Thursday, March 3, 2011

Paradigm Shift

I've been trying to decide how I want to work the blogging angle on things. I initially started this blog to be something of a sounding board for my insane thoughts on the state of the world but I also wanted to use it to offer some practical advice. I think just hearing how bad things have become really doesn't do much for anyone but if we offer solutions, then the terrible news isn't always so terrible.

To that end I started a column on the website Newsvine. It's pretty much just a big forum where people can comment on news stories and it's connected to so it has a much larger liberal audience. However, it allows you a space to post your own articles and voice your opinions. So from now on I'll be putting my opinion pieces there and offering up practical ideas here. That way, people who get nauseated by my rantings won't have to look at them while I give them advice.

I would have posted this and a few other things up last week but I was busy spending some much needed rest time with friends and working on a project unrelated to my writing. Then I had work and work always gets in the way of the important stuff.

So look forward to more ideas and less ranting here. And if you're still interested in hearing me yell at the void of the internet, check me at here:

And always remember, if you don't believe in something, you'll fall for anything.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

No, I'm not dead so give me back my stuff...

Been awhile since I wrote anything up here. Partly due to my own laziness and also due to a rather intense work schedule brought on my the really bad weather we had for awhile.

A lot of things have gone down since I wrote and looking at my last post I realize it's only been about six weeks or so since then. Amazing how much the world can change in so short a time. We've seen brutal gun violence in Arizona, two governments in the Middle East overthrown (and not by the CIA!), and our economy has continued to improve. Ok, well, at least two of those things are true.

The Arizona shooting is old news to the media but I still feel like I need to talk about this, if just to get it off my mind. Aside from the horrible violence of this event, what really appalled me was the immediate finger pointing done by all sides of the political world. The Left pointed to a poster Sarah Palin's people put together and said "It's all the fault of the right!" Then people pointed out that the shooter was reading a lot of things from the Leftist extreme like Mein Kampf by Hitler and said "It's all the fault of the left!"

On top of this, gun control advocates decided to use this opportunity to push their agenda, which surprised no one. What did surprise me was when people who were for gun rights pushed their own agenda by implying this shooting could have been stopped if people had more guns.

I think that all three of you (including your cats) who read my blog know that I'm an advocate for gun rights. But only an idiot would truly believe that what Jared Loughner did could have been stopped if everyone had a gun. Gun's don't grant magic powers to sense danger. They don't turn you into the fucking Highlander, allowing you to sense other gun wielding people when they get nearby.

To the left, the right, the gun controllers and the gun advocates who exploited this tragedy to promote your own agendas, I say A PLAGUE ON BOTH YOUR HOUSES! We expect the political bodies in this country to do despicable things when shit like this happens. We shouldn't stop being appalled by it.

Concerning Tunisia and Egypt. Christ. Some people saw this coming from a mile away. I wasn't one of them, however, and didn't even realize what was happening until shit was already on fire. Now that things have sort of settled down, we're starting to see repeats throughout the Middle East as some countries scramble to restructure their governments to meet the demands of protesters while others are bringing the hammer down hard on anyone who stands against them.

As Americans, this affects us in two ways. The main one is that we're seeing gas prices rise due to fears of instability in the Middle East. This is important because it isn't just about how much you're having to spend on fuel but also how much other people are having to spend on fuel. I'm not sure if anyone's told you but the entire modern world pretty much runs on petroleum. When the price of shipping products to our local Wal-Mart, Target, Kroger, whatever store goes up, the cost of buying those goods go up. So as gas prices continue to rise, expect that the price of everything else we purchase to rise as well. Another reason to follow the tips I've given about saving money and getting out of debt.

The second way that these government overthrows affect us is that we could see this trend expand beyond the Middle East. The reason these people finally got fed up with their governments in the first place was mainly due to the fact that the cost of food got so out of hand that even the subsidies that the government was giving to people to buy food was no longer enough. In the U.S. we might use 13%-20% of our incoming to buy food, depending on the size of our families. In the Middle East, many of those people use 70% or more of their income to buy food. That's insane. Imagine if you had to use 70% of your paycheck each month to put food on the table? How would you keep your lights on? How would you send your kids to school? How would you pay for your medical care?

