October 2008 Archives

Friday, October 31, 2008

Round 19 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. is still underway.The contest prizes include:

First Prize: The writer of the best contributed article will be awarded two transferable Front Sight  "Gray" Four Day Training Course Certificates. This is an up to $4,000 value!
Second Prize: A three day course certificate from OnPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses.
Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing

Round 19 ends on November 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

Dear Jim,
I thought that due to the recent influx of newbies on your site, I would send this warning to not do as I did. Last year, I lost a lot of my stored food as I left it in the original packets in which it was shipped. I ended up with a major infestation of cupboard beetles, losing food and having to steam clean my cupboards. The bad news is thee bugs reproduce unbelievably quickly. The good news is the die just as quickly, and won't harm you if you eat them, but they sure are unsightly. It's sugars and starches they go for, even eating through cardboard, cellophane, thin plastic etc. I now keep all my grains, dried pulses and sugar in heavy-duty food-grade plastic or metal containers. Regards, - Luddite Jean.

JWR Replies: Thanks for mentioning that. BTW, I describe a simple "do-it-yourself" CO2 packing method in the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course. With CO2 packaging, you can protect even foods that have already been contaminated with adult insects, insect pupae, insect larvae, or insect eggs.

In regards to TJD, "Somewhere in Kansas" lamenting that he is in the middle of nowhere and can't easily stock up on food, I must say I find his worries a bit hard to understand.

In the Bible, Joseph stored up seven years of harvests to prepare for seven years of famine. Those stores were made up of grain crops. That is how Egypt made it through a great famine and gained great wealth by selling their grain at high rates to nations that did not prepare.

Being from North Dakota, I know that the title for greatest wheat producer in the USA bounces back and forth between Kansas and North Dakota. He is in one of the most bountiful food producing regions in the world. He could probably travel to any small town grain elevator within 5-15 miles and fill up all his white 5 gallon pails with various grains (wheat, oats, corn, etc). Between bread and sprouting seeds, there's plenty of energy and nutritional content in wheat and other grain crops. It doesn't seem like he should have a hard time finding food. It is the crops grown in his state, perhaps not far from his location, that currently keeps America fed.

I think it is a testament to our modern society and the dependent and helpless nature of the people, that most people think food comes processed and prepared from the grocery store, and have no idea where it comes from. If a starving family in a big city was given a few bushels of grain, they'd probably look incredulously at their benefactor, leave the grain to spoil in the elements and continue their search for whatever scraps of prepared/processed food they could find. A pretty ridiculous situation but I don't think it's too far from the truth.

I think it was old time survival writer Mel Tappan who said if you want to store food cheaply and quickly, you can buy salt, grains and beans, and various vitamin tablets. You may miss some of the variety that you are accustomed to at the grocery store, but you won't starve or develop nutritional deficiency diseases such as scurvy, goiter, etc.

TJD might want to look into storing bulk grain at elevator prices, and add desired variety with some of the bulk foods he can obtain at Sam's Club such as rice, bulk condiments (ketchup, mustard, salsa, mayo), canned foods and some frozen foods. I think frozen foods have a place in preps as they can be eaten in the first weeks or months of an emergency situation, while families get their bearings and figure out how they are going to ration their long term food and prepare for the next growing season. - M. "Somewhere in ND"

Mr. Rawles -
Thank you for your recent mention of my site, TheTraderBlog.com. I am a former Lehman Brothers employee, I worked in New York City on the FX trading desk, but left in 2002, so I am glad to have missed all the recent excitement. I publish my blog in an effort to help me reason through my personal trading strategies, and also like to share my opinion about the markets and related events in general. I have not yet figured out how to make any money off of the site, so for now it is just a great hobby for me. I currently work in an unrelated field, so I have left my information anonymous on the site so as to not risk anything with my current employer.

I have become a regular visitor to your site since August, and coincidentally I have just finished your novel "Patriots" - and frankly I am scared to death about recent developments. In addition to the scenario you laid out, I have also just finished The Fourth Turning by William Strauss and Neil Howe, which describes the potential for an upcoming crisis - right about now - through 2025. Written in 1997, it is also very chilling. So, in addition to my own work and analysis of the markets (I see the DJIA going to the 6000 level over the coming two quarters), the confluence of all these sources really makes me ramp up my preparedness. It is like connecting the dots, and I have just come to a very clear picture. I feel as if I found your site a bit late, and am behind the curve. But better late than never. And thanks to the suggestions in your [audio] CD [that is included with your "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course,] I now have my wife on board! Thank you! Great stuff.

What just happened in Iceland is a microcosm of what can (will?) happen here in the U.S., if in fact the U.S. Treasury bubble does implode. I think a government debt default, USD devaluation and hyperinflation are very probable events into 2009 - 2010. Just how is the [US] Treasury going to finance an additional $2-to-3 trillion in 2009? As always I appreciate the information you publish. Best Regards, - Editor, The Trader Blog

Reader Mark A. wrote us to mention that he had found this web site that houses "more information then in one spot then I have seen anywhere else. The site is maintained to provide Third World countries information on farming and sustainability. All their information is free to download. Note, however that their ZIP files are very, very large. There are 4,000 titles, totaling 13 gigabytes."

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In a recent e-mail, The Chartist Gnome mentioned two things about the precious metals market that confirm my observations: 1.) The COMEX spot prices now have no correlation with "real world" prices of bullion coins and small, serialized bars. "The 'real world' price for silver is more than twice the COMEX price, that is IF you can find any coins for sale, James.". 2.) The recent slump in precious metals prices looks worse from your American perspective. "Your viewpoint is askew because the US Dollar is gaining so rapidly against so many other currencies, which are becoming Toilettenpapier. (The US dollar has no inherent strength--just perceived relative strength, in a time of crisis. It will eventually be toilet paper, too.) Take a look at the charts at BullionVault.com. The one year Gold in USD chart looks gloomy, but the Gold in Pounds Sterling chart doesn't look bad at all. Hang in there with your metals holdings, and even acquire more, on dips. When the Dollar charges into double digit inflation, you'll be joyous that you did." OBTW, as further confirmation that inflation is indeed ahead, see this piece by Steve Saville: Inflation Watch.

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David V. flagged this Bloomberg article: Greenspan Slept as Off-Balance-Sheet Toxic Debt Evaded Scrutiny

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Another batch of cheer from our Economic Editor: "Harsh Storm" Threatens Global Economy As US GDP Shrinks -- Will Gold And Silver Futures Default? -- Goldman Sachs Ready To Hand Out 7 Billion Pound Salary and Bonus Package After Its 6 Billion Pound Bailout -- Russian Stock Market Up 18% On The Day -- AMEX To Chop 7,000 Jobs -- The Quoted Spot Price of Gold is 'A Lie' -- Loans? Did We Say We'd Do Loans? -- Trade Suffers As Banks Curtail Loans -- Gold Coins Now Getting a 50% Premium -- Fed Interest Rate Cut May End Up Making Matters Worse -- House of Credit Cards About to Crash -- Next Bailout Battle Rages In DC

"People never lie so much as after a hunt, during a war or before an election." - Otto von Bismarck

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Mr Editor,
I'm a newcomer to your site. Last week, I followed a link from a news story that mentioned SurvivalBlog, and instantly found my favorite blog. I've been burning the midnight oil for the last few nights, going back through your archives. What amazing stuff! Thank you for sharing so much wisdom on preparedness and for so unselfishly putting out there free for the taking. (Oh, yeah, I should also say that you can count me in on a [voluntary] 10 Cent Challenge [subscription].Three bucks a month is a total bargain, in relation to what I've already gotten out of it, and will get out the blog in the future.) At the rate that I'm printing things out for my "Survival" binder, I'm gonna have to get a new inkjet cartridge! I can't thank you enough for SurvivalBlog!

So now that I've come to recognize that I'm so pitifully under-prepared, where do I start? I want to buy some [storage] food, but I don't live anywhere near any of the [storage food] companies. I tried your advertisers first, and then did web searches. None within 700 miles! (That is what I get for living in middle-of-nowhere Kansas. The only good news is that your "Golden Horde" won't be anywhere near my house.) I'm afraid [that if I order from a distant vendor] the freight charges will make stocking up very expensive. So my question is: What is the least expensive way to stock up on food, by myself? There is a Sam's Club only 80 miles away. (Which is considered "close" by people around here. LOL!) Will food that I buy in a warehouse store work for long term storage? Can I re-pack the pasta and other things that aren't in cans? Speaking of that, I followed your advice and started gathering up five gallon [food grade] buckets from the local bakeries. You were right. They do just throw them away! But a few that I got are missing their lids, though.

Is there a good book that you can recommend on food storage for someone like me that is on a budget and wants to "do it myself", but not go so far as "grow it myself."?

Thanks in advance for your advice! - TJD, "Somewhere in Kansas"

JWR Replies: I may be biased, but I recommend the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course as a good reference on food storage.

For any buckets that you acquire that are missing lids, I recommend that you buy Gamma Seal Lids. These have threaded lid tops, making them very convenient for accessing the storage foods that you use the most frequently. Gamma Seal lids fit standard 5 or 6 gallon buckets, and they seem to last forever. (We've been using some of our lids on a daily basis for 20+ years.) In addition to our storage food, we also use them on buckets used for poultry feed, wild bird seed, and dog food. They are available from Safecastle, Ready Made Resources, Nitro-Pak and several other vendors. BTW, many of these same vendors sell a "lid lifter" tool, which is very helpful in prying open sealed buckets that are not equipped with Gamma Seals.

Stocking up on bulk foods at a warehouse-type store (such as Sam's Club or Costco) is indeed a good idea. I describe exactly what you can and should buy at your local "big box" store, in the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course. In fact, the main narrative of the course was transcribed from a digital audio recording that publisher Jake Stafford made, as we spent the better part of a day at a Costco store. So you'll find the course is a great match for your plan to stock up at a Sam's Club. (The inventories at stores from both chains are quite similar.)

I live in a rural area in Wyoming. My husband, our children and I are lucky to have been raised in the area. We have access to thousands of family owned acreage to hunt, fish and garden on. Because we live in a rural area (at lease ninety miles in any direction from any large community) we are among the few that still have skills handed down to us that will allow us to be self sufficient. I have only recently found your blog and have enjoyed all of what I have read here. I agree wholeheartedly that our society is not even remotely close to the one that existed in 1930. Many people are naive to believe that if we faced even a long term recession let alone a true depression or societal collapse that things would be similar to what is found in historical texts.

I understand all too well that protection is important as I work with criminals on a daily basis, at a minimum security prison. Although it is a minimum security prison it houses inmates who have committed crimes that run the gamut. There are murders, rapists, burglars, you name it; housed behind only an industrial chain link fence. My question is in a time of societal collapse or WTSHTF what would happen (most likely scenario) with institutions run by the government. My biggest concern at this point is protecting my family from those that would take whatever they wish without thought. Thank you in advance for your response. - CL

JWR Replies: In circumstances where the power grids remain functional, prisons will probably not be much of a local threat. In fact, it will be relatives that are visiting the prisons that will be more of a threat than the inmates themselves. But if the grids go down for more than a week, then all bets are off. My prediction for prisons in the event of a worst case grid-down collapse are summed up in my novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse". Here is brief quote:

Electricity also proved to be the undoing of prisons all over America. For a while, officials maintained order in the prisons. Then the fuel for the back-up generators ran out. Prison officials had never anticipated a power outage that would last more than two weeks. Without power, security cameras did not function, lights did not operate, and electrically operated doors jammed. As the power went out, prison riots soon followed.

Prison officials hastened to secure their institutions. Under "lock down" conditions, most inmates were confined to their cells, with only a few let out to cook and deliver meals in the cell blocks. At many prisons the guard forces could not gain control of the prison population, and there were mass escapes. At several others, guards realized that the overall situation was not going to improve, and they took the initiative to do something about it. They walked from cell to cell, shooting convicts. Scores of other prisoners died at the hands of fellow convicts. Many more died in their cells due to other causes; mainly dehydration, starvation, and smoke inhalation.

Despite the best efforts of prison officials, 80 percent of the country's more than 1,500,000 state and federal prisoners escaped. A small fraction of the escaped prisoners were shot on sight by civilians. Those that survived quickly shed their prison garb and found their way into the vicious wolf packs that soon roamed the countryside.

But keep in mind that there is only a slim chance of a grid-down societal collapse. In a less severe recession or depression, having a large prison or mental hospital in your county might be a good thing. We may find that in an era of mass corporate layoffs, having a large and stable government-funded payroll might give some communities an advantage.

Thanks for all the helpful information in SurvivalBlog.

Regarding the reader who wrote in about the prospect of food hoarding laws; there have indeed been times where private U.S. citizens were forced to give up "unreasonable" stores of provisions, thus setting a possible precedent. For example: In 1918, Herbert Hoover (who would later be a US president), then working as head of the Food Administration, saw to it that a retired Navy doctor and his wife were charged for having about a year's worth of foodstuffs in their home. (The law stated that more than thirty day supply was illegal.) Sadly, the couple's goods were only found out when they read about the hoarding law and tried to comply, by giving their excess flour to a grocer to dispense to local charities.
Here is a link to the archived New York Times article reporting the incident. Best, - Mrs. Young

Larry in Cincinnati spotted a link over at the excellent Urban Survival blog to a classic book in the public domain: Handy Farm Devices & How To Make Them. (BTW, there are lots of other free references available at the Journey to Forever site.)

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Adrian mentioned an article over at The Trader Blog with some observation on Iceland's economic turmoil and potential for hyperinflation: What Happens After A Country Implodes? Also, don't miss this very recent piece by the same blog author: “We are approaching the apogee of the Treasury bubble”

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Ready Made Resources just added Three Tray Stackable Sprout Garden sets to their catalog. Every prepared family should practice sprouting. Sprouts are an important part of your survival food supply, providing crucial vitamins and minerals, even after your stored vitamin tablets have run out. Sprouting is also a healthy way to eat, in the present day.

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Cheryl's latest gleanings: Stocks End Mixed In Late Slide After Fed Rate Cut -- US Motor Industry: The Great Breakdown -- Ukraine On Brink Of Financial Collapse -- Bailouts Continue; China Takes Aggressive Action On Economy -- Mints Struggle To Meet Metals Demand -- Top Theorists Examine Rippling Economic Turbulence -- Hungarian Currency Collapses -- US Consumers Stop Spending -- Banking Misery Engulfs Japan -- China Cuts Interest Rates Again -- Credit Losses Far Exceed Bailout Injections -- Putin Suggests Russia, China Ditch Dollar -- IMF 'Has Six Days To Save Pakistan'

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Fed cuts key interest rate half-point to 1 percent. Artificially lower interest rates didn't work for Japan, and it won't work any better for the US. Ben Bernanke and Company have now painted themselves into a corner.

A clown is funny in the circus ring, but what would be the normal reaction to opening a door at midnight and finding the same clown standing there in the moonlight?" - Lon Chaney, Sr.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Michael Panzner, the editor of the widely-read Financial Armageddon blog (and the the author of the book of the same name) recently quoted SurvivalBlog in this piece: Worse This Time. Take a look through Panzner's archives. You'll see that he has his head on straight.


I have been checking a few other sites this morning that I frequent, and while at the Viking Preparedness Forum, I was checking the food and water storage board and came across these canned food shelves. It is a good set of shelves, making the best use of space, and allowing them automatic stock rotation.

We live in a house with a monolithic slab foundation, and the footprint, does not give us a great deal of room to work with, but I think that we can do something similar ourselves.
I liked the way that they were set against the wall, and took up very little space. I also liked the fact that they had extra space above for expanding the shelves a bit more.

Just thought that it was an all around good idea, and one that some of your readers might be able to make good use of also.

BTW, I also found these related web pages. Hope that they help.

How to Make a Self-Rotating Food Storage for Canned Goods

Food Storage Shelves, Food Storage Racks & Food storage shelving Accessories


FIFO Storage Can Rack - Canned Food Rack - Improvements Catalog

As always, may God bless you and yours in everything you do. - Dim Tim


Dear Mr. Rawles:
I read your blog frequently and enjoy the information you publish. It helps keep me informed and challenged.

However, lately I've been wondering about some of the provisions of Martial Law and Executive Orders that have been signed by past presidents.

In the event of a declaration of Martial Law, can the Federal Government go-door-to-door and confiscate food that citizens have stored for their own use? It is my understanding that farms, equipment and food can be confiscated so that it can then be controlled/distributed to the people who do not have any food.

There are anti-hoarding laws on the books in some states, but I don't know all the details. FEMA guidelines advise people to have a short-term supply of food on hand for emergencies. But in the event of martial law, how much food is one family allowed to store? If a family has made the effort to store a year or more of food, will they be allowed to keep it or will it be confiscated?

Bottom line: Why bother purchasing dehydrated or freeze-dried food for long-term storage if it will end up being confiscated by the Government to give to someone else? Is it futile to do so or should one be prudent and go forward with plans for long-term food storage? - Joan X.

JWR Replies: There is indeed a slim but nonetheless real threat of storage food confiscation in the U.S. It is one of the many reasons why I emphasize OPSEC in my blog. If you are concerned about the prospect of martial law, then I recommend that you buy the majority of your storage food with cash, without generating a paper trail. You should go pick it up in person. OBTW, there are food storage vendors that advertise in my blog that are located in several regions around the country (within reasonable driving distance for perhaps 80% of he SurvivalBlog readership in the US), and many of these are "Mom and Pop" operations that will make cash sales. With these small vendors, you don't even need to mention your name.

While keeping circumspect is important, don't become so preoccupied with secrecy that you cease being charitable. The two goals need not be mutually exclusive. You can maintain OPSEC if you dispense charity through your local church . FerFAL (formerly SurvivalBlog's volunteer correspondent in Argentina) had some interesting comments in a recent blog post at his personal blog "Surviving in Argentina". He posited that dispensing charity face to face with desperate poor people can be both risky and troubling. While I don't agree with all that FerFAL wrote, I can see the wisdom of keeping a low profile to avoid being "marked" by freeloaders. My advice: Give, and give generously (both now and in turbulent times), but be prepared give at arm's length. I recommend that you make arrangements in advance with your church elders to act as intermediaries for post-WTSHTF charity. Be sure to get their promise to maintain your anonymity. My personal philosophy is to give until it hurts.

Good Morning,
I have been reading for a couple years and I'm a 10 Cent Challenge subscriber. I have just purchased a quantity of five gallon food grade buckets and wonder if there would be any benefit to storing in vacuum sealable one gallon size bags, as opposed to the five gal metal lined bag using the dry ice and O2 absorber method? Thanks for your ministry. I have learned so very much. Also I just the purchased the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course taking advantage of the pre-election discount, thanks. Sincerely, - John V

JWR Replies: There is indeed some utility in vacuum packing, as you described. It is, however, much more labor intensive. With most bulk foods the shelf life that you would gain with vacuum packing (versus CO2 packing) is not that great. It can also be a mess, especially with flour and other powders. In essence, the marginally longer storage longevity does does not justify the extra time or material required. The only notable exception is for foods that have a high oil or butterfat content, such as brown rice. It would also be worth doing with powdered milk, if it were not such a mess. In that case, my advice is to store only nonfat powdered milk, to reduce the risk of rancidity. (Since it is the butterfat content of regular powdered milk that contributes the most to rancidity.)

I describe a simple "do-it-yourself" CO2 packing method in the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course. With this method, a family can pack several hundred pounds of wheat, rice, or beans in just one evening.

Dear Mr. Rawles,

I read Mr. Romeo's retreat plans, and I would like to add a couple of things to his preparations list. The one glaring omission I see in his list is a lack of HF communications gear. VHF radios are line of sight communications, which is great if you're planning on staying within range of the coast. If he plans on heading out to deeper waters though, HF gear becomes a lifeline to Pacific maritime nets, weather information, and other useful resources. Even if he doesn't plan on transmitting, an HF receiver would allow him to listen to shortwave broadcasts. Radio Australia and Radio New Zealand broadcast to the Pacific almost around the clock, as well as other world services. I would think he could even tune into a lot of American medium wave AM stations at night as these radio waves carry well over water.

I think his case might be one of the few where an upgrade to a .50 caliber [BMG] rifle might be warranted as well. If the coasts of East Africa are any guide, the high seas could be an extremely dangerous place to be after a major disruption. The 50 caliber would make his a vessel that most pirates wouldn't want to bother with.

Just my $.02 worth, adjusted for inflation. Keep up the great work! - Tim in Baltimore


Thanks for all you do: I read your recent advice to a mariner to buy several parachute flares if they are within his budget. At ~$70 USD per flare that's a bit steep when compared to buying a east-bloc (mine's Polish,) 26.5mm flare gun as seen here for $30. These flare guns are not considered deadly weapons by the BATFE, so there is no restriction on their shipment by mail.
Furthermore, a box of 10 Czech army surplus white parachute flares will run $40. [Although they don't reach the same altitude and are not as bright as the ones that JWR suggested,] this would allow anyone to have 10 flares for the price of one. Multiple colors are also available. For full disclosure, I have no connection to the "Ammo to Go" company other than being a regular customer of theirs who is quite happy with the service and their prices, and I recommend them to friends. BTW, I recently got 20 rounds of AP ammo for my 8x57mm Mauser--something that is nearly impossible to find elsewhere!) Keep on rocking in the free world! - Eminence Frontman

JWR Adds: I also own a 26.5mm flare pistol, and recommend them. Mine is a Bundeswehr surplus P2A1, manufactured by Heckler und Koch (HK). I should also mention that there are chamber adapters made by several companies that allow US-standard 12 gauge nautical flares to be fired in 26.5mm flare pistols. One manufacturer of these adapters that I recommend is Tactical Innovations. And, BTW, the same company makes excellent milled aluminum 25-round magazines for Ruger 10/22 rimfire rifles. My family has extensively tested one of these magazines here at the Rawles Ranch and found that they are very reliable and trouble-free. It might be wise to order a few of these magazines before the upcoming election. Any new ban on full capacity magazines will sure cause prices to triple overnight.

KAF bookmarked this one for us: FuturePundit: Face Masks And Hand Sanitizers Slash Flu Risks

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From our Economic Editor comes another big batch of news and commentary: Gun Sales Thriving In Uncertain Times -- Europe On Brink Of Currency Meltdown -- Iceland: IMF Cash Not Enough -- Current Volatility Hints At Next Crash -- Financial Crisis: Latin America Hit Hard -- Customer Panic And Bank Run In Kuwait -- Dow Up Almost 900 Points, But No Sighs Of Relief -- Iceland Raises Interest Rates To 18% -- White House To Banks: Start Lending Now, Stop Hoarding -- 80-Year History Of Brutal Gold Stock Corrections -- Madness Rules! Insurers/Pensions Piling Into Derivatives -- Wall Street Resumes Once-In-A-Lifetime Sucker Buying -- IMF May 'Print Money' As Crisis Spreads -- Pound In Free Fall, No Way To Stop It -- First Banks, Then Firms, Now A Raft Of Countries Falter -- Oz Dollar Drops 40% For No Reason -- Bankruptcy Fears Rise As GM, Chrysler Seek Federal Aid -- Russia Begins To Refuse Credit Cards In Worsening Global Crisis

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Reader Paul B. recommended this article: King Henry Paulson says: 'Buy banks!'

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Writing in a recent issue of The Complete Investor, Dr. Stephen Leeb had this comment: "We know it sounds ridiculous to keep saying 'Don't worry, be happy,' yet that really is your best course of action. Either the tidal wave of cash will find its way into the financial system, to the considerable benefit of our gold and energy holdings, or the mother of all depressions will result in the end of civilization as we know it, in which case the pessimists will suffer as much as the optimists. It's that simple. So given those two stark choices, you may as well be an optimist. Stay positive now, and odds are you'll be handsomely rewarded in the future. If we are right about inflation winning the battle, today's $60 oil will seem like a joke 18 months from now -- like a $10 suit or a $25 engagement ring. Prices of all commodities will soar, and the stocks in our Portfolio will give you returns higher than you can possibly imagine today. Gold especially will overshoot the moon. It's the best investment you can make today." (JWR Notes: I added the emphasis. Leeb publishes a paid newsletter, and it has been recommended to me by several SurvivalBlog readers.)

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SF in Hawaii suggested this reasonably-priced grinder: Northern Industrial Tools Meat Grinder With V-Belt Pulley. My only reluctance is: Are they made in mainland China? OBTW, whenever you order something from Northern Tool & Equipment, please use this link. As a SurvivalBlog Affiliate Advertiser, we'll get a little piece of the action, but again only is you use this link.

"There is only one thing more painful than learning from experience and that is not learning from experience." - Archibald McLeish

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Dear SurvivalBloggers:

So, you've prepped and developed skills but what if you actually need to work through the depression? What if the depression lasts longer than your preps and the 'new economy' isn't amenable to your current job which requires factories, computers and shipping etc?

You can either learn a useful trade like being:
A Veterinarian or Doctor, but there probably isn't enough time to go to school for six years.
You can learn another useful skill like plumbing, welding, carpentry etc. But then you're competing with other plumbers, welders, and carpenters.
Or, you can have some kind of cottage industry that uses locally-produced raw materials and creates needed products... Yes!
Is there a lot of grain growing where you are? Okay, how about being a miller.
Is there a lot of unpurified water where you are? Okay, how about a drinking water vendor?
Are there a lot of animals where you are? Okay, then become a tanner and or tailor.
If you can find something that has some skill set involved, good. Even better if there is some specific tool required to do the job that no one else has locally because the current economies of scale make it cheaper to have it done in bulk somewhere else. - SF in Hawaii

Preparing for our first garden, other than large pot/barrel gardening, next year. Headed down to our local ranch/farm supply store to pick up some gardening tools, e.g., shovel, rake, hoe, pick, etc.; figured they would be a bit cheaper this time of year. But what I found for sale just floored me. I can't imagine anyone who had real work to do using any of the products available. The shovels had one tiny rivet holding the blade to a skinny wooden handle; it looked like if it were dropped it would break. The other tools had the same appearance. So, my question to you and/or to any of the blog's readers is, "What is a quality brand or where might one locate a quality gardening tool product?"

On another note: I'm looking forward to the upcoming release of "Patriots" (with the index and glossary). My previously purchased copies seem to disappear when I loan them out. Have had to become "hard core" and not loan out my last copy, that happens to be autographed :-)
Thanks. - Ken M.

JWR Replies: In recent years, the US consumer market has been flooded with a plethora of low quality, flimsy Chinese products. Sadly, this include hand tools .These have become so ubiquitous that you have to actively search for good quality gardening tools. The few American-made tools still available have had significant price increases, attributable to the recent spike in steel prices and substantially increased shipping costs.

I have found that it is now better to shop for used, American-made hand tools. Ironically, many tools being sold as "antiques" are more sturdy and a have longer potential service life than the the "factory new" tools that originate in Mainland China's laogai ("Reform Through Labor") prison factories. For used tools, watch Craig's List and even eBay. Last year on eBay, I bought a lot of six "antique" hand scythes (five of which were still quite serviceable), all for $22 plus $11 postage. That same sum might have bought perhaps one or two factory new imported scythes, and I doubt that they would give me near the same service life.

If you can't find a particular used tool, then one of the best mail order sources for new American, Canadian, and European tools is at Lehman's.

I run a museum that covers, in part, the Great Depression. In a reply to Steve's letter about how people may react to a "modern" 1930s type depression, you listed a number of economic, social and cultural differences in America in the two time periods. I might add, or expand on, a few.

In the 1930s, many more people lived on farms or gardened. Even in many towns and cities, it was common to have a garden and raise a few animals including chickens, rabbits, pigeons. An enormous difference, then and now, is that the garden seeds then were "heritage" or open pollinated. That means that a family could save their seed year after year, and always have a crop. That is no longer possible with today's hybrids. If you save seed now, they, (the hybrids), won't come back the next year. In a major economic breakdown, there will be little distribution of anything, including seed. No seed, no garden.

In the 1930s, most people had wells or cisterns for water. Today, if the electricity goes off, no more "city" water. Formerly, most people had outhouses. They didn't need flushing. Today, if you can't flush, you've got a biological lab in your bathroom within three days. In the 1930s, there were more horses, more donkeys, more mass transit and railroads, and more bikes. Today, no gas means no mobility. 80 years ago many more people preserved their own food. It was common for most folks to dry, can, smoke, salt, pickle and cold cellar, food. Today, many people consider food storage a discount card to a restaurant. In the 1930s, most people heated with wood or coal. Now, it's almost entirely "on demand" gas in a pipe, or electricity. Formerly, most people had treadle sewing machines, grain grinders and meat grinders. Today, nada. In the 1930s, far more people practiced folk medicine and used herbs. If you got cut, sew it yourself. Got sick, chop a chicken and make soup. Today? You'd better have a pill bottle and insurance.

In the 1930s, far more people were church goers. Families tended to live closer to each other. People in general had a more self-reliant attitude. If someone had a problem, they tended to try to solve it themselves. And if they couldn't, their church family, or own their family, would help them. Society today includes far more people who think the gov't should, and will, be their caretaker.

It's my belief, that if today we have a depression, if only as bad as the 1930s Great Depression, that [the societal impact of] such a depression will be many times worse. It's a somewhat real possibility that, today, in a severe enough crisis, there would be no transport, little food or medicine, no heat, no sanitation, no water and very little cohesion of society.

In the 1930s, people sold apples on street corners, and a popular song was "Brother Can You Spare a Dime?" I'm afraid that today, it may be far more common for people to try to take what they can, and consequences be d***ed. A 1930s-type Depression today ? Not pretty.

Jim Fry
Museum of Western Reserve Farms & Equipment

Reader Willa. J. e-mailed me to ask if we have "...now seen the bottom of the stock market?" She went on to ask if it was safe to starting "buying back into the market" as some of the cheering section "analysts" on MSNBC have suggested. Don't get suckered in! As I mentioned a while back, price to earnings ratios have a lot farther to fall, to match typical recession lows. And since the current slump in not just a typical market cycle manifestation--rather, it was triggered by the worst credit collapse in history--the markets could get hit even worse than they were in the 1930s. Most ominously, the huge drop in The Baltic Dry Index (BDI) illustrates the deep level of distrust that now exists for letters of credit in transoceanic trade. Global commerce is essentially shutting down. Any corporation that depends on international trade is likely to suffer very badly in the months to come. Dear readers, if you haven't done so already, get out of your dollar-denominated investments (including stocks), and buy tangibles. Inflation will return with a vengeance. This is inevitable because of the monumental public spending on Mother of All Bailouts (MOAB). When inflation does kick in, you will be glad that you own productive farm land, tools, a family food reserve, and precious metals to preserve your wealth.

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Neil G. mentioned this this bit of confirmation for something that SurvivalBlog readers already know: Yes, We Have No Silver

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More news and commentary from our Economic Editor: Stocks Fluctuate As Investors Weigh The Economy -- Oil Prices Tumble To Lowest In More Than A Year -- Treasury Set To Dish Out Financial Rescue Funds -- Asian Stocks, US Futures Slump -- US Stocks Start Day With Further Decline -- Credit Squeeze May Cut Crops, Spur Food Crisis -- Nikkei Dives 6% -- Argentina And The US Dollar's Fate -- US Dollar Currency Collapse Within 30 Days -- Getting Ready For "The Turn" In The Dollar -- Europe On Brink Of Currency Crisis

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Sean M. found a link to a home biodiesel maker. For a lower-cost solution that is designed for even higher production volume, Ready Made Resources sells another biodiesel making system that is also factory made.

"There can be no such thing, in law or in morality, as actions forbidden to an individual, but permitted to a mob." - Ayn Rand

Monday, October 27, 2008

The recent MSNBC article on survivalism has spawned numerous spin-off pieces that have mentioned SurvivalBlog, including one on NPR's All Things Considered show.

The high bid in the current SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $600. This auction is for a mixed lot that includes:

1.) A huge lot of DVDs, CD-ROMs and hard copy nuclear survival/self-sufficiency references (a $300+ value) donated by Richard Fleetwood of www.SurvivalCD.com

2.) A custom-made, fully-stocked EMS Medic Bag from Cajun Safety and Survival (a $212 retail value)

3.) A NukAlert radiation detector donated by at KI4U.com (a $160 retail value)

4.) A case (6 cans) of Mountain House freeze dried foods in #10 (96 ounce) cans donated by Ready Made Resources (a $160 value)

5.) An autographed copy of "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse" ($24, retail)

See the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction page for complete details on these items. This auction ends on November 15th. Please e-mail us your bid.

Hi Jim,
I really enjoyed reading your novel "Patriots". I've read a few other books also, like "Lucifer's Hammer" and I have to admit that they spurred me to buy a 22 LR [rimfire rifle] as a starter.

I've been doing a lot of thinking of our current situation in this country and it occurs to me that every generation has things going on that is very concerning. But in particular was thinking the Great Depression should have been a good example of things going to h*ll. Yet there was not this great meltdown where people needed to go to retreats and such. So I'm writing this e-mail to see if you've done any research to do comparisons with our [present-day] situation and the Great Depression situation to determine why the country did not collapse during that time period. Thanks, - Steve

JWR Replies: Thanks for raising that point. It is well worth discussing. There are some substantial differences between our society in the early 21st Century, and America in the 1930s. With these differences, our society is now much more fragile and vulnerable to collapse. Here are a few that come immediately to mind:

Consider the Attributes of America in the 1930s :

A largely agrarian and self-sufficient society. (Now, just 1% of the population operating farms and ranches feed the other 99%.)

Not heavily dependent on computing and communications, technology, grid power, and petroleum-based fuels.

Shorter chains of supply. Most food was grown within 100 miles of where people lived.

A very small underclass that was dependent on charity or public welfare.

Lower property tax rates and lower (or nonexistent) license fees, vehicle registration fees, et cetera.

The majority of workers lived near their work.

Most displaced workers were willing to accept lower-paying jobs--even doing hard physical labor.

The entire nation was economically self-sufficient and could carry on without many imports.

Far greater self-sufficiency at the household level (domestic water wells, windmills, wood burning stoves, home vegetable gardens, home canning, and so forth)

A much lower level of indebtedness (public and private). At the outset of the Depression most families had cash savings. (We are now a nation of debtors.)

A sound currency, still backed by specie. (Although FDR's administration seized most privately-held gold in 1933, the currency was at least still fully redeemable in silver coinage until 1964.)

Lower percentage of corporate employment--so there were less risk of huge layoffs that would devastate communities

A significantly more moral society that still had compunctions and a prevalently law-abiding attitude.

A homogeneous population that largely shared common Judeo-Christian values. A much larger portion of society attended church regularly

A simpler, less extravagant lifestyle, with tastes in cooking and entertainment that did not require large outlays of cash.

Most families owned only one car (with proportionately lower registration and insurance costs), and they lived in smaller homes that were less expensive to heat.

In summary, in the 1930s it cost a lot less to live (as a percentage of income) and people were willing, able, and accustomed to "making do" without. When people lost their jobs, in many cases they didn't lose their homes because they were paid for. Many folks could simply revert to a self-sufficient lifestyle and earn enough with odd jobs to pay their property taxes. What fraction of

The bottom line: If America were to experience a Second Great Depression, given the high level of debt and systems dependence, there would be enormous rates of dislocation and homelessness. And with modern-day immorality and the prevalent "me first " attitude, I have no doubt that riots and looting would absolutely explode.

If the global economy melts down and we experience a "greater depression" or worse. What is the best strategy for real estate that is already owned? I own a primary home and two rental properties in central Virginia but if the SHTF, I'm going to retreat along with numerous family members, to our farm about 25-30 miles from the nearest city. (It has hundreds of acres for growing, and has ample water, etc.)

I don't have substantial equity in any of my three houses and all mortgages 30 year fixed through Bank of America. Is it worth continuing to try to pay on one or more of these? If the county is on the skids for several years and job loss is substantial, do you think there would be bank/government lack of mortgage payment forgiveness and allow people to resume payments if or when things returned to relative normalcy?

I'm pretty certain that I would leave remaining credit card debt unpaid. If the SHTF, a poor credit score would be least of my worries. Do you agree?

Any other thoughts on this topic would be greatly appreciated. I may be a little naive is assuming the USA will return to a state of normalcy but it is a very real part of my planning process. Or is there basically no chance of a return to normalcy after such an event? Thanks in advance, - Joe

JWR Replies: Anyone that has vacation, rental, or "investment" properties with mortgages attached should beware! A negative cash flow will be disastrous in an era of widespread corporate layoffs. Face facts: It is very likely that a recession or even a depression is just around the corner, and the collapse of real estate prices is likely to continue for several years. If you can break even or get out with a small loss, then I urgently recommend that you start selling property and don't stop until until you have a solid positive cash flow. If you try to juggle too many mortgages, you may lose everything.

As I've said before, a total wipeout is unlikely. Far more likely is a straightforward Depression, perhaps inflationary, perhaps deflationary, but in any case nasty. Banks and civil governments will still function in all but an absolute worst case situation. That means that you will still have to meet your obligations for mortgage and property tax payments. Be ready for such times by getting out of debt!

If you are completely "upside down" in one or more mortgage, then think twice about just walking away, and mailing your banker "jingle mail." Unless you are self-employed, I recommend that you do so only as a last resort. Keep in mind that credit scores are now part of the background checks that are now standard practice in the hiring process for many corporations. It would add insult to injury to ruin your chance of getting re-hired by wrecking your credit rating.

I have a tip for my fellow SurvivalBlog readers on salt. Most anyone with a well will probably have a water softener, and as such will know that salt comes in large 20-50 pound bags. We get it for our softener for about $5.00 per 50 lb. bag. Be sure to check the label, and make sure that it is pure sodium chloride, (table salt). Others are Potassium Chloride, the "other" table salt. Watch out for the ones that have additives, of course. Being "rock salt" it's got large crystals, but you can easily crush or grind it. It's available at hardware stores and places like Ace, TruValue, Home Depot, Lowes, Agway, et cetera. Regards, - Rick D.

Reader "Bigbird" spotted this "must read" piece: In Europe, crisis revives old memories. Bigbird's comment: "It looks like Americans aren' t the only ones who practice survivalism."

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Bob McC. mentioned this Piece at Fox News: Uses for $700B Bailout Money Keep Changing. Bob's comment: "The clueless Congress just starting to discover that banksters lied! And they wondered why 3/4ths of American constituents opposed the plan!"

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Reader Currie M. sent us this link: The Baltic Dry Index (BDI) Plummeting. Currie's comments: "I consider this an accurate representation of economic conditions, in real time. It seems to signal what other indicators take much longer to recognize. This BDI chart signals to me that the the world economy is grinding to a halt. The globalization bubble is deflating at a horrific pace. A ninety percent drop! Not only are there grave economic considerations to having world trade crash, but the recent rumors of banks not wanting to accept letters of credit from other previously trusted international bank partners is strengthened. Who wants to ship if they will not get paid? The entire world (not just the US or European) banking/financial system is tottering."

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From our ever-reliable Economic Editor, Cheryl N. comes this news and commentary: The 1929 & 2007 Bear Market Race To The Bottom -- Nouriel Roubini: I fear the worst is yet to come -- US Joins UK On "Brink" Of Recession -- Gold Stocks Were Financial Saviors In The 1930s -- October: Monster Market Mash

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Susan Z. flagged this article by our friend Michael Panzner: 'When the U.S. Sneezes, the Rest of the World...' Yikes! This is starting to sound much more like an incipient depression rather than a recession.

"Mystery is the source of all true art and science." - Masado Banzai (as quoted in Pinky Carruthers' Unknown Facts)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The high bid in the current SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $560. This auction is for a mixed lot that includes:

1.) A huge lot of DVDs, CD-ROMs and hard copy nuclear survival/self-sufficiency references (a $300+ value) donated by Richard Fleetwood of www.SurvivalCD.com

2.) A custom-made, fully-stocked EMS Medic Bag from Cajun Safety and Survival (a $212 retail value)

3.) A NukAlert radiation detector donated by at KI4U.com (a $160 retail value)

4.) A case (6 cans) of Mountain House freeze dried foods in #10 (96 ounce) cans donated by Ready Made Resources (a $160 value)

5.) An autographed copy of "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse" ($24, retail)

See the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction page for complete details on these items. This auction ends on November 15th. The opening bid is just $50. Please e-mail us your bid.

Today we present another Retreat Owner Profile, which will soon be added to the Profiles static page. BTW, we still have room for several more international profiles (outside the US). I am saving the last few slots in the US profiles section for people that have very unusual home/retreats. Perhaps someone that lives in an underground house or in a surplused missile silo? If you decide to e-mail us your Profile, please closely follow the same format used in the the others. For your privacy, be sure change enough details so that your neighbors won't recognize you. (You can even change the locale to another state with a similar climate).

Retreat: Live-aboard 30-Foot Sailboat

Age: One male 34 years old

Background: Grew up in small town next to Vandenberg Air Force Base, watching missiles being launched and sometimes blown up ["flight terminated"] over the ocean. I always knew that seeing one missile being launched meant "test" and that two or more mean "imminent death". Grew up with most "toys" being bought at army surplus stores. My brother and I were the only kids who when we played "war" dressed in full army gear, complete with combat boots, helmet with outer cloth cover stuffed with branches, belt with two canteens, belt back pack, shovel, ammo cases, full camo clothes...the list goes on and on.

