My Blog List

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Stuff I Can't Explain

I have lots of questions - 

Why gold is suddenly trading at incredible volumes.  This image of Comex gold sales volumes is from  It is part of a technical analysis chart service.  As I've noted before, I am clueless over most of the "technical" precious metals analysis techniques, but this caught my eye because it is such a divergence from the norm (click to enlarge) -

Is this good or bad?  I dunno.  Seems odd, though...  You can see the technical charts each day by going to this site, and clicking Gold2 at the bottom of the page.  Silver2 and Platinum2 will give you similar data, but for those metals.

As noted in the last post, the SEC is now exempt from Freedom of Information Act requests.  In scanning all of the major online news services, I am unable to find a single article on this subject written since early this week.

Why isn't the press in general going bat dung crazy over this?  Not just the financial press, but ALL of the press.  Don't they see this as setting a precedence that when one government agency gets granted super-secret cloaking powers, other agencies are likely to jump on the bandwagon?

Seriously, all of the American press should be rioting over this.  Yet they're quiet as church mice.  Why dat?

Bloomberg financial press is unable to find the resources to report on the SEC getting granted secrecy powers, but they DO find the resources to write a story about the wife of an ex-employee of the NY Mets baseball team -
The owners of the New York Mets should be responsible for reimbursing more than $16 million in pension benefits invested on behalf of their workers in Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, according to a lawsuit filed by the widow of an employee.

Elyse S. Goldweber, the beneficiary of her late husband’s 401(k) plan, filed suit yesterday against Sterling Equities Inc., which owns the Major League Baseball team, in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan. The lawsuit, which also named Mets Chief Executive Officer Fred Wilpon, said most of the couple’s $280,420 retirement fund was “wiped out.”
It sucks to be this woman, but does it justify an article in Bloombergs?  Really?  Maybe they could do a hard-hitting story about how the lady's pet poodle has been forced to eat canned dog food as a part of their forced austerity plan.

Hey wait a minute.  Isn't the SEC the governmental agency that was given detailed information about the Bernie Madoff scheme WAY before it blew up?  Hmmmm.  I wonder if they would have had to disclose their incompetence if this story broke today...

Why doesn't Arizona just tell the federal government to "shove it" and take matters into their own hands?   They passed a law, go ahead and enforce it.

What will the feds do?  Arrest the whole state?  Perhaps the whole executive office of the state government?

Go ahead, punk.  Make my day...

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. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Hear, Speak, See and Report No Evil

I had planned to do a post about some very good news that's happened in my life.  I'm going to share it, at the bottom of the post, but I heard the following information, and it cast an ugly pall on my mood.

It is going to be interesting how all of the parties involved in this bastardization of America try and slime out of this.  Hell, they probably won't even need to try.  It was a bear trying to find stories in the press about this.

No one seems to give a damn.

First, a little reminder -
My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government. We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.

Government should be transparent. Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their Government is doing. Information maintained by the Federal Government is a national asset. My Administration will take appropriate action, consistent with law and policy, to disclose information rapidly in forms that the public can readily find and use. Executive departments and agencies should harness new technologies to put information about their operations and decisions online and readily available to the public. Executive departments and agencies should also solicit public feedback to identify information of greatest use to the public.
The Obama Administration posted this on the site - it's still there, in fact - at the beginning of their tour of duty.  He even commanded the government's chief technology officer to build systems within 120 days to git 'er done.

I've kept a copy of the website page, in PDF form, because I'm guessing they'll remove or update it pretty soon.

Why?  Because of this -
The Securities and Exchange Commission apparently no longer has to comply with requests for information from the public, including those filed under the Freedom of Information Act, because of a little-noticed provision in the new financial regulations that became law last week, the Fox Business Network reports.

The law exempts the S.E.C from disclosing records or information derived from “surveillance, risk assessments, or other regulatory and oversight activities.” Given that the S.E.C. is a regulatory body, the provision covers almost every action by the agency, lawyers told Fox Business. Congress and federal agencies can request information, but the public cannot.
Wow.  Kinda goes 180 degrees opposite from what they promised, huh?

I seem to be saying this a lot lately, but, how can this be?  This is not America.  This is some bad parody of the former Soviet Union or Communist China.

We have states and cities passing laws making it illegal to photograph and video police officers - our employees - while they are doing their jobs.  We've been told for years that the reason the government can put video cameras wherever they wish is because we have no expectation of privacy while in public.  Yet those same rules don't apply to government officials.

Our employees at the SEC can now do as they please, and not have to worry about having their (in)actions reported to the world (I'm sure the porn industry is glad to hear this, though...).  We, on the other hand, have reports sent to some government bureaucrat when we take out more than $10,000 of our own money from our own bank account.

Mark my words - this continued usurpation of our freedoms coupled with an ever expanding and secretive government, is going to result in violence.  I don't know if it's going to pop this year, next year or sometime after that. 

But I fear it won't be long.

Now, for the happy-feet news - puttin' my money where my mouth is!

I've long been a proponent of having multiple streams of income.  If you can swing it, have as many sources as possible so that you are not out on your butt if one of them goes away.

Well, I'm putting that to practice.  In addition to my Emergency Prep/Personal Safety/Firearms training biz, I and a couple of partners are opening a business that is near and dear to my heart:  Precious metals.

We've negotiated the lease and should have our doors open by the first of September.  We've already got some business lined up (yes - all permission licensing is in place) and are expanding and firming up our business contacts.

I'm not going to go into great detail about where our business will be located, and the details of what we'll be doing.  I need to keep a "firewall" between the two different businesses for a number of reasons. 

I'll continue to talk a lot about PMs on this blog, but they'll all have a footnote about the business.

Now, if I can turn my 30-year beer brewing hobby into a business, I'll have a trifecta!  Bullets, Bullion and Brew?

Accept The Challenge

I must say, I'm at a bit of a loss about what to do with this continual growth of government and the chipping away of our rights.  I worry that we're past the point of recovering our Constitutional Republic.  We're devolving deeper and deeper into an oligarchy that has limitless powers.

I'm a bit numb.  Regardless of how we vote, regardless of what we're promised, regardless of the fiery speech and protestation, the downward spiral continues.

Hope for the best, prepare for the worse. It sounds so trite, but it's the starting point for a plan.  Assume that government growth and control will continue.  Assume that if the Republicans regain power in Congress, nothing will change. 

Assume your taxes will increase.  Assume your buying power will be decreased. 

Assume you'll need to recognize and deal with dangerous situations you never dreamt you'd see.  Assume 9-1-1 won't be answered.

Assume family and friends will never be more important.  Build or rekindle those relationships.

Get yourself mentally prepared.  Head on over to Behind The Parapet and read MikeH's 4-part series (I, II, III,IV) on The Warrior Spirit

Time to saddle up, folks.  And bring a cushion, 'cuz it's gonna get bumpy...

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. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Focusing Your Skills Building

What do YOU do to determine the skills you want to acquire?

If it's a hobby skill, you might want to learn how to do something more efficiently, or in an entirely different way.  Many years ago, this is what I did with my brewing hobby - I went from simply mixing up a batch of prepared malt syrup to extracting the sugars  from whole grain (mashing).

At work, you might want to acquire additional skills which will make you more valuable to your employer.  You might see an area of the business that is having difficulties, and learn the skills to help make that area work more smoothly.

How do you do this for emergency preparedness skills?  It should be a two-pronged approach:  Life Sustaining skills and High Demand skills.

