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Friday, December 31, 2010

Outlawing Cash

Can ya tell I've had finances on my mind lately? ;-)

As they say, "Money makes the world go 'round," and I believe that to be true.  At least in a modern society, you must have a way of exchanging your work and products for goods and services you need by means other than direct barter.

So we have money.

Without going into a well-deserved rant on taxation, basically everything you buy or sell is taxed at some level.  As government has grown at every level, their appetite for tax dollars has grown as well.  Government keeps finding ways to dig deeper into our pockets.  Like a heroin addict looking for a fix, government is getting "creative" in writing laws designed feed their habit.

I was having a conversation with our employee at the PM shop.  The topic was the federal government gold confiscations of the 1933.  He was worried that it was going to happen again.

I told him my belief was that there wouldn't be an outright confiscation of gold as was done in 1933.  Remember:  We were still on the gold standard back then.  The dollar's value was linked to the value of gold.

The confiscation was done at that time so that the government could - over night - devalue to the dollar.  Once the gold was in the government's hands, FDR raised the price of gold from $20 to $35.  Those paper dollars you had received the prior day from the government for your gold were now worth nearly 75% less.

Thank you very much.

This time around, I don't think gold (and silver) will so much be confiscated, as the the government will attempt to make them worthless.  That brings us back to taxation.

With cash, gold and silver, there is the opportunity to consummate a business transaction without the government getting their piece of the action.  That is an unacceptable situation for government at every level.  So they're working feverishly to fix it.

Most folks have heard about the IRS form 1099 law that was added to the ObamaCare bill.  Starting in 2012, any time a business spends $600 or more with a single entity - be it a business or just a citizen - a form 1099 must be completed and sent in to the government.

There has been an outcry from American business that this will add an undue burden for the record keeping needed to comply with the law.  Imagine that you are the owner of a maid service with a number of cars you lend to your maids to go from house to house.  You give them a cash stipend each day to buy lunch and gas for the car.

Your employees will not only have to retain the receipts for the tax deduction, YOU will now need to keep track of every business to whom your employees paid cash.  In every instance, you will need to get the Tax Payer ID of every single vendor to whom you paid cash.  You will need to track this information from the very first transaction so that you can be sure if the $600 threshold has been reached.  You will need computers and systems to manage this process or be liable for fines from the government.

Through the cries from businesses that this was too onerous of a requirement, I've recently seen a government solution to our problems:  The 1099 requirement will only be enforced for non-electronic transactions.

Hallelujah!  Nanny has provided a solution to the problem they created!

Only the evil, poor-people-hating businesses that deal in cash will have to comply with the new 1099 law.

So, if you as a private citizen, have a pile of gold and silver coins, and you want to convert them into cash, your friendly coin or jewelry shop will have to take your name, address, social security number, thumbprint and probably a blood sample, and keep track of the transaction.  Maybe it will be as simple as just running a wand over that RFID chip implanted in your wrist.  Go over six-hundred bucks, and Uncle Sugar knows about the transaction.

Hey, Joe Public - when you sold that gold to the store, you know that you're required to pay taxes on the profit you made, right?  Just checkin'.....

If you've been paying attention, starting on January 1, 2011 (dat would be tomorrow), electronic transactions will be reported to the government.  Yep, if you buy trinkets on eBay using PayPal, or buy a vacuum cleaner online from another state, those transactions will now likely be reported to the federal government.

(I say likely, because at the start of this new program, the electronic processors will only be required to report on businesses that do $20,000 in transactions and at least 200 transactions.  Anyone want to bet if those levels will be lowered and eventually eliminated?)

So, the federal government will have this repository of information on who bought products and services electronically.  They'll know that  Bob's Vacuum Cleaner Sales brought in $750,000 from credit card sales last year.  That number had better match the numbers that Bob puts on his tax return.

And let's say you live in California and Bob is in Texas.  You get that vacuum cleaner without paying sales taxes.  Woo hoo!

Wrong.  Most states, including California, require you to pay a Use Tax if you didn't pay a sales tax.  Until now, they didn't have any way of knowing who bought stuff from out of state and then didn't voluntarily pay the Use Tax when they filled out their Ca tax returns.

Now they'll be able to get that information from the credit card processors.  Convenient, huh?

Accept The Challenge

Note:  Just in case anyone with a .GOV email address reads this little ditty, what follows is an academic exercise.  Financial War Gaming, if you will.  I think that's still legal in America.

It is not a suggestion to or by anyone to break the law.

So, the challenge is, "How do people with gold and silver convert that to cash without the transaction being reported to the government?"

The most obvious answer will be the black market.  Literally, clandestine transactions in dark back streets (or Starbucks, as is done quite often nowadays).  Exchanging real money for some fiat currency.

It's what people now do in Argentina.  You have your inflation hedge - gold and silver - in your possession until you need to buy something.  You then convert your PMs into cash, and buy groceries at the store, for instance.

Still, when you spend that cash here in freedom-loving America, the transaction will need to be recorded.  That's going to lead to more direct purchases of goods and services being done on-the-sly in precious metals.
This makes it even more crucial for us to become as self-sufficient as possible so that we can limit our interaction with entities that keep records.

Another answer will be to wait out this phase of our history - to see if we as a society come back to our senses.  Back in 1933, people with gold shipped it overseas.  Still, it wasn't technically legal for Americans to own gold until President Ford passed a law in 1974.

We had 41 years of law breakers.  That's a long time to be a desperado.

Transferring gold is against the law now, unless -surprise!- you report your shipments to the government.  And if you "forget" to do that, we've now got agreements with most foreign banks whereby they have to report your accounts to the US.

It's an ongoing game of cat and mouse.  They zig so we zag.  At a minimum, you should keep paper records of your PM purchases so that you have a tax basis for your purchases.  If you must sell publicly, you will only be liable for the gain between your purchase and sale prices.  Without that documentation, expect to pay income or capital gains taxes on the entire sale price.

Not surprisingly, I am continually reminded of this Ayn Rand quote:
There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.
They don't outlaw cash, they just make it impractical to use.  Slim difference.

Oh, BTW, Happy New Years.

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Copyright 2010 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Best Bang For Your PM Bucks

Back in August - just about 4 months ago - I wrote this observation ("Mr. Orwell?  Paging Mr. Orwell...") -

Also, the price multiple between gold and silver has been narrowing.  Just a week ago, the multiple was 68:1 (68 ounces of silver cost the same as 1 ounce of gold).  As of today, that ratio has dropped to under 65:1.. 
Wut dat mean?  Since 1970, that ratio has been as high as 89:1 and as low as 20:1.  The ratio during the 20th century was 47:1.  In the "olden days" it used to be fixed at around 15:1

Well, folks, the ratio has slimmed even more.  Lots more.  We're now at 47:1.

What does this mean?  We're at the average for the 20th century, but nowhere near the low of the century, nor the historical average of 15: or 16:1.

I think silver is still a better buy than gold, and I still believe that both will continue to rise in price.  Why?  Of all of the economic data that is tossed around - unemployment, green shoots, stock market, housing, blah, blah, blah - the one that I feel very confident in is the US having future inflation.  Maybe even hyper-inflation.

Our government has told us they have a current policy of inflating our currency (QE2).  Their official reasoning is so that we don't have a bout of deflation - price contraction.  I think a big part is that they can still print up money with absolute impunity, so they're doin' it while the doin' is good.

How long that luxury will last is unknown.  I DO know that the buyers of our federal debt are not pleased.

If you're going to buy precious metals (PMs), you have some options.  Different types of gold and silver have different premiums.