I moved to a southern California harbor 40 miles from Santa Cruz Island about two years ago to be closer to work (and distance myself from the nuke magnet--Vandenberg AFB). I have been getting everything on the boat ship shape for last two years. I have also been buying survival gear suited for an ocean retreat WTSHTF.

Annual Income: Was $46,000 a year until I got laid off three months ago.

Investments: So far 30 grams Pamp Suisse bullion, survival gear, food stores

Present Home: 30 foot Catalina Sloop sailboat that was but in the 1970s. I have upgraded the rear stern rails to ones with incorporated rear seats, repaired both sails, replaced the lifelines, replaced all essential lighting with solar powered LED lighting and have kerosene backup lighting in every berth. I also have solar powered exterior lighting.

For entertainment I have an XPower solar power pack that will charge my Creative Zen and portable DVD player starting from dead batteries with a one day charge on the power pack. That gives me 3-4 hours of DVDs and 11-12 hours of MP3 music a day, every day [for pennies in the lifetime cost of the system]. I have spare new batteries for all three units in the boat. Since I live aboard I am tax exempt and only pay $45 USD every two years for craft registration. I also have to pay $20 USD once a year to have harbor patrol give me a live aboard safety inspection. Insurance is $400 a year.

Vehicles: I have a 2005 Tank Urban Sporty 150cc scooter made out of chineseum and a 1999 Honda civic LEV (low emissions vehicle), they cost about $120 USD a year for registration and about $600 a year to insure with the minimum required by law. The scooter gets about 60-to 80 mpg and the Civic gets 30-38 mpg but I mostly ride the scooter.

Firearms: Winchester 12 gauge semi auto with 300+ rounds of birdshot (also have bandoleer that holds 50 rounds). Compound bow and arrows. Flare gun and 10 flares. About 60 yards cheap floating rope. (This is a defensive weapon) to foul the props of any would be attacking boats Just cut it into 10 foot strips and throw into water. I also have a machete, an axe, a Blackie Collins design Gerber clip lock serrated knife as well as about 30 other (various) knives.

Gardens/Orchards/Food source: What's the biggest highway in the world that is full of food? The ocean, it is also the biggest moat in the world.

Property Tax: None.

Communications: VHF radio handheld and onboard units for emergency use, cell phone for domestic calls.

Food Storage: 50 pounds of rice, large supply of canned ham, large supply of canned food, I have also stored a lot of extra salt and cooking oil onboard for bartering purposes. I have room to store 20 gallons water built into the boat and have room for about 50 more gallons in storage.

Fuel Storage: 20 gallon tank built into the boat, five gallon tank in the dinghy and 5-1 gallon tanks under the cockpit seats.

Survival gear: Propane barbeque with extra canisters of LP, PUR Survivor 06-LL Desalinator Watermaker, 400 count 65 mg potassium iodide tablets sealed in factory bottles, solar lighting inside and out, solar fan that I made that works day and night.

Two fishing poles and assorted fishing tackle, Sailrite lsz-1 sail and canvas sewing machine with heavy duty stainless steel hand crank for use offshore. And of course the assorted tools needed to keep the boat working.

Worst Case Scenario: Economic collapse, nuclear war, Waterworld, tsunami, civil unrest, corrupt government declaring martial law, you name it. I am just a power cord and four dock lines from New Zealand via Hawaii or Baja California to Mexico. The thin veneer that holds "civilized" society from becoming something like the Rodney King riots is not as thick as you might think. Like a castle with a large moat, like an island or an oil rig is how I plan to bug out. Since owning the sailboat I have traveled over 400 miles in five trips to the islands and in that time I've used perhaps one gallon of gas.
Blow ships are the cat's meow when it comes to efficiency. Top sailing speed (so far) 9.4 knots under full main and 120% jib.

JWR's Recommends: Increase your food storage! Buy as much as can possibly fit in the space available. You should also increase your solar charging capacity so that you can keep your deep cycle batteries (for VHF radio, navigation, and cell phone charging, et cetera) topped off, even without running your auxiliary engine.

For defense, first buy 50 rifled slugs and at least 100 buckshot 12 gauge shells (000 is the best pellet size for shipboard defense.) You should then add a scoped stainless steel .308 or .30-06 bolt action rifle for "stand-off" self defense against pirates. (A stainless steel Browning A-Bolt with a half dozen spare magazines would be ideal. Second choice would be a Winchester Model 70 Classic Stainless.) Buy at least 500 rounds of .30 caliber ammunition--a mix of AP, ball (FMJ), and soft nose. BTW, it is too bad that you can't buy tracer ammo in California. If you lay down accurate fire with AP ammo at 450 yards, pirates will go find someone else to pick on! I also recommend that you add an intrusion detection system to your deck, to alert you if anyone attempts to board your sailboat when you are berthed or anchored at night. Also, if your budget allows, buy at least six large white parachute flares, so that you can engage targets with your rifle at night. And if you can afford it, also get a headset-type night vision monocular, such as an AN/PVS-7B. Get firearms and medical training as soon as you can afford them. (Low-cost training is available from the American Red Cross, the Appleseed Program, and the WRSA.)

Buy a spare membrane and any other key spare parts for your desalinator. I recommend that you get as much blue water sailing experience as possible Since you've been laid off, it could be a great opportunity. You might try networking to find a trans-pac yacht crew/security position. (Check Craig's List and CrewFile.com for openings.)

Reader MGB recommended this brief but insightful page on outdoor survival: Survival Myths... Debunked

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Hawaiian K. sent us a link to a New York Times piece that made my blood boil. It is innocuously titled: So When Will Banks Give Loans? But it would have been better titled: Your Tax Dollars at Work: Expanding a Banking Empire. Read the article carefully. The banksters at JP Morgan Chase plan to spend $25 billion of gifted taxpayer dollars to fund acquisitions of smaller banks.

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I just heard that Ready Made Resources now has a small quantity of used water-tight Hardigg cases available, for just $39.95 plus shipping. These have great potential for caching guns in damp climate regions. These cases are full military specification, and highly recommended. Buy a few before they run out!

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I spotted this at The Drudge Report: Companies start competing for bailout money

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More from Cheryl: Congress: What Ben And Hank Aren't Telling You -- Taiwan Dumps Fannie & Freddie -- Survival: Learn From Argentina's Collapse -- Thousands Of Hedge Funds On The Brink Of Failure -- Car Makers Slam On Brakes As Orders Drop -- Citadel Admits 35% Dive In Hedge Fund Value

"Using a television without an appropriate licence is a criminal offence. Every day we catch an average of 1,200 people using a TV without a licence. There is no valid excuse for using a television and not having a TV Licence, but some people still try - sometimes with the most ridiculous stories ever heard. Our detection equipment will track down your TV. The fact that our enquiry officers are now so well equipped with the latest technology means that there is virtually no way to avoid detection." - from the official website of the British Television Licensing Authority, May 2003

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The high bid in the current SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $560. This auction is for a mixed lot that includes:

1.) A huge lot of DVDs, CD-ROMs and hard copy nuclear survival/self-sufficiency references (a $300+ value) donated by Richard Fleetwood of www.SurvivalCD.com

2.) A custom-made, fully-stocked EMS Medic Bag from Cajun Safety and Survival (a $212 retail value)

3.) A NukAlert radiation detector donated by at KI4U.com (a $160 retail value)

4.) A case (6 cans) of Mountain House freeze dried foods in #10 (96 ounce) cans donated by Ready Made Resources (a $160 value)

5.) An autographed copy of "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse" ($24, retail)

See the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction page for complete details on these items. This auction ends on November 15th. The opening bid is just $50. Please e-mail us your bid.

Today, with permission, we present a guest editorial by Steve Saville of The Speculative Investor:

In an essay first published in 1969 and recently re-published, Murray Rothbard summarizes the causes and cures of economic depressions by drawing on the Business Cycle theory developed by the great Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises. Here's an excerpt from this essay:

"Mises, then, pinpoints the blame for the cycle on inflationary bank credit expansion propelled by the intervention of government and its central bank. What does Mises say should be done, say by government, once the depression arrives? What is the governmental role in the cure of depression? In the first place, government must cease inflating as soon as possible. It is true that this will, inevitably, bring the inflationary boom abruptly to an end, and commence the inevitable recession or depression. But the longer the government waits for this, the worse the necessary readjustments will have to be. The sooner the depression-readjustment is gotten over with, the better.

This means, also, that the government must never try to prop up unsound business situations; it must never bail out or lend money to business firms in trouble. Doing this will simply prolong the agony and convert a sharp and quick depression phase into a lingering and chronic disease. The government must never try to prop up wage rates or prices of producers' goods; doing so will prolong and delay indefinitely the completion of the depression-adjustment process; it will cause indefinite and prolonged depression and mass unemployment in the vital capital goods industries. The government must not try to inflate again, in order to get out of the depression. For even if this re-inflation succeeds, it will only sow greater trouble later on. The government must do nothing to encourage consumption, and it must not increase its own expenditures, for this will further increase the social consumption/investment ratio. In fact, cutting the government budget will improve the ratio. What the economy needs is not more consumption spending but more saving, in order to validate some of the excessive investments of the boom. [Emphasis added]

Thus, what the government should do, according to the Misesian analysis of the depression, is absolutely nothing. It should, from the point of view of economic health and ending the depression as quickly as possible, maintain a strict hands off, "laissez-faire" policy. Anything it does will delay and obstruct the adjustment process of the market; the less it does, the more rapidly will the market adjustment process do its work, and sound economic recovery ensue."

Clearly, in response to the current financial crisis the US government -- and most other governments, for that matter -- is doing exactly what Mises and other great economists of the "Austrian School" claim should not be done. Specifically, the US government is trying to prop up unsound business situations; it is bailing out and lending money to business firms in trouble; it is attempting to prop up prices; it is trying to inflate again in order to boost the economy; and it is rapidly increasing its own expenditures.

The "Austrians" have considerable credibility because their basic theories have never been logically refuted and have been validated, time and time again, by real world occurrences. For example, in early 1929 the two leading Austrian economists of the day, Mises and Hayek, predicted that a great crash was about to occur. Mises, at the time, turned down a prestigious job with a bank because he foresaw a global banking crisis and did not want his name associated with any bank. After the crash the Austrians then warned that the large increases in spending and the various other government interventions implemented in order to stimulate the economy would turn a financial collapse into a very lengthy depression. They were again proven right. As an aside, it is often stated, as if it were a fact, that President Hoover employed a hands-off approach in response to the financial collapse of 1929-1932, thus sowing the seeds of the drawn-out depression that followed. However, nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is that Hoover was not a true believer in free markets and in response to the crash he ramped up the US Government's involvement in the economy, so much so that during the 1932 Presidential election campaign Hoover was labeled a "spendthrift" by FDR, his opponent. Of course, the 16% increase in government indebtedness on Hoover's watch during 1931-1932 now looks miserly compared to the 1,200% increase in Federal debt presided over by Roosevelt during 1933-1945, but at the time it was one of the largest peace-time increases ever.

There were many financial crises in the US prior to the 1930s. The main factor that differentiated the 1930s from earlier periods of crisis -- the thing that transformed a financial collapse into an economic depression lasting more than a decade -- was the government's response to the crisis. Never before had the government tried so hard to fight the contraction by ramping up its own spending, and never before had the US economy performed so poorly. Strangely, most economists seem incapable of linking the dismal economic performance with the large increase in government intervention, and, as a result, most economists still think that increased government intervention and spending is the answer (although they often disagree on the details). The Japanese thought it was the answer during the 1990s, and thus managed to transform what should have been a sharp 1-3 year adjustment into a 10-15 year period of economic stagnation. And now it's widely considered to be the appropriate response to the current woes in the US.

Given that it is being 'egged on' by high-profile economists, investors, hedge-fund managers, businessmen, journalists, television personalities, politicians and even newsletter writers of almost all stripes, it's a virtual certainty that the US government will continue to 'fight' the current crisis by implementing inflationary policies and inserting itself ever-deeper into the fabric of the economy. In fact, it is now rare for a week to go by without the announcement of some new large-scale government intervention. This week's main intervention -- to date, anyway, but there are still three days left in the week -- is the decision of the Fed/Treasury combination to provide an unlimited amount of short-term funding to non-financial companies via the Commercial Paper market.

The world's financial markets are embroiled in a crisis of epic proportions, but with or without government 'help' the financial crisis will soon become less intense. Perhaps the many actions being taken by the government in an effort to 'soften the blow' will cause the immediate crisis to dissipate earlier than would otherwise be the case, but these actions will certainly do longer-term damage by siphoning real savings into non-productive endeavours. Always bear in mind that the government doesn't have any real savings of its own, so the only way the government can help an unhealthy corporation is to divert savings away from healthy corporations. This diversion often occurs via inflation (increasing the money supply), and is therefore unseen by most observers.

We can't say for certain that the actions being taken to counteract the financial crisis will lead to a drawn-out economic depression, but we can say that the actions greatly increase the risk of such an outcome. Furthermore, we can say that similar policy moves have, in the past, been followed by drawn-out economic depressions.

Further to the above, we think it makes sense to prepare for a very lengthy period of slow, or no, economic growth. In general terms, this should involve strengthening one's balance sheet. More specifically, it should involve staying (or getting) out of debt and could involve building up exposure to gold and income-producing investments other than bonds (energy trusts, for instance). Fortunately, a good balance-sheet-strengthening opportunity is likely to present itself over the next six months because the immediate crisis will probably soon give way to a multi-month stock market rebound and the illusion that policy-makers have managed to ignite a sustainable recovery.

Regular financial market forecasts and analyses are provided at The Speculative Investor (A paid subscription service. Free samples are available.)

Mr. Rawles:
I recently stocked the salt supply to the point that I have barter material, purchasing salt for under a penny an ounce. That is a pretty good investment, if you ask me. I purchased four 25 lb. bags @ $3.99 each. Salt is going for between two and three cents an ounce in the supermarkets, but a local restaurant supplier had the bags on the bottom shelf. I will get more the next time I am there. And while I was on the salt kick, I got my first salt block for my supply, and also picked up two of the ten pound blocks to stash for…yep, barter.

Also, after canning several batches of butter and margarine, I realized that this is something that most people will not have. It is very cost-prohibitive for the average bargain hunting prepper to buy the canned butter, but at 59 cents a pound, margarine is cheap. It cans beautifully, and the shelf life is about two years, with some going longer. I am canning some in the 4 oz. jars for ease of barter. If you have the room to store it, it is a great item to have on hand! Let’s face it, a pat of margarine goes a long way to a semblance of normalcy! Not a necessity by any means, but so nice on that cornbread or hot yeast bread! Directions for this process are all over the net, and many sites have pictures. It is actually fun to do, and takes no special equipment.

I also have been buying all the over the counter medications that I can get on clearance, knowing that these items will be in big demand. Just because the store can’t sell it doesn’t mean it isn’t good. Think about it. How can they keep us buying if they tell us the real shelf lives of these products?? It may lose a bit of potency, but it is still good.

I never go into a store without checking the clearance aisle. Spices, medications, first aid, and toiletries are often there, and cheap. I can get them at a pittance. I also make a game of the advertised specials, looking for the real deals, the "loss leaders" [a retail item that is sold at cost or even below cost to attract customers.] If it isn’t 50% off, it isn’t a good sale!

Even with the strict rules for stocking, I have to get creative now with storage. Prepping can be done, on a budget, without breaking the bank. And it can also yield the items that will barter our way into what we don’t have. By stocking when the sales occur, and using from our stock for the everyday items, the money goes so much further. Even if the Schumer never hits the fan, this is a way of living that makes sense, provides physical and emotional security, and stretches those pennies to the maximum.

I would rather have it and not need it, than need it and not have it! - Sparky

JWR Replies: Salt will indeed be a crucial barter item, especially in inland areas.

When planning for barter, consider container size. For salt, a one pound paper canister, while somewhat inefficient use of storage space is the ideal size for barter. My advice: Store your own family salt supply in bulk, but your barter stock in small and convenient containers.

In addition to planning fri cooking and food preservation, you should store lots of salt for attracting big game.As I've written before: After TEOTWAWKI, you shouldn't “go hunting.” That would be a waste of effort. Have the game come to you. If you have the storage space, buy 20 or more large (50-pound) salt blocks. These will also make very valuable barter items, for your neighbors that most likely won't plan ahead as well as you.

"Whistling in the dark does not bring light." - German social philosopher Erich Fromm

Friday, October 24, 2008

Today we present another Retreat Owner Profile, which will soon be added to the Profiles static page. BTW, we still have room for several more international profiles (outside the US). I am saving the last few slots in the US profiles section for people that have very unusual home/retreats. Perhaps someone that lives in an underground house, or someone that lives aboard a houseboat. If you decide to e-mail us your Profile, please closely follow the same format used in the the others. For your privacy, be sure change enough details so that your neighbors won't recognize you. (You can even change the locale to another state with a similar climate).

70+ acre Chilean Retreat, plus a 1,500 acre cattle grazing permit.

Ages: 43 and 41, and one child age 3

Background: Family is from upstate New York, dairy farmers. I grew up in NC, history major who went into the Army as an aviator. Spent time living, travelling, and working in over 50 countries. Separated from the army as a Major and went into investments. Retired to Chile in the 2000s.

Why Chile? - Chile is the best kept secret in the world. A strong democratic country with five major political parties, Chile is very stable. Chile has lived thru the tough times when a communist leaning government threw the country into chaos, and a military government took control to restore things. Chile has seen what social disorder can do to a country, and that memory influences the country today. The country runs a budget surplus (Chile is the world's largest producer of copper), has privatized social security accounts for each citizen, uses its resources very conservatively, and has the lowest level of poverty in Central and South America. Chile uses its budget surplus to fund its social programs, and also has a large slush fund to weather any economic storms. The privatized social security has made everyone a capitalist, even the socialists, so irresponsible spending is not tolerated by the populace.

The climate of Chile varies, because the country is 4,500 kilometers long, but only about 220 kilometers wide. The best description is Chile's climate is "Baja to Alaska", a mirror image of the western US. I live in the lakes district, which is the bread basket of Chile- a rolling hills farm area with many lakes/ rivers, large farms, and few people. Lots of rain in the winter and sun in the summer. Similar to Oregon or Washington. Chile only has 15 million people. Chile’s main roads are toll roads- the country bases its systems on a user tax. Why should an individual with no car/transport be taxed for interstates? In Chile, the tolls support the roads, the taxes are low. Local roads are not toll roads, just the interstates. It's a nice system.

Annual Income: $10,000-$20,000. One can live well on $1,000 a month.

Investments: Gold and silver, outside the US.

Present Home: A 1,100 sq. ft. cabin. 2 bedroom, 1 bath. I took down a 60-year old cabin board by board to reuse as much of the old wood as possible. Rebuilt large post beam construction, very good insulation, wood stove heat, natural gas cooking and hot water. Also have a large barn that includes three horse stalls, hayloft, workshop/tack room and storage area. There is a woodshed/ laundry room outside. Water is gravity-fed year-round from a reservoir above my cabin. Underground pipes, so we have good water pressure. Electricity is buried cable- no power lines are visible. The place is wired for a diesel generator.

Vehicles: 2001 Toyota Hilux 4x4, gas. Vehicle taxes are about $75 a year, includes mandatory insurance. Vehicles require an road worthy inspection each year- $26. Gas in Chile is expensive - Chile has no native oil or natural gas. Fuel must be imported from Argentina, so gas is about $5 a gallon. Oil is also expensive- about $26 for the cheapest oil change. Chile’s one weakness is lack of fossil fuels.

Firearms: Mossberg 12 gauge, Winchester .44-40 lever-action made in 1898. Chile has good gun laws. Each individual can register 2 or 3. You need to pass a licensing course and register the weapons with the local army unit, but most people don’t. Chile’s laws are much like the US used to be. If you kill someone in self defense- no problem, no hassle. On your property, no problem. Example: We had a good employee that it turns out the police had been looking for. He had returned to his house one night and found some folks trying to burn down his father’s barn. He tried to stop them and got stabbed. Well, later that month he tracked down the attacker and shot him dead. The Police said it was warranted, a form of self defense since the attacker was a bad seed, they just wanted our employee to finish signing the paperwork/statement, then they let him walk! Common sense in a civil system.

Gardens/Orchards: 30 producing cherry trees. Two apple, three plum, two pear, one walnut. There is a very large avellano tree orchard. Multiple new fruit trees planted. 1/2 acre garden growing onions, lettuce, carrots, beets, corn, beans, cabbage, potatoes, pumpkin, goose-berry, red current, raspberries, and strawberries. Oh, and trying grapes this year- hope to get some wine down the road. Will build a greenhouse this summer to continue winter production.

Property tax: None. My property is too small. I love this country!

Pets/Livestock: One Dogo Argentino (great hunting dog), 2 horses. 40 head of cattle. Will raise hogs and bees for honey this summer.

Communications: Cell phone for emergency use, satellite direct TV, high speed internet.

Food Storage: Hard plastic waterproof containers. Do not have a long term supply built up yet. We usually have a few months on hand of apples, nuts when we harvest. Rice. One reason I moved here was because you could be self supporting, and we are in an agricultural area where we trade fence posts (I have a lot of wood) for hay, and expect to do the same with foodstuffs if needed. We will have chickens, and the property has plentiful wild boar and hares for hunting, along with partridge and dove, and there are nice trout in the river 1 km away.

Fuel Storage: 55 gallon drums, 20 liter containers for chain oil and mixing oil for the chainsaws.

Worst Case Scenario: The global depression takes away my English Premier League soccer matches on Direct TV! No, Chile should be good no matter what happens. Most folks still work hard with physical skills, are not spoiled, and don’t feel entitled. I am blessed that my wife was the daughter of a border policeman, her survival skills are much better than mine, and our livelihood is based on firewood, not electricity, so we can do pretty well. We only go to town once a week, could easily cut that down to once a month or never if need be. We fill up gas once every two months, so our rural and very healthy lifestyle is prepared for anything. And I can always ride my horses to town or around the lake to trade with my neighbors.

Another benefit for the country of Chile is that the weather comes from the South Pacific- the closet country to us that direction is New Zealand. Chile is not on any prominent wind streams that could bring nuclear or biological fallout. Chile has no real threats or enemies and the country has the best trained military in Central or South America (Not a large military, but Chile still has a mandatory draft and trains 200,000 citizens each year for a 12 or 18 month service. Chile’s military heritage is Prussian and since everyone serves at some point, the populace is well disciplined compared to most nations). Chile is bordered on the north by the driest desert in the world, on the east by the Andes, the Antarctic on the south and the pacific ocean on the west, so Chile is very well defended against entry from disease/plague/etc. Come to Chile! Life is good!

Hi Jim:
That first paragraph touched a nerve, because it was so truthful for me. My senior year in college everybody went to Ft. Liquordale. I went to Marrakech. Amazing experience. And boy did I get burned on some of the things I bought there. Some by as much as 1,000%. But the learning experience I came away with was priceless.

The negotiation skills I learned there have become by far my most valuable business tool. That experience really made me think. On one hobby web site where I have collected much feedback my favorite one of all is "He exhibited finely honed buying and selling skills: a pleasure to do business with." There is so much to bartering, selling, and buying skills. Part of it is even some poker skills.

For the most part we in America consider haggling painful and want it over with as quickly as possible. People over there (in Marrakech) have all day to barter. I think to myself, "It's my money, I earned it. Why don't I follow their example and try my very best to get something at the lowest price and see what kind of game we can play to save some dough." Make it a game and it naturally makes people interested because of competition. But winning the game and letting them make a small profit was the part that I enjoyed.

Yes, sometimes it is majoring in the minors. I don't have 15 minutes to haggle over a half a kilo of dates, but knowing the real price something should cost hastens the process. I came back home a changed person and used my newfound skills to make and save some real money here at home. When I buy a used item off, say craigslist, I don't simply make an offer out of thin air. I provide a rational, believable, supportable argument why I am offering what I am offering and why the seller should accept my offer.

Cash is king right now. Not enough people have it, and many desire it more than they desire their toys. One should remember that he who has the cash, now has what everybody wants. If you won't sell it to me at the price I am offering: I'll just keep looking. And then they think you might just be the last guy who comes offering them some cash and often you get what you are after.

People just need to slow down the process. I personally like to get off topic. Ask some roundabout personal background questions in friendly way. You can get some valuable insight into whether someone is being truthful or not. Sometimes based upon those answers I choose not to even bother to make an offer. But I am always polite, and respectful. Barter and haggling need not be unfriendly or acrimonious. I usually have more respect for someone who tries: much like respecting your adversary.

I never show too much interest, and make it known I am looking at other similar items elsewhere. Make a point of examining faults quietly, not to annoy the buyer but simply to show those faults are mutually acknowledged.

One of the most valuable things I learned in Marrakech was never offer a price. Work your way down, but don't offer a price unless you must, toward the end of the game. But, offering a price there is something you must follow thru on. Walking away from an offer you made is very bad form and considered shameful. Here in the US you almost always offer a price on the low end: from a point where you can't get hurt. Often times I will start negotiations on the phone. But I always ask the seller for his price. Never make an offer before you ask the seller for his price. I have been amazed the few times in my life where I bit my lip and asked the seller for a price, and got one that was far below what I was going to offer for it. Pleasant surprise indeed, and then you can even negotiate downwards from that point. You will get a better price from someone who realizes you are educated in their ways of haggling and you will get to that price quicker.

When I have occasionally dealt with people here in the US who were from North Africa: I usually sense they feel we are fools. Fools in the sense we spend money too easily, to fast, on impulse. We rush one of the most important facets of business. Haggling is a skill most our brethren need to brush up on. Who says you have to spend your money today?

Hope the insight is of some value. I appreciate your work very much. - John E.


Greetings from the Foothills of Maine:
Bartering truly is the greatest sport and a New England national pastime. I'd rather barter than eat. Most folks I know would. I learned to bargain early from a farmer father who was a rather fine trader.

Here's a tip for our new traders: I've never encountered a fellow who wouldn't take a chance. You see, sometimes a fellow would have accepted my last offer if it weren't for the "giving in." Everyone likes to think they have the last word. So somebody pulls a quarter out. If I win he takes my price. If he wins the toss, I take his price. (Which I have already decided I would pay, but I don't want to give in either and let him have the last word.) It's all about the dance. I know people who won't trade unless they haggle-dance first. It's a contest, a game, a sport -- so to speak. I call heads because a quarter goes heads more times than tails. (It's slightly more likely than tails on a quarter.) I win, he frowns, we all have a good laugh. I pay him, load my goods, and leave. I'll be welcome back to deal with him in the future, but I'll won't be able to use the "flip" again. He won't remember most of his customers, but he'll remember me and the "flip." - CC in Maine


Dear Jim:
Great article on bartering. Here is an inexpensive pocket weight scale I found. With this scale, some calipers, and a good reference you can check coin weight, thickness and diameter to verify authenticity to specifications for coins not covered by the Fisch Instruments gauges.
Regards, OSOM

"If we find our government in all its branches rushing headlong... into the arms of monarchy, if we find them violating our dearest rights, the trial by jury, the freedom of the press, the freedom of opinion, civil or religious, or opening on our peace of mind or personal safety the sluices of terrorism, if we see them raising standing armies, when the absence of all other danger points to these as the sole objects on which they are to be employed, then indeed let us withdraw and call the nation to its tents. But while our functionaries are wise, and honest, and vigilant, let us move compactly under their guidance, and we have nothing to fear. Things may here and there go a little wrong. It is not in their power to prevent it. But all will be right in the end, though not perhaps by the shortest means." - Thomas Jefferson to William Duane, 1811. ME 13:29

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Welcome to the thousands of new SurvivalBlog readers who've arrived after yesterday's prominent mention of SurvivalBLog.com on MSNBC.The same mention also pushed up the Amazon sales rank of my novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse" to around #800. (Out of more than two million books listed. Not bad for a novel that has been in print for 11 years!)

OBTW, I've been getting dozens of e-mails from SurvivalBlog newbies, asking very familiar questions, such as: "What's the safest area to relocate to?", "How do I store rice to protect it from vermin?", "What are the best things to keep on hand for barter?", and "How can insulin be stored without grid power?" I recommend that new readers take full advantage of the SurvivalBlog Search box (at the top of the right-hand bar) as well as the numerous static topic pages that are easily accessed using the buttons at the top of our main page. Read the "About" and "Precepts" pages first. After that you might n reading through some of the "Retreat Owner Profiles" and my "Recommended Retreat Areas" pages.


The high bid in the current SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $535. This auction is for a mixed lot that includes:

1.) A huge lot of DVDs, CD-ROMs and hard copy nuclear survival/self-sufficiency references (a $300+ value) donated by Richard Fleetwood of www.SurvivalCD.com

2.) A custom-made, fully-stocked EMS Medic Bag from Cajun Safety and Survival (a $212 retail value)

3.) A NukAlert radiation detector donated by at KI4U.com (a $160 retail value)

4.) A case (6 cans) of Mountain House freeze dried foods in #10 (96 ounce) cans donated by Ready Made Resources (a $160 value)

5.) An autographed copy of "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse" ($24, retail)

See the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction page for complete details on these items. This auction ends on November 15th. Please e-mail us your bid.

One of my long-standing Precepts is that every prepared individual should be ready for both barter and dispensing charity. Today, I'll be briefly discussing barter. Being ready to barter is not just a matter of having a pile of "stuff" to barter. While barter and charity logistics are important, what is even more important is what is between your ears.

A Bazaar Experience

Bartering takes practice. Dickering is an acquired skill. Short of buying yourself a plane ticket to Marrakech, I suggest that you start attending gun shows, garage sales, and flea markets. Learn how to haggle.

One of my long standing Rawlesian Precepts is having the skills and material acquired to conduct barter in a post-collapse society. Much has been written about what goods to keep on hand for bartering. But precious little has been discussed in survivalist literature on the skills required to barter effectively, and how to protect yourself from fraud.

I recommend that you practice bartering on a very small scale at first, to sharpen your eye for value and your ability to dicker in a manner that will result in a fair trade. (Mutually agreeable and mutually beneficial.) The occasional transaction where you end up slighted is hardly cause for concern. But unless you develop the proper bartering skills, you'll end up on the weaker side of bargains again and again, and thus fritter away your tangible working capital. The attributes that will put you in a superior bartering position include specific knowledge about what is being traded, knowledge about who's sitting on the the other side of the table, and good old-fashioned "horse trading sense".

Knowledge and References
The more you know about the goods being exchanged the better you'll be able to dicker. Armed with this knowledge, you'll be able to honestly, yet persuasively talk up the virtues of your own goods, while politely talking down the defects of your trading partner's goods. Hence, the the greater your technical knowledge of the goods, the better. Take the time to study and develop an 'appraiser's eye' for the condition of used merchandise, the relative value of goods from one maker versus another, and knowledge of the overall market . With that knowledge you can articulate the scarcity of any particular item in your barter stock. (After all, as with any other free market transaction, the key factor in determining value is the supply-demand ratio.) If you are trading for a collectible item then knowing how scarce they are can put you at a tremendous advantage in negotiation. It is important to gather as many references as possible about the items that you plan to barter. Francis Bacon said it best: "Knowledge is power." You need to authoritatively know which maker, model, variation, grade, year of production, etc. to look for. Product expertise helps makes you a savvy buyer or seller. There are dozens of references on specific types of tool, guns, and collectibles that are valuable to keep on hand. For example, two of the most important ones that I 've found for firearms are: "The Blue Book of Gun Values" and "Flayderman's Guide to Antique Firearms and Their Values."

Similarly, knowing exactly how to properly gauge the condition of a used item is quite important. For example, with firearms, the percentage of original bluing remaining, cracks or wear to a gun's stock, bore condition, chamber condition, bolt face erosion, action tightness, headspace, and so forth all make a huge difference in the value of a used gun.

Detailed knowledge is also crucial when determining the value of a rare coin. (For most of us, that knowledge is too specialized. It can take many years to develop coin grading skills, so a novice can get in over his head very easily. The difference between an MS-66 coin and an MS-68 coin is very subtle, yet that difference can mean thousands of dollars difference in a coin's price. I therefore recommend that novices only trade professionally graded coins that have been graded and sealed (or "slabbed") by either PCGS or NGC. A coin dealer Blue Sheet is a crucial reference for measuring the current value of coins with particular mint marks and dates, in any given grade on the Sheldon Scale. Even having an out-of-date Blue Sheet is better than nothing, since it will show relative values of coins, which change fairly gradually. Again, this is not for a novice, or part-time dabbler. (FWIW, even though I have been buying rare coins for more than 20 years, I still consider myself effectively a "novice" level since I don't ge frequent coin grading practice. Hence, I only buy slabs. ("A man has got to know his limitations.")


To be ready to barter with bullion gold cons or scrap gold it is important to have a touchstone, an acid test kit, test needles, a very accurate scale, and a set of Fisch coin authenticity dimensional gauges.

When bartering for canned goods it's important to have a Julian Calendar (since some packers use Julian dates) and a hard copy of this chart showing how to decipher date of pack codes from various canners and packers.

For liquid fuel it's important to know if the fuel has been contaminated or adulterated. (Coincidentally, one of our newest advertisers, UR-2B-Prepared.com sells water test strips.

For batteries, it's important to have a voltmeter. (For the greatest versatility, buy a Volt-Ohm meter with test probes on leads, rather than a typical tray-type home battery tester. )

For examining the the fine details of just about anything--such reading hallmarks--a jeweler's loupe (magnifying glass) is a must.

For evaluating firearms, as a minimum buy a 6 foot tape measure and a fiber optic bore inspection light.

Dickering Tactics
Above and beyond getting technical knowledge is the hard to quantify "people skill" of dickering. Dickering skills can take years to develop. Part of this is learning how to "read" the face and body language of the gent on the other side of the table. How anxious is he to unload something that he has, or to acquire something that you have? How quick they are to make or accept an offer is a key indicator. And if there is a savvy trader sizing you up, you have to learn to keep a "poker face", not revealing how excited you are to see a particular item being offered.

Take your time in carefully examining any item offered to you. This accomplishes two things. Firstly, it gives you the opportunity to spot any flaws, defects or signs of wear on the item being offered. Secondly, the more time that you spend examining the item will lead the seller to subconsciously start to doubt the value of what he is offering. If you're in a flea market or gun show situation once you have an item in your hands you are essentially free to examine it without fear of someone else buying it. Take your time!

If you make an offer for an item, and it is rejected or the counter offer made is ridiculously low than the very best thing you can do is put the item back down on the table. This psychologically distances you from the item, and again, makes the seller begin to doubt it's value. In the dickering process one of the most valuable phrases that you can use is "Is that the best you can do?" If the seller won't budge, and you are close to an acceptable price, the next best thing to do is to offer to sweeten the deal with additional goods offered on your side of the bargain. If you still can't reach an agreement it probably wouldn't hurt to subtly talk down the value of what's being offered to you, and talk up the value of what you are offering. "This is a mighty fine widget it's too bad about this crack and this wear... If it weren't for that, I think your asking price would be fair."

The next most valuable thing you can learn to say is to say nothing. After making an offer and receiving a counter offer, silently start counting to twenty. There is something about a long pause that causes all but the most stalwart dickerer to want to fill that silence And nine times out of ten, they will fill that silence with another offer, usually one that is more agreeable.

As a last resort, if you are still at an impasse in reaching an mutually-agreeable trade, your tool of last resort is to thank the seller and start to walk away from the table. This will be your final gauge of just how anxious the seller is to move his merchandise. If you hear "Wait, wait, wait, come back here...", then you know that the seller still has room to negotiate on price or quantities. Keep in mind however, that this is a dangerous tactic. Once you walk away from a table without he seller voicing objection, but return later, you have subconsciously boxed yourself into the previously-offered price. If you come back later for the same item, the seller will know that you are anxious to purchase it, and did not find a better deal for a comparable item elsewhere, so they'll probably hold to the same price.

When selling, keep in mind that you can negotiate downwards, but not upwards. Always make your initial asking price somewhat higher than what you really want out of it. Some people will not agree to even a good deal, unless they can extract at least one price concession from you. So, set a fairly high price, and then negotiate downward.

If your counterpart brings an item to offer to you, but that item is of no interest to you, always thank him for his time: 'Thanks, but I'm not interested in that right now. Do you have any X available?", describing what you are looking for in trade. Remember, a sales venue is an opportunity to gather information about other items a seller may have available, but may not physically have with them. It may not hurt to make arrangements to see them at the next event, reminding them to bring those items so you can make a deal next time.


When going to attend a flea market, gun show, or horse trading session, it is important to "dress down". If you wear a fancy Rolex watch, or fancy designer clothes, consciously or unconsciously your counterpart will size you up as being made of money. So dress very casually, including your shoes. Leave your jewelry, pens, and nice watch at home. Wear your cheap plastic-cased digital watch for these excursions.

You also need to learn to be observant about your counterpart. Is he a collector, that happens to sell on the side, or is he a journeyman salesman, who makes a livelihood at the business. Is he retiring and selling off inventory? Is he someone selling merchandise on behalf of a friend or relative? The bottom line is: just how anxious is your counterpart in making a deal?

Timing and Rapport

When approaching a vendors booth or table for the first time it is important to first wait until the vendor has finished dealing with any previous customers. Don't interrupt a man when he's making a deal! Smile and make eye contact, and if appropriate for the venue, introduce yourself and shake hands. If you are a fellow vendor, it's important to wear your badge, or otherwise make it known that you also have a table or booth. This lets the seller know that he is talking to a wholesale rather than retail customer. This can make a tremendous difference when negotiating price. Even if the vendor appears to have a pile of worthless junk on his table (with perhaps a few nice items of interest) make a point of expressing your admiration for his merchandise. Say something like "You've got a real nice inventory here" or "I can see that you have good taste in widgets". This is an important step in developing rapport with you counterpart. While it doesn't hurt to point out a defect on an individual item while negotiating for it, do not "run down" the quality or condition of everything that you see. Doing so could skunk the entire deal-making process. OBTW, don't be shy about pointing out defects in your own merchandise. "Oh, in case didn't noticed, there is one dent here..." That lets your customer know that you are reputable.

Another key aspect of understanding buying and selling psychology is the "stage of the game". At the beginning of a show or sale most journeymen sellers arrive inventory rich, and cash poor. Near the end of the show, they will likely have more cash (or precious metals) on hand and then will be in a better position to make offers. Although some of the best items may have already been sold, one of the best times to make a purchase or trade is near the end of a show, when some sellers have had a "slow show" At flea markets and gun show wait until just before the vendor's "tear down" and pack-up time begins. Depending on their situation they might feel desperate to make a good sale or a couple of good swaps so that they can feel that they've made the show worthwhile. So, if you saw an item earlier in the show, and could not negotiate an agreeable price, wait for the end of the sales event. This, BTW, is particularly valuable tactic if the item in question is particularly bulky or heavy. It is the unspoken goal of every seller to "go home light".

If you encounter a seller that has the sort of merchandise that you think would be of future interest, then it's important to get that seller's particulars so that you can contact him later. Take copious notes. The same applies when you encounter a seller that has a particularly valuable area of expertise or a rare stock of items--especially spare parts. These are people well worth "networking" with.

Never Trade Hard for Soft
When negotiating a trade, keep in mind the absolutely fundamental rule: "never trade hard for soft". This means, if what you are offering in a trade is a compact, valuable, durable, tangible item, that is in short supply, or highly valued, the don't make the mistake of trading it away for items that are less durable or desirable. Otherwise, at the end of the day, your counterpart will be going home with the better goods than you. The only exception to this rule would be if your counterpart is willing to trade a much greater quantity of his items and that you know that you have a ready market for them. A corollary to this rule is, that it is better to trade your bulky for his compact. (Or as one aging gun show vendor I met in put it, "Don't never trade away handguns for rifles or shotguns." That is simple yet sage advice.) This is particularly important in venues where space is at a premium, and you are paying for the use of that space.

In closing, barter takes time to learn. Invest that time. Also invest in the proper references. Lastly, invest in a stock of top quality barter goods that you predict will be sought-after in a post collapse world. With the right goods and the requisite knowledge, you and your family will never starve.


The letter [from reader PNG] has severe mistakes and is fundamentally misleading - your readers deserve even more refutation before anyone is lulled into a false sense of security. To quote: “Let's say the Treasury just invents another two trillion dollars by printing currency and forgiving loans. Let's say they do that every year for the next five years. How much inflation would that create? The absolute maximum inflation rate from this example is about 20%, because there's ten trillion dollars in circulation already.”