The first step - and perhaps the most difficult - is to predict our future!  Are we going to have a crash-and-burn collapse and end up in a Mad Max or Book Of Eli society?  Will we end up in an Argentina-like economy?  Or will we get through this rough-patch, and pretty much return to normal?

Your answer to that question will drive your priorities.

Personally, I think we're headed towards an Argentina-like collapse.  Our dollar will be further debased, there will be shortages in almost all commodities, crime will increase and more and more industries will be nationalized - resulting in greater inefficiencies in getting most things done.

Just like the Great Depression and the Argentinian depression, individual citizens can have no impact on whether it occurs or not.  It is out of our hands.  All we can do as individuals is to work NOW to lessen the impact if it does happen.

In the Great Depression, what was in short supply? 

Food, certainly.  The ability to obtain a steady supply of food was significanly impacted.  Our government actually paid farmers to reduce their planted acreage and slaughter animals to help increase prices.

Tangible wealth - currency, stocks and bonds all evaporated.  Those with precious metals and real property got through the difficult times more easily (even though much gold was seized by the government).

Jobs - the ability to provide your talents in exchange for cash payment.  People without the skills in demand were reduced to having to live in food lines, or literally selling pencils and apples on the street corner.

In Argentina, crime is an ongoing problem as well.  If this was the case during the Great Depression, is was not widely reported.  If we go down the same path as Argentina, I think we'll have the same crime problems but on a much more significant scale. 

We have a huge portion of our population that has no idea how to care for themselves.  If our "safety net" is torn, all hell will break loose.  They WILL come for your stuff.  Knowing how to provide for your personal safety and to protect the assets you possess will be paramount.

World War II was a direct result of economic difficulties.  Germans felt they had been wronged by having to pay reparations as a result of WWI, and Hitler was able to ride that wave of anger into power.  We all know how that ended.  But it's important to understand that a terrible economy and stifling debt were the precursors to war.  Hmmmm.  Sound familiar?

Thrown into the equation are external forces influencing our decisions.  The US military came out in April and said they believe we're going to have oil shortages -
"By 2012, surplus oil production capacity could entirely disappear, and as early as 2015, the shortfall in output could reach nearly 10 million barrels per day," says the report, which has a foreword by a senior commander, General James N Mattis.
Is Peak Oil real?  I really don't know.  I do think, though, that like any commodity, oil will be more difficult and more expensive to acquire.  If Peak Oil is in fact a reality, it will negatively impact virtually every aspect of our lives.  Oil drives our economy.

Accept The Challenge

What every-day functions do most Americans have no idea how to do?  We don't know how to repair anything!  If it breaks, we buy a new one.  That will change.  Repair skills will be in huge demand.  Small engines, small appliances, electronic devices, computers, knife and tool sharpening, tool making, welding, making/repairing clothes, roofing a house, building a wall, etc.

Buying broken down appliances/electronic devices then repairing them and selling them for well below new prices might be a profitable venture as well.

Each geographic region of the US will be a bit different.  Here in the SF Bay Area, there is little need for someone that can clear snow (since it doesn't snow here), but a lot of need for learning how to shoot (since most folks are gun adverse and government dependent).

Growing and foraging/hunting your own food, and knowing how to preserve it will be huge.  It could also become a money-making proposition.  Or, as discussed in a past post, it can be used to reduce your cost of food by doing a bartered preservation-for-a-portion-of-the-product deal.  Smoking, dehydrating, canning, pickling, curing.  Learn how to do these things with as few store-bought supplies as necessary.  For instance, make jam without buying pectin.

Along these lines, learn how to make alcohol.  In trying times, people need to catch a buzz once in a while!  Beer, wine, mead, cider, etc.  Learn to ferment grains and fruits that are indigenous to your area.   I have two projects on my To Do list in this regard:  Malt my own grain (malt is needed to convert starches into fermentable sugars) and to do an Open Fermentation where wild, open-air yeast do the fermentation for me.

Alcohol can also be turned into vinegar.  Learn how to do this, and you have a skill and a commodity.

If you own a home, I would start putting some money into solar energy systems.  Both photovoltaic and hot water systems.  At this point in time, the government is still dumping big bucks into subsidizing these things, and you might as well get your piece of the pie while there's still some pie left.

At a minimum, move away from oil-based systems and towards alternative or renewable sources.  I've been doing a lot of reading on wood gasification, and prices for these power generation systems are coming down from the clouds.  Victory Gasworks is a good place to start to get some education on the subject.  If you have access to wood or other combustible materials, it might be a good option for you.

Learn how to shoot.  Plain and simple, it is the only way you will be able to protect yourself through any sort of large scale civil disturbance or rioting.  It gives you the ability to extend your defensive perimeter.  Martial arts, pepper spray/stun guns and other options require you to be in (literally) striking distance of your attacker.  If there's more than one of them, you're toast.

Be proficient in handguns, shotguns, carbines and long rifles.  Each has a purpose.  Practice, practice, practice.

Be sure you have plenty of ammunition, cleaning supplies and spare parts for each type of firearm you own.  Have the repair manuals and the tools to make your own repairs.  Learning how to re-load your own ammo might not be too bad of a skill to have...

Along these lines, look at your health.  Get off or reduce your dependence on medications.  Obviously, don't go cold-turkey and kill yourself, but try and reduce your dependence if possible.  Lose some weight, get your teeth fixed, exercise regularly, improve your lifestyle.

Read the Surviving In Argentina blog.  This guy, Ferfal, has lived there since their society crashed in 2001.  It gives you great insight into what day-to-day life is like under such a system.

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. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Article 1, Section 9: Limits On Congress

I was going to save this for a Grumpy Sunday post, but this is just burning my butt.  Not surprisingly, it has to do with the Congress spending more and more of our money, and making a mockery of the Constitution.

Not only have they gone nuts by interpreting the Commerce Clause of the Constitution as giving them carte blanche to spend our money on whatever they wish, in the past week, they have TWICE decided to ignore a portion of Article 1, Section 9 of the Constitution.  In part -
No bill of attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.
Hmmm.  Ex post facto.  What might that mean?
An ex post facto law (from the Latin for "from after the action") or retroactive law, is a law that retroactively changes the legal consequences (or status) of actions committed or relationships that existed prior to the enactment of the law.
Simplified:  No retroactive laws.

Obviously, this happens all of the time.  In the Wikipedia link above, if you click, "United States," they give you a rash of high-profile laws that have been passed and retroactively enforced.

Look what has happened just this week:  Both houses of Congress and the president signed the Unemployment Benefit extension bill.  It's not Constitutional all by itself (unless I missed the "extend unemployment benefits" article in the Constitution).  To make matters worse, they made it a retroactive law -
The House voted 272 to 152 earlier in the day to extend unemployment insurance through November for those who have not exhausted up to 99 weeks of aid. The payments are retroactive to late May.

Earlier in the week, the president signed the financial reform bill.  I even discussed it in the last post.  I described how the FDIC deposit insurance was increased from $100,000 per depositor to $250,000 per depositor.

What I haven't talked about is a press release from the FDIC that came out a few hours later.  That $250,000 per depositor threshold was raised, retroactively, all the way back to January of 2008.
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act signed into law by President Barack Obama today permanently raised the maximum deposit insurance amount to $250,000. In addition, the Act made this increase retroactive to January 1, 2008.
Six banks had failed in 2008 prior to the FDIC limit being temporarily raised to $250k in October of 2008.  The press release says that there were 10,000 depositors that had accounts in excess of the old $100k limit.  Those companies and individuals took a loss on that difference.

With this retroactive law, 9,500 of them are going to get all of their money back.

