Friday, August 30, 2013

Daily Briefing For Friday, August 30, 2013

Weekend Data Dump

My September presentation calendar looks a lot like this:

  • September 6: Chapel presentation at my high school alma mater on risk management and personal preparedness.
  • September 7: Assist Caleb Causey of Lone Star Medics with a Student Responder Training class at said high school.
  • September 8: Co-teach Force on Force and Intro to Tactical Medicine with Caleb for members of the staff and alumni of said high school.
  • September 14: Teach the new and improved, 4 hour CHL class format for the first time.
  • September 26: Speak at the FLASH conference in Austin on disaster mitigation legislation.
  • September 30: Two presentations that day at the annual Texas Association of Mutual Insurance Companies meeting  - one on the 2013 legislative session and the other on an introduction into insurance regulation and legislation.
And I almost forgot - today I agreed to lead a high school bible study at my church once a week through the end of December, in addition to the weekly Sunday School discussion I lead.

Needless to say, I need to get busy on these.  And I intend to do so over the long holiday weekend, all while detoxing for what seems to be the fiftieth time to wean myself off of caffeine and diet sodas.

So tonight, I'm going to give you some food for thought for the weekend and let it be, touching base next week with you.  Of course, if we begin to experience fallout (literally or figuratively) when we start punching large holes in the Syrian terra firma as early as this weekend, I will get back on frequency.  Because I know you will all be dying to hear what I have to say.

This Is The Reason I've Started Doing Daily Accountings Of My Handguns' Whereabouts

Ted Nugent's wife recently got the opportunity to answer the age old question: what happens when you inadvertently carry a gun through airport security?  If you're like me and you have multiple handguns that you regularly use for self defense purposes, choosing different guns depending on how you plan to carry that day, it's quite conceivable you'll leave a gun in your briefcase or gym bag or wherever.  A while back, I instituted a strict daily accountability regimen whereby I had to have all guns in the gun safe before going to bed; I don't allow guns to be stored in my vehicles, by my bedside or in any other container.  And before I leave the house for a trip involving an airline, I verify again that all guns are secure in the safe before leaving.  The last thing I want is to forget I have a gun in my carry ons.

The Labor Participation Rate Continues To Dwindle

We are now at a 34 year low in the labor participation rate.  Now before you folks get all excited and start yelling at me that the decline is caused by retiring baby boomers, check out what your New York Times had to say about that in the link above:

If the decline stemmed largely from an aging work force, it would be much less worrisome. But the initial wave of baby-boomer retirements plays only a small role in the drop; the labor force participation rate has fallen almost as sharply for people aged 25 to 54 as it has for the overall adult population.

Are you concerned how this will affect the economy and our country long term?  I am.

"I'll Pack The Dead Batteries."

You'll be seeing PSAs like this in September during National Preparedness Month.  It's a humorous attempt to get people to start preparing.  Let's hope it works.

Can You Make Your Own Laundry Detergent?

My childhood friend Kelly went all Pinterest recently and made her own laundry detergent.  When the zombies come, her family's clothes will be fresh and clean. 

We all have skills we can use to be better prepared.  In addition to being a pharmacist, her detergent making skills will make her the envy of not only the pill seekers but also the suburban moms who have run out of clean panties.

Find your preparedness skill set.  Post your efforts to Pinterest (ONLY if you're a woman; real men don't use Pinterest.  Ever.) or to Facebook.  Share your knowledge where you can.

National Preparedness Month Means DEEP DISCOUNTS On Stuff!

Brian reports Karst Sports is promoting a great deal on Mountain House storeable foods.  Check it out.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Daily Briefing For Thursday, August 29, 2013

College Football + AM Radio Technology = Zero

Those of you who follow my Facebook feed saw my post on my efforts to listen to Vanderbilt's home opener tonight against Ole Miss on an AM radio station in Nashville.  My college friend Brennan who works for the Amateur Radio Relay League (and no, ARRL not like fantasy football for geeks) agrees with me that this is the purist's way of listening to college football....and NOT on ESPN.