  1. These numbers are incredibly far off the mark. Actually M1 is the narrow definition of money - the core money supply that the Fed controls. It just spiked from ~ 850 billion to ~1,010 billion ($1.01 trillion) in one month.
    So he's off by a factor of 10 here. If the Fed printed (or created digitally) the hypothetical two trillion $ this would triple the M1 money supply. Three times as much money chasing goods would ignite hyperinflation very quickly…
  2. And let's not forget about the multiplier effect of fractional reserve banking! Even much smaller amounts of money creation are going to create serious inflation because we live with the fundamentally dishonest and unstable fractional reserve banking system. $10 deposited in a bank is used as “reserves” to loan out more than $100. (Banks are only obligated to keep less than 10% in reserves to pay depositors). Off by another factor of 10! Two trillion in new money becomes more than twenty trillion dollars in loans.
    Quoting again: “But in practice, the additional money dilutes the much larger pool of value represented by goods and services. This must be true because the entire money supply isn't enough to buy everything that is for sale.”
  3. Actually money has velocity - it is spent, or changes hands, several times per year. The money supply multiplied by the velocity determines the amount of dollars bidding for the total supply of goods. E.g., $100 times a velocity, or turnover, of 10 times a year = $1,000 spent in one year. This $1,000 bids for the supply of goods, NOT just the $100.
    In the US (right now) velocity is moderate. In Zimbabwe it is incredibly fast. So looking at just the supply of money is only half of the equation when you look at the $ bidding up prices for goods.
  4. There are lots of other mistakes here, but one last note is in order “That kind of inflation is literally unprecedented in otherwise functional economies” Crack open an encyclopedia, and look under W, for Weimar Germany! And don't confuse cause with effect - economies become dysfunctional because of inflation - Argentina is a good place to start reading...

An aside - thanks to Dr. Gary North for making the link above freely available on the public section of his web site. Sign up for his free Reality Check newsletter if you’d like advance notice of economic trends based on real numbers. (BTW, I have no relation to Gary North, other than gratitude for giving me far more education than I paid for as a subscriber.) Yours truly, - OSOM


Here are a couple of facts about inflation I'd like to share:

FACT: The US Federal Reserve is issuing loaned money at its discount window at the rate of $100 Billion per day which is $36 Trillion, annualized. The $100 billion daily rate is actually increasing each week. These quantities of money will never be paid back because the national debt is 10T$ which it took 95 years to accumulate. This is highly inflationary.

FACT: Every bank account has been guaranteed to $250,000 [more than twice the old limit] with unlimited funds to back up FDIC insurance. This will be highly inflationary, if banks fail. - J.K.


Referring to the letter by PNG, “currency inflation expectations” and your response. I would like to quibble a great deal with PNG, and a little with you.

First, for reader PNG,

Week before last, the Fed increased the money supply by nearly 23% in one week. They have been increasing the supply by huge amounts weekly, but that one took the cake. Disregarding Jim's accurate argument that there are other things to inflation, (e.g. velocity of money) simply multiplying 22% times 52 weeks gives a minimum annual inflation number of 1144%. The way the Fed has been “printing” money since Aug 17 this year, triple digit inflation is almost a given. (Not that the Fed can really “Print” money, but it can sure “Create”.)

The government is constantly changing the way it calculates inflation. Now they talk about “core” inflation, leaving out the “volatile” food and energy, etc. costs. Since when do we not need food and energy to survive? If one calculates inflation using exactly the same methods used during the Clinton administration, (as they do over at the “shadow stats” web site) you will note inflation is running well over 10% NOW, and it takes some time for newly “printed” money to work its way through the system to become inflation.

And for you, Jim,
I certainly agree with your observations about debt and derivatives. The world bank and others are coming up with estimates that the notional amounts of derivatives run in the order of 1.31 Quadrillion dollars. No one knows for sure. If any one of the three counterparties to a derivative default, then the notional amount owed becomes a real amount owed. To put that in perspective, the GNP of the entire world economy doesn’t run over $50 trillion. A bailout of $700 billion is peeing in the ocean because there are a lot more zeros in a quadrillion than in a billion. A quadrillion is a million billions. Parts of this house of cards are failing now, (your comment about Lehman’s explosion date of Oct. 21 is spot on) and the numbers are so huge that undoubtedly one will take down others in a row of dominoes effect. Lehman may be that first domino.

My quibble with you regards another possibility to inflation. In our fractional reserve banking system, every dollar “printed” by the Fed is normally multiplied by about 10 by the banking system (Theoretically it can be much more than 10) So to inaccurately describe in economic terms, the dollar bills “printed” by the Fed might be called M1. By the time that one M1 dollar makes its way through the banking system an additional 9 have been created via loans for any purpose to the average guy or company. That might be called M3. The commercial banks get one dollar but loan out ten. And there is no way of telling whether what you are spending is created by a commercial bank loan or was “printed” by the Fed, and in practice, normally it doesn’t matter. There are, however rules as to how much the banks can loan out based on reserves, which are normally the capital and accumulated profit. (Equity)

However, in special circumstances such as we now face, it does matter whether dollars are Fed created or commercial bank created. Normally, to make as much profit as possible, commercial banks will try to lend out every dollar they can. In the current situation there are two things that stop the commercial banks from lending. The first is they are scared silly, and rightly so. They have gone from worrying about the return on money to worrying about the return of money. No one can tell whether a bank is bankrupt or not, because IF they hold derivatives, those derivatives may suddenly become a giant liability. As well, all the major companies used derivatives freely, and they are suspect too. Ergo we have a credit crunch where the banks are afraid to lend, even to each other. The fractional bank multiplier (one in, ten out) is not working, contracting the M3, or money on the street. Very deflationary.

All these billions the banks are “writing off” come directly from their equity, or reserves. Since they can only lend out a certain multiple of their ‘reserves’, those reserves, or accumulated profit, are dropping like a rock because of the writeoffs. They must contract their lending to remain within the rules. So, it becomes an issue of the commercial banks being neither willing, nor able to lend.

The government allows certain borrowings from the central bank to be counted as reserves in time of turmoil, which hasn’t been a problem within the life span of most alive today. During 2007, and prior, US bank reserves ran in the order of $43 billion. The latest US figures I saw shows “non borrowed” reserves at minus $403 billion. The rest is government loans “counted” as reserves. Every bank in the US, and most of the rest of the world, is bankrupt. Well, there will be one or two prudent exceptions, but they will also likely be taken down too, if only because of the number of checks in circulation.

Suddenly those nine dollars of commercial bank created dollars are shrinking, and they can shrink even faster than the government can print. All this is highly deflationary, as the world found to its dismay in 1929. Why do you think Paulson has opted to buy equity in banks with a significant part of his $700 billion? It pumps their reserves, so they have the ability to lend. No one has mentioned how they can cause banks to have a willingness to lend.

My point is that so many assets are being destroyed, as they were in 1929, that a deflationary scenario is entirely possible. And deflation is a much meaner beast than inflation. I have previously forecast elsewhere an inflation followed by deflation until it is all Fed created money. Then it is Zimbabwe[-like situation for America], if the system holds together that long.

Like you, I much prefer a world of sleeping well at night, hot showers and lights that turn on at the flick of a switch. - Allen


Mr. Rawles;
In response to he recent post where another reader thought that triple digit inflation could only happen with $10 trillion per year increases in the money supply I would like to provide some further economic insight for your readers.

  1. Prices are determined by supply and demand; therefore, a drop in demand for dollars can have a far greater effect than a increase in supply. Many people do not realize that in Germany the inflation rate was many times the rate of the increase in the money supply.
  2. If the dollar loses its reserve currency status (currently being discussed) then international demand could fall off a cliff forcing half of the dollar supply back to the United States (100% inflation).
  3. There is a time-lag for inflation. In the early days people expect price stability and so inflation is much lower in than the actual increase in supply. Over time people expect more and more inflation until it spirals out of control. It is a geometric function where most of the action takes place in a very short period of time. In other words, the huge increase in the money supply that resulted in home prices going up has not yet fully been priced into other goods and services.
  4. A decrease in production (due to recession) decreases the supply of goods competing with existing money causing inflation.
  5. Ever dollar FDIC pays out is inflationary; therefore, with the government backing almost everything these days every deflationary "force" is countered by inflationary government action. Ultimately, interest on the national debt will exceed the ability to tax... this is the end game for the dollar.

When you factor in these things, triple digit inflation does not take much time to get rolling. In fact, it can go from 10% (current) to 100% inflation in just a few weeks. I hope this material is useful for your readers. - Dan in Virginia

From Rick D.: Inflation Creates Run On Argentine Coins

   o o o

David in Israel, one of our foreign correspondents, and a rabbinical student sent us this comment: "It is interesting that you mention the shmita (the jubilee or yovel in Hebrew is a 49 year cycle where sold property is returned and slaves freed) a seven year cycle where all debts are forgiven, and at the end of the year that we let our fields lie fallow. The day of the 777.68 point Dow drop, the largest point drop in history, hit on the exact day that the shmita cycle and the year 5768 ended and all debts were forgiven. Whether coincidence or our Creator giving us a little wink, you will have to decide."

   o o o

A hat tip to OSOM for this piece to add to the rather thin 'Good News' file: New developments in efficient solar power.

   o o o

The latest news and commentary from Cheryl N., our Economic Editor: Dow Sinks 514 As Recession Warnings Grow Louder -- Oil Sinks To 16-Month Low ($66.75/barrel) -- Fed To Pump $540 Billion More Liquidity -- World Recession Likely Says [UK PM] Brown -- Fed Tries To Prevent "Great Depression II" -- Pound Tumbles as BoE Admits Recession -- More Euro Banks May Fail Says IMF -- 41 States Report Increased Monthly Job Losses -- CDO Cuts Show $1 Trillion Corporate-Debt Bets Toxic -- A Little Thing Called Inflation (The Mogambo Guru) -- Asian Markets Down After US Rout; Nikkei Down 7%

   o o o

A comment from reader Mike: "I have secured a 'mining claim' in Washington state. It can be easily used as a retreat when TSHTF. The cost is $100 per year, [with a lease administered by] the BLM." Mining claims have been mentioned a couple time before in SurvivalBlog, such as this letter, but we plan to cover this in greater detail soon.

"The trouble with small furry animals in a corner is that, just occasionally, one of them's a mongoose." - Terry Pratchett, Witches Abroad

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

SurvivalBlog was prominently mentioned in a front page piece on MSNBC yesterday and the resulting hits nearly crashed our server. (We got almost 90,000 unique visits in one day! That's nearly as many as we usually get in a week.) Here is the article: Hard times have some flirting with survivalism--Economic angst has Americans stockpiling 'beans, bullets and Band-Aids’. The story itself was well-written, but the headline was a bit much. Flirting? Flirting? I'd say that it is more like America has run off and eloped in Las Vegas with Survivalism.

The high bid in the current SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $460. This auction is for a mixed lot that includes:

1.) A huge lot of DVDs, CD-ROMs and hard copy nuclear survival/self-sufficiency references (a $300+ value) donated by Richard Fleetwood of www.SurvivalCD.com

2.) A custom-made, fully-stocked EMS Medic Bag from Cajun Safety and Survival (a $212 retail value)

3.) A NukAlert radiation detector donated by at KI4U.com (a $160 retail value)

4.) A case (6 cans) of Mountain House freeze dried foods in #10 (96 ounce) cans donated by Ready Made Resources (a $160 value)

5.) An autographed copy of "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse" ($24, retail)

See the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction page for complete details on these items. This auction ends on November 15th. Please e-mail us your bid.

Mr. Rawles,
We've been using the Dakota Alert driveway alarm for years. We use the model with the underground sensor that will only go off when a metal object comes near it such as a large (or even small) vehicle. The advantage of this is it has absolutely no false alarms. When the receiver says a car is coming down our (long) driveway, then a car is coming. There is nothing worse than an alarm that gives false alarm all the time and you no longer can trust it. The infrared driveway alarms that I've tried do this especially if you live in an area with lots of game running around such as deer, etc. Because of the absence of false alarms, I know when my driveway alarm goes off at 3 a.m.that someone is coming and I can be sure to have the appropriate welcome ready for them.

The other advantage is the unit is very discreet. With almost 50 feet of underground rated cable, I can bury the sensor next to the driveway and put the transmitter away from the road in an elevated position (such as a tree) and it is almost impossible to see. The 9 volt DC battery it uses lasts us about 8-12 months easily. I highly recommend the Dakota Alert. It's a great product and well worth the money. - Craig


I can vouch for the Reporter brand driveway alarm system. It's American-made and is fairly reliable. I had two different chinese-made systems which used magnetic sensors before I found out about this one. The [mainland] Chinese-made ones would become very prone to false alerts before they both eventually broke down. One lasted a year and the other lasted two years. One of them ended up ringing the base unit non-stop.

I've used the older Reporter [design] for nearly three years and it has held up to midwestern temperatures and weather extremes. It's range will drop to 100 yds if you use the supplied antennas with the receiver kept indoors. The sensor is very constrained in how it must be aimed in order to detect vehicles. Contrast in temperature in important. A cold vehicle that leaves your property will probably not always set it off. On the flip side, I've never had a false alarm with it. It will pick up small animals that get exactly within its sensor path --including rabbits and occasionally a bird. Likewise, I had a spider crawl onto the sensor which set it off and made for an amusing mystery until I looked at the sensor itself. It will sometimes miss vehicles coming in due to types of tires, position of muffler
which could escape a single sensor. This takes some experimentation and an understanding that it isn't always going to be 100% perfect. It's like any other piece of gear that can fail. Later, - Chris


Dear JWR:
I replaced my wired driveway alert with a wireless Dakota Alert unit several years ago. I have been pleased with the performance and customer support. I use a magnetic sensor to minimize false alerts, although my neighbor’s cow and large deer can somehow trigger it from tromping down my driveway. The 9 volt alkaline battery has been unreliable in cold weather and I have purchased lithium batteries to test this winter.
Also, the sensor and cable are enclosed in plastic conduit to keep the critters with sharp teeth from giving me another repair project I purchased and returned the Dakota Alert portable receiver as it was very disappointing. Thanks to all for the tip on using the alert with a MURS [handheld] radio. BTW, I've made my 10 Cent Challenge. Thanks, - Jon

Mr. Rawles,
I have only a small amount of silver American coins but I constantly look for more. I find your advice to buy pre-1964 dimes, quarters and half-dollars difficult to realize as coin collectors are not selling junk silver in my area (Dallas/Fort Worth). To be frank the silver coins that are available are being sold at crazy prices (two or more times spot) over priced right now as everyone is freaking out about the economy. Reasonably priced coins, though significantly delayed, are available online and my collection has mainly been purchased this way.

On the other hand, silver dollars are frequently for sale at local coin stores. I purchase these when the market is favorable. They are especially easy to store in rolls. You never mention these coins though so I have some trepidation about making this the foundation of my bullion stash. Could you comment on this as well as 99% silver American Eagles as a survival monetary reserve? Thanks, - Neal

JWR: Replies: The premium is generally much higher for silver dollars (than dimes, quarters and halves), because even noticeably-worn dollars are in constant demand for the jewelry trade. (Belt buckles, etc.) A dollar coin also has a hair more silver content, than four quarters, but that is only significant for large quantities. (765 ounces versus 715 ounces, per $1,000 face value, if I recall correctly. That info is in my FAQ.)

Therefore, if your goal is accumulating a stock of coins for barter, then unless you can get silver dollars at nearly the same price as smaller silver, then buy only the smaller denomination silver coins.
One ounce silver American Eagles also command a higher premium than generic trade dollars. Although they are vaguely more recognizable than generics for barter purposes, I don't think that they are worth paying the premium. The type of trade "dollars" that I look for are the commercially made (not from a the U.S. Mint) "US Assay Silver -- .999 Fine -- Trade Unit" one-ounce rounds. (To see an example, here is one that recently sold on eBay.) These are quite recognizable and hence will be trusted for barter--perhaps even more so than even American Eagles from the US Mint. Sadly, the average man on the street is ignorant about precious metals has probably never held an American Eagle coin in his hand. If you can find some these rounds (with the current scarcity), they sell for about 20% less that American Eagles or Canadian Maple Leafs. But of course in today's incredibly scant market, beggars can't be choosers.

Thank you for the blog and all the great info you put out. I have a couple of questions that I would like to ask you, but first a little info about myself. I am a 40 year old male with a wife and two kids. I live in Kansas, I work at a large manufacturing plant and my wife works for a insurance company. We have a mortgage and other dept. I would like to buy some land out of town and build a retreat for my family and myself for when TSHTF but can not afford it right now. My grandfather though does own land about a hour north of here. I was wondering what you thought about buying a RV, stocking it with supplies and when the time comes bugging out in that. Also you are always saying to invest in tangibles, What do you recommend ? Thirty round magazines? Ammunition? Barter items? Right now I have about $1,000 to invest but I am lost as to what to buy. I already have my protection squared away so that is not an issue. Once again thank you for all you do and I wish your wife a full and speedy recovery. - Mike in the Great Plains

JWR Replies: I'm fairly certain that you are suggesting an RV strictly as a one-way "Get Out of Dodge" (G.O.O.D.) vehicle to get to your grandfather's farm, rather than as a vague concept for retreating. For any readers that might consider wandering aimlessly in an RV, see this narrative that I wrote in the early days of SurvivalBlog:

“Land mobile” retreating in a recreational vehicle (RV) is another invitation to disaster. In a TEOTWAWKI situation, a fixed location retreat is vastly superior to going mobile. In my opinion the myth of ”Road Warrior” mobility and firepower is in actuality just an expanded opportunity to wander into ambush after ambush. No vehicle short of a $70,000+ Cadillac Gage V100 wheeled armored personnel carrier (APC) would have both the cargo capacity and the ballistic protection required. (A little Ferret scout car just doesn't have the capacity. I speak from personal experience on that!) Also, consider that you would need a pair of APCs to provide mutually supporting defensive fire. And then of course you will probably want a belt-fed for each. With spares, ammo, and accessories that is an additional $3,000 per vehicle.

If by chance you already have a fully stocked retreat established and have $150,000 in cash laying around for a couple of ultimate G.O.O.D. vehicles, see: Dave Uhrig’s web site and then click on “Armor”. (I should mention that I have done business with Dave Uhrig on two occasions. He is quite reputable.)

Here is a dose of reality for you: If you choose to go entirely vehicle mobile then you will eventually lose a battle--most likely in a roadblock ambush--or your RV will break down. Or it will run out of fuel--with some likelihood that it will be on exposed terrain in an untenable situation. Also, since the logistics that you could carry would be limited, you will start out with an inherent disadvantage to fixed location retreats. This also creates the prospect that once your food supplies are depleted you will be tempted to take what you need from others. To paraphrase John Dibari (my high school chemistry instructor) when he described troublemakers: “If you aren’t part of the solution--you’re the precipitate.” (That is, someone who precipitates trouble--part of the problem, not the solution.) Scratch that idea!

Since you have a definite destination (your grandfather's house), then you are better off just storing ("pre-positioning") what you will need there, rather than trying cram what you will need into an RV for an 11th Hour trip outta Dodge. Odds are that those items will be more secure there, than if they were stored at your house in the Big City, anyway. If his house lacks the requisite storage space perhaps he would be agreeable to you buying a 20 foot CONEX for your gear, and storing it there

In answer to your other question: See this SurvivalBlog post from 2007 for my recommendations on buying full capacity firearms magazines, for barter.

"Liberty tells you that you are entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; to whatever you earn, and nothing that you don't." - Ron Paul

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I'm curious about your thoughts regarding a person learning a second language. In America I guess the language of choice would be Spanish simply due to the incredible influx of Hispanics to our shores thanks to our open border policy.

Personally, I feel it would be a sound investment to one's array of survival skills to provide them with the ability to negotiate and communicate with a large segment of the population. Also, if one has to flee south of the border for whatever reason having Spanish under their belt along with a few gold pesos [minted as "Onza de Oro"coins in the modern era] could be very helpful.

But, it is a trade-off as leaning a language does not come easy and requires a substantial time investment both in study and practice. Hence, I'm seeking some sage advice. Kind regards, - Michael

JWR Replies: Knowing a second language is indeed valuable, and well worth pursuing. Here in North America, learning to speak Spanish is definitely advisable. Even just a rudimentary vocabulary might prove invaluable. In the context of preparedness, I can think of at least two situations where this knowledge would be important

1.) Barter situations. People feel more comfortable dickering in the their native language. In many agricultural regions in the western US there are sizable immigrant populations.

2.) Offshore relocation. Most of Central and South America is Spanish-speaking, of course with the notable exception of Brazil, where Portuguese is spoken. Language skills are crucial in "coming up to speed" when relocating.

OBTW, one subtlety that many Norte Americanos are not aware of is that the accent in which you speak Spanish is important. It changes in the way that people perceive you and place you socially--at least subconsciously. Hence, you do not want to learn to speak gutter Spanish. If you are tutored, then hire a tutor with a refined Castilian accent. The nature of human mimicry dictates that you will pick up part of your tutor's accent. Having a refined accent will give you a subtle edge in dickering or when in conversation with customs or other law enforcement officers when you travel abroad.

I noticed the comments about using 1960s vintage flash bulbs as tripwire warning devices for a perimeter. Something that I improvised and used successfully on active duty in the Army in the 70s was also based on flash bulbs. Remember the flash cubes from the 1970s? The four-sided flash bulbs that rotated and flashed on the mass market cameras of the era can be turned into effective and non-lethal warning devices. If they are still available, get a flash cube and look at the underside of it. You will notice a tiny 'hammer' that when released strikes a ["primer"-like]device which causes the bulb to flash. Place an opened paperclip between the hammer and "primer" to block the full travel of the hammer and then trip the hammer. The paperclip will stop it from going the full distance. Do this for at least one more of the flash 'stations' on the flash cube. Use clear mailing tape to bind the armed flash cube to a handy tree trunk, sturdy shrub, poll, or what have you. Run monofilament fishing line from the paper clips across the area that you wish to guard and anchor the far end. When intruders walk through the area at night and snag the line, the paperclip is pulled from the flash cube, it fires and simultaneously signals that an intruder is in the area and temporarily dazzles him! We used these during field exercises against the 'enemy' and the devices were highly successful. I imagine the flash cubes can still be purchased. Give it a try and see if it works! Best Regards, - Karl V., USA (ret.)

I wanted to clarify that you can just tape cannon fuse to a flashbulb - there is no need to drill a hole. If your particular bulbs have difficulty with lighting the fuse, then you can shave a little of the jacket from the fuse to expose the gunpowder core - then tape the fuse on, with the core contacting the bulb. This works great. - Matt

You recently wrote: "The Treasury will undoubtedly be forced to monetize a good portion of the National Debt. This is effectively creating money out of thin air. Each new dollar so created will dilute the purchasing power of the dollars that are already in circulation (Both paper and electronic "dollars".) This wholesale dollar fabrication will be outrageously inflationary. Be prepared for double digit and then triple digit inflation in the next few years."

Let's say the Treasury just invents another two trillion dollars by printing currency and forgiving loans. Let's say they do that every year for the next five years. How much inflation would that create?
The absolute maximum inflation rate from this example is about 20%, because there's ten trillion dollars in circulation already. But in practice, the additional money dilutes the much larger pool of value represented by goods and services. This must be true because the entire money supply isn't enough to buy everything that is for sale.
So the two trillion would get divided into that pool, which is several times larger than the money supply (I can't find a reliable figure), and therefore the potential for inflation here is actually several times smaller than 20%.

Your prediction of triple-digit inflation is simply impossible unless the government starts printing tens of trillions of dollars worth of currency, every year.
You've led yourself astray here for (at least) two reasons:
You think that what's happening in Zimbabwe can happen here. It can't. Almost all of Zimbabwe's economy is channeled through its government. The vast majority of the population is unemployed. The value of goods and real property in the Zimbabwean economy is small, and much of that value isn't even really participating in the local economy. So the government's injection of money into the economy is very large with respect to the total value of the economy, and high inflation results. None of these conditions exists in the US, and none is even remotely possible in the next several years. The worst case here is that US per-capita productivity and property values decline by, say, 50% over several years-- roughly what happened in the Great Depression-- which could potentially result in several years of 10%-to-20% inflation.

But that worst case doesn't have much to do with the government expanding the money supply. That influence, as I described earlier, can be only in the range of 4% to 5%. The larger numbers are only possible in a Great Depression-type event if the underlying value of property declines dramatically.

Your other mistake is that you [over-estimate] the true magnitude of the current economic problems. Only two parts of the national economy is in trouble-- banking and home construction. Between them, they don't account for a large part of the total economy. They aren't destroyed, either, merely depressed by some significant fraction. People still need banks and houses. So, bottom line, we're looking at nothing more than a several-percent decline in the true value of the economy.

Stop [over-stating the inflation risk]. Tell people how to prepare for 10% to 15% inflation if you must. But stop these outrageous predictions of 100%+ inflation. That kind of inflation is literally unprecedented in otherwise functional economies, and there is no reason to suppose the United States economy will become dysfunctional to that level. Thanks, - PNG

JWR Replies: I really do wish that today's economic problems were restricted just to financial institutions and home construction. But the great unraveling that I'm talking about involves so much more. It involves the derivatives casino that now exists in every major industry and service field. Most of this has built up in just the last 10 years.

Look back at what I wrote about "disappearing counterparties" in the derivatives articles that I've been posting for the past two years. This seems to be starting to happen, here and now, right before our eyes. Our friend Tom over at The Contrary Investor's Cafe alerted me to this brief news item from England, which I will take the liberty of quoting in full:

D-Day Looms for Lehman Contracts
A fresh shockwave from the collapse of US investment bank Lehman Brothers could hit home on Tuesday when complex insurance contracts worth hundreds of billions are settled, it was reported.
Around 360 billion US dollars (£208bn) in so-called credit default swap (CDS) contracts are due to be paid off following the company's failure.
A CDS essentially acts like an insurance policy against defaults on corporate bonds or loans.
It is a form of derivative contract, gaining a "derived" value from the performance of the bond it is based on.
But because Lehman went bust, those selling CDSs to insure against default on its corporate bonds will be forced to stump up the cash to buyers.
Tuesday is the D-Day for the complex web of transactions. A City source told the Sunday Telegraph: "Everyone will be watching the situation and wondering what's going to happen."
AIG, the insurance giant which was one of the biggest sellers of CDS products, is thought to have large exposure to Lehman Brothers and was bailed out by the US Government last month.
The Treasury has pumped in more than 120 billion US dollars (£70bn) into the stricken firm so far.
Other insurers of Lehman's debt are thought to be hedge funds, who created and sold CDSs as a lucrative revenue-raising exercise in better times.
Although CDSs were originally designed as insurance products to allow investors to hedge against the risk of default, traders have also used them as speculative tools.

Thankfully, the derivatives market is very orderly and every risk has a very tidy counterbalance. So when all is said and done those really big notional numbers don't mean a lot in the real world. They are just bookkeepers digits tallied at the end of a derivative play. And unless a counterparty does something very odd or downright stupid (a la LTCM), or vanishes, via bankruptcy (a la Bear Stearns) then all of those contracts end up with a very tidy zero sum gain at the conclusion. But the $64 Trillion question is this: What if a lot of major corporations holding derivatives contracts start to go under? Like GM, Monsanto, BP, or United Airlines. How many derivatives contracts are currently in play? Hundreds of trillions of dollars. One estimate was $190,000 USD for every person on the planet. ("The value of the derivatives market is 22 times the GDP of the entire world.") What happens if and when big corporations go under, leaving their counterparties twisting in the breeze? Nobody knows. This is an imponderable because the derivatives universe was just a fly speck by comparison the last time there was a major recession, and hedging on this scale didn't even exist the last time there was a global depression.

I'm talking about widespread corporate and municipal bankruptcies causing an avalanche of derivatives contract defaults and subsequent ripples through all the world stock, bond, commodity, real property, lending, currency, and insurance markets.Some might call this inconceivable, but I don't.

All that I can say is that if things do start to unravel on a more grandiose scale, then I hope that someone is going to have the supreme courage to declare "Jubilee", and start the entire financial system over from scratch. ("Every seventh year you shall grant a remission of debts" - Deuteronomy 15: 1). Because without a Jubilee, even Gideon Gono couldn't come up with the cash needed to settle the mountain of debts and derivatives.

What is at the core of the current financial mess? The heart of man is desperately wicked. (See Jeremiah 17:9, and Mark 7:20-23.) In our generation, there are some people that have built a new Tower of Babel. It is a Tower of Debt. And being greedy, they didn't limit themselves to tangibles. They heaped up impossibly large conceptuals on top of it all. But unfortunately the derivative contract conceptuals have a tangible bottom line.

On Tuesday October 21, 2008 (or soon after), we'll get to see how much the value of the Lehmans contracts will get marked down, and whether Uncle Sugar will step in wit a fresh dump truck full of money to "calm the markets." If the net settlement on those CDS contracts (backed by very dubious CDO "assets" of still declining value) exceeds $30 Billion USD, then every financial stock around the world might plummet. Ditto for every large insurance company involved in the CDS follies. It may be one of those "emperor sans cullottes" moments, or one of those Minsky moments. Helicopter Ben Bernanke will need a whole fleet of helicopters to tidy this up.

I really hope that I'm wrong in pronouncing this warning, because I really like sleeping soundly at night, and hot showers and lights that turn on with the flick of a switch.

"I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it." - Thomas Jefferson

Monday, October 20, 2008

In today's first article, I digress from the usual fare in SurvivalBlog to discuss American politics. You may have noticed that I generally refrain from politics in SurvivalBlog. I only make exceptions for political issues that have a direct bearing on the preparedness and/or liberty of a good portion of the SurvivalBlog readership. Our overseas readers might want to skip reading this article. But be forewarned that in the nascent Second Great Depression, you might be faced with similar situations in your own countries.

Hi Jim,
I’ve researched the net in vain trying to find a solution to this problem, which I suspect I share with a great many people now prepping. I’m hoping you can help. The challenge: Where to hide my food stores?

My situation: I live 10 miles from a city of 80,000 in a residential neighborhood. I live at the foot of a small mountain—the area behind my house is woods. I don’t own all of this wooded property, but I’ve never seen the owner. I have significant stores of canned goods, dried oats and beans, flour, sugar, etc.

I am not a craftsperson, so cannot build a false wall, and my husband, who already thinks I’m a loon, would not help me do so. So—where to hide these provisions? The solution needs to be simple enough for a non-carpenter to implement.

I’ve considered burying the food in the woods, and marking these spots (surreptitiously, of course). This is a time- and labor-intensive solution, but perhaps the best one available to me.

If you agree, how to prepare the food to be buried? Oats, flour, etc. in mylar bags, then put into plastic tubes, which are then placed into 2-3 contractor’s refuse bags? Would that be enough protection? Also, does it matter if canned goods freeze?

If you do not agree, do you have any suggestions as to where I might hide it in the house?
I’m hoping you will be kind enough to reply. Even a brief response would be most helpful, and perhaps not only to me. It’s fine to post this email on your blog—just don’t reveal my information. Thank you in advance, and God bless you and yours. - Julia

JWR Replies: I do not recommend burying your food on someone else's property--at least not the majority of it. Unless you buy very heavy duty containers with watertight seals, there is too much risk of moisture intrusion, or destruction by vermin. There are also, of course, the moral and legal issues of using another's property.

Many canned foods do fairly well with freezing. The biggest risk comes from repeated freezing and thawing cycles.

If the bulk of your storage food is fairly small, here are a few alternative solutions that I can recommend, only one of which requires the assistance of an amateur carpenter:

Buy a used queen-size "hide-a-bed" couch. Remove and discard the entire bed frame internals and mattress. Build a framework of 2x2s and cut a piece of 3/4" plywood to support the seat cushions.

You can hide a single row of canned foods (small cans, such as soup and tuna cans) behind books, on bookshelves.

Yet another solution is to buy a few used four-drawer vertical file cabinets. Burglars usually bypass these. Put innocuous-sounding labels in the label holders in bold printing, such as "2007 Tax records" and "2005 Invoices". If you pack them efficiently, file cabinets can hold a remarkable quantity of canned goods and retort package "bricks". They are also mouse proof if you place them on a smooth and level floor.

One outdoor solution is to find a used, "out-of-commission" chest freezer. (Usually available free for the asking.) Cut off the power cord. Cover any internal vents with sheet metal. Paint the exterior with flat brown enamel spray paint. Cut (or buy) a cord of firewood and stack it around and on top of the chest freezer. BTW, the same technique can be used if if you have a hay barn--with either hay or straw bales. Or you could buy few hundred used bricks, and make it look like just a pile of used bricks. (And you would of course paint the chest freezer, in flat green, flat tan, or flat brick red, respectively.)

Another outdoor solution is to buy an older, used "pop-up" camping trailer. For some reason, residential burglars ignore these, whereas they will often break in to traditional "hard wall" camping trailers. Pop-up trailers have a remarkable amount of room inside, especially if you remove the seat cushions and mattress pads.If you pay very little for the trailer, you can even go "whole hog" and rip out the interior cabinets, sink, et cetera.

If you have a basement or storage room, you can also use Hide in Plain Sight (HIPS) techniques. One of my favorites is to obtain a lot of used, sturdy cardboard boxes with slip-top lids--such as the type used to ship reams of copier paper. Label them with prominent magic marker labels with things like "Baby Clothes", "Infant Toys", "National Geographic Magazines", "Romance Paperback Books", "2006 Tax Records", and so forth. Fill those boxes with your storage foods (in vermin-proof containers). Pile all of those boxes up against a wall. Then add a layer of "camouflage" boxes, containing actual worthless junk. If a burglar opens one of these, he will most likely not dig down to the successive layers of boxes.

Use your imagination. Craig's List and Freecycle can probably provide you all the storage space and camouflaging that you need, for very little money. Many of the items that you'll need can be found "free for the hauling."

When planning you concealment strategies, keep in mind that a burglar is a man in a hurry. In most cases, he won't take the time to go through everything.

Matt in Texas recommended a piece by Sam Mathid posted over at 321Gold.com as a "must read": It is Time

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Writing in a recent issue of The Rude Awakening, economic commentator Joel Bowman notes: "From October 10 through October 17, the Dow [Jones Industrial Average (DJIA)] swung a total of 2,225 points at five separate closes. Put another way, that's an average daily swing, at the close, of 455 points. This is territory of a tumult as yet not encountered in the history of the market. Measured by the volatility index [VIX], otherwise known as Wall Street's "Fear Gauge," we saw this week a reading of 81. The record previous to this monumental number, achieved during the year 1998, was a comparatively modest 47."

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Ed suggested this commentary over at Gold-Eagle: 1927-1933 Chart of Pompous Prognosticators

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Cheryl sent us these economic tidbits: Dutch Gov't Injects $13 Billion into ING Financial Group -- Mortgage Firm Arranged Stealth Campaign -- Wall Street Eyes Earnings, Looks For Bottom -- Markets Hold Breath As $360 Billion Lehman [Derivative] Swaps Unwind -- From Barron's: It Isn't Over

"...While every bank tries to pass the toxic parcel on to somebody else, the system has to find the money. So will compensation for the near valueless contracts and thus now uninsured debt ultimately be made - and by whom? And because nobody knows - not the regulators, banks or governments - who owns the swaps and whether they are credit-worthy, nobody can answer the question. Maybe holders of insurance policies will get the cash due to them, but will that weaken somebody else? The result - panic.

This is the ultra-dangerous downward vortex in which the system is locked. It is why share prices are plummeting. As recession deepens, there will be defaults on securitised bonds and the potential collapse of more banks outside the G7 ring-fence. Nobody knows what proportion of the $55 trillion of credit default contracts that have actually been written will be honoured and who might bear losses running into trillions of dollars. Buying new contracts to insure against default has become prohibitively expensive. Securitisation, and insuring against risk, has effectively ceased. And because the markets don't know where the losses will fall, banks cannot borrow from each other except overnight or from their central bank. Credit flows are at a standstill. Property prices are plummeting. A famous economist, Hyman Minsky, foretold that unregulated finance capitalism inevitably ends in a meltdown and slump. The world is facing a Minsky moment." - Will Hutton, commentary in The Observer

Sunday, October 19, 2008

We are pleased to welcome a couple of new advertisers: UR-2B-Prepared.com (distributors of the very useful Hydrion fuel test strips), and EM Gear (sellers of a broad line of preparedness and outdoor gear.) You may recall that EM Gear was previously a SurvivalBlog advertiser. They are back on board, now with an even larger inventory!

Today's first letter comes from Mr. Yankee, whom you may remember from the SurvivalBlog Retreat Owner Profiles.

It is not too late to prepare for the hard times that are coming. But time is short, so I am going to be brutally blunt. Prices are going up. If you don’t already expect double digit inflation, you haven’t been paying attention. If you are just realizing that you need to prepare for the future, forget buying barter goods. Forget precious metals to swap for what others may be willing to sell.

The idea of buying things so that you can swap them for other goods or services later is bad policy. That’s right. I’m advocating that you buy no precious metals and no barter goods. Instead- you need to prioritize purchases of things that you need right now. Sitting on a pile of sewing needles, can openers, or thousands of dollars of face value in gold or silver is not going to stop you from starving to death, freezing to death, or dying gasping in your own fluids.

This is not a slam on Mr. Rawles' excellent advice to invest in tangibles. It is not even a criticism of his recent post on barter items to acquire, or of his advice to invest in precious metals. JWR is a voice of reason in a world gone mad. This letter is a reminder that all those things are good advice only after you have squared away your personal needs. Only after you have duplicate sources of potable water, shelter, a substantial food supply, a deep medicine chest, and ample supplies of sturdy clothing and footwear should you invest in barter goods or precious metals.

Here are your priorities:

You need breathable air to live. Most of us expect that to be available for free. Your next priority for sustaining life is shelter from extreme elements (your home and a way to heat it during winter), then potable water. Let me make this explicitly clear. Unless you have clean water to drink, you will die in a matter of days. It is not the government’s job to make sure that you stay alive. It is your responsibility to care for yourself and your dependants. You are responsible to ensure that you have access to clean drinking water or a method to filter, boil, or collect it. If you have no method to do so, go get one. At the very least, plan on a way to boil water over an outside fire.

After air, shelter, and water – you need food. Come what may, you and those who you love will need to eat. Buy food. The cheapest food that you can get will keep you alive, but my advice is to buy extra of what you already eat. Oatmeal, grits, rice, pasta and potatoes are all relatively affordable and life sustaining. Potatoes will store for months. The others will store for years if properly packaged. Yes these alone would make a very bland diet. Use them to stretch your regular grocery meals while the other supplies last.

What next? Get over-the-counter medicines. Diarrhea will kill you. The stomach flu will kill you. Pneumonia will kill you. Allergic reactions will kill you. There may not be any 911 to send help. There may not be an emergency room to flee to as a last resort. There may not be a pharmacy with inventory to sell at 3 a.m.. Buy vital medicines now. Look in your medicine cabinet. If you do not have the medicines to treat an allergic reaction, stomach flu, and a chest cold; go buy them today. $10 spent on medicine could save your child’s life. It won’t if you can’t give it to them. Go buy it before you go to sleep tonight.

If you can avoid getting sick that’s even better than treating illness. Hygiene is critical to health. Buy toilet paper and tissues. You will need them, why don’t you already have them?

You should have sturdy warm clothes and footwear for each member of your family.

And yes, you should also have a means of defense and forage. A simple shotgun and shells for it will let you defend your doorway and harvest birds and bunnies if need be. If you are contemplating buying your first firearm then I strongly recommend that you take an NRA-sponsored firearms safety course as soon as possible. Firearms are a vital tool, but whether you ever need to defend you home, you will need to drink, sleep in a dry place, eat, and stay healthy. God has given you the resources and wisdom to prepare, the rest is up to you. Now pray for wisdom and go take action. - Mr. Yankee.

Mr. Rawles,
Thanks for the perimeter defense blog today. Can you please give me your opinion on driveway alarms? There are some cool units I found at drivewayalarmdepot.com. They have units that are wireless and reach out to 3,000 feet. I think they also have a unit that reaches out a mile. Are these infrared units suitable to serious perimeter defense?
Thanks, - RP

JWR Replies: By all means do comparison pricing, but you should beware of the driveway alarms that are made in China. From most reports they are shoddy and unreliable. (Most of them are not truly weatherproof.) The best non-Chinese brand of wireless IR driveway alarm on the market is the Dakota Alert. These are American-made and have long-term reliability. The wireless models use MURS band frequencies, which is a plus. (You can get MURS walkie-talkies tuned to the same frequency, so you can have a portable alerting device right on your belt, that doubles as a voice walkie-talkie.) OBTW, our advertiser MURS Radios sells both discount-priced Dakota Alert system components and MURS band transceivers. They can program the latter for you to match your Dakota Alert frequency. Tres cool.

Infrared alarms can indeed be effective for perimeter security, if properly emplaced on likely avenues of approach. With Dakota Alerts, you can emplace multiple alarm transmitters, each with a distinctive audible alert. (So that you'll know which approach has an intruder--such as "Alert, Zone Two.")

