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Friday, October 29, 2010

Best Pumpkin Carving Ever

I have a new hero in my life...

If you STILL haven't got you Halloween pumpkins carved, here's a new technique. Give it a shot (sorry).

I need to find a place to try this...

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

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Default On Monetized Debt?

A friend of mine brought up this question, and I didn't have an answer.

What would happen - negatively - if the Treasury selectively defaulted on the T-bills/bonds that are part of the monetized debt held by the Federal Reserve Bank (FRB)?

For those of you who aren't finance geeks, part of our national debt is considered "monetized".  This happens when one part of our government buys the debt of another.  The Treasury issues T-bills or bonds.  This is a part of our national debt.  The FRB literally creates money by pushing keys on a computer, and buys some of this debt.

So, one arm of the federal government takes money out of one pocket and puts it in the other pocket.  It's insane and obscenely inflationary, but it's how we do business.

The Treasury uses the proceeds from the sale of the debt to pay our national bills.

So, what would happen if the Treasury notified the world that they were going to default ONLY on the debt held by the FRB?

It's not like the Treasury had to put up any collateral as security for the debt.  The Washington Monument isn't going to be foreclosed upon.  They were banking on the "full faith and credit" scam.

The Fed will be none the worse, as it's not like they sold a bunch of gold or silver to scrape together the money to buy the bonds/bills.

The National Debt would be reduced by the amount of the default, so all other holders of T-bills/bonds would be happy, since there would now be a lower likelihood of default on the debt they hold (since the Treasury would no longer have to get money from taxes or new debt to pay interest on the FRB-held debt).

The asset side of the FRB balance sheet would be reduced by the defaulted bills/bonds, but again, it was really created out of thin air anyways, so what's the big deal?

The only negative thing I can think of is that the "full faith and credit" scam would have a black eye.  BFD.  It's on shaky ground - at best.

Hell, maybe that's been the plan all along.  Or am I missing something here?

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

Monday, October 25, 2010

Using A Holster - Part 1

Here's a copy of our last Bison Risk Management Newsletter.  Part Two is being emailed out tomorrow.  If you want to join our mailing list (names/addresses never sold, rented, traded or bartered!), fill in the box below and you, too, will be fully versed in Holsters 101!

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This is part 1 of a 2-part article on how to select and use a holster for your handgun. In Part 1 we'll discuss what qualities you should look for in a holster. In Part 2 we'll discuss the numerous styles (and what they're used for) as well as how to safely and quickly use your holster.

In our Practical Defensive Pistol class, holster use techniques are covered in great detail.

Not a lot of people own a holster for their handguns. At least not holsters that they use on a regular basis.

In practice, there's generally not a lot of reason to use a holster for most folks, as they don't have the ability to carry a handgun while in public (at least not here in California for most people).

Still, there are instances for those with a handgun to need to use a holster. These include as a back-up while hunting (check your state, federal and local gun laws!) or while at your place of business for asset and personal protection (again, check your local gun laws).

I have three requirements of any holster I buy, regardless of the application for which it will be used: (1) Ability to hold the gun securely; (2) the ability to draw the weapon quickly, a very importantly; (3) the ability to to re-holster the gun without using your support hand to hold open the holster.

(1) Hold securely: There are two major ways this is accomplished: Via a Retention Holster, or via a molded holster. Retention holsters have two major ways of doing this: With a Thumb Break (a piece of material that covers the hammer) or a new type called a SERPA holster.

The SERPAs require you to run your index finger down the outside of the holster to depress a retention button which releases the gun. Retention holsters are primarily used by law enforcement and security guards to ensure their weapon is not taken from them during a struggle.

For civilians, I prefer a molded holster. The best (IMO) are made of a material called Kydex or polycarbonate. They are produced specifically for each model of firearm. The gun "clicks" in place very securely.

You can get them made of animal hide (horse or cow), but these tend to "crush" if they are used with Inside the Waist Band holsters, and can shrink if exposed to rain or perspiration.

(2) Draw quickly: This is as much of a factor of the gun design and the clothing being worn as it is a function of the style and placement of the holster. For instance, an Open Carry holster on the strong side hip can be drawn much more quickly than an ankle holster concealed by a pant leg.

A hammerless semi-automatic carried in an Inside the Waist Band holster can generally be drawn more quickly than a revolver with a knurled external hammer in the same style holster - the hammer is more likely to be caught on your clothing while drawing your gun in a stressful situation.