Sadly, the TV in my office is tuned to ESPN because I'm getting a lot of interference on my good shortwave radio.  The Select-A-Tenna which I'm using to help boost signal isn't much help at the moment....I'm hoping the atmospherics will improve after sunset to allow me to pick up 1510 kHz.  And if you don't think external AM antennas work, think again:

The preparedness nexus here?  AM radio is a great information delivery platform.  Everyone needs an AM radio in their kit.  When there are emergencies, the info you need will be broadcast on AM.  And the great thing about AM is that you can easily pick up signals from distant locations...meaning when your local AM station is inoperative, a station 200 miles away may be tasked with broadcasting pertinent info to your location.

So to review:  Watching college football gives me cool points, while using a multi-component AM radio to hear a game on a station 750 miles away when I could just watch the game on ESPN costs me cool points.  Net result is zero cool points for tonight.

Rand Paul Agrees With Me.

Why on earth would Assad use chemical weapons against his own people, when it would mean a likely visit from America's military industrial complex?  Rand Paul agrees with me

Meanwhile, there's a run on gas masks in Israel in anticipation of a chemical weapons attack from Syria.  It would seem Israel's reputation for being prepared may be slipping.

Update On 2014 Suburban Dad Survivalist Conference

I'm pleased to report I have lined up several excellent speakers for this year's conference, scheduled for Saturday, January 4, 2014 at the Cabela's in Buda.  I'll have more info shortly, including Early Bird pricing.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Daily Briefing For Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Economist Confirms What We've Been Saying And Thinking

Take a look at this recent story in The Economist about the state of public finance in America.  From the article:

Other states and cities should pay heed, not because they might end up like Detroit next year, but because the city is a flashing warning light on America’s fiscal dashboard. Though some of its woes are unique, a crucial one is not. Many other state and city governments across America have made impossible-to-keep promises to do with pensions and health care. Detroit shows what can happen when leaders put off reforming the public sector for too long.

I realize there are many economic indicators out there telling you everything is fine and that you should go take out a home equity loan and buy a boat and more toys with the money.  But when 47 million Americans are on food stamps, it's hard to believe everything is going well in the economy.

Do you own homework.  Reach your own conclusions.  Plan and act accordingly.

Cold Winter vs. Warm Winter; Farmer's Almanac vs. NOAA

The Farmer's Almanac is calling for a cold winter for much of the U.S.  Meanwhile, NOAA is going all in on the other side of that forecast, calling for above average temperatures this winter.

So who has a better track record?  Penn State University researchers have some insights.

Let's Not Go Into Syria.

I suspect I am preaching to the choir on this one.  I keep waiting for someone to explain to me why Assad, knowing it would invite a massive military intervention into his country, would even think to use chemical weapons on his own people.  It would be completely illogical, which in my mind makes me think this was a false flag operation by the rebels in an effort to get the West to attack government forces.

And the roster on the other side of the issue continues to grow.  Russia and China continue to stake out pro-Assad positions.  Are we willing to take them on in a proxy war?  Chief pariah of the left, Glenn Beck, made this observation today, going as far as to say that conservatives should be joining with anti-war liberals on this issue as they share much common ground.

Then there's the Saudi element to all of this, the importance of which cannot - and let me stress cannot - be under emphasized here.  We all need to know where the Saudis stand and how they use Chechin terrorists to threaten the Russians.

As Reason magazine pointed out tonight, there are plenty of reasons not to intervene into Syria.  I fear the Obama Administration and the hawkish wing of the GOP are hell bent on doing otherwise.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Daily Briefing For Sunday, August 25, 2013

Thoughts From A Two Week Blogging Hiatus

I took some time off from blogging, and I must admit it felt good.  I read more and went to sleep earlier, both of which are big improvements in my life.

Blogging, much like my diet soda consumption or Facebook habit, is something you must manage carefully lest it become a giant time suck.  We all get into habits or hobbies that consume us from time to time, and I can assure you blogging can eat up time you could be spending doing something else.

A wide array of stories should be on your mind right now, including:

And so I have officially come to the problem I've come to repeatedly as a blogger on the subject of preparedness:  Do I continue to bring up the stories of "why" you should be prepared, or should I focus on the "how" to be better prepared?  It's a big decision.  And I need to start making better decisions on how I spend my blogging time.

There are ample sites out there that touch on both of these issues.  You need not tune in here to get information on either subject matter.  And that, in turn, leads me to another question: Am I advancing the discussion with this blog?