"The wise look ahead to see what is coming, but fools deceive themselves." - Proverbs 14:8 (New Living Translation)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The high bid in the current SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $350. This auction is for a mixed lot that includes:

1.) A huge lot of DVDs, CD-ROMs and hard copy nuclear survival/self-sufficiency references (a $300+ value) donated by Richard Fleetwood of www.SurvivalCD.com

2.) A custom-made, fully-stocked EMS Medic Bag from Cajun Safety and Survival (a $212 retail value)

3.) A NukAlert radiation detector donated by at KI4U.com (a $160 retail value)

4.) A case (6 cans) of Mountain House freeze dried foods in #10 (96 ounce) cans donated by Ready Made Resources (a $160 value)

5.) An autographed copy of "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse" ($24, retail)

See the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction page for complete details on these items. This auction ends on November 15th. The opening bid is just $50. Please e-mail us your bid.

Today we present another entry for Round 19 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The contest prizes include:

First Prize: The writer of the best contributed article will be awarded two transferable Front Sight  "Gray" Four Day Training Course Certificates. This is an up to $4,000 value!
Second Prize: A three day course certificate from OnPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses.
Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing

Round 19 ends on November 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

Compsec is a subset of OPSEC that is concerned with computer security. It can not be ignored if you plan to use computers now and after a SHTF situation.
The personal computer is a powerful tool to help cope with any disaster or survival situation. The capacity for enormous data storage in a very small footprint makes it a valuable resource when the grid and net go down. You will have all the information you need at your finger tips; first aid and medical info, maps and topography, equipment and firearms manuals, personal records and pictures, and the list goes on and on. Just be sure you have back ups of your data on hard drives and DVDs and a spare system or two stowed away in an EMP-shielded cabinet. Laptops make sense as spares due to their transportability and lower power consumption.[JWR Adds: Like all of you other spare small electronics, any spare laptops should be stored in 40mm ammo cans, for EMP protection.] Make sure you have spare batteries and chargers, hard drives, etc. Consider having the rugged laptops that are shock, water and dust resistant. Here are some examples:

Dell Ruggedized Laptop
Panasonic Toughbook Laptop

See the recent article on how to power your PC with solar energy in Computer Power User magazine's November, 2008 issue. The article is titled: “Get Off The Grid”.
Solar Laptop chargers are available from:
Ready Depot
[JWR Adds: Compact photovoltaic power systems are also available from Ready Made Resources, a loyal SurvivalBlog advertiser.]

Here are some sites with useful information that you might want to stow away before TSHTF:
USGS Topography Resources
KI4U Library
First Aid References
EquippedToSurvive (PDF)
NIH Medline
There are many other treasure troves of information on the Internet. Look around and gather those free files now[, and make backups on CD-ROM].

You don't have to spend a fortune on software; if you leave Microsoft behind and enter the world of Open Source software where you will find a plethora of great software ranging from the LINUX operating system to office automation, databases, and hundreds of useful programs. Consider that most viruses and malware are written for Microsoft products, so open source is generally more secure for that reason alone. Check out these web sites for some alternative ways to go:
Red Hat
If you prefer to stick with the tried and true Microsoft, do indeed follow their security recommendations and make sure you get all the updates installed as soon as they come out. I recommend using the automatic updates for the operating system and software packages as well as virus and spyware scanners.

Scott McNealy, a co-founder of Sun Microsystems once said, “You have no privacy [in the Internet era]. Get over it.” That is definitely a true statement. There are gigantic databases all over the world with data on any minutiae that may have been recorded from many diverse sources which can then be correlated by high power computers to produce a pretty good picture of you as an individual should someone wish to. Some of the data is obtained legally from public records and news sources; some is obtained illicitly through hacking or purchasing outright what should be private information. The data may also come from spybots and Trojan horses right on your very own personal computer.

Anything that is stored on a computer that is connected to the internet is susceptible to data harvesting. Anything you posted to an on-line message board, or an email you sent, or a form you filled out, may well still exist somewhere on the internet even after it seemingly is gone. In the unthinkably large database of Google it may live a long, long time or on a back up tape in some obscure data center somewhere. It may even attain near immortality in the “Wayback Machine”, a database that archives web pages.

Even though using the internet can be hazardous, there are ways to make your surfing safer. By all means install anti-virus and anti-spyware software and update it frequently. Another essential is to have a firewall. Most operating systems now come with firewalls so make sure it is enabled. It can be made even more secure if you do the homework.It’s not a good idea to leave your computer running on-line 24/7 unless you have a specific reason to do so. It gives the hackers a lot of time to work on cracking your system and once cracked hackers can use your PC in their zombie army to launch more attacks and collect more data, all in the dead of night while you sleep. You won’t notice the hard drive and network activity.

Use strong passwords, it’s a pain, but weak passwords are easily cracked and once that is done, you have absolutely no security at all. Change passwords regularly because even a strong password can eventually be cracked by brute force cracking which simply tries random character patterns until it finds the one that works. If you use words that can be found in a dictionary or even words slightly modified, be aware that these are much faster to be cracked.
You can learn about strong passwords here:
Microsoft Password Checker
LINUX Password Checker
Free Ultra-Secure Password Generator from Gibson Research
Pay attention to security settings on your web browser. I use the Firefox browser because it has better security features [than others like Microsoft Internet Explorer], such as clearing of private data when exiting, the ability to manage individual cookies, and the ability to disable the “HTTP referrer” information that tells the next web site you visit where you just came from.

Whatever browser and operating system you use, make sure that it is as secure as it can be and still be functional for your needs. The basic philosophy of system hardening is to close all the open doors, install locks, and only open up those that you absolutely must in order to operate. There are many open doors and loosely guarded doors in an unsecured system which comes right from the manufacturer that way. You need to look into all the setting and options that are available with what ever hardware and software you have, and then start tightening up as much as possible.

Another problem with most PCs running a Microsoft OS is that they become laden with junk over time. As you install new software and hardware your registry grows to a huge size and you accumulate startup programs that start up when you logon and run even if you may not need them. They make the login slower and slower as they accumulate and some of them may even be spybots reporting back to home base of your activities. I’m willing to bet that most PC users are running software for programs they never even use anymore.

Here are a few sites to learn about how to clean your PC of these start-up parasites:
Info on start-up programs
This a database of good, bad and optional programs that might be running on your PC.
Microsoft registry cleaner. There are other commercial products available, be careful to select the option to make backups before you clean up the registry. The cleaners occasionally clean too much and break a program that you need.
Here is a cleaner I have used successfully.

Visit these web sites to give yourself some good security check-outs:
Tons of good compsec information.
Free Tools and Utilities.
The Junkbusters site will tell you if your browser is giving out too much information.
Gibson Research. Click on the services tab and select Shields Up! to give your system a security check up. Check out all their other good security info.
This page will tell you about your Internet "persona" and check out other good information.

Surf anonymously. This will help keep those who do not have a need to know, out of your affairs. Just remember that ‘somebody’ will know what your internet IP addresses is, and that ‘somebody’ is the anonymity provider or proxy server. It can be traced to your PC.
Here are two free anonymizers:

One note of caution about encrypted files and web sites that your browser accesses: The browser will copy it to cache and it will be in clear text allowing anybody to read it or a Trojan to copy the page back to its home base server. The solution is to clear browser cache immediately after accessing encrypted pages.

Using a search engine link will provide the web site you visit with all the search terms you used to make the search. Instead, copy and paste the link into the browser navigation bar for a little extra anonymity. If you have a Google account and have logged in to check your Gmail then it is possible for Google to link your login to your searches thus reducing your anonymity even more. [JWR Adds: I recommend that SurvivalBlog readers go a step further and use the Scroogle Scraper intermediary portal to do any Google searches.]

I hope this information has been helpful for those preparing for those tough times ahead that lay ahead. I do believe the personal computer can be a powerful survival tool if, or should I say when, the TSHTF. Visit Set2Survive.com for more information, links and resources.

Jim & Company,
I thought that I would communicate an interesting story for your web blog. As I write this, I'm holed up in campground/RV park near the District of Columbia (DC) Metropolitan area. How I got here was totally unexpected. My roommate is female, a former army buddy and suffers from chronic depression---maybe bi polar disorder. We maintained a platonic cohabitation for two months until she swore a Temporary Peace Order against me because she felt “threatened”. In the liberal pest hole of Maryland, that's all it takes. No battery, assault or actual threats---I just yelled at her to clean up after her dog (perhaps the 20th time she didn't do this) and, in the span of 24 hours the deputies came, gave me 10 minutes to get some things, then escorted me out of the property that I co-rented. That means I was instantly homeless and without the time to assemble my preps.

Fortunately it was payday and I had money for a hotel, an attorney, and what not. But the unbearable part was having my Bug Out Bag and supplies in a residence that I could not approach or enter under court order which gave me a very sickening feeling of what a fast and unplanned for emergency can produce. My preps are centered around an emergency that is slow coming with warning. Save for my camping/bug-out gear, most of my preps cannot be moved rapidly (like 5 gallon buckets). Further, my emergency plan calls for me to hunker down at my place of residence until things stop moving and I have time and latitude to maneuver and get to my bug-out site for the longer duration. Being under the supervision of two sheriff's deputies put a damper on grabbing my survival gear.

Grabbing my emergency cash, which is well-concealed (Go MI!) was problematic.

Through my attorney, I was able to pick up much of my camping/bugout gear from the former residence. Tell 'ya what, having a good set of quality camping and survival gear that can be hastily put together is a real boon. I purchase good gear and 20+ years (and counting) in the military has given real appreciation for quality equipment.
Not that an urban campground is primitive: hot and cold water, wireless Internet and a laundry make it a perfect spot for temporary emergency stays and at $40/night, much cheaper than a hotel room (in the DC Area, plan on $100 per night minimum for a single room with a military discount). It sucks that I only have a tent to come home to, but it beats living out of my Jeep Cherokee or in a box (or with the Housemate from H*ll)

Yes, I was homeless that fast and a week of hotel living would have cost me over $1,000. But having ready camping gear, for both camping and survival, insured that I had a home of some sort and was able to take care of myself. No homeless shelter is going to put up a white collar professional.

Because my emergency required a lot of communications between me, my attorney and the landlords of future domiciles I needed Internet access and voice comms. My cell phone is unlocked and uses a pre-paid SIM card and can access almost any cellular network. From Vermont to North Carolina I have cellular voice communications. A GSM smartphone is in my future as it can provide a secondary e-mail channel (PACE). A laptop with Wi-Fi is almost a necessity in urban environments. In slow rolling “grid down” situations, or a Balkans-like future for America (which is probable)---communications infrastructure will be available, albeit intermittently. Without my survival preps, I would have lasted two weeks in a hotel room until I ran out of money. But now I can live virtually anywhere as a homeless white collar professional. All of the trouble aside, it took me a week to adjust from living in townhouse with all the amenities of modern life, to living without many of those amenities.

Being a survivalist, I took this as a learning experience to test both my material and mental preparations. I forgot things when I had to vacate my premise, like a can opener, but I did remember I placed several P38 [compact military folding key ring] can openers throughout my gear and truck sometime ago---just sprinkled them around. That was real relief. An additional relief came from the box of matches I keep in the emergency box in my truck---believe me, after I left my old digs, I was inventorying everything I had in the truck---another prep was the $500 in cash that I keep to get me to my Bug Out Location.

Preparedness pays immense dividends that are not fully appreciated until you need them. - Mark in Maryland

A not-so-subtle indicator of future events?: Baltic Dry Index Collapsing. The article begins with this quote: "Nothing is moving because the trader doesn't want to take the risk of putting cargo on the boat and finding that nobody can pay."

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Here is some news and commentary from our Economic editor: Stocks Turn Higher As Credit Markets Show Signs Of Easing -- Citi Group's $13 Billion Writedown Raises Fears of a Crisis Beyond Wall Street -- US Worsening Economic Outlook -- Hedge Fund 42% Drop, Brink Of Collapse -- Dow Gold Ratio Sinks To 14-Year Low -- European Markets Tumble As Confidence Collapse -- Gold Price Crash On Hedge Funds Forced Selling -- Banks Borrow Record $435.7 Billion Per Day From Fed -- Recession Looms Despite Global Interventions -- JP Morgan And Goldman Sachs Responsible For Destruction of US Economy -- Will Bailouts Risk Hyperinflation? -- Moscow Supermarket Shelves Increasingly Empty

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I found a link over at Total Survivalist Libertarian Rantfest (one of my almost daily reads) to an insightful piece over at Sharon Astyk's blog: Thinking Ahead: Predicting the Depression

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Reader "Roo" suggested this site: FromTheWilderness.com

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Camping Survival recently added hand-made fire pistons from Jeff Wagner to their product line. These are the ones that wilderness survival guru Les Stroud uses and recommends.

"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."- Jer 29:11

Friday, October 17, 2008

My, oh my! SurvivalBlog just blew past five million unique visits. Thanks to everyone for making SurvivalBlog such an unparalleled success. (It is clearly now the Internet's most popular family preparedness blog.) Please continue to spread the word to your relatives, friends, and co-workers. It is in your best interest to get them prepared, so that they won't be dependent on your pile of logistics once everything hits the fan. Even just a one line mention in your-e-mail footer would be a huge help. Here is a suggestion: www.SurvivalBlog.com -- Bookmark it. It may save your life!

Today we present another entry for Round 19 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The contest prizes include:

First Prize: The writer of the best contributed article will be awarded two transferable Front Sight  "Gray" Four Day Training Course Certificates. This is an up to $4,000 value!
Second Prize: A three day course certificate from OnPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses.
Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing

Round 19 ends on November 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

There may come a time when a survival retreat will need to be defended, and a properly prepared perimeter will be key to the success of the defense. While many survival-minded individuals and retreat groups have likely considered the possibility of a defense scenario, many are at a loss as to how to plan for such an situation. If the time comes, a well-thought, methodically planned perimeter defense will hold up better than simply having “a bunch guns and ammo.”

Fighting positions offer several advantages during perimeter defense. Proper positions allow the defenders to observe possible threats with reduced risk of detection, protect the defenders from attack, and serve as a point of reference for reporting events to other members of the retreat. They also form a buffer between the outside world and the retreat. Fighting would-be attackers at “arm's length” is preferred to fighting them inside the retreat, because it keeps the threat away from important assets and personnel.
Fighting position placement will vary widely depending on terrain, but should always be done with 360 degree security as the goal. Follow the acronym OCOKA [Observation and fields of fire, Cover and Concealment, Obstacles, Key terrain, and Avenues of approach } when considering terrain:

Observation and Fields of Fire – Positions need to be located so that the area outside the perimeter may be observed in all directions. Fields of fire/observation (or sectors) should overlap. For example, if one position is observing 12 o'clock to four o'clock, then the next position might observe three o'clock to seven o'clock. Other positions would cover similar sectors ensuring the entire “clock” is observed.

Cover and Concealment – Cover is protection from projectiles or other forms of attack. Natural cover, such as logs, dirt berms, or stone are advantageous in a rural or remote environment since they blend in and are often readily available. Man-made cover could include vehicles, retaining walls, sand bags, furniture, or dumpsters. Concealment is protection from observation. Good positions offer defenders a place to hide to avoid being detected and blend in with their environments.

Obstacles – Obstacles force attackers to slow down, stop, or change direction when trying to approach a fighting position. Some natural obstacles include downed trees, cliffs, ravines, streams, boulders, and embankments. Some man-made obstacles include fences, road barricades, concertina wire, parked vehicles, debris piles, berms, and ditches.

Key terrain – Key terrain is any piece of terrain which offers a definite advantage to whoever occupies it. For example, a hill overlooking the retreat would provide obvious advantages for anyone wanting to defend or attack it. Other key terrain features might include intersections of roads or paths leading to the retreat, areas affording excellent cover or concealment, or supply storage buildings.

Avenues of approach – Positions should be able to monitor the roads, paths, waterways and open areas which offer access to the retreat. Attackers are much more likely to come up a driveway than through a forest heavily overgrown with brush. The farther the visibility on avenues of approach, the more warning defenders will have.

After determining where to emplace fighting positions, available personnel must be taken into consideration. If only two or three people will be defending the perimeter, then it may not make sense to build a dozen positions. Even with a dozen people, not everyone will be able to man the positions all the time. Everyone needs to rest some time, so personnel will need to man the positions in shifts. In such a scenario it would probably be better to setup half a dozen fighting positions which could each be occupied by two people at times if needed. If the situation necessitates more fighting positions than available personnel can occupy, then decoys can be placed in unmanned positions.

Equipment will also be a factor in preparing fighting positions. A backhoe can easily dig a foxhole in mere minutes, whereas it may take an hour or more with e-tools or spades. There may only be enough sandbags on hand to fortify a few positions. Different types of weapons work better in some locations than in others. Don't put the only sniper rifle on the retreat at a position that will be guarding a 100-meter approach up a ravine if there is a position overlooking half a mile of road leading to the driveway. Yours should balance caliber, range, and rate of fire around the perimeter where they will be most effective.

Once the terrain, equipment and personnel considerations have been made, the type of fighting position should be selected. As there is an inverse relationship between the protection offered by a position and the time it takes to construct, the type of position chosen will depend on the opportunity cost between the two. The basic types of fighting positions suited for most retreats will be the hasty, the one-man position, and the foxhole. Each will be described briefly here. For more detailed information, see the following US Army Field Manuals: FM 7-8 (Infantry Rifle Platoon and Squad) andFM 3-21.9 (The SBCT Infantry Rifle Platoon and Squad).

Hasty positions – These positions consist of nothing more than a shallow trench just large enough for a defender to lay prone. The hasty offers no overhead protection and little protection to the front or flanks, but it is the quickest to construct. If there is plenty of time to prepare, then pick a different option. Ideally, one position should consist of two trenches aligned in a V so that two people may occupy it and cover a wider sector (each prone in one leg of the V).

One-man positions – These positions are usually holes just large enough for one person. Cover and concealment can be added to protect the defender. Positions with only one person are the not as desirable as positions with two or more because they leave one person responsible for an entire sector. If something should happen to that one person, then the perimeter would have a gap. If using one-man positions, locate them within site of each other.

Foxholes – Possibly the most recognized fighting positions, foxholes are two-man pits which are the ideal choice for perimeter security. Foxholes should be dug approximately two meters by half a meter and armpit-deep to the tallest defender (shorter individuals will have to stand on something). This will ensure the best cover and natural shooting positions will be afforded to all personnel. Cover and concealment should be added to the fronts and sides of the hole, leaving the two front corners somewhat open for observation/fire.

Create a sector sketch for each position. Draw a pie wedge which represents what the position's field of observation/fire looks like from the perspective of the person occupying it. Include direction and distance notations. Draw in trees, buildings or other obstructions and label dead space which cannot be viewed behind these obstructions. This information can be used for planning interlocking sectors of fire with other positions. Post a copy of the sketch in the fighting position, so that anyone occupying it has an idea of what they are responsible for watching and where the trouble spots are.
Also, keep a copy or each position's sketch at the retreat command post (CP) for “big picture” planning and situational awareness.

Fighting positions on the perimeter, once established, should be continually improved. Sectors [of security responsibility] should be cleared of objects limiting lines of site. Cover should be added to the front, sides, rear, and top of the positions. Camouflage should be checked by walking out 50 to 100 meters and observing the position; if it doesn't blend well with the background it will have to be improved. Communication equipment should be added. TA-312 field telephones or similar closed-circuit devices are a good choice. If practical, stock fighting positions with first aid kits, ammunition, water and other supplies. Details and changes should be added to sector sketches. Crawl trenches can be added between fighting positions for a safe way to move between them.

After fighting positions are well-established, extend the perimeter with obstacles. Put concertina wire or brush 50 to 150 meters beyond fighting positions. Add serpentine barriers or speed bumps to roads or paths. Fell trees across unused avenues of approach. Put up fences. Anything that makes the perimeter harder to breach should be considered.

Early warning systems alert defenders to a possible attack. It's better to have some advance notice that someone is coming than to be caught by surprise. Some early warning systems are active (require personnel to function). Once such system is a listening post/observation post (LP/OP). LP/OPs are positions which are strategically placed outside the perimeter in a locations which offer observation of a likely line of attack. The object of LP/OPs is usually not to engage attackers, but rather to communicate back to defenders on or inside the perimeter about suspicious activity or pending attacks before trouble reaches the perimeter. Since communication is an LP/OPs biggest weapon, each one should have at least two forms of communication if available. LP/OPs should be camouflaged to the maximum extent possible. Individuals manning the LP/OP should be well disciplined at light and noise discipline to further avoid detection.

Passive early warning systems do not require constant attention from personnel to function. Ordinarily this might include a security system or even a dog that always barks when a stranger approaches the house. A retreat perimeter defense scenario may call for some less conventional options. Passive early warning devices need to be easy to build, effective, and require little maintenance. Trip wires are cheap, and meet these requirements. A simple trip wire can be constructed from "Spiderwire" (or other high-tensile, low-visibility filament), a plastic spoon, a clothespin, and WD-1 commo wire (other stranded pair wire, such as speaker wire, will work). Construct the trip wire [release switches] as follows:

  1. Split apart a several inches of the two WD-1 elements and strip back a few inches of the insulation on both wires.
  2. Pinch open the clothes pin and wrap the exposed wire from one element of the WD-1 around one jaw of the clothespin. Do the same with the other element and the other jaw of the
    clothespin. When the clothespin closes, the two exposed elements should be in contact.
  3. Tie the clothes pin to a fixed object.
  4. Tie the spoon handle to a piece of Spiderwire (you probably want to drill a small hole in the spoon handle).
  5. Clip the bowl part of the spoon in the jaws of the clothespin in order to insulate the two exposed wires from touching each other.
  6. Tie the other end of the Spiderwire to another fixed object across the path, thus forming the trip wire (it should be taut enough to stay suspended across the path, but not so tight that the spoon
    pulls out of the clothespin).
  7. Connect the far end of the WD-1 to the the device to be triggered.

Tripping the line causes the spoon to be pulled out of the clothespin and the exposed wires to touch each other. This completes the circuit at the far end of the wire. This simple switch can be used to activate flares, lights, or alarms.

If no alarm circuits are available, improvised devices like the following may be fashioned. (Check state and local laws, first!):

20 oz bottle blast alarm:

  1. Drill a small hole in a the top of the bottle cap.
  2. Insert an Estes model rocket igniter (available at hobby shops) into the hole and seal with adhesive or melted plastic (cut off the safety seal ring from the cap and melt with a lighter)
  3. Fill the cap nearly full with [FFF or FFFF black] gunpowder.
  4. Pack dryer lint into the cap on top of the powder.
  5. Screw the cap tightly onto the bottle.
  6. When the two ends of the rocket igniter are attached to a power source (6-volt battery
    should be enough) the bottle will explode with a loud bang.

Fuse flare (homemade flash pot, similar to devices available at theatrical shops):

  1. Carefully break and remove the glass in a screw-in [AC electric] fuse. (the kind used before circuit breakers were the norm in American houses).
  2. Use tin snips to cut 3⁄4 of the way through the metal strip in the fuse.
  3. Screw the fuse into an ordinary lamp socket (socket should be pointed upwards).
  4. Place photographic flash powder (available at theatrical supply stores) in the fuse.
  5. When power is applied to the fuse body, the flash powder will create a bright flash of light.
  6. A piece of Scotch tape will help keep the powder in the fuse
  7. Use model rocket igniters or fine gauge (0000) ] steel wool connected to the electric leads to light the fuse.

[JWR Adds: Although this improvised method will work, it is both expensive and labor intensive. I recommend stocking up on large 1960s-vintage photographic flashbulbs, such as Westinghouse M2 bulbs. These are available on eBay for as little as 40 cents each, if purchased in quantity. (One recent eBay auction was for 300 "new old stock" M2 flashbulbs and the winning bid was just $77.) You might also be able to find similar flashbulbs via Craig's List or Freecycle. BTW, if you use extreme caution (gloves, safety goggle, et cetera), a hole can be drilled into some flashbulbs, so that a pyrotechnic fuse can be inserted into the mesh core. This allows flashbulbs to double as fuse igniters. Resist the urge to trickle in blackpowder to create a blasting cap. This is far too risky!]

Roman candles or other fireworks:

  1. Use model rocket igniters or [a thin twist of fine gauge (0000)] steel wool connected to the electric leads to ignite the fuse on the firework.
  2. Tape the wires securely to keep them from being dislodged.

A standard operating procedure (SOP) should be developed after the perimeter infrastructure is in place. The best perimeter infrastructure in the world is useless if those defending it are uncoordinated. The SOP should address who will occupy each fighting position and what their areas of responsibility are. It should also specify when, how, and who will perform other critical security tasks including patrolling the perimeter for weak spots, checking communications equipment, re-supplying or redistributing ammunition in the event of an active engagement, treating casualties, rotation of challenges and passwords, length of guard shifts, and anything else that is imperative to the specific retreat. All members of the retreat should be familiar with the SOP, and defensive scenarios should be practiced on a regular basis, preferably by battle drills or at least by talking through the process with the aid of diagrams or sand tables.

While having to resort to defending a retreat is not desirable and may not seem likely, it is still a realistic possibility. Taking the time to build a well planned perimeter defense will be a real advantage in the event of an attack. Going without a plan could be chaotic at best, and cost precious supplies or lives at worst.

Mr. Rawles,
I completed reading your novel "Patriots", I just finished reading "Rawles On Retreats and Relocation", I'm about to read the "SurvivalBlog: The Best of the Blog" book and I'm going to order the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course. I do have a couple of questions:

When one would be Bugging Out, or in route to a retreat, I was thinking about having a cemetery to rest in, they are generally isolated, either on the edge of town or even in the countryside. There is plenty of good cover there like hiding behind headstones and maybe taking shelter in a mausoleum. There again, I am not saying looting or vandalizing them just using their cover for a short time, overnight thing. I have obtained a map of some of the surrounding area where I live, been to a dozen or so cemeteries. Most have good cover, shade and some are close to creeks. It was my thought that even if one was on foot providing that he has done his homework could travel from cemetery to cemetery using something there for shelter. Which leads me to my second question: If I was not comfortable having a drop off point (storage unit) along the way to the retreat, would it be advisable, with the consent of the "group" maybe to ""bury"" something along the way, at an older cemetery or maybe even go as far as buying a grave plot or mausoleum to store G.O.O.D. packs or supplies in? I have searched the Blog and found nothing pertaining to cemetery rest stops and was wondering your take, maybe myself of other readers could take this advise to heart. Always Preparing, - G.D.

JWR Replies: That idea has some merit. Until you mentioned it, I hadn't thought about buying a mausoleum space. I suppose that Sarah Connor would be proud of your ingenuity!

There are, however, some significant drawbacks to your idea of an overnight stay, especially if you plan to be there at all during daylight:

1.) Most cemeteries are private property and hence are considered "roust vagrants by SOP" zones for local law enforcement, when they patrol. Even cemeteries that are on public property are usually protected from interlopers by numerous ordinances.

2.) Sextons keep a closer eye on graveyards than most people realize. They watch for anything that is out of place.

3.) Rows of headstones only provide limited cover. Because they are laid out in rows, they afford little or no cover from flanking attackers. This, BTW, might be what happened to the World War I aviator Frank Luke, who was an acquaintance of my grandfather, Ernest Rawles.When Luke was shot down during WWI, he attempted to defend himself with a pistol, against a squad of German soldiers that were armed with rifles. According to some conflicting reports, he died in a graveyard near Murvaux, France.

This sad incident, BTW, also illustrates two important precepts of gunfighting: 1.) Superior skills can be overcome by superior numbers, and 2.) A handgun is just a backup weapon--merely a tool that you can hopefully use to "fight your way back to your rifle." There is a famous old saying, that was later popularized by the movie The Untouchables: "Never bring a knife to a gunfight." My corollary is: "Never bring a pistol to a rifle fight." Coincidentally, Luke's five final aerial victories and his death on the ground the same day will be well-documented in a book that will soon be released "The Stand: The Final Flight of Lt. Frank Luke, Jr.".) Even though 90 years have gone by, the conflicting stories about Luke's death are still being debated.

I was recently chided by one of my readers for being "dead wrong" about the direction in the spot price of silver. I had to laugh about that. The COMEX spot price of both silver and gold have indeed been pushed down in recent weeks. But this is an artifice. This has been attributed to some massive and well-orchestrated short selling in the futures market. The spot market typically echoes moves in the futures market. This short selling has distorted the COMEX spot price significantly. This distortion has become so pronounced that at this point the official COMEX prices do not reflect reality.

I am getting reports from SurvivalBlog readers throughout the US, Canada, several nations in Europe, Argentina, Taiwan, and Japan that the consumer level supply of silver bullion coins--both 1 ounce .999 fine trade dollar "rounds" and circulated national mint coinage--is so tight that dealers are now paying as much as 60 cents per ounce over spot and selling for as much as $11 per ounce over spot! That is twice the spot price. This is amazing news when you consider that traditionally dealers have paid just below spot, when they buy coins. Here are just a couple of those reports. First, from reader O.E.:

"...I read with wonder the letter from the gentleman asking if you are going to apologize for recommending silver. Has he tried to buy any physical silver recently? We are seeing fairly widespread shortages of retail investment silver. What we have now is a two tier price system. One that harks back to more sinister times. You have the "spot" or official price, at which it is nearly impossible to find silver at, then you have the "physical" or market price which if you look on eBay, or the few bullion dealers who get stock is in a range of $15-$20 per ounce! Its a shame that eBay is one of the few remaining examples of a more or less free market. These major bullion dealers are now paying over spot to buy metals from individuals. Ditto for gold, gold is going for well over $1,000 per ounce in the "physical" market! So I recommend that people read between the lines and not believe everything "they" [in the mainstream media] say is so. It is my belief that market manipulators are using metals prices in a way that will flush out the weaker holders..."

The next report comes from reader Jonathan X.,:

"I noticed a swift change end of July into August - When the Dollar found this freakish footing. The Dollar had been trading to the Euro around $1.55-$1.59. But then almost overnight strengthened 10% and it was back to $1.40-$1.45. (Making US Exports more expensive and less attractive).

What changed was that suddenly I could sell a single 1 oz round for a $0.35 profit [over spot] for a single round. Since I started tracking the market I would take $0.60 loss to sell a single 1 oz round. (Which is where the dealer makes most of his profit.) But suddenly the law of supply and demand got throw out the window. The [COMEX spot] silver price dropped but they were selling at first for $1.25 over spot, then $1.50 over spot, and now $2.00 over spot and still paying a premium [at the purchase end].
I called several dealers the other day, but I found just one dealer who had any actual Silver [physically] on hand. He said that he had only about 50 generic 1 oz rounds. These are just Holiday silver rounds stamped .999, with Christmas tress and Santas. He wanted $6 over spot.

Physical silver is hard to find - dealers are selling on order cash up front and [you can expect to wait] 4-6 weeks for delivery."

It is noteworthy that he mentioned "Holiday" coin issues. These are one ounce ingots and rounds that are minted for use as Christmas gifts. These have heretofore been treated with such utter disdain by coin dealers that when buying them on the secondary market they pay only the scrap price of silver for them --not nearly the coin or ingot price. (The latter has always been much closer to spot.) Presently, Canadian Maple Leaf and American Eagle silver 1 ounce coins are selling for as much as $12 over the "official" spot price of silver. Talk about market price distortion!

The bottom line: Do not believe the mass media propaganda that has been generated by current spot prices of silver and gold. In relation to the consumer bullion market, the COMEX spot price fixes are illusory. Silver and gold are presently both bargains if you can find anyone willing to sell their coins. I predict that the retail bullion prices of precious metals will be sharply higher in the next few months and then even higher still when the full inflationary impact of the Mother of All Bailouts (MOAB) is felt in the macro marketplace. Buy every bit of silver and gold that you can lay your hands on if they are being sold anywhere near the artificially low "official" spot prices. Silver dipped to under $9.60 per ounce on Thursday. Buy! (Again, if you can find any.)

Conservative commentator Glenn Beck has followed up his recent economic analysis with this: What Can I Do to Prepare? He stops short of suggesting full-scale survivalist preparedness, but he definitely goes far beyond FEMA's "buy a flashlight and three days of food" claptrap, or the standard Nanny-Stater's "Hold hands, sing Kumbaya, and dial 911 if there is trouble" approach.

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Steve Quayle had a link to this important London Telegraph article: Europe stuns with €1.5 trillion bank rescue, as France plays role of saviour. Steve also had a link to this blog commentary: The Next Derivatives Bloodbath: Insurance and Auto Makers

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Over at Backwoods Home, Massad Ayoob chimes in with an endorsement of the Savage Model 110 / Model 10 series rifles. FWIW, I'm also an enthusiastic Savage bolt action shooter. These are very accurate and reliable rifles that are quite economically priced. (We have a fiberglass-stocked Model 10 chambered in .308 Winchester here at the Rawles Ranch.)

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I've had two dozen e-mails from readers in the past few weeks, concerned about an active US Army brigade being tasked with homeland security response. While there are no immediate concerns about martial law (consider that this is 3,000 soldiers in a nation of 300 million well-armed civilians), the whole concept frosts me. The use of Federal troops for civilian law enforcement would clearly be a violation of the Posse Comitatus Act. If you are also concerned about this, then please contact your congresscritters, and give them a piece of your mind.

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More economic news and commentary, mostly from Cheryl. First, in Mish Shedlock's blog: EU Calls For Summit To End Bretton Woods -- Dow Swings Widely On Mixed Earnings Data -- GM To Layoff 1,600 Workers In Three Factories In Coming Months -- Paulson Regrets Economic Mistakes -- Markets Slump As World Girds For Recession -- Japan Dismisses US Bailout As "Insufficient" -- UBS and Credit Suisse Bailout Out -- Merkel: World Faces Biggest Crisis Since 1920s -- Crisis Grows: Ukraine, Hungary And Serbia Call IMF -- Markets Feel The Chill From China -- Oil Under $68--15-Month Low -- Recession Fear Drives Up Grain Prices -- Cracks In Rescue Armor As Nightmare Continues -- Roubini: Largest Bubble Burst In History -- Stock Market Crash Alert! -- At Indian Call Centers: A Bleak View Of The US -- Dow Ends Up 400 Points -- Fear and Loathing of Economy Spreads

"... By calling attention to a well-regulated militia for the security of the Nation, and the right of each citizen to keep and bear arms, our founding fathers recognized the essentially civilian nature of our economy. Although it is extremely unlikely that the fear of governmental tyranny, which gave rise to the 2nd amendment, will ever be a major danger to our Nation, the amendment still remains an important declaration of our basic military-civilian relationship, in which every citizen must be ready to participate in the defense of his country. For that reason I believe the 2nd Amendment will always be important." - John F. Kennedy

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Congratulations to Dr. H., the high bidder in the monthly SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction that ended last night. Today we are starting a new auction for a mixed lot that includes:

1.) A huge lot of DVDs, CD-ROMs and hard copy nuclear survival/self-sufficiency references (a $300+ value) donated by Richard Fleetwood of www.SurvivalCD.com

2.) A custom-made, fully-stocked EMS Medic Bag from Cajun Safety and Survival (a $212 retail value)

3.) A NukAlert radiation detector donated by at KI4U.com (a $160 retail value)

4.) A case (6 cans, 96 ounces each) of Mountain House freeze dried foods in #10 cans, donated by Ready Made Resources (a $160 value)

5.) An autographed copy of "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse" ($24, retail)

See the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction page for complete details on these items. This auction ends on November 15th. The opening bid is just $50. Please e-mail us your bid.

The sheeple's fear is now electric. You can feel it bristle on your skin whenever you are in a public space. It is on the lips and in the hearts of any news-watching human.
What about our retirement fund? How will we afford our regular bills? How will we feed and clothe the kids?
There is a little warm spot inside me. The part of me that feels confident in our preparations. Tucked in every nook of our tiny, modest house, an ATM, a grocery store, pharmacy, garden supply plus clothing, shoe, sporting goods stores and all around trading post.
We can grow, can, spin, knit, sew, cook over fire, fish, hunt, protect ourselves.
However, if by some miracle, the economy magically rights itself, nothing was wasted. My son will still need sturdy boots in every size. We can have a blizzard without facing the "french toast" crowd (milk, eggs, bread buyers.) We can spontaneously go on an extended camping trip or entertain at a moments notice.
The best part of being prepared is falling asleep without any worry bigger than, "Did I turn off the kitchen light?"

Here is one of my favorite quotes: "Hope doesn't come from calculating whether the good news is winning out over the bad. It's simply a choice to take action."- Anna Lappe

Hey, BTW, our preparations were all accomplished while surviving without outside help, living way under the poverty level. You can do it. Start by recording every penny you spend, budget, cut costs, get creative and prepare. Hints: barter, Craig's List, Freecycle, the smash and dent section of your grocery store, store sale cycles, library book sales, yard sales, church sales, demolition sites (with permission, naturally), Salvation Army stores (especially near affluent neighborhoods), and "unlimited pickup" clean up days (ditto).
Thanks for the site and sharing the insights of others. - The Accidental Survivalist

Thanks for the awesome blog. I consider it essential reading every day, especially now considering the terrible situation we find ourselves in. You keep speaking of mass inflation yet we see oil and other commodities falling in price along with, sadly, our home values. In a recent post you also mentioned being able to buy classic cars at rock bottom prices, closely followed by hyperinflation. Can you explain for all of us how this can come to pass and some of the warning signs? Thanks, - DZ in Louisiana.

JWR Replies: To clarify, I mentioned buying older, fuel-inefficient vehicles at the depth of the upcoming recession in then-current dollars. The bottom of the market for vehicles may come before or just after mass inflation begins. Once inflation is in full swing there will surely be a mad rush to convert cash into anything tangible that will be a store of value--regardless of what happens to the currency.

The economic problems that America faces are structural and systemic. They built up because of fractional reserve banking and the consequent growth of mountains of debt, both public and private. Read my background piece: Are Simultaneous Inflation and Deflation Possible?, and this piece on Derivatives. And if you have the time, skim through through my archived economics articles, starting in 2006.

As for the "warning signs" to watch for, you might have missed my reply to a letter in SurvivalBlog post on September 25th: Letter Re: What Are the Economic Collapse Indicators to Watch For?

Your repeated bullish calls on silver have been dead wrong. Do you plan on apologizing to your readers? - Jim G.

An apology for what? For making people money? You aren't looking at the big picture if you are only looking at the past few months. If you had invested in silver back in February of 2001 when I went on record and accurately called the bottom of the silver market, then you would have more than doubled your money, even with the recent sag in the market. I made that call within 36 cents of the absolute bottom of the market. I was a few months early, but consider that this was at the tail end of a 20 year-long dreadful bear market in silver. And even if you had bought silver when I first started SurvivalBlog in early September of 2005 (when spot silver was roughly $7 per ounce), then you'd still be substantially ahead. Spot silver is currently just over $10 per ounce, and in recent weeks has been over $13 per ounce. (Since it is a "thin" market, it is always volatile.)

I have never recommended buying precious metals at interim high points. You should buy at interim lows (so-called "dip" weeks.) I'm also an advocate of dollar cost averaging (buying in increments), on successive dip weeks. If you bought all of your silver at an interim high point (such as in March of 2008) then shame on you, not me!

In my estimation, the current dip in the silver market is a pause in what is otherwise still a secular bull market. If you sell your silver now (at a loss), then you'll probably be crying about it in a couple of years, when inflation kicks in, in earnest. In my opinion the current dip is a good buying opportunity.

OBTW, my current recommendation is that after buying barter silver for your family ($1,000 face value per family member in pre-1965 dimes, quarters, or half dollars), that you then invest anything more in gold rather than silver. In the coming depression gold is likely to outperform silver, since gold is perceived as a monetary safe haven, whereas silver is seen as more of an industrial metal. Both will do well versus nearly any dollar-denominated investments, but of the two, gold will likely gain more than silver.

Paul C. spotted this article: Birmingham on the brink (of bankruptcy). Do you remember my warnings starting in January of 2008 about municipal bonds?

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John and Abigail Adams sent us the URL for a site on North American Indian Recipes.

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Does this word from the mainstream analysts sound familiar? This is from MarketWatch e-Newsletter (on October 14th): "Gold prices could hit $1,500 as global plans to rescue the financial industry are set to increase inflation pressures, according to analysts led by Francisco Blanch at Merrill Lynch. "The unintended consequence of the ongoing financial bailout will be a return of inflationary pressures to the commodity markets," wrote the analysts in a note released Monday. The analysts didn't say when gold would hit the price target. They also predicted oil prices will rise to $150 a barrel." (A tip of the hat to Charley for the link.)

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Several readers mentioned the commentary by Zeus Yiamouyiannis that was posted yesterday over at Charles Hugh Smith's Of Two Minds blog: Imaginary Worth, Empire of Debt: How Modern Finance Created Its Own Downfall. Several other readers mentioned Glenn Beck's recent interview of Peter Schiff, now available as a YouTube video clip. Schiff warns of mass inflation fueled by the gargantuan Federal bailouts.