Generally speaking, the higher the premium, the more "liquid" the coin or bullion.  For instance, for one ounce of gold, you will pay the highest premium on a US Gold Eagle.  BUT, you also have the greatest confidence that you will be able to convert it into cash or tangible goods at some point in the future.

Take a look at these spread sheets (done a few days ago).  They show the premium you will typically pay for various types of gold.  These are "ballpark" figures.

These are online company purchases.  You'll most likely pay more than this when buying from a PM store.  The reason for this is two-fold:  Carrying cost/market risk, and anonymity.  Most stores like the one I co-own do not carry vast amounts of coin gold in-house.  Too much market risk.

And remember:  If you buy online, there's a paper trail.  I'll just leave it at that.

These numbers are VERY fluid - sometimes higher percentages, sometimes lower (the weights are the amount of pure gold per coin, not the weight of the coin) -

When I did this, there was an aberration in the market.  Usually, the coin with the highest premium is the 1/10 ounce American Eagle.  For some reason, the Canadian Maple Leaf 1/0 ouncer has this distinction.

UPDATE:  Also, the gold Panda's are at a larger premium for some reason.  These are usually MUCH lower than American or Canadian gold.  It's that whole "supply and demand" deal!

As you can see, the best value in "Big Coins" - 1+ ounce - is the Mexican 50 peso coin.  For coins that are more affordable, the gold British Sovereigns and the gold 20 Francs (France, Belgium, Switzerland - plus the Italian 20 lira) are the best bargains for "Small Coins" ( or "fractional gold").

If you don't want to go with government coins, you can opt for Credit Suisse or other similar bars and ingots. You can generally get them in 1 ounce sizes for around 2% over spot.  With that premium, personally, I'd still opt for government coinage, and go with the Mexican 50 peso.


Silver is much the same - American coins rule the roost.

The big winner with silver is the 90% or "junk" silver.  Last January, I did  an article on how to understand and buy this stuff ("Buying 90% Silver Coins").  In August of this year, I did another article on buying bullion in general ("Buying Precious Metals, Part 2").  There's some kind of neat stuff on the actual differences in silver content between differently aged coins.

Any ways, I personally love Junk Silver.  A recent accounting of my "stash" shows that fully one-third of my PMs are in Junk Silver.  That includes gold and silver stashes.

To me, it's the best of both worlds:  It's American coinage, and it is cheap as hell!

I stay the furthest away from Morgan and Peace dollars.  Personally, I think they are way over-rated, at least for the reasons I buy silver.  Although they are 90% silver, they are a bit heavier than $1 face value of Junk Silver.  To have a similar value, you'd need to get them at around $22.60 a piece (at silver spot of $29.20).

If you CAN get the Morgans/Peace dollars at those prices, snap them up.  American's have a love affair with them, and they have a great chance of having numismatic (collector) values in the event we somehow dodge the inflationary times ahead of us.

The big bars - 10 and 100 ounces - have low premiums, but are heavily discounted when you go to sell them.  At least in our neck of the woods, they're not highly desirable.  The 100 ouncers, in particular, are VERY volatile.  Some times you can't give them away, and some times they fly off our shelves.  I've yet to figure them out!

ONLY buy non-governmental coins and bars if they're stamped with their purity and weight.  For the big bars, try to stick to brand names like Engelhard, J&M and Academy.

There are LOTS of silver rounds out there made of Sterling silver (92.5% pure).  Many times, this will be stamped on the edge of the coin.  Try and stay away from these.  Your discount when re-selling them will be very steep, as they are often bought at scrap-silver prices and melted down.

Accept The Challenge

As always, only buy PMs if all of your other preps are up-to-snuff.

Buying PMs clearly have some risk associated with them.  No matter how you slice it, they're an investment - just like buying food storage and ammunition are an investment.  Prices on all of this stuff may collapse.  Our job is to interpret the "economic tea leaves" and hope we make the right decision.

The big difference between investing in tangible goods - PMs, food, ammo, etc. - and "traditional" investments like Mutual Funds is that the value of tangible goods will never be zero.

Stocks, bonds and fiat currency can't make the same claim.

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Copyright 2010 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Lessons Learned From Florida

Lots of stuff to learn from the recent shooting in Florida - from both sides of the gun.

You've all seen the videos (if not, go here):  Some disgruntled husband of a laid off school worker, goes to a school board meeting, and shoots up the place - firing at the board members.

From inside of 10 feet.

He misses every shot.  Except for the one to his own head.

Pretty damned good outcome.  And lucky as hell.

First, the "duh" factor:  Gun-free zones, aren't.  At least not for criminals.  Only for law-abiding citizens.  When will this sink in? 

Lessons  -

If the bad guy gives you permission to leave, leave.  No reason to add to the body count of some nut.

Lady with the purse - Unless you have the ability to meet force with equal or greater force, make better use of your time.  Call the police or at least get a weapon that has a chance of disabling the attacker.  A bat, a knife, pepper spray.  Not a purse.

She's lucky to be alive.

Why the school board members aren't dead -

This is due, at least in part, because the gunman had horrible technique.  I know that sounds odd, but I want you to take what he did and don't make the same mistakes if you find yourself in a situation where you need to fire your gun in self-defense.

First, as this image from the video shows, he was standing bold upright.  When firing your gun, you want to have your upper body act as a shock absorber for the recoil of the shot.  Lean into your shots.  You want to direct that recoil into your large upper body, and not into your weaker wrists or elbows.

He is also not aiming the gun.  He's basically pointing it in the general direction of his target.

Law abiding citizens know that you only want to have "aimed fire" - none of this shoot 'em stuff from the movies and TV.

The best stance and presentation is the Isosceles stance.  You are using two hands on the gun, with your arms held straight out in front of you towards your target.  Your jaw line is at your biceps, which brings the gun's sights in line with your eyes.

In this second shot, you see that the gun is now pointing straight up after his first shot.  All of the recoil was transferred to his elbow.  Obviously, follow-up shots will be more difficult, as getting back on target will take more time.

Also notice in this picture where the fired round has impacted (click image - papers "puffed" up off the desk).  Low and to the left of the target (from the shooter's perspective).

This is the most common shooting error I see with my students.  When they squeeze the trigger, they also squeeze the lower three fingers on their shooting hand.  This "all move together" approach pulls the muzzle down low and to the left, taking your shots off target.

As I teach my students, you must think of your trigger finger as an "independent contractor" - it moves and acts separately from the grip fingers.  To reinforce this on the range, I'll have them wiggle their trigger finger before a shooting string.

Squeeze, don't jerk the trigger.  Independent contractor.

This knowledge - that unskilled or nervous shooters will likely shoot low and to the left - can be used to your advantage.  If you're on the wrong side of the barrel (facing a shooter) and have the opportunity to move, the shots will likely miss to your right.  You want to move to your left and back if possible.

If you have a left handed shooter, it's obviously just the opposite. 

So that you're not thinking too hard in a stressful situation, I teach my Advanced students to move in the same direct as the gun is being presented.  Move to the side of the gun.  And move away from the shooter, never closer, as you will improve his or her "aim" by making the target larger.

Movement and distance can save your life.

Accept The Challenge

I shoot a lot.  More each month than the vast majority of my readers.  Still, I know that if I were in a situation where I had to shoot at another human being in defense of my life, or the life of another, I would be nervous as all hell.

I know that my shots would not land precisely where I intended.

To increase my probability of success, I want to ingrain in my head all of the technique I know.  The more proper technique I follow, the higher the likelihood of success.

