Question From Anonymous

29 12 2008

Hello,

I’m a fellow survival-minded person, and considering your knowledge on this issue, I hope you don’t mind me asking your opinion on something I’ve been seriously mulling over for some time.

Due to the economic situation we now find ourselves in, I’ve been doing some serious thinking. We’ve watched the financial world crumble, and it concerns me. We’ve watched the stock market sputter to a halt, we’ve watched as bank after bank failed, we’ve watched as the realm of the loan and mortgage came upon rough waters. I left Washington Mutual when they began having trouble, seeing the possible outcome (which, as we witnessed, actually did occur). I moved over to Wells Fargo, feeling that that bank and Bank of America were the only two trustworthy banks. And now I see issues with Bank of America; bad loans from their Merril Lynch purchase and now the notice of layoffs. BofA may still stay alive, but in an extreme case WF may be the last man standing…. And then what if they go down, too? Yes, the government is propping these institutions up right and left, but what if they get in trouble financially? Yes, our own government, that’s what I’m saying. I’m not sure how sound my own thinking is here, but I raise the same issue many have: who’s gonna bail out Uncle Sam?

Extreme? Yes. But haven’t we been witnessing the extreme already? I do not share the tame projections of those who say next year, or maybe a year or two after that will see a return to normal. I’m afraid it will be much, much longer and much, much worse than we may yet be seeing.

I’ve wanted to invest in stocks before. I’ve wanted to “get smart” financially to earn my own living without having to answer to a boss or board. But, to be honest…I’ve lost my faith. In it all. In the stock market, in our financial system. Sure, this likely sounds completely crazy, but how can I help what I feel? I’ve simply lost faith in it.

I clearly don’t even trust my bank account anymore. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’d be willing to bet that my hard-earned cash will be just fine, but what if it isn’t? Isn’t that what survivalism is all about, preparing for the worst but hoping for the best?

My point in all this? In short, I want to know what you’d suggest. I have very seriously considered pulling my cash out and storing it in a safe, but if things really go downhill that much, will the already weak dollar be worth anything? What would you recommend? Gold? What?

In closing I’d like to say that I appreciate your time. I wish to remain anonymous.

A concerned survivalist citizen

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David Bahnsen Missed The Boat

29 12 2008

Back in August 2002, the Chalcedon Report printed an article by David Bahnsen entitled On Missing the Boat: When Well-Meaning Christian Economists Force Us to Look Elsewhere for Financial Advice. His point? That false financial prophets (Gary North, anyone?) were causing Christians to miss out on great kingdom building (and personal riches to boot!) opportunities in the stock market. It bears mentioning that Bahnsen was a “Financial Advisor” with UBS Paine Webber at the time. At the time, the S&P 500 stood at  916.07.

It closed this past week at 872.80. Let’s look back at some of David’s comments.

Most adults who were alive during the 1980s and 1990s saw a period of economic expansion and financial prosperity that may possibly be the largest of its kind in human history. Sadly, most Christian investors took no part in the gains and growth that the period produced. This is not just sad, however: it is intriguing. In this article, I want to explore why that is the case, and what attitude a Christian individual or investor ought to have towards his financial planning.

Financial prosperity? I don’t think so. It was a remarkable debt-fueled consumption binge, true enough. And surely, we bought more crap, more cheaply than ever before. It was a time of “irrational exuberance.” But prosperity it was not. Would that more Christians had declined to participate in the stock markets and home equity loans.

Several brilliant individuals have written about economics, investing, proper planning, etc. from a Christian perspective. … The large majority of Christians I have met throughout my life have not been successful in this endeavor especially in the Reformed circles I have grown up in. I firmly believe that this is largely due to a “head in the ground” mentality that has ignored the equity markets, prioritized survivalist nonsense over intelligent investing, and replaced rational concerns about certain economic fears with irrational concerns about the future of our nation and economy.

 There needs to be more written about the equity markets. Christians should know what companies they are investing in, and decline to invest inc companies whose “economic expansion” is based on disobedience to God’s laws (e.g. Sabbath-breaking, usury, theft via the State, promotion of adultery and fornication, etc.). I daresay that would rule out 90+ percent of all equities publicly traded. Christians should understand that the idea of the limited-liability corporation is evil (see R.L. Dabney on this topic, among others), and that they are responsible for the actions of companies that they own via equity securities.