People will say that the things going on in Tunisia and Egypt can't happen here. I guarantee you that if people start spending most of their money on food, it WILL happen here. Just because we speak a different language, just because we live in a different culture, doesn't mean we aren't prone to the same fears and insecurities as those people are. People went into the streets and rioted when Martin Luther King Jr., one man, was assassinated. You really think they wouldn't take to the streets when they can't feed their children?

We live in uncertain times. Even as reports come in of the economy slowly recovering, we see evidence that the opposite is true. What this means is that we have to look after ourselves and our families, that we have to take steps to ensure our own safety and security and that we cannot afford to blind ourselves to the reality of what's going on just because it's scary or difficult to acknowledge. So do what you must because only you truly know what it is you have to do for you and yours.

And, as always, if you don't believe in something, you'll fall for anything.

Friday, January 7, 2011

News For the Week - 1/3 to 1/7

I've been focusing a lot of economics and money in my recent posts, so I wanted to try covering some other types of news. It's impossible to ignore the economy entirely but it's also only one of the things that affects our freedom.

As the TSA continues to violate us in every way they can, some airports are talking about getting rid of the TSA agents and switching to private security firms. The upside is that airports can hold private security agents accountable for their actions, unlike government agents who will do whatever they want. However, it doesn't change the fact that the same standards that the TSA uses now will still be required by law. In the end, only getting rid of body scanners and the enhanced groping will change anything but at least it's a step in shaking loose the TSA's grip on travel.

Most people know that threatening the President is a bad idea and is almost guaranteed to get you visited by the Secret Service. Literally. Sometimes, however, it just gets dumb. UFC fighter Jacob Volkmann was asked who he wanted to face in the ring next and said:

"Actually, Obama. He's not too the make a home affordable plan and his health care plan, someone needs to knock some sense into that idiot."

Fortunately, nothing came of the incident, as it was clearing to the agent investigating the matter that Volkmann had made no real threats against the President. Later, Volkmann found he had received an e-mail from someone claiming they were going to report him to the SS.

The censorship movement scored another major victory this week when it was announced that NewSouth Books is issuing a reprint of Mark Twain's novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The N-word is being replaced with "slave" and a derogatory term for Native Americans has been replaced also. Just another example of how ignorance in the name of political correctness is alive and well in this country and growing! The book, along with so many other classic works, has long been removed from reading lists at schools and libraries around the country. This, however, is probably the worst of it all. Better make it a point to get an uncensored copy while you still can.

We can't ignore the economy completely, however. Foreclosures on houses are still going on despite so many people saying the economy is showing signs of improvement. It's become such an issue that the S&P has revised their shadow inventory timeline. This is a measure of how long it will take to clear out the inventory of homes in distress or foreclosure that haven't hit the real estate market yet. The updated time table is 44 months. With so many people losing their jobs, it comes down to paying the mortgage, paying the utilities or eating.

I have more TSA news but decided to hold this one until the very end. I may now be considered a "domestic extremist" by the Department of Homeland Security. A leaked memo from a meeting with Big Sister Janet Naplitano says that the TSA and DHS are to gather the identities and any information on anyone who protests the enhanced screenings at the airport. Specifically:

It labels any person who “interferes” with TSA airport security screening procedure protocol and operations by actively objecting to the established screening process, “including but not limited to the anticipated national opt-out day” as a “domestic extremist.” The label is then broadened to include “any person, group or alternative media source” that actively objects to, causes others to object to, supports and/or elicits support for anyone who engages in such travel disruptions at U.S. airports in response to the enhanced security procedures.

Isn't that fantastic? Now is a perfect opportunity for you to get to know me better and be able to claim that you are associated with a true blue domestic extremist. No posturing here. The government themselves has made the declaration.

If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Top Investments for 2011

Watching the videos on YouTube, I see economists and financial experts of every stripe recommending the best places for investments. Even the people I actually pay attention to, like Peter Schiff and Gerald Celente, have their own recommendations. However, these recommendations are generally for people who have large amounts of cash to move around and invest in whatever market they choose. For most of us, our biggest investments are probably our 401K.