For instance, in a stressful situation, my aim might not be perfect, but if I have my stance, grip and trigger pull correct, I'll likely hit my target.  I know that my stance alone will likely get my shots in "center mass" out to 10 yards - about 3 times the distance from which this guy was shooting.

BTW, if you're shooting one handed, your stance should be the same - with the gun centered in your body, leaning forward with your jawline at your extended bicep.  The only adjustment is to slightly over-grip with the lower three fingers to add a bit of stability to your shots.

Of course, practice is the key.  Regular, consistent practice at the range so that if you're ever placed in a horrible situation where you have to defend yourself with a handgun, you'll be the one going back to your family.

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Copyright 2010 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ooooooh, Look.... Kittens! Now, Off With Their Heads!

Subterfuge and usurpation.  The two things our government seems to do very well.

Look what's happening with this Wikileaks deal.  To recap:

The US government screwed up big-time by giving a 22 year old Specialist, access to classified information which had nothing whatsoever to do with his duties in Iraq.  He got hold of stuff, and like the spineless maggot he is, he released the information.

That's treason, and if found guilty, he should die for his crimes.

To deflect the heat from their inept data security procedures, they're employing subterfuge by puffing up their chests and going after Wikileaks.

Their response is to chase the cow that's walked out of the barn instead of closing the barn door.  But the barn door is still open.

Like the actions taken after 9/11 with the USA PATRIOT act, we're all going to pay for their ineptitude by having more of our rights taken away from us.

Also, like the USA PATRIOT act, they're giving it a snazzy, patriotism-inspiring title -
The Securing Human Intelligence and Enforcing Lawful Dissemination Act (SHIELD) would give the government the flexibility to pursue Assange for allegedly outing confidential US informants.
SHIELD - I feel safer already.

Yeah.  Sure.  Can I see a show of hands from anyone who thinks this law will be used exclusively to go after individuals whose only act is to disclose the names of confidential informants?

Are you folks the same ones that raised your hand when you were told that the RICO laws would only be used against mob bosses, and the PATRIOT act was only going to be used to stop evil terrorists?
Senator Brown said the law would prevent anyone from compromising national security in a similar manner.
Ahhhh.  The fascists have shown their hand a bit early.  Can I see another show of hands from anyone that DOESN'T think the definition of, "compromising national security" will be expanded?  Say, to be used to go after anyone who does anything that isn't in the perceived best interest of our governement.

I wonder if the Pentagon Papers would have seen the light of day if this law were in place.  Surely, it was clear as day that their disclosure would bring down the presidency of the US.  Isn't taking down the Commander In Chief a compromise of national security?

This disclosure of classified information should be used as a wake up call to our government about the porous nature of our national data security practices.  A private business would have already completed a review and implemented internal changes.

"But the US data stores are too large to manage"  or some other excuse would be used.  How often do you hear of massive data owners like WalMart or IBM or credit reporting agencies being hacked and their most precious secrets being released?


Those companies have massive data stores.  The lower security stuff might get hit once in a while, but their business and strategic plans are tightly controlled, with "Need To Know" access.  Top Secret, if you will.  They realize that if these secrets fall into the wrong hands, it could mean the end of their company.

A government has no such incentives.  If they mess up, they employ subterfuge and mis-direction and, in this case, put the Fear of God into the press.  Rat us out, and you're comin' after you.


Look at the propaganda tools our "leaders" are using to sell this rotting corpse of a bill to the gullible public -
"WikiLeaks presents a clear and present danger to the national security of the United States,"
"Our sources are bravely risking their lives when they stand up against the tyranny of al Qaeda, the Taliban and murderous regimes,"
"Our foreign representatives, allies and intelligence sources must have the clear assurance that their lives will not be endangered by those with opposing agendas,"
The way you protect the lives of our buddies is to do your job, and protect our data.  It's really that simple.

Coming after whistleblowers - official journalists or not - sends a chilling signal to the free press.  That includes websites like Wikileaks, bloggers, forum participants, and the Main Stream Media.

We must not allow that to happen.  This is America, after all.  Right?

Accept The Challenge

We can't dismantle the Constitution in order to protect it.

It's because of crap like this that I've never been a Republican or a Democrat.  The Dems expand the scope of government hand-outs, and the Repubs expand the fascist state.

Both of them do this in the name of making America a better place.

I've noted in the past how our laws have been turned upside down with regards to banking.  The Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) used to require a government official to present a subpeona before they could access your personal records.

It was slowly being changed leading up to 9/11.  Then, after the PATRIOT act, if a bank didn't report on your vaguely defined "suspicous" activities - like taking out more than some bureaucrat-determined dollar amount - the bank is punished.

They are now required to breach your privacy - all in the name of safety and The American Way.

SHIELD me, baby.  SHIELD me?

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Copyright 2010 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Home Canned Burger

I could have sworn I've done a previous post here on canning meat.  I did one on another site a few years ago, but I thought I copied it over here.  Apparently not!

I mentioned a while back that I bought a pork butt or shoulder at a great price.  Here's how I turned it into home canned storage -

I started with a 21 pound portion.  I boned the piece and ended up with 14 pounds of meat and fat.

With any kind of meat canning, I firmly believe that you want to cover the meat in the jar with a fluid.  Some folks just add water and a bit of salt.  I like adding a broth or stock.

I took the bones from the pieces, and boiled them up with salt and a couple of bay leaves.

I let these bones come to a boil.  I skimmed off the fat and flotsam, and kept it at the ready.

The slabs of meat were cut into small pieces that were able to fit into my meat grinder.  I then ground up the meat to make my own burger.

When you're canning meat, you can do it hot- or cold-packed.  With cold-packed, you just add the chunked meat to your jars - about 1 pound per pint - cover with your liquid (3/4 inch head space), then pressure can the meat (I go 10 lbs pressure for 75 minutes for pints).

Hot-packed is basically the same process, but you're adding cooked meat.  When I make burger, I ALWAYS use hot-packed, as it is way too easy for the inner-most burger to not be fully cooked because of the compact nature of the meat.

I took my 14 pounds of burger and cooked it up in 3-4 pound batches.

I SLIGHTLY undercook the meat.  I'm not browning it, I'm really just rendering some of the fat off.

I then take each batch of cooked meat and put it in a collander in the sink.  I do this to let as much fat run off as is possible.  If I were in an emergency situation, I would skip this step, as I would want to retain the fat.

As you'll see later, a good amount of the fat is still retained.  After I cooked up all of the meat, my 14 pounds of meat and fat had turned into 11 pound of cooked pork.  That means my original boned meat was about an 80/20 mixture.

Before I packed the meat, I wanted to turn it into a quasi-Italian Sausage.  I went to my recipe bin and added the following ingredients.  Please note that this recipe is for 5 pound batches.  Since I started with 14 pounds - or 3 recipe's worth - I tripled the recipe, NOT doubled it for the 11 pounds of post-cooking weight.

Italian Sausage recipe for 5 pounds of raw pork -

3T fresh garlic, minced
2T salt
1T ground black pepper
3T fennel seeds, roughly ground
3T dried parsley flakes
2T red pepper flakes

This makes a nice, VERY spicy Italian sausage.  Try it with two TEASPOONS of red pepper flakes for one with just a bit of a "bite".  When I make this sausage raw and stuff it into casings, I also add 1/2 cup of grated Romano cheese, and 1 cup of water.  It's a great sausage!

Back to the canning:

I filled each pint with the ground sausage mixture - about 3/4 pound worth, cooked - and covered it with the pork stock I had made earlier.  I went to within 3/4 inches of the lip of the jar.