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Cheryl sent us this heapin' helpin' of gloom-n-doom cuisine: Coming Soon: The $600 Trillion Derivatives Emergency Meeting -- Dow Plunges 733 Points On New Disheartening Economic News -- Smaller Banks Resist Federal Cash Infusions -- Financial Crisis = Birth Pains Of New Currency -- US Bailout Fails To Do For Bush What It's Done For Brown -- Wall Street Humiliated By Nationalization Of Banks -- US Treasury Bond Market Crash -- Asian Markets Return To Reality -- Now Here Comes The Recession -- Iceland Forced Into Russia's Arms: Market Down 77% -- Chicago Mayor To Shut Down Government For Six Days

"The economic statistics put out by the U.S. government are propaganda, pure and simple. Issued by the government and the financial community, and reported by the mass media, the information we get has been manipulated to mold a public understanding favorable to the agenda of the powers that be." - Peter Schiff, "Crash Proof"

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Today is the last day of bidding in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $770. The auction for a large mixed lot that includes: A Special Mixed Vegetable Case-Six #10 Dehydrated Food Cans (Retail Price $105.95) This special Mixed Vegetable Case contains six #10 (96-ounce) cans--one can of each of the following: Mixed Vegetable Blend, Green Beans, Sweet Garden Peas, Mixed Peppers, Potato Dices, and Sweet Potatoes and a EZ-Towels 10 Pack Combos (10 bags of 50 towels. Retail value: $99.95). These items were donated by Jan at Healthy Harvest Foods. An assortment of world class loose leaf teas, and a box of Bellagio hot chocolate (25 individual packs), with a combined value of approximately $100. These items were courtesy of Charlie at CMEBrew.com. A NukAlert radiation detector (a $160 value), donated by at KI4U.com. And, a Katadyn VARIO water filter, donated by Ready Made Resources. (An $89 retail value.) Please e-mail us your bid before midnight.

Mr. Rawles:
To suppress or not to suppress: there is no question. (A hat tip to The Bard.) Many in the preparedness community are apprehensive about the acquisition of ["Class 3"] National Firearms Act (NFA) items. [These include machineguns, short-barreled rifles (SBRs), short-barreled shotguns (SBSs), and sound suppressors. There is a background check, fingerprinting, paperwork required, and a $200 tax per transfer.]

There are reams of writings about "remaining under the radar". I do not share those misgivings. Neither do tens of thousands of other legitimate gun owners. A caveat: under no circumstances should anyone build/construct/ any NFA style weapon or device. The penalties, legal and hazard to shooters are not worth the effort. If you want the right to inventory said items and you live in a state which prohibits the same, then move. Follow the legal steps required to obtain them. Sleep better. Enjoy!

First a few facts.
There are the following weapons, devices, the predominant number in civilian hands. The information is derived from Small Arms Review magazine, May 2008. Some of the numbers are civilian police, manufacturers and private security agencies. Again, the overwhelming number is in civilian hands. A grand display of this fact is the Knob Creek shoot and the hundreds (thousands?) of auto weapons matches all over the nation.

National statistics. (from the BATFE) 158,671 suppressors. 36,536 short barreled rifles. 97,903 short barreled shotguns. 49,052 AOW (Any other weapons). 400,739 automatic weapons. Remarkable. Again, most of these are in private collections.

There has been only one prosecution of a licensed owned or a Class 3 for misuse since the 1934 act that established the NFA regimen. A police officer used a department registered sub-gun to kill his wife. There exists no other case law according to a close friend who defends many gun related cases. There are no statistics on destructive devices (DDs) .

My home state. 2,427 suppressors. 485 short barreled rifles. 1,038 short barreled shotguns. 691 AOWs, and 5,489 automatic weapons.

My first acquisition of NFA interest was in the late 1970s. It has continued ever since.
Another fact. Any small arm up to the .50 BMG can be suppressed, including shotguns. Except revolvers. I refer to Small Arms Review again. In my opinion the best monthly reference on small arms within most budgets.

There are number of auto weapons in my inventory. My passion is suppression. This post will concern suppressors otherwise known as "cans".
My first acquisition was an Ingram gun in .45 ACP. Cost? $150 [, in the late 1970s.]. They are now listing near $3,500. (Investment is a great excuse for acquisition) A MAC-10 without a can is a contradiction. I acquired a RPB can with plastic wipes. Replaced the wipes (they add noise and add inaccuracy) with a convex muzzle wipe. There are 10,000 rounds through that combo, without a malfunction. Ken Hacakthorn, in the 1980s said that this combo is "good for a gunfight in a phone booth". I find it good to 25 yards or less. Hmmmmm....Would you prefer a slab side [M1911] with 8-to-10 rounds or the MAC combo with 30 rounds?

Next came the SSG in .308. I sent off to Ciener for a can. Mine was the first suppressed [Steyr] SSG 69 in the nation. Reduces report to a dull thud when heard downrange. Adds accuracy as almost all muzzle cans do. If you acquire such, match projectile to twist. Use full power loads, ball or whatever. Most subsonic ammo uses 200 grain projectiles. In the usual 1/10 twist .30 caliber weapons this could result in a baffle strike (internal) and ruin the can or the weapon. Same goes for light projectiles. Match projo with twist. Enjoy.

Then a Ciener can for the .223 788 Remington. Death to varmints. In the ensuing years there has been added; a Ciener Ruger MKI with integral suppression. Also a Johns Guns 10/22, again integral.

A note on integral suppression. All integrally suppressed cans are meant to be shot with high velocity ammunition. These manufacturers port (drill holes) in the barrel close to the chamber. Usually the barrels are shortened in handguns. It is critical to use the right ammunition. Do not use the Mexican Aguila .22 60 grain ammo. Remember, match twist with projectiles! Baffle strikes [very bad things] are most common in .22 rimfires. The suppression quality is astonishing in .22s. Some makers build their products to be easy to self maintain/clean. Ciener did not. Johns guns and others do. Inquire before purchase.

For quiet elimination of pests I have a Ruger 77/22 with a can from Gary's Guns Inc. of Waukesha, Wisconsin. Cheap and effective. There is also a Marlin .17HMR with a Gemtech can. I spoke with Dr. Phil Dater about this one. He enjoyed prairie dogging so much with his .17 he had to invent a can for idid.

Other cans are Gemtech on an M16. There are significant reports of serious hearing damage to troops in Iraq due to shooting inside buildings or vehicles. Cans prevent this. The downside, cans superheat in full auto fire and are best employed in semi-auto. Cans also blowback lots of fouling due to their gas entrapment. Malfunctions increase with the use of cans on auto weapons. Its a tradeoff most preppers could accept. I do.
The M92 Beretta, the Walther.22, the Marlin Camp Carbines in .45 ACP and 9mm, and other do nicely with cans.
Ciener made a nice can for one of the bolt guns.from Old State Arms Company (They make .50 caliber rifles)
There is also a Gemtech can which I can transfer between either of my two Bushmaster .308s.

There are a total of 17 cans in my inventory. I have also fired cans on the HK MP5 (integral), The MK2 STEN (integral) Both ran well. (I am a certified instructor with HK).
Needless to say further acquisitions are planned.

Preferences. Many states, mine own included, have no law or administrative code on using cans for hunting. Be sure to check your state laws and fish & game regulations!
I prefer muzzle cans with the Gemtech Bi-lock mounting systems. Threaded muzzle cans should come with a thread protector when the can is dismounted. My MK1 Ruger from Ciener had to be disassembled after 5,000 rounds or so. I had to take it to a gunsmith to dismount due to sealants which Superglued the assembly shut.The lesson here: If you require repairs/maintenance that you cannot do yourself, Make sure that your repair point is in possession of the proper Federal License. Ordinary gunsmithies cannot take in such work. you hand over a NFA weapon or device for repair, and you are not present [in the shop from beginning to end] for said work, then that is an illegal transfer. Illegal. 'Nuff said?
There is a plethora of can makers in the market. I have cans from Ciener (no longer manufacturing cans) Gemtech is among the best. RPG is defunct. AWC makes good stuff, as does Special Ops Shop and others.

Cans are cheap. Most running $200-to-$900 depending on integral (you pay for the gun too)...Bi-locks and muzzle boosters add to costs.

Wet versus dry cans. I have hundreds of rounds through "wet" cans. Some require filling with water. Others require grease packing. Water (wet) cans require refilling to maintain efficacy. A pain in the gunfight. I have one grease pack can. Effective on the Marlin Camp Carbine. Leaves a smoke signature after rapid fire, which is not good. Without a booster, it causes malfunctions on the Glock 21.
Lesson, stick to dry cans.

Cost to register [each item in the U.S.]? $200. - Mr. X

Mr. Rawles;

I'm chagrined to say that I found your blog rather late in the game--just two weeks ago, when a friend at church mentioned it. (We had been talking about the banking panic.) Your blog was a real eye-opener. So now I'm just plain overwhelmed and definitely feeling "behind the power curve." I have a lot of catching up to do. How can I get smart on preparedness in a great hurry, especially about [storing] food? Will food from the grocery supermarket do? Do I need special containers? One of those vacuum sealing things? What about mice? I'm a member of Sam's Club, and I can go to a COSTCO with my sister (who is a member). Are those good places to stock up? How do I figure how much I need to store? What are the [shelf] lives of the different types of foods? Thanks! - Mrs. A.G.

JWR Replies: All of your questions are answered in the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course . The course centers around the concept of stocking up for a family's food storage at "big box" membership stores like COSTCO and Sam's Club. Knowing the shelf lives of foods is indeed important. Armed with this knowledge, you won't purchasere a quantity that is greater than you can consume while the food is still nutritious and palatable. One of the appendices in the back of the course binder is a lengthy and detailed table showing the shelf lives of different foods. By the way, your timing will be good, since the preparedness course is currently on sale for 33% off.

Dear Jim -
Thank you for the note and I think its the least we can do to support such a worthy web information source. I've learned a great deal reading your archives and I'm doing my best to try and promote a self-sufficient lifestyle for our family.

We have chosen to live in interior Alaska for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is a steady job, but not without serious consideration. We are very well aware that we're at the end of the food chain up here and things are a bit more expensive (and can become much more if the chain breaks), but those are trade-offs. While things are still manageable we live in a place that has no property taxes, no sales taxes, very little government to speak of, no building codes except those we chose to apply, and folks that still value personal liberty with minimal social intervention by "do-gooders." Those attributes of locale were very attractive to us and led to our ultimate decision. We previously lived in the "nanny state" of Western Washington. There is no comparison. Free men and women who still value their freedom should vote with their feet and immediately exit the Socialist workers' paradises where they are currently incarcerated. The change in their lifestyles and outlooks will be profound and remarkable. We have lived and moved all over the world. For those who are hesitant for whatever reason - just jump in and figure it out from day to day. The Lord will help those who help themselves and you won't fail if you follow your heart. Truer words have never been spoken.

As a retired military officer who specialized in counter-terrorism and security work for the past 28 years, I'm acutely aware of and a student of geopolitics and macroeconomics. I have to be honest - I took your advice seriously and literally back at the beginning of this year and completely divested all our assets from the stock market. Obviously now I'm very, very glad we did so. My broker thought I was insane - but he now calls and emails me for advice. True story. I just pointed him to your blog site and told him about the Von Mises Institute, for his education. I am a true convert to the Austrian School.

There are truly dark clouds on the horizon and we all must prepare. I'm not an alarmist, but a pragmatist, and I have a fairly good perspective (and information) on which to base my beliefs. Again, thank you very much for what you and what you and your family have provided us. You have been instrumental in positive life changes for many people. The Lord has guided your hand - it is very obvious to us and has made a big difference in how we live. My Best Regards, - J. in Alaska

Reader FFF found this for us: Great Depression holds lessons for surviving tough economy

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Several new retreat properties have recently been added to our spin-off site: SurvivalRealty.com.

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Susan Z. recommended this piece of commentary by Adrian Douglas: Bond market collapse is imminent. My own opinion is a bit different: I think that bonds will hold up for several more months, since so much money is presently being yanked out of the equities market by both individual and institutional investors. They need to re-invest that money somewhere. In the long run, however, bonds are doomed along with stocks and everything else that is denominated in US Dollars. When the currency unit itself is wiped out, everybody caught holding The Old Maid loses.

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Susan Z. also sent us the link to a great audio clip of Reverend Dr, S.M. Lockridge expounding on the sovereignty of God. Rousing stuff! I wish that more preachers spoke so forthrightly.

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Some more tidings clamant from Cheryl, our Economic Editor: Bailout Becomes Buy-In As Fed Moves Into Banking Business -- Stocks End Relatively Calm Day With Moderate Decline -- Iceland Shares Plunge 76% As Trade Resumes -- The Day The Markets Breathed Again [JWR's Comment: Even a dead cat will bounce, if flung off of a sufficiently tall building] -- GM To Hasten Factory Closings -- Asian Stocks Close Higher -- Don't Be So Sure That This Will Work -- As The Economy Sinks, Officials Fear Violent Solutions -- Fear And Loathing In La Jolla

"The current rescue plans, which will force governments to issue more debt, print money and flood the markets with liquidity, will flare up inflation after the crisis is over and will create worse problems. We're setting the stage for when we come out of this of a massive inflation holocaust." - Investing Sage Jim Rogers

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Just one day of bidding left! The high bid in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $770. The auction for a large mixed lot that includes: A Special Mixed Vegetable Case-Six #10 Dehydrated Food Cans (Retail Price $105.95) This special Mixed Vegetable Case contains six #10 (96-ounce) cans--one can of each of the following: Mixed Vegetable Blend, Green Beans, Sweet Garden Peas, Mixed Peppers, Potato Dices, and Sweet Potatoes and a EZ-Towels 10 Pack Combos (10 bags of 50 towels. Retail value: $99.95). These items were donated by Jan at Healthy Harvest Foods. An assortment of world class loose leaf teas, and a box of Bellagio hot chocolate (25 individual packs), with a combined value of approximately $100. These items were courtesy of Charlie at CMEBrew.com. A NukAlert radiation detector (a $160 value), donated by at KI4U.com. And, a Katadyn VARIO water filter, donated by Ready Made Resources. (An $89 retail value.) The auction ends at midnight (EST) tomorrow (October 15, 2008.) Please e-mail us your bid.

Greetings, Mr. Rawles,

I need advice and I trust you implicitly in survival matters. Here's my issue:

I live in the country north of Tampa, Florida. Good dirt, well water (and well bucket), dogs, garden, silver coins stashed away. We are ready for whatever happens.

My 27 year old daughter lives in Austin, Texas. We have discussed her bugging out to come home, or to her grandmother's home in Southwestern Alabama. She is preparing her bugout pack today, and waiting to hear from me to tell her to come home.

My question is this: At what point do I tell her to head home? What will I see or read that will make me pull the trigger to put this girl on the road? How will I know when it's time, and allow enough time for her to get as far as possible in her car?

I would really rather have her in Florida with me, but her grandmother is much closer, and also in the country. If I want my daughter here, with me, how much time....

I guess that's my question - how much time do you think we have, it's now Friday at 2:30, and the market is about to drop below 8,000. How much time before the meltdown? At what state of preparedness should I have my kid??

Please help. Thank you for your fabulous work. - Terri L.


JWR Replies: First let me say I expect this to be a slow slide. But also let me say that I am not a prophet. I am all too human. For example, like a lot of people I got a lot more motivated by Y2K than the situation warranted.

It is probably not yet the time to call your daughter home--not unless she would like to move back to Florida, anyway.You might want to discuss this with her at length. A lot of it might revolve around her work situation: Can she take a leave of absence from her work, and then return to Texas if things "blow over"? Does she have vacation on the books that she can "burn"?

Regardless, advise her to henceforth always keep her car's tank at least 3/4 full whenever returning to her home at the end of the day.
She should probably now store some full five gallon gas cans, since the trip will require a couple of re-fills. Does she have a trailer for her vehicle? Perhaps she can store some gas with your relatives in Alabama, as a halfway re-fill point.

For now, just monitor the news closely. See: Mark 13:32, KJV. Pray fervently. Our nation needs it.

I noticed your recent post about Front Sight’s 2009 schedule. A friend and I just returned from the four-day defensive handgun course and one-day CCW course. We did the "Get a Gun" and train package. I’d like to give you a little summary of the experience, in the hopes that some of your readers might be encouraged to train.

My experience with shooting started at age 10, with my first .22 rifle. By age 19, I was a USMC rifle expert, and in the 17 years since then, have done a fair amount of recreational target shooting. I’ve always kept a handgun in the home for protection. But, the only real training in firearms I received was in the Marine Corps. Whenever I thought about my level of competence, I would tell myself that if I ever needed to use a gun in defense of life, that I would “rise to the occasion” and do what I had to. After reading Boston’s Gun Bible, and many posts on SurvivalBlog about the value of training, I decided that I wasn’t competent enough with handguns to actually defend myself in the stress and chaos of a lethal encounter. When I read about Front Sight’s “Get a Gun and Train” deal, I decided it was too good to pass up.

In the four days at Front Sight, we trained for about 9-to-10 hours per day, with a night shoot on the third day adding an extra three hours. They use a student/coach system that requires you to watch your buddy as he goes through the exercises. You’re expected to correct anything he does wrong, and then the roles reverse so he can watch you. This alternating teach/learn makes the training process really effective and the techniques for handling the firearm sink in quickly. They stress developing muscle memory on the range, and with “dry practice” drills. We learned how to rapidly deal with the three types of weapon malfunctions, shooting while moving, clearing doors, corners, and rooms, rapid presentation to the target, the “three secrets”, and much more. By the end of the fifth day CCW class, I felt a huge amount of confidence with my Glock that I never felt before. It was so comfortable and felt like an extension of my hand.

The instructors were professional and very friendly. In fact, at the end of the last day, after class, my friend and I had a few hundred extra rounds in our range bag. So, one of the instructors voluntarily ran the two of us through some of the high-level confrontation drills like close-quarters (three feet away) shooting, walking head-shots, etc. He spend about two hours just with us, so we could get even better. He probably could have gone home to his family but he stayed there to train us for free. We were extremely satisfied with the whole experience.

What I realized after getting the training, was that no matter what I thought of my abilities, they were not good enough to bet my life on. Only by training, and continuing to train, can I actually depend on my gun to protect lives. Lethal encounters never happen when you plan on them, so you’ll only be "half as good as your best day on the range". The more training you have, the better that “half as good” will be when your body is flushed with adrenaline, your hands are shaking, you’re trying to overcome shock, and fight for your life.

Quality training, and continued practice, are a must for anyone who owns a gun for defense. And with an uncertain future ahead, I would jump on Front Sight’s deal while the planes are still regularly flying. Regards, - Robert A. (a 10 Cent Challenge Subscriber)

Check out this article that I found on Bloomberg.com Icelandic Shoppers Splurge as Currency Woes Reduce Food Imports. It looks like Iceland is in deep Schumer - running out of food.
This reminds me of your warnings regarding Hawaii and Alaska - though the same problem can happen in the lower 48 on a grander scale, since we no longer produce enough food. It is time to move my family back to Montana! Best to you and yours.- Stewart R.

P.S.: Back in 1999 I bought several Wiggy's brand sleeping bags. Those bags are wonderful.

JWR Replies: We can probably expect to see a similar purchasing rush sometime in the next few years here in the US, once the US Dollar starts its anticipated death spiral. Tangibles, tangibles, tangibles!

Like you, I'm constantly trying to find out what the best knives are. There are so many, at so many different prices, that it is easy to get sidetracked.
With the articles my friend Phil Elmore and I write at The Martialist, we have gone through hundreds of knives over the years. Some great, some are not so spectacular.
Let me tell you about the ones I have grown fond of. Not all of them are cheap, but many are.

1. CRKT Grant Hawk D.O.G. [deadbolt over grabstep] Lock. Its an open body, easily sharpened folder with a strong lock that is almost impossible to defeat. CRKT no longer makes them, but the D.O.G. lock is available on eBay all the time. Easy to clean if you use it to dress a game animal as well.

2. Spyderco Para Military. A shortened, easier to handle version of the large Military, I know of several soldiers, hunters and first responders who carry these in their go bags.

3. CRKT M-21 Carbon fiber special forces. I chose it because I think the tanto blade, which is used in the M-16 series, is really only useful for cutting someone out of a wreck, a crashed plane, or fighting with a goblin who is wearing body armor.

4.Spyderco waved Endura. If you can get it in VG-10 steel, the Endura is a top flight choice. The wave feature was designed by Ernie Emerson and first came out in their Emerson Commander. The wave makes it a simple matter to open the knife one handed.

5.If one looks hard enough, it's easy to find a used Spyderco Chinook II folder on eBay. Designed by James Keating, that knife is robust enough to field dress an Elk, help cut up wood for campfires and yes, even use in self defense against an attacker if you get caught away from your handgun or shotgun.

What about fixed blades?
I like my Fallkniven F-1 fixed blade. Its designed right, with respect to the designs of Loveless, and is useful as a pilot's knife. I know of at least one army pilot in Iraq who has one strapped to his web gear every day as he goes out in his Blackhawk helicopter. Mine has been used to field dress three deer, a friend borrowed it to cut up a black bear with, and I've carried it during every camping trip for three years.
At this point, mine is in the go bag in the back seat of my Ford Explorer, along with camping gear, several loaded glock mags and numerous shotgun shells.
The great thing is, any of these knives can be found for less than a hundred dollar bill. - Lawrence K.

Portfolio.com reports that "unlimited dollar funding" has now been promised by the G-7 to re-liquify the credit markets on both side of the Atlantic: Flood the Zone. Just as I warned, the MOAB knows no boundaries. The destruction of the dollar via mass inflation now seems inevitable. Get out of your dollar-denominated investments immediately. Shelter your assets in practical tangibles, ASAP! Now, on to more economic news and commentary, courtesy of our stalwart Economic Editor: Manic Monday: Dow Roars Back After Worst Week Ever -- Morgan Stanley Gets $9 Billion Lifeline -- Sovereign Bancorp In Talks With Spain's Banco Santander -- FRB Press Release: 'Unlimited Funding' Measures -- Treasury To Invest In Healthy Banks -- The Crushing Potential Of Financial Derivatives -- Icelandic Shoppers Empty Supermarkets -- IMF Warns Markets Could Drop Another 20% -- Two Million Britons On The Dole By Christmas -- Most US States, Cities Virtually Bankrupt -- Two More Banks Closed By Regulators -- US Gasoline Price Marks Biggest Drop Ever

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Brandy in Southern California sent us this: Thieves snag catalytic converters in Murrieta parking lots. Brandy's comment: "This article illustrates that when things get bad, you'll even have to be careful about where you park your car."

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Tomorrow is the last day in Safecastle's 25%-off Mountain House sale. Their freeze dried canned foods have a 30 year shelf life. Get your order in right away!

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Rourke flagged this one: Modern Survivalists Exist Among Us. Note the typical urban elitist spin, that attempts to make prepared individuals look like a fanatical fringe element.

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Mark in Washington reports seeing some very brisk sales at the recent Puyallup gun show (near Seattle). "Mark's comment: "The ammunition guys were barely able to sit down at all. One gun dealer said he sold 26 on Saturday alone. A very large number of people that I spoke to this weekend were talking about how important is it be better prepared. If I had to put a word to the overall mood of the buyer was fear. I personally heard a number of people talking about the upcoming election and the current economic crisis as reasons for getting out to the show and buying."

"The avalanche has already started. It is too late for the pebbles to vote." - Kosh Naranek, in Babylon 5 Season 1, Episode 10 "Believers" (Screenplay by David Gerrold)

Monday, October 13, 2008

A reminder that the special 33%-off "Pre-Election" sale price on the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course ends at midnight on Tuesday, November 4th. (Election Day, in the US.)

I have read through all of your archives, and your Finding Like-Minded People in Your Area [static page]. From a recent personal experience, I thought maybe it might help to note that the site www.FarmersOnly.com is an online dating-type site that caters to:

"Farmers, Ranchers, Ag Students and all of Agriculture
Horse, Livestock Owners and all Animal Lovers
Cowboys, Cowgirls, Rodeo Fans and Country Wannabes"

I recently signed up and, unlike the mainstream sites, they give you a three day "try it before you buy it" period. Also, unlike the mainstream sites, their membership fees are reasonable for anyone who is just casually "looking" and can't justify sacrificing their logistics budget on a $200+ per year subscription.
The really impressive part is that by the last day of my three-day trial period I had already met four women who were really into survival and survivalesque activities. One of them even reads SurvivalBlog on a regular basis! Apparently, this is a smaller, more niche-based online dating site, and it seems as though it is mostly compatible with the single survivalist.
I'm not affiliated with the site in any way besides just recently signing-up for the free trial. I just wanted to pass that along because it seems as though it is going to work out for me, and I figure some percentage of your readership may be in the lonely predicament similar to what I was. - Josh, Ohio

Greetings Jim and the SurvivalBlog Family,
First of all, prayers sent for Memsahib's recovery and your family's well being.

At one point in my rather varied list of jobs to fill in while unemployed I found myself employed in a family owned machine shop. I reproduced drafted copies of gear drawings and specifications from previously made orders for the guys in the shop to manufacture the gear orders. I got a real education on just how gears and similar 'small' parts are made and I picked up a few skills that have helped me over the years in maintaining my own firearms and tools. This shop did not have any CNC machines but could make any, and I mean any, size gear from less than an inch in diameter to twelve to twenty foot diameter gears. In fact the larger gears, such as gears for elevators of all types, was what they built their reputation on. Can anyone think of any machine that does not have gears? They are like ball bearings and things don't run unless the gears and ball bearings are present. Without those two elements a society will find itself in a pre-Industrial Revolution setting very quickly. Naturally the 'stock up on ball bearings' thought comes to mind. But the material heart of their shop was the type of machinery they used to manufacture the gears and the materials for their manufacture. I found out that material for gears are as varied as you could get and some material is down right surprising. Gears are made from steel, which comes to mind at once, but other materials have properties that will extend the life of the gear or of the equipment that it is used in. Gear materials range from the obligatory stainless steel to cast iron, bronze, brass, nylon (even large nylon gears), and some high tech polymers along with high tech alloys, aircraft grade aluminum, Bakelite (you’d be amazed just how hard and durable this ‘primitive’ plastic is and Masonite and compressed textile material. Each material type has it's place as does the type of gear and usually if a Bakelite gear is replaced with nylon or soft steel that machine that uses the gear will have it's life span greatly diminished. The exact gear type and the material it's made from are critical. Depending on the application of the gear there may be some 'wiggle room' in material selection but that is the not the usual rule.

Now to the machinery used. Their shop was founded in the 1920s or so; I just don't remember the exact year. But what I do remember is that the gear cutting machines were brought over from the USSR not long after the revolution! This equipment was being sold as surplus out of the USSR. The engineers were brought along as part of the contract and there was an interpreter to work with the owner and his shop crew to help set up and learn how to properly operate this specialized equipment. The interpreter was also the ‘political officer’ who was there to make sure that no one decided to defect. That produced a surreal atmosphere. A lot of the cast labels, etc. on the machines were in Russian and later plates with the English translation were installed after the machinery was installed and tested. The critical gauges were in numerals, which math is an international language. The process took a month or so to bring the shop online. Most of the machines had been belt driven, not electric motor driven and the pulleys, etc. had been removed and the electric motor attached when the equipment was setup. The shop retained the pulley systems in a warehouse. The dates of the machine's manufacture in the USSR ranged from the middle to late 1800s, and had been refitted to original specs before being sold. The gear cutting equipment had been in shop maintained since being manufactured and never, ever, stopped. Some gears had to take a couple weeks to manufacture on these machines because of the size of the gear and or the hardness of the steel the gears had to be made from.

To illustrate the durability of this 19th Century equipment, the gear machines were often set up to run 24/7 to cut the large-sized gears, which are slowly cut and often would be left cutting over weekends. The operator only had to come in to clear away the cuttings and fill the cutting fluid tanks to safe levels and make sure the cast metal didn't have any voids in it which would compromise the integrity of the gear. Of course if a void showed, which from time to time happens, the process was stopped and a new gear blank replaced and cutting began anew. The initial construction of these gear cutters was the most amazing quality and durability I have ever seen. All the chassis, if that is the proper term, were huge castings, and then the rest was machined by even larger machinery. The cutting accuracy of the USSR-made industrial machines was only surpassed when computerized machinery became the standard. The designers and builders had a quality control that could rival any other country for the same type of equipment. To give a size comparison to the scope of the gear size this equipment could cut; the company was approached by the Department of Defense in the 1980s to manufacture the drive sprockets for the then-new M1 Abrams tank. There were only a handful of companies in the U.S. that had the capacity to be a subcontractor for the making of the drive sprockets and maintain a high level of quality control. And even though the company stood to make a lot of money, the owner declined the offer because he did not want the government to come in and tell him how things were to be done. Apparently their would have been a government bureaucrat hovering about and sticking his nose into every aspect of the operation of the company, even into areas not directly related to the drive sprocket manufacture. And since the contract would have been on a defense project the security would have been very restrictive on the movements of the employees. I thought it would have been a real irony to have the US main battle tank components manufactured not only on machinery from the late 19th Century but also from the Soviet Union!

Briefly about the talent that was in the shop, which is a critical component to the small machine shop. The owner and his sons were second and third generation owner/operators of the shop. The owner's father built it up from nothing, and hand selected all the equipment. He had selected the Russian equipment because he had seen it in operation and knew the quality. I saw the owner and his sons take and look at the gear to be made and immediately know not only the type but also the thread pitch, among all the other particulars to what to make it from and how long it would take to make it. This skill can not be learned in a book or in a classroom. It takes years to master this type of trade. Some of the guys in the shop were nothing less and geniuses when it came to turning a gear blank into a perfect gear. Even the owner would double-check the specifications of the gear sample he examined, as well as the shop foreman and the craftsman who would run the particular machine that made the gear. On more than one occasion they would spot flaws in a gear from the customer whereby the customer thought they were correct on the specifications but in fact they were in error. They had purchased a gear from another company who said they made it according to the given specifications. But in fact it had been poorly manufactured and was out of specification and as a result the equipment it was installed on wore it out or broke the gear (along with others that meshed with it). The gears they got from the shop I worked at were flawless and the client got properly drafted drawings and specifications from our shop for their future reference. We got a lot of repeat orders. Computers can do some outstanding things, but in the situation that this blog addresses that kind of equipment may not be the better choice in the long run. The 'old' manual machinery can in the life span of a company or even a nation can have the greater value over 'new' computerized equipment in adverse circumstances.

I asked the owner why he and the company's founder kept the belt drive systems of the equipment they got from the USSR. He said that his Dad fully expected that at some point after WWII we could face an armed conflict with Russia during the days of the Cold War and he kept it so that the equipment could be retrofitted and alternate power could keep most of the shop running. The generations that grew up during the Great Depression and the rationing of WWII had a totally different mindset than today's generation. The Russians have traditionally followed a use and reuse policy. They mothballed earlier versions of equipment as new equipment replaced the old. Firearms collectors know of the thousands of capture German weapons were sent to arsenals for rework and along with Russia’s own weapons were stored for future use in case of armed conflict with NATO forces. And when that armed conflict did not happen, yet anyway, they took their ‘obsolete’ stockpile of small arms and sold it to generate funds when the USSR ‘collapsed’. It would serve us well to examine our current philosophy on use and 'making do' and modify it accordingly before we are slapped by forces beyond our control. The U.S. has lost so much of our heavy industry through waste and political correctness and political stupidity we can no longer cast the hulls of the Abrams tank. When the last one rolled off the assembly line the molds and other specialized equipment was scrapped. At the Patton Museum there is a tank the U.S. manufactured in the late 1940s that incorporates a solid cast turret and the tank was designed to go head to head against Russia’s heaviest main battle tank should a conflict with them break out in Europe. Today we can’t even manufacture that cast turret from a late 1940s tank.

Even though I have digital calipers, I have never discarded my manual dial calipers; and never will. Old does not necessarily mean obsolete. - The Rabid One

David V. sent us the link to some commentary by Bob Chapman on the derivatives threat: The Quadrillion Dollar Powder Keg Waiting To Blow. David also sent us the link to this piece by Porter Stansberry: How AIG's Collapse Began a Global Run on the Banks

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Several folks sent us this "must read" piece by Bill Bonner: The Next Crisis Will Be Over Food. It begins: "The United States is now a net importer of food, we read recently. If we understand that correctly, there is no longer enough food Made in the USA to feed Americans' appetites"

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More Friday Evening Follies: Meridian Bank and Main Street Bank both bite the dust. (The FDIC makes a habit of announcing bank failures on Fridays, just after business hours.)

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There are just two days left in Safecastle's 25%-off Mountain House sale. This sale price probably won't be repeated for a year, so get your order in soon!

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Some news from England, courtesy of Jack B.: Credit crunch-hit Brits turn to bartering. Also, this grim news: Bodies of the dead not being buried in echo of Winter of Discontent as effects of credit crunch spread across Britain

"In one sense, what is happening is not the bankruptcy of America but the transfer of assets from the spendthrift imprudent to the frugal prudent. Is this a bad thing? I don't think a "good/bad" statement has any meaning here; it is simply a market economy at work. Excesses get unwound, cash is always king, prudent investors tend to be rewarded and gamblers tend to lose all their money." - Charles Hugh Smith

Greetings, Mr. Rawles,

I need advice and I trust you implicitly in survival matters. Here's my issue:

I live in the country north of Tampa, Florida. Good dirt, well water (and well bucket), dogs, garden, silver coins stashed away. We are ready for whatever happens.

My 27 year old daughter lives in Austin, Texas. We have discussed her bugging out to come home, or to her grandmother's home in Southwestern Alabama. She is preparing her bugout pack today, and waiting to hear from me to tell her to come home.

My question is this: At what point do I tell her to head home? What will I see or read that will make me pull the trigger to put this girl on the road? How will I know when it's time, and allow enough time for her to get as far as possible in her car?

I would really rather have her in Florida with me, but her grandmother is much closer, and also in the country. If I want my daughter here, with me, how much time....

I guess that's my question - how much time do you think we have, it's now Friday at 2:30, and the market is about to drop below 8,000. How much time before the meltdown? At what state of preparedness should I have my kid??

Please help. Thank you for your fabulous work. - Terri L.


JWR Replies: First let me say I expect this to be a slow slide. But also let me say that I am not a prophet. I am all too human. For example, like a lot of people I got a lot more motivated by Y2K than the situation warranted.

It is probably not yet the time to call your daughter home--not unless she would like to move back to Florida, anyway.You might want to discuss this with her at length. A lot of it might revolve around her work situation: Can she take a leave of absence from her work, and then return to Texas if things "blow over"? Does she have vacation on the books that she can "burn"?

Regardless, advise her to henceforth always keep her car's tank at least 3/4 full whenever returning to her home at the end of the day.
She should probably now store some full five gallon gas cans, since the trip will require a couple of re-fills. Does she have a trailer for her vehicle? Perhaps she can store some gas with your relatives in Alabama, as a halfway re-fill point.

For now, just monitor the news closely. See: Mark 13:32, KJV. Pray fervently. Our nation needs it.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

It will be interesting to see exactly what emerges from the G-20 meeting this weekend. At first blush, their "five point rescue plan" looks like: "Throw money at the problem, throw more money at the problem, repeat, repeat, fire for effect." The Mother of All Bailouts (MOAB) has grown to multinational and unconstrained proportions. The MOAB will be so gargantuan that it will destroy the US dollar as a currency unit. Get ready for mass inflation--at least here in the States, and possibly across the Atlantic, as well.

As Mr. Haney (Pat Buttram) from the television show Green Acres would say, “Have I got a deal for you!” In the spirit of Mr. Haney, I’ve come up with some good barter items. To make the list, the items have to be fairly light, extremely useful, practical, and cheap to buy, now! The items have to fit, and be able to be stored in six gallon plastic pails with a water proof seal. The items also must be available in large quantities now, to get the most for my money and be easily accessible now, at a low cost – yet become very valuable when the Schumer hits the fan. Few barter items can fit Mr. Haney’s criteria, but some items will pass the test.

#1 Matches. Most boxes [of paper matches] contain 50 books with 20 matches per booklet, at about 200 per box. That’s 1,000 lights, right? Wrong! It’s actually double that at 2,000 because with a little care, each match can be split in two. It takes about 4-5 seconds to split a paper match, and I haven’t ruined any in my scores of attempts. During the war in Bosnia, matches were on the list of things that disappeared first. One six gallon pail holds 24 boxes, if left in packages. That’s 48,000 lights!

#2 Seeds. I would fill the second pail with seeds. The type of seeds is a personal preference, but heirlooms seeds are preferred, though more costly. You can give your customer 2 choices: some seeds in packets that are heirloom seeds, and some that are from any store. Over a million seeds can fit in a six gallon pail, and seeds may very well become just as valuable as ammo, but are a lot lighter with a higher quantity able to fit in the same size pail.

#3 Sugar. For your own stock, just pour 25 pound bags into six gallon buckets. For [incremental] barter though, large wholesale food stores like COSTCO have sugar packets with a quantity of 2,000 per box. A six gallon pail holds more than two boxes; and sugar keeps a long, long time. That’s approximately 5,000 individual servings that are pre-packaged, and will last a very long time.

#4 Magnifying glasses. Magnifying glasses are very cheap if you shop around. They are easy to store and are a great reading tool for fine print or serial numbers, can be used as a fire starter and can be used for medical purposes and close examination such as, to aid in splinter removal or to see a mote in someone's eye. When buying in quantity, you should pay between $1 and $1.50 per pair. This barter item will be excellent in the worse case scenario.

$5 Can Openers. A can-opener will come in very handy for those who can no longer use their electricity. Using a knife as a substitute is not worth the risk of injury to group members which can create another problem (stitches, infections, etc.). Can openers are cheap and can be purchased for as low as .39 cents for a military P-38 style, or $1.99 for a more elaborate one.
There are many other items one could focus on to establish the beginning of your trading post. But Mr. Haney’s five items listed above will wind up being the most popular and meeting some very important needs for his friends and community. The items I’ve listed are light, cheap, easy to store, easily obtainable now in large quantities and will be in high demand later. I’ve left out ammo on purpose because it is more expensive and heavier, and most likely (hopefully) you should already have ammo as a priority.

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Rawles,
Thank you for your excellent blog. My husband and I are benefiting tremendously from the hard work you have put in to this valuable resource.

My question: With banking integrity a growing uncertainty, would it be prudent to devote our rather limited capital to build up a credit balance with our utility providers (water, electric and natural gas) in anticipation of possible interruptions in bank transactions? We do have modest contingency back-up systems for all three supplies but as long as the grid holds up we will use the utilities.
Sincerely, - Mrs. T. from Idaho

JWR Replies: I do not recommend pre-paying utilities, at least not under the current circumstances. By pre-paying the utilities, you are effectively giving them an interest-free loan. For the sake of flexibility, you are far better off setting aside an equivalent amount in greenback cash. This is what is commonly called "mattress money". (But you'll need a much safer place for it. (See my "Through the Looking Glass" wall cache post from August, 2007 for detailed recommendations on constructing hidden caches in your home.)

With greenback cash on hand, you will still be able to make payments directly at the utility offices, or of course simply mail them money orders. Even in the event of a major banking crisis (complete with bank closures or perhaps even a national "banking holiday"), money orders will likely still be available from the US Postal Service and from drugs stores or convenience stores, and will still be accepted in payment.

If the economic situation deteriorates--for example if inflation jumps to double digits (or more), and the postal service becomes unreliable, then that is the time to consider pre-paying your utility bills and perhaps even pre-paying your property taxes.

Dear Mr. Rawles,
When the President announced the first $700 Billion bailout I had the pleasure of being in Chicago at a business conference. The next day I flew home into Moscow/Pullman regional airport and couldn't help but think about the first chapter of "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse". The timing was a little ironic.

Thank you for all the work you do. Regards, - The Hellion of Troy

Just a quick note to say how happy I am with one of your advertisers. I bought a "Garden in a Can" from Everlasting Seeds. Great communication, professional, fast service.

Thanks for opening our eyes to preparing for hard times ahead. May the Lord bless you and your family. Your Brother in Christ, - Dennis L.

KAF sent us this: World's First Nuclear Bunker Turned Zero-Star Hotel Opens in Switzerland

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In a recent e-mail, SF in Hawaii mentioned: "I do not think that the bank rating agencies will adjust their ratings fast enough to tell when you should get your money out of a bank. Instead, watch the bank's stock price." That is good advice.

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Whenever someone wants to advertise a book on SurvivalBlog, I insist on reading it before I accept the ad. Most recently, this gave me the opportunity to read Jerry Robinson's new book "Surviving Financial Chaos". It as excellent. I think that this is the ideal book to put in the hands of your friends, neighbors and relatives that are not convinced that they need to prepare. Robinson's book does a great job of both explaining te background of our nations economic predicament and describing what families need to do, to prepare.