One of the books I've been reading lately is, of all things, Rules for Radicals by Saul Alinsky.  While I am no fan of  Mr. Alinsky's political beliefs, he was a true guru of organizational behavior and student of human thought processes.  His reference to Learned Hand reveals much about his attitude towards revisiting one's own beliefs:

"One of the most important things in life is what Judge Learned Hand described as 'that ever-gnawing inner doubt as to whether you're right.' If you don't have that, if you think you've got an inside track to absolute truth, you become doctrinaire, humorless and intellectually constipated."

My inner doubt is strong these days.  Note that's not a depressing or defeatist attitude on my part.  In many respects, it's quite liberating to know that it's good for us to re-evaluate our positions on things from time to time.  And that's precisely what I am doing now - doing a gut check to make sure I'm taking my blogging efforts in the right direction.

I share all of this with your tonight for one reason - when it comes to your own preparedness efforts, your political beliefs, your religious beliefs - let your inner doubt manifest itself from time to time.  Let it hone and refine your beliefs and thought processes to ensure you're on the right track.  Note I'm not advocating some sort of moral relativism here; I'm simply encouraging all of us to examine our beliefs, knowledge and attitudes, find out where there may be some weak spots or inconsistencies, and then go out and seek to fill the gaps.

As I often tell you: preparedness is about doing the basics really well.  Part of those basics is being willing and able to do honest self-assessments of where you are and what you need to do to get to the next stage.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Daily Briefing For Monday, August 12, 2013

“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.”     --William A. Ward

I saw this quote below the signature block of someone with whom I was corresponding via email today.  I thought it very fitting, given my recent missive on how I can report on gloom and doom and not be depressed.

Back in high school, a friend asked me if I was an optimist or a pessimist.  Without hesitation, I said "I'm a realist."  To me, the glass is neither half empty nor half full.  It's at 50% capacity.  If you're wanting it to be full, that may not be optimal.  But if you'd prefer that the glass have some available capacity, a half empty glass may be exactly what you need.

Preppers are not pessimists, despite many assertions to the contrary.  A pessimist would merely complain about things and do nothing to mitigate the risk or even to try to take advantage of a given situation.  We look at our current and future situation, take steps to prepare for what might happen, and then hope for the best.  There's nothing complex about it.

We have to stop thinking in terms of optimism or pessimism.  Play the hand dealt you.  Hedge your risk by having some emergency supplies.  Look for ways to use your preparedness efforts to your advantage.


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Daily Briefing For Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Some Thoughts from SLC

After my meeting today, I drove down to Orem to visit the very first Emergency Essentials store. (I've bought many things from them in the past and highly recommend them to you.)  I didn't buy anything of note, although I came close to buying two GoalZero Nomad 7.5 solar panels.  They were closeouts and were on sale for 33% off.  I did some quick reviews on line, however, and based on the fact these were closeout models with a history of not having the right connection wires for various applications, I decided to skip the purchase.

I enjoy visiting their stores, in large part because I like talking to their employees and fellow shoppers.  One lady was in there buying survival supplies for her son's upcoming two year mission for the LDS church.  Another set of ladies were there to pick up a storeable food order they'd placed on line.

I asked the staff about their customer base; specifically, what sort of folks are coming in on a regular basis to buy supplies from them?  The staff tells me their most loyal customers are Mormons who are there to buy storeable foods to meet the church's instruction to have a year's worth of food on hand for their family.

Walking back to my car after I was done shopping, I saw a rather interesting store: the Missionary Mall.  This store caters to young men (they have a separate store for the ladies) who are about to head off for their two year mission trip for the LDS church.  It's a good concept: market clothing and supplies aimed at young men who will be spending much of their time walking door to door, who have little interest in doing complex laundry tasks, and who need clothing and gear that can stand up to that kind of lifestyle for a two year period.  A number of parents with their sons in their late teens and early twenties were shopping there today, getting suited up and geared up for their mission trips.  Through osmosis, I learned these kids will first report to what the locals call the MTC - the Missionary Training Center in Provo - for a twelve week training program prior to deployment.  In addition to learning the necessary doctrinal and communication skills, those being sent to countries where English is not spoken receive intensive training in that language while at the MTC.

