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Friday, August 31, 2012

Valuable, Durable, Portable and Easily Divisible

Different preppers have different beliefs as to the depth and breadth of the event which causes their plan to be implemented.  Some believe the event will be no more than a "personal recession" - a job loss, perhaps.  It could escalate to a national or worldwide depression.  We could have martial law inflicted upon us, or the government could go full-throttle communist with a centrally planned economy.  Worse case, I believe, would be an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) - either man-made or natural - sufficient in size and location to take out our national electrical grid.

Regardless of which scenario(s) for which you're planning, you're being, uhm, imprudent, if you're not planning for a hole in your preps.  You may have food, water, shelter, medical, security and equipment for you and your crew to last a full 10 years.  What happens if half of it is stolen, rots or otherwise is inadequate?

You're screwed.

You need to have goods or skills which allow you to acquire what you need.  Barter, baby.  You need to be able to barter.

Most mediums of exchange have four traits in common.  They're Valuable, Durable, Portable and Easily Divisible.

Valuable:  Someone else wants what you have.  It matters not if YOU think it has value - your trading partner must perceive value.  You might have a sculpture which cost hundreds of thousands of dollars before the balloon went up.  Afterwards, depending upon the type of event which occurs, it may have no value beyond its ability to keep your hat and overcoat off of the floor.  Things which have value prior to an event may have little or none after an event, and common, pedestrian goods may be your most prized possessions.

Durable:  What is the life cycle of your goods?  In general, something which spoils quickly, or loses its utility over time will hold less value than a hearty, durable good.  Milk would be less valuable than cheese, for instance.  There are exceptions, of course.  Gasoline eventually loses its effectiveness.  In an event such as an EMP where the grid is down and gas stations are unable to give you gasoline, a couple gallons would be VERY valuable.  In a depression, maybe not so much.

Portable:  Can you deliver your goods without much fuss?  If you own real estate, it's not going anywhere.  Unless you have a local buyer or trader, it could be valueless.  A couple of stacks of 1 ounce gold coins can currently represent the same value.

Easily Divisible:  Can you break it down into smaller units?  In addition to making the item more portable because of its smaller size, you are generally able to get a premium over larger units.  Why is that?  Because more people can afford to buy the smaller units.  A one ounce gold piece has a 5% premium over spot gold prices.  A 10th ounce coin has a 12%-15% premium. 

"Yeah, but...."

I can hear it already.  "Chief, you can't eat gold or silver."  Yep, and you can't buy or trade for a side of beef with real estate, either.

Diversify your holding.  You have no idea what will be needed - and have value - in the future, because you have no way of knowing exactly what is going to happen in the future.

A key to success, I believe, will be having the skills to convert raw materials into goods which have more value than the raw materials.   Let's say you're in an area with an abundance of corn.  You have lots of it, as do your neighbors.  If you have the skills to convert that corn into ethanol, you've now made it more valuable AND versatile.  Sell/trade it as fuel or as a beverage.

Accept The Challenge

During the war in Bosnia, one of the survivors made a comment along the lines of, "If you have clean water and toilet paper, you're a rich man."

In virtually all emergency/disaster scenarios, food, water, guns, ammo, alcohol and precious metals will be valuable.  Knowing which items to hold in storage can be a crap shoot.

For instance, if we are faced with an economic depression, storing mass amounts of water would be a waste of time and resources.  We'd still be able to turn on a faucet, and get all the water we need.  Having a huge store of precious metals could make you a king.

Conversely, if we have an EMP event, clean, potable water would be mind-numbingly valuable, and precious metals would be more valuable as fishing sinkers than as a medium of trade.

The key, I believe, is to diversify and adapt.  For instance, I don't store a gajillion gallons of water, but I have the skills and tools (and access to water) to make a gajillion gallons.  Filters and chemicals, plus the skills to go "old school" if my modern tools are lost or stolen.

Right now, as I read the tea leaves of our society, I think the likelihood of an economic crash, the confiscation or further restrictions on access to guns and ammo, and further intrusions into our private lives/information are on the top of the Hit Parade of possible events.  As such,  I focus my limited resources on those areas.

I am moderately prepared for virtually any event - up to and including an EMP - and well prepared for those events listed above.

Because the tea leaves can sometimes be cloudy, I have stores of things that have been valuable in past disasters/emergencies.  Hygiene items, precious metals, guns, ammo, water making goods, communications devices, alcohol, sugar, fats, salt.

All of these are in quantities normally deemed "above normal", but that's the idea.  These things - and a number of fairly specialized skills - are my currency for the future.