Are there absolutely no consequences for our individual actions?  Even my mother - who has no idea what is going on in the world of finance - knows that you don't keep more than $100k in any one bank.  Ten thousand depositors at 6 banks either didn't know or didn't care about the law.

You and I now get to pay for their ignorance.

My guess is that these 9,500 depositors were getting a sweet interest rate.  Perhaps double or triple the going rate.  That is very common for banks to do that are in financial trouble.  Bring in as many deposits as you can, and hope for the best.  Pay whatever it takes.

These depositors got greedy and didn't review the financials of the bank in question.  They saw the up-side, and it blinded them to the down-side. 

Just like all of the Too Big To Fail banks should have been allowed to fail because of their risky banking practices, these individual depositors should have taken the loss for breaking or ignoring the rules.

Shoulda, coulda, woulda...

So, how can our government get away with this?  How can they blatantly write ex post facto laws?

Now, I'm sure some lawyer will pop off with some sort of convoluted logic along the lines of, "Ex post facto laws are prohibited with regards to punishment.  These weren't punishment, they were benefits."

I just went back and read the sentence in Article 1, Section 9 and it makes no such distinction.  It just says Congress can't do it.  Really.  Scroll back up to the top of the page and check for yourself.

How can they limit who will be rescued?  Why not make it retroactive to depositors who had losses with prior bank failures?   Hell, at least take it back to the S&L Crisis - most of those folks would still be alive.

Does stupidity have a Statute of Limitations?  Apparently so, since every stupid depositor isn't being saved.

Apparently, though, they WERE smarter than the rest of us.  They got the great rates AND they're getting their money back.  Must be nice to have the government accept your risk.

Accept The Challenge

So what do we do?  The easy answer is to vote the bastards out.  Not some of them - all of them.  This group of "leaders" must chuckle to themselves each night:  "Limits on Congress?  Surely you jest!"

I'm not going to go down "the dark road" alternatives - at least not right now.

At this point in time, we're not going to see the direct, immediate impact from these and similar government actions.  The government will continue to pump funny-money into the economy in an attempt to save it. 

Sometime in the not-too-distant future, our bankers - China et al - are going to require we raise taxes and cut expenses, or our national line of credit will be cut off.  We all know that the bill WILL come due and the price will be higher than if we had just taken our lumps 3 years ago.  The gravy train will run out, and all hell will break loose. 

Plan for:

Finance - we've discussed, ad nauseum, about the need to reduce or eliminate debt, and to get as "liquid" as possible.  When the economy falls apart, being able to take advantage of opportunities will mean the difference between just surviving, and thriving.

Personal security - work on your home security plans and seriously work on a civil disturbance/riot plan.  When the money dries up, all hell is going to break loose.  We're already seeing individuals that have been pushed too far going over the edge.  Once those that are dependent upon the state for their "livelihood" have their payments stop, we'll have whole groups going over the edge - all at the same time.

Food/equipment preps - it looks like we're going to have a deflationary period.  Take advantage of it.  Food, medicine, equipment are all slowly dropping in price.  Use this time to complete your "must have" and "want to have" lists while you're still able.

Skills - if we end up with an Argentina-like economic crash (this is my belief), knowing how to stretch a buck and make a buck will be very important skills.  Learn how and what to forage from nature.  Learn how to preserve what you've foraged.  Make it known that you will home preserve any meat, fruit or vegetable in exchange for half of the "haul".  Your time, fuel, jars, lids, rings and skill are valuable.  Take advantage of it.

Learn how to convert starches into alcohol.  Learn how to weld.  Learn how to repair small engines.  Learn how to lay a foundation.  Learn how grow veggies, trap and clean an animal for food, or cook with only basic materials.

Get movin'!
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. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Preps, Rats, Totalitarians and Crashes

One of my fellow contributors at the California Prepper's Network, Catman, has put up a post with a great resource.  It is an index of emergency prep/survival articles from Outdoors-Magazine that have been converted to PDF files.  Click here for the index.

If you haven't started a Survival Bible or have some holes in the one you've got, this is an excellent place to visit.

Wow, are the rats scampering, or what?

Tucker Carlson has cracked open a story about a group of liberal-leaning journalists (and their supporters) - from some of the biggest online and print publications around - that openly colluded to manipulate the news.  They discussed and planned their strategy on a chat-room of sorts called, "JournoList".

There's a shock, huh?

The big story had to do with these vermin trying to bury the Jeremiah Wright/Candidate Obama story.  Their plan was to ...... wait for it...... use the Race Card to sully the reputation of a number of conservative pundits.

"Journalists" from the Huffington Post, and a butt-load of other sources are now in major-league Damage Control mode.  It is such a pleasure to watch!

I'm not going to provide links to the articles on their sites - I don't want to directly help to increase their ad revenues.  There are enough articles on the Internet right now for you to get a flavor of what's going on.  Pick a couple of the offending sites and read their articles if you want a real good chuckle.

One thing that was incredibly disturbing - once you connect a couple of dots - was a suggestion from these socialists that the federal government take steps to shut down Fox News.  When their license came up for renewal, simply don't give them a new one.
Guardian columnist Daniel Davies, who said he was "genuinely scared" of the network, reportedly said "peer pressure" and "self-regulation" were not working.

"In order to have even a semblance of control, you need a tough legal framework," he said.

According to the report, UCLA law professor Jonathan Zasloff urged the federal government to stop the network.

"I hate to open this can of worms, but is there any reason why the FCC couldn't simply pull their broadcasting permit once it expires?" he wrote.
Does anyone else remember when the White House was shutting Fox out of interviews and the like?  From October 2009 -
Last week, White House communications director Anita Dunn said Fox News operates "almost as either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican Party."

On Sunday, Rahm Emanuel, President Barack Obama's chief of staff, said, "It is not a news organization so much as it has a perspective."
The tactic blew up in their face, since most liberal journalists acknowledged that Fox was a news organization, and they recognized how wrong and dangerous this could be.

Still, the Executive Office of the United States Of America was actively trying to take Fox out of the equation.  They were attempting to discredit the credibility of the most successful cable news network in the country.  Get them discredited, and you can pull their credentials.

Viola!  No more "mean" press.

Wow, just like the JournoList guys suggested.  Very totalitarian-like, huh?

I don't understand Technical Stock Analysis very well.  They use historical charts and trends, plug the information into proprietary algorithms.  It is one of the tools that big-time investors use to make their buy/sell decisions.

Over the past few months, I've been seeing a number of articles on smallish web sites talking about how things don't look so good.  Apparently, the charts and trends look an awful lot like they looked just before the Great Depression.

No one in the MSM was talking about this.  Until now -
The crash of the Dow Jones Industrials in 1929 was signaled by the development of a well defined head and shoulder pattern, seen most clearly in its monthly chart. It is a reliable pattern that captures the behavior of investors who are becoming increasingly disillusioned about the future prospects for economic growth.
I've been out of the stock market for almost 3 years now.  I've got no skin in that market.  What is important about this is that the Dow is kind of the bellwether that most of America uses to determine how the economy in general is performing.

They hear about the Dow being up or down every day on the nightly news.  For many people, it is their ONLY connection to economic news.

If the Dow crashes like these Technical guys are saying, Main Street America is going to panic.  Big time.

In totally unrelated news - I'm sure - the FDIC has permanently increased the deposit insurance level from $100,000 per depositor to $250,000 per depositor.

Ya think they might be worried about a run on banks in the event of a crash in one or more financial markets?