(3) Re-holster with support hand only: You need to be able to get your handgun back into your holster with one hand so that the other hand can be used to move clothing out of the way. Having to "fight" the gun back into the holster because it has crushed or repositioned itself can lead to accidental discharges.

It is very important that your holster is made for your specific gun. This can sometimes be difficult, as not all holster manufacturers make holsters for every model of handgun.

Some holster styles and applications are more "forgiving" with regards to getting a "custom fit" for your handgun.

Next Issue: Holsters - Styles and Drawing Technique

Basic Pistol Training - FIRST Steps Pistol Orientation
Advanced Skills Training - Practical Defensive Pistol
Private Lessons - Intermediate & Advanced Personal Pistol

Accept The Challenge

Determining the proper holster for your desired application, your physical capabilities and your budget (some of these can be quite expensive!) is critically important.  When I bought my first holster, the primary consideration was cost.

That holster still sits - unused - in a drawer.  It was a generic soft leather holster that could not securely hold the gun.  It was truly more of a liability than an asset.

Take the time to research your holsters.  Read our next newsletter (it will be posted on our website's Newsletter Archive section in about a week if you can't bring yourself to sign up for the newsletter!) to get a better understanding about the different types and placement locations that are available to you, as well as the best way to draw/unholster your weapon when it's needed.

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

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Golden Rule

Our PM store is in an odd location.  We're right between a high socio-economic area and a low one.  We've been doing business with both groups.  I'd guess it's been 1/3 from the lower economic folks, and 1/3 from the higher group.  The last portion of customers are from outside of the area.

Most have been selling.  Times are tough for everyone.

I had my favorite sale a couple of days ago.  His name was Alex.  He is six years old.

A young father brought him into the shop.  His son had saved up his birthday money and scraped together a total of $78.  Pretty damned impressive for such a young kid.  It was a twenty dollar bill, 8 singles and the rest in rolls of quarters and dimes.  Yeah, fifty bucks in quarters and dimes.

Alex made it very clear that HE was there to buy some coins.  It was HIS money.

I asked him what he was looking for.  Silver and gold, sir.  Silver and gold.

I'm likin' this kid!

We had some very nice one ounce sterling silver coins that depicted different historical events.  He picked out three of them that had to do with the space program, the first American rocket test, and the first American flag.

We also had some of these State Quarter sets, and one of them was plated in 24k gold.

His list was completed.  He had his silver and gold.

I added everything up, and it came out to $79.59.  Awkward moment.  Dad pulled out his wallet, and I just shook my head.  I told the little guy that he just got another $1.59 for his birthday.

Alex is going places.  He's got parents that care and are teaching him some values.  Our business will help him and anyone like him all day long.

The center we're in has it's share of  odd characters.

The old homeless guy that lives somewhere in the center.  He just suddenly appears sometime around 8:30 in the morning, and disappears by dusk.

The young, very angry guy who argues with himself - swinging at imaginary opponents - as he walks through the parking lot, and on the street in front of the center.  He worries me.

The young "knuckleheads" - as one of my partners describes them.  Mostly late-teen to early-twenties males just hanging out.  They worry me a lot.

The county in which we're located has the highest unemployment rate out of the 9 SF Bay Area counties.  It's through the roof for teens.

School keeps many of them occupied during the day, but I worry what things will be like during the upcoming Christmas break, followed by Spring Break and Summer Vacation.

I don't see any green shoots in our country's near-term future, and I worry one of these kids will do something stupid.

I now do something that most Californians are prohibited from doing:  Carrying a concealed weapon.  Without going into our security schemes, there is a very high likelihood that when I'm in our precious metals store, I'm armed.

It has been a real eye-opener.

For those of you unaware of California law, there are two places in the state that you can carry without a permit:  Your personal residence and your business.  Open carry or concealed.

In an insane view of "safety", California has written our laws so that I am not legally able to have a gun in my car - even unloaded in a locked case - unless I'm traveling from one approved location to another.  For instance, from my home to a shooting range.  In my case, from home to the PM store, and back again.

I now feel naked when I'm not carrying a gun.

I will be applying for a CCW.  I can virtually guarantee that I will be refused.  I'm not going to say what my next steps will be, but I have no intention of becoming a victim.