When you're putting something away for barter, run them by the Valuable, Durable, Portable and Divisible test.  If you miss on one or more of the requirements, think hard about whether it will help you in the future.

Copyright 2012 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Social Impotence

I was in the process of drafting a post about a number of absolutely idiotic laws being proposed here in California.  The state is broke and dysfunctional, yet our state leaders are making political busy-work.  Most have to do with the Marxists in Sacramento jumping on the "Illegal Aliens Won't Get Deported" bandwagon that was thrust upon us by DC.

As I was formulating ideas, I was struck by an irrefutable fact:

Liberty has a key trait in common with Marxism.  Neither has ever succeeded in the long term.  Societies with high amounts of personal liberty eventually devolve into Marxist states.  And Marxist states eventually collapse and liberty emerges.

I need to accept that the liberty that was the basis for the founding of our country is all but gone.  Yeah, yeah, yeah, we're still "more free" than much of the rest of the world, but we've got nowhere near the freedom we had in the beginning of our republic.  Or even the amount we had 50 years ago.

Our Constitution - at first glance - has all of the proper controls in place to ensure the liberty of the individual (or the states) supersedes the power of the federal government.  It appears as though we were left with explicit instructions along these lines - via the tenth amendment.  It's so clear and unambiguous -
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.

How can this possibly be misinterpreted?  Yet, you need only look at the size, scope and power of the federal government, and you see it's been wholly ignored.

[My conservative friends hate this example - that's why I it's my go-to federal abuse!]  How can we possibly have a federal department tasked with fighting "the war on drugs?"  The DEA.  It's because Congress passed federal anti-drug legislation going back to the early 1900's (Harrison Narcotics Tax Act - link) AND the Supreme Court gave it the nod when the law was passed.

Since there was now legal precedence, piling on the laws - and the bureaucracy to enforce those laws - was child's play.  Once the slippery slope is greased, resistance to the growth of government is futile.

Pick any federal agency that was not specifically chartered in the Constitution, and you'll find a similar pattern.  Get a big ranch that kills some folks with salmonella, and you get the USDA.  Have a crash of a rigged financial system, and you get the Social Security Administration.

Government uses fear and the offer of protection to grow.  They numb us to the concept that liberty has risk.  In all aspects of our lives, they want to socialize risk.  The risk of recreational drugs killing your wife.  The risk of you giving birth to a disabled child.  The risk of taking a sip of tainted raw milk.  The risk of dying poor and hungry.  The cost of this apparent transfer of risk is the loss of a little bit of liberty each time we make that deal. 

What people always seem to forget is that despite all of the government promises of protection, we're still just as vulnerable as we've always been.  The very same banned drugs that brought us the DEA are still available to anyone.  People die every single year from food grown on USDA inspected farms and ranches.  The federally regulated financial system is routinely abused, resulting in the loss of hundreds of billions of dollars each year.

The only difference is we pay for this facade of safety and protection.

Where am I going with this?  I've once again realized that resistance IS futile.  The borg is here to stay.

Don't take that as a defeatist attitude.  It's not.  It's pragmatic.  The inertia of our growing government - federal, state and local - cannot be stopped.  Too many special interests, including the government itself, rely on the existence of big government.  Those of us who cherish personal liberty have become socially impotent.  There is nothing we can do to change our nation's course.

If I had a million readers a day, it would change nothing.  Limbaugh, Hannity, Levin, Beck, Savage, et al, DO have millions hear their message every single day, and nothing has changed.  The death spiral is slowed at times, but never reversed.  We're still headed straight towards Marxism.

I'm going to re-focus what I do here.  I LOVE bitching and moaning about the socialist bastards in California and DC.  Seriously, I love it.  But it does nothing.  No string of words I could ever type could get enough people to reverse this mess we're in.

But I can help handfuls, dozens - maybe even hundreds of folks to better adapt to what's happening.  Perhaps they and their families can come out from this in above-average shape.  Some of us may even thrive.

I want to focus on solutions, not rhetoric.  The solutions are personal and local.  The macro view is useless, the micro view is actionable.  I've come to grips with the fact that the individual cannot change anything political outside of their own community.

Think small.  Think private.  Think self-serving.  Be a quiet leader and actor.

Copyright 2012 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, August 23, 2012

The Fear Factor

I'd rather be judged by twelve than carried by six.
--Some Still-Alive Citizen

I held an introductory pistol class this weekend.  All women.  I'm really likin' this trend of more and more women taking the step to learn about firearms and self-defense.  I don't know if it's just because I'm in California - with our virulent anti-gun culture - but most women I come across are afraid of guns.  I'm very happy to see that changing, at least in my little slice of the world.