Accept The Challenge

If you haven't put together a Survival Bible - a printed list of skills and emergency information - PLEASE do so now.  Have a copy on your computer, on a thumb drive off site, and a hard-copy that is protected from water.

Remember PACE - Primary, Alternate, Contingency and Emergency:  Have multiple plans, sources and OPTIONS for each item in your emergency plan.  Assume failure for at least each of your primary plans.

PLEASE keep in tune with what is happening economically.  Along the lines of PACE, have multiple sources of information.  Don't just read the Main Stream Media, read opinions from all viewpoints - good, bad and ugly.  Sometimes the "tin-foil hat" guys get it right!

Sort through the information, decide for yourself what makes sense and what seems like a logical trend, and act accordingly.  "Act" being the operative word.  Passivity right now is not a good trait to have.

Remember our little motto at the top of this page:  Audentes Fortuna Juvat - Fortune favors the bold.

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. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Closing Loopholes

Most folks have heard that the recently passed health care bill contained all kinds of non-health care related garbage.  One of the items that got a good deal of attention was the fact that starting in 2012, all business purchase transactions of $600 or more must now be reported on an IRS form 1099.

In the past, if a business had some sort of independent contractor do some work, the business had to report the payment (if over $600) on the 1099.  Under the new law, ANY money a business spends in excess of $600 must be reported.

If a business buys $600 worth of paper for their printers, they have to crank out a 1099.  Buy a new phone system, security cameras or new furniture and you have to complete a 1099.  It's insane.

Obviously, this is going to impose a huge burden - and expense - on business.  Of course, that expense will be passed along to the consumer.

That's not the real "ugly" part of this, though.

Historically, individuals and companies that sold precious metals had a requirement to report their own sales transaction when it reached certain thresholds.  As you can see (click), they were pretty high thresholds.  YOU had to report the sale of YOUR precious metals, not the buyer of your PMs.

That is all going to change.  Radically.

Going forward, as with any purchases made, the precious metals buying business will be required to report the transaction if it is in excess of $600. 
The responsibility for issuing forms kicks in at $600 for coins or bullion – not a very high level and one that has already started sounding alarm bells. It doesn’t matter in what form payment is made, whether cash, check, credit card, or Yap stone money, the $600 threshold applies.
Disturbing, to say the least.

Uhm, does anyone think that the IRS will focus extra attention on the 1099's produced by coin shops, pawn shops and jewelry stores?

Yeah.  They're going to want to know of anyone that had money come their way.

So, what will the reaction be by business and the American public?

The most obvious will be the sudden explosion of the black market.  If people need to sell a bunch of PMs, they'll do it off the books.  These people know that if they sell $12,000 in gold, the IRS is going to want their piece of the pie.  They'll sell their gold and silver under-the-table at a discount to market prices, but that discount will be less than what they would have to pay in taxes.

Expect some sort of crack-down on places like Craigslist or other similar sites.

You'll also see an increase in the number of transactions that are under $600.  It will be like the $10,000 cash transaction limit at banks right now.  People will do what they need to do to "stay off the radar".

I'm guessing this may lower the price of gold and increase the price of silver.  Not by huge amounts, but I see a narrowing of the Gold To Silver Price ratio (right now it's about 67:1 per ounce).

It will clearly increase the premium paid for  "fractional gold" - 1/10, 1/4 and (maybe) 1/2 ounce gold pieces.  As long as the piece of gold is less than $600, it will be more desirable.  The one ounce coins might take a bit of a beating.

My guess is that the IRS will eventually require the "taking of seller information" for all PM transactions, regardless of the amount.  The government needs to know how all forms of money are used.  If they can't track the money, they can't get their taxes.  They can't do that with cash or with PMs - for now.  Expect them to fix that oversight.

A congressman from California, Dan Lungren, is trying to get this law changed for precious metals.  I don't give him a high likelihood of success, since the IRS believes this will be a $17 billion per year tax bump for the feds.

Accept The Challenge

You, as a purchaser of precious metals, need to keep good records.  Every time you buy PMs, be sure you retain the receipt.  That is the "basis" the IRS will use for determining any taxes owed.  Sales price minus purchase price (basis) equals taxable income amount.

I'm guessing that without the ability to show the basis for the purchase of the PMs, the IRS would hit you for taxes based on the entire sales prices.

Honestly, I'm still trying to digest this and come up with a strategy.  I want to assume - at least for now - that this law will be enacted with no changes.

Any thoughts on the subject would be appreciated.

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. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Conveniently Unreported News

Gulf oil spill:  Hey, did ya hear?  The US government has decide it doesn't need the services of the A Whale oil skimmer.
The Coast Guard said “thanks, but no thanks” to the superskimmer “A Whale” Friday, as the 1,100 foot-long converted iron ore freighter failed to make a sizeable dent in the Gulf oil spill during a 24-hour testing period.
Where was all of the press on this?  I had to dig like hell to find any information on what was going on with this thing.  The basic "excuse" was that it wasn't able to suck up enough oil to make the feds happy.

Geez, I wonder why that might be -
Although the ship was the only vessel collecting oil during a period of stormy weather, the amounts ultimately didn't justify the expense.
WTF?  You test them during a period when no one else is out sucking up oil due to bad weather, and you THEN call the test a failure?  Again, WTF?

The owner of the ship doesn't seem to be making too much of a stink about this.  I'm guessing they had an anonymous deposit made to their checking account...

I can't figure out what the game is that the Feds are playing, but I'm sure there is some strategic plan in play that ties into the upcoming elections.  Call me jaded...

Shouldn't someone that works at a newspaper ask a couple of questions about this?  Right.  Never mind.

Gold and silver have been getting hammered the last few sessions.  It NOW comes out that the minutes of the June Federal Reserve Bank meeting were released last week -
Gold prices have edged lower Monday as investors continue to digest information from minutes of the Fed's June 22 to 23 meeting, which were released on Wednesday and suggested the possibility of deflationary pressures.
The Fed's minutes indicated that "several participants noted that a continuation of lower-than-expected inflation and high unemployment could eventually lead to a downward movement in inflation expectations that would reinforce disinflationary pressures."
Ah.  Those deflationary pressures that result from a flat and declining economy?  Would those also be the same deflationary pressures that PRECEDE a high inflation period?
Still, some officials had noted during the meeting the possibility of a potentially unsustainable fiscal position, and that the size of the Federal Reserve's balance sheet could boost inflation expectations and actual inflation over time.
Yeah.  Well, it clearly makes sense to keep all of the Fed's actions under lock-and-key.  Their policies sure seem to be working like a charm...

The Fed is giving major hints about the downward spiral of our economy, and there's not a single byte written about this outside of some technical financial sites.  Unreal.

So, we have a double-hammer of inflation to look forward to.  The first blow coming from the "free market" deflation (product on-hand, no demand, slash prices to move inventory) which then turns inflationary once the producers cut back production and Supply and Demand move to equilibrium, raising prices.

This is in concert with the Fed monetary polices which reduce the value of the dollar as they continue to print up money out of thin air ("quantitative easing" is the fancy term).

Throw in the metaphysical certitude of new taxes from Obamacare, Cap and Trade and Financial Reform.  Local and state taxes sure to go up because they're all dying.

Good Times ahead.

If you've got all of your preps taken care of, buy gold and silver during this period.  It's impossible to tell how long this period will last.  The only thing we know for certain is that it won't last forever.

Accept The Challenge

I have no clue what's going on with the oil skimmer.  There is some Major League gamesmanship going on right now between BP and the administration.  Nothing seems to make any sense...