I lidded everything up, did the 10 lbs pressure for 75 minutes gig, and viola! - home canned ground sausage.

After the jars cooled, I still got a "cap" of fat that rose to the top of the jars.  I'm OK with that, as it adds additional flavor to this sausage.

Accept The Challenge

Don't assume your fridge and freezer will always be working.  Home canning meat is a great way to do some long-term storage while not having to worry about keeping the meat refrigerated.

Be sure to check all of the lids for a proper seal after they've cooled!  With the fat in the meat, you will sometimes get some on the rim and not get a good seal.  One of my jars failed to seal, so it went into a lasagna the next day.

I've talked in the past about the texture of home canned meats.  I'm not a big fan of the texture of chunks of beef, pork or chicken breast.  It's just like canned tuna - flaky.  Canned burger, on the other hand, has the same mouth-feel as fresh-ground burger.

BTW, you may be thinking, "Why didn't he just buy ground pork or beef instead of boning the meat himself?"  Two reasons.

First, I know EXACTLY what is in my burger because I "produced" it myself.  No snouts, ears or other parts that might find their way into commercially ground meat.

Secondly, price.  I bought the pork for $1 per pound ($21).  After boning it, I had 14 lbs remaining, so the cost-per-pound was $1.50.  The commercially ground pork at the store was $1.99/lb, so I saved seven bucks.  Not retirement money, but every little bit counts!

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Copyright 2010 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Friday, December 10, 2010


I'm PO'd on a bunch of subjects right now.  Duck n' cover, baby!

Why does it seem like all of the rich guys - Buffet, Gates, Bloomberg, et al - all want to raise our taxes?  Of course, they want for nothing, so it's easy to say they're willing to pay more taxes "for the greater good."

One of the implications of their push is that the government knows better how to spend and manage our money than we do.  Well, if they think government does such a great job with our money, why don't THEY give their money to the government?

Seriously, the federal government has a process - now accepting Visa and Mastercard - where you can make a donation to lower the federal deficit.

Instead, these pompous asses donate great portions of their fortunes to private charities.  Why not give it to Uncle Sugar?  Clearly they've said that they think we all need to give more, and let some faceless bureaucrat dispense our dollars.  But they are more enlightened, so they get to direct their dollars as they see fit.

Bite me.

The Republicans are going to shoot themselves in the collective foot.  They're loading up all of the new House committees with good ol' boy party-liners.  They're as corrupt and bought-off as the Democrats they're replacing.

One of the guys - Rogers from Kentucky - has a background as an earmarks dude.  The Prince of Pork.  Nice.

They're fiscal conservatives until they get in power.  Then they're just [deleted expletive] bastards.

They don't get it any better than the Democrats got it.  Good luck with that strategy come November 2012.

The Wikileaks site is the equivalent of a newspaper.  They didn't commit espionage or any of the other garbage they're saying.  They are publishing the data they've received.  That's their job.

The soldier that stole the data is a traitor, and should be hung by his neck until dead.

Don't confuse or meld the two.

An interesting, albeit somewhat dry, explanation of hyperinflation and currency devaluations.

Wow, print up money and your currency goes to hell?  Who'd a-thunk it?

Sound like anyone you know???


I find this disturbing as all get-out:  WalMart is teaming up with the Department Of Homeland Security to encourage you to be looking for bad guys - where ever they may be.  Be alert!  Be suspicious!  Be an agent of the state!
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano today announced the expansion of the Department’s national “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign to hundreds of Walmart stores across the country—launching a new partnership between DHS and Walmart to help the American public play an active role in ensuring the safety and security of our nation.

“Homeland security starts with hometown security, and each of us plays a critical role in keeping our country and communities safe,” said Secretary Napolitano. “I applaud Walmart for joining the ‘If You See Something, Say Something’ campaign. This partnership will help millions of shoppers across the nation identify and report indicators of terrorism, crime and other threats to law enforcement authorities.”
The Drudge Report article mentions "SAR's" but doesn't say what that stands for.  It stands for Suspicious Activity Reports.

Banks have had to fill these things out whenever you access your own money in "suspicious" ways.  Like make a large cash deposit or withdrawal.  Not just over $10k, but whenever it is "out of pattern".

Yikes!  Terrorist Alert!

From Wikipedia -
The report can start with any bank employee. They are generally trained to be alert for suspicious activity, such as people trying to wire money out of the country without identification, or someone with no job who starts depositing large amounts of cash into an account. Employees are trained to communicate their suspicion up their chain of command where further decisions are made about whether to file a report or not.
Uhm, how would the bank know if you have a job or not?  Ah, heck, just report 'em.
Unauthorized disclosure of a SAR filing is a federal criminal offense. In other words, any bank employee who has a suspicion is trained to discuss the suspicion only with their supervisors, and not anyone else, including the customer who is under suspicion and coworkers. The fact that an SAR has been filed is also supposed to be a secret.
Read that whole paragraph again.  If an employee tells you they have filed an SAR on you, THEY have committed a federal offense.

But wait, there's more!
An individual or organization is precluded from discovering the existence of a SAR filed that includes their name.
That means that you have no ability to do a Freedom of Information Act request or contact the managing federal organization, FinCEN, to see if you've been reported.

And now, Wally World employees will be trained on how to do this.  Don't piss of the mouth-breather in the auto parts aisle, or you may be reported.

As the Drudge Report article notes -
In the coming months, the Department will continue to expand the “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign nationally with public education materials and outreach tools designed to help America’s businesses, communities and citizens remain vigilant and play an active role in keeping the county safe.
Let the Propaganda Campaign begin!  I feel safer already...

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Copyright 2010 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Uncle Ben's Warm and Fuzzy

Did you see Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke last night on 60 Minutes?

He came out with some powerful statements:
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said large U.S. budget deficits threaten financial stability and the government can’t continue indefinitely to borrow at the current rate to finance the shortfall.

“Unless we demonstrate a strong commitment to fiscal sustainability in the longer term, we will have neither financial stability nor healthy economic growth,”

“Maintaining the confidence of the financial markets requires that we, as a nation, begin planning now for the restoration of fiscal balance.”

Bernanke’s comments signal that the central bank sees risks of a relapse into financial turmoil even as credit markets show signs of stability. He said the Fed won’t finance government spending over the long term, while warning that the financial industry remains under stress and the credit crunch continues to limit spending.
Oh, wait.  My bad.

Uncle Ben didn't say those things last night.  He made those statements a year and a half ago in testimony to Congress.

In that very same testimony, he made a very strong statement regarding fiscal restraint.
“Either cuts in spending or increases in taxes will be necessary to stabilize the fiscal situation,” Bernanke said in response to a question. “The Federal Reserve will not monetize the debt.”
My, my, my.  How times have changed.

In the 60 Minutes interview, Uncle Ben told us he's going to break out the Federal Reserve's checkbook and go on a buying spree.

No, not for Christmas presents to stimulate the economy.  But to buy US Treasuries.

To monetize our debt.
Last month, Bernanke announced the Fed's intent to buy $600 billion in U.S. Treasury securities, which is supposed to have the effect of lowering rates on long term loans for things like cars and homes.

Bernanke wanted to emphasize that these are the Fed's own reserves. It's not tax money. It does not add to the federal deficit.
Uncle Ben then went into more detail about the FRB printing presses -
"One myth that's out there is that what we're doing is printing money. We're not printing money. The amount of currency in circulation is not changing. The money supply is not changing in any significant way."
When I heard that statement - that the FRB has some sort of reserve account somewhere, and that they won't be printing up money - I pondered how I could find out what the balance sheet of the FRB might look like.  I wanted to see that $600 Billion Pot-Of-Gold we've got somewhere.  It must be the mythical Obama Stash I'd heard about in the past.

