full replacement load in case the original ones are lost/ damaged/ worn out and some spares for barter or charity.These numbers are where I am comfortable and reasonable people may differ on that topic.If somebody said they were comfortable with 6 pistol mags and 14 rifle mags I wouldn't argue with them. Then again if someone wanted 20 pistol mags and 50 rifle mags I would not argue with them either.

Wouldn't say I have necessarily changed from my thinking on mag numbers over the years. Would however say that I have been trying to front load magazine purchases for guns I plan to buy down the road. This has been an easy decision since I generally stick to AR, AK, Ruger 10/22 and Glock 9mm platforms.  Also the idea of a few mags set away here or there appeals to me a lot. In any case I seem to be vastly over my numbers on most mags. End tangent.

As to ammo I am right about at my stockage goal of 3,000 rounds (per rifle) but decided to order another case of Wolf 7.62x39 JHP for $230 from Lucky Gunner anyway. I had the cash to do it and now, in line with Hoss's idea, I have some 7.62x39 ammo set aside for training.  Interestingly in the time it took to do this post they sold 4 cases of the stuff in a half hour on Saturday afternoon. Folks might be getting worried.

As to spare parts I have a full set (minus receiver) per rifle. It probably wouldn't be a bad idea to get a few more of the prone to breaking stuff, extractor, ejector, firing pin, springs, etc. Will add that to the list. 

So that is the news and what I think you may want to do about it. What do you think?




Friday, July 18, 2014

Stormy All Over

The weather here in Central Louisiana has been crazy. This morning it poured down rain, calmed down for a bit but was still a cool mid 70's and dark. This afternoon it dumped down rain again. I suspect we've had a few inches of rain today. When it rains like this everything floods down here. The general lack of meaningful terrain combined with the clay soil makes for water pooling up all over the place in fields, slightly low points in roads and the like.

As to the world it is all pretty much going to hell in a hand basket.

Pretty much the entire Arab world is a mess. Specifically Syria and Iraq have significant issues as of late. I have been meaning to talk about them in detail but that is for another day.

The Israelis invaded Gaza early this morning their time. This most current bout of that old fight seems to have started with 3 Israeli teenagers getting killed which lead to various retaliatory measures which were answered with rocket attacks. That led to the Israeli ground invasion.

Oh yeah and somebody, probably Russia backed paramilitary and or Spetznaz rebels, shot down a commercial airliner over Eastern Ukraine. It was a Malaysian flight (talk about bad luck after the Lost plane crash) that seems to have been predominantly full of Dutch people. For one this goes to show  the chaos of that situation. For two this sort of incident can draw the public eye and lead to other nations getting involved. Reference the Lusitania.

Our friend Harry talks about all this stuff as well as how our economy as well as our Southern Border are entirely screwed

Some days are certainly worse than others but this one does not seem good.

Here at TSLRF we recommend investing in canned food and shotguns. For those who already own a smooth bore or two put your money into shotgun shells.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Sunday, September 8, 2013

American Mercenary on Syria

Syria, creating a crisis for no apparent reason is a pretty solid look at the problem. Dictators vs Terrorists rings more true than most will admit. I fear the moderate Syrian freedom fighter is that areas equivalent of a nice girl working her way through school as a stripper; a cute idea but real examples are few and far between.

Fundamentally I am not sure what the desired endstate in Syria is, at least in terms specific enough to be meaningful. Maybe the message hasn't been passed down to us common folks yet. In any case this concerns me as it is the starting point for figuring out what to do in pretty much everything.

Let's look at a real world example. We are out of orange juice which is a problem for Walker. I want to fix this problem to achieve the endstate of having orange juice for him to drink. My choices would be to go buy some orange juice or find a citrus grove then get to squeezing.

This will let me discard the auto repair shop a mine away, a gun shop in town, a sporting goods store, butcher shop or the city dump. It also shows just sitting at home on the net will not do.

So after discarding the options which do not work I go back to the two viable options. Given that citrus groves are not readily available in my immediate area that leaves buying OJ as the obvious choice. I then look at the stores which sell OJ to decide what one fits our needs best based on location, price and other items we may also need to purchase. 

A clear vision of the desired end state is known as commanders intent in the Army. From this intent we can develop options for reaching said intent. Those options are weighted against each other to find the most desirable way to meet the intent.

