Sunday, October 2, 2011

SDS Daily Update for Sunday, October 1, 2011

Thinking of Rick Rescorla

If you've been prepping for any measurable length of time, you will occasionally ask yourself why you're bothering to do so.  It can seem rather silly, especially if you're preparing for contingencies not caused by natural disasters.

When I start to think that way, I'm always reminded of Rick Rescorla.  Rescorla worked as head of security for Morgan Stanley in the World Trade Center.  He predicted the events of 9/11, and in doing so created a vigorous training schedule for his people.  Many credit his efforts for saving thousands of lives on 9/11. 

It wasn't raining when Noah built the ark.  These are the times where we shore up our preparedness plans, just as Rescorla did before 9/11.

"As Prisoner Exchange Begins, LA County Officials Predict Doom"

Rescorla prepared for a lot of contingencies, but I doubt he ever prepared for a mass exodus of felons from our prison system.  Headlines like this will certainly help sell newspapers.  But are they accurate?

L.A. officials plan to release thousands of nonviolent convicted felons in the coming weeks to make way for those inmates being transferred from state facilities to county facilities.  All of this stems from that-word-some-of-us-who-occasionally-read-this-blog-don't-think-people-in-the-suburbs-care-that-much-about: the economy.  Yes, the public finance system of California cannot house all the criminals it collects from its streets, and so the U.S. Supreme Court ruled earlier this year the state had to fix its overcrowding problem.  And the headline above reflects the solution. 

What's a suburban dad to do in response to this news?  First, assuming again the early released offenders are in fact nonviolent - drug possession, non-violent theft, multiple DUI convicts - all we would really need to do is to heighten our awareness.  But the problem is a bit more complex than that.  In my opinion, it's not that you're releasing non-violent offenders.  It's that you are releasing non-violent offenders (who are often poorly educated, unskilled young men with chemical addiction issues) into a city with an unemployment rate of 12.7%.  What part of that sounds like a good idea?

The state of California must depopulate its prisons.  They have no choice.  Therefore, residents there have no choice but to not only heighten their awareness, but also to be prepared for an increased risk in property crimes (theft, burglary) as people look for ways to support themselves and their unhealthy habits.

Sorry, MRE eaters and camo wearers.  The economy does matter.

Roseanne Barr - Actor, Comedian, Public Policy Wonk

Even she agrees with me that the economy matters.  I share this as yet another example of the tension growing within our country.  Rather than criticize what she's saying, I'd rather we focus on the bigger picture people seem to be missing.  From her interview with Russia Today:

"Part of my platform is, of course, the guilty must be punished and that we no longer let our children see their guilty leaders getting away with murder. Because it teaches children, you know, that they don't have to have any morals as long as they have guns and are bullies and I don't think that's a good message," Barr told Russia Today (RT).

"I do say that I am in favor of the return of the guillotine and that is for the worst of the worst of the guilty.

"I first would allow the guilty bankers to pay, you know, the ability to pay back anything over $100 million [of] personal wealth because I believe in a maximum wage of $100 million. And if they are unable to live on that amount of that amount then they should, you know, go to the reeducation camps and if that doesn't help, then being beheaded," Barr said with a straight face.

Random thoughts, in no particular order:

  1. This is what passes for civil discourse in our political process now - calling for the beheading of "guilty" bankers (of course she fails to elaborate on what constitutes a "guilty" banker, I suspect by design), and "re-education camps" for those same bankers who want to make more money than Ms. Barr declares is acceptable. 
  2. I suspect this line of thinking will continue to gain traction.  And there are so many problems with it, but the thing I want to leave with all of you is this:  At some point, Ms. Barr's $100M threshold won't be enough to satisfy the masses who want to punish the "rich."  That threshold will drop over time....and before you know it, many of you will be considered the "rich." 

    Don't believe me? The top 25% of earners in the United States in 2008 paid 86.34% of all income taxes.  That same year, the top 31.8% of all households in the U.S. made at least $75K a year.  Think about that - "the rich," depending on how you define it, include a married couple each making $40K a year.  That's not "rich" in my book.
So - what's a Suburban Dad to do with this?  First, be prepared to share with friends and co-workers who are so hell bent on raising taxes on rich people to fix our problems why it won't work.  Here's the soundbite I use: "Forget Economics 101.  Forget about class warfare (which by the way, that's what this is).  Just use simple math.  There simply aren't enough people in the country you can tax high enough to fix the problem of eliminating the deficit and paying down our national debt."

CPAs, and financial advisers are a wealth of knowledge.  Seek out people who not only know what the tax issues are today but also who can articulate a logical opinion as to what we may see long term and how to handle that.

Third, get involved.  Support local and federal political candidates with your time and contributions who believe in the things you believe in.  Make your opinion known.  I can tell you as a lobbyist that few people actually bother to contact their legislators to share their concerns.  Support for a candidate means a lot to them - we need to be the kind of people our elected leaders listen to.

Last, and I sound like a broken record, keep getting prepared.  And by that, I mean becoming more self sufficient and more able to sustain yourself for a period of time. 

Horticultural Drag Race

Speaking of Roseanne Barr, the sometimes macadamia nut farmer, I'm beginning on an agricultural project of my own which will certainly tax every bit of skill I gleaned from years in 4-H and growing up on the farm.

This week, I will be setting up two wading pool sized vegetable gardens in my yard - using old wading pools some friends in my Sunday School class gave me - and forcing them to compete against each other for the top prize of "Awesome Survival Garden."

The two contestants are:

Hippie Organic Garden.  This garden will be run using nothing but organic soil, organic fertilizers, and heirloom seeds.  It will rely solely upon Mother Nature to provide for all of its needs, none of which I will withhold from it.  Its produce will be happy, healthy, and sustainable, contributing to the well being of the planet.

MiracleGro, Inc.  Corporate America shows up to this event with nothing but the finest stuff the know -it-all at Home Depot would sell me.  This win-at-all-costs/rubbin'-is-racin'/if-your-not-first-you're-last contestant gets whatever Monsanto can cook up in its secret labs, where it no doubt carries out eugenics testing and researches ways to intensify the melting of the polar icecaps.  If you could combine steroids and crack cocaine into a plant food source, this garden would get it by the bucket full.

The preparedness community needs to know - once and for all - what will work and what won't when it's critical for it to do so.

Pictures and more details coming this week.

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