Because of this, I wanted to make my own investment list for the next year, which is focused on the things that can make your life better or a little easier if things start to get a little rocky in the months to come. Most people think of the dollars we earn as real wealth, but those dollars are simply a tool of exchange for the goods and services we need. If you think of the dollar in this way, it's easy to see how some of the items on this list really are good investments for the common man.

7. Tools and Supplies

You would be surprised at how many people don't keep a basic set of tools in there home for everyday problems like loose screws, loose nails or squeaky hinges. You don't have to be a handy man to make use of a screw driver or a hammer when things start falling apart. This also includes things like duct tape, electrical tape, small nails and screws, and WD-40. This can also include different types of power tools but only if you plan to make regular use of them. Having a cordless electrical drill can make life more convenient but don't go out buying a table saw (I'm looking at you, men.)

6. Clothes

Neither should you use this one as an excuse to expand your wardrobe (I'm looking at you, women). Socks, underwear, shoes and things that everyone needs and that will eventually get worn out and need replacing. This can be problematic for small children who change size quickly but for teens and adults buying some extras of these shouldn't be a problem. If your work requires certain types of clothes (steel toed boots, polo shirts of a certain color, etc.) buying some now can save you money and hassle later if they need to be replaced at the last minute. Don't go overboard with this one, though, since most of our clothes are fairly durable and will last for some time even with wear and tear.

5. Firearms and Ammunition

People may think it falls in the realm of craziness and paranoia to be buying guns and ammo as an investment, but anyone who hunts on a regular basis can tell you why this is a good idea. When President Obama was running for office in 2008, everyone was concerned about his stance on gun control and with good reason. Obama had openly stated how opposed he was to guns on many occasions. When he was elected in November, every 2nd amendment loving American in the country went out in droves to buy up every gun and bullet they could find. And this was before he was even officially the president!

For months after, ammunition was scarce and the price of firearms and ammo went through the roof. In the end, Obama didn't have the support to impose his vision of gun control on the country and he certainly doesn't have it now with Republicans coming back into power. However, the effect he had on the price of weapons and ammo could easily be repeated if the economy begins to take a slide. If you're a hunter or someone who enjoys shooting, this is definitely a good investment for the near future.

4. Medical Supplies

You'd be surprised how quickly you can burn through medical supplies with even a minor injury. Short of a paper cut or a skinned knee, cuts and scrapes can require a lot of bandage replacement over the time it takes for them to heal. Fighting infection presents the same problem and a need for alcohol. Over the counter medications tend to have a good shelf life but be careful of prescription medications that don't last as long. Medical costs are expected to continue rising so stock what you can, but don't let good medicine (and money!) go to waste on items you won't be able to use before they expire.

I also have to advise against buying things that you don't know how to use. In the most extreme end of this, some people will try to get prescriptions for antibiotics for the purpose of storing them or IV bags in case of a serious medical emergency. Antibiotics are not a universal cure and require knowing exactly what kind of infection you're dealing with in order to administer the right medication. IV bags don't have long shelf lives and unless you've been trained on how to administer an IV, you could end up doing more harm than good.

3. Toiletries

Anyone who has ever had to do without for an extended period of time will tell you that it's the simple things that can make a horrible situation bearable. Toilet paper, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, deodorant, feminine hygiene products. These are all items we tend to take for granted until we don't need them. This list also extends to things like toothbrushes, hair brushes and nail clippers. These things can wear out over time or simply get lost and broken. Best to keep some extras on hand.

2. Energy and Fuel

This is another board topic and can cover everything from gasoline to batteries. With gas prices rising, I wouldn't say it's crazy to buy fuel now and keep a few cans stored in your garage. Yes, gas and diesel aren't stable and will breakdown in time but there are two solutions for this. One is a chemical called Stabil, which is mostly used for recreation boats that will sit on a dock for months without being used. The other is to use the fuel you buy when you need it and then refilling the gas can after. This way, you'll be using gas tomorrow while having paid for it today.