AM's newest on the topic The law of unintended consequences, involving Syria goes into some potential actions plus the most likely/ most dangerous responses to them. It is always worth remembering that whatever one parties intent might be the other side(s) have a vote also. They may look at the problem differently (culture matters a lot here) or act illogically in ways that may not be in their ultimate best interest. The point in my mind is that a fight can get wildly out of control in a hurry in an action, reaction, counter action cycle. It doesn't matter if we are talking two people in a bar or modern nation states. What is meant to start as a proverbial slap across the face can end up with somebody dead.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Gone Fishing


It seems the war drums are getting pounded pretty hard for Syria. Between Russia, ethnic tensions and Iran/ Hezbollah that is a complicated situation for sure.  While not an expert on that area it is difficult to think of a realistic scenario where anything good happens for the US by getting involved there. From a real politik perspective none of the combatant parties are particularly pro US or nice people so it is fine if they kill each other. It saddens me that normal innocent people are caught in the middle but this is not a simple/ cheap problem to solve.

However that is something I cannot control. Haven't been paying much attention to the news. Still trying to figure out the tv channels/ times here and honestly I just don't care much. No point in stressing things going on far away.

We've been fishing a few times lately. Sort of figuring out a routine that works for our family which is good. Kiddo got his own pole while helps considerably with keeping him entertained. Caught a fish the other day which was good. It was 18 inches long and weighted 16 pounds; see I'm blatantly lying which is a sure trait of a fishermen. Getting better for sure which is easy when starting from ground zero.

Mostly it's something to do with the family outside; away from blogs, smart phones, social media and the TV just being together and talking. Sadly that is a novel idea these days. Spending more time outside and less time stressing our current 24/7 information cycle is probably a good thing. When we get settled I'm going to get a hunting license then start trying to shoot stuff.

Interestingly Max Velocity wrote an article comparing and contrasting Canteens vs Hydration Bladder
John Mosby wrote Tactical Applications of The Defensive Sidearm Part 3

From the Warehouse:
Camping Survival is now stocking a wide variety of Fish Antibiotics and  Potasium Iodine anti radiants



Sunday, April 21, 2013

Boston Marathon Bombers Just the Tip of the Iceberg?

Somebody thinks they might be part of a sleeper cell. From what I can tell their actions were not particularly sophisticated and it doesn't seem there was much of an exfil/ hiding out plan. That makes me think they were probably acting alone or with minimal support at some point but who knows. It will be more interesting as information trickles out over the coming weeks.

That the motivations are presumably fundamentalist Islam but they grew up in the US is troubling. If they had moved here 3-4 years ago it would be a bit easier to understand their radicalization. Guess as Highdesertlivin said this is why (or at least part of it anyway) we carry guns.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

This and That

The Governor of Maine says the court decision [on the new health care law] has "made America less free." "We the people have been told there is no choice," he said. "You must buy health insurance or pay the new Gestapo -- the IRS." I really think he should stop holding back and tell us what is really on his mind.

The Patient Option Act, a practical alternative to the current mess we are getting into.

Will your internet connection go black tomorrow?

Instead of bothering to link to all of them just go to Claire Wolfe's tab clearing page.

The Sovereign Man: Offshore Business, Global Opportunities, Freedom and Expat News.

If you are looking for a used vehicle I strongly suggest consulting The best used vehicles for under $20,000 by consumer reports. We are probably going to be in the market for either Hyundai Accent with 50-60k miles or a Toyota Corolla with 70-90k on it once we get to the states. Hyunai's were a great deal 8-10 years ago but their prices have gone up a lot which ironically raised the price of the older used ones also. The Toyota is a lot more money but they last forever. Then again for 50% more money you can usually get a lot more car. We have some thinking to do on this one.

If you haven't seen it yet I recommend Western Rifle Shooters Backgrounder on First Aid Kits and Blow-Out Kits. It is complete with links and you could use it as a shopping list if so desired.

I got an email from the folks at Full Spectrum Dominance saying they are linking to us. They are a News Aggregator who pull in some really obscure stuff. Pretty cool if you've got the time. I will probably add it to my weekly news rotation.

