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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Security - Physical and Financial

We're in the process of getting our PM shop ready to rock.  Tons of stuff going on to keep us and our merchandise safe and secure.  Some things I've run across - 

Do you have an Android smart phone that is on the ATT phone system?  If you do, your personal voicemail system may be at risk.
It is shockingly easy to gain access to an AT&T customer's voicemail using caller ID spoofing techniques. What's worse is that AT&T knows about it. On your Android phone, download one of the two caller ID spoofing programs. Input the number of your target as the destination number and then enter the same number as the spoofed caller ID. Then connect your call. If the target has not added a voicemail password (the default is no password), you will be dropped into a random menu of their voicemail and eventually can drill up or down to get what you want.
Wow.  Sure would suck having your VM system taken over by someone with bad intentions.  If it was your business line, think about your competitor having first crack at your business messages...

Security camera analytics - this system is "semi-intelligent" in that you set up rules for various areas of the camera view.  If these areas are crossed, alarms are tripped -

I like the idea of the system recognizing people being in sensitive areas, but it seems like you'd get a boatload of false positives.  If the police were called every time someone tripped one of these camera sensors, I think you'd get a reputation as "the boy who cried wolf" and the police would stop showing up - including when you really need them.

Where this might be very beneficial is if it could be set up during off-hours only.  If I have someone creeping around my back door at 2am, send the cavalry!

This could easily work in a home environment as well...

Chief Instructor is a partner in a precious metals business.  Take that into consideration when reading what follows.

What do you do about retirement plans right now?

I have zero confidence that any private retirement accounts will remain that way - private.  I can't see any way for the federal government, regardless of party-in-charge, from NOT nationalizing these private accounts.

We're broke as a country.  There is no one that disputes that.  We spend nearly twice as much as we take in.

The feds must increase the nation's cash flow.  You can only tax so far the slightly over 50% of all Americans that actually pay taxes.  More is coming, but a limit will be reached at some point in the future.

Our international bankers, primarily the Chinese, are at best, slowing down their purchases of our debt.  China has been selling, not buying for the past few months.  They've reduced their holdings in our Treasuries by 6% in the last two months alone.

The world is losing confidence in our ability to repay our debt.

The Federal Reserve Bank (FRB) will have to increase the amount of our own debt that they're buying (monetizing).
The declining mortgage portfolio was the focal point of debate. The Fed could allow it to continue going down or it could try to keep it stable by putting the money from maturing mortgage bonds into new securities, either Treasurys or other mortgage bonds.
So the FRB will create more money out of thin air (or roll-over bonds that were purchased with "created" money), and use that money to buy our own country's debt.  From one pocket to another.

They need "fresh" money.

They can't easily take it from businesses because they know that would plunge the economy even further down the toilet.  Even socialists understand the need for commerce.

Our retirement funds are the last un-plucked fruit.  If our government does not do the same thing that Argentina did with their nationalization of retirement funds, I'll be shocked beyond belief.

My only question will be how the feds will handle the union retirement funds.

If you believe this will happen, what do you do? 

What if you're 25, have most of your life ahead of you, and you want to plan for your future?  If you believe the money will be taken, do you still fund your 401k or IRA?

What if you're 50, and approaching the end of your career?  Do you take advantage of the government's relaxation of tax rules allowing you to accelerate the amount of money you can put into "tax free" accounts?

You may not get to vote.  The "Auto IRA" is being pimped by a couple of Democrats, and is supported by the conservative Heritage Foundation.  Their view is that since we all know Social Security in bankrupt and will not be able to pay what's been promised, we need another way to save our money.

Pay twice, withdraw (at best) once.  No thanks.

As I've noted many times before, if you've taken care of your basic living needs, precious metals seem to be the only alternative for financial security.

The feds have recognized this, and have instituted a number of reporting requirements, such as the upcoming $600 IRS form 1099 requirements.  If you sell anything to a business for $600 or more, the government gets notified.

Expect an outstretched hand from good old Uncle Sugar wanting his piece of the proceeds.  I also wouldn't be surprised to see another PM confiscation like we saw in the last Depression.  Can't allow wealth in private hands, can we?

So what will happen?  The black market will flourish.  Gold and silver will be traded privately, outside of the reach of the government.

I think owning real estate will be another way to safeguard your assets, at least for a while.  While it won't necessarily make you money, it will save your cash flow if you have enough cash into the property.

Personally, we're waiting at least 1 year - probably 2 years - before we buy some land.  I don't think we're anywhere near the bottom of the market.  No reason to sink your cash into a piece of property only to see those dollars evaporate away. 

The only way that time line would change for us is if we were able to work out some seriously great purchase terms.  In times like this, the possibility of this happening have increased.  Keep your eyes open for deals.

My biggest worry is property taxes going through the roof, and paid-for properties getting seized in tax auctions.   That will not end well for all parties involved.

Accept The Challenge

Safety.  Quite the topic.