Buying gold and silver has risks.  No doubt about it.  Although I personally buy them as an inflationary hedge, you need to have it in your mind that you are making an investment.  And sometimes, investments loose value.

I don't think they will (over the next few years at least), but this is something YOU need to understand and accept BEFORE you spend your hard-earned dollars.

I suggest anyone who is consider this type of investment spend sometime reading articles about what types of entities are buying gold.  China, India, Russia.  Mind-boggling sums.

Billionaire George Soros says publicly that he believes there is a "gold bubble", yet he DOUBLED his stake in gold last year.  Why might that be?

Trust your gut.

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. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Guns and Minors

This is a reprint of our latest weekly Personal Safety Newsletter.  If you'd like to get on our weekly list, click here and sign up.  At the same time, you can register for our upcoming Emergency Preparedness Newsletter list.  We're estimating that will start coming out in 2 weeks or so.

Our next Personal Safety issue will be our 50th - with the subject being "Flinch Control". Who wouldn't want to control their flinching, huh?  You can read our past issues by clicking here.
Guns and Minors

Last weekend I was teaching our FIRST Steps Pistol Orientation class, and one of the employees of the range came up to me with a question. He said that there was a person in the lobby that wanted to know if I taught minors about gun safety, and if there was an age limit for my classes. This mother had an 11 year old she wanted to take the class.

I told him that I did indeed provide firearms safety training to minors. I told him that so far, my youngest firearms student was 13 years old.

I explained that I had three rules for teaching minors: (1) The child's parent or legal guardian had to attend the same class, (2) The child had to be tall enough to be able to shoot over the shooting bench at the range without assistance, and (3) The child had to have the emotional maturity to be able to sit through the classroom portion of the class and to understand before the class that guns can be dangerous or deadly if misused.

I explain to the parent that I have a very low threshold when it comes to removing a child (along with their chaperoning parent) from the class. It is the parent's responsibility to know their child.

So far this year, I've taught nearly a dozen minors, and not a single one has been removed from a class. These parents know their kids very well.

Much of America - and certainly most of California - has an aversion to teaching minors about guns and gun safety. The belief is that by giving them such information, it will somehow make them more prone to using a gun. I ask these people if their beliefs on drug and alcohol education follow the same logic - that by teaching them about these things means they will more likely abuse them.

I generally get a steely stare... and no response!

When we hear the very infrequent reports of a child accidentally being injured or killed by a handgun, the first reaction is to call for a restriction on guns. Legislators write another law, but nothing changes - at least with regards to children being made more safe around guns.

You see, you can write all the laws you want about gun locks and keeping guns unloaded around children, but if the adult in the home disregards the law - intentionally or not - the child can still end up hurt.

Laws are reactive. Parents need to be proactive. At a very early age - as soon as your child has the emotional maturity - you should teach them about gun safety. You may never allow a gun to be present in your own home, but the homes your children visit may not have similar restrictions.

The NRA has a wonderful program called Eddie Eagle. It is focused on kids between pre-K and grade 3. The entire intent is to teach kids to stay away from guns. STOP! Don't Touch. Leave The Area. Tell An Adult.

From the Eddie Eagle site -
Eddie Eagle is never shown touching a firearm, and he does not promote firearm ownership or use. The program prohibits the use of Eddie Eagle mascots anywhere that guns are present. The Eddie Eagle Program has no agenda other than accident prevention -- ensuring that children stay safe should they encounter a gun. The program never mentions the NRA. Nor does it encourage children to buy guns or to become NRA members.
Most children in this age group simply don't have the ability to render a gun safe - so it makes sense to teach them to get out of harm's way. They DO have the emotional maturity to understand that concept.

You as a parent (or grandparent) have the obligation to be proactive in a child's education - not some legislator or state agency. You may only feel comfortable with Eddie Eagle-style education. That's fine.

You may feel that, once they are a little bit older - and more emotionally mature - they should learn more in-depth usage, safety and storage techniques. That's fine as well.

Keep in mind, though, you need to assume that at some point, they will come in contact with a handgun or rifle. How they react in that situation is wholly dependent upon the education - or lack thereof - they've received.

Next Issue: Flinch Control

Refuse To Be A Victim Group Workshops
Pepper Spray/Stun Gun Group Workshops
Defense Of The Home Consultation
FIRST Steps Pistol Orientation Training
Practical Defensive Pistol Training

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. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Simple Math

Simple Math

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. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Do Something About It

We deserve what we've got.

As a nation, we are pitifully complacent.  We know when something is wrong or a lie, but we just blow it off as no big deal.  We're too busy.  We have other appointments.  Our calendar is full.

Look at some of the things that are in the news right now -

NAACP racism charge against Tea Parties:  Their charges are made up out of thin air.  They carefully word their statement to give themselves plenty of wiggle room, but they know that the story that hits the papers gets the point across that they think the Tea Party is full of nothing but racists.

Never mind the fact that they can't produce a single piece of evidence.  With our press and their race-based genuflecting, it is sufficient for them to simply hint at racism, and it makes front page news.

If you believe in the Tea Party ideal or movement, you have nothing to lose by calling them on their BS.  These bald-faced liars are going to call you a racist anyways, regardless of the veracity of their charges.  I've written before that if the new definition of racist is someone who believes in smaller government and more local control, then count me in.

Why isn't the press all over the administration regarding how they have a press black out on access to the Gulf area, and how the government is actively restricting the clean-up efforts?  Where are the reporters whose job is to challenge government officials?

We briefly hear about the government not allowing skimming barges to collect oil because they haven't had their life vests fire extinguishers counted?  Huh?  Why the SUDDEN safety consciousness?

The last I read, that huge oil-sucking ship ("A Whale") is still "undergoing tests" in the Gulf of Mexico.  Some lame excuse about how the Coast Guard questions its effectiveness.

So what?  Maybe it won't be as effective as advertised.  Maybe it will be a total bust, break up into a million little pieces and sink to the bottom of the ocean.  Would we be any worse off?

No.  The Gulf would still be full of oil, but now it would have an artificial reef for the fish.

And look at the almost Sybil-like dual personality of the DOJ with regards to illegal immigration.  They sue Arizona over their law that cuts-and-pastes from the federal law.  They say they must stop the "patchwork" of state laws -
"This is about who in our constitutional system has the authority to formulate immigration policy," said a senior DoJ official on a conference call with reporters Tuesday afternoon. "And as the Supreme Court has explained, and we believe the constitution makes clear, constitutional and federal law do not permit the development of a patchwork of [immigration laws] throughout this country."
Great.  If that's your position, then why wasn't the first thing you did was to go after all of the states and cities that have "Sanctuary" laws?  These laws are in DIRECT DEFIANCE of federal law, yet you choose to go after a state that has laws that are in DIRECT SUPPORT of federal law.

And by the way, where in the Constitution does it specifically prohibit the states from enforcing or enacting immigration laws for IT'S own borders?   If it's not prohibited, then the Tenth Amendment allows states to apply their "patchwork" of laws.  THAT IS THE WHOLE IDEA OF THE CONSTITUTION!

Do you think a reporter at a large news paper or TV network has asked those questions?  And even if they have, why has the story been buried and replaced by the latest story about some drunk starlet going into rehab?

We have to get off our butts, people.  This laissez faire attitude Americans have had over the past 40 years or so has come back to bite us.  Hard.

Look what Montanan's are doing with this perverse law that wants to teach children sexual positions.  People are getting out and challenging it.  Big time.

Click that link, and look what these bastards want to teach our children.  It really gets interesting with the 5th and 6th grade curriculum.  I'd be going nuts.