Accept The Challenge

Today is our 3 week anniversary.  We're doing a splashy "Grand Opening" deal today through Sunday.  It's really been a great 3 weeks.  We've done well in excess of our original projections for this period of time.

For those of you in business - or those considering taking the plunge - I cannot stress the importance of the elusive "customer service".  Making every single person who walks through your doors feel important and welcome.

One of our cross-town competitors has inadvertently become our best referral source.  He has been the only game in town for so long that he has forgotten how to treat people.  Keep it up, buddy!

I'd venture to say that perhaps 25% of our business has been referrals.  People come in, we show them what we're doing, give them a cup of coffee or bottled water and talk to them like we're happy they're there.

Treat people right.  In business and in life.  Build relationships.  We're trying to live by The Golden Rule, in more ways than one!

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

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Dual Edged Swords

We've been having a lively conversation in the last post ("A Dead Farmer To Save Us").  It started as a post about the federal government's unconstitutional attempts (successes, really) in restricting access to raw milk products.  It has morphed into a broader conversation on the limits imposed by the Constitution on the federal government.

The Constitution is an elegant and simple document.  Its intent is to define and restrict the powers vested in the federal government.  If you doubt this, read the Federalist Papers or any of the historical documentation surrounding the ratification of the Constitution.  Hell, just read the words of the Constitution - it's pretty plain-spoken.

Clearly, this original intent has been bastardized.  The federal government has grown into this behemoth that literally controls all aspects of our personal lives.

In the previous post, I had asked an anonymous poster to cite the article or amendment to the Constitution that vested food safety powers to the feds.  He is still unable to do so, for the simple reason that those powers do not exist.

The conversation morphed over to drug control at the federal level.  I'm taking his last comments and am going to address the Constitutional foundation as to why virtually any control by the federal government over most aspects of our lives is not allowed.  In fact, it is prohibited by the Constitution.
The drug problem is bigger and more serious then you stated. estimates are that 80% or more of all small crime is committed by people using drugs who need money to buy drugs. That most murders are drug connected either committed by drug sellers killing a competitor or committed by drug addled criminals. And a large percentage of all auto accidents are directly related to drugs. This doesn't even count the huge negative impact of organized crime as aresult of the drug trade.  
Yep, drugs can be bad.  When a government makes them illegal, it pushes their manufacture and sale into the hands of criminals.  Al Capone was one of the largest benefactors of the early 20th century prohibition on alcohol.  Prohibition MADE Al Capone.  How many lives were ruined or lost, not because of what they chose to ingest, but because they had to break the law to acquire what they chose to ingest?

Now, we have cocaine druglords, marijuana druglords, meth druglords.  How much money are we pissing away to keep a willing buyer away from a willing seller?

Why does the federal government believe prohibition will save society when every time it has been attempted, it has failed and had the exact opposite intended effect on society?

If people wish to "get high," they will do so.
So the question is do we the people have the right to pass laws making it illegal to use and sell certain harmful drugs. Are you saying we do not? Are you saying that the constitution forbids laws to protect citizens from crimes and criminals?
First, a Constitutional review.  Article 1, Section 8 provides the following powers to the Legislative Branch:

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

So, the feds are empowered to restrict/regulate commerce between the US and other countries, and commerce between the states.  They can enact and enforce any laws which are restricted to those activities alone.  It can be the importation of coffee or cocaine from Columbia.  It can be the sale of pot or petunias between California and Nevada.

The tenth amendment prohibits any further powers of the federal government:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

So, to answer your question:  I am saying that the Constitution does not allow the federal government the powers to restrict the USE of anything.  They ONLY have the power to restrict the sale when it falls within their Constitutionally defined powers.
I actually think that you are saying that and you believe that states alone have the right to control drugs. 
Drugs which are consumed and produced inside that state?  You're damned right that's what I'm saying.  The same goes for raw milk, firearms, hot air balloons, pencils or any other product or service.
I assume you would also acknowledge that if each of the 50 states were to individually try to regulate and control harmful drugs that it would make a already monumental task much more difficult.
Your question presumes that a problem would exist if we allowed people the freedom to choose.  Why do you think the problem of people abusing drugs would blossom if they were suddenly re-legalized (because you know that all drugs were legal before the 1914 Harrison Narcotics Tax Act, right?)?

As I noted in the comments, I don't smoke pot, snort coke or shoot heroin.  If they were re-legalized, do you think I would suddenly burst with joy and run down to Sears to get my Craftsman Bong?  Get real.