If you think about it, we've been programmed to relinquish responsibility for every facet of our safety.  Give up your guns, the police have got your back.  Give up your retirement responsibility, Social Security to the rescue!  Your food comes from government approved processors, so there's no need to look behind the curtain yourself.

Keep enough cash in the bank to pay your bills.  Keep the rest in greenbacks while they still have some "value" so you can take advantage of deals as they present themselves.  Put the rest into PMs that you can put into a secure place outside of a bank.

Honestly, if someone has another path, I want to hear it.  Sell me on any idea that doesn't end as I've outlined.  I have no desire to have this happen, but I see it as inevitable.

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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.


GunRights4US said...

Ya know… even reading the phrase “paid-for properties getting seized in tax auctions” sets my teeth on edge. I have this quaint little notion that my property line constitutes the boundary of a country call the United States of ME, and I’m ready…willing… and able…to enforce MY boundaries. Any attempt to seize my home for unpaid property taxes will result in bloody WAR!

Chief Instructor said...

Guns, I hear ya.

If/when this happens, I pray I'm not the first guy on the list of property seizures. Guy Number 1 will be dead when the event is over. Maybe even Guys 2-10.

But then people are going to see that perhaps they're next on the list. People will begin coming to the aid of their neighbors.

At least that's what I want to believe.

MikeH. said...


It sounds like the path you (we) are on is the best one for the time being. Just leave some "wiggle" room in case you may be forced to resort to a "plan B."


Chief Instructor said...

Mike, Indeed. I'm a firm believer in "Don't Put All of your Eggs In One Basket".

But there's only so much ammo I can buy ;-)

Seriously, I figure that having our money liquid and available gives us many more options. Between SS and a true retirement plan both my wife and I got a million years ago from The Stage Coach bank, our fixed costs, at least, should be covered, regardless of how bad inflation gets (unless it's Zimbabwe or Wiemar).

If either of those happen, we're all screwed anyways, so land, gold and silver will be the only ways to recover.

Anonymous said...

Why wouldn't you pay the taxes? Do you really think you can win that fight? Pay your taxes and the government won't seize your property for unpaid taxes. DUH!

Chief Instructor said...

Anon, yeah.

Let me ask you a question. Let's say you've been on your property for 20 years. Each year, your property is re-assessed by the government so that the value - thus the basis for the taxes - is generally increased each year.

But the market changes. Values drop, say by 50 percent over a two year period. Instead of your taxes dropping proportionately, they continue to rise.

You officially challenge the taxing authority. You supply market estimates from 3 different real estate firms, all of which show the current value has dropped by 50 percent.

For challenging the taxing authority, your "Official" valuation is further INCREASED, along with your taxes.

What would you do? If you decide to pay, how long would you do so?

BTW, this is not a hypothetical example. It is currently happening to a friend of mine in Georgia.

Anonymous said...

What you are describing absolutely happens. In the early 70's I took a real estate class from a man who had been a appraiser for the tax collector in Los Angeles who was actually happy to tax a little old lady out of her little two bedroom house because a high rise had been built next to her. His logic was that she was not using the property in in highest and best use and therefore should be taxed at a rate reflecting the highest and best use, i.e. a high rise. He was part of the problem. The cure was prop 13. I lived in California when that passed and their property tax was astronomical and their legislature not only would not solve the problem they willfully sabotaged any efforts to solve it within the legislature. But the answer was NOT to shoot the sheriff or the appraiser, the answer was to change the law. Every state has or soon will face the same problem as revenues decline (or at least don't increase as fast as they can spend it). We need to elect better people and be active in politics. I would go one step further and say EVERY property should pay property tax; churches, fire houses, city hall, everything. Part of the reason it is so easy to just keep increasing these taxes is that not everyone pays them. Do you think someone who lives in an apartment pays their fair share? In my opinion a more fair way would be every home/apartment pay the exact same tax. After all they get the exact same fire and police protection.

Chief Instructor said...

Anon, think about what happened with the Kelo vs New London. Same thing as you described above. It was in "the greater good" for the government to take the property thru eminent domain, then sell it to a private interest for the SOLE reason of increasing tax revenues.

SCOTUS said, "O-kee Do-kee" and the Kelo's lost their property. That's not even marginally close to what the founders intended. But you get some bastards in DC who all agree to change the intent, and crap like that happens.

Ryan said...

I don't see the nationalization thing happening. Maybe I'm just being naive or sticking my head in the sand.

Chief Instructor said...

Ryan, I think retirement account nationalization is almost a foregone conclusion. After the recent congressional testimony last week, the private companies have laid the ground work for them to get some government backing (they were whining about being able to meet their fiduciary duties). It will be offered, and one of them will go belly-up. The administration at the time will step in, and say that they need to take this over for our own good. The rest of the dominoes will fall right after that.

That's basically what they did in Argentina. Set 'em up, then knock 'em down...