One of the ladies taking the class this weekend attended it with her mother.  She is a college student, and her apartment was broken into (she was not there at the time).  The maggot that did the breaking in was a convicted rapist.

Her dad insisted she learn how to shoot.  Good on him.

Dad had a nice S & W .38 Special five shot revolver.  The plan was for her to use this gun during the range time of the class.  Mom elected to do the rental program we've got set up with the range (use of a .22LR revolver and semi-auto).

Before the students start shooting, I put a round down range so that they can hear what it sounds like with their ear protection on.  If a student brings their own gun - larger than a .22 - I'll shoot a round from that gun as well.

I shoot the .22, and everyone is A-OK.  I shoot the .38 Special, turn around, and the girl's eyes are all red, and then there are tears streaming down her face.

Oh crap!  My first "crier".  I've taught over 500 students at this range over the years, and never even had puffy eyes.  Lots of shakes, fidgeting and sweating, but no tears.

Her mom suggests that they swap stations - daughter will use the .22's, and mom will shoot the .38 spl.

The daughter does great shooting the .22's.  I'm giving her lots of encouragement, and slight adjustments to her stance and grip.  Her mom is just about finished, and has 2 rounds left.  I tell her to wait.

I tell the daughter that I want her to shoot the remaining .38's.  She has a look of horror in her eyes.  Seriously.  I reinforce that she's been doing great, and can easily shoot the .38.  I make a deal with her:  I'll load up 1 round, and she'll put it down range.  If it's too tough, she can call it quits, and no one is the worse.  If it works out OK, she can put the next shot down range as well.


I load up the gun, and hand it to her.  She cocks the pistol, bends her knees, leans into the shot, locks her elbow, brings the gun to eye-level and squeezes the trigger.


You've never seen so much happiness on a face in your life!  I loaded up the next round, and she damned near put it through the same hole.  It was awesome.

Not too long ago, a woman in Oakland was working in her front garden.  She's digging around and finds a black duffel bag buried in the garden -
Inside was an assault rifle, shotgun shells, a black ski mask, black gloves and a towel.
Twenty years ago, if you found a bag of guns buried in your yard, you wouldn't even miss a beat. You'd be on the phone to the police immediately. Not so, any more.
Vanaman's heart raced as she stared at her discovery and tried desperately to figure out what to do.
She was paralized with fear. Why would that be? Because in Oakland - and many surrounding cities in the SF Bay Area - gangs run the joint. If you cross the gangs, you can end up dead.
When Vanaman returned, four young men stood in her frontyard. "What did you do with the guns?" one of them asked. "I called the police," she told him. "I didn't know what to do. I'm sorry."

The man scowled and told her she owed him $800 and said she had a week to come up with the money. "I don't make that much," she replied. "Bitches get killed for that," he told her. "Bitches get tortured for that."

A keen observer of others, Vanaman noticed the young man used the passive voice so she couldn't accuse him of threatening her directly. But the implication was clear. "Bitches get raped for that," he shouted.

Suddenly, she felt torn. For years, she had rationalized her choices in coping with the danger outside her door. Now, she knew turning in the gun was the right moral decision, but it had put her life at risk.

With the man still berating her, Vanaman said she would sell whatever valuables she could to get the money.
She and her roommates have moved out.  The police were called numerous times, but only showed up on rare occasions.  They were there to provide protection when she was moving her stuff out.

Two stories of fearful individuals.  One appears to be taking the path of not allowing herself to be intimidated.  She seemed more fearful of being raped or killed than she was of learning how to shoot a gun for self-defense.  She fought through the fear and learned the skills to defend herself.

The other lady is folding up her tent, and getting out of Dodge.  The bad guys won that one.

In the same situation as the second lady, I don't know that I'd have acted differently.  This horrific State of California has stripped her of her ability to keep a means of deadly self-defense (to be used against weapons of deadly offense against her) with her at all times.  She might have a gun with her in her home, but venture outside, and you're stripped naked, while the bad guys are still heavily armed.

Being caught by "the authorities" with the means to defend herself - a loaded handgun - outside of her home or business makes her a felon in this state.  You don't need to shoot anyone, you just need to be in possession of the loaded handgun.  An otherwise law-abiding citizen merely possessing the means with which to defend her life or the life of another, and she goes away for many years.

And, ironically, once she becomes a felon, she now forfeits her right to possess a handgun in (I believe) all states.

The various arms of our government keep telling us that crime is down.  We're safer than we've ever been.  Our nation's police agencies are takin' care of business.