I would burst with joy, though.  Because I would know that my portion of the $50 billion that is spent on federal drug enforcement would no longer be coming out of my pocket each year.

Here's the big difference between you and me:  I believe people will make the right choice and not ruin their lives by abusing drugs.  You assume they're too weak and stupid to make such a monumental decision, so in your infinite wisdom, their freedoms must be restricted.

BTW, the empirical evidence is on my side.  If I wanted any of the drugs listed above, I could have them within an hour.  I could be a drug addict if I wanted to be one, but I chose otherwise.  The law has no bearing on that personal decision.
So what should we do? Give up and legalize drugs? Some people do indeed advocate it. 
Yes, re-legalize at least at the federal level.  Your state could enact whatever laws it wishes.  It could choose liberal Amsterdam or draconian Singapore as its model.
I can guarantee that if the stigma of hard drug use is removed all children will use drugs and drug deaths and pregnancy statistics will shot through the roof.  
Really?  You can guarantee it?  Maybe you believe it, but you certainly cannot guarantee it.  And again, because of the ease of access right now, your supposition is weak at best.
Not to mention welfare costs and loss of productivity. 
Once again, the empirical evidence refutes your belief.  Anyone can get all of the drugs they want right now.

But your question shines a light on your world view - your statist colors are showing brightly.  "We must control their lives, because if they mess up, we've got to pay for the clean up".

No sir.

Personal choice and responsibility is a dual-edged sword - you don't get one without the other.  If a person ends up face down in a gutter, gargling blood and vomit, THEY need to pick themselves up out of the gutter.  Some will, some won't and some will die.  Ugly, horrible deaths.

And our kids will learn from that.  They will see the result of drug and alcohol abuse.

In your world (which is our current one) some government employee scoops them up, wipes their ass, tells them it's not their fault they're a drug addict and sends them on their way with a full belly.  These people are being shown that there is no downside to drug abuse.  In fact, they see that when you do abuse the drugs, someone will come and take care of you.  Such a deal!
I have never used illegal drugs and at my age it seems quite likely that at my age I never will. Drugs could be made legal tomorrow and I wouldn't go looking for crack or cocaine. But children and young adults would.
Huh?  I'm pretty sure that at one time, even YOU were a child and a young adult.  Why aren't YOU a crack head?

And if you say it's because you obey the law, you're lying to me and my readers.  Ever broke the speed limit? Yeah, that's what I thought.  You didn't take or abuse drugs because you made the personal choice not to do so - for whatever reason you may have.
Legalizing drugs (or the equivalent i.e. never having made them illegal) would be a disaster to our society. It would make our current economic and political problems pale by comparison.
No, it would be a Godsend.  Think of the money that would not be spent on imprisoning people who are in prison for making/growing, selling or using drugs, but have not infringed on the rights of others while doing so.

If you get drunk/high/stoned and harm someone, you go to jail.  YOU are responsible for your actions.  This "Minority Report" mentality - assuming that someone using drugs or alcohol will commit a crime - is bankrupting our society.  IT is what is at the root of our economic and political problems, not the act of allowing people the right to choose.


No, I'm not some heartless libertarian.  I just believe in personal responsibility.

In a free society, I can give donations to a drug rehabilitation charity to help my fellow citizens that have strayed into a bad way of life.  I want to help them get back on their feet, but not become responsible for their lives.

What is good about private charities - as opposed to government-mandated charities - is that they have the ability to judge and discriminate.  They can evaluate you and your circumstances.  They can keep track of the number of times you've "fallen off the wagon" and can kick your ass to the curb if you're abusing their facility and generosity.

You might end up cold, hungry or dead as a result.  Perhaps those consequences might influence your decisions in the future.

This Nanny State we've created is a dual-edge sword as well.  All of your needs are taken care of, but you have to live by a strict set of rules.

That sounds too much like prison for my liking.

Accept The Challenge

Pretty radical stuff, huh?  Not really.

We have become so de-sensitized to the fact that the government controls so many aspects of our lives.  Federal seatbelt laws.  Federal food laws.  Federal drug laws.  Federal gun laws.  Federal money laws.

We mostly nod and grin and quietly comply because we think - mostly - that we're not being negatively impacted.  We as a society drive with our seatbelts latched, drink pasteurized milk, don't shoot heroin, don't own guns and don't have enough money to worry about leaving the country with sizable amounts of cash.