I stumbled onto a topic floating around that concerns me called The Orkin Man. I wish people could finally realize that this plan doesn't work. It has repeated and failed way more times than Communism. Here is what happens: A bloodbath ensues, killing a bunch of elite's as well as a whole lot more of the wrong folks and just plain folks caught in the crossfire. This bloodbath is almost immediately followed by the people who did the killing becoming the new elite's. [Hint: the folks you want as leaders aren't the ones running around executing people wholesale or leading the mass murdering bloodbath executions.] With boring repetitiveness those new elite's are even worse than the old elite's. Those first folks may or may not not hold power but the ones who come next aren't much better. Reference the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, Mao's disaster in China, The Khimer Rouge and pretty much every revolution I can recall except the American one.

To end on a lighter note I stumbled into a site for Infantrymen called 11series.com. Got some half funny half motivational quotes off their FB page:

"Not saying your a whore, but baby if you were a range target you would be the 25m one."

"It's too hot to train said no taliban fighter ever in the history of the world."

"How many vets does it take to screw in a light bulb? You don't know man, you weren't there."

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Pic Post




 Got to love Vladmir Putin. He really is a bad mama jamma strait out of a Tom Clancy novel.

Not sure if this last one is an authentic old terribly un PC ad or a newly made terribly un pc ad. Regardless it is so steriotypical but with that shred of real life that is just great. Makes me think it is something Red from That 70's show would have said.


I spent the whole day writing at work so you all get pictures. Lots of things are in my head but I am totally wrote out. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Quote of the Day

That’s the trouble with you Americans, you expect nothing bad to ever happen when the rest of the world expects everything bad to happen, and they are not disappointed.
Svetlana on the Soprano’s

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Reading

Craig and I agree on about 85% of things and argue like old women about the other 15%. We remind me of my friends Ryan and Chad that way. In any case I have got to thank him for something. I recently made a comment to a post on his blog. In his response he asked if I had read anything by Dimitri Orlov. I had heard of him but hadn’t really read anything. I got to thinking. Right before I came here I loaded my Kindle with a bunch of books; one of which was written by some dude with a Russian sounding name and was about the Soviet collapse. I checked and it was written by the fellow in question.

My friend Craig spurred me to get back to reading. I was really busy for the first months here but since we have collectively stopped trying to go 24/7 and slipped into a more maintainable pace and we have also became more efficient in things my spare time situation has gotten better. No real reason I haven’t been reading lately. I just kind of got out of the habit of it I guess. Well I am getting back into it and enjoying it. Reading will go a long way toward me doing the utmost I can to prepare while here. A lot of PT, a few purchases now and then and some financial preps aside that is about all I can do.

On the bright side that is worthwhile stuff to do. Some reading will really help round things out for me. I started the Orlov book and it is pretty interesting. There will be more to come on that later. Anyway I want to thank Craig for getting me back to reading.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Book Review: Reinventing Collapse: The Soviet Example and American prospects by Dimitry Orlov

This book discusses the Soviet collapse (loosely moving between the end of the USSR and their economic hyperinflationary collapse a few years later, more on this in a bit). It compares and contrasts what could be called the Soviet model with current and possible future events in America. In doing so the book looks at where we may be going. I read it on my kindle but am sure you can get it in a physical format if you so desire. Anyway let us get onto the usual format.

The Good: It was a quick, easy read. The author did a bang up job of speaking on complicated issues in clear language without jargon or scienceinese (the language scientists speak and none of the rest of us understand).  Somebody smart once said that if you can’t explain an idea to an average man on the street then you do not really understand it. By that standard Dimitry Orlov really understands the themes and ideas that make up the subject matter for this book. For a nonfiction book it reads rather casually, part because of the clear simple language used and part because it is interwoven with stories of his experiences and anecdotal tales. In the closing comments he said (more of less) that he tried to keep it light and enjoyable and I would say he did a great job. The information on the Soviet economy and collapse was outstanding. Also the way it was written hit the man on the street angle as well as the bigger picture of what was happening. This balancing act was probably hard and he did a great job of it. I learned a lot about how the Soviet economy worked, failed to work and fell apart in this book.

The Bad: It is abundantly clear to me that the author looks at the Soviet union through some rose colored glasses. I don’t know a ton about the USSR/ Russia’s history but he seemed to have an awful positive memory. Furthermore I found him willing to sweep America with a broadly critical brush that is probably not deserved. The words “if you liked it so much then why didn’t you stay there” came to mind and maybe out of my mouth a few times. If he would have been glowing or rough to both sides it would have made a lot more sense. This almost discredited an otherwise quality book for me.
The author could not seem to make up his mind between talking about the fall of the USSR and the Russian economic collapse a few years later. Of course both events were linked but the way he talked about them flipping back and forth randomly was confusing and in my mind not particularly logical. I’m not sure if he was trying to pad the book a bit, in any case it was distracting.