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Jean sent us this Daily Mail headline:: 'We must stand together': Bush warns countries not to turn against each other as they battle to ease the financial crisis

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Here is the latest economic gloomage from Cheryl: IMF Warns Of Global Financial Meltdown -- Panic Selling Wipes $5 Trillion Off World Shares -- Morgan Stanley and Goldman Dive On Downgrade Fear -- Morgan Stanley Loses Another $20 Billion -- Fannie/Freddie To Buy $40 Billion A Month Of Troubled Assets --White House Says Markets Will Not Be Shut Down -- GM/Chrysler In Merger Talks -- What The Financial Crisis Means For You

"O eternal and everlasting God, I presume to present myself this morning before thy Divine majesty, beseeching thee to accept of my humble and hearty thanks, that it hath pleased thy great goodness to keep and preserve me the night past from all the dangers poor mortals are subject to, and has given me sweet and pleasant sleep, whereby I find my body refreshed and comforted for performing the duties of this day, in which I beseech thee to defend me from all perils of body and soul....
Increase my faith in the sweet promises of the gospel; give me repentance from dead works; pardon my wanderings, and direct my thoughts unto thyself, the God of my salvation; teach me how to live in thy fear, labor in thy service, and ever to run in the ways of thy commandments; make me always watchful over my heart, that neither the terrors of conscience, the loathing of holy duties, the love of sin, nor an unwillingness to depart this life, may cast me into a spiritual slumber, but daily frame me more and more into the likeness of thy son Jesus Christ, that living in thy fear, and dying in thy favor, I may in thy appointed time attain the resurrection of the just unto eternal life bless my family, friends, and kindred." - George Washington (Undated prayer from Washington's prayer journal, Mount Vernon)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The high bid in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $770. The auction for a large mixed lot that includes: A Special Mixed Vegetable Case-Six #10 Dehydrated Food Cans (Retail Price $105.95) This special Mixed Vegetable Case contains six #10 (96-ounce) cans--one can of each of the following: Mixed Vegetable Blend, Green Beans, Sweet Garden Peas, Mixed Peppers, Potato Dices, and Sweet Potatoes and a EZ-Towels 10 Pack Combo (10 bags of 50 towels. Retail value: $99.95). These items were donated by Jan at Healthy Harvest Foods. An assortment of world class loose leaf teas, and a box of Bellagio hot chocolate (25 individual packs), with a combined value of approximately $100. These items were courtesy of Charlie at CMEBrew.com. A NukAlert radiation detector (a $160 value), donated by at KI4U.com. And, a Katadyn VARIO water filter, donated by Ready Made Resources. (An $89 retail value.) The auction ends on Monday October 15, 2008. Please e-mail us your bid.

Today we present another entry for Round 19 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The contest prizes include:

First Prize: The writer of the best contributed article in the next 60 days will be awarded two transferable Front Sight  "Gray" Four Day Training Course Certificates. This is an up to $4,000 value!
Second Prize: A three day course certificate from OnPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses.
Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing

Round 19 ends on November 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entries. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

My preparedness journey began when my mother in law was dying, and we had to get out of the house for a while. At a flea market, on the bottom shelf, was a book titled “Making the Best of Basics”. The cover caught my attention, and before we went home that night, I had read and re-read the book. I am a union electrician, subject to layoffs, and my husband is a self-employed painter. The idea that I needed to prepare came easy for me. I thought I had done well, always buying extra for the pantry. But water? Oops. I hadn't thought about that one. So, I started doing the things in the book, and my mind was always going, and the lists got longer.

When I started to realize that I had a lot to do, I shared my thoughts with my best friend. Instead of laughing, she got on board. We discussed my home as the retreat. Although it doesn’t fit every need, it has a lot to offer. We are on a gravel, lightly populated road, about 20 minutes from a medium city. We have a well, and two acres. Our home has a basement, where we are working to get things organized. We know most of our neighbors, and have a community here. One neighbor plows our drive when it snows, and has for two years now. We treat him to his favorite brew on occasion to thank him, and I have even taken him a bowl of hot soup when he arrives.

Worst case scenario, we could have as many as 30 family members here, with varied skills, but it is a momentous task to try to prepare for that many people.
Last spring, my friend and I built raised garden beds that are still producing. We used recycled bleachers for the boxes, old shelving and other “trash” for the trellises. An old hog waterer with the waterer cut out, set in the ground at the proper angle, with a double pane window on it, became a cold frame. We also have the supplies to expand the garden next year. It is actually a very pretty garden!
I have dried tomatoes, onions, cabbage, apples, mushrooms, eggs, plums; canned anything that I had time to, and jellied, with new recipes for dandelion jelly, zucchini jam, and cantaloupe jam. My three garage sale dehydrators run most of the time. I have studied new and old methods of drying. I keep sodium metabisulfite, but also use the older method of using salt and vinegar rinses to preserve color. I have learned a lot, and my family is scrounging for jars for me. The supply is dried up here, mostly due to the awakening of some of the sheeple.

After consideration of a generator, it was decided that the best route for us was to just ready ourselves to be off grid. Second-hand shops have provided hank crank blenders, food processors, meat grinders, and other kitchen helpers. A friend helped build an Amish [summer canning] kitchen from some table legs, wood, and a Freecycled propane cooktop. One plus to this that we didn’t consider—the stove is lower in height, which is helpful when working with canners. One thing that we did consider—a hundred gallons of propane will work this stove, or the propane stove in the kitchen, for a year and a half. A couple of extra tanks are on the list to obtain! By putting the cooktop outside, we don’t heat the house up, which now helps the air conditioning bill, and will definitely help later, when it is just hot, and there is no air conditioning. We can also use it in the barn or basement if the weather necessitates. We also have propane heaters, and for emergencies, canned heat. (The latter is a 1-quart steel paint can, with a roll of toilet paper with cardboard liner removed, 16 ounces of alcohol. Directions for making these can be found on the LDS preparedness sites [such as www.ProvidentLiving.org.].)

We have been learning to save our own seeds, and I have been studying some animal husbandry, expecting to get some small livestock. We also have laid in a supply of sprouting seeds, and use them.
I now store water, and using the PACE system means that we have several means of getting more. For now the well is primary, the hand pump is alternate, the stored water is contingent, and the rain water, pond water, etc. would be the emergency. However, we also have our eyes on a pump that would be inline, and pressurize the tank. This will happen soon if things hold out a while! Although I store drinking water, I also started saving detergent bottles for non-potable water. I don’t even rinse them. When we are without water, and have dishes or laundry to do, those bottles will work perfectly, even offering up the remnants of the soaps in them.

Solar and human generated power are ideas that I am investigating, and if time permits, we should have minimal power, with minimal outlay. I hope that my electrical abilities will help here! Several years ago I installed some solar powered flood lights on my parents’ home, and now plan to put some both on and in my home. I do understand that during the probable turmoil, their use would be limited to avoid the target on our backs. However, eventually things will settle, and they would be of great use. By eliminating the motion sensor and photo-eye, and direct-wiring a switch, these lights could work in the house as well, and would need only a path for the solar cell wire, i.e. through a window. This would be fine as a temporary fix until more permanent work could be done.
I was able to find a supplier locally for wheat, where I am the only customer. Not only do I grind flour, making our own breads when time permits, but we sprout it for both us and our dogs. Incidentally, our older dog was having some health issues, and I started adding sprouts to the dog food. Within a couple of weeks, he was acting like a puppy, and his chronic halitosis had vanished.
I also found a neighbor who grows corn, who took my order for about 10 bushel, when the moisture content is down and we can store it. Guess some cornbread with all those beans would be a welcome thought.

I found an article for a vacuum pump, which is worth sharing. I had seen build-it-yourself pumps, but with all the preps, building one was not in the time allotment. However, you can go to your local auto store, and get a brake bleeder, with a gauge and several attachments, very reasonably. I obtained the mason jar sealers, and now seal all my dehydrated foods with vacuum on them. Just put the conical end on the bleeder, press it into the jar attachment, and pump away. When you remove the pump, the jar seals. A mason jar will hold 20 inches (Hg) of vacuum, which, by the way, will collapse a five gallon bucket. Don’t ask me how I know. Seal your buckets with a little less vacuum!

My friend and her mom got on board early, and are both also prepping. We are in the process of getting a community inventory, so we know what we all need to work on. My mother was supportive, but not overly helpful until this month. Along with jars, tins, and the usual things on my list from garage sales, she has started getting winter clothes, socks, etc. She also gave me a nice check to help with whatever we need, and pledged to give more. My husband has become more supportive as the economy teeters, and is also now actively engaged in the OPSEC end of our needs.

Our children are like most kids, struggling to survive. However, they also pick up an extra bag of rice or can of beans when they can, and send it. I have given them ideas on putting things away when you can barely afford to eat. Every week, get at least one item. Even on a bad week, you can afford a box of salt, rice, beans, pudding, or a can of milk. They also know (thanks to SurvivalBlog) what they need to look for, and when to get headed home.

If you had told me 10 months ago how very many hours I could find in a day, week, or month, to do all these things, I would have laughed. Now I look at the garden, and see not only hours spent with my best friend, laughing as she learned to use a drill, but the many meals we ate, and will still eat, from our bleacher boxes. I walk to the basement, and see the supplies there. I see the full jars of home processed foods, and enjoy just looking at the fruits of my labor. I see the first aid box, and the many other medical supplies, and feel some peace. I look in the closet in my office, and find sleeping bags, blankets, and other items to help out family when they are forced here.

I don’t throw anything out any more, without asking myself if it has another purpose. My family has lists of things that they are to watch for, and I often come home from visits with the car full of goodies.
Remember, having all your supplies means nothing if you don’t know how to use them. Eat wheat, sprout seeds, grow a garden, learn to use the canners, and lay in a supply of jars and lids. Learn to cook with your essentials, stay warm with less heat, and amuse yourself without television.

Are we ready? Not by a long shot! The more I know, the more I know that I don’t know! But knowledge is power, and I do know that when things happen, I am much more prepared that most, and we have a plan. Your blog site has been invaluable, and as times become more unpredictable, you are the first thing I check when I log on. Although I struggle with the fears of not having enough done, I know that we will not panic. What we have begun is a new way of life that takes what we have today, and builds on it for tomorrow. Lists will be filled, and peace grows. God is good, and gives us much. It is our responsibility to use it wisely. He can only guide our steps if we start walking. Then we have to count on Him to take care of the things we can’t. Thanks again for what you do! Sparky

Reader "Mongoose" in the UK and Mark S. both sent us this: Iceland and the UK square off in a strange new financial Cold War

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Numerous budget shortfalls around the nation: States That Can't Pay for Themselves.

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Katya sent us these links for your weekend reading displeasure: Iceland Teeters On Edge Of Economic Collapse; Banking Woes Spread Across Europe -- Councils fear for Icelandic cash -- Banking on gold.. And then Cheryl (our Economic Editor) sent all these: Wall Street Ends Worst Week Ever With Wild Trading -- Dow's Worst Week Comes To An End (Total Decline For Week 2400 Points, 22.1% Loss, Worst Ever) -- Oil Falls To 13-month Low As Investors Grow More Pessimistic -- European Markets Slump Further -- Morgan Stanley Drops Into Single Digits -- Morgan Stanley Credit Rating May Be Cut -- Global Stock Selloff -- Companies Hardest Hit By Credit Crisis -- London: Worst Ever Opening As Markets Slide -- Asian Stocks Plunge Again; Crisis Deepens -- UK Prepares For Mass Unemployment -- FDIC Insurance Not A Sure Thing -- Global Auto Market May Collapse In 2009 -- US Mint: Unprecedented Demand For Gold Eagles -- Bush Forced Into Diminished Role In Economic Crisis -- Fed Lends Record $431 Billion as of Wednesday -- Potential Economic Seizure Dead Ahead -- Central Banks Panic As Bailouts Fail To Halt Stock Market Crash -- Gold Ready To Skyrocket? -- GE's Profits Drop 22% -- G-7 Meets on Crisis as Italy Splits Over `Weak' Draft -- Dow Average May Be Poised To Fall To 7,000 -- Berlusconi Reverses Claim Re Closing World Markets -- US To Buy Stake In Banks

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Eric flagged this one: Plug-In Hybrids Aren't Coming — They're Here

"University of Maryland economist Herman E. Daly points out that the current crisis is really one of the “overgrowth of financial assets relative to growth of real wealth.” Daly believes that “financial assets have grown by a large multiple of the real economy” and that “paper exchanging for paper is now 20 times greater than exchanges of paper for real commodities.” Exploding debt liens have simply outgrown the wealth. The problem, in other words, cannot be bailed out. Historically, debt that cannot be redeemed has been repealed by inflation. The same inflation that wipes out debt will wipe out savings." - Former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Paul Craig Roberts, in Can a Bailout Succeed?

Mr. Rawles:
I've seen your recommendations on guns for survival situations, but what do recommend for "Everyday Carry" kinda pocket knives? And what do you carry personally? Thanks, - H.Y.

JWR Replies: My general preference is for "low-end" stainless steel folding knives with a positive lock, and with tanto-style tips. In my experience tantos are less prone to getting broken tips. For versatility, I also tend toward knives that are serrated in the back half of the blade. (Commonly called "50/50" or "half-serrated".) My everyday carry knife is an extra large (5" blade) Cold Steel 29 XTH Voyager. On occasions when I need something smaller, I carry a CRKT M16 with a 2.75-inch blade. Again, it is stainless, half serrated, and has tanto style tip. During deer and elk season, a I substitute a Case clip-point folder.

It is noteworthy that I've never spent more than $55 for one of my pocketknives--and far less for most. (I buy a lot of used knives at gun shows and on eBay. Why pay full retail?) My philosophy is that a knife is is an everyday tool to use, not an object of art to admire. If I owned a really nice custom knife, then I'd probably baby it, fearing that I might somehow damage it. And if I were to lose it out in the field, a $300+ Chris Reeve folder, it would be a heartbreaking experience. But by buying mass-produced knives, I avoid both of those issues. I don't abuse my knifes, but I don't shy away from giving them honest, hard use. I'd also much rather own six $50 knives than one $300 knife. That fits with the SurvivalBlog preparedness philosophy of "two is one, and one is none."

OBTW, when shopping for used pocketknives, one trick I've discovered to use when searching eBay is to search on the desired brand name AND knives AND TSA, by searching both titles and descriptions (or alternatively, the desired brand name AND knives AND confiscated. These searches will show you lots of used knives that were confiscated by airport screeners. These are often name brand knives sold in groups of 2 to 10, typically resulting with winning bids between 10% to 30% of normal retail.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Let me start out, with the simple fact that we all need to prepare. And with that in mind, you must have asked yourself a million times, how can I achieve my goals for survival and food preparedness for my family on a very low or tight budget?
Well the answer is simpler than you think!
Think thrifty. Yes, thrift stores and Mom and Pop outlets are a true blessing in disguise.
All of the things you might want to buy for home canning, food prep, food storage, Camping, Cooking, Clothes, Boots, Sleeping bags, etc. can be found right under your nose in these stores.

When you are there, make sure you get to know the employees, this will give you the upper edge to a bargaining Bonanza, as I have done with all of my local stores and shops, and you also want to make sure you keep the donations coming into them as well! Just by cleaning out all of your unwanted items in your closet and garage. Also, when certain employees help you, return the favor somehow. Believe me they will always remember you, and they give you the best deals each and every time you return to their store. They will actually place stuff that you are looking for and want, in the back of the store and hold it there for you, until your next visit. This saves you the time and money and the trouble and hassle of buying the items new. And, well over a 75% savings from retail prices.You can even write out lists of items that you are looking for, for each shop, and still keep a low profile to your activities.

Here are some examples of the different things I have requested from and purchased:
If you notice I request different items from different stores, depending on what they stock and there inventories. (This will keep your profile low, because, when they are purchased at different locations it doesn’t raise eyebrows!)

Store #1. Golden Valley Swap Meet, and Rummage sale, (Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays) State Rte. 68, Golden Valley, Arizona. There are a lot of old timers here, willing to barter, trade, and give you an old time lesson on everyday things we take for granted. The shops range from household items to clothes, homemade candles and lanterns, canning goods, including fresh Honey and salsa's that are hand canned. made from peppers and honey from farms in Arizona. There are also gold prospecting tools, old and modern tools, and clothes.

Store #2. Salvation Army , Bullhead City, Arizona 86442 , Located on Palma Drive, this store caters to the Homeless so they get a lot of fishing, camping gear, to include backpacks, stoves, lanterns, mess kits, canteens, duffel bags, backpacks, sometimes even military rucksacks, water filters, home filters, chlorine powder, heavy winter clothes, boots.

Store #3.Treasure Island Thrift Shop, Bullhead City, Arizona. Only caters in factory seconds, and Auctioned New Items. This is where I purchase Food Saver [vacuum packaging] equipment and food dryer racks. I also scored on 16 brand new mercury thermometers, for two-for-$1 and three brand new Camelbak 1-liter hydration bladders for $5 each.

Store #4. Dave & Fran DePuy, Auctioneers, 551 Christy Plaza Kingman, Arizona. 86409, lots of cool stuff almost each and every weekend, 55 gallon water drums new for $5 each. propane tanks for $1, to $5, chain saw for $10, every week it's a bargain for lots of stiff, I have even bought beyond my personal needs and resold the extra items on eBay and Craig's List to recoup some cash, and sometimes even made a profit.

Store #5.Marina Thrift Store, Marina Blvd., Bullhead City, Arizona. Since construction went belly up in Mohave county, the thrift stores are overwhelmed with construction tools, paint, nuts bolts. Thousands of items for pennies on the dollar. I picked up a $50 framing hammer for $4 there, as well as two kegs of nails for $10 per keg.

Store #6. Freedom Military Surplus, Mesa, Arizona, it's not local and is a drive for me, but the deals are fabulous, and worth the trip, every time I go there--roughly once a month, to see what is new there, last trip I scored on US military Gas masks with a 2007 date, new in the box for $25 each mask with two filters.

Store #7.Palace Pawn Shop, Bullhead City, Arizona , simply the best for my two-way, MURS, CB, GPS and other communication needs. Pawn shops are the best, and the cost is 1/3 of the new store prices. last week I picked up a Garmin GPSMAP 60CSx for $100 bucks out the door, and it was brand new in the box. These are normally $329 in the big stores. This saved me $229 plus tax!)

I have purchased many duplicate items, for trade, barter and for my family.
Goodwill and the Salvation Army are two of the best stores and they cater to the locals, and will give you great deals, and you can feel confident that your purchase dollars are going right back into the community to help people and families that are less fortunate than you or I.

As it has helped me to be more frugal and cost minded when I shop, especially for bulk food items at the “big” warehouse stores. And the savings have offset my budget to be able to stock up on more Beans, Bullets, and Band-Aids!

So in closing, you do not always need to buy the newest, biggest, and top of the line stuff when it could possibly be right under your nose, in new, like new, or used (but not abused) condition, for pennies on the dollar. - Robert in Arizona.

Good Morning:
In response to the gentleman who wants to own just one gun: Obviously, his mindset is biased against gun ownership. Nothing wrong with that, to each his own. But, I would suggest that he really needs to get his mind squared away before even considering buying anything. Once the bias is corrected, and he has made the decision that he really needs a firearm.....then have him go to his local gun store where they have a range, rent a 38 revolver, a box of shells, some ear plugs and muffs and have at it. I wouldn't recommend starting with anything smaller. He would need to feel the power of the instrument to resolve his indecision. Most gun store owners will be glad to give him an introduction to the rented piece and show him how to point it downrange and pull the trigger!

Gun ownership is a responsibility not to be taken lightly. He should know this. He also should know that wanting a weapon "just because I think I should have one" is not a viable reason to assume responsibility for a piece of gear that can be used at the discretion of the owner in both a positive and a negative way.

From the sound of his letter, and not being derogatory, [I am making an assumption here]; he lives in a large city, has never hunted in his life, and doesn't know the first thing about firearms. In that case, my recommendation for a "first " firearm would be the Ruger GP-100 357 revolver. No bells and whistles, American quality, won't blow up in your hand like some of this cheap imported cr*p will (I've been there), and when push comes to shove (life and death), there are no thoughts of releasing a safety , magazines or other buttons to push. Ammo is cheap, the ladies like shooting it with .38 [S&W cartridges] s chambered. Some even like it loaded with .357 [Magnum cartridges]. It is also very accurate. I recommend that he purchase the weapon legally at the local gun store, just in case he ever has to use it. Any time there is a weapon used in self-defense, the finger of blame is pointed at the shooter first and the shooter needs to be blameless in all aspects of the engagement. This is another topic in itself. [JWR Adds: That advice only applies in localities where there is mandatory registration for handguns. If it is legal to buy a gun from a private party without registration, then by all means avoid the paper trail!]

The most important thing he has to remember is once the trigger is pulled, you can't " take it back" . Ain't no 'do-overs' when the primer gets slapped by the firing pin. Once he buys his weapon of choice, then he assumes responsibility for the use of the weapon.
Now, for the good stuff: If you have never used a firearm; take a course! [JWR Adds: I highly recommend Front Sight. I have witnessed how exceedingly patient and gentle they are with newbies. They turn even total incompetents into safe, well-trained, efficient shooters.] It is like driving a car. You just didn't jump in one day and start driving down the expressway at the age of 16, or , if you did, you soon paid for the lack of training. Get trained to use the piece of gear. A firearm is simply another piece of gear that performs a specific task. - Bob in South Georgia.

Norman in England mentioned one consequence of the global credit collapse, as reported by The Financial Post: Grain shipments stalled in credit drought ("There's all kinds of stuff stacked up on docks right now...")

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Bill N. sent us the link to this "must see" video from a DEFCON hackers' convention: No Tech Hacking

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James B. sent us this "signs of the times" news story: National Debt Clock runs out of digits. Speaking of digits, several times in the last six months, I've mentioned the Federal Reserve cartels' web page where they post updates on aggregate bank borrowings. Last summer, IIRC, I called the "Nonborrowed" column numbers "alarming". The latest figures are absolutely horrendous. (A hat tip to Tanker, for reminding me to check the Fed's latest tally.)

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More economic gloom und doom from Cheryl: US government may take part ownership in banks -- Global auto market may "collapse" in 2009: J.D. Power -- Financial Crisis: Who is going to bail out the euro? -- Time Is Up Congress -- And America (A sober prediction) Here are a couple of key quotes: "There is chatter circulating, apparently, that "global equity markets will be closed after the emergency G7 meeting this weekend." and " ...the Indonesian market was just closed again this evening, after literally imploding - down by more than 10% - within an hour of starting to trade." - Bernanke, Paulson Seek Global Help - Crisis Swamps US -- LIBOR Holds Central Banks Hostage As Credit Freezes -- Fear Tops Greed - Market Woes Paralyze Economies -- Latin American Countries Tap Reserves To Save Currency -- Coming Next: Inflation -- Paulson Warns More Banks, Businesses Will Fail -- Brit Banks Rated Less Solid Than Botswana's -- Staring Into The Abyss (UK Economy) -- Third Iceland Bank Fails -- Home Safe Sales Soar, Trust in Banks Collapses (UK) -- China Lashes Out At US Monetary Policy -- MetLife Tanks 26%, BofA Falls After Offering Priced -- Dow Plunges 678, Below 9,000 -- GM Shares Hit Lowest Level Since 1950 -- Press Release: Joint Statement By Central Banks -- A Dozen Companies Which Should Layoff 10,000 Each This Year -- Dow falls below 9,000 as stocks extend declines

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The latest from Nanny State Britannia: Gardener Ordered to Remove Barbed Wire Fence on Grounds It Could 'Wound Thieves'. In my opinion England is a lost cause. It is time for prepared families there to Take the Gap!

"Necessity never made a good bargain." - Benjamin Franklin

Thursday, October 9, 2008

If you have a favorite quote, please e-mail it to us, and we will likely feature it as a SurvivalBlog Quote of the Day. Thanks!

First off let me say I continue to enjoy everything you post on SurvivalBlog. I believe that, given, recent events, my extended family is coming around and is wanting to finally start getting prepared (let us hope its not too late).

Second, in reference to the WaterBOB that someone cited recently: what preferred method of treatment do you recommend in storing the water in the mentioned device for long term?

Third, what 'crash course' advice can you offer for those who may be too little too late in getting prepared for WTSHTF? Or for those recently converted who want make it through the tough times ahead?

And lastly, I am sure myself and others will continue to look for your insight and input in the days ahead, as events unfold and the Schumer really does hit the fan.
Please expect a long and very overdue 10 Cent Challenge voluntary] soon. God Bless, - Zach

JWR Replies: The WaterBOB is not designed for long term use. But it is food grade, so if you find a used bathtub (perhaps through Craig's List) and can store it someplace dark (like in a basement), then a WaterBOB in a bathtub should work fine. About 2 teaspoons of plain (unscented) Clorox bleach would be about the right amount to add for that amount of water. Inspect it once every six months (visually, and a sniff test). The water should store for several years.

I may be biased, but I recommend that you get a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course. Coincidentally, for the first time in nearly a year, it will be offered at 1/3rd off, starting on Monday. The course is centered around the concept of stocking up for a family, by making well-planned trips to a "Big Box" store.

Mr. Rawles,

I've noticed there have been several letters lately about getting prepped on a budget, and several people have suggested watching Craig's List for good bargains. I'm surprised that no one has recommended Freecycle as a place to find good deals, because everything listed is free. I'm sure it's been mentioned a few times in Survivalblog over the years, but I think it deserves as much emphasis as Craig's List, if not more.
I think there may be some misconceptions about what is found on Freecycle. There can be a lot more than just old baby clothes and blenders. It will depend on your area of course.
In the past 6 months, I have gotten through Freecycle:
* Enough wood framed windows to build a good-sized greenhouse
* Several car loads of firewood (I don't have a truck)
* About 150 – 200 canning jars in various sizes
* Spare blankets and linens
* A small plate steel wood stove
* Window screening
* Chicken wire, several rolls
* Rolls of woven wire fence, with T-posts
* Loads of scrap wood, good for burning or building tables or shelving
* Lengths of garden hose
* Sleeping bags
* Air mattresses
* Many rolls of carpet (for garden and indoor use)
And my treasure from yesterday (which prompted me to write this), a used 30-quart canner. An All-American model #930. It's filthy but appears to be in good shape. To buy this new would be over $200, plus some serious shipping costs due to its weight.
I have seen every possible kind of furniture and appliance being given away, as well as garbage bags full of clothing.

My point here is to illustrated that many very useful things can be found on Freecycle, if you take the time to watch your local sites. It may not be a frequent find, but worth a minute or two each day to check. I rarely post any "wanted" items, I just sit and wait to see what is offered.
The main site is Freecycle.org, and you can find local groups from there. Each site is run by volunteers, and certain areas may have more groups than others. I am member to several, even though they do overlap a bit.
Rather than take up more space here, I would refer you to a short article I wrote about using Freecycle. It's not written from a prepping perspective, but does explain the posting process.
I'm a single mom thankfully just moved to a 5-acre mini farm. I can't afford anywhere near all the "stuff" that I need around here, and Freecycle has really given me the chance to pick up some great things I would otherwise not have been able to get my hands on... like my beautiful new canner. :)
I hope these ideas are helpful to someone. Keep up the good work with the blog site. Thanks, - Terri, in Canada

Finally, the much-anticipated Kel-Tec RFB bullpup .308 carbine will begin shipping in December! If I were to buy a bullpup, then the RFB Carbine would be it. Looking for a hedge against a future ban? I recommend that you buy a couple of these before the White House changes hands. If a new ban is enacted, they will likely triple in value.

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More economic news and commentary from Cheryl: Wall Street Fluctuates After Emergency Interest Rate Cut -- IMF: World Economy Will Slow Sharply, Led By U.S. "Recession" -- Asian Stocks Fall Again -- US Economy Rapidly Sinking Into Economic Depression -- Fixing The US Housing Market And Housing Prices -- US Stocks Retreat As Recession Concerns Outweigh Interest Rate Cuts; Alcoa Drops 52% -- Ford Will Triple Jobs Cut At Volvo, Slash 6,000 Jobs As Demand Slumps -- Buffet's Paper Profits On GE, Goldman Sachs Erased By Stock Market Plunge -- MetLife Profits Fall Prompts Stock Sale -- Japan Market Down 9.4% -- Banks In For Ugly Quarter -- Cramer: When Do You Need Your Money -- The Strongest Banks Out There -- World Markets Return To Selloff After Rate Cuts -- 700 Auto Dealers Could Fail -- Where The Pros Are Putting Their Cash -- Morgan Stanley Plunges; Mitsubishi May Pull Out Of Deal -- Legg Mason Downgraded -- Fidelity, Vanguard, T. Rowe Price Joining Treasury's Guarantee Program For Money-Market Funds -- Stocks Zigzag, End Lower After Emergency Rate Cut -- Pelosi Says $150 Billion Second Stimulus Needed -- Central Banks All But Stop Lending Bullion ("Central banks have all but stopped lending gold to commercial and investment banks and other participants in the precious metals market, in a move that on Tuesday sent the cost of borrowing bullion for one-month to more than twenty times its usual level.") -- US Banking Losses Estimate $1.4 Trillion -- ECB Sees "Crisis of Enormous Proportions" ("The European Central Bank has dramatically changed its tune over the last twenty-four hours as the credit freeze worsens, acknowledging for the first time that the world faces the gravest crisis since the Great Depression.") -- Asian Markets Plunge To New Low -- China's Billionaires Lose 1/3 Of Their Wealth -- Severe Bull Market For Gold -- Stock Market Crash: Where's The Bottom? -- UK Taxpayers Stuck With $1 Trillion Bank Bailout -- Global Markets Dive Despite UK Bank "Rescue" Plan -- Run On Royal Bank Of Scotland Knocks 10 Billion Pounds Off Share Price

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Reader KBF sent this from The Los Angeles Times: Plunge in markets brings another kind of depression

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Philip N. mentioned a follow-up article from Glenn Beck: What's Coming. As you can see, Glenn is just as concerned about hedge funds as I am.

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Reader H.E.T. e-mailed me to ask for a recommendation for an inexpensive source for infrared (IR) filters for flashlights such as a Surefires. I recommend Trading Expert, in Hong Kong. Yes, they are in Hong Kong, but in my experience they actually (and quite promptly) ship what they sell. OBTW, they also have inexpensive white LEDs that are useful in constructing low-current 12 VDC retreat lighting systems.

"Policies are many, Principles are few, Policies will change, Principles never do." - John C. Maxwell

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The high bid in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $770. The auction for a large mixed lot that includes: A Special Mixed Vegetable Case-Six #10 Dehydrated Food Cans (Retail Price $105.95) This special Mixed Vegetable Case contains six #10 (96-ounce) cans--one can of each of the following: Mixed Vegetable Blend, Green Beans, Sweet Garden Peas, Mixed Peppers, Potato Dices, and Sweet Potatoes and a EZ-Towels 10 Pack Combo (10 bags of 50 towels. Retail value: $99.95). These items were donated by Jan at Healthy Harvest Foods. An assortment of world class loose leaf teas, and a box of Bellagio hot chocolate (25 individual packs), with a combined value of approximately $100. These items were courtesy of Charlie at CMEBrew.com. A NukAlert radiation detector (a $160 value), donated by at KI4U.com. And, a Katadyn VARIO water filter, donated by Ready Made Resources. (An $89 retail value.) The auction ends on Monday October 15, 2008. Just e-mail us your bid.

The economic headlines in the past couple of weeks have sounded like something out of a disaster novel that I once read wrote. The international financial and equities markets are spinning out of control, with seemingly wider and wider gyrations with each passing day. Since there are so many variables, the end result is difficult to firmly predict, but one thing is clear: It will be neither easy nor pleasant. My current prediction is that the governments of the English-speaking nations and Europe will co-conspire with the banksters to concoct the most grandiose Mother of All Bailouts (MOABs) yet. This will be even bigger than the MOAB that I predicted, early in 2008.

The multi-trillion dollar multinational MOAB will inject liquidity--in the form of magically-created Dollars, Pounds, and Euros--in such enormous quantities that it will calm the markets, at least for a while. But the by-product will be consumer price inflation that has never been witnessed in modern times except in the region north of the Limpopo river and south of the Zambezi river. In the long run, the fractional reserve banking and fiat currency regimes used today are doomed to failure. Both are lovely fictions that can only persist in expanding markets and when guided by the most altruistic managers. Any serious contraction of the underlying economy will inevitably bring both to a crashing halt. Perhaps, in the aftermath of te ongoing credit collapse, wiser heads will prevail, and private credit clearing circles will develop, instead of re-creating the same government-sanctioned fractional banking scheme that created the current crisis.

What Happened?

The last few years have been an anomaly. Led by Ben Bernanke and his predecessor "Easy Al" Greenspan, the Masters of the Universe that headed many of the central banks in the First World attempted to forestall a recession by artificially reducing interest rates, thereby creating bubbles in both real estate and equities valuations. All their meddling has made matters worse. They have formed mountains of debt that is classic malinvestment of the worst sort. This debt creation was like winding up an enormous clock spring. Debts were taken on by unworthy borrowers that never had a hope of repaying them, and then those same dodgy debts were re-packaged and re-sold to unwitting dupes--like pension funds in Denmark. This explains the umpteen foreclosed and abandoned tract homes that stretch from around the DC Beltway to the heartland of Ohio, to southern California. Inevitably all debt--whether good or bad--must be un-wound. And the more malinvestment there is, the uglier and protracted this unwinding process gets. Instead of a recession, we will probably witness the worst economic depression since the 1930s.

That is the big picture. Now for some predictions on the next 10 years with some possible implications for prepared families. Note: I don't claim to be a prophet. These are just logical extrapolations of trends, based on previous swings of the macro scale market pendulum. So don't gather up stones for the event that things don't play out exactly as I predict:

Simultaneous Deflation, and Inflation
As I've previously posited, we are likely to see a wave of asset deflation at the same time that we have consumer price inflation. How is this possible? See the article that I posted back in February for an explanation. The bottom line is that leverage works both ways. The multiplier effect on fractional deposits works in reverse whenever bank deposits decrease.


I've been warning SurvivalBlog readers about derivatives, since late 2005. The multi-trillion dollar derivatives "casino" may soon be in crisis. Thursday Is D-Day: For Derivatives, as billions of dollars worth of contracts on defaulted Credit Default Swap (CDS) derivatives from Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers and Washington Mutual (WaMu) are settled. On Thursday, we'll find out what a CDS derivative contract is worth in the real world! Something tells me that these once-touted "assets" are going to suffer quite a haircut.

Bank Failures and Bank Runs .

As I've said before, more bank failures seem inevitable. There may also be more bank runs--most likely invisible ones, where banks get cleaned out by their creditors via margin calls by large depositors via wire transfers, and by small depositors via electronic banking. There may not be a a line of customers in front of the banks doors. If you wait for that as an indicator, then you will probably be too late. I've written this before, but it bears repeating: Be sure to check your bank or S&L's safety rating at least once a week. If it drops below a "C" rating, then transfer your funds to a safer bank, ASAP. And, needless to say, never keep more than the FDIC limit in any one institution. Thankfully, the FDIC just raised the deposit insurance limits substantially, as did their counterparts in much of Europe.

Hedge Funds

I've discussed hedge funds at length in SurvivalBlog articles for more than a year. Suffice it to say, the risk with hedge funds is huge. I expect large quarterly waves of hedge fund redemptions--and redemption suspensions in the next few months.

Real Estate

The real estate market--both residential and commercial--will very likely continue to decline in the US for several years. The market will be flooded with more and more foreclosed properties, in a downward spiral. One downside to consider is that the thousands of abandoned houses will become nests for criminals.

In my estimation, the only thing that will stop te decline in nominal dollar figure declines will be the eventual mass inflation of the US Dollar. Hence, it will appear that real estate prices have "stabilized", and then "turned around" in a couple of years. By in real terms (adjusted for inflation), the genuine bottom of the market probably won't be for another five years. By that time, American homeowners will have lost an average of 60% of the "coulda-woulda" value of their homes. I expect he declines to continue as long as the credit drought persist, and until the massive glut of inventory is purchased. For the next few years it will be a buyer's market, and cash will be king. Anyone sitting on cash will be able to buy up assets at ridiculously low prices--as the economic pendulum swings beyond the point of logical price neutrality. Sit tight, watch the listings closely, and buy at the bottom. You can find distressed properties--including some good rural survival retreat properties--at Foreclosures.com. If you plan to do some "bottom fishing", a subscription to this service is money well spent.

Unemployment and Dislocation

Large corporate layoffs are a fact of life in any recession. Be ready for them, by minimizing your debts. A family food reserve is insurance for unemployment just as well as it is for natural disasters. If the recession turns into a depression, we can expect some huge layoffs. This will mean lots of families will be moving--either to seek work elsewhere or because they can no longer meet their monthly house payments. This however, might create some opportunities. Storage companies, estate auction firms, relocation services, rental property managers, home security companies, locksmiths, relocation specialists, and contractors that specialize in home renovation might all prosper. (After all, someone has to refurbish all those abandoned houses for the bankers.)


It has been said that "a rising tide lifts all ships." Sadly, the inverse is true, as well. I expect substantial further declines in stock prices. Price-to-Earnings (P/E) ratios might drop to as low as 7-to-1. (Where many manufacturing stocks have traditionally bottomed in major recessions.) In my estimation most of the current P/E ratios are still much too high for these troubled times. When I last checked (after the recent 800+ point two-day drop in the DJIA), I found the following P/Es quoted, in a quick, quasi-random sampling of big names that jumped out at me:

Amazon -- 42.56-to-1
Apple Computer -- 17.43-to-1
Caterpillar Inc. -- 7.78-to-1
Coca-Cola -- 19.95-to-1
eBay -- 43.31-to-1
Google -- 22.73-to-1
Lockheed Martin -- 13.06-to-1
Microsoft -- 12.44-to-1
QQQ (which is like buying the entire NASDAQ) -- 19.79-to-1
Real Networks -- 81.73-to-1
Unilever -- 14.24-to-1
Xerox -- 13.17-to-1

Do the math. It isn't a pretty prospect, but many stock prices have a lot farther to fall. My advice is to sell on the market rallies, and buy tangibles with the proceeds.

Cars and Trucks

Again, like real estate, you'll have the opportunity to buy at the bottom of the market, perhaps in five of six years. Have you ever wanted to own a classic car? This may be your chance, especially if it is a gas-guzzling big block classic car. I predict that in 2015 you'll be able to buy a fully-restored late-1960s Muscle Car for perhaps 1/8th of its current price. (Well, in dollars adjusted for inflation, that is.) But of course to make that a practical tangible investment, you should instead get a classic military vehicle, such as a Dodge Power Wagon. (Or, for our european readers with a retreat in North Karelia, make that a Unimog DOKA.)

Cash Will Be King, and then Cash Will Be Trash

Once inflation starts to kick in, it will be absolutely essential for you to parlay all of your remaining dollar-denominated investments into durable and liquid tangibles. Do do before the dollar evaporates. If you haven't done so already, now would be a good time to start.

I believe in a TEOTWAWKI situation the most dangerous segment of the roving gangs will be the displaced teenage men. After all those are the ones that are warriors in other countries, not the fat 40’s couch potatoes. They are strong, tough and smart. In essence, we will be fighting our own neighbor's children. Consider this news article from Arizona: Suburban gang's rise unnerves authorities. Respectfully, - Robert O.

JWR Replies:
Sadly, I have to agree with you. OBTW, our friends in England refer them as "Yobs", "Yobbos", "Townies", or "Chavs".

I am acquiring the equipment necessary to pressure can (in jars) meat and produce. A bumper crop from a home garden or a freshly killed animal will be lost quickly if not frozen, dried or canned. I don’t want to make jerky stews, casseroles or burgers, so I’m going to add canning skills to my quiver. After doing some reading, I’ve discovered that nearly anything can be canned! I’ve found people canning burger patties, meatballs, butter, cheese, and bacon in additional to all the normal things you’d expect to see in jars.

There are tons of books out there with terrific recipes and instructions, but the USDA has a basic instructional e-book online. This same book sells for $10 on Amazon but the electronic version is free.

Also, for those who are thinking about it but have never done any canning, an important stocking-up reminder: The jar lids are not reusable. The metal band can be reused (it is removed after the jar has cooled), but the lid is single-use only. I’m planning to buy several dozen metal bands and several hundred lids. - Matthew R

Reader FLS suggested this article: Here comes $500 oil. "If Matt Simmons is right, the recent drop in crude prices is an illusion - and oil could be headed for the stratosphere. He's just hoping we can prevent civilization from imploding."