There are a lot of ways to try and save money on energy in the home. The best (and most expensive) is solar power, which is not an option for a lot of people. Instead, try purchasing light bulbs that are more energy efficient. Do the same with appliances but only if you actually need to replace a broken fridge or washer/dryer. If you use a lot of batteries, investing in a battery charger that can charge all batter types and a set of rechargeable batteries would be money well spent. You can also check here for a few more ideas on saving money on energy. 

1. Food and Water

If anyone tells you that the idea of storing food is dumb and paranoid, tell them to try living without it for a week. This is something that we all have to have in order to survive and history has shown us time and again how people will kill in order to get it. If you have some of your own tucked away, then you won't have to fight the crowds at the grocery store or deal with inflated food prices. The same goes for water. Storing a lot of bottled water can be cumbersome but having a water filter of some sort is also a good idea.

Don't sell yourself short on the food investment, either. Consider investing in a system to store food, like canning or dehydration. Think about what kinds of food will last the longest and which will spoil quickly if the power goes out. Salt, pepper and other things we add to our food tend to be taken for granted but higher food prices will affect them too.

The most important thing to remember when it comes to investing your money and buying the things you need is to take into consideration what works for you. Make sure you plan your purchases ahead of time and don't buy things that you aren't certain you're going to use later on. Spending money on things you'll end up throwing away is just as bad as wasting your money on the things you don't need.

News For the Week -12/27 to 12/31

What a long, strange trip it's been.

Since I started blogging last month, I've been in a really reflective mood as to the state of our country and the world in general. I feel like, despite all of the upheaval over the last ten years, this year may be the most important. At first I thought that maybe I was looking to inwardly, as on a personal level I consider this year to be one of the most important of my life. This is due to the fact that I've begun to take a new direction in the way I live and how I view the world, breaking the old models and ideas that I grew up with and learned throughout high school and college. I've probably learned more this year than all the years I spent in school and the work force combined.

What have I learned? For one, I learned that sheeple will always be sheeple and nothing I do will change that. Just because one person gains a better understand of the real world doesn't mean that everyone will. The unfortunate truth is that, despite the rough few years we've had, people will always be willing to go back to the way thins were rather than change their lifestyles. I remember the '90s, the age which really shaped me as a young man, as this golden age when America was awesome and nothing could go wrong. At the time I was too young and brainwashed to understand that the foundations of our country weren't nearly as strong as all of us were led to believe, and even if you had told me otherwise I would have told you that you were crazy.

Knowing what I know now, I would never want to go back to that way of life. A lot of other people would, though, especially the clowns on Wall Street who are looking for any sign that the economy is beginning to stabilize. The funny thing is that the may not be wrong when they say 2011 will be a good year. Things are starting to pick up. We can expect to see all those boosted sales and jobs numbers go down next month after the Christmas spending dies down and temporary retail workers are laid off. However, because so many companies have been tightening their belts the last few years and doing everything possible to cut costs, they're going to be able to do a little more now that things are looking up.

But like I said, people will always want to go back to the good old days rather than keep that belt tightened. A lot of people will try to quit smoking but will slip back into the habit. A fat guy might lose twenty pounds but then let his diet slip and before he knows it, the weight is back on. So it should come as no surprise that people will start using their credit cards and taking out loans again once they realize that "everything is going to be just fine." We saw this reality a few years ago when the gas prices were beginning to soar. As people cut back on buying gas and even began to purchase more fuel efficient cards, truck and SUVs suffered for it. However, when the gas prices began to drop in response to this lack of demand, people started buying the big vehicles again. We'll see the same thing happen next year. As a wise woman once said, some people have to learn a hard lesson and some people are the hard lesson.

Fortunately, not everyone is returning to sheeple mode, as some have realized that the excessive spending as a way of life isn't sustainable. A lot of people have been paying off their debts and will continue to do so for several years. I'm among this number as well and after next year there will be no more debts for me. If you have debt, get rid of it as soon as possible and if you're lucky enough to not have debt then it's high time you start saving your money.