I just don't believe it.  And judging from my perpetually sold out gun classes, regular citizens aren't swallowing the tripe either.


Related:  THAT'S what I'm talkin' about!
A 66 Year Old Texan Vic Stacey Puts Four 357 Magnum Pistol Rounds into a Killer Rifleman at 165 Yards
Some whacko had killed his neighbor and her dog, and the first responding cop was pinned down by the bad guy.  The citizen's first shot hit the bad guy in the thigh.  Three of the next 4 shots also hit their mark.  This gave the cop the ability to turn his AR-15 on the bad guy and take him out.

Once again, a responsible, armed citizen helping to keep his community safe.

Accept The Challenge

Which fears have beaten you down?  Which have you beaten?  Which have you figured a "work around" to make the fear irrelevant?

Anyone who's dropped by here more than once knows my stance on the issue of self-defense.  I'll not end up dead simply to ensure I'm following the law.  It's really that simple.

Are there risks in this approach?  Hell yes.  Each of us has to do the whole risk/reward calculation for ourselves.

This moronic state has even criminalized your ability to possess an unloaded, cased gun, unless you are traveling between "approved" locations or activities.  From your home to the firing range, for instance.

Keep a cased gun in your car while on your way to pick up some burgers, and you've broken the law.

This issue is number two on the list of reasons why my wife and I are leaving this state after her retirement (number one being the financial idiocy of our state government).  We will be moving to a state which recognizes the Constitutionaly guaranteed right of citizens to keep and bear arms.  California doesn't do so, and won't for a very long time.  Longer than I have left on this earth, so we're bailing out.

Until that time, I will likely, on occasion, be breaking the law.  So be it.

Copyright 2012 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, August 17, 2012

What Do They Know?

Well, this is troubling.  The Department of Homeland Security has ordered another 750 MILLION rounds of self-defense ammo.  This is in addition to the 450 MILLION rounds of self-defense ammo they ordered earlier in the year.

One point two BILLION rounds.

These current orders (link to large PDF of the request from DHS) are identified as "training ammunition".  True, some of it is training ammo - FMC (full metal covering).  But the vast majority of it is self-defense - or offensive - ammo.  JHP (jacketed hollow point) or BTHP (boat tail hollow point).  Lots of low-recoil 12 gauge shotgun ammo.  Most in the same configuration as I use at home and at our PM store ("00" buck and #4 buck).

If you look at the purchase of the .223 ammo, most of it is JHP, which even our boys in the sandbox are not allowed to use.  But Homeland Security gets the thumbs up.

Oh, "low-recoil" is the dumbed-down term for "tactical" shells.

Is someone expecting an invasion?  Or perhaps an insurrection?

What do they know that we don't know?

Love him or hate him, you've got to acknowledge that George Soros is a financial genius.  Old Georgie-boy just made a couple of interesting moves.

He sold his entire holdings (link) in JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs and Citigroup - $50 million worth - and bought $130 million in gold shares.

Hmmm.  Dumped three of the "too big to fail" banks, and bought nearly 3 times that amount in that shiny yellow metal our Federal Reserve Chairman won't acknowledge is money.

Why would the guy who called gold, "the ultimate bubble" dump an obscene amount of money - even for him - into PMs?

What's he know that we don't don't know?

Oh, lookee there.  Those silly foreigners are doing the same thing -
Total central bank gold purchases in the second quarter were more than double the level reported just one year earlier, as emerging market governments sought to diversify away from traditional reserve currencies amid heightened economic insecurity, according to World Gold Council data Thursday
Governments bought 157 metric TONS of gold.  In 3 months!  Holy crap.

I wonder why they didn't buy dollars or euros or yen.  They always did in the past.  What do they know that we don't know....?

Lots of very separate entities - all making plans that are similar to what us preppers have been doing.  Buying tangible assets.  Selling off paper assets.  Stockpiling supplies of ammo.

Almost sounds like the definition of "terrorist" that many US agencies have slapped on us preppers...

Copyright 2012 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Why Nothing Will Change Until The Crash

"When the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic." 
--Benjamin Franklin
I was kind of pleasantly surprised this past weekend when Romney announced his choice of Paul Ryan as his running mate.  He's about as focused an individual as you will find in politics when it comes to budgeting.  I don't think it will be enough to get me to vote for either of the two major parties, but it got my attention.

Ryan is smart, articulate, energetic and youthful.  He's also on the losing team.

Why dat?
Article link:  Over 100 Million Now Receiving Federal Welfare


Video link:  Obama's Gonna Pay For My Gas...