Accept The Challenge

Show up.  Be counted.  Get involved.  Do Something About It.

This site is all about taking personal responsibility.  Our passivity is killing us.  Literally.

Use your voice, your dollars and your vote to get things changed.  If you do nothing, YOU are to blame.  There is no one to point a finger towards other than yourself.

Write a letter to a lazy reporter, a megalomaniac government official or corrupt organization leader and send a copy to another group so that they might "spread the word" or take action.  Send a copy to news organizations that are more likely to support - or at least report - the truth of the matter.

Write your local newspaper and tell them about an upcoming event and how you expect them to cover what is going on, or you'll drop your subscription.

If there is a rally, be there.  Bring your signs, bring your fliers, bring your voice.  Be clear on how you expect your elected officials to act.

If there is an election, vote.  Volunteer for the campaign of the persons you support.  Help your person raise money.  Educate others about why you're getting involved.  And if the new guy/gal fooled you and was nothing but a lying piece of garbage, do the same thing all over with their next opponent.

Withdraw your support for clubs or groups to which you now pay dues.  Tell them what you expect to happen, and if it doesn't happen, the cash will end.  You'll stop paying dues, you'll vote against them and you'll stop making donations or stop buying their fund raising products.

When your membership renewal comes due, send it back empty with a note saying you're spending your money with a group that acts as you want them to act.

Unless you like the idea of being told what kind of fat you can eat or the amount of salt allowed in your food, where you are allowed to provide for your own personal defense, being painted as a racist for saying what you believe in - even when race is not an issue - or having your membership dues applied towards laws which harm this country, get off your butt and Do Something About It.

I'm tired of the whining.  Get active or get lost.

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. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Just Add Water: Vegetable Beef Soup

**UPDATE:  Statistics added at end of post.**

I recently purchased a 6-can package of freeze dried and dehydrated vegetables from USA Emergency Supply:  Corn, peas, carrots, celery, potatoes and onions.  Like most folks, I've used dried potato flakes and dried onion flakes for a good long time, but I'd never tried the other items.

All of these are made by Honeyville Farms, which has been a very consistent product for me in the past.  I think the only food I've purchased from them in the past that I didn't like was their powdered butter.  OMG, it was horrible!

The onions, carrots and celery were dehydrated, and the corn and peas were freeze dried.  I don't know how they processed the potatoes.

I decided to try a Just Add Water (JAW) soup with the corn, peas, carrots and celery.  When I opened the cans, I tasted each of them in their dry state.  The freeze dried peas and corn were fantastic as-is.  If they weren't so expensive, they'd make a great snack.  The carrots were also very good while dry, but the celery was horrible.  Chewy and quite salty tasting.

I also decided to add some deydrated beef.  I got this from a while back.  I've used this in the past and have always had great success with it.  It is very tasty stuff.

Here's what they look like right out of the can (clockwise - peas, celery, beef, corn, carrots) -

I made up the following recipe (enough for two bowls) -

4C boiling water
4tsp beef bullion soup stock
1/4 C freeze dried peas
1/4 C dehydrated carrots
1/4 C freeze dried corn
1/4 C dehydrated celery
1/4 C freeze dried beef

After the water came to a boil, I just dumped everything into the pot and covered it for 5 minutes with the heat off.  The beef and all of the veggies except for the celery were fully cooked and tender.  It took another 5 minutes or so before the celery lost most of its chewy texture.


Commenter Marine83 had asked for the calorie stats on the meal.  I usually add this info, but had forgotten - thanks Marine83 for the reminder!

These numbers are for the 4-cup recipe listed above.
Accept The Challenge

For the JAW packs I make up, I'm going to exclude the celery.  I think this stuff needs to be long, slow simmered before it really loses its chewy texture.  I think it would be good in a chowder or other soup that you had plenty of fuel and time.  Part of the idea for the JAW recipes is quick, easy and low fuel consumption.

I'll be making these in two sizes:  Single serving (half the size of the above recipe) to be included in my GHB, since its contents are generally geared towards single-serving portions.

The other size will be a doubling of the recipe for family-sized meals.  This would be fantastic for a camping or backpacking trip.  Very light and very nutritious.

This is one of the doubled-up packages.  It only weighs 6 ounces!

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. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Monday, July 12, 2010


Sorry for the dearth of posts, but it's been busy as all get-out the past week.  Tomorrow, I'll have some more (horror) stories about dealing with state and local government while trying to start another business (remember to breath, breath, breath), as well as another Just Add Water post.

I swear, I have no idea how this state has survived this long.  Being ONLY $20 billion in the hole is a miracle...

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. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Thinking Out Loud

We all saw the BART cop trial and verdict.  Here's an incident from 7 years ago that was virtually identical. 

Well, except for the race and gender of the officer involved.  Ya think that had anything to do with the decision not to prosecute? 

I'm sure the Justice Department is rushing to review this case for federal law violations just as they are doing with the BART cop...


An excellent - albeit rambling - look into financial markets ("Crisis Redux: Road to Perdition") had this insightful little tidbit on High Frequency Trading (HFT) that drives virtually all of the market volume -
A liquidity analysis by Abel-Noser indicates that the US stock market has morphed into a sickly concentrated pool where the top 99 stocks account for 50.1% of total domestic trading volume. In June, the top 20 stocks accounted for 28.9% of all domestic volume, an increase to record level logged each month. The HFT algorithms are forced methodically in a reduced number of only the most liquid stocks. The game actually results in gradual removal of players from the market.
Well THAT'S not good.  HFT is what they THINK may have caused the 1000 point drop in the market a while back.  It sure doesn't look rosy, and I don't think it's going to get any better any time soon.


Gotta go - teaching an introductory firearms class and then have a one-on-one student right afterwords.  Every student today is a female!  I love that change in outlook from just a year ago.

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. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Berries, Bullets and Bureaucracy

Yesterday was supposed to be our big foraging day - for blackberries.  Well..... it was a bust.  I just don't get it.  At this time last year, my friend and I had a massive haul of berries.  Another friend and I went out yesterday, and not a ripe berry was to be found.

The stores are full of blackberries, so they're ripe somewhere (hot house?).  I'd guess these wild berries won't be ready for another month or so.  Quite disappointing.

One bright spot - the bushes are massively full.  There is going to be great haul - it will just be a delayed one!  Plus, while I was gone, a neighbor brought over a big old bag of peaches.  Not exactly foraging, but it beats a sharp stick in the eye...

I just read the best reasoning for supporing the Second Amendment that I have ever read in my life.  I am shocked where I found the article. 

The Daily Kos.

I kid you not.  It is titled, Why Liberals Should Love The Second Amendment.  Take the time to read the whole thing - it is so very well written and reasoned.
Those who fight against Second Amendment rights cite statistics about gun violence, as if such numbers are evidence enough that our rights should be restricted. But Chicago and Washington DC, the two cities from which came the most recent Supreme Court decisions on Second Amendment rights, had some of the most restrictive laws in the nation, and also some of the highest rates of violent crime. Clearly, such restrictions do not correlate with preventing crime.
You go, girl!

I figured that the lady that wrote the article was a token conservative on the site.  Nope.  I read some of her other posts, and she's a dyed-in-the-wool Big Government believer.  Quite simply, she "gets it" when it comes to the taking of our rights - any of our rights.

Semi-deep thoughts:  I heard someone saying on the radio that economist Milton Friedman was a believer that there should be no licensure requirements for opening a business or performing a service.  I have no idea if that's true or not - I don't really care.