Let me preface my next comments with this statement: We worship an awesome God, and He is certainly free in His own covenantal love and wisdom to do with our nation as He wills. However, if God wanted to destroy the American culture for its disobedience by causing a collapse of our banking system, or through any type of “sky is falling” scenario, I do not believe that our biggest concern should be whether or not we have gold coins in our sock drawers, as opposed to stock holdings in our portfolios. God is an awesome God, and He will deal with His people as He sees fit. Our responsibility, in the meantime, is to be “wise as serpents, and gentle as doves,” as the Messiah taught. It is not to tout the “nightmare of the month” every time we feel that an economic collapse is coming, render irrational panic in the hearts and minds of Christian investors, and keep our churches’ and Christian families’ capital forever on the sidelines. The pastors and authors who are guilty of this have done so to the detriment of many people and many churches. I do not want to depress those of you who have held savings bonds or gold/silver positions for the last twenty years, instead of participating actively in the American stock market, by showing a comparison of investment performance. The results would be unbelievable to you, and would probably only force you to commit various violations of the 10th commandment. I do, however, hope and pray that our next generation will not make the same mistakes.

… It is my opinion that active participation in the equity markets through dollar-cost averaging is the greatest means of obtaining wealth available to an investor. Running one’s own business with success can be a greater means (as can finding success as a professional actor or athlete). But for those in a bit more realistic place in life, an intelligent, safe, diversified, proper participation in the equity markets can be the greatest wealth-building habit in the history of America, especially in the twenty-first century.

This is sad in so many ways. Christians should indeed be “investing”, but the equity markets are a lousy place to do so, both from a pragmatic and a moral perspective. It is unfortunate that David did not and does not understand this, but perhaps a look-back can give us some perspective. David sought to chastise the Church while crowing about debt/inflation fueled stock market gains, but a little over six years later it appears that David was the one that missed the boat.





Ice Storms and Power Failures

15 12 2008

More than 1 million homes and businesses blacked out by huge ice storm:

CONCORD, N.H. – Utility crews worked through a night of hand-numbing cold in northeastern U.S. states, but they still had a long way to go before restoring power to all of the more than 1 million homes and businesses blacked out by a huge ice storm.

In New Hampshire, where more than 370,000 customers still had no electricity Saturday, Gov. John Lynch urged residents still without power to make overnight plans early.

“I think there were a lot of people who decided to just stick it out and stay home last night hoping that power would be restored today, but I think people have to assume that power will not come back today and seek shelter,” Lynch said.

The ice storm compared with some of the Northeast’s worst, especially in New Hampshire, where more than half the state — 400,000-plus homes and businesses — was without power at the peak of the outage. Far fewer customers were affected by the infamous Ice Storm of ’98, when some residents spent more than a week in the dark. New Hampshire opened at least 25 shelters.

People lost power as far south as Pennsylvania, but most of the outages were in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maine and New York.

At least one death was blamed on the storm: New Hampshire officials said a man died of carbon monoxide poisoning after turning on his generator when his power went out Thursday night.

Extended power outages during winter are not a rare occurrence in the North. And ironically, as the power grid has become more efficient, it has become less reliable. Redundancy can be viewed as “waste” from a “lean” management perspective, which reduces profits. Sometimes it is. But there is a point at which eliminating redundancies leaves your system extremely vulnerable. Energy providers are willing to accept this risk in order to reap additional profits. And we do not have the option of shopping for more reliable electric service.

The individual is now in the position where he must build in his own redundant networks to mitigate the risk that the energy providers will periodically fail to deliver. This could be non-electric means of heat and light, a backup generator, or even a bug-out location.





Why You're Getting Laid Off

8 12 2008

Everything you’ve been working on, producing, servicing, planning, monitoring, or building for the last decade (being conservative) was bankrolled by loans based on empty promises of future streams of income that will never materialize.

We don’t want to believe it, of course. Like Wile E. Coyote, we’re still running, even though we’ve long since departed terra firma.





8 12 2008

I wanted to recommend a book called “Making the Best of Basics” by James Talmage Stevens.

It’s a great resource and primarily covers food storage – why, what, how, how much, and what to do with it. It explains how to calculate your storage needs based on the size of your family, and there is a spreadsheet to help make the process easier.

We’ve found the recipes in the book helpful also, one of my sons made some great bulgur dishes out of some of our wheat. I can honestly say that I’ve never had a better tasting “Taco TVP Bulgur” or “Bulgur and Bulgur Sausages” than the ones my son made using the recipes in this book.