I have no desire to join the LDS church, but I must admit I have a tremendous amount of respect for these young people who commit two years of their lives - putting family, dating, college and work on hold during that time - to support their church's work abroad.  Earlier this year, I read The Mormon Way of Doing Business to get a better feel for working with politicians and business leaders in Utah.  And one of the keys the business leaders interviewed in the book identified as crucial to their development and success was their mission trip as a young man.  It forced them to mature, to become organized, and to focus on the task at hand. 

Those of us who are non-Mormons can learn a lot from their work ethic, their commitment to their families and faith, and of course their strong belief in self-reliance and preparedness. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Daily Briefing For Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Paul T. Martin: Optimist.

I get it.  I am a downer.

Those of you who don't know me well might think I am like the classic Rachel Dratch sketch on Saturday Night Live:

Truth be told, if I was depressed about our future, I wouldn't be blogging about how we might position ourselves to prepare for it. 

Tonight, I want to offer you two different tracks of thought if you're feeling overwhelmed by the cornucopia of doom and gloom news these days, with the hope that one (or both) of them will resonate, motivate and empower you to stay positive and continue your efforts to be better prepared.

Theory One: There Are A Lot Of Things Going Our Way Right Now.

  • The liberty movement is gaining ground.  The growing consternation within the GOP has been palpable for some time now, in no small part due to the growing interest in liberty and a declining interest in neo-conservatism.  There's even a growing liberaltarianism in the political left.  Glenn Beck's missive on this - and the challenges libertarian thought face in America - is required listening to anyone who considers themselves a "Big L" libertarian.
  • There is a growing interest in preparednessOne estimate says there are as many as 3,000,000 Americans preparing for long term emergencies.  An avocation for a handful twenty years ago, preparedness has become more mainstream now than ever before.
  • More people are becoming skeptical of crony capitalism and fiat currency.  One of the hot button issues for both the tea party and the Occupy Wall Street movement is an end to crony capitalism - where the government picks the winners and losers, supporting them with tax breaks and corporate welfare payments.  And more people are beginning to ask whether we should have a fiat currency system.
  • The growth of non-denominational churches continues.  Some of you won't see this as a positive thing for our cause, but I think it is.  Faith is an important component of a well-rounded preparedness mindset.  The growth of non-denominational Christian churches in America reflects a consumer shift away from business as usual in the historically popular denominations and towards a sense of independence from a central church doctrine.  This is yet another sign that people are craving liberty and are wanting to have more control of their houses of worship at the local level.
  • The number of guns in circulation are increasing while violent crime is decreasingGun sales have skyrocketed in the last five years.  Meanwhile, gun homicide rates, according to Pew Research, continue to trend down.  More guns in society do not lead to more violent crime.
  • Some 94 million eligible voters didn't vote in 2012Think about it - some 61 million people voted for President Obama; some 58 million voted for Governor Romney.  Meanwhile, 94 million stayed at home.  That's not apathy; 94 million people is a political party in itself.  If only five percent of those people show up on election day, it's potentially a game changer.  They simply need the right candidate to motivate them to engage....preferably one that's not part of the GOP or Democratic establishment.
  • Homeschooling continues to grow.  This probably won't make my teacher friends happy, but our job is to look at facts and data and not worry about whether we might upset someone.  And the growth in home schooling is eye opening.  I have a growing number of friends who are doing this and insisting their kids are better off for it.  Their test scores and college success rates tend to bear that out.  As a result, our kids have educational options that maximize their success.
  • Access to data and information continues to growIt's incredible to see how quickly we have become better connected in society, as well as the amount of information available to us.  To be sure, much of the information out there isn't accurate, but for those who want the truth, it's never been easier to find. 
  • The growing interest (and technology) in alternative energy brings the political left and right together.  Two decades ago, preppers and environmental types had little in common, but the intersection of the two groups on the Venn diagram is getting bigger with time.  One of these common areas of interest is alternative energy.  This subject matter has acted as a bridge between these two groups, with the "back to nature" crowd helping preppers understand the intricacies of growing your own food, and the prepper types helping the environmentalists understand the need to take steps to prepare for physical and financial security.

Theory Two: Those Who Are Prepared Now Will Prosper Later

"Chance favors the prepared mind." - Louis Pasteur

This is an emotionally difficult section for me to write.  While I believe everything you see below, it pains me to know that for these things to come true, many Americans - in fact, the majority of them - will feel significant financial pain and the related fallout resulting from that.  I don't write this with any sense of joy or anticipation.  I wish these things weren't true, but I fear that if we were to have another major financial collapse, thing things would come to fruition.