I realize that, when I started this blog, it was supposed to be speaking more about freedom in general but that lately I've been talking a lot about economics. However, you should have no illusions that our economic security is absolutely tied in with our freedom. If you think I'm wrong, then so is the chairman of the Joint Chiefs. If that isn't enough, then maybe we should hear what Glenn Beck has to say about it. I'm not someone who listens to Beck exclusively or even on a regular basis, but he isn't wrong about this matter because he isn't the only one who's become concerned about it.

 For 2011, if you feel the need to spend cash, buy the things you need with it. I'll say this again and again until people get tired of hearing it but it's true. Better to spend that $200 on fixing your car then spend it buying a new TV. Better to buy a month's worth of food then a new iPhone. My big money purchase for next year? Toilet paper. Because when the shit hits the fan, you'll need something to clean it up with.

If you don't believe in something, you'll fall for anything.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

News For the Week

So I haven't written anything in awhile mainly due to work and the holidays. I've also been considering how I want to continue to operate this blog and what direction I want to take it. So right now I'm going to try to update three times a week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Let's start out with what the latest news is. We see a lot of things on TV and in the headlines but we've got to always remember to read between the lines.

News reports continue to come in, looking for any sign that the economy is on the rise. Our consumer driven economy is looking a little better things to the numbers coming in from the excess of Christmas, both in terms of money spent buying Christmas presents and money spent hiring people to work the retail jobs. However, expect those numbers to drop next month after many of those workers are laid off because they were temporary. Also expect consumer spending to be reigned in due to people trying to save money after the Christmas rush and having to pay off the credit charges for all those gifts.

Gas prices are rising, hitting an average of $3 a gallon for the first time during the Christmas season. While there is a lot of speculation as to why the price has risen during the winter, a time in which we've normally seen prices fall, the best idea is the loss of buying power in the dollar. This affects the oil prices because they're measured in dollars. We've been seeing this same affect in the markets for silver and gold. As of this writing, silver sits at $29 an ounce, and gold is at 1$1380 an ounce. Recently the prices for those metals hit $30 and $1400 respectively. Those prices are projected to go even higher next year.

Jack Spirko has posted up an article about some of the problems that are economy is facing and how it will affect us in the coming year. There's a podcast to go with it, both of which are worth looking at. Peter Schiff has posted up his latest video blog on YouTube, discussing some ideas on taxes, the economy and a perceived gold bubble. Finally, we have Ron Paul's weekly straight talk and gives an excellent lesson on the ideas of tax and tax policy, revolving around the recent passing of the tax bill. I offer these up to you because it's always important to get your news and information from more than one source.

While I like to discuss a lot of things here that deal with our freedoms, the biggest issues at the moment and ones that I think will continue to develop in the future will be centered on economics. Some of the things I've given you here will show that the next year may start to look like things are improving. But the underlying foundation of our economy hasn't changed and there is a very real risk of a second collapse, which would be worst than the first one.

This isn't an easy thing for some people to hear. We all want things to go back to normal, when we didn't have to worry about keeping our jobs or having our taxes going up or even if we would be able to afford the food that's on the shelves at the store. However, burying our heads in the sand and remaining ignorant of the dangers that may come will only make us more vulnerable and less prepared for cope with the problems we face. Ignoring the storm until it's right on top of you can get you killed.

As always, it's the things we do as individuals that will get us through the tough times no matter what is thrown at is. Enjoy your Christmas with friends and family, savor the holidays but be ready to tighten the belts when the party is over. All hope is not lost and those of us who are willing to save money and take steps to buy the things we need rather than the junk that we don't will have less to worry about if the economy takes a bad turn and we start losing jobs and see prices on basic items start to rise. We hope for the best but plan for the worst.

And always remember that if you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Modern Survivalism: The New American Revolution

Modern Survivalism

Nearly a year ago I become interested in the survivalist movement. I really knew nothing about it until I picked up a book called Emergency: This Book Will Save Your Life by Neil Strauss. I had read one of his other books and liked his style, so when I saw this and read that it was his story about how he became a survivalist, I was interested. After I finished it, I became even more interested.

I started reading more and more about survivalism and learning that there was actually a much larger community of people out there who were interested in this topic. However, many of them were extreme, seeing the world as on the verge of the apocalypse, and telling you that you had to have items A,B,C,D,Q,FF, and Beta right now or you’ll die. Then I came across the Survival Podcast and thank God for that.