But it got me thinking.  I agree with the idea.

I remember reading a story a few years back about a guy named Roger Bean that made and repaired dentures for old folks down in Florida.  He charged his customers about 10% or 20% of what his competition charged.  He'd never had a complaint about his work, and all of his customers were from word-of-mouth referrals.

He made the dentures in some grimy garage.  He was charged with a felony - practicing dentistry without a license.  No one was injured.  No one complained about his quality.  Some dentist probably found out about him and "dropped a dime".  And now he's a felon simply for not getting the proper paperwork and governmental blessings.

It seems to me that you should be able to start any business you'd like.  Any certifications or degrees that you want to obtain to demonstrate your expertise are a matter that should be between you and your customers.

The big item that people point to are doctors, "I don't want some crack-pot taking out my appendix!"  Great.  Choose a doctor that has all of the degrees and experience that make you as a customer confident that things will turn out right.

Instead of people actually looking into the background of people that perform services for them, they assume that, in the case of a doctor, that seeing, "MD" after their name guarantees competence.
According to Dr. Barbara Starfield of the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, 250,000 deaths per year are caused by medical errors, making this the third-largest cause of death in the U.S., following heart disease and cancer.
That is stunning.  A quarter of a million people dead because they went to the doctor.  That's a lot of death caused by people who presumably know what they're doing.  Every one of them had the government Seal Of Approval.  In every one of those instances, the Seal was worthless.

How about the government regulation being that you have to have a certain amount of liability insurance?  If someone is harmed by faulty dentures, or bad pizza or crappy tire repair, they have a way to get financial satisfaction in the event you won't make good on whatever warranty you offer.

I'm not so naive to not know that most of the regulation has more to do with control and taxation than on consumer protection.  We see time and again that the regulation either does nothing (can you say "BP Oil Spill"?) or is a driving cause of a problem (i.e., the housing market melt-down).

The problem with regulation is that the regulators are never held accountable when their regulatees mess up.  Who in the government has lost their job over the housing crisis, the BP spill or any of the other messes happening in regulated industries?  No one.

I'm sure everyone has heard of the Jaycee Dugard case.  The girl that was kidnapped and made a sexual slave for 20 years.  This whole mess happened not 10 miles from where I live. 

The rapist had regular visits from out local sherrifs and parole officers.  It turns out now that these incompetent asses actually spoke with Jaycee on a number of occasions, PLUS spoke with the children she had with the rapist.

This massive incompetence by government officials cost Jaycee her childhood.  She will likely be messed up for her entire life.  We Californians now get to pay her $20 million dollars on top of this all (and I don't begrudge her a dime of it).

Instead, just like the regulators of banks that were encouraged to make un-payable loans, or regulators that didn't verify that the disaster plans BP supposedly had in place WERE ACTUALLY THERE, these sheriffs, parole officers and police officials that screwed up by not doing their jobs should have their retirement accounts seized to pay for this payment to Jaycee.

They didn't do what they were being paid to do.  They don't deserve to retire on our dime.

There have to be consequences to their (in)actions or the regulatory framework is worthless as teats on a bull.  We all know that consequences will never happen, so we might as well do away with the regulatory framework, because it does nothing for us.
Arghhhh.  I know I can close my eyes, click my heals and hope it will all get better.  Of course, it won't.  In all of the cases I mentioned, regulation is being increased, not corrected.  The government tries to look like it knows how to fix the problem, and it always seems to come with more bureaucracy and taxes.  Accountability is still not a part of any equation.  It never will be.

More taxes, more control, more incompetence.

See what we've got to look forward to?

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. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Just Add Water: Tomato Sauce and Pasta

I've mentioned before that I have this semi-obsession with making up recipes where you Just Add Water (JAW) and eat.  Well, here's another one.  This is a bit more complex to prepare than just pouring in water and eating it up - but not much more difficult!

While I'm not a huge fan of tomato sauce (I'm more of a white sauce kind of guy), I wanted to try something with tomatoes since they do go well with so many dishes.  The problem was finding some sort of emergency tomato sauce.

I think I've found it.

I found Dehydrated Tomato Powder on a number of internet sites.  The stuff ain't cheap.  I found some on a site I trust and have used before - USA Emergency Supply - at a good price.  When combined with some other purchases, the shipping charges were very manageable.

To make a sauce, the directions said to add 1/8 cup (2 Tablespoons) of powder with 1/2 cup of water.  I made the mix up - with cold water.  It mixed up very easily, but was too runny.  It was more like a V8 Juice consistency.

I added one more tablespoon of powder, mixed it up, and it was perfect consistency.

Its consistency was somewhere between canned sauce and tomato paste.  The flavor was tangy - probably more tangy than canned tomato sauce, but very palatable and edible.  I then added the following spices to turn the tomato sauce into a pasta sauce -

JAW Pasta Sauce (makes 1/2 cup of sauce)

1/2 cup water
3 tbls tomato powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp dried onions
1/2 tsp dried garlic
1.2 tsp dried oregano

I let this sit for 5 minutes to re-hydrate the onion and garlic pieces, and to let the flavors come together.  Also, I would add more salt - another 1/4 tsp - if it were just for me.  My wife liked it just as is.  Obviously, adjust the spices to your own liking.

Since this was for long-term storage, I did not add any Parmesan cheese.  If I was making these up for a camping trip, I would definitely add some cheese - probably a full teaspoon for the sauce, and more to be added to the top after I was finished preparing the dish.

I then cooked up a 1/2 cup of dry pasta per their instructions, and put everything together.  I was very impressed with the flavor -

For the JAW (single serving size) I added the powder and spices to a ziplock "snack size" bag -

I then put the ziplock, pasta and instructions (the yellow paper) into an overly-large FoodSaver vacuum bag -

The reason I used the overly large bag was so I could use it as a serving container.  The FoodSaver bags are boil-able.  I won't be using it to boil this stuff up, but it will be used to either serve the pasta, or as a container to catch the pasta water (conserve water, folks!). 

You would first cook up the pasta.  Empty the snack bag into the FoodSaver bag.  When the pasta is done, you take a half cup of the water and pour it over the tomato sauce ingredients, mix it up well and let it sit for 5 mins.  Then strain the pasta, add to the bag and eat.

Accept The Challenge

The nice thing with this recipe is that it's scalable - the instructions will give you enough food for one person.  Multiply by the number of folks in your group, and you're good to go.  This sauce could be used with any recipe that uses tomato sauce.  I really was impressed by the stuff.

One thing that I saw on the website was that the stuff loves water - from the air (hydrophillic).  After the can is opened, it needs to be used or air-tight sealed in short order.  I'll be dumping the can into a vacuum bag that is over-sized so I can cut and reuse it.

For variations, I'm going to add some dehydrated beef so I have pasta with meat sauce.  My next JAW will use dehydrated veggies, so I'll see how they come out and if it would make sense to add some to this recipe.

Experiment while times are good and money is plentiful.

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. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Growing Underground Economy

I was over at TSLRF and had commented on a post about money ("Good Places To Put Money").

I commented that I thought real estate still has a ways to drop, but gold and silver still have significant up-side.  I think we'll have some deflation, then ugly inflation.  If we or Israel attack Iran, all of this uber-inflation will happen more quickly.

A commenter named Chris had a lengthy, well-thought-out comment about why he thought precious metals might not be such a good idea.  In part, he said -
The thing is you will be taxed on that illusionary paper profit at the ugly collectibles rate of 28%. There will have to be some massive inflation to make up for that. So, after taxes, you will be able to buy a nice set of Italian Bermuda shorts.