Audio link:  Obama Stash

Article and Chart link: Nearly Half of All Americans Don’t Pay Income Taxes

How are a couple of successful guys - one of whom is uber-rich - going to convince an increasingly Balkanized country that it's in their best interest to vote the two of them into office?  Do you think the, "Vote for us so that the amount of money you receive from the government will decline or be eliminated," pitch is going to fly?

Ain't gonna happen.

We're going to see Obama and Uncle Joe working the Special Interest Circuit - and hard.

Blacks:  They want to see you back on the plantation, we want to give you a hand up.  Hispanics:  They want to herd your hard-working family members into buses and ship them back across the border.  We give you the Dream Act.  Gays:  They want to ex-communicate you from the country, we'll let you marry a goat if you wish.  Women:  They want you barefoot and pregnant, we'll pay for your abortions.  Students:  They want you to have to pay for your own education, we'll pay for it if you promise to work for us, spreading the Commie Gospel around the country.

Farmers, anything "green", unions, bankers - they'll all be bellying up to the bar for their free drinks.

Romney and Ryan will try and keep the focus on the budget and the economy, but the MSM will only report the downside of their programs.  Inevitably, the boys will play the Special Interest game and tell all of the same groups what they'll get from the Republicans.

I've got to stick by my earlier predictions:  Nothing is going to change until it all crashes.  No one is going to voluntarily vote to reduce the amount of income they receive.

The former Comptroller General,  David Walker, has been hitting the road to bring this impending collapse to our attention (link:  The $10 Million A Minute Bus Tour).  Shockingly (not), no one is listening.

Downer news doesn't sell, so it doesn't get a lot of press.  People don't want to hear that everything they've worked for is built on a house of cards that's teetering towards ruin.  They'd rather feel good about our Olympic victories, or at least feel better about themselves by watching the collapse of someone else (Lohan, Hilton, Gibson, et al).

Once again, I'll likely vote for the third party that I think is able to garner the most votes.  My belief is, nothing will change politically until we have a viable third party in this country.  I don't care if it's far left communists or far right fascists.  Whomever looks to get the most votes will get mine.  If it's still too foggy, Ron Paul will get my write-in vote.

Accept The Challenge

 I think I've mentioned before that for the past 20-25 years, I've not included Social Security in our financial/retirement calculations.  It has been very plain for a very long time that the system is not sustainable.  I'm guessing I'll get clipped either by "means testing" or the fact that there simply isn't any money left.  I'll be shocked if I see any money.

Now, my worries go towards other retirement accounts.  My wife and I both worked at Wells Fargo a million years ago.  When the bank (still a California-only bank!) was transitioning from a retirement plan to a 401k-type plan, and they took all of our accrued dollars and put them in to annuity accounts.

Those monies are held by NY Life (or is it Met Life?) to be drawn on from retirement until we croak.  I'm more and more worried that accounts such as these are going to be snatched up by the federal government (ala Argentina, Hungry, etc.) to help extend this financial fantasy in which we're living.  These are monies I have (foolishly?) been including in our retirement calcs.

Social Security and these annuities are the last "paper" retirement funds we've got.  Everything else was converted to tangibles from 2008 forward.

What I'm concerned with will be the future ability to convert these tangible and business assets into cash without having to go through the government equivalent of a body cavity search, or grotesque tax theft.  Judging with how our government works, I'd guess they'll throw up "legal" roadblocks to converting, for instance, gold coins into cash.  They'll throw up impediments where they'll require tons of personal information, or tax data, and it will drive the business into the black market.  Most people that buy precious metals are a private sort, and they'll take a "haircut" before they'll voluntarily provide Nanny with personal data or extra tax dollars.

Work hard, watch your pennies, live within your means, and everything will turn out OK.  Sure.  Now you need to add, "Hide as much from Nanny as you possibly can."

Copyright 2012 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, August 12, 2012

Protection Of Life and Property

Check out this awesome video -

This happened in the Southern California town of Garden Grove.  In my part of Northern California - the SF Bay Area - there have been three recent robbery attempts at jewelry/bullion stores such as our PM shop.  Two resulted in the death of the bad guys.  The third - actually in the same city as our PM store - was successful.

The big difference?  The two that resulted in the deaths of the bad guys were mom-and-pop shops such as ours where the owners and employees were armed.  The successful robbery was at a "name" jewelry store in the middle of a large shopping mall.  My guess is they have a "no bang-stick" policy.  Good to know, if you're a bad guy.

The thing that pissed me off the most in that video?  The cop saying, "We're leery of recommending store owners take immediate action.  It's all gonna have to be based on the circumstances at hand."

