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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Capital And Other Controls

 There are times I just want to scream.  I see overt, unconstitutional controls, I wave my arms in the air, and few seem to notice.  I realize, though, that it's just the old, "tree falling in the forest" deal.  No one hears it.  Or maybe they do, but they just don't give a damn.

Hey, they still have food, clothes, a roof over their head, maybe a couple of bucks in the bank or on their EBT card, and a car to get to work when work is available.

The wheels are coming off the cart, and no one cares, 'cause the cart is still moving, regardless of how wobbly and unsteady the ride.

Simply stated, government is nothing but control - sometimes for good, sometimes not.  We want government to control murderers and thieves, but not to control what drug or unpasteurized food others choose to put in their bodies.

Real freedom is the freedom of choice.  To act, speak, buy, sell, hoard or ingest as the individual chooses.  As long as that choice doesn't infringe on the rights of others, back the hell off.
The man who lets a leader prescribe his course is a wreck being towed to the scrap heap. - Ayn Rand
 Government doesn't see it that way.  They want control for the sake of control - it's the "service" they sell.  Personal freedom is in direct conflict with any form of government.  If you're free to act as you wish, you don't need government to control and regulate your actions and their outcomes.

If you don't need big government, well, they go out of business.  That is contrary to any economic or sociological model.  All "beings" want to grow and thrive.  Government is no different.

The go-to ploy - the marketing pitch - used to convince you of the need for government control is your safety.  And it works nearly every time.

Here is a perfect example:  The recent German passenger jet that played lawn dart with the French Aps.

It was a horrible event.  Horrible.  150 people are dead because of the apparent choice of the co-pilot to commandeer the plane and crash it.

In every single news outlet - right wing, left wing, TV, radio, print, online - it doesn't matter - everyone of them is calling for government "to do something".  These range from mandatory mental health checks of all pilots, to mandatory "two persons in cockpit at all times" to .... there are dozens and dozens of suggestions.

They're all "flingin' poo" to see what sticks.

Soon, we'll see the FAA testifying in Congress, and lots of Congresscritters harumph-harumphing, and promises of safety in the skies.

And we're then going to spend butt-loads of money to make you safer - or at least make you think you're safer -  and you'll gladly pay the bill.

Hey folks, the skies are about the safest place you can be.

Any guess how many planes and people are in the air, right this second?  8,000-13,000 planes holding half a million peopleEvery day, 8+ million people go airborne, with over 3.3 billion people flying every year (yeah, that's equivalent to about half of the world population).

Each day, over 100,000 planes take off and land around the world.  Over one hundred thousand flights a day.

What kind of death and destruction is wrought upon passengers each year?  Around the world between 500 and 1500 people die from plane crashes.  Not per day, but per year.  The two worst years (1972 and 1985) there were about 2300 deaths.  In the entire world!

We're going to spend tens of billions of dollars to save how many US citizens from the horrors of airline travel??!!  A couple of hundred, maybe?

Some perspective:  If there are 2300 deaths for every 3.3 billion fliers each year, that means you, as an individual, have a 1 in 1,435,000 chance of dying each time you fly.

Some other ways you might kill yourself (stuff lots of people do):

Driving in Car - 1 in 6,700
Dancing at A Party - 1 in 100,000
Bicycling - 1 in 140,845
Swimming - 1 in 1,000,000
Jogging and running - 1 in 1,000,000
Snow Skiing - 1 in 1,400,000
Flying - 1 in 1,435,000

OK?  You are 10 TIMES more likely to die while out on your bicycle than while flying.  So put on your big-boy bike shorts and stop whining.

The streets are running red with the blood of bicyclists!  Where is Congress on this devastating destroyer of lives?  Think of the children!

Do you wring your hands every time you jump on your Schwinn?  Well maybe you should, 'cause it's a death trap!

At least when compared to flying.

OK, back to my rant.  Statistics and logic can be so... dull.

Before I move on, keep one thing in mind:  There is nothing you can do to change what follows below.  It's done, and it's going to get worse.  Government ain't done growing.  Not for a second.

What you can do, is plan and act RIGHT THIS DAMNED MINUTE to minimize the impact.  That's the key.  Get out in front of what we know is going to happen.  Zig before they zag.

Capital Controls

There was a recent flurry of online articles about CTRs (Currency Transaction Reports).  Most people think/thought that if you took out $10,000 in cash from your bank account, you got flagged via a CTR.  These articles bleat that the dollar amount had dropped to $5000 or so.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but the number is much lower than that, and has been for a long time.  It's all about "out of pattern" withdrawals.  For instance, if you always do everything with your debit card, then out of the blue you ask for $1000 in 20's from your bank, TAG, you're it!  You've acted outside of your normal patterns.  Most likely, you triggered a SAR (Suspicious Activity Report).