To find this data would surely be an angst-filled process consisting of hours of research.  Thank Goodness a news organization like 60 Minutes had a crack staff available to do this work and verify Bernanke's statements.

But they gave him a pass.  No questions about this massive $600 Billion reserve.  So I jumped on that new-fangled Inter-web thingy, and found the FRB's balance sheet.  It took me maybe 30 seconds.

Uhm, there's no $600 Billion laying around.

[Don't glaze over here - this will be quick!] 

On a balance sheet, your assets (the stuff you own) equal your liabilities (the money you owe to others) plus your net worth.

The FRB balance sheet shows that they have $2.349 trillion in assets.  They have $2.293 Trillion in liabilities.  That leaves $56 Billion in net worth.

[See?  Not so painful]

Now, if they have some big ol' reserve account, it would be listed in their Liabilities - this is money that is "spoken for".  I can't find it.

Shouldn't 60 Minutes have at least questioned this assertion?  People from around the world - from US lawmakers and business people to the heads of other world governments - are calling this BS. 

If Bernanke suddenly has an answer for his many critics, don't you think 60 Minutes might have wanted a deeper explanation other than, "I gots a stash, dude!"

Oh yeah.  And what about that whole "monetizing debt" thing?  He testified in front of Congress that they would not do this.

He then turned around and did exactly that right after he made the statement with the first round of the Obama bailout.  He's now coming out of the closet as a full-blown monetizer, but no one in our government seems to be doing a damned thing about it.

Accept The Challenge

That bastard Bernanke is very good at splitting hairs. 

He says he won't be increasing the "currency in circulation" - and he's right.  Scroll back up and read his exact quote.  He won't be printing up any more paper dollars.

The FRB breaks money into two general categories - currency in circulation, and digital money.  Together, they're considered our "money supply".

Currency in circulation is the physical paper money.  Everything else is digital.  We have around $800 billion in Currency in Circulation and about $8 TRILLION in digital bucks for a total money supply of around $8.8 trillion.

Uncle Ben won't be running the physical money presses, but the digital ones.  He'll let his fingers do the printing. 

By digitally producing another $600 billion - a mere 6.8% increase in the money supply - he can stand by his statement that he's not "significantly" increasing the money supply.

What we get is a devalued dollar that will buy less.  Thanks, Uncle Ben.  Got any of that name-sake rice layin' around in reserve?

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Copyright 2010 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

How Much is Enough?

From Thurday's post ("Before and After"), I got a question posted by long-time commenter 'suek' (thanks!).  She asked the simple question:  How much is enough?

Great question.

As with most things, the answer is, "It depends".  Each person, each family, each community is different.

I've noted a number of times that I think of prepping as insurance.  I guess I'd turn the question around and ask, "How much do you need?"

When we buy life insurance, most folks try to buy more than they need.  You want some cushion.  You add up all of the debts you'd like to pay off, or you determine how much money you'd need each month if the "breadwinner" in the household passed.  You do some math, and come up with a number.

Your emergency is unexpected death, and your plan is cash for the future.

What emergency or situation are you prepping for?  What is your worst, "most likely to occur" event?

A 3-day ice storm?  An earthquake that levels your house?  The aftermath of a hurricane or tornado?

Maybe it's not a natural disaster.  Maybe it's economic collapse like Argentina.  Or Zimbabwe.  Or Wiemar Republic.

Or Ireland, Greece, Iceland or (soon to come) Portugal and Spain.

Maybe you think that our government printing up $600 Billion in new money isn't going to help us, but it's going to hurt us?  How?  What can you do?

Maybe you think the recently passed S-510 bill will eventually morph into the government confiscating small farms and home gardens - a power that will be granted if this bill becomes law.  (Quick question:  point out for me the amendment or article in the Constitution granting the federal government these powers - I can't seem to find them in my copy)

Now, back to confiscations - of course, that would never happen.  That would be as silly as suggesting government agents would make a weapons-drawn, tactical entry to a dairy - a dairy - to seize milk products which had harmed no one, and which were being sold to willing buyers.

You may be planning for all or none of these.  You may have other reasons or events for which you prep.  What you need to do is determine how much money, land, food, water, equipment - whatever - you need to be successful when/if your event occurs.

As commenter Andrea suggested, "Then do some more."  How much?  I dunno.  25%?  50%?  Double?  It's up to you.

Past glimpses into history -

>>The Weimar Republic depression lasted 14 years.

>>Argentina's big boo-boo is 34 years and counting.  Their economy collapsed in 2001 - after nearly 20 years of hyperinflation.
Argentina was subject to military dictatorship (alternating with weak, short-lived democratic governments) for many years, that resulted in a number of significant economic problems. During the National Reorganization Process (1976–1983) huge debt was acquired for money that was later lost in unfinished projects (Mythical 'Shovel-ready projects' - .ed), the Falklands War (Iraq and Afghanistan? - .ed), and the state's takeover of private debts (bank bailouts - .ed); in this period, a neoliberal economic platform was introduced. By the end of the military government the country's industries were severely affected and unemployment, calculated at 18% (though official figures claimed 5%) (tee-hee-hee - .ed), was at its highest point since the Great Depression.

In 1983, democracy in the country was restored with the election of president Raúl Alfonsín. The new government's plans included stabilizing Argentina's economy including the creation of a new currency (the austral, first of its kind not to carry the word peso as part of its name), for which new loans were required. The state eventually became unable to pay the interest of this debt and confidence in the austral collapsed. Inflation, which had been held to 10 to 20% a month, spiraled out of control. In July 1989, Argentina's inflation reached 200% that month alone, topping 5,000% for the year. During the Alfonsin years unemployment did not substantially increase but real wages fell by almost half (to the lowest level in fifty years). Amid riots President Alfonsín resigned five months before ending his term and Carlos Menem, who was already President-elect, took office.
Can you imagine that?  10% to 20% inflation per month?  As things turned out, those were, "The good old days."

And who woulda thunk it that a government would lie about unemployment numbers?

Check out Ferfal's blog ("Surviving In Argentina") to get an up-close-and-personal view of what is STILL going on.

>>The US's Great Depression - 11, 12 years?

Accept The Challenge

As I've said before, no one knows what's going to happen in the future, but we have some very good, recent history to guide us.

Prepping is more like Whole Life insurance than Term Life, in that you have something tangible even if you don't need to use your policy.  Worse case, with preps you have food, water, gold, silver, knowledge, skills and equipment - all of which have value and utility.

Figuring out how much you need for your life is the key.  Drink in the data.  Question your assumptions.  Check and double-check your math. 

Look at history.  Let it be a guide, not necessarily a foregone conclusion.  Look at the similarities AND the differences.

Be flexible and adapt to changes... they will happen.
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Copyright 2010 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Before And After

The "shut your pie-hole" red flags are starting to flap in the wind. 

I think we've reached, or are close to the time when Nanny is unable to provide for the Dependent Class.  Those that have provided for themselves will be further chastised so that public opinion "justifies" the further degradation of your property rights.

It's already well underway via "progressive" taxation.  Earn more, pay WAY more.

Have more of anything than some bureaucrat thinks is fair, and they take it away.  Economic justice.  Social justice.  Food justice?