Yet we all owe it to ourselves to be able to protect our assets and provide a future for our families.  "Taking advantage" of someone's financial misfortune by buying up investments like stocks and real estate at distressed prices is in fact part of the long term solution to fix what ails us.  The free market will do great things for us, but we have to let it work, independent of any social engineering the government might try to impose.

How will a crisis in the future enable us to prosper?
  • A market correction will create substantial buying opportunities.  Fortunes have been made by buying assets at distressed prices.  Those who risked capital and bought stock in the early months of 2009 are living proof of that.  And don't think people aren't preparing to do this:  this article from CNBC yesterday should tell you, in short order, what the uber wealthy are doing to take advantage of such a situation.  And guess what?  You and I can do the same thing.

  • We need the markets to "reset" to clear out the toxic assets.  As ZeroHedge puts it, "historically, financial disaster preparedness has enabled accelerated wealth creation."  By allowing too-big-to-fail entities to just that - fail - and by restoring confidence in our currency and in sound investments, our economy gets back onto solid footing.  This, in turn, leads to job creation and opportunities for all economic classes.  Note well the line in the ZeroHedge article that "reset does not mean 'the end.'"  If it's not "the end," then there's hope for us yet.
  • A return to sound money will check the growth of government.  In simple terms, a nation whose currency is coupled to something of value, like gold, cannot spend more than it brings in via tax revenues - at least not for long.  Because the government's ability to spend is limited by the fact it has a limited supply of gold or silver or whatever on hand, its ability to create intrusive programs or wage war around the globe is significantly curtailed.  For those who want to see our nation reduce our defense spending, this alone is a reason to push for a return to an end of our fiat currency system.  And when we limit the power of the government, we free ourselves to innovate, to save, and to invest - the actions which make our nation stronger and financially viable.
I know I share a lot of bad news here in the blog.  It's news that's already out there; sadly, it gets pushed to the back of the newspapers or bottom of the web pages by stories about silly nonsense take up precious space and time in news reporting.  As good citizens, we owe it to ourselves and our communities to be smart consumers of news and to take action when storm clouds are on the horizon. 

Despite these stories, I remain a positive person.  There's so much beauty and wonder in the world at which we can marvel.  Our kids still bring us much joy.  Our forefathers built this nation with less technology and information than we have today.  Just think what we could do with what we already have!

My name is Paul Martin.  And I am an optimist.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Daily Briefing For Monday, August 5, 2013

So Are You Scared Or What?

Last week, the State Department's collective heads caught on fire, claiming Al Qaeda was going to blow up our embassies and maybe even things here in the U.S.  These are interesting developments, as we were told just a year ago by a campaigning President Obama that "Al Qaeda was on the run."  Turns out he was partially right.  They are purportedly running towards us.

Back when I started blogging in (I think) 2002, I devoted a lot of time to the various terror threat advisories and reported chatter by Al Qaeda.  Yet as time moved on, it became clear that the probability of being killed in the United States by a terrorist is at 20,000,000 to oneCompare that to other random things that kill us, and you'll soon ask yourself why you're being groped by TSA when you fly. 

Why my cynicism?  Aside from the statistical odds that say I'm more likely to die from bee stings than Al Qaeda, I think the New York Times tells the story best: many of the "foiled" terrorist plots in the U.S. since 9/11 were created not by Al Qaeda or the Taliban but by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  You read that correctly.  In fact, one federal judge quoted in the article said of one FBI operation: “Only the government could have made a ‘terrorist’ out of [suspected terrorist] Mr. Cromitie, whose buffoonery is positively Shakespearean in its scope."

Friends, there's a lot of money to be made in the fear of terrorism.  Just look at the size of the military industrial complex, the amount of money spent on it, and the number of people it employs

Fear terrorism?  Not me, at least no more than I fear getting mugged at a convenience store late at night.  Besides, if you're prepared for a wide spectrum of threats, you will likely have terrorism covered.

Is E-10 The Devil?

Big John thinks so.  If you're using gasoline with ethanol in the gas fueled power tools you plan to use for emergencies, you might want to read what he had to say about his recent experience with his chain saws.