Disturbing, huh?

Under the guise of safety and anti-terrorism, laws for all of this surveillance of your spending patterns were passed, and passed again and again.  And you thought it was A-OK.  "Lose a little freedom to keep 'Merica safe"

In the same vein, some Euro country (France?) just passed a law that you can't make cash payments in excess of 1000 euro (now equal to about $1070).

Next on the hit parade for controls will be precious metals - gold and silver primarily.  Right now, there are few restrictions on how and when you can buy and sell them.

I absolutely guarantee you that will be changing in the next few years.  Precious metals - like physical cash - are "off the books" assets.  If government doesn't know you have them, they certainly can't know how you're spending them.

More importantly, they can't seize them ('cause they don't know you own them) if they don't like something you're doing.

In that same Euro country, you now need permission to transport your precious metals inside the borders of the country!  Not crossing a border, but crossing the street.

See how that works?  If you own the gold, but bought it for cash, you must now declare your ownership.  If you don't, it's contraband, and can be legally seized.

Ain't it grand when you get to write, enforce and profit from the laws?

Bottom line:  If you can control the ways money can be used, you can control the holder of that money.  Good guys are guilty until proven innocent.

The Other Controls

We have Gun Control - where only good citizens are controlled - since bad guys don't obey the laws.  Your ability to defend yourself from ANY type of threat is chipped away.  The latest tactic with the attempted ban on "armor piercing" ammo reeks of the movie, Minority Report.  They seem to have the ability to know you're going to use your ammo for dirty deeds before you do.  Oh, and the ban WILL happen.  Mark my words.  Good guys are guilty until proven innocent.

We have Travel Controls, where you're presumed to be a terrorist - and treated as such - for no other reason than you want to travel on public transportation.  What started in the airports is now evident in train and bus stations, and even with roving "VIPR Squads" on the roadways.  Good guys are guilty until proven innocent.

We've got a couple of new-ish controls coming into play.  I say new-ish because they've been around for a while, but they're really working to get to the front of the line.

The first is Thought Control (for lack of a better term - if there's already a phrase for this, lemme know).  No, I'm not talking about some 3-letter agency beaming mind-control waves into your home or car.  It is our reaction to the knowledge that everything we're doing is being recorded somewhere.

The whole, "metadata" collection thing.

[For an absolutely fantastic article on the whole metadata gig - what it is and how it's actually a bigger threat to personal privacy than detailed data collection - see this article, NSA Doesn't Need to Spy On Your Calls To Learn Your Secrets, from Wired Magazine]

We all do things differently on the Internet and on phone calls because, "Someone might be listening."  You know you do it.  You don't key in a phrase on Google for how to build a bomb - even though you have no intentions of ever making a bomb.  Intellectual curiosity is gonna have to be put on hold.

You know that search will be saved forever, and if you should ever, EVER be arrested for anything, you just know they'll slap down a stack of papers on top of the interrogation room table and ask, "So.  Why would an innocent person ever do a search for how to make a bomb?"

"But, but, but...."

Because at sometime in the future, your private, innocent search or phone call might be unveiled for all the world to see, you change your behavior.  Your thoughts are not allowed to go, "down that road."  Your curiosity is left unsatisfied.  You comply through perceived threat.

They win again.

This last item seems to be coming to full bloom just as spring has sprung.  Speech Control - the idea that offensive, but non-threatening speech, must be muted.  What is most disturbing to me is that this movement towards censorship is flourishing in the very centers where freedom of thought and speech should be flourishing - our universities.

They are redefining what "threatening" means.  Historically, threatening speech meant that a reasonable person would believe that the verbal threat could become physical in nature.

"If I find out you were with my daughter, I'm going to kill you!" would be an example.  The legal term is "fighting words".

Now you're threatened if the words make you feel uncomfortable or "unsafe".
The offender was the free-speech advocate Wendy Kaminer, who had been arguing against the use of the euphemism “the n-word” when teaching American history or “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” In the uproar that followed, the Student Government Association wrote a letter declaring that “if Smith [College] is unsafe for one student, it is unsafe for all students.
Believe me when I say that no one actually feels unsafe when there are discussions on racism or  sexual assault (as was a major part of the article - read the whole thing - it's amazing).  No one is raping or beating anyone.