Uhm, like maybe 5 masked robbers rushing into your store, two of them wielding handguns?  Hmmmmm officer?

How 'bout a statement such as, "The Garden Grove Police Department applauds this small business owner for refusing to allow these criminals to harm her, her customers or employees.  While care must always be taken before using any type of firearm for self-defense, this is a text book example of how firearms in the hands of responsible citizens helps to deter crime.  Without this brave woman's actions, there's no telling how many lives might have been needlessly lost or impacted.  Instead, we have five frightened rats scampering out into the street.  Well done, ma'am."

BWAAAHAHAHAHA!  In California?!!!  Right!  Oooo oooo, I think I pee'd myself with that one...

My favorite part?  It's a toss up between the shot of the little old lady trotting down the aisle towards the big bad robbers, OR the 5 rat maggots looking like a "3 Stooges Plus 2" movie audition when they were all clustered at the door trying to get out.  Both were priceless.

Accept The Challenge

This is yet another example demonstrating that when you push back on the bad guys, they run.  In general, robbers and thiefs are cowards.  They put a lot of effort into identifying "soft targets" - potential victims that will offer little or no resistence.

I'd guess this jewelry store met all of their criteria:  Lots of small sized, high value merchandise.  Easily converted into cash.  Low risk - it's run by some little old lady.  Let's get it on!

All that went to hell when she pulled her gun and demonstrated she wasn't afraid to use it.  Those maggots were literally falling over each other to get out of the store.

Lesson:  Have a gun.  Have a plan on how and when to use it.  Practice your plan.  Don't hesitate in implementing your plan if you're in fear for your life or the life of another.

Related thought (h/t via The Woodpile Report):   Gun control is like trying to reduce drunk driving by making it tougher for sober people to own cars.

Amen to that.

Copyright 2012 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, August 10, 2012

Rude Awakening

This falls under the heading of, "Glad this happened now, and not when I needed it."

I recently had occasion to review all of my food storage.  The vast majority of it is held in the large, 66 quart clear plastic lidded tubs.  The tubs are then on a bunch of shelving.

The food is either in its original cans, or if it's from a larger package (sack of beans, for instance), 2 or 3 pound portions are vacuum sealed, dated and placed in the tubs.

Every now and then I'll get a bit ahead of myself.  I'll find a great deal, buy the bulk item and put the whole sack on the shelf.  When I get time, I'll portion it out and get it in the tubs.  Also, on occasion, I'll have the stuff portioned and vacuum sealed, and put in a cardboard box labeled, "to be sorted".

I was going through the "to be sorted box" and damned near screamed.  I noticed mouse droppings just outside of the cardboard box.  I opened the box and that little SOB had bit through EVERY SINGLE VACUUM SEALED bag.  Took one bite, and in most cases, decided he didn't like the contents.  The one exception was a bag of red beans.

Oh, and apparently he doesn't like malted barley either.  He bit into the 50 pound sack, ate a bit, and moved on.  Also kind of interesting was with spices.  I had (yes, also past tense) a bunch of 1 pound +/- vacuum sealed bags of red pepper, black pepper, chile powder, garlic and onion powder, dehydrated chopped garlic and onion, oregano, thyme, blah, blah, blah.  One bite and done.

Obviously, it all had to be thrown out.  Thirty plus pounds of rice, lentils and beans, the fifty pounds of malted barley and fifteen pounds or so of spices.  Ouch.

Let it be noted that nothing in the lidded plastic tubs was touched.  Now, this could have been because it was so easy to get to the other stuff, or maybe the lidded tubs work.  They've got a semi-locking mechanism on them.  Maybe it's enough to keep the rodents out.  My guess is it had more to do with the easy pickins' being so easy.  If they were hungry enough, they'd make it into the tubs, I'm sure.

Accept The Challenge

Regularly check your stored goods.  If things had gotten ugly a week earlier, losing 95 pounds of food and spices would have been painful.  As it turns out, it was just a painfully expensive lesson.

If you have items that are only to be used for long-term storage - the malted barley and spices in my case - give them a looksee on a regular basis as well.

A bit of an interesting side note:  The sack of barley was part of a bigger stack.  I had a 25lb sack of white sugar on top of the barley, and a 25 pound sack of salt on top of that.  Neither of them were touched.

Is white sugar really that unhealthy that a mouse wouldn't eat it?!

Copyright 2012 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Madison's Big Error

For the past few months, I've been writing a booklet/essay for my two sons (both in their twenties).  It's got at least a few more months of work before it's finished, but I decided to share bits and pieces of my thought process with the folks that stumble by this place.  I'll share the whole thing (probably) when I'm done.