The Ugly: At points I found the book to be full of contradictions. He can’t seem to decide if there is going to be an economic collapse and hyperinflation or if things are going to go all Mad Max and stick with one idea. Much of his claim rests on peak oil theory which is, while not as discredited as global warming, certainly a subject that could be debated. This goes back to the point before that the events he is claiming will or are happening do not seem to logically lead to the conclusion he goes to. Maybe my reading missed something.
More so than any comparable book (Kustner, FerFAL, etc) I found this to be depressingly low on concrete ideas to prepare for the scenario the author lays out. He mentions how you might want to buy some compact tangibles such as soap and razor blades and that having a home with a bit of land to grow a garden that is paid off is a good idea. Aside from a few vagaries the book is awful long on problem and short on solution.  I’ve been told never to bring somebody a problem without an idea for a solution, apparently Dimitry Orlov hasn’t heard that one.

Now for some discussion in no particular order:
-One compelling and disturbing point was brought up. A significant reason the Russian economic collapse was so calm was that everyone’s residence was owned by the state so nobody got evicted. Sure they shared an apartment with a 12 member 3 generation family but at least they had a roof and walls that was not tied to any need for income. In America pretty much everyone’s residence is tied to a need for continued income, if just to pay the property taxes. That kept their homeless population to a real minimum which contributed a lot to stability. I do not know a lot of people in America who would still be in their home after a year or two if their savings/ investments were wiped away and their job lost. I am not sure what would happen if America had that sort of structurally high unemployment. However if our current situation is any indicator it would favor banksters and large residential property owners (who are typically quite well off) not average down on his luck Joe 6 pack. Massive homelessness would be a huge tragedy for a lot of people and cause significant instability. When people think (maybe accurately) that they have nothing to lose they are very dangerous.
- I think it is not possible to make a lot of comparison’s in an ‘apples to apples’ way because so much was going on in the USSR and Russia during that period. All of the events happening make direct cause and effect impossible in some cases, at least IMO. I would say a lot of the chaos and the rise of a massive criminal underworld was the result of communism or the wild west collapse of communism. Unless there are significant tariff’s, price controls or truly punitive taxes put into place I do not see the kind of massive underworld that appeared in Russia happening. There is no need to buy $25 soap from a sketchy dude in an alley when you can get it from the neighborhood store.  The existence of a relatively free market and its inherent ability to adapt readily negates some points the author made.
- Also for a lot of reasons I do not see the kind of massive corruption that took place in Russia happening, it just is not part of our culture, well except maybe Dem’s in Illinois. I do believe we could fall a rung down the proverbial corruption ladder but not to where Russia was/ is.
-As for the idea of a lot of laws and regulations being almost removed by the default of non enforcement I am not so sure. Unfortunately I think the answer is that laws will stay on the books and either every once in awhile somebody will get hammered for running an unlicensed business, dodging taxes, etc. This is not a huge deal as the odds of it being you are low. Another possibility is that laws will just be enforced selectively based upon various personal and political motives. Given the way the pendulum has swung recently that would be bad for most people who read this blog, especially the ones who are publicly outspoken. That the New Black Panthers can openly and brazenly intimidate white voters with weapons and face no consequences but an active conservative type will get hammered for a parking ticket or the like could be seen as a glimpse into the future.
In closing I do think this book is worth reading even though it does have some rough spots. The info and background on the Russian collapse was very interesting and though provoking. Heck I would go as far as to say it is worth paying retail price for if you can’t borrow a copy.

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.

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.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Once Upon A Time In Afghanistan

An Afghani talks about how his country used to be. Lots of interesting pictures. Very worth reading.

Interestingly enough my Great Grandfather spent some time in Afghanistan in (I think) the 1950's building roads. My inner cynic does however note that the photographs and information from the article are of a sort of brief renaissance period for the country. Also probably more significant the pictures and information only involve the major cities. By far the majority of the population of Afghanistan is rural and I am not convinced that their lifestyle has ever changed that much. Of course some minor technology has been introduced but the fundamental patterns of life seem to be more or less the same as they have forever.

Take away a bunch of rifles, a truck or two, some radios and maybe a generator or a small scale hydro and I tend to think that a little Afghan village is probably about the same as it was 100, 200 or 500 years ago.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Popular Posts