The sole purpose of "feeling safe" is to control what others say and to whom they say it.  It is used to silence debate and to give the outward appearance of solidarity.  If you can control what a person says, you can control their actions and their ability to progress and succeed in life.

Just ask the "climate deniers" how their careers are progressing.

Accept The Challenge

Capital Controls - hide some of your assets, with the understanding that you may never have the ability to spend them yourself.  Remember the gold confiscation scheme of 1933 (under the guise of Trading With The Enemy)?  I'm here to tell you that our elders understood that eventually, gold would be legal again.

In direct defiance of federal law and the treat of fines and imprisonment, they did not turn in their gold for worthless fiat currency.  How do I know this?  Because every day in my precious metals store, I buy and sell pre-1933 US gold.  It took until the 1970's for gold to be "legal" again.

Prepare to do the same for your grandkids or great grand kids.  Sanity eventually re-emerges.

Gun Control - hide some of your guns and ammo.  Statists understand that eventually, the people wake up, and push back against tyranny.  It happens every time.  The only time the challenge is successful is when force is applied.

Every dictator this world has seen has attempted - and most have succeeded - to disarm the people before applying the heavy screws.  Don't fall for the propaganda, and keep your mouth shut about the numbers and the location of your arms.

Travel Controls - seriously a tough one.  I haven't flown in an airplane in over 10 years.  I'll only do so for (literally) life and death reasons.  But I will be doing a good deal of travel by road in the coming years.

I need some help with that one (comments, please!).

Thought Control - Use TOR or a paid VPN service to help anonymize your internet traffic.  Use a search engine other than Google, Bing or Yahoo for your searches (I use StartPage - It submits a search to Google, so you get their power, but Google doesn't know YOU did the search).  Encrypt everything you've got, and use strong passphrases (see here for some great ideas).

I'm seriously considering getting a "non-smart phone" that is only used for calls.  My current device contains everything about everyone I know or with whom I have contact.  That means Google knows the information as well (it's an Android device).

Speech Control - I have fun with this one.  Since I now own my own businesses, I don't have to play the corporate Political Correctness game.  If someone says something stupid - and I believe they are saying it to control the conversation - I lay into them.

With glee.

Have I lost customers over this?  Oh hell yes.  A couple of years back, I had a gun class where (ironically) some anti-gun pablum was being slung, and I addressed it clear-eyed and forcefully.  I let them say their piece, and then tore them a new one with facts and logic.

They left the class (without a refund) and blasted me on a rating site with a bunch of lies.

Some others from the class saw the ratings and wrote their own - in my favor.  I surely lost some anti-gun future customers, but I made some long-term friends in trade.

I'll take that any day of the week!

The bottom line:  Stay alert, and be adaptive.  It's the only way we'll survive.

I'll leave you with this, which was written in 1969.  See any similarities to today, some 45+ years later? - 
[The hippies] were told that love - indiscriminate love for one's fellow man - is the highest virtue, and they obeyed. They were told that the merging of one's self with a herd, tribe, or community is the noblest way for a man to live, and they obeyed. There isn't a philosophical idea of today's establishment which they have not accepted, which they do not share. When they discovered this philosophy did not work, because in fact it cannot work, the hippies had neither the wit nor the courage to challenge it. They found, instead, an outlet for their impotent frustration by accusing their elders of hypocrisy, as if hypocrisy were the only obstacle to the realization of their dreams. And, left blindly, helplessly lobotomized in the face of an inexplicable reality that is not amenable to their feelings, they have no recourse but the shouting of obscenities at anything that frustrates their whims; at man, or at the rainy sky, indiscriminately, with no concept of the difference. It is typical of today's culture that the proponents of seething, raging hostility are taken as advocates of love.

--Ayn Rand, Apollo and Dionysus

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Copyright 2015 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

I Don't Owe You Squat

Sorry for the hiatus.  Have a family member that had some serious surgery, and it has diverted my attention - considerably - from all other ventures.  Back on track... I believe!

I was working in my precious metals store earlier this week and the phone rang.  I was back in the office, and normally one of my employees would answer the phone.  Instead, I got a, "Hey boss, could you answer this call?"

I pick up the call, and it goes something like this:

Me:  Hi, how can I help you?

Them:  I want to speak to a supervisor.

M:  I'm the owner, what can I do for you?

T:  I want to lodge a complaint.  I called up yesterday, and got hung up on twice.  It was very rude.  I'm deaf and was just trying to get some information.

M:  OK, I'll see what I can do.  Tell me what happened.

T:  I am so pissed off.  I'm deaf and was trying to get some information.  I use a translator because I'm deaf, and your employee hung up on me twice.