I'm trying to do a couple things with this document.  I want to distill the discussions we've had over their lifetime into a single spot.  I want to set the record straight, so to speak, about what is professed as "the truth" in our public media.  And I want to give them a crystal ball look into their future.  All in the hopes that they can use history and Original Intent and common sense to guide their lives, and to find a way to dig out of the pile of financial crap their predecessors have left them.

The phrase, "Money is the root of all evil" has a lot of truth to it.  It doesn't mean that money is evil,  but that most evil deeds are somehow rooted in money.  I believe that the expansion of government at all levels is evil - it actually hurts the individual - and that the reason for the expansion is money.

Pass more laws, grow the government to enforce the laws.  Grow the government, gain more power.  Gain more power, gain more personal wealth.  Repeat as necessary.

I was searching through The Federalist Papers for some insights into what the colonies were thinking when the federal constitution was being proposed.  My absolute top-of-the-heap favorite founding father, James Madison, wrote Federalist 46:  The Influence of the State and Federal Governments Compared [link].

In it, he attempted to assuage the fears of the people of New York about how different parts of the federal government would not be allowed to grow out of control.   Here's an excerpt -
But ambitious encroachments of the federal government, on the authority of the State governments, would not excite the opposition of a single State, or of a few States only. They would be signals of general alarm. Every government would espouse the common cause. A correspondence would be opened. Plans of resistance would be concerted. One spirit would animate and conduct the whole. 
 Wow.  Could he have been more wrong?  The states raise a hand to their master?  Surely you jest.  The reason is money, of course. 

Madison continues...
The same combinations, in short, would result from an apprehension of the federal, as was produced by the dread of a foreign, yoke; and unless the projected innovations should be voluntarily renounced, the same appeal to a trial of force would be made in the one case as was made in the other. 

A not so subtle threat that if the federal government didn't get back in its place, they'd get their head caved in by the states, just like what happened to King George.

Madison now proceeds to explain why a federal take over of the states could never happen:  There's more of us than them - 
But what degree of madness could ever drive the federal government to such an extremity. In the contest with Great Britain, one part of the empire was employed against the other. The more numerous part invaded the rights of the less numerous part. The attempt was unjust and unwise; but it was not in speculation absolutely chimerical. But what would be the contest in the case we are supposing? Who would be the parties? A few representatives of the people would be opposed to the people themselves; or rather one set of representatives would be contending against thirteen sets of representatives, with the whole body of their common constituents on the side of the latter.  
OK, shake off your History Coma, the good part's coming.  Madison goes on to say that the only way this would be possible is if the federal government built a huge domestic army.  He says it's absurd to think...
That the people and the States should, for a sufficient period of time, elect an uninterupted succession of men ready to betray both; that the traitors should, throughout this period, uniformly and systematically pursue some fixed plan for the extension of the military establishment; that the governments and the people of the States should silently and patiently behold the gathering storm, and continue to supply the materials, until it should be prepared to burst on their own heads, must appear to every one more like the incoherent dreams of a delirious jealousy, or the misjudged exaggerations of a counterfeit zeal, than like the sober apprehensions of genuine patriotism.
Yeah.  Who would ever think that the federal government would grow and grow and grow, and take over more and more state power, and everyone would just sit on their hands and let it happen?

Well, we all did.  Every damned one of us of voting age for the past 100 years or so.

Why?  Money.  They didn't need to build an army, they needed a printing press.

We all got a free education.  Free roads.  Free airports.  Many get free food, free money, free housing, free clothing, free contraceptives, free health care.  Free this and free that.

The federal government exerts its wishes over may of us - and all of the states - by controlling the money.

I remember when the Legally Drunk debate was going on.  The feds said the states should drop the DUI number down to 0.08.  Some states balked.  The feds said that they couldn't force the states to change their state laws, but if they didn't, they wouldn't get their share of federal highway tax dollars.

Every state caved.  For money.

That's what Madison and the other founding fathers missed.  How to establish a government where your own money couldn't be used as a weapon against you.  Honestly, I don't know if it's possible.  Perhaps we've just come to the end of our glorious run, and it's time to start all over.  I don't know.

What I want my sons to understand is that it is unlikely to ever change.  Certainly not in my lifetime, probably not in there lifetime. 

Perhaps the US becomes a Soviet-styled communist country, and then dies under its own weight. Maybe people literally start shooting back.  Drawing the line in the sand - as was done with King George - and stating enough is enough.

I think it will be more along the lines of the former - a slow, cancer-riddled death, with an uncertain rebirth.