Rumors From The Storeable Food Industry

This story about FEMA making inquiries of emergency food suppliers is making the rounds in the prepper community.  I've read many bloggers have dismissed this as being a hoax.  I don't have an opinion either way, but I share it with you for your information.

And More (Not So) Good News About The Jobs Market

Veronique de Rugy, who is on my personal list of the Five Most Interesting People In The World, penned this piece for the National Review with a stunning graphic about the jobs the economy has created in 2013.  Let's just say the new job workers have a lot of free time on their hands these days.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Daily Briefing For Saturday, August 3, 2013

Lest You Ignore News From The Insurance Industry...

I'm inundated with news and information from the insurance industry on a daily basis.  It goes with the territory of being a government affairs guy for the industry.  Today, a couple of articles that came through the pipelines caught my interest.

First, consider this short piece in the Insurance Journal, where we learn "sustained high prices for corn, soybeans and wheat combined with record U.S. crop-insurance payouts are encouraging farmers to plow fragile lands and put ecosystems at risk."  I can't speak to the accuracy of the ecosystem allegation, but it does serve to confirm what I've discussed for quite some time now in this blog: grain prices remain strong.  For those of us buying bulk grain for storage purposes, this can present a challenge. 

Next, peruse the Insurance Council of Texas' latest newsletter.  If the thought of that makes your head hurt, just consider this portion of it, summarizing the comments of Dr. Robert Hartwig of the Insurance Information Institute: construction, energy, health care, natural resources, agriculture, technology and manufacturing are industries poised for growth in the next 10 years.  Again, this confirms what we've covered here from time to time - investments in tangible assets like real estate, energy, agriculture and commodities may prove to be top performers in the coming years.  This should also serve those of you with kids in high school and college thinking about what career path to take. 

So important is insurance that this afternoon I decided to take some of my own medicine.  I've set up an insurance review with my insurance agent for later this month to discuss our current coverages, deductibles, and life needs to ensure we have what we need.  A thirty minute discussion with your agent playing "What if" can save you hundreds if not tens of thousands of dollars when a small catastrophe strikes your life.  As I've said before, prepping is about executing the basics well, even when doing so isn't a lot of fun.

Speaking Of Getting A Job In America...

The July job numbers came out today.  Looks like the guessers were a little hot in their estimates, as only 162,000 jobs were created last month.  The ABC News video accompanying the link tries to spin the latest data in a positive way, claiming that government hiring is on the uptick (failing to mention, of course, that hiring in the private sector is what creates the necessary production to fuel government spending.)

Meanwhile, Drudge provided three links today that tell a more sobering story:

953,000 Jobs Created In '13 -- 731,000 Part-Time!

Study: Record Number 21 Million Young Adults Living With Parents...


The Daily Reckoning came out with its own take on today's numbers with the sobering headline "We Are Becoming A Nation Of Burger Flippers."  From the article:

Of the 162,000 jobs created in July, only 35% were full time. Zero Hedge noted this morning that June’s numbers were equally ominous: Part-time jobs exploded higher by 360,000, while full-time jobs dropped by 240,000. This is according to the BLS household survey data.

These stories are further proof our economy is not really "rebounding" despite those who try to wish it to do so.  We are witnessing the effects of what may be a multi-generational recovery, much like that of the Great Depression.  And could this possibly lead to intense global conflict, perhaps even World War III?  That very possibility continues to be discussed in the financial media

Do you own research.  Draw your own conclusions.  I remain waiting on someone to explain to me, using math and data, how this will turn out well for most Americans.

Why Worry About WWIII When You Can Worry About EMP?

This story is making the rounds, and I will tell you up front - I am a bit skeptical about the threat of a solar flare creating a world wide catastrophe.  I'm not saying it isn't a serious concern, as many believe it is.  But what I'm trying to figure out - and I haven't done much research on this, so I reserve the right to change my mind - is whether the people who are advocating for hardening of our infrastructure will personally profit from the federal funds that would likely be spent doing so.  Perhaps I am too cynical, and these folks are truly serving as much needed sentinels for this particular peril. 