M:  I understand that.  Tell me what happened.

T:  Well, I'm deaf, and I am just so insulted and pissed off that your employee hung up on me.  He was discriminating against me.

M:  (I can see where this is going).  I've heard you say that a number of times.  I'll take your information and speak with the employee who was on the floor yesterday.  Is there anything else I can do for you?

T:  Yes, I'm deaf and using a translator...

M:  Ma'am, I heard you.  I told you I'd speak with the employee.  Why did you call yesterday?  Let me see if I can answer that question.

T:  (Long pause).  Uhm, I wanted information about some Greek coins.

M:  Are they gold or silver?

T:  No.

M:  Well then, I'm not going to be able to help you.  We don't deal in ancient coins, and recent mintage Greek coins don't have much of a market here in the US, so we don't deal in them, either.  Does that answer your question?

T:  Well, I'm deaf, and pissed....

M:  Ma'am, what can I do for you now?

(This round-about went on for 10 minutes).

I finally get her off the phone, and the employee who was in the day before tells me what happened.  She called in, said she wanted information on some sort of paper money, not Greek coins.  When he told her we didn't do business in that type of currency, she said that actually, she wanted to conduct a survey about the TTY system.

TTY is a device - that is required on both ends of the "conversation" - that is used by deaf people to communicate using phone lines.  In my conversation with her, I could hear her "interpreter" whispering everything I said.  I'm guessing she was reading the whisperer's lips.

My employee told her we don't do surveys on the phone for anyone.  He kept telling her we didn't do surveys and was there any precious metals question he could answer.  She kept saying she just wanted to do the survey.

It resulted in the hang-up.  Twice.

I don't care if you're the Boy Scouts of America, the Mother Teresa Benevolent Society or some disabled person or organization.  Sorry, but I don't have the time to give you for your project, regardless of how worthy you believe it to be.

And that's the rub.  I am so sick and damned tired of people thinking they are owed something because they're "different".

Maybe they're deaf.  Or in a wheelchair.  Or black/Asian/Hispanic (non-white).  Or gender-questionable.  Or Muslim/Catholic/Protestant/Agnostic/Hindu.

Everyone has their own little niche in which to be a victim or oppressed or worthy, and they expect others to give their time and resources for their cause.

In my business setting, time is literally money.  If I or my employees take time away from buying or selling with a customer, or posting items on our Internet site, or shipping/receiving packages, I lose money.

This liberal/leftist/statist mind-set of knowing better than I on how to allocate my resources doesn't cut it.

"I just need a little bit of your time for this very worthy project."

Kiss my ass.  I'LL decide what I think are worthy projects.  I'LL decide where and when I spend my money.  I'LL decide where and when I give my time, because it's a finite resource.

Back to our deaf caller - She may have been born that way, or it may have occurred because of events out of her control.

Or, she may have gone to an AC/DC concert and blown out her own eardrums.

Honestly, I don't care.  She may indeed have a very worthy cause - in her eyes - but I allocate my limited resources as I see fit, and I won't be bullied or brow-beaten into giving some to her cause.

I don't have the ability to create money out of thin air like the federal government.  My money supply does indeed have a limit.


So, where does Chief send his money.  Glad you asked!

Most goes locally.  I'm a big believer in helping those in my community (so I won't go into details).

National charities are military veteran-focused.  It pisses me off to no end that we send men and women off to fight our battles, and the federal government then reneges on their promise to try and make them whole again when they come home broken (mentally or physically).

My latest foray has been with The Boot Campaign.  It's a newer charity.

Now, I normally only give to charities I've run through Charity Navigator to see how they spend their money.  Since The Boot Campaign is less than 7 years old, they aren't listed yet.  An employee of mine told me about it, and had some personal knowledge of their operations, so I gave.  YMMV.

Me and my Army boots

The other national charity I give to is Fisher House.  Every year, my morning radio station does a campaign for them, and they raise lots of money for this cause.

Why give to Fisher House, and not one of the others, such as Wounded Warrior Project?  Very simply, efficiency.

For every dollar you give to Fisher House, $0.95 goes to the helping vets and their families.  With Wounded Warrior, it's $0.57.  My personal threshold for costs other than "Program Expenses" is $0.15 or less.

Sorry, but I don't want over 40 cents of every dollar I donate going to commercials or administrative overhead.

See how that works?  As an individual, I can choose between options - discriminate - to make what I believe to be the best bang for my buck.

Gummint, and their statist lemmings, think they know best.  Hang up on their ass!

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Copyright 2015 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.