Regardless, it will always be about the money.  Save it, jealously protect it, hide it.  Keep it out of the hands of the state where the only sure outcome will be waste.

Understanding the root of all political systems is the key for survival and for thriving.  Don't fall for the altruistic visions of happy workers all pitching in for the common good.  Don't fall for the guilt-ladened diatribes about equality, economic justice and equity.  Don't fall for the nauseating righteousness of some community organizer brow-beating you to be thankful for what government has done for you.

They are all nothing more than ways to separate you from your money.  You work;  you pay;  they benefit.

No thanks.

Copyright 2012 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, August 3, 2012

More Hat In Hand

Well, we're saddling up for another bailout.  This time it's going to be the farmers and ranchers.  The drought is kickin' their butts.  No rain means no corn or soy or hay.

Like the solicitors that knock on your door offering pest control or security alarm services, their talking heads are out with hat in hand looking for some of your cash.

We need to slam the door in their face.

Now, I'm probably going to get a bunch of grief for that attitude.  "Without farmers and ranchers, you'd be going hungry.  Shut your pie hole and toss 'em a couple of bucks."

I don't think so.

Unless you were in favor of the bank bailouts, you've got no moral ground on which to stand if you support the upcoming farmer/rancher bailout.  Just because they're a sympathetic group - as opposed to the evil bankers - doesn't justify giving them funds from the public trough.

While it's true you can't live without food, you also can't have our modern society without banks.  And a modern society is what we've got.

I say, let the weak companies die, regardless of the industry.  We'd all be better off if we did.

What this farm bailout does:  It keeps food prices artificially low.  By doing so, you as an individual don't have to make any choices.  Your food is available, and it costs the same everytime you go to the store.  Win!

Let's say we didn't have the bailout.  Corn and soy products would go through the roof.  Beef, chicken and pork - same thing.  What would you do?

You'd say to yourself, "Self, this sucks.  I like my corn.  I like my chicken and beef and pork.  What can I do for myself to keep me in my favorite foods?  I can turn that patch of lawn over in the corner into my own corn field.  I could get me some chickens.  Hey!  That would give me eggs and eventually roasters.  Way cool.

Self, this could happen with other things I like.  They could have a potato famine in Idaho and Washington.  I LOVE my spuds, so maybe I'll plant some of those as well.  I remember this post on doing potatoes in old tires - they don't need a lot of space.  Need to look that up.   California could get hit - again - with a drought, and the idiotic politicians could  - again - halt water shipments to the farms.  Maybe I'll grow some tomatoes and squash, and onions and maybe some garlic.  Gotta have my garlic."

Pretty soon, you're self sufficient.  Or at least less dependent.  TPTB just can't have that.  If urban and suburban people don't need to be tethered to the food supply teat, big Agribusiness gets nervous.  When they get nervous, politicians start cutting checks.

Just like they did with the banks.

A bailout is a bailout, regardless of the industry. 

Big banks.  Big auto.  Big "green".  Big agribusiness.

When risk is socialized - as it is when bailouts occur - risk increases.  When the consequences of your practices or business model are subsidized or protected from risk, you take more risk.  Duh. 

You make loans with no credit checks.  You plant crops that are solely dependent on rainfall.  You make cars no one wants to buy.  You make solar panels which are sub-standard and more expensive than the competition.

Failure cleanses the system of rot, and stabilizes an industry.  The survivors gobble up the failed business and more efficiently use those assets.  It really is that easy.

Yep, there is pain.  People lose jobs and companies, investors lose investments, and lenders take a hit.  And then it's over, and we move on.

The problem is, on the surface, bailouts appear to work.  GM and Chrysler are still in business.  BofA, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase and all of the "too big to fail" banks are still kicking.

Who benefits from these bailouts?  Not you, unless you're a political insider, a union member, or a large bank shareholder.  Add "farmer/rancher" to the list.

You, on the other hand, get to fund the bailout.  You've got none of the benefit, yet you get to pay the bill.  You threw the party, but only got to watch the video afterwards, and you send the bill to your kids.

Soon enough, we'll get to add cities, counties and whole states to the list.  I'm going to get to fund the bailout of Stockton, Vallejo, San Bernardino and the other teetering California cities, even though I've only driven through most of them.  I've not gotten to use their parks, their public safety services, their libraries or their sports arenas.

But pay, I will.  You're going to get to help fund their bailouts as well.  Look 'em up on the map and say to yourself, "I got to help out those undisciplined, gimme-mo-money strangers."

Well, maybe not "got" to.  "Was forced to" is more accurate.

Bailouts destroy discipline, markets and competitiveness.  All bailouts.

Copyright 2012 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.