I think it's time to shut the hell up about the specifics of our preps.  Continue to encourage folks to prep, but keep your prep details to yourself.
Before:  "You're just a paranoid freak for storing all that food.  All that ammo makes me think you're one of those militia nuts!"

After:  "By order of the Federal Food Fairness Agency, we're seizing that food - you're just a selfish hoarder.  We'll take the ammo as well."

Let's say we're 18 to 24 months behind Europe in melting down (I hope we have that much time).  That puts us right around the time of our next national elections.  Austerity will be the buzz word of the election.

In the intervening time between now and then, the Federal Reserve will print up its QEII funny-money, further devaluing the dollar - so what you have will buy less.  The FedGov and states will raise taxes and fees - just like they've promised.  But it won't be enough.

Something will have to give, and the Safety Net will develop a nasty, gaping hole.  More and more people will fall through the gap, and they'll be pissed off, just like they are in Ireland right now.

The first wave of Irish protests were largely peaceful, but when bellies start going unfed, that will change.

Here, too.
Before:  "Gold?  Silver?  Really?!  I keep my money in an FDIC-guaranteed bank and sleep very well at night, thank-you-very-much.  My 401k rocks!"

After:  "Brother, can you spare a dime?"
The WikiLeaks guy has announced that he has some internal documents about some large, too-big-to-fail bank.  Corruption is the buzz word he's using.  Supposedly, the covers are going to be pulled back on the warm little bed we made for the big banks.

There's been a lot of "chatter" lately about Bank of America.  Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are trying to put failed loans back on the bank - billions of dollars worth - and the inside scoop is that this will overwhelm the finances of the bank.

I had a customer come into the PM store this past week, and he told me he was unable to take out the amount of cash he requested.  His bank is Chase.  He wanted $5000, but was limited to $2000.  The next day, he was able to get the other $3000.

They didn't give him a reason, or say any policy had changed.  They just said he couldn't get the money when he wanted it.

He now has another $5000 in silver.
Before:  "You 'make' water and fire?  Freak!  I turn a knob and run the stove for hours.  I let the sink faucet run while I'm taking a shower and watering the lawn.  What century do you think it is???  The 1800's?"

After:  "My child has dysentery from drinking dirty water.  Can you help?"

I made a preps run on Tuesday.  50 lbs of sugar ($25), 20 lbs of salt ($10), 20 lbs of pork shoulder ($35), 2 lbs of dried onions ($7) and two dozen one-pint Mason jars ($16). 

Some added peace of mind for under $100.

The pork was ground and home canned.  Ground meat is my favorite style of canned meat, as its texture is most like the meat when freshly cooked.  Chunked beef, pork and chicken are OK - and have their place - but ground meat is my favorite.

I want to build up my sugar and salt stores, in particular.  The salt for use as a preservative.

Before:  "A medical bag?  You have a medical bag in your home?  If I scratch a finger, I go down to my Primary Care Physician - zero co-pay, of course - and get a band-aid.  Who do you think you are?  Doctor Quinn?"

After:  "Get in line, ma'am.  ObamaCare County Hospital is full-up.  We should be able to see your child sometime today.  Tomorrow at the latest.  He sure is a sound sleeper..... he's just asleep, right?"

Please, work on your skills, folks.  Know how to do for yourself.  Could you stitch a wound?  Could you keep it clean?  Would you know when to stitch and when to leave it alone?  Do you have the materials needed to stitch and maintain the wound?

Can you preserve food "pioneer style" - just using salt, smoke, vinegar or moving air?

How to make homemade vinegar.
Preserving meat on the frontier.
Preserving fish.
Canning/pickling vegetables

Accept The Challenge

Loose Lips Sink Ships.  Heed the warning.   Protect what you've got - assume someone else wants it.

I was feeling all smug last night as I looked at my food, supplies and equipment storage.  Man, I'm on top of this!

Bad place to be.

I teach in my introductory firearms class about acquiring the Skills, Knowledge and Attitude for safe firearms use.  I explain that Attitude isn't a cockiness - it's an outlook.  You have confidence that you can apply your skills and knowledge to safe gun use.

I NEVER want to get cocky - about guns or preps.  When you're feeling all full of yourself is when you get smacked upside the head.

There is always more to do, always more to learn.  There are no days off in the job of life.

We have no way of knowing what will happen in the future.  Our knowledge and inquisitiveness can be used to evaluate new information and project what will happen, but we don't know for sure.  So we develop new skills and plan for contingencies and different scenarios.

Real preppers keep building our stores of knowledge, skills, supplies, equipment, food and money.  We continually move towards our perceived "perfect prep" - knowing full-well we will never get there.  We're flexible and are able to adapt as the environment changes.

Our head is always "on a swivel"  - taking in and evaluating new information, and applying it to our lives.

Our attitude keeps us on track!

Image via

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Copyright 2010 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Competing Opinions On Gold Prices

I've been, and continue to be, bullish on precious metals.  I think that with what is happening to our economy, coupled with what the Federal Reserve and FedGov have announced they will be doing (QEII and tax increases, respectively), gold and silver will continue to rise in price.

There are others who disagree.

As I've stated numerous times, DO NOT make your investment or retirement plans based on one or two blogs or websites.  Read contrarian views.  Scratch below the surface, especially when it comes to something as important as your money. reports that someone at The Wall Street Journal has an explanation for the recent rise in gold -
Weaker currencies such as the dollar and euro, even weaker these days due to stimulus measures, often send investors rushing to gold.

But there's another reason why prices have risen so high, The Wall Street Journal reports.

It's an exchange-traded fund called SPDR, spearheaded in 2004 by the World Gold Council as a conduit for investors to pump money into the precious metal when prices were a third of what they are today.
No one less than multi-billionaire George Soros has called gold, "the ultimate bubble".
Some heavyweight investors, however, feel gold prices are due for a fall.

"I called gold the ultimate bubble which means it may go higher," says George Soros, according to Reuters. "But it's certainly not safe, and it's not going to last forever."
He could absolutely, positively be right.  But he sure isn't acting that way.  From -
Securities and Exchange Commission filings this month by Soros Fund Management LLC, Paulson & Co. and Touradji Capital Management LP listed investments in gold as their biggest holdings. Exchange-traded products own 2,088 metric tons, equal to nine years of U.S. mine supply, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Precious metals will produce the best commodity returns in the next year, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said in a Nov. 9 report.
A year ago, Soros first made his "gold bubble" comments, yet for the past year, he's been buying the stuff like it's going out of style.  Funny, no?

Read the whole article.  Soros now says he's riding a bubble, and it just depends where you get on.

He's absolutely correct if you think the rise in price is due to speculation or an artificially inflated market, such as we just witnessed with real estate.

I tell everyone that will listen to me - and some who won't - that I don't see PMs so much as an investment, but as a hedge against inflation.  A maintainer of purchasing power, if you will.
“Gold is the preferred currency right now,” said Ronald Stoeferle, an analyst at Erste Group Bank AG in Vienna who expects gold to reach $1,600 by June. “The Fed can print and produce money, but it cannot produce confidence and trust in the U.S. dollar.”
Amen to that, brother...

Accept The Challenge

I was listening to a radio show where the guy was gushing about how great the economy is performing.  This indicator is up.  That one is down, but better than expected.  Blah, blah, blah.

His main push was for people to buy into the stock markets.  Poised for a great leap, says he.

I nearly crashed my car!  He was talking about how all of these company profits are up - way up.  What he neglected to discuss what that they aren't up because of increased sales, but because of lowered expenses.

They're cutting to the bone, and lobbing off a finger or two for good measure.  Now, that's great for the company and the stock holders - for now - but it does nothing for the economy.