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Our prodigious Economic Editor sent us a fresh batch of news and commentary: Fed To Buy Massive Amount Of Short-Term Debt -- Stocks Fluctuate After Fed Corporate Debt Plan -- UK Bank Shares Dive Again As Panic Spreads -- Smaller Banks Still Making Loans -- UK Gov't Takes $100 Billion Stake In Britain's Top Banks -- Pakistan Facing Bankruptcy -- Pope Says World Financial System "Built On Sand" -- BofA Profits Drop 68% -- Russia and Brazil Crumble As Commodity Prices Crash -- LIBOR OIS Spread Signals Credit Crisis Earthquake -- European Governments Panic Triggers Stock Market Crash -- Iceland teeters on the brink of bankruptcy -- Gold prices climb amid financial uncertainty -- Dow Dips More Than 500 On Financial Worries -- Analyst: Retirement Accounts Have Lost More Than $2 Trillion -- Brown Orders Massive UK Bank Rescue -- US Mint Halts Some Am Eagle Production -- Iceland Gets $8 billion Russian Loan As Banks Fold -- Icelandic PM Warns Nation Of Bankruptcy -- Troubled BofA To Raise $10 billion in Capital -- Dow Slump Threatens Global Markets -- Ron Paul: Bailout Was The Wrong Thing

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Thanks to Jack B. for flagging this: Forecast: US heating costs to jump 15 percent this winter.

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British savers denied cash as chaos hits Iceland bank. (A hat tip to Scotty for the link.)

"There is no counter-party risk -- when you are holding Krugerrands." - SurvivalBlog Reader Rob C.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Today we present another Retreat Owner Profile, which will be added to Profiles static page. BTW, we still have room for several more international profiles (outside the US). I am saving the last few slots in the US profiles section for people that have very unusual home/retreats. (Perhaps someone that lives in an underground house, or someone that lives aboard a houseboat or a blue water yacht.) If you decide to e-mail us your Profile, please closely follow the same format used in the the others. For your privacy, be sure change enough details so that your neighbors won't recognize you. (You can even change the locale to another state with a similar climate).

Present home : Farm in Northern Costa Rica
Ages : 54 & 57
Two sons 30 & 32, who are living in North Carolina.
Income $50,000 USD/year secure (many diverse overseas investments) and a tourism business currently at $120,000 or so per year ( I own a botanical garden) .
Additional income from fruit groves and tilapia ponds $15,000/year.

Profession : Gunsmith, nursery grower, waterscaper, fish farmer .

Vehicles : Two 1970s Toyota Land Cruiser BJ40's with 2.4 diesel engines, kept in top-notch condition and a 2 cycle Ez-Go golf cart set up [with tires and suspension] for all terrain.

Firearms : 2 Mossberg Maverick 8 shot 12 gauge shotguns (best pump gun ever made, never saw many broken in my 30 years of repair work ), Stainless Ruger 10/22, Stainless .223 bolt action in a custom bullpup stock, 2 Security Six 357 4-inch Rugers.
Ammo. 2,500 of each caliber and have reloading equipment-supplies.

Fuel : 235 gallons of diesel and 55 gallons of premium (stabilized)

Water : Gravity fed springs and 18,000 gallons of storage tanks, year round river, roof water capture system, 25 foot deep well

Improvements : 4,800 square foot main house, all high efficiency lighting and appliances.
Full wood and metal working shop.
Canning room, meat grinders, corn grinders, shrink wrappers, dehydrator etc.
One bedroom cabin with full kitchen near the main gate.
Rancho (like a tiki hut) seats 30 with a huge concrete smoker / barbeque and baking oven.
Another cabin with views down to the river and pasture below.
These structures are located so armed men can take out anyone entering the farm with ease. Big Iron gate out front surrounded by Bougainvillea (thorny flowering shrub-vines.)

Property tax: $90/year (Sorry guys, you're paying for imperialism)
Gardens: extensive. One of the largest collections of exotic fruit and vegetables anywhere.
Livestock. 1,000 lbs of Tilapia and 500 lbs of Pacu at any given time. Five Goats. (2 milk goats, 3 goats for slaughter), 15 chickens at all times and 4 egg laying hens. 6 rabbits (so far..LOL)
Cattle are not sustainable. Too big to store the meat and use way too much water and acreage per head. I have one good trail horse.
There's plenty of wild game and fish here but no need in harvesting.We all have livestock and many folks have ponds
Dogs: 2 American bull dogs that will shred anything I tell them to.

Security : Various cameras and motion detectors throughout the property with an early warning to me before the sirens alert. Its a full perimeter system with indicators so I can know precisely where the target(s) are.It has full battery back up
Food storage: Maybe one year for us and the critters but not really necessary here.

Communication : Cell phones, full intercoms throughout the farm.

Hobbies : Taking care of my exotic plant collection and building everything I need.

Next project. We have good, strong year round wind here, so I am working with the boys from Southwest on setting up a Skystream 3.7 [grid-tied wind generator]. Once that is done I'm doing an underground walk in freezer.

Background : Grew up in semi-literate southwestern Virginia, escaped 25 years ago to semi-literate rural Miami. I got tired of the political lies and (designed) ignorance of the average American voter and bailed to a truly free country that has no Nazis running it or nuclear weapons pointed at it. This is the most mellow, real place I have ever experienced. It's like Fiji without being so remote. I first came here in 1986 for an orchid show and I knew this was my escape spot.18 years later I sold everything I had, put my money in real currencies, and took off! A one way trip. Pura Vida! (pure life)

Side note : When living in any Latin American country the rules are [essentially] the same as up there [in the US]. Even Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala are no problem provided you find the right spot and immerse yourself into the culture.
Stay far, far away from large towns and beaches. Get in the mountains in a small farming community. Where I live there is very little poverty since everyone has a chunk of land and most are craftsman and farmers. There are many Costa Rican and South American medical professionals here and many are retired but own farmacias and even make house calls! My neighbor is a cardiovascular surgeon with a huge macadamia farm.

Another plus down here is there is no need for heat or air conditioning, and nearly all of the water systems are gravity fed. No need for electric!
Fish, chicken, rabbits ( small meals) and fruits and veggies. No refrigerator required.

Mr. Rawles:
I'm a survivalist newbie. I'm thinking about purchasing a gun. I don't know anything about guns, but I have had a negative opinion about them for a long time. But [now] I'm thinking I might need to get one. What would you recommend for a total novice who would prefer to not have to own more than one?

JWR Replies: Owning one gun is like owning one carpenter's tool, and expecting it to handle all of your construction and repair needs. What single tool would you choose? A hammer, a pair of pliers, a saw, or a screwdriver? That may be oversimplifying, but I'm sure that you get my point.

I suppose that some could get by with two guns, namely: one shotgun (for both big game and bird hunting and self defense) and a .22 rimfire rifle (for small game hunting). But you'd still lack having a compact gun for concealment, and you'd also lack a long range rifle to defend yourself or hunt at long distance. (Shotguns don't "reach" beyond about 80 yards, even with slug shells.)

I appreciate your web site. It suits me right to the ground. I'd like to be an occasional contributor. Congratulations on your fastidious maintenance of this meaningful site. Just like farming isn't it.

Guerrilla food shopping (part one)
I'm no conventional warrior, I couldn't force myself to take a life, but I am a survivalist. Not to put too fine a point on this: I am a food warrior. As I write this, one of our battles is escalating food prices, isn't it? What can we do as individuals to protect ourselves? Plenty! We aren't hostages you know. Not yet.

I think we all agree that inflation has dug its claws into us. We know from experience that this ongoing dilemma never reverses itself. What was two dollars yesterday will be three dollars soon. Looking ahead to the prospects of mega-inflation of our commodities with flat-lined wages, lay-offs, firings as potential results; these trends will likely reduce our present life-style options. Let's cover this in chapters beginning with our second greatest threat: the grocery store:

All other survival issues aside, our grocery dollar has been attacked and bloodied greatly. Before we can successfully protect our family food stream, we must understand just what's happening. Many unrelated issues combine to make our food needs imperiled and, at this same time, our dollar's buying power is shrinking. This is a War.

It might interest you to know that not that many years ago, food was the responsibility of the family. Here, in New England, families produced most of their needs at home. They only bought or traded for a few food basics: flour, salt, some grain products, spices, cocoa, molasses, baking soda, cream of tartar, some white sugar, extracts, salt-peter. This short list was purchased by the season, month, or year depending on how a family's trading goods harvested or how other amounts of currency came to them.

The general store was small. It offered little choice in any of these necessary products. A bag of flour was just that: a fifty-weight of pure flour packed in a colorful sack, which would become a daughter's new dress when empty. Sugar was weighed into the bags customers brought with them. How absurdly simple the shopping experience was. (At home the daily routine was infinitely more complicated.)
Packaging, advertising, transportation, handling and storage were minimal. Things arrived in large barrels and bags aboard a freight wagon and were handled by the family that owned the store. Licenses, inspections, salesmen callers, employees, FICA, Social Security withholdings, health insurance, 401(k)s and other issues to burden the grocer, hadn't been invented then. The dollar was backed by a gold standard. Buyers could predict, within cents, what their future costs would be. They could plan their cash crops according to their anticipated needs. Everything made sense.
In a hundred years the entire American mentality has changed from near total family independence to near total dependence on industry, business, and government. Buddy, that is more scary than anything else happening in this country today. However, I don't find it hard to understand why this gradual shift occurred considering the tough, committed life-style my grandmother lived.
Today, most of us aren't equipped to produce all our products, so guerrilla shopping is our recourse.

The battlefield is our grocery store. Consider now the terrain: Blind row upon row of six-foot-tall gondolas crammed, presently, with so-called food. Our mission is to determine what foods have real value. Our trophy for winning this battle will be life-sustaining human fuel: real food.
In order to win this war we must know what is actually real food. The other stuff: decoys, useless, non-issue, and costly, empty-food-value-just-packaging. Today, most shoppers' carts carry little or no food of substance. (Example: a can of chicken broth, presently $.89. is water, salt, a bullion cube and a glob of chicken fat. The can takes up valuable storage space where more important articles could go. Chicken broth is a simple by-product of cooking a chicken. How tough can that be?)
Going into this battle will require training, equipment, planning and the will to survive, so before we go on the attack we must ask ourselves important questions:
Am I willing to make the commitment to reduce my grocery bill, or will I continue to shake my head, complain and continue to support this fufu industry?
What part of my family's needs can I or will I be able to produce?
What can I successfully introduce to my family?
What do I know about food values?
How much of what product do I need, to ensure that my family will be well-fed?
What can I afford to accumulate immediately, against continually rising prices.
How much space can I dedicate to this most important effort?
Where will my food reserves be in one year? Think through: Space, place, amounts.

Have you answered these questions? Good! Put on your "game-face" and let's attack.
As you survey the landscape, you'll see hundred-foot-long isle of cereals. Okay, we'll begin with cereal. Consider that the decorator cereals cost more per-pound than meat! Why would you turn your hard-earned dollar into puffed oats that have been processed so many times that the food value, if ever there was, is gone?
As you warily survey this isle of worthless kid-incentives, several small items, concealed on high shelves, come to your eye. Farina: a solid hot cereal with good food-value. It requires cooking. Old-fashioned rolled oats: they are better than the dusty quick oats being that the heavy oats are the premium while the quick oats are what is left after the premium oats have been selected. Cream of Wheat, another solid cereal that can be used as hot cereal or cooked, formed, cooled, sliced and fried for an add-on to other meals. (Grits are a good choice too, but I've never acquired a taste for them.). Corn meal makes a fine cereal and can be as useful as the Cream of Wheat as an add-on fried. Add raisins and other dry fruits to any of these for an enticing, substantial meal. Recipes and cookbooks are available for any one of these cereals. You'll be amazed at the versatility of just these four products.

Note: Cereal: flakes come in all kinds. The food-value is questionable. Pick a generic brand. If your family won't settle for something different, camouflage these flakes in the family's favorite-brand box. I've known children that wouldn't eat anything that didn't come in some kind of familiar package.)
Our trophies from the vast cereal isle: corn meal, old-fashioned oats, farina and Cream of Wheat will cook up to multiples of their dry weight. They all store reasonably well. Here are four cereals from the 100-foot row of decorator cereals, and these all have other uses besides breakfast. Do you see why it is important to review your grocery habits with a critical eye? With just these four cereals you've now wisely increased your inventory, increased your savings and greatly increased your per-pound-nutritional-food-values.
Every isle has its story. Every isle is designed for eye-appeal rather than solid nutritional choices. Marketers play on convenience, on price, on low-this and high-that, and popularity to move their product into your kitchen. Don't buy into the marketing game. Chances are the best products are not at eye-level, do not have fancy boxes or gimmicks. The food containers that we are looking for will probably have dust on their tops.

If grocery food is our second biggest threat, then what is the first? : As a nation, we are so ill-equipped to handle today's events. Few people can really cook, fewer can garden, and still fewer know even the basics of animal husbandry, farming, logging, wild-crafting all the wonders that I, as a child, took for granted. All these amazing things I learned, as a child, from my parents, and grandparents. These incredible people are gone forever, taking much of their knowledge and wisdom with them. Boy-oh-boy do we need them today!

I'm much older than most of you reading this. In the four decades since I reached adulthood, I've kept to the old ways, in spite of the ridicule I've endured from family and friends. Practicing and learning the old ways has given me much quiet joy, a feeling of accomplishment beyond measure, and a great appreciation for my ancestors who made do with very little while enjoying good, long happy lives. I'm sure they would say they wanted for nothing.

For a number of years now I've felt guilty about not being able to share my experience and knowledge. Each time I shared, my listeners wanted me to do their home-work for them. I wasn't making a dent in the ignorance that would one day founder this nation.

Side note: Dozens of books are offered to make you an instant expert. These books are written by authors who read someone else's book, digesting major points then spit them back with great color photos. No good. The knowledge you need isn't available in a condensed "how-to" volume for $20 plus $3.99 shipping. In fact, these books can be dangerous. I once read a rather well-appointed field guide to wild edibles. It pictured a fern; they called it an edible fiddlehead. This furry fern was no more edible than the tires on your car. Please beware of these knock-offs in fancy formats.
Well, here we are in rocky times with a future in the fog. Now, finally, folks are showing some interest in becoming independent. Reminds me of college days when if it weren't for the eleventh hour rule, little would have ever been done. Unlike academics, this isn't about passing mid-terms. This is about survival of the human race. Does this frighten you at all? It should. The learning curve to self-sufficiency is great with many backward steps. And we are, indeed, into the eleventh hour.

Matthew R. found a link to a great video that has brief interviews with some cave dwellers in Idaho.

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The newspaper headlines are sounding like something out of my novel. Randy F. sent us this: Panic engulfs global stock markets. And then Cheryl (our Economic Editor) sent us this mountain of news and commentary: Investors Expect Market Volatility As Global Credit Woes Persist -- Analysis: More Banks To Fail Next Year Despite Bailout -- Euro Crisis Deepens: Officials Vow To Save Banks -- Euro Unity Collapses: Every Country For Itself -- $700 Billion Printing Of Bailout Monopoly Money: Hedge Your Wealth -- Credit Chaos Next? The Mother Of All Bank Runs -- Fear Grips Stock Markets As Economies Tip Into Recession -- Asia Stocks, US Futures Drop As Europe Forced To Help Banks -- Yen Unbeatable As Credit Seizure Kills Carry Trade -- Panicked Global Markets Reel; Dow Slumps Below 10,000 ("There is all-out panic," said ING senior strategist Adrian van Tiggelen.") -- Veteran Wall Street Adviser Gives Advice For Surviving Crisis -- Fed Sees States, Companies As Next Crisis Points -- Hank Paulson Has One Month Left To Get Banks Lending Again -- London Plunges As Banks Pump Billions Into Markets -- Euro And Pound Dive As Banks Falter -- Iceland Sinking As Bank Rescues Evaporate (Trading in Icelandic Banks Halted) -- Savers Frozen Out As IceSave Website Collapses -- Asian, Euro Markets Dive On Fears Crisis Is Spreading -- Prices Of 16 Basic Food Items Rocket In 3Q -- Bolling: Nowhere To Run (" ...now is not the time to take chances.) -- Tent Cities Rising Up Across America -- 'Hoarding' Is Out (The Mogambo Guru) -- Settlement Day Approaches For Derivatives -- Overnight Commercial Paper Rates Advance As Bailouts Spread Globally -- Fed Doubles Cash Sales To $900bn, Plans More Steps To Unlock Market -- Deflation Threats Mount As Commodities Tumble By Most In Half-Century -- Bush Predicts Restoring Confidence Will 'Take A While' -- Bailout Bill Will Do Nothing For The Real Economy -- Stock Market Investing Safety Over 5yr and 10yr? ") Meanwhile, in addition to the congressionally-funded TARP bailout, the Fed is pumping liquidity like there is no tomorrow, promising $900 billion in TAF lending: U.S. urges global action on credit crisis. And even the perennial bulls are sounding bearish: Jim Cramer: Time to get out of the stock market. Cramer has also declared this a worldwide crash. Lastly, it is quite indicative that spot gold jumped $35+ per ounce. That in itself is not too unusual, but this is happened at the same time that other commodities were dropping, and while the US dollar was gaining against the Euro and British Pound. Here, we can see that gold truly is the island of safety in the economic maelstrom.

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As of October 1st, journalist Glenn Beck reported brisk sales of guns and home gun vaults in the US. Given the recent economic news, I wouldn't doubt it. Speaking of Glenn Beck, reader F.A.J. said that we should take a look at Beck's analysis of what caused the liquidity crisis, in a letter to his family members: What happened?

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Frequent contributor Michael Z. Williamson sent us the link to this newspaper article from Atlanta, Georgia: Many stories surround gas shortage. Human nature, in action

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Cheryl also sen us this one, on Monday evening: Germany takes hot seat as Europe falls into the abyss It begins with this ominous tone: "We face extreme danger. Unless there is immediate intervention on every front by all the major powers acting in concert, we risk a disintegration of global finance within days. Nobody will be spared, unless they own gold bars."

"Keynes explicitly classified the two components in the money supply as 'industrial circulation' versus 'financial circulation.' The distinction is important; it is like the difference between a woman and a female impersonator. They may be alike in almost every respect, except the essential ones." - Bill Bonner

Monday, October 6, 2008

I'm pleased to announce that starting today a special "Pre-Election" sale price is now being offered on the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course. It is being sold at 33% off the normal retail price! Sale pricing on the course is a rare occasion, so be sure to take advantage of it. This sale ends at midnight on Tuesday, November 4th (Election Day, in the U.S.)

Today we present the first entry for Round 19 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The contest prizes include:

First Prize: The writer of the best contributed article in the next 60 days will be awarded two transferable Front Sight  "Gray" Four Day Training Course Certificates. This is an up to $4,000 value!
Second Prize: A three day course certificate from OnPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses.
Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing

Round 19 ends on November 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entries--either for this round or for the next. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

A number of preparedness books and web sites talk about preserved food as part of an emergency food storage plan. There can be immense satisfaction in seeing the rows and rows of gleaming canning jars, full of autumn’s bounty. I’ve done it for years, and thoroughly enjoyed the fruits of my kitchen labor. But what happens when Mason jar lids (which are supposed to be used only once in canning) are no longer readily available? Unless you have the more expensive European canning jars, with the reusable rubber gasket, you may be out of luck. Or when you can’t spare the water, electricity, or fuel to keep that water bath simmering for hours and hours (and you don’t have a pressure canner or steam canner)? And while those #10 cans might be handy for the first year of an emergency, freeze-drying requires a background of high technology.

Then it’s time to turn to older methods of preserving food. Or you can use these methods right along with canning to make things even easier (and use the same jars). Old preserving methods fall into the following general categories: salt, vinegar, fat/oil, sugar, alcohol, dehydration, fermentation, and culturing.

Cover goat cheese rounds in a jar with oil, or feta with brine and you’ve got cheese that will not need refrigeration. Some methods blend well with each other, like making brine for cucumbers which then ferment right in the jar. Six weeks later, dill pickles! Or combine sugar and alcohol to preserve chopped fruit, for a great sauce on cakes or ice cream.
Salt – use dry on vegetables in layers, or a brine on chopped or shredded vegetables to make pickles
Vinegar – an alternate method for pickles; also good for herbs and some fruits (sweet & sour)
Fats/oil – cover thick sauces like pesto or tomato with a thin layer to prevent mold; also, marinate fresh and dried vegetables, cheeses, and herbs
Sugar/honey – the most popular preservative; fruit butters and pastes don’t need canning to stay fresh
Alcohol – make wines to capture herb and fruit flavors; cover fruit with sugar and brandy
Dehydration – dry herbs, fruits, vegetables (including leafy greens like chard and kale which can add some super nutrition to eggs, soups, stews, breads, etc.), meats, and some cheeses at temperatures at or less than 120 Degrees F. for greatest nutritional benefit
Fermentation – ferment whole, chopped, or shredded vegetables; juices and fruits
Culturing – add some easily-found bacteria to make your own kombucha, miso, soy sauce, tempeh, natto, kefir, yogurt, buttermilk, sour cream, and most cheeses
Add to this list the concepts of root cellaring, when you store fruits and vegetables in a cool place in your own home or garden instead of in a commercial cold room with carbon dioxide; foraging for wild greens, fruits, and various herbs; and four season gardening, when you keep growing those healthy greens and root vegetables over the winter. Then you’ve got ways to keep your family fed through the winter and spring (or some tough times), without having to trust that the stores will stay fully stocked.

Of course, some of these ideas require a little time and patience before you can reap the rewards. It’s helpful to believe that not everything has to be boiled within an inch of its life or refrigerated every moment to be safe to eat (of course, you should use your best judgment on when food is safe and ‘throw it out when in doubt’). Maybe you’ll even stretch your culinary horizons, as you discover what fabulous dishes and combinations can be made from your preserved foods. It’s probable that you and your household will be eating better than you ever have before.
Here are half a dozen items in my pantry right now, sitting on the shelf without any refrigeration whatsoever:
Rewaxed cheese – you can buy a regular block of cheese from the store, dip it in a really strong brine (salt and water), and let it sit out for a day or two until it develops a rind. Then dip it in melted wax several times (letting the wax harden between coats), and your cheese can be stored in a cool area for several years. It will get harder and sharper as time goes on, but that’s okay with me as long as I don’t have to do without cheese.
Canned butter – melt butter and simmer gently for five minutes. Then pour into glass Mason jars (one pound will fill slightly more than a pint) and cover with a regular lid and ring. As the butter cools, it will create a seal on the lid. Shake the butter every few minutes as it cools, to create a smoother blend. Ghee is another butter product that will keep on a shelf (you remove the milk solids after simmering longer).
Jerky – cut relatively lean meat into 1” cubes, then marinate overnight in regular soy sauce and a sprinkling of black pepper (or any other sufficiently salty marinade). Dehydrate at 120oF until the desired texture is reached (less dry for snacks, more dry for long-term storage). Jerky can be rehydrated in soups, stews, and creamed chipped beef on toast (among other things).
Pemmican – dry thin slices of lean beef until brittle; shred in a food processor, blender, or mortar; then mix in equal proportions with liquid rendered suet. Add some dried berries for extra vitamin C. Let cool and cut into bars. Can be eaten as is for an excellent travel ration (a favorite of early Arctic travelers), or used in soups and stews.
Sauerkraut – shred one cabbage and mix with 1 tbsp salt (caraway seeds optional). Pack it tightly in a quart jar until the cabbage juice covers the cabbage. Cover loosely for 3-4 days until the fermentation slows down. Then tighten the lid and store for a month before eating. This works with all kinds of shredded vegetables.
Pickles – put a couple of garlic cloves and some fresh/dried dill in a quart jar, add some small cucumbers, and cover with a brine (about 2 tbsp per quart of water). Cover loosely for 3-4 days until the fermentation slows down. Then tighten the lid and store for six weeks before eating. This works with carrot sticks, asparagus, and all kinds of other vegetables.
Vegetable Stock – chop or grind together 1 lb. each of leeks, tomatoes, onions, turnips, parsley, and salt. You can also add carrots, celery, chard, chervil, and other herbs and vegetables as desired (just keep the proportion of salt the same).Let it stand overnight in a bowl, then remix and store in jars. Store in a cool place and it will last for up to three years. Use for a base in soups, sauces, stock, stir-fries, etc.
This is just the start; there are so many options for preserving food without canning or freezing that one book would be hard-pressed to cover them all. Personally, I haven’t really even explored all the ways to preserve meat, like curing, smoking, and potting (covering with fat). Anyway, here are a few books to get you started:

Keeping Food Fresh: Old World Techniques and Recipes (The Gardeners and Farmers of Terre Vivante, Chelsea Green)
Dry It! You’ll Like It (Gen MacManiman, Living Foods Dehydrators)
Wild Fermentation (Sandor Katz, Chelsea Green)
Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats
(Sally Fallon, New Trends Publishing)
Jerky (A.D. Livingston, The Lyons Press)

My daily internet traipsing brought me across a photoset of Afghan walled compounds.

It seems that the basic unit of Afghan country life is the extended family, all of whom live within a 12 foot walled compound. Since Afghanistan has lacked real sovereignty for centuries, this seems to be the logical endpoint of the evolution of retreat/farms. Note that they are not unlike the early spanish missions in the American Southwest. - Isaac R.

Thanks again for all you do. I am in a tight spot and need some good advice. I have to travel to the Washington, DC area this weekend for a two week class at a Federal facility. I have tried (unsuccessfully) to cancel my plans. This will put me thousands of miles from home and family during times of mounting crisis. Due to the areas draconian gun laws, and the classes location I will be unable to travel with a firearm. I have some loose family in the New York City area, but no other regional contacts. I plan on bringing my Surefire light, a small “last ditch” kit, folding knife, and an ASP [collapsing baton] in my checked luggage. I have been re-reading "Patriots" and archived SurvivalBlog posts about air travel contingencies. I have a little emergency cash, silver bullion, and junk silver, plus the usual credit cards. Two of my friends will keep an eye on my house and family in my absence. She is armed and trained (Front Sight First Family) but is somewhat in denial about our current state of affairs. She and I have a bug-out plan in place. Any further advice you could offer to me or other travelers who face the possibility of Schumer Hitting the Fan while absent from family, friends, and equipment would be greatly appreciated. OBTW, look for my 10 Cent Challenge renewal, directly. - Jason in Montana .

JWR Replies: That was bad timing, indeed. But take heart in the fact that this is starting to looking like a slow slide, rather than a sudden onset catastrophe. (A "whimper, not a bang.") So don't worry too much. But pack some comfortable low-top boots, a heavy winter coat, a pile cap, and gloves just in case you end up hitchhiking or taking a bus home.

I've recently had a lot of inquiries via e-mail, asking about bank runs, and the possibility of a national "bank holiday". For many months I have warned that both are possible. Even mainstream news outlets like Forbes magazine are discussing it. But keep in mind that with the growing prevalence of online banking, your bank could get cleaned out by depositors without a queue of people forming in front of the bank. People can empty there accounts while sitting at the their home PCs, with fuzzy slippers on their feet. This is an invisible bank run. It is essentially what happened to Washington Mutual (WaMu). In their case, it was mainly big institutional depositors that had more than $100,000 in their accounts. Be sure to check your bank or S&L's safety rating at least once a week. If it drops below a "C" rating, then transfer your funds to a safer bank, ASAP. And, needless to say, never keep more than the FDIC limit in any one institution.

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Reader "Redclay" mentioned that in April 2008 as ammo prices were spiking, the US CMP began limiting the amount of ammunition that one customer could purchase, but those limits have just been abolished. Current offerings can be found at the CMP web site. In my opinion, the US Lake City Arsenal noncorrosive .30-06 ball ammo is a bargain, in today's market. Stock up.

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"Bee prepared" sent us this article that describes a synergy of bailouts, Peak Oil, and hyperinflation: Hunger for oil could mean hunger for real? The same day, Katya kindly sent us a slew of global economic news: Germany acts to guarantee savings -- Brussels moves to salvage Fortis -- Iceland's financial freeze -- Timeline: Global credit crunch -- Zimbabwe Currency Crisis Peaks (11 Million Percent Inflation Annually!) -- Prudence pays off in Ethiopia -- and French save money for a rainy day. Meanwhile, Jack B. sent this from The Jerusalem Post: Stocks plunge during hard day of trading at Tel Aviv Exchange. And for a double dose of gloom and doom, Cheryl sent us these: Key German Bank Rescued -- Credit Crisis Threatens To Send Car Dealerships Out Of Business -- Now Wall Street May Refuse The Bailout -- LIBOR Gone Crazy As Commercial Paper Implodes

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F.T. in Tucson wrote me to ask why I'm so "worked up" about hedge funds? He mentioned that he has no money invested in hedge funds, so it is "not a big deal" to him. Well, it should be. There is now more than $3 trillion USD invested in hedge funds. Most of that is not Federally insured. There is the potential for huge losses and investment market turmoil, in the event that hedge funds begin to suspend redemptions and then fail in large numbers. Never underestimate the power of a herd of investors to panic and start a stampede for the exits. A hedge fund collapse could easily trigger a stock market collapse, a banking collapse, a money market collapse, a commercial real estate collapse, municipal bond collapse, and conceivably even a collapse in the US Dollar as a currency unit. But even just in the short term, consider what is covered in this Financial Week article: Hedge funds wilt in credit drought--Investor redemptions could cull herd of hedgies; 700 to 1,000 funds may disappear by year-end.

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Michael H. mentioned an uncharacteristic piece by a mainstream commentator Bill Engdahl: Financial Tsunami: The End of the World as we Knew it.

"When all is said and done, Civilizations do not fall because of the barbarians at the gates. Nor does a great city fall from the death wish of bored and morally bankrupt stewards presumably sworn to its defense. Civilizations fall only because each citizen of the city comes to accept that nothing can be done to rally and rebuild broken walls; that ground lost may never be recovered; and that greatness lived in our grandparents but not our grandchildren. Yes, our betters tell us these things daily. But that doesn’t mean we have to believe it.- Bill Whittle

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The high bid in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $770. The auction for a large mixed lot that includes: A Special Mixed Vegetable Case-Six #10 Dehydrated Food Cans (Retail Price $105.95) This special Mixed Vegetable Case contains six #10 (96-ounce) cans--one can of each of the following: Mixed Vegetable Blend, Green Beans, Sweet Garden Peas, Mixed Peppers, Potato Dices, and Sweet Potatoes and a EZ-Towels 10 Pack Combo (10 bags of 50 towels. Retail value: $99.95). These items were donated by Jan at Healthy Harvest Foods. An assortment of world class loose leaf teas, and a box of Bellagio hot chocolate (25 individual packs), with a combined value of approximately $100. These items were courtesy of Charlie at CMEBrew.com. A NukAlert radiation detector (a $160 value), donated by at KI4U.com. And, a Katadyn VARIO water filter, donated by Ready Made Resources. (An $89 retail value.) The auction ends on Monday October 15, 2008. Please e-mail us your bid.

Today's first article comes from SurvivalBlog's correspondent in Argentina, who posts under the pen-name FerFAL:

SurvivalBlog's correspondent in Argentina received the following e-mail:

I greatly value your experience in Argentina. Since you have traveled in the U.S., I would like to know what you think will be the impact of our relative lack of corruption, at least at local levels, to what we may face in our coming economic crisis. Perhaps a separate post on the subject, if you have time?

Here was his reply:

This is where things get more into the “guesstimating” territory.
Nothing is for sure and all we have is certain situations being more probable than others.

That is already occurring and will likely get worse. Not only in actual prices going up, but in more “hidden” ways, such as servings and packs getting suspiciously smaller but keeping their old price, which will later rise even more.
Here for example, small pudding chocolate desert cups, called Danet and made by Nestle, are surprisingly small, something that you empty in 4 or 5 teaspoons.
But the advertisement on TV, says something like “The perfect size to keep your figure!”
These marketing guys aren’t exactly rocket scientists.:)
You can imagine our surprise when we traveled to Spain and found the exact same chocolate desert/snack cup, Danet by Nestle, but with a cup nearly 4 times bigger!
Inflation at first just pisses you off. But as it gets out of control it turns into a serious problem: Suddenly you find that you already ran out of money a few days or a week before the end of the month.
That’s when you see that due to inflation, you can’t keep on going like this you need to reduce expenses.
But what happens when you reduce them as much as you can, inflation is still going up and your salary just doesn’t compensate.
That’s what I mean when I said you should already start looking for new ways of making money.

That’s probably our greatest problem and eventually crime will get worse in USA because of all this as well.
Here’s were the differences may come into play: America’s police isn’t nearly as corrupt as the police in Argentina, so that will work for your advantage.
But on the other hand, you guys have a more diverse population, which we don’t, and that may contribute to more social disorder.
Anyway, as mentioned in several posts, be prepared to take care of your own security. Safety habits are very important and it’s not goof enough that you are reading this, your entire family must be along with you in the same boat on this matter.
What’s the use in being Mr. Tactical killing machine when your 16 year old daughter doesn’t listen and will spend nearly an hour talking with her boyfriend at the front door--the door opened door for anyone that wants to force their way in.
Also if you are Mr. Tactical bad a**, chances are they won't go after you, but after the weakest link of the chain ( your kids and wife)

As mentioned before, expect a lot of emotional problems from people. Suicides may become more common, at least that’s what happened here as well. It got to point were we had 2 or 3 guys killing themselves under the train each week. Total chaos to get to downtown.
I don’t know man, things just change a lot.
For example, I was telling the guys at Minionreport the other day.
We were talking with my son the other day and we talked about what he wants to be when he grows up. He’s six years old.
Doctor, soldier, fireman, astronaut, those were okay according to him, all those except policeman.
“Why not policeman” we asked puzzled.
“Because they get killed a lot, everyday a policeman dies on the news, a policeman got shot today, a policeman was killed today. No no policeman”
My wife ad I didn’t know what to say. I mean, it is true, we just didn’t expect him to notice. And children do notice even if grownups hope they don’t.All the small things
Impossible to mention them all, but one thing you can expect in a country that has little money to spend due to the crisis, is for services and infrastructure to suffer.
Expect power going down more often due to lack of maintenance. Store several LED lights and install emergency lights. A generator will be needed, also see about installing electric protections against high voltage surges when power comes back up.
Expect water to become of worse quality, get a filter even if you have supposedly potable tap water. One day it may not be that potable any more.
Roads are something that go bad surprisingly fast. Expect them to rot because of little maintenance due to lack of funds, specially after heavy rains.
Within a year or so, you may start seeing holes on the road, some of them real craters, and busting a tire in one of them is no joke.
I already spent a small fortune fixing everything that goes wrong in my car due to the poor conditions of the streets here.
What else? We’ll just have to wait and see. - FerFAL

Jim -
I got this letter from my little sister:

"I used to think that you were so off the wall on your beliefs and how this country was falling apart. I would make little jokes because I had no idea what you had seen or done while you were in the military, but you thought that this world was coming to an end. Well, I am no longer laughing at you and it goes to show to not always think that because someone else's ideas or a little extreme that they are crazy because they might turn out to be right. With having to research things for class and hearing people talk and seeing what I see on the TV, I realize that this country is in bad shape. I won't even be able to go to Ireland like I planned to do in two years because our dollar will be worthless. So, one point for Dan, and zero points for me."

She is pretty young, so this is a very significant leaving the ranks of the sheeple. Sad that "I am right", but now I can help her to become self-reliant. It is good to get to start an new apprentice! - Dan B.

RL sent us this hard-hitting piece: The "Mark To Model" Lie

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Just as I predicted, things are looking grim for the hedge funds: Market chaos batters hedge-fund star. By borrowing short and lending long, they are at huge risk when credit markets fluctuate widely. And in a time of financial crisis like this, where liquidity has dried up almost completely, the hedgers will likely fail in large numbers. (A hat tip to Cyberiot for sending the article link.)

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Eric sent us this from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Demand on pantries grows as food costs rise, jobs lost -

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More links from our Economic Editor, starting with a headline that I've been expecting: Bailout May Actually Run $1.8 Trillion -- Wells Fargo's Wachovia Bid Sparks Feud With Citigroup -- It's Wait And See After Bush Signs Bailout Bill -- For Bailout To Work, Housing Market Needs To Mend -- Fortis' Dutch Assets Nationalized -- Asset Management Teams To Manage Bailout -- Manipulation of Gold And Commodity Prices To Prevent Inflation And Higher Interest Rates -- Anatomy Of Financial And Economic Disaster, Part 1 -- LIBOR Mystifies Americans as Mayor Reads `Doomsday' -- Special Report: The Credit Crisis: How We Got Here (A compilation of news stories starting in 2007 regarding the financial crisis) -- CitiGroup Shares Fall 18% As Deal With Wachovia Unravels -- Jobs Data Show Broad Decline -- Safe Harbor In Preferred Stocks? -- The Trouble With Harry ("The steep drop in the share prices of insurance companies Thursday destroyed wealth for uncounted middle-class investors holding onto stock in companies still considered healthy.")

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I was recently interviewed by Kari Huus, a journalist with MSNBC. She is also interested in interviewing one or two SurvivalBlog readers in the Pacific Northwest, and taking some photographs --mostly of a family's survival logistics shelves. She notes: "I will respect confidentiality. I worked for many years in China, where lots of reporting involved extreme discretion, and I never broke the rules or
got anyone in trouble there so I have a good track record with this." She added: "Who knows? Maybe it would help other people get prepared for emergencies--economic or otherwise." Contact: Kari Huus
Phone: (daytime) 425-706-1844, or e-mail: Kari.Huus@msnbc.com

"The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not entirely absurd, indeed, in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a widespread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible." - Bertrand Russell

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Yesterday, the dreaded TARP bill, H.R. 1424 (part of the Mother of All Bailouts (MOAB)), passed by a wide margin (263 to 171), in the US House of Representatives. The original bill was just three pages long, but the final version (see the full text PDF) was a whopping 451 pages. It was so stuffed with pork barrel legislation that was practically oozing grease. It disgusting to see so many legislators sign on to this $850 billion+ swindle. The few that voted for it were mostly from the far right and the far left.

The passage of the TARP bill should result in a short-lived stock market rally. Take advantage of the rally to cash out, and put the proceeds into tangibles. I do not believe that the TARP bailout will revive the credit market. At this point, a global depression lasting a decade or more seems very likely. Get ready to hunker down.

All of the recent economic news may be overwhelming to some. This has left many people virtually petrified by Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt (FUD). Don't be a proverbial "deer in the headlights." I strongly encourage you get past your anxiety uncertainty and instead of sitting around glued to CNN, wringing your hands and saying "ain't it awful". Replace that angst with action. Get busy preparing. Here is my suggested Crash Countdown "D" List, for folks that are already fairly well-prepared:

1.) De-Hummelize

Sell off any collectibles that are not family heirlooms. The worst offenders here are the mass produced "limited edition" Hummel figurines, Beanie Babies and those collector plates from umpteen artists. Because I've mentioned this, please don't think that I'm a misogynist. Men can be just as bad about acquiring trinkets! They are just manly trinkets. Far too many men have gun vaults chock full of "commemorative edition" guns with engraving and gold inlay that they would never dream of shOoting, for fear that their collector value would be diminished. I most strongly recommend that you sell off those guns and replace them with truly practical ones .These days, I lean toward stainless steel guns with synthetic stocks, because of their tremendous longevity.and resistance to corrosion. By selling off your toys and trinkets, you will be A.) clearing space for important logistics, and B.) generating cash to help purchase those same logistics. Trinket items have a ready market with eBay, especially this time of year, as people are shopping for Christmas gifts. Take nice crisp photos, start most of your items at a penny, and make sure that you charge enough to cover your postage and tracking costs.

2.) Dumpster Dive

Watch your local Craig's List like a hawk. It is not unusual to find people giving away or selling a ridiculously low prices dozens of heavy duty canning jars, hand-crank meat grinders, chest freezers, shelving, and poultry brooder, horse tack, and so forth. I've even found running generators available free for the asking. (You haul.)

Mark your calendar for both community yard sales and the next time that your garbage collection service offers an "unlimited curbside pickup" day. Hook up your trailer the evening before, and see what you can find that is free for the taking. (Consult your local ordinances first, of course.) We've found lots of practical items that were still perfectly serviceable, such as rabbit cages, brooms, canes, geriatric walkers, and galvanized wash tubs ("gut buckets") set out on the curb. It would be a shame to see useful item send up in a landfill.

3.) De-Procrastinate.

If you have been putting off any dental work, elective surgery, vehicle repairs, or getting new lenses for your eyeglasses, then start making appointments!

4.) Dump Your Dollars

Roll over your 401(k) and/or IRA into a gold IRA, available from through Swiss America Trading Company.

5.) Double-Up Your Staple Goods Shopping

Double up your staple groceries shopping. By doing so consistently, you will rapidly build up a supply of canned good. Make sure you mark the date of purchase on the top of each can with a permanent marker (such as a Sharpie pen), and put the most recently purchased cans at the back of the shelf . These are the essential points of "first-in, first-out" (FIFO) rotation.

6.) Divert Your Expenses

Cut out needless expenses, so that you can divert that cash into preparedness. Pare down your expenditures on movies and eating out. But don't go overboard and make yourself (or your spouse and kids) miserable. OBTW, here is an example: The Memsahib's sister found that she could skip Starbucks, and make herself an awesome Vanilla Latte at a 7-11 store, for less than half the price. Do comparison pricing. Is a NetFlix subscription less expensive than a cable movie package? Do you really have the time to watch that much television, anyway? I'm not say to do without life's little pleasures. I'm just saying that there are some less expensive alternatives.