But we should all be screaming about this.  For God's sake, look at the depth and breadth of the federal government's reach.  Most of the unconstitutional agencies and departments started out small and met little resistance because they seemed like a good idea at the time.

And then, like all government, they grew like a cancer.

What to do?  I read a great essay over at The Woodpile Report (link to "What to do") about opting out of federal elections.  The idea being that the federal government is so corrupted that it is un-fixable.  By participating in federal elections, we are providing it with credibility.  Focus your efforts strictly on state and local issues and politicians.  If some local guy or gal starts going down the wrong path, cut them off at the knees and get someone else in there that understands who is boss.

I need to let that idea sink in a bit.  Not voting goes against the grain for me.

At least right now.  My views on many subjects have changed over the past 4 or 5 years, and this one may change as well.  The premise of the article really hit home.  I've voted in every election since I was of age, and look at the pile of dung we've been left with.

Perhaps, "Screw you" time has arrived for the feds, and "Feet to the fire" for the locals.

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

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Dead Farmer To Save Us

How can this happen in America?  How can you have government agencies telling people what kind of food they can eat?

Because it's the law.

Here's a video of 4 FDA agents busting a Southern California business that sells raw milk products.

The last time I looked, there was no provision in the Constitution that allowed the feds to control food.

No matter how good of an idea you might think it is, if it's unconstitutional, you can't do it.  Period.  End of story.  Move along, there's nothing to see here.

If enough people feel strongly enough, you amend the Constitution.  Really, the process is in place, and it works.

As I've noted in the past, if a state wants to enact such laws and agencies, they are free to do so, as long as a personal guaranteed right is not infringed upon.

With all of these types of laws and agencies, what gets in my craw the most is that the presumption is that some appointed bureaucrat somehow knows better than I do about how I should live my life.  There is the presumption that I am too stupid to know that putting heroin in my veins might not end well.  Or that by eating yogurt made from unpaturized milk might increase my chances of death or illness.

At most, the states should require disclosure similar to that found on cigarettes.  "If you eat this container of fetid milk product mixed with freshly squeezed goat urine, you will have an increased chance of illness or death.  Enjoy!"

What's the message these shock troops are trying to convey?  "Don't mess with us.  We will come at you, guns a-blazing, for selling raw milk or any other reason WE feel is justified."

Why in the hell does the FDA even have employees with guns as part of their official duties anyways?  They're all about food and drug quality, not Mexican drug cartels.  Couldn't they call the cops if they were threatened, just like the rest of us?

I guess they see people who like to color outside of the lines as threats to their power and control.  That simply cannot be allowed.

Accept The Challenge

This "Food Nazi" stuff seems to be happening with greater frequency.  Sooner or later, something drastic is going to happen.  One of the cops is going to get overzealous and shoot a goat farmer.  Or, a goat farmer is going to shoot a cop for infringing on his Constitutional rights.

If a cop is shot by a farmer - regardless of how morally or Constitutionally valid - the Food Nazi movement will grow.  More agencies will get more cops, and more farms will be shut down.  Public sentiment will be on the side of the statists, and this control frenzy will grow.  Nanny Knows Best.

I think for any chance of this insanity to be reversed, it is going to come at the cost of a farmer or grocer being shot and killed by one of the food cops.  It needs to be on video, so people can see with their own two eyes what these people do.

Freedom propaganda needs to be stronger and more convincing than the statist propaganda.  And it's going to take a dead farmer to drive home the point.

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

Monday, October 11, 2010

Caching Locations

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about locations for stashing stuff.  I've got two general categories I've been pondering:  Locations for money/PMs and locations for prepping items.

For prepping items, I'm talking about food, equipment, firearms, ammo, reference materials, water purification, temporary shelter and similar items.  Personally, when I think of these items, I think of them as items I may never retrieve.  If I'm caching this stuff, it's for my TSHTF part of my plans.

Early next week, I'll do a post on caching these items.  Today, I'm going to kick around caching/hiding financial assets.

Unlike the prepping supplies described above, the financial assets will absolutely be retrieved in the future! 

We're talking cash and precious metals.  You need to protect against theft, destruction (fire, water, rot), forgetfulness and death.