And before you try to call me out on being inconsistent by criticizing the EMP crowd and giving the financial gloom and doomers a pass, let me be clear - there's no doubt in my mind the people who are pessimistic about our economy stand to profit from seeing it come to fruition.  The difference is those financial experts who are gloom and doom will eagerly tell you they plan to profit from what they see coming in the future; do we have that same level of transparency from the EMP preparedness advocates?

Oh Yeah - How Are Those Folks In Newtown Responding To The Sandy Hook Tragedy These Days?

Well one thing's for sure - they sure as hell aren't running away from gun ownership.  Quite the contrary, in fact, as evidenced by this story.  In a nutshell: "Through July 24, more than 200 people in Newtown have received new local pistol permits, according to a review of local records, surpassing the 171 new permits issued for all of last year."  Said one Newtown resident: "I think people realize that you can't call the police all the time and expect them to save you. It's sinking in to some folks that 'I need to take responsibility for keeping my family safe.' "

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Daily Briefing For Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Struggle To Piece It All Together

Tonight, I'm starting not with a story but with some pictures from back home.  First Baptist Church in Shelbyville, TN recently hosted a Second Harvest food bank food giveaway.  Shelbyville, a town of about 15,000 people, continues to feel the pains that come with high unemployment.  The idea that there aren't people with food insecurity outside of the major metropolitan areas simply isn't true.

We shouldn't be surprised. The poor have lost ground in America.  In fact, over the last five years, the income inequality gap has grown faster than at any time in the last two decades.  And when we do have upbeat news about the economy, it often comes only when we revise previously released data in a downward fashion, so as to make this month's numbers rosier

Meanwhile, and despite spending the GDP of a small first world nation on cutting edge weapons, ammo and war wagons for our law enforcement community, we still see cops shooting suspects not suspected of committing a crime and leaving them locked up in cells - despite admitting they were not a suspect and wouldn't be charged - for four days without food or water.  You'd think for what we're spending to equip our law enforcement community they'd figure out how to use their resources so as not to violate people's constitutional rights.

Wrap all of these events together with a single, yet fragile, thread - our financial system.  And as ZeroHedge reports tonight, the inevitable rise in interest rates won't happen like it has in times past; "there are more than 440 trillion dollars worth of interest rate derivatives sitting out there, and rapidly rising interest rates could cause that gigantic time bomb to go off and implode our entire financial system."  Is this simply the hyperbole of gloom and doom permabears?  Or is this a clear and present danger?  Remember, the financial cognoscenti was slow to the party to warn us about what was happening in 2008 until it was well underway.  So unnerved was the journalism profession that they wrote articles chronicling, in quite defensive tones, just now awesome they were at warning us things were about to collapse.

Is it any wonder, then, that movie trailers like the one for Gray State are becoming more popular by the day?  Are you surprised that when National Geographic took a poll of over 1,000 Americans, 41% of them thought money spent on a bomb shelter was a better investment than the classic 401(k)?  Or that people like me are being contacted to be cast in a reality show about prepping? (The production company is still pitching the idea to various networks, I was told by email a couple of weeks back.)

Are things okay?  Should we just chill and not worry about things like another substantial correction in the stock market?  Or the prospect of bank holidays (which President Obama considered in 2008)?  What about the dropping participation in the labor market?

Like I said the other night, I'm not an expert in finance or economics.  But it seems to me that a lot of people who are believe things aren't all right after all. 

So what are we supposed to do?

First, execute the basics well.  That's not always glamorous.  For example, we had a home inspector (who is also an engineer) over to the house today to do a complete inspection and give us a list of recommendations to help us keep our home maintained.  We're not looking to put our house on the market anytime soon, but it's good to know what we need to do to keep our home functioning and reliable.

Identify if you live in an area that could be troubling if we experience harder times ahead. 

Start buying things that you'd likely use anyway that would be helpful if you lost your job or had neighbors who needed a hand to get through a tough time.  Here's a list of things you could buy this weekend without blowing up your checking account. 

Build a bug out bag.  Here are some items to put in it.

And yes, some people believe you can even profit from what's coning ahead

As a side note, stay alert on how to make a quick escape when things get bad.  Atlanta Jeff provided me this guidance on surviving an aircraft accident

I don't have a crystal ball.  I'm not psychic.  And I have no insider information.  All I know is what I read and hear.  And if there's a 10% chance that these people are 50% right, we all have a lot of thinking and preparing to do.