Part of the motto of the book is to “store what you eat” and “eat what you store.” And that’s great advice.

I bought the book about ten years ago, and it can be purchased here: http://www.nitro-pak.com/product_info.php?products_id=311&osCsid=fa

The Amazon page is here: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1882723252/





Current Events And The Need For Preparedness

8 12 2008

I think the following items are noteworthy, though I am at a loss to say much about them other than to express my concern.

Number 1:

The second-largest merchant-vendor for credit card use is now McDonalds. This suggests that many consumers are in serious distress if they need to get their $4 Big Mac and fries with a credit card.

Source: Minyanville: The Illusion of Wealth

Number 2: About 10% of all mortgages are either delinquent (6.99%) or in the foreclosure process (2.97%).

Number 3:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Food stamps, the main U.S. antihunger program which helps the needy buy food, set a record in September as more than 31.5 million Americans used the program — up 17 percent from a year ago, according to government data.

The number of people using food stamps in September surpassed the previous peak of 29.85 million seen in November 2005 when victims of hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma received emergency benefits, said Jean Daniel of the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service.

September’s tally — the latest month available — was also boosted by hurricane and flood aid, Daniel said on Wednesday.

But anti-hunger groups said the economic downturn is the main reason behind the higher figures.

“It’s a disturbing trend,” said Ellen Vollinger, legal director with the Food Research and Action Center. She said she expects more people will turn to food stamps as unemployment figures rise and the economy remains weak.

One in 10 Americans were participating in the food stamp program as of September, said Dottie Rosenbaum, analyst with Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a think tank.

Source: Reuters: Record number of Americans using food stamps: report

This video on America’s deficits was quite interesting:

I’m not sure that we can necessarily say that any one of these items paint a more dire picture than things have been at various times in the past. For every single statistic, you could find a comparable one from history. But throw into the cauldron the exponential rate of government debt, the evaporation of virtual wealth (stocks and fiat currency), the lack of untapped home equity (whether real or imagined), the impending retirement of the baby boomers, and you have a situation where something significant must soon change. Something has to give.

Who would have thought Americans would have tolerated the nationalization of banks without so much as a peep? The path to unresisted change is through the control of credit and virtual wealth. It has become our soma. The populace will accept any change, so long as they get (1) a promise to protect their virtual wealth and (2) someone to blame. We’ve been conditioned for this by all the cushions that we’ve enjoyed. If we lose our job, no big deal, we still have credit cards, home equity loans, unemployment compensation, etc. Control over those things means control over people, especially people with no savings, no food storage, no ability to produce food, and no real assets. And we’d be naive to think that those that wield this control won’t be tempted to use it.

In the times ahead, we need to be prepared on many levels. Keep your trust in God, and your powder dry.





Costco Emergency Food Kit

4 12 2008

This looks like a handy supplement to your food storage. Its not gourmet and its not a “complete meal”, but it is inexpensive food in a bucket that lasts 10-20 years.

Costco Emergency Food Kit

Emergency Food Kit
275 Servings
Weather Proof Bucket
Item # 104893

$84.99
Shipping & Handling included *

Costco Emergency Food Kit

Basic preparation will impact the probability of your family’s survival in an emergency. Delicious and easy to prepare. Each bucket contains 275 servings of Pre-mixed and Pre-seasoned 100% vegetarian and vitamin fortified food. With a 20 year long shelf life, this kit is perfect for the preparation of natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes or even for a camping or hunting trip.

* Easy to Prepare
* Must have water and a heat source
* 275 Servings
* All Meals 100% Vegetarian and Vitamin Fortified
* Sealed in convenient Weather-Proof bucket for easy transport
* 30 Servings – Potato Bakon
* 25 Servings – Corn Chowder
* 25 Servings – Ala King
* 25 Servings – Cacciatore
* 25 Servings – Western Stew
* 25 Servings – Country Noodle
* 25 Servings – Rice Lentil
* 45 Servings – Whey Milk
* 25 Servings – Blueberry Pancakes
* 25 Servings – Barley Vegetable
* Total Weight: 23 lbs.

For best taste and nutritional value, use product before:

20 years of manufacturing date when stored at 60° F (16.6° C)

10 years of manufacturing date when stored at 70° F (21.1° C)








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