Bank Safe Deposit Box:

The Good - Probably the best overall location for most folks.  Theft and destruction are very low probabilities.  If you forget about your stuff, it will eventually be escheated (seized and turned over) to your state.  You will at least have the ability to track down your assets if your memory returns!  The same will go for your heirs if you die.  There will at least be an audit trail that can be followed.

The Bad - There are official, government-accessible records that the box exists.  They and the bank know you have a box, though not necessarily what is in there.  If your intent is to hide financial assets from the government, safe deposit boxes are not the way to go.  They can be seized and emptied in the blink of an eye.

The contents are also not insured.  If you have a pile of Gold Eagles and bundles of cash and the bank/your box is robbed, you're SOL.  Same thing if a Bank Holiday is called.  You may not be able to get to your stuff.

Home Safe: - should be lockable, fire proof and have the ability to be affixed to something else to reduce its mobility (bolted to floor, chained down, etc).

The Good - The success of a home safe is dependent upon secrecy as much as the physical characteristics of the safe (fire rating, access controls, size).  The fewer people that know you have a home safe, the better.  It's the whole, "Loose lips sink ships" deal - you won't be targeted for robbery if no one knows you have a safe.

If it is placed somewhere other than the closet of your master bedroom, you increase the chances of the safe NOT being discovered during a burglary.

What is nice is you have immediate access to your financial assets, as long as you can get to your home.

The Bad - Unless you have an insurance rider, if your cash or coins are destroyed or stolen, you've lost them.  Because of this, following the adage of, "Don't put all of your eggs in one basket" really comes into play.  Never, under any circumstances, place all of your non-bank assets in one place.  A single event can leave you destitute.

At-Home Hiding Place:  Hidden panels, "diversion safes", etc.

The Good - There are a couple of decent books on this subject - "How To Hide Anything" (Connor), "Secret Rooms, Secret Compartments" (Dzindzeleta), and "The Big Book of Secret Hiding Places" (Luger) are ones I've read..  I wouldn't call any of the a definitive text, but all have good ideas.

Stairwells, the space under cabinets, between rafters, etc.  Just understand that if the government wants to find your hiding place in your home, they'll find it.  The same goes for a motivated burglar with enough time.

The diversion safes (i.e., a can of soup that is actually a safe) can be purchased online. also has a number of posts on how to make them yourself.  I have used these extensively in the past very successfully.

The Bad - VERY easy to forget where you put something!  And unlike a home safe, if you die, it is very unlikely that family members will find your hiding place.  See "Who To Tell?" down below.

And of course, like a home safe, if it is destroyed or stolen, your money is gone for good.

Outside of The Home (other than at a bank):

This is the most difficult solution, for a number of reasons.  To use this, you should have a very strong belief that your spouse or the government - either directly or as a legal "enforcer" will be coming for your money.

This includes the proverbial coffee can buried in the ground in a remote location, to bus station lockers or any other location where your name is not required to obtain the space.  It could include the home of a friend or family member, but if things are so bad that you have the government coming after your money, you might want to think twice before dragging someone else into your situation.

You must be careful to ensure that your location won't be compromised or eliminated.  If you chose an abandoned warehouse on the outskirts of town, it might be leveled and your assets will be gone.  Think of places like state or national parks - places that will never be bulldozed.  The more remote, the better.

If you're caching gold or silver, be sure you're not placing it in an area where guys with metal detectors are likely to snoop around.  You could make someone's day if they stumbled upon a stack of Silver Eagles!

And because you will likely be storing your assets out in nature, your packaging must be double- or triple-redundant.

The Good - Virtually "invisible" until you retrieve the assets.  Unless you tell some about the location, or you are followed, it is virtually impossible for anyone to determine your cache location.  If done correctly, this type of location offers the highest level of security for your assets.

The Bad - Since your assets are in a location which you don't control, you are at risk for all 4 bad items - theft, destruction, forgetfulness and loss after death.  Tied closely to forgetfulness is inaccuracy - if you don't make an accurate description of your cache's location, you may not be able to retrieve it even if you want to!

And obviously, insurance isn't an option.  Even if you found an insurance company that would consider your request, they would require notification of the location, and that would defeat the purpose of your cache.

Who To Tell?

That's the $64,000 question, huh? 

Here's an option.  It's a bit "James Bond-ish" but should work.  Have two trusted friends or family members, each with a part of the directions to your cache.  Do not tell them the name of the other person.  Tell them the circumstances under which your two-part instructions should be brought together.  Death, incapacitation or incarceration, for instance.