7.) Door-to-Door Introductions

Get to know your neighbors. Go door to door, if need be. Remind folks who you are. Connect names to faces. Make a list of phone numbers and e-mail addresses. Without being too pushy, quiz them a bit if they are "ready fort he next big storm". Find out if any of them have prior military experience, or advanced medical skills. But of course don't volunteer too much information about yourself. It is not wise to brand yourself at he neighborhood Whackamo.

8.) Drums, Cans, and Fuel Tanks

Top off your supplies of gasoline, diesel, and kerosene. Add fuel stabilizer and antibacterials (such as Pri-G and Pri-D), as needed.

9.) Detailed Contingency Plans and Packing Lists

Contact family and friends, and agree on contingency plans that you'll follow, even if the telephone system and e-mail become inoperative. If any relatives are planning to join you at your retreat when TSHTF, then make sure they know exactly what they will need to pack. They may be able to make only one trip there, so they'll have to make it count. (they need to have appropriate winter clothing, gloves, boots, gardening tools, bedding, and so forth to be productive at your retreat.

Dear Mr. Rawles,
Emotions are sure running high out there. I've tried my best, as a clinical psychologist, to let my readers know that they can have a good life, albeit of a very different sort, as our economy continues to
deteriorate. Your site has done so much to provide a blueprint and important details as to how to go about it. I've read some of your material (the Rawles Get You Ready [preparedness course]; "Patriots", and your blog) and I see in your words the deep respect you have for your readership, and for the importance of leading a life worth living.

Thanks for your consideration, and for being there for so many years. - "Peak Shrink"

I'd recommend that "Greenhorn" should take a look at your "Profiles" page. I learned as much reading them as I do reading the blog! As you say, starting a "List of Lists" is invaluable to preparedness. It is the only way I can keep track of what I have on hand, whether it be too much or too little. And, just because I know it is a weak spot with everybody, more medical supplies is always a good thing.

Also, most gun shops have a layaway program, so it's possible to at least start paying on another rifle or handgun. When you get one of these items, make sure the ammo to feed it is your very next purchase! I'd rather have just a couple of good, solid guns and lots of ammo, than a lot of cool-guy stuff and only one magazine of ammo for each.

Make a habit of checking eBay, Craig's List and the local papers for good deals on things. If there is a sale at the local department store, I strongly recommend "buying ahead." Meaning, buying children's winter clothing in the spring when the stores are trying to clear it out, and buying a couple of sizes up. Same with shoes. Another great investment. This is one of those tangible investments that Jim speaks of all the time!

Most of all, stay calm! Breathe! Even having a few extra cases of beans and rice will put you ahead of most of your neighbors. Make sure the whole family is involved, and especially that your wife is your partner in everything you do. Take care. - SJC

Craig R. and Costa Rica Jones both sent us the link to this amazing video clip: Life in Foreclosure Alley. Do you remember what I wrote about "Midnight Flits"? Don't miss the part near the end where they spray paint a dead lawn green. Its all about "curb appeal."

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More Nanny State meddling, aimed at reducing bovine flatulence: Meat must be rationed to four portions a week, says report on climate change.

   o o o

Michael Z. Williamson sent us this video link showing home-brew autonomous gun developments. This kid could get a DARPA contract! Warning: Attempting this with a firearm would be an invitation to a lawsuit. This would also almost certainly be considered a "machinegun" by the BATFE (even if it fires semi-automatically), since it would fire more than one cartridge with the touch of the laptop keyboard--which they would deem to be the "trigger". Do not attempt any such experiments!

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Randy F. sent us this link: French Prime Minister says world 'on edge of abyss'. And here is a bunch more economic news and commentary for your weekend reading pleasure, courtesy of Cheryl: Tax Breaks Big And Small Sweeten Bailout -- 600,000 Jobs Lost And Counting -- Employers Cut More Jobs Than Since 2003? -- Misdirected Bailout Will Make Housing Worse -- Euro Bank Rescue In Tatters After Savings Rush -- Suffering Businesses Go To 4-Day Work Week -- US Banks Borrow Record Amounts From Fed -- Asian Markets Fall On Recession Fears -- FDIC Seeking Temporary Unlimited Treasury Loans -- The Banking System Is Detonating Before Our Eyes -- Wachovia Limits Access By Colleges, Inciting Fears -- California May Need Emergency $7 Billion Loan -- Fed Up With Fed Credit (The Mogambo Guru) -- US Dollar Doomed As Credit Crisis Turns Into Currency Crisis -- Time For Investors To Panic: SEC Abandons Sound Accounting Practices -- Crisis Intensifies Amid Uncertainty -- Office Space Emptying Out.

"In modern democracies, successful politicians must possess two qualities: They must say what the people want to hear and they must do what those in power want done." - Darryl Schoon

Friday, October 3, 2008

Courtesy of the liberal majority in The U.S Senate, the TARP Bill (which is supposedly limited to $700 billion USD) appears to be a fait accompli. (It now headed to the House of Representatives.) Both senators McCain and Obama voted for it. (So much for us making any meaningful "choice" in the upcoming presidential election.) Disregard all the headlines, folks. In my estimation, the all-fired hurry to enact the TARP bailout was driven by a.) the sudden huge jump in the LIBOR rate, and b.) the chaos that is quietly is going on in the background with derivatives. The politicians have realized that if they don't do something, and something right now, that global economy is going to come crashing down as soon as next week. And even with the Mother of All Bailouts (MOAB), the markets may crash, anyway. Things are really that bad. At present, the global credit market is frozen solid. More than anything, it resembles a Wooly Mammoth that was suddenly frozen stiff with clover grass still in its mouth. Applying CPR won't help the beast. But Ben Bernanke and Congress are still doing their best to resuscitate it, putting on a good show for the public. There will have to be a new credit system established, to fill the ecological niche left by the Mammoth.

The first article today is a re-post of a piece that I wrote in early October of 2007. I can now see that my prediction was about one year too early. Given the recent news about the extent of the credit market meltdown, the hedge fund collapses may be even worse than I had foreseen.

One of the consequences of the collapse of the credit bubble and the subprime lending fiasco in particular is with hedge funds. There is a substantial risk of uncontrollable instability in hedge funds that could potentially be disastrous for investors. This instability will likely be seen in waves of bad news that will come roughly once a quarter.

First, let me provide a bit of background:

1.) Most hedge funds have rules that allow only quarterly redemptions ("cashing out") by by their investors. (A few hedge funds even have only one annual redemption "window.") Typically, the redemption requests must be filed 45 days before the end of any given quarter.

2.) Most hedge funds have rules that allow them to suspend redemptions, at the discretion of the fund manager or their board of directors. This is just what Bear Stearns did with their funds that went under. United Capital Asset Management did the same back in July, for their Horizon Fund L.P., Horizon ABS Fund L.P., Horizon ABS Fund Ltd. and Horizon ABS Master Fund Ltd. ("Horizon").

3.) Hedge fund portfolios can change radically, almost overnight. This can be either good or bad. If back in the middle of the year a fund manager was wise, he would have minimized or eliminated his Collateralized Debt Obligation (CDO) positions. But, on the other hand, if he was willing to take a risk, to increase yields he might have have increased his CDO holdings in chosen tranches that didn't have exposure to sub-prime real estate lending.

My personal prediction is that for at least the next year, there will be successive quarterly waves of hedge fund redemption suspensions and perhaps some spectacular hedge fund collapses, with the news breaking in the first two weeks of each quarter. (The first two weeks of November, the first two weeks of January, the first two weeks of April, and so on.)

Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt (FUD)
The investors in hedge funds place a tremendous amount of trust in the fund managers. This is because the fund managers are generally given free rein to regularly re-invest all of the fund's assets in the most profitable investments. Sometimes a hedge fund can be almost totally re-invested in a different venture very quickly. For example, investors might assume (based on the previous quarter's report and the manager's newsletter) that the fund's portfolio is heavily in European bond derivatives and the Yen Carry trade. But then then when the next newsletter issue is released, they may learn that 80% of the fund portfolio was shifted into corporate stock derivatives, during a leveraged buyout (LBO). The current economic and finance climate is so darkly clouded with Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt (FUD), that it is likely that a substantial number of hedge fund investors will make a hasty exit, while the exit door is still open. I suspect that news of these redemptions will inspire additional investors to also cash out, in a cascading effect.

I cannot say with certainty that there will be a hedge fund panic, but ever since the Bear Stearns meltdown, the likelihood has definitely increased.

For any SurvivalBlog readers that hold hedge fund investments with any CDO exposure: If you aren't sure about your hedge fund's exposure, then you are better off getting out, pronto. (You probably should have submitted your cash out order in before August 15th.) If you wait for a quarterly report, it will probably be too late, since your quarterly redemption window will probably close before you see the report. And before the next redemption window opens the fund might suspend redemptions. 

Update: October, 2008: The number of hedge fund redemption suspensions is now definitely increasing. Outright failures are also continuing: Carlyle Capital defaulted following failed margin calls.This was followed by the failure of Focus Capital, a $1 billion hedge fund. But more ominously, the failure of Lehman Brothers in September portends some very bad news for the hedge funds.

I expect this situation to get far worse in the upcoming quarters. Consider this your last warning: Get out of hedge funds, while you still can!

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I read the two letters that were posted on September 27, “Advice for City Folks on a Budget”. What struck me was how similar Mike H.’s situation is to mine. I too have a wife similar to the Mike H’s.
At first my wife thought I was out of my tree when I began preparing years ago. After the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, she came to believe that what I was doing was prudent, but somewhat overkill. Now that we have entered this period in history, she’s starting to pay attention, and has become a participant. I empathize with people in Mike’s predicament, and I have several suggestions to add to yours:

Before one starts with your recommended “List of Lists”, I would encourage everyone to do a complete inventory of what is currently in one’s household. I understand that sounds overwhelming, but it can be accomplished within a week or two, if one room or closet is done every evening. I’d leave the larger spaces such as attics, garages, and basements for a Saturday or Sunday. I would encourage people to do this as a family group so that people will have an idea where things are when all is said and done.
I’m going to make some suggestions of things to add to one’s preparedness supplies as I go along.

Start by going through your clothing closets with prejudice. Do the same with your children’s closets. Set aside the clothing in a pile that is no longer worn or that is out of fashion. Heavy coats, jackets, etc should be checked for fit. If they don’t fit, place them in the pile. If they do fit, even if you or your kids hate the way they look, put them back into your closet. If you are unable to heat your home, you won’t care what you look like when you’re cold. Keep in mind layering and hand-me-downs [for younger children] when checking fit.

Next, do the same with shoes. Fashion footwear that is little more than eye candy, if it is no longer being used, it should be placed in the pile. Go through your dressers and chests of drawers as well.

Now that you know what you have in your closets, and they’re cleaned out, this makes room for your needed additions. Depending on your climate, you may find that you will need to add things like sweatshirts, sweat pants, gloves, scarves, hats, long underwear, wool socks, heavy boots or more rugged shoes, etc. I live in sunny Central California, and during the winter, it can frequently still fall into the single digits overnight. Most people never notice it because of modern conveniences like central heat. That will change if things really get bad.

Keep in mind your bedding and bath towels. Extra towels, blankets and sheets are good to have if everything has to be washed manually and hung to dry. Make sure you have a way to string a clothesline, even if it’s just above the bathtub.

Now is the time to buy. Many retailers are having sales as their revenues continue to fall, and others declare bankruptcy. Keep an eye out for sales, and don’t be afraid to visit the Goodwill or Salvation Army thrift stores. If you’re worried about fallout from mortified spouses or kids, do it alone, pack it up, and label it. I sincerely doubt that you’ll hear any complaints from people who are cold and miserable.

Next, go through your clothing discard pile. Donate things that obviously will serve no practical purpose in a survival situation. Polyester skirts and pair of pumps that were in fashion in the 1980s really won’t help much. The rest box up and label. There may be neighbors or others who can benefit from your charity if things really get bad.

If you are like I was, you probably had eight pairs of old jeans that had holes in the seat and the like. Save several pairs to cut patches out of to repair the one’s you have now, and to help filter coarse debris from water. Discard the rest. Get a sewing kit capable of handling heavy fabrics. Buy some glue for your shoes, like Shoe Goop.

Next stop is the kitchen and pantry. Go through all your cabinets and drawers. Pull out everything that is food. Go through it. Check the date codes. Things that are way out of date, use or discard. Just because something is past the date code, doesn’t mean it is bad. A little time spent on the web will show you how to interpret date codes and their meanings for various foods.
Set aside things that you know you will never eat. You may have received a Christmas basket that had pickled pig’s feet in it, and you know that even if someone held a gun to your head, you wouldn’t eat it.

Put everything you will eat back, and make a list of things to add to your larder. Buy them as finances permit. When adding to your larder, remember to [FIFO] rotate your stock.
The things you won’t eat, put them in a box to use as charity, or donate them to a food bank now.

Next go through your cooking utensils. The non-stick Wolfgang Puck Bistro set isn’t going to hold up if you’re forced to cook in your fireplace, so you'd better lay in some cast iron or at bare minimum plain stainless steel. If you can only afford one piece of cast iron, then get a Dutch oven with an iron lid. Some are available with a glass lid. If the lid breaks, you’re SOL. Try to purchase brands such as Lodge. There are a lot of inexpensive pieces out there that come from China, and I’ve heard that they warp and sometimes shatter. Check garage sales, and the Goodwill etc. Even if they’re rusty, as long as there aren’t huge pits in the iron, they will clean up and re-season well.

You’ll also need a manual can opener, a “church key” [beer can opener], a manual bottle opener and corkscrew. If you can, get an extra or two of each because sometimes they break or wear out. Your neighbor may not have one, come the time [of need]. Good will between neighbors goes a long way when things are difficult. Extra pot holders and kitchen towels are good too.

Get a set of real knives. Those fancy ceramic ones are awesome, I know, I have a set. They won’t hold up if you have to carve up game, such as a rabbit or duck. Don’t forget a whetstone or some way to manually sharpen your knives. A dull knife is far more dangerous than a sharp one.

As you continue through the garage and attic, use the same critical eye. Discard things that you won’t use to make room for things that you will.
When you finish you’ll have a good idea of what you do have, and can accurately gauge yourself against the “List of lists”.

Here are some additional thoughts:
If you should find yourself with a collection of things that can generate some cash after going through your house, consider a garage sale, and use the proceeds to buy needed supplies.

If you have the time,storage space, and finances, then add hand crank drills, hammers, a “Yankee Screwdriver” and other manual tools to a small kit. Get some nails, wood screws, and a couple of sheets of plywood, a few 2x4s, and heavy poly sheeting. This will help you contend with broken windows and doors. If civil unrest becomes a problem, the 2x4s can be used to reinforce exterior doors. Make sure you have appropriate fasteners such as lag screws or nails between 40d and 100d. (The “d” means penny.) A 40d is about 5 inches in length and 100d is about 10 inches in length.

Buy several large fire extinguishers and position them through the house. Make sure everyone knows where they are and how to use them. Best Regards, - J.H.

To follow up on Flora in New York City's "Questions on Short Term Survival in an Urban Office Building", here is a link to Aton Edward's highly recommended book Preparedness Now! which also contains a link to the April 2008 New York Times article that allowed me (thankfully) to find Survivalblog.com for the first time.

Additionally, here is a video interview with Mr. Edwards recorded in New York City and addressing exactly the kind of equipment/tools and awareness/preparedness issues that an office-bound urbanite like Flora needs to survive.

Since April, I ordered and read "Patriots", the Rawles Get's You Ready course, and "Rawles On Retreats and Relocation". Thank you for your informative, easy-to-navigate, and comprehensive blog! This weekend I finally finished reading every page and every day's worth of SurvivalBlog archive posts from the last three+ years (it took more than six weeks and I now have a big "To Do" list). - Lee in Hurricane Alley

Rourke flagged this article from Marysville, California: Preparing for financial apocalypse: Wall Street scare has some thinking chaos coming

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Commander Zero posted some interesting commentary in his blog about why people don't prepare, even in the face of immediate and overwhelming threats like the current economic meltdown.

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The gasoline shortage in the southeast has intensified.

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The latest news is that the banking crisis isn't any better in Europe: France seeks €300 billion rescue fund for Europe. And meanwhile, Senator Harry Reid drops a bombshell: Another major insurance company is on the brink, and Jim Willie has this must-read commentary: Breakdown Approaches Climax. Now on to the chunk-'o-gloom from Cheryl, our Economic Editor: Central Banks Starting To Buy Gold? -- US Auto Sales Plunge -- Wachovia Faced A Silent Bank Run -- Stocks Buckle On Recession Fears -- House Holds Fate Of Bailout Plan -- Financial Crisis Investing: The Big Picture -- Insurance Companies Earnings Plunge 53% -- LIBOR Soars, Commercial Paper Slumps As Credit Freeze Deepens Across The Globe, and from Russia, this commentary: Bailout Fraud ("This is a default crisis. Banks and large corporations are going to default. The banks know that. The public does not yet.")

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The folks at Front Sight have just posted their 2009 course schedule. Because of the hot desert climate at Pahrump, Nevada, I generally recommend taking courses at Front Sight between mid-October and Mid-April, when the weather is pleasant. OBTW, don't miss out on their "Get a Gun" training and gear package offer. This offer will probably end soon. Don't hesitate any longer, or you'll regret it!

“Fear, Mr. Bond, takes gold out of circulation and hoards it against the evil day. In a period of history when every tomorrow may be the evil day, it is fair to say that a fat proportion of the gold dug out of one corner of the earth is at once buried again in another corner...” - Ian Fleming, Goldfinger

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Now we're a fashion trend! Details magazine just published a well-written and humorous article that features a SurvivalBlog reader, titled The Yuppie Survivalists. That's not what I would have titled the article, but then I don't publish a trendy men's fashion magazine. And I'm no yuppie. I'm neither young nor urban, and I've never had that sort of shopping budget. (The Memsahib keeps me on a short leash.) OBTW, they included just one brief quote from yours truly and one from Jason over at SHTFblog.

Oh, and speaking of men's fashion, another article on survivalism will appear in the upcoming issue of FHM magazine and it too will be quoting me. OBTW, the Memsahib and I recently were in The Big City and we dropped by a bookstore, hoping to take a glance at the FHM article. But we were shocked to find that there was no glancing allowed, because FHM is one of those magazines that comes wrapped in plastic. (I have been told that it has some pictures of scantily-clad models, but no nudity.) My apologies for directing any of you to contact the journalist at FHM. I should have checked first on what sort of magazine it was, before I agreed to an interview, or for promising to post the author's contact information in SurvivalBlog. My humble and sincere apologies for not first investigating the magazine!

The high bid in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $770. The auction for a large mixed lot that includes: A Special Mixed Vegetable Case-Six #10 Dehydrated Food Cans (Retail Price $105.95) This special Mixed Vegetable Case contains six #10 (96-ounce) cans--one can of each of the following: Mixed Vegetable Blend, Green Beans, Sweet Garden Peas, Mixed Peppers, Potato Dices, and Sweet Potatoes and a EZ-Towels 10 Pack Combo (10 bags of 50 towels. Retail value: $99.95). These items were donated by Jan at Healthy Harvest Foods. An assortment of world class loose leaf teas, and a box of Bellagio hot chocolate (25 individual packs), with a combined value of approximately $100. These items were courtesy of Charlie at CMEBrew.com. A NukAlert radiation detector (a $160 value), donated by at KI4U.com. And, a Katadyn VARIO water filter, donated by Ready Made Resources. (An $89 retail value.) The auction ends on Monday October 15, 2008. Please e-mail us your bid.

We are living in unprecedented times. The global economy is being asphyxiated for lack of credit, and we face the prospect of an economic depression that could be worse than the Great Depression of the1930s.

The Advent of Rule 157

One of the contributing factors in the unfolding banking debacle was the advent of Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) Rule 157, that went partially into effect on November 15, 2007. This was a financial accounting rule change that yanked the bankers back from the Fantasyland games that they had been playing with Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDOs), Credit Default Swaps (CDSs), Structured Investment Vehicles (SIVs), and others. Under Rule 157, banks got a strong, painful dose of reality. With Rule 157, balance sheets had to be "carried at fair value on a recurring basis in financial statements." The end result was that Level 3 assets could no longer be concealed. After some foot-dragging deferments, the banksters were finally required to mark any illiquid investments to the most recent market price ("marked to market") of a comparable security that actually traded. Pushed from what I called the "Marked to Mystery" realm into the light of day in "Marked to Market", the accounting rule change has resulted in the banks writing off more than half a trillion dollars. The eventual writeoff total is expected to be as much as $1.5 trillion. (It is difficult to predict the eventual size of the writeoffs since real estate prices are still falling. This is the classic "moving target" dilemma. The writeoffs will continue to grow with each drop in real estate prices. As the writeoffs continue, the bankers will beg for more bailouts.

The current debate about the proposed $700 Billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP)--also known as the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (EESA)--ignores two huge Troubles to come. You'll note that those are Troubles with capital Ts, as in Trillions.

The first Trouble is that--at least as I heard about one currently drafted version--the bailout bill will "cap" the Treasuries holdings of bad debt at $700 at any given time. But there is nothing to stop Treasury officials from marking down the value of those instruments to 30 cents on the dollars and re-selling them, and then buying hundreds of billions of additional toxic debt paper. This could go on and on until the total cost of the bailout runs into multiple trillion dollars! Note that the proposed bailout bill started out as a simple three page document that gave the Treasury Department carte blanche. But the bill blossomed to 130+ pages as the congressional debate continued. This first TARP bill was voted down, and a new bill with different terms is now in the works. The terms of the new bill have not yet been announced.

The second Trouble is that while the "contentious debate" is going on, on Capitol Hill, the Federal Reserve is busy handing out cash (electronically) by the dump truck load, to "pump" liquidity back into the banking system. In just the last 10 days, they've made "emergency loans" to American banks that have exceeded $1.2 Trillion, and there is no end in sight. The end result of all of this "bailing" and "pumping" will be the inevitable monetization of mountains of public debt. There is no way to generate tax revenues to cover even a fraction of it, so, the requisite "dollars" are being created out of thin air. (Read: monetization.) This will of course dilute the value of the dollars already in circulation. So, sooner or later, mass currency inflation will be the end result. I predict that if this monetization goes on unchecked for long enough, it will result in a hyperinflationary death spiral for the US Dollar. In our modern, technologically complex, and fragile society, hyperinflation will first result in a tragedy for pensioners and anyone else living on a fixed income. Then as time goes on, it will wipe out any and all holders of paper currency dollars and then the holders of virtually all investments that at denominated in dollars. The utter destruction of the US Dollar will at some point result in mass chaos in the streets. We can expect huge protests, riots, looting, arson, and a breakdown of law and order. It will be The End of the World as We Know It. (TEOTWAWKI).

The banks are under such duress from the "unprecedented market conditions" that they are now strongly pressuring the FASB to "temporarily" suspend Rule 157, so that their Level 3 trash paper can again escape being marked to market. (Effectively, this will be official sanction to cook their books.) We'll stay tuned and see what happens.

The Possible Advent of Rule 308

So, let's assume that hyperinflation does kick in sometime in the next few years, the economy falls apart, and there is anarchy in the streets. What will you do when there are not enough police to stem the swelling crowds of looters? What will you do when the power grid is down, burglar alarm systems no longer function, and even the telephone networks are down? Who will you call for help? How can you call for help, without phones? The simple answers are: nobody and no way. It will be "You're On Your Own" (YOYO) time. In these circumstances your only logical choice will be to implement Rule 308. It will be up to you--just you and perhaps a group of trusted friends and neighbors--to provide for your own safety, security, and defense of life of property. Think of it as a neighborhood watch on steroids. The difference between life and death may come down to this: The rifle in your hands. This is why it's called Rule 308--as in .308 Winchester. (Or, for our cousins in the British Commonwealth, it was originally called Rule 303. (As in, the .303 British caliber.)

Political action is great. It would be wonderful if legislation were to fix the economy and prevent an economic catastrophe. That is what I'm praying for. I strongly encourage people to write letters to the editor, write letters to your elected representatives, circulate petitions, take part in Town Hall forums, and vote in all of the elections. But at some point the political process and the rule of law may suddenly be overcome by events, and you will have to resort to Rule 308. I dread that day. But be ready for it, just in case.

Mister Rawles:
First off, I want to thank you for running SurvivalBlog. Its an awesome resource--sorta "one stop shopping" for folks like me that are getting prepared.

I first read your book three years ago, when I was on my second deployment in Iraq. Your novel ["Patriots"] was in a big pile of books in our unit's MWR [Morale, Welfare and Recreation] room. They say you can't judge a book by its cover, but I was following advice from my home-town librarian when I picked your book. She once advised me: "Look for books with 'broken' spines and that show lots of wear. Those are the ones that have been read a lot, and that 's usually for a good reason." Well, your book looked like it was about ready to fall apart, it was so worn out! I gotta admit that the first time I read your book, I was saying to myself: "Suuuure. Like an economic collapse will ever happen. Not in my lifetime." Well, the past three weeks of [reading the] newspapers have given me a whole new outlook on that subject. The first chapter of your book is practically prophecy. It is eerie how many things you got right. And you wrote it ten years ago? Word.

Thanks to you, I recently cashed out of my West Valley National Bank [of Arizona] savings account and will lose my checking account once the last few checks clear. That will save me some sleepless nights, I'm sure. Thank you for your repeated warnings to people about getting out of banks that are "under-capitalized" (broke)! I used the bank safety rating service that you recommended, and found out that my bank had a "D" rating! Well, I definitely now owe you a [10 Cent Challenge voluntary] subscription, and I'll do so A-SAP.

Next, I have a nit-picky complaint: There is way too much in the [SurvivalBlog] archives to be able to read through it all. Do you have any ideas on how I can access it better, to research [particular topics]? Oh, one funny thing I gotta mention: Whenever I start to research prep[aredness] things with Google, almost always it is SurvivalBlog posts that end up in the top 10 or 20 items found, whether is its "HK91 alloy magazines" or "paracord and LC-2 harness'", or "infrared cyalume trip flare". I can't think of a compliment better than being waaay "up there" in the Google rankings. SurvivalBlog is the Hotel Sierra blog!

Up until last week, I also had one other complaint, but I solved that one myself. It was distracting to have all the advertisements crawl by while I was reading the blog. But then I realized that all that I had to do was leave my [browser] cursor arrow on top of any ad, and they stopped moving. Simple, and it stops the eye strain. Thanks and Lord Bless You! - Ray V. in Arizona

JWR Replies: Thanks for your kind letter. There are now more than 5,300 archived SurvivalBlog articles, letters, and quotations. You are correct that there it is too much for the average reader to read through sequentially. To research particular topics, I recommend that you take full advantage of the article categories and blog database search feature available at the SurvivalBlog site. Say, for example, you want to learn more about how to secure your home. In the right hand bar, down below the scrolling advertisements there is a list of topic categories. By clicking on the "Retreat Security" category, only the articles and letters tagged with that topic will be displayed. Or, you can do a more detailed search, using the Search box at the top of the right hand bar. For example, if you enter "Security AND Infrared AND Starlight" only those posts that include all three of those words will be displayed.

Back in 2005, I began warning SurvivalBlog readers that derivatives were a much larger threat than the housing bubble. Now we read in the mainstream media: The $55 trillion question. The article begins: "The financial crisis has put a spotlight on the obscure world of credit default swaps - which trade in a vast, unregulated market that most people haven't heard of and even fewer understand. Will this be the next disaster?"

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Safecastle just a started an unusual 25%-off Mountain House sale. The sale ends on October 14th. Get your order in immediately for the best selection!

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The latest slug of bad news from our Economic Editor, who is recovering from a recent surgery (please keep Cheryl in your prayers): USA 2008: The Great Depression -- The Day Main Street Struck Back At Wall Street -- Credit Markets Frozen As Banks Hoard Cash -- Western World Will Become Significantly Less Wealthy -- ("Corporate America has just lost a chunk of its value the size of the Indian economy.") -- Greenspan: "Gold Is The Ultimate Form of Payment In The World" -- The Truth About The Bailout ("'Hundreds of billions of dollars are going to bail out foreign investors. They know it, they demanded it, and the bill has been carefully written to make sure that can happen." - Brad Sherman , D-California.' That's right folks. You are going to have $700 billion - about 25% of the total Federal budget - put on your personal credit card (via taxes forever) in order to bail out foreign investors.") -- Marc Faber: Bailout Won't Stop Depression; Buy Gold ("A stock rally in the event that a [bailout] package is approved will be temporary and should be used as 'an opportunity' to sell, said [Marc] Faber.") -- Inflation In Stereo (The Mogambo Guru) -- $1 Quadrillion of Unregulated Debt at Core of Coming Derivatives Crisis -- Credit Cards To Implode 1Q 2009: Analyst -- You Won't Believe Where The $700bn Bailout Figure Came From ("Do you know where that very important $700-billion figure came from? Here's a quote from that Forbes story: "It's not based on any particular data point," a Treasury spokeswoman told Forbes.com Tuesday. "We just wanted to choose a really large number." They made it up to be sufficiently ginormous to frighten everyone into rapid action. And it worked.") -- Interbank Dollar Rate Hits 8% ("That high of around 8 percent is four times the Federal Reserve's 2 percent target rate and more than double the cost of borrowing dollars for three months as indicated by Thursday's London interbank offered rate (LIBOR) fixing.") -- Derivatives Deleveraging II, Debt Deflation, Gold & Bailout II -- Bailout with 'sweeteners' heads toward Senate win -- Bailout with 'sweeteners' heads toward Senate win -- And to cap all that from Cheryl, here are two items that I found linked at The Drudge Report: Clinton: 'It Sounds Dire, But Commerce Could Stop' and Why propping up banks will not rescue a debauched financial system

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Josh H. mentioned that there is a compatibility glitch in the Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2 browser that prevents it from displaying some web pages, including SurvivalBlog. But Josh quickly found a "fix" for the problem. If you install I.E. 8 Beta 2, then follow-up the installation with these simple "fix" steps:

Go to "Tools"
Go to "Compatibility View Settings"
Check the box "Display all websites in Compatibility View"
Click "Close"

This setting should be a "global" setting that "sticks" so that SurvivalBlog will display properly during all subsequent visits.

"The money markets have completely broken down, with no trading taking place at all. There is no market any more. Central banks are the only providers of cash to the market, no-one else is lending." - Christoph Rieger, fixed-income strategist with Dresdner Kleinwort.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

We had an amazing 17,945 unique visits yesterday, gobbling up almost 17 gigabytes of traffic. Those are both new records for SurvivalBlog. Thanks for continuing to spread the word about SurvivalBlog and making it such a success. It is not too late for your "head in the sand" relatives, friends, and co-workers to get themselves prepared. Spread the word! Even just a one line mention in your-e-mail footer would be a huge help. Here is what reader Paul G. uses in his footer: www.SurvivalBlog.com -- Bookmark it. It may save your life!

We've completed the judging for Round 18 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. First prize goes to Terry B., for his article "How To Make Den-Type Game Traps" that was posted on August 27th. He'll receive two valuable four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificates. (Together, they are worth up to $4,000!) Special thanks to Naish Piazza--Front Sight's founder and director--for his generosity. Be sure to check out their web site and class calendar. The Memsahib and I can both vouch for the quality of their training, from personal experience. It is amazing!

Second prize goes to Woodsman, for his article "What Will You Do When Your Stored Food Runs Out?" He will receive a course certificate from OnPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams)

Third prize goes to E.I.D. for "On Rural Retreat Safety and Secrecy". He will receive a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing.

Honorable mention prize goes to Josh in Montana for "Survival Medicine and Ditch Medicine". He will receive autographed copy of my novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse".

Note to the prize winners: Please e-mail us to let us know your snail mail addresses, so we can mail you the prizes.

Round 19 of the writing contest begins today, and will run for two months. It feature the same great prizes. So get busy writing and e-mail us your entries, folks! Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

As this is not a competition entry, it has not been reviewed by an outside set of eyes yet, and I'm sure its kind of disorganized, but this is some info about third world life, as I can see it here, after things stabilize.

My wife is from Peru. She was born during the Peruvian hyperinflation and transition to its next fiat currency, the Nuevo Sol. (Yeah, we're young whippersnappers) She recently started to help out in getting ready. What helped her was comparing the current economic climate here to Peru. This allowed her to correlate things that occur in her former patria with our situation. She is a source of info on the Third world medium sized city way of life.

In Third world Peru, everyone cooks with propane camp stoves, with big seven gallon bottles. There is no space built for an American style range, even in nice houses. All water is boiled before ingestion, except [commercially] bottled water. Trucks come with semi-clean water and people line up to fill up their buckets for washing and drinking. (after boiling) Hopefully you have a big tank on your roof to gravity feed it through your pipes, as the power goes out regularly, and your personal well and pump wont work.

Everyone had bars on every window and door. Houses not made of cement block are broken into through the walls. They're also too cheap/poor to put enough steel in the buildings, so they fall down easily in earthquakes. Re-bar is [used] only in the corners. Nobody has an exposed to the street yard. A courtyard inside larger places is the norm, off street parking, if you can afford a vehicle, is a must, or you wont be parking anything soon. Inyokern told me this concept: When things go really sour, everyone steals everything so often that everyone ends up with the same trash that nobody wants to steal anymore. e.g. I have a nice bike, it gets stolen, I get a new bike but not as nice as the first, it gets stolen, I buy the worst looking bike I can find. It stays. This is very true. People with nice hats walk around with a hand on their head. Political corruption is the norm. Most any government official can be bought for a couple hundred nuevo sols. Farmers carry guns. People walk on your roof at night.

Just about everyone is self employed. Selling food in the streets, tricycle and moto-taxis, home based Liquor stores, etc. Often if you sell higher "dollar" stuff, your customers don't even come in your building, money and product are exchanged though the door bars. Keyed locks on both sides. There is no such thing as a big box store. Even disposable diapers are bought one at a time.
People wear sandals called yanki. These are said to be made out of used car tires, but most tires I know of are steel belted, and you can't cut that with a knife. My two pair are made from rubber mining belt I think, as the tread pattern is cut by hand. The poor wear them, and they supposedly last a loooooong time.

In Peru, the power goes out all the time. Candles are common. People don't stock up there, the stores I guess have sufficient on hand to handle the outages and subsequent candle runs. The stores here are obviously not prepared for that.

Traffic in her small town is nearly non existent, but traffic in Lima is suicidal. Regards, - Tantalum Tom

Hi James,

These are hard times, indeed.
The parallels between the days before our own economy [in Argentina] collapsed and what’s going on today in America today are very hard to ignore.
Our local television seems to be getting some kind of sick kick out of all this.
They showing the comparisons, even editing politicians and economists speeches showing how similar they were to the ones the American politicians and economists are using right now. In some cases, they even said the exact same line, the only difference being the language.
About the article “Letter Re: What Are the Economic Collapse Indicators to Watch For?” I’d like to make a few comments.
Some of the signs we could actually verify during our own 2001 crisis;
*Limits to withdraw amounts per day. This happened just one or two days before banks actually closed.
*Sudden inflation. A few weeks before, but careful, it only turned into hyper after banks closed.
*Rumors of default. Those had been going on for a while and that’s when we slowly started investing elsewhere and slowly moving the money out of the accounts.
*Limits to moving fund out of the country
*Limits to the transactions. At the end you could just withdraw like $250 per week, if you found an ATM with money. Otherwise you had to suffer the terrible lines at he bank.
It’s just impossible to know exactly when it will hit, when banks will say bye bye, but careful, timing is everything.
In my case, we had dropped by the French Bank and asked for $2,000 USD.
The employee talked to the manager and the manager came to us looking nervous and said they didn’t have that kind of money right now, to come back tomorrow.
“Wait a minute.. you’re telling me you don’t have 2,000 lousy dollars, in the entire bank?”
That same day we went down town to other banks, closed the couple accounts left and one or two days later the crash hit and banks closed their doors.
Just a few days later, my wife’s father lost a 6 digit figure, their fallback life savings.
He was an elderly man, but the bank didn’t care at all of course. He died without seeing that money returned to him.
Do not expect any kind of mercy or sympathy from banks. You wont be getting any.
People needing medical treatment have died in this country before court orders came out demanding the bank to give the money to the person because of life or death situations.
Some people have died of heart attacks at the bank’s closed doors, hitting them with pans and fists.
Not trying to be dramatic here, but it did happen that way, and it’s important for people to understand how serious this is.
I know a run in the banks is something you’d like to avoid. But remember, that money is yours, and banks won't be giving it back to you if they close, you’ll loose a rather big percentage, and if the economy goes down, it will only be returned to you after months, even years.
Maybe it would be a good idea to take another look at the Wikipedia page that summarizes our 2001 economic crisis.

People should try to remain clam, but take the necessary precautions given the circumstances.
Take care James. God bless you and all the readers, grant them the peace of mind needed in these trying times. - FerFAL

I’m sort of reluctant to share this because, well, I might need to do it someday and its value is in the fact that most people don’t know it.

During Hurricane Ike my uncle, who lives in Houston, acquired use of a generator. That’s an interesting story in itself so I’ll divert for a second and elaborate: He didn’t own a generator but his next door neighbor did. Unfortunately, the neighbor had never run the generator and when they needed it, it wouldn’t start. My uncle is a trained mechanic (former career) and was able to fix it. In return for his help, the neighbor allowed my uncle to run an extension cord over to his house to keep the fridge and freezer going. This underscores the importance of having practical skills. Even if you can’t afford to store a lot of tangibles, having valuable skills can allow you to barter work for the things you need. I know you’ve said that a million times. Well there’s a shining example of the truth in it.

Back to the point I wanted to make: They didn’t have enough gas for the generator and quickly ran out. The stations were out, and even if they had gas, there was no power to pump it. So… My uncle is also a private pilot and flies out of a local general aviation airport. Almost all public airports sell AVGAS, [(aviation gasoline), one grade of] which is just highly refined 100 octane gasoline. It works fine in both cars and equipment [such as generators]. Nobody was flying in or out, which left the airport well stocked with gas and apparently, they also had a way to pump it. He drove up there and bought all he wanted. The only people who thought to buy avgas were other pilots. They bought all they could use. No lines, no competition, no fighting.

I’m not suggesting this as an alternative to keep a sufficient supply of fuel on hand. But it’s an additional resource if your supply runs out. As I read about the gas shortages in the southeast (right now), all I can think is that there are probably dozens if not hundreds of pilots gassing their cars up with avgas… and doing it very quietly. Best, - Matt R.

JWR Replies: Thanks for that reminder. (Using AVGAS in ground vehicles has been mentioned a few times in the blog.) Just keep in mind that there could be road tax issues, at least in most English-speaking countries. Also, most AVGAS (such as 100LL), is made in leaded formulations and those are not compatible for use with many of the newer vehicles that have catalytic converters. (Since leaded formulations quickly degrade catalytic converters.)

I noticed that spot silver dropped a full dollar per ounce on Tuesday, and spot gold was down about $30 per ounce--both moved by short term gains by the US dollar in international trade. Buy on "dip" days like these! As I've said before, I think that gold will outperform silver in the next run-up. Get out of dollars and into tangibles. But remember what Doc Sweeny calls The Five Gs. (GGGGG.) Get right with God and then acquire your guns, groceries, and ground before you buy any gold. Be advised: You can't eat gold, and Krugerrands make very expensive projectiles for a Wrist Rocket.

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We just got alarming news that the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) rate spiked this week, tripling to an all-time high of 6.875%. The LIBOR is the benchmark rate at which banks loan money to other banks. The spikes illustrates the absolute peril that the credit collapse has created, and the unprecedented level of distrust between banks. It will be interesting to see what this higher cost of inter-bank borrowing has as it trickles down to credit card interest rates and Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARMs). It is conceivable that monthly ARM payments could double. The global credit market has just suffered the equivalent of a massive myocardial infraction. Dr. Bernanke is greasing up the defibrillator paddles now...

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Eric found this at The Globe and Mail: Credit cards to ‘implode:' analyst

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Gary flagged this Time magazine op-ed piece: Let Risk-Taking Financial Institutions Fail. Gary's comment: The derivative threat has finally hit the [mainstream] news. I thought that you wouldn't be surprised, since you saw it coming.

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Reader "Stamps" mentioned a nonprofit organization that will send you free seeds with just a self addressed stamped envelope. They pick randomly from what they have available. Most are seeds that people harvest and donate to this project.

"The financial meltdown the economists of the Austrian School predicted has arrived. We are in this crisis because of an excess of artificially created credit at the hands of the Federal Reserve System. The solution being proposed? More artificial credit by the Federal Reserve. No liquidation of bad debt and malinvestment is to be allowed. By doing more of the same, we will only continue and intensify the distortions in our economy - all the capital misallocation, all the malinvestment - and prevent the market's attempt to re-establish rational pricing of houses and other assets." - Congressman Ron Paul, My Answer to The President. (See also the short video clip of Ron Paul's address before congress on corporatism and the destruction of the dollar.)

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