Until sales go up, and unemployment goes down, we're in deep kimchee as a nation.  You've got to have customers with money to have a viable business.  IMO, the stock market is propped up by nothing more than Hopes and Dreams, not reality.

Spend your money on tangible goods and commodities.  If you have anything left over, put some into PMs.

Know that the price of PMs absolutely, positively will go up and down.  You hope you make your buys on the lows, and your sales on the highs, but you'll go nuts if you're an every day price watcher.  Watch the trend, not the hourly fluctuations.

Also remember:  Gold and silver have never been worth zero.  Fiat currencies and stocks have.

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Copyright 2010 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Name That Critter

No - you're not figuring out which politician is in a picture...

One of my brothers owns a home inspection business.  He was up in an attic, and came across this furry little creature, all snug-as-a-bug-in-a-rug -

You can click the picture to blow it up.

He said that the head was about the size of a softball.  That might be a little bit exaggerated, but it's clearly bigger than a normal squirrel head.  The board in front is a 2x6.

Here's a zoom of the head -

It's got an up-turned nose and fairly pointy ears.  A fairly distinctive "mask" on the lower part of the face.

My first instinct was a gray squirrel, but its head is too big.  I guess if it had been up there a while with some kind of food source and limited predator worries, it could grown into an uber-squirrel, but still...

If it is a squirrel, I should send my brother back to go all "GunRights4UsAll" on it. THAT'S how squirrel is prepared...

It's not an opossum or raccoon.  A big rat?  A bat?  Some freakish government experiment gone horribly wrong?

He didn't want to stick around and poke it with a stick and have it feast on his face.  Any ideas?

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Copyright 2010 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


On Thanksgiving, I did a post on a couple of topics - charity work, turkey and prepping.  I thought the yams and stuffing comments would bring the firestorm  - I have VERY strong beliefs on the subject :-)

Instead, the charity topic got the blood boiling:

Quick overview: My family handed out food baskets, and I noted that a few of the recipient families did not appear to need the assistance. I was having some personal moral issues with being judgmental.

The donation group from the church that does the vetting of the recipients chose to allow one "family" (quite large - 3 turkeys and boxes) which they knew did not need help, to get a package.

One of the things I like about private charities is that they can discriminate (unlike the government).  They can pick and choose who gets helped with their limited resources.

I won't participate with organizations that have a policy of helping, "All who ask".  I believe in targeted assistance, not broadcast assistance.

I worry that donors to this church charity will see the poor choice the vetting group made with this family, and will donate elsewhere next year...

As a number of commentors noted, this attitude of, "I take the stuff because I can" is a big reason our country is in this mess we find ourselves in.  Too many of us have come to expect assistance. 

Subsidized living has become a lifestyle.

THAT'S what burns my butt.

Also as a number of folks pointed out, the gift is in the giving.  My family and I are giving our time and money for what we believe to be the right reasons. This whole deal has gotten me thinking, though.

I was talking with one of my employees about this, and he asked me if I were given the proposition that for a $500 donation, I was told up front that $100 of it would go to undeserving people and $400 would go to very deserving people, would I still make the donation?

I said yes.

I've since changed my mind.  If this charity knew that they were pissing away 20% of their resources, that goes against my core beliefs.  It's like having a 20% Stupidity Tax.  No thanks.

I understand that $400 worth of assistance would not be going to worthy folks, but that's not my problem.  It's the problem of the charity. 

They chose to have a vetting process which acknowledges 20% waste.  Unlike the federal government, I am unable to print up more money to fill in the gaps.  I want every one of my dollars making an impact, not just $0.80 worth.

Accept The Challenge

With Christmas coming up, the push for donations will increase.  In our precious metals store, we get people coming in on a daily basis asking for donations to local groups.  So far, we've given, but only to charities we've had prior experience with.

If you are able to donate time and/or money, I urge you to discriminate.  Perhaps do some research on the various local and national groups you know about, and get educated on their process.

Here's an article on ways to judge the effectivness of some charites.

Here's a link to The American Institute of Philanthropy ( which purports to evaluate charities on a number of different levels.

As I will be doing with the church group, let your opinions be heard.  Tell them that you will not participate if the group knowingly provides assistance to people that are not in need.

Or perhaps your beliefs are to help all who ask.  You'd want to steer away from charities that target specific persons for help. 

It's your time and money - spend them as you see fit.

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Copyright 2010 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Thoughts

Each year, I help out a my wife's church on the day before Thanksgiving.  We hand out boxes of food to folks that are having a rough go of it.

We handed out boxes to about 30 families that had registered with the church.  Another group delivered another 40 or so to families that would not register, but their friends in the church knew they were having tough times and registered them up.  Most of these packages are literally left on the front step and the delivery crew plays "ding-dong ditch 'em" - they ring the door bell and run, as the families would not voluntarily accept the food.

I can respect that.  I'm glad the church handles it in this way.

I was a bit PO'd at some of the folks that came by for pick ups.  I saw a number of BMWs and other high-end cars, and a lot of folks with very nice "bling", fancy I-Phones and Coach bags.

I guess these folks might have recently hit hard times or may be are grasping at the end of their former lifestyle.  I don't know.  I saw the same thing last year, and I told myself I wouldn't be judegmental, but I guess I am being so.

It bugged me.

The Big Bird is roasting right now.  The house smells great.  We're staying home this year, just relaxing.

I got a 19 pound turkey.  I'm making my World Famous clam chowder, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy and homemade biscuits.

For three of us.  I think we'll have some left-overs!

This weekend, I'll take the carcass and make a few gallons of turkey stock.  I'll make 5 quarts of plain stock and 10 pints of Turkey and Rice soup which I'll home pressure can to use throughout the winter.

No yams - candied or otherwise - or cranberry sauce.  Both are inedible in my estimation.  Nearly crimes against humanity.  I'm cooking, my rules!

And no nuts or fruit in the stuffing.  Apples, prunes, walnuts, pecans - snack foods.  Stuffing is cubed bread, turkey stock from the boiled giblets, some of the giblets themselves, salt, pepper, sage, celery and onions.  That's it.

The rest of the giblets will go into the homemade gravy made from the turkey drippings and turkey stock.  It will smother everything on the plate.

Maybe I'll pop an extra cholesterol pill... ;-)

Have a great day with your family.

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Copyright 2010 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Brazen Violence

I've been on this earth for quite a few years.

I don't know if I'm simply paying attention more closely or if I'm perhaps even looking for this kind of stuff, but it seems like every single day I read of stories of what used to be rare acts of, "I don't give a damn any more" violence.

Is it just me, or is the violence really escalating?

I was reading the online version of the paper where we have our precious metals store.  It had the usual stuff about things happening around town, upcoming holiday events and the like.

There was a story about a woman who was arrested on drug charges.  It seems that she was the girlfriend of some guy who had just been arrested for a double homicide in town.  He shot three people and two of them are now dead.

What struck me was that shortly after he committed these murders, he staged another attack.

On the local police department.

Click this link to watch and listen to a photo story on what had happened.

Part of what we have to do with our precious metals business is submit these reports any time we buy jewelry from a customer.  We give them the seller's information from their driver's license and obtain a thumbprint.  The police cross check the lists for reports of stolen goods.

Anyways, we submit these reports right where this guy went nuts.  The lobby of the police department is all secure, with 3 inch thick bulletproof glass between the lobby area and the office workers/police officers that are present.