When one of the trigger events happens, they are to go to a specific public location - a coffee shop or shopping mall - at a specific time.  On the first day of the month following the trigger event, at 12 noon, for instance.  They each wear a green jacket or some other sort of easily identifiable article of clothing.

They put the two halves together, and retrieve the cache.  Hopefully, they will dispense the assets according to your wishes, so be sure they are VERY good friends!

Accept The Challenge

I've used or am using all of the suggestions above (though not the instructions piece).  I think it's prudent for everyone to at least consider all of these options.  Think them through, and scout out locations in your home and outside as well.

It's difficult to know what's going to happen in the future.  It may never come to the place where you need to hide financial assets from the government or a spouse.  I think, though, that's it's better to think through the process before it's needed than when you're being forced to make such a decision.

We had a lady come into our PM shop this week that had purchased a dozen Krugerrands 10 years ago.  She had them squirreled away in a safe deposit box at her bank, and she sold them to us.  She mentioned she just didn't feel comfortable with them in her bank box any more.

She was an older lady and mentioned her children (in their 40's) and husband and how she just wanted the cash in her hands.  I don't know if she thought these family members were going to take the coins, but she clearly felt the time was right to raid her cache and cash out!

Make a plan before you need it.  It's what we preppers do!

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

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Making Money With Money

TO earn money with money, you must place that money at risk. When I talk about earning money, I am talking about increasing your purchasing power. This is an important concept to understand.

For instance, a bank earns money by lending money, determining the likelihood of getting paid back by a borrower, and assigning a risk assessment - the interest rate - to that borrower. They can earn money on that borrower, or they can lose it all.

Where does the bank get its money to lend? There are a number of sources.

You are the number one source.  When you make a deposit at your bank, you're making a deal with them: In return for giving you my money, you will guarantee I get it all back. The bank buys an insurance policy for your money (FDIC insurance) then lends it out.

If you want to have 24/7 access to your money via a checking account (technically called a Demand Deposit Account), they won't pay you any interest. If you agree to some restrictions in a savings account - such as maintaining a minimum balance - they'll pay you a bit of interest. If you'll lock your money in with them via a CD for a considerable period of time - usually a year or more - they'll pay you a decent interest rate, historically much better than a regular savings account (although that's not the case right now). It's cheaper for them to give you some money rather than having to hunt around for other dollars to lend out.

A bank can also get money to lend by issuing stock. You give the bank money in exchange for an ownership interest in the bank. You can make money in two ways: The bank pays a quarterly dividend and the value of your stock can increase.

There's a catch, though: Your money is totally at risk. If the bank goes belly up, you can lose your entire investment.

Finally, a bank can issue bonds. In this case, the bank is the borrower, and agrees to pay the investors a set interest rate over a set period of time, usually 10 to 30 years. While your invested money is at risk, you are considered a secured investor, and get your money back first from the sales proceeds if the bank collapses.

There are a number of nuances and exceptions, but this is the general structure.

When you place your money in a savings account or even a CD, you are not earning money per se, even when you're getting paid interest on the account. You're being paid an inflation hedge.

What? Take a look at any extended period of time, and look at the inflation rate. Let's say it has been 4% over the period of time you review.

Now, look at the average savings rate. To just break even - to preserve your purchasing power - you need to make at least as much as inflation is taking, PLUS the amount you will pay in taxes on your interest income. If you're in a 20% federal and state tax bracket, you'd need to make at least 5% on your money.

If you have $1000 in a bank earning 5%, you will earn $50 in interest, and pay $10 (20%) in taxes, for a net of $40.

The inflation rate being 4%, has made your $1000 only able to buy $960 worth of goods. That net $40 you earned in interest preserved your purchasing power.

IN a post last week ("Ramblings On Finances") I wrote about putting money into precious metals as a way to preserve your purchasing power.

I don't look at PMs as an investment as much as I look at them as a hedge against inflation.

PMs are an odd bird. They can make you money by increasing in price, but there is a risk component that isn't there with savings or CDs. You're not guaranteed to get all of your money back. And like cash under the mattress, it can be stolen.

But unlike stocks, you will never be totally wiped out. There will always be an instrinsic value to PMs.