The Survival Podcast is a show that is run by Jack Spirko and that comes out five days a week, covering all sorts of topics dealing with survivalism and preparedness. The thing that has set Jack apart from so many other people in this community is that he promotes the idea of Modern Survivalism. The motto of Jack’s show is “Helping you live a better life, if times get tough or even if they don’t.”

I remember hearing stories during the Y2K scare about guys buying land in the middle of nowhere, building underground bunkers, storing stockpiles of MREs (Meals, Ready to Eat), and generally preparing for civilization to collapse. In a lot of ways, that kind of thinking hasn’t changed in the survivalism community. People still plan for the end of the world. Jack, however, offered a different view: plan for the everyday disasters that happen to all of us at one time or another.

Jack talks about things like the impact of losing your job, getting sick and being out of work for a few weeks, having your car break down and requiring expensive repairs. These are things that have all happened to us at one point in our lives and it generally creates a lot of chaos for us on a personal level. For us, some of these things can feel like the end of the world.

Thanks to Jack, I learned to look at survivalism as something more than being afraid of what was going to happen. He gave me a chance to take control of my life, to do things that mattered to me and that would give me the security I needed to not worry what would happen if I suffered some tragedy. And by preparing for anything that could happen to me on a personal level, I’m more prepared to deal with problems that occur in my community, like natural disasters, civil unrest, or rising prices in food and gas.

More than that, Jack has made me a passionate advocate for a nation that doesn’t rely on credit and debt for us to enjoy our lives. While some people have called me crazy and told me I’m wrong for not giving a damn about my credit score and wanting to close out all my credit lines, I’ve been paying off my debts for more than five years now. This last November I paid off my car and only the credit card is left. I have Jack to think for that. Whenever there was a doubt in my mind, all I had to do was listen to him call bullshit on the lie that “We live in a consumer driven economy and there’s nothing wrong with that.” Bullshit, indeed.

Jack has also introduced me to a number of amazing people including Ron Paul, Dave Ramsey, Peter Schiff, and Gerald Celente. He’s helped open my mind to ideas and concepts that I would have never thought to be a part of the survivalist and preparedness movement. He makes me question everything that people say, including himself, because simply accepting someone’s words as truth is what has led us to the poor state of our country today.

More than anything, though, Jack has taught me that I don’t have to be a victim of circumstance and fate. There are things I can do to take control of my life so and establish a new kind of freedom that isn’t new at all; it’s just something we’ve forgotten. The ideas of self-reliance and self-sufficiency, of being able to take care of ourselves in hard times and prospering in good times, are at the heard of modern survivalism.

In the last year that I’ve been listening to TSP, the tone of Jack’s message has changed. Originally it was facing tough times and doing what we could to make things better for ourselves. Weathering the storm and reaping the benefits of our work when the weather cleared. However, he soon came to speak about how what we did as preppers wasn’t simply learning to look after ourselves but to free ourselves of a system of government that worked to constantly keep us dependent on it. While the motto of TSP didn’t change, it took on another motto as well: “The Revolution is you.

In 1776, Thomas Pain wrote “These are the times that try men’s souls.” It was from “The Crisis”, a series of articles that he wrote during the Revolutionary War. He also wrote this: “We did not make a proper use of last winter, neither could we, while we were in a dependent state. However, the fault, if it were one, was all of our own; we have none to blame but ourselves. But no great deal is lost yet.”

I’m not saying these things to promote The Survival Podcast but to spread the ideas of Modern Survivalism. Thomas Paine said that it wasn’t too late for the American Revolution and I say that even now, it isn’t too late for the New American Revolution. People will always argue about which political party or which politician will do what’s best for them. End the end, though, we can only do what’s best for ourselves and only by realizing that he have to take responsibility for our lives and our futures can we begin to that.

I’m proud to call myself a modern survivalist. It has made my life richer and more enjoyable in ways I would not have thought possible. And I believe that everyone else in this country, and even in the rest of the world, can do the same if they’re willing to look to themselves for ways they can be more independent and not wait for someone else to give them a helping hand.

Peace be with you.