So, unless you have a really good accountant or are prepared to commit massive tax fraud, I just don't see PM's as a great place for wealth. As the .gov's cash flow picture gets worse, I don't think they will suddenly decide to treat PM's more favorably or reduce IRS audits.
He's right.  At a minimum, you are legally obliged to pay - at a minimum - income tax on your gain between your purchase price and sales price.

He's also right in that, as things worsen, the government will pay more attention to precious metals transactions.

His comment got me thinking about barter and other supposed "shady deals" - transactions that happen off-the-books every single day which should technically have some sort of tax attached to them.

From what I understand (and this could be TOTALLY incorrect) if I trade the use of my lawnmower for two jars of peach jam, no tax is due.  That is, UNLESS I am a professional lawn maintenance person, or a profession peach jam maker.  Then, because my chosen, cash-earning profession is involved, taxes must be paid.

From what I have observed, no one ever pays taxes on any of these transactions.  I don't prepare taxes for a living, but I'd be shocked if a guy with a lawn mowing business gives his CPA a list of bartered items each year.

The government knows this.  I don't know if there will ever be a way to capture the taxes on these transactions unless they set up some sort of "sting" operation.  Would they ever do that?  I guess it depends on how desperate they get.  It would be a helluva reason to make an asset seizure...

I can see them doing something about sites such as Craigslist.  In their eyes, it must look like the equivalent of a site advertising free child porn, but for non-taxed products and services.  They must be very angry.

Ironically, although CL is run by dyed-in-the-wool socialists, it is essentially engaged in promoting the exchange of goods and services where no tax is involved.  How will the .gov's get their piece-of-the-pie?

If they can't figure that out, I'd guess they will shut it down under some, "Enemy of the state" law.

That brings us back to precious metals.  As commenter Chris noted, lots of taxes will be due when your PMs are sold.  I'm guessing that, like Craigslist or even barter transactions, people will (and do) consciously not pay taxes on their gains.

Unless there is a very conspicuous "paper trail" - buying or selling from an online source, or buying in-person with a debit or credit card - people see no reason to give up any of their gains to the government.  When you sell your coins to a shop, the transaction is supposed to be recorded.  It assumes that the name given to the store owner is your real name.

My guess is that the .gov will further clamp down on coin and jewelry shops over the next few years - just like they did with banks.  While the justification will be "to fight terrorism," its actual goal will be to separate you from your money.

That will simply push people further and further into the Underground Economy.  It'll be Craigslist On Steroids.  It has happened every time in every country that raises taxes above some level of fiscal discomfort - I read 20% somewhere.

We're clearly above that threshold now, and it will be getting much worse in the months and years to come.  The jobs the administration is helping to create are not the kind they had in mind!

Here in California, if you make a marginally-decent income, your income is already taxed about 60% (state and fed income tax).  You then have property taxes, gas tax, sales tax, bridge tolls (which just increased 25% here in Nor Cal), communications taxes, tobacco taxes, alcohol taxes, power-supply taxes and water taxes to eat up your remaining dollars.  If (when) a Value Added Tax (VAT) is put in place, we'll be paying taxes on our food as well.

Not much left after your income has been redistributed.

Accept The Challenge

It's gut-check time.  Do you think you're over-taxed?  If so, will you (or do you) willingly break our tax laws?

It is not such an easy question, especially when you've been raised as a law-abiding, follow-the-rules citizen.  Everyone has to make their own choices, but it's really a black-or-white issue:  You'll either follow our laws, or you won't.  If we pick-and-choose the laws we want to follow, don't we have anarchy?

Or is there a morally justified "gray area" in all of this?

One of my favorite Ayn Rand quotes comes to mind -
"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."
Kind of interesting.  Today is Independence Day.  Weren't taxes involved way-back-when....?

Plan accordingly.

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. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Preps, Foraging and Illegal Aliens

I just got a couple shipments for our preps.  In addition to some more food grade buckets and lids, I picked up a couple of items I've never purchased before.

I got two #10 cans of Tomato Powder and a six-can variety pack of freeze-dried veggies (one #10 can each of corn, peas, celery, carrots, potato flakes, onion).  Next week, I will be testing these supplies for some more Just Add Water food packs.  More posts to follow...

I'll be doing some major foraging next week.  It's blackberry time!

Last year around this time, a buddy and I spent just a couple of hours out on the levees of the Sacramento delta, and came away with 6 pounds of berries.  These bushes are everywhere.

I'm heading out on Wednesday with a friend and his kids to do some major berry damage in the morning.  I'll then be returning the next day with my fellow-forager from last year.

Blackberry jam, wine and melomel (fruit-flavored honey-wine, aka mead) are in my future...
(b) With respect to any such person who is arrested, and suspected of being present in the United States in violation of federal immigration laws, every law enforcement agency shall do the following:
(1) Attempt to verify the legal status of such person as a citizen of the United States, an alien lawfully admitted as a permanent resident, an alien lawfully admitted for a temporary period of time or as an alien who is present in the United States in violation of immigration laws. The verification process may include, but shall not be limited to, questioning the person regarding his or her date and place of birth, and entry into the United States, and demanding documentation to indicate his or her legal status.
Is this an excerpt from the controversial Arizona law that goes into effect at the end of this month?

Not so much.  It's from CALIFORNIA Penal Code 834b.

Apparently, there is one, and only one police department in this state that actually helps to enforce this law.  It's in the small Northern California town of Rio Vista -
Solano County's smallest city has found itself in the middle of one of the nation's biggest debates -- the immigration issue -- following a traffic stop that led to the arrest and deportation of two Latino men who were in the country illegally.
The cop asked the driver for a license.  The guy didn't have one, and he told the cop that he was here illegally.  The passenger in the car made a similar disclosure.  The department called ICE, who said to detain them.  They were then deported.

Great news, right?!  Our system worked as it should.  Shockingly (not!), everyone doesn't think this was so great -
Attorney Hector Cavazos Jr., who does not represent either of the Reyes men, said he nonetheless spoke to the wife of Joel Reyes and was told that after both men failed to produce driver's licenses, the officer asked them to provide green cards or show proof of citizenship.
Perhaps attorney Cavazos should re-read the penal code as excerpted above. Clearly, the police are allowed (if not required) to request evidence of citizenship.
According to Reyes' wife, this inquiry was made under penal code section 834b, which is only a preemptive statue and something that is not enforceable by state or local authorities, Cavazos claimed.

"As soon as they said they didn't have driver's licenses, they should have been told to leave," Cavazos said. "The inquiry should have stopped there."

Cavazos went on to say that any questions regarding the legal status of their being in the United States would have been completely improper.

"State and local authorities have no authority policing or enforcing immigration," he said.
Really? The copy of PC 834b that I found on the Internet doesn't indicate any such thing. It is fully enforceable by any state or local authority -
(a) Every law enforcement agency in California shall fully cooperate with the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service regarding any person who is arrested if he or she is suspected of being present in the United States in violation of federal immigration laws.

(c) Any legislative, administrative, or other action by a city, county, or other legally authorized local governmental entity with jurisdictional boundaries, or by a law enforcement agency, to prevent or limit the cooperation required by subdivision (a) is expressly prohibited.
The way I read that, it says that law enforcement is prohibited from NOT enforcing federal immigration laws when a local police officer suspects that someone is here illegally.

This cop didn't need to suspect the guys were here illegally, he was told so.  Case closed.

Have a wonderful weekend celebrating Independence Day.  Be safe out there!

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. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.