Right now, I am putting my long-term "savings" into PMs. Money I don't intend on spending or needing over the next 12 months. In my opinion, the convenience and interest rates being offered by savings/CDs is not enough. Both are paying rates that are lower than the rate of inflation.

Like a checking account, every dollar in a savings/CD account is reducing your purchasing power, so I want to limit the amount of money in those types of accounts.

Based upon the Federal Reserve's anticipated expansion of quantitative easing (printing up money to buy our own debt - "QE2") our government is telling us that their plan is to further devalue the dollar.

This MUST result in an even higher rate of inflation. The only thing that is keeping inflation in check right now is the deflation being caused by our depression/recession. So, ironically, if the economy strenthens, inflation will soar! 

Accept The Challenge

I AM NOT suggesting everyone go out and dump all of their CDs into PMs. I am suggesting that everyone do a little math and a little personal financial self-assessment.

Do you have money in a long-term bank account? How much of that do you expect to need to spend this coming year? Would there be any kind of incident that would require immediate access to your money? Or asked another way, do you have the time to convert your PMs into cash for this emergency?

A way that PMs are like stocks is that you have to pay attention to the economy. If you invested in BlockBuster Video stock, I hope you were paying attention, otherwise you are hurting right now.

Precious Metals could absolutely be in the middle of an "asset bubble" right now. The proverbial "irrational exuberance" might be pushing up prices.  The government could change policies to trash PMs.  There are a million things that could cause prices to crash.  Seriously.

I don't think so, but what I think isn't worth a damn for YOUR money. I'm just a guy that has done research and think I'm making the right decision. I think PM prices will continue to rise in price.

I could be very wrong. Take what I've presented and put it through your own filter. YOU are responsible for your money. You need to do the research and take a "gut check" to see what feels right.

As I noted in the comments of the cited post, my mom and one of my brothers will likely NEVER feel comfortable putting money in PMs. That doesn't make them wrong, or chickens or stupid. They've done their own look-see, and PMs aren't right for them.

That's OK. Do what's right for you.

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

Sunday, October 3, 2010


 The Spam and brie sandwich.  Really.

Some background:  My wife and I have a weekly "date" at home.  Each Friday, we do a "Cheese and Cracker Friday".  We get some foo-foo cheese and deli meats, crackers, fruit and finger foods.  We have a couple of cocktails to catch up with each other and wind down from the week.

We always have stuff left over.  This week it included a decent chunk from a wedge of brie cheese.

I got back from the PM store last night, and there was nothing cooked for dinner.  I cracked open the pantry and a can of low-sodium Spam was calling my name.  I opened the fridge and the brie fairly jumped into my arms.

It was a sign!

I opened up the Spam and cut some 1/4 inch slices.  I lightly fried them up to put just a bit of a crust on them.  I then sliced up some pieces of the brie.  To keep some semblance of decency, I toasted up some whole wheat bread, which I promptly slathered with mayo and Dijon mustard.

The brie, being such a soft cheese began to melt into the fried Spam.  The melding of unidentifiable pork parts and double-cream cheese was complete:  Larry The Cable Guy meets Ivanna Trump.  A match made in heaven.

Click and zoom in on that bad-boy.  Honestly, it was fantastic.

A tip for those of you with Spam in your preps:  Go with the low-sodium varieties.  It really is tasty and has less of the "spammy" taste that turns off a lot of people.

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

Friday, October 1, 2010

Opening Day

 Well, it's finally here.  We opened our precious metals store today.  This has been one heck of a week!

I'm going to keep my "pimping" of the store to a minimum on this site, although I'll be talking about precious metals forever!  I'll be doing this introductory post, another when we are ready to start taking phone/Internet orders, and I'll make mention when I put an advertising icon on this page.  I'm sure there will be others, but that's all I have in my head right now.

I'll probably also do a post (or maybe a series of them) on what we went through to get this open.  It's been interesting as hell, and I think that some of what we learned might be helpful to others.  Opening a retail store was VERY different from my training/preparedness business, which is home-based.

We're called Solano Coin, Gold and Silver, in Vacaville, California.  We'll have two primary businesses - the buying and selling of primarily non-numismatic gold and silver coins, and the buying and selling of gold jewelry.

I need to do a post on buying scrap gold for your own stash (you can buy it on eBay).  There are some risks - which are very manageable - and great upside potential.

It's also one of the few regular ways you can buy gold for less than its melt value...

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

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