I'm guessing that this was not the first time this murdering bastard has been to the police department.  Even if it were, any normal person would have to guess that the police department was either well secured, or there would be lots of cops with lots of guns.

Yet this guy walked right in - gun in hand as witness by a citizen who called it in - and tore the joint up.  How did he think this was going to end?  Was he looking for a "suicide by cop" grand finale?

Did he just not give a damn?

My phone and email have been going nuts from people wanting to register for my gun classes.  When they're scheduled too far in advance, people are are very willingly signing up for one-on-one classes at an hourly rate.  I tell them that if they can wait for the next class, they can get the same training for half the price, but they don't care.  They want training, and they want it now.

I'm giving a young lady training this week.  She's coming into town for Thanksgiving, and her father has hired me to train her for a few hours while she's here.  I've got three others just like her the week after Thanksgiving.

So, to answer my rhetorical question at the start of this post, No, I don't think it's just me.

Accept The Challenge

Serious as a heart attack:  Get some safety awareness AND personal defense training.  If you've already taken some training, get some practice.

Many local police departments offer some version of "Refuse To Be A Victim" training.  Take advantage of it.

Play out some scenarios and do a mental "walk-through" for how you'd react in a given situation.

To get you started, here's one we present in our Pepper Spray and Stun gun class -
Scenario 1 – Public Places

Environment:  A major thoroughfare in a small city. A typical, “roll up the sidewalks” place when the workday is done. There is an all-night gas station ½ mile in front of you and a small strip mall ½ mile behind you. There are dozens of businesses along the course you’re taking, but they are all closed. There are a half dozen cars parked on the street within your field of view. Traffic is very light. You have a cell phone and your choice of personal defense tools.

The Setting: It's 9pm. It's been a long day at work. You lock up the office and start walking to your car, which is parked on the public street. You’re carrying a small cardboard box with some work you need to finish-up at home. Your car keys and other personal items are sitting on top of the paperwork.  The distance from your office to your car is 50 yards. You have walked 25 yards.  There is no one else on the street. Unexpectedly, you see what looks to be a man wearing  a “hoodie” walking towards you from the opposite direction. It looks like the two of you will arrive at your car at the same time.

A potential threat has been identified. You move to Alert level.

What do you do?

Escalation:  This threat is real. The man in the hoodie starts running towards you. You have your pepper spray or stun gun in your strong hand. He will reach your position in 5 seconds. There are two parked cars on your side of the street – one 10 feet in front of you, and the other 20 feet behind you.

What do you do?

What could you have done to maximize your safety?
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Copyright 2010 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

More Skills, Knowledge and Action

Got skillz?  Got knowledge?

We take a lot of what's around us for granted.  We run down to the store or some sort of specialist (doctor, mechanic, plumber, etc) to get done what needs doing.

I HOPE that as preppers, you've already built the skills and knowledge to take care of the very basics:  Make fire, potable water and shelter.

But what about some of the other stuff?  Some info and ideas -

Making black powder.  Careful, boys and girls.  Got salt peter and sulfur squirreled away?

What edible "weeds" (this guy is a wealth of knowledge), fruits, vegetables and nuts are indigenous to your area?  Do you know when they are in season?  Do you know the ones that will make you ill or dead?  Do you know how to preserve your bounty?

Make buttermilk by adding one tsp of vinegar to a cup of milk.  Wait 5 minutes then use/consume.

How to set a broken bone.

Dressing a rabbit (squirrel, too) - GRAPHIC and lifesaving.

Like biscuits but you're out of baking powder?  Make baking powder by combining  2 tsp of cream of tartar and 1 tsp of baking soda.  You've stored up some cream of tartar and baking soda, right?

You know that pine needle tea is full of great stuff, dontch?  Big on vitamin C, antioxidants and lots of other great things.  Be sure to read the warnings, especially if you are pregnant.

How to make soap.  Scroll down, and see how to render the fats and make the lye you'll need.

Every freshwater fish in North America is edible.

Lost your measuring cup?  A quarter cup is 4 tablespoons.  Do the math.  Oh, and there are 3 teaspoons in a tablespoon.  Do more math.

Lost your scale?  181 pennies weighs about 1 pound.  Do the math.

Pain/anxiety management - please, no fist-shaking prohibitionist comments.  No suggestion here to break a law, even one you may find ignorant or unconstitutional.  Prepping is about making do with what's available.

If things get ugly, your stress level will soar.  If someone is injured and medical assistance is not available, whatcha gonna do?  How are you going to "take the edge off"?

Alcohol is nothing more than the by-product of yeast eating sugar.  As I used to explain to my boys when they were little kids watching me brew beer, yeast eat the sugar, then pee out alcohol and fart out carbon dioxide!

You can make a basic alcohol by adding one pound of white sugar to one gallon of warm water.  Completely dissolve the sugar in the water.  Add about 1 1/2 teaspoons of any kind of yeast you have around - make sure the water is no more than 90F.  Keep the mix in a warm, draft-free area, loosely covered (remember the farting yeast!).  In about a week, you'll have alcohol.

Not tasty alcohol, just alcohol.  It will be around 4-4.5% alcohol by volume.  It has a yeast-y, and for some reason citrus-y taste.  Consume with some sort of mixer if available.

Don't add more sugar to get a stronger alcohol, as most baking yeasts are brewing wimps.  They die from alcohol poisoning!  Beer and wine yeasts are specially bred to withstand the higher alcohol levels.

If you can get your hands on some beer yeast, double up the sugar (NOT the water), and you can get an alcohol of around 6-8%.

With a wine yeast, triple up the sugar and get an alcohol of 10-12%.

Don't have any kind of sugar available?  Learn how to mash.  This is the process of extracting the natural sugars out of grains - usually barely or corn. 

In reality, you're extracting the starches and converting them to sugars.  This requires the introduction of some enzymes to facilitate the conversion process.  Luckily, nature provides a way to do this as well.  It's called malting.

And of course, there are fruit juices - grape, apple, etc - that can be fermented as well.  A simple hard cider might be very well received in a difficult situation...

Even here in California, marijuana is technically illegal (though greatly de-criminalized).  If TSHTF, even us non-pot smokers might think it a decent option!

Extracting the THC

MJ recipes.  Very interesting stuff, actually.

Honestly, if I were going to use this stuff, I wouldn't smoke it.  Maybe it's just me, but I can smell pot from a mile away.  I figure others are the same, and sending up a Smoke Signal to, "come take my stuff" doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

Accept The Challenge

Start figuring out what you don't know, but need. 

Everything seems to be in a state of flux.  The stock market tanks, then recovers.  Gold and silver soar, then sink - and back again.

Ask yourself:  What does your gut tell you?  Looking at the Big Picture (not your own micro-economy), do you think things will improve or worsen in the US over the next 12 months?  24 months?

I keep getting mixed signals.  I see reports that food prices are going through the roof, yet I see prices falling at the store.  A number of big food companies have announced price increases.  My gut says BUY!, so I am.  As much as I can afford.

The Federal Reserve announces to the world that they're going to devalue our currency.  The result:  At least so far this week, the dollar has gotten stronger and precious metals have tanked.  WTF?   The bulk of the reason for the dollar getting stronger was supposedly due to the euro getting weaker.  Big concerns about Ireland again. 

What I see is that the US economy isn't getting better, the rest of the world is just tanking faster than us.  It's all relative.  We're still going to see big inflationary price spikes because of QEII and the coming tax increases.  My gut says BUY!, so I am.

Image credit - Knowledge Mag

Please click our advertiser links. They pay us so you don't have to. A click a day is all we ask!

Copyright 2010 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.