Tuesday, April 29, 2008

How fast will the SHTF?

At noon, The President announced on television that the US was finally broke! No more money! So everything was going stop functioning immediately! Germany, Japan and China demanded that our promissory notes be payed on the spot in gold! When the Welfare payments stopped that day, naturally there were riots in every major city! We quickly bugged out that afternoon to get out of town. There were fires and riots everywhere. It seemed like every jail and prison had been emptied after the President's speech. Police and the National Guard quickly abandoned their posts to protect their families! Gangs took the streets and began looting and killing. The suburbs were in flames in minutes! Twice gang bangers tried to stop our truck which forced us to start shooting! By the time we got out of town that evening, it was almost too late!

How many survival, post apocalypse fiction stories go like this? It is almost as if the writer can't wait to get to the good part of their story - ( the scene which finds the hero telling off the FEMA representative standing at the door to his retreat!).

With survival minded folk like us, we have real world information to guide us in SHTF scenarios. For instance, take a look at Somalia or New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Both examples, though extreme opposites, can give us a glimpse into what happens when the poop hits the fan.

Take New Orleans for instance. We have a singular event (hurricane) which caused a larger event (flooding which broke the levies which led to more flooding) which changed a city overnight. Within the following day, all heck broke loose and all matter of horrors took place in a very short amount of time.

Now consider Somalia. After a series of bad governments, internal armed strife and conflict with neighbors, an entire country was plunged into chaos. Even with massive foreign aid and international intervention, the situation in Somalia became so large and daunting, most foreign help has pulled out of the country entirely. Today, Somalia is almost entirely run by gangs and local warlords and has no functioning form of central government.

In most large-scale SHTF situations, (the whole world or country affected), I think we will have a gradual slide rather than a massive shift in the way we conduct our daily lives. The only exceptions I put to this are in the event of a wide scale military attack or a natural event such as an asteroid hitting earth, polar shift or massive unexpected seismic event.

So I see a SHTF scenario going more like Somalia rather than New Orleans..
- Months of economic and financial upheaval.
- Chronic shortages of daily necessities like food, fuel, electricity and water.
- Increase in violent crime, riots, looting and public insurrections.
- Curfews, martial law and personal freedoms curtailed.
- War breaking out because of the nation's weakened state or intentionally to drive the national attention away from our internal problems.

Eventually, the current system of government breaks down. First in some key places then more and more across the country. Some cities and towns will continue to operate as best as possible with limited resources and outside contact.

All in all, unless there is a large event, such as a massive military attack, the process will take months if not years. People truly into preparedness will see the value of preparing at first for an inconvenient world, followed by a rapidly disintegrating and dangerous world.

That means stockpiling food, fuel, medical supplies and the ability to hide them and protect them.

That means thinking long term, as years, not 72 hours like we are told to prepare for.

That means having your food stores divided into three categories; short term (refrigerator/freezer, canned and packaged food), medium (flour, sugar, yeast, beans, rice) and long term (long term storage food, wheat, gardening and small scale food production).

That means water supplies, the ability to store and procure more.

That means fuel for transportation and long term transportation like bicycles, horses, wagons, even good physical health for walking!

That means the ability to produce some power through the use of wind and sun.

That means the ability to defend oneself and family and to surround your community with other like minded parties.

Than means being prepared to leave home and striking out for greener pastures elsewhere.

How fast will the SHTF? I don't know. But it is prudent to expect the results to last for a very long time afterwards.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Rice? What rice? What price rice?

Rice is a staple food eaten all over the world. The top producers of rice are:

China, India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, Pakistan, Philippines, Brazil and Japan.

Of these countries, only Thailand and Vietnam export (send out of the country) any measurable amounts. The third largest exporter of rice is the United States and by the numbers, is not in the top ten producing countries.

China and India consume much of their production. The Philippines cannot produce enough to meet demand and must import a certain amount of rice annually.

Rice is inexpensive, nutritious and filling. It can be used a main dish and augmented with other foods such as meat and vegetables to create a healthy meal.

And now the problem.

Because of demand, weather and costs, rice has become difficult to buy. Check out this story from Costco's CEO. This is taking place in the U.S. Not some third world country, but here.

The demand for rice is outstripping the supply. As I said, there are many causes. A healthier economy in Asia. A colder than expected winter in China and Vietnam. Higher demand from third world nations. Even commodity speculation.

With so few countries exporting, then the other shoe drops. India announces that they are curtailing their exports to keep prices low at home. Thailand, which usually holds a large surplus, has found itself with a three month supply and multiple customers including oil-rich, cash in hand nations like Iran shopping for a dwindling supply.

Food, once considered a boring commodity, is now a hot resource, much like petroleum and precious metals.

How does this affect us?

Rice, like wheat, constitutes a large part of our preparedness stores. At our home, we regularly keep 100 to 400 pounds of rice on hand in storage buckets. I recently checked at our Costco and found no rice in stock at all, save for the 10 lb bags of basmati rice which is not a big favorite at our house.

Rice, which used to be cheap and could be counted on as an everyday and emergency food stock is now hard to obtain and more costly when available. This can seriously hurt our preparedness plans.

What can we do?

First, we are facing a demand problem and not necessarily a shortage. Rice is available, but it might be hard to find.

Second, the time to buy was last year, but the time to buy is also now before the shipments stop and there are no restocks.

A few suggestions;

- Purchase smaller bags (1, 2 and 5lb) from your grocer.
- Check big box retailers like Walmart. Often they have the big bags like Costco or Sams.
- Check with Asian and Middle Eastern retailers. I would buy 25 and 50 lb bags from the Asian market near our house anyway. Also check the Hispanic oriented supermarkets if they are in your town.
- Keep an eye out at Sams and Costco. Ask the manager when shipments may arrive. According to the news, new stock arrives daily.
- Buy in reason. There is no need to snatch every 50lb bag you see. Buy what you can afford and reasonably store.
- Store what you buy, eat what you store.
- Consider other grains which may be in stock.

A note.

There have been a number of news articles about food shortages and riots. So far, this has not happened in the U.S. yet and I don't see it happening for some time.

Also, there is plenty to eat (real long term storage food) in the markets. I have not seen the all edged shortages of flour, sugar, salt or yeast some are hysterically reporting nor have my retailers placed any limits on purchases.

Finally, the government has not issued a statement on the rice demand. When the government issues a statement like "please limit purchases" or worse, "we have implemented price controls and rationing", then you have a real problem on your hand.

That does not mean to say that you should not continue to store food. On the contrary, we prepare for all eventualities which includes short term shortages such as what we are experiencing in addition to more serious events.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Survival manual neatly dressed as fiction

A survival manual neatly dressed as fiction.

This has to be one of the worse lines ever. Why?

Because every fiction writer in the past five years, who when combined with the Internet, and with even the slightest bent for "the end of the world" sits down at at the computer, the first tome he puts out is "a survival story, neatly dressed as fiction, but actually a how-to manual for when the world goes down the toilet".

Today's TEOTWAWKI author believes that every SHTF novel now has to have J.W. Rawles theme in order to be successful.

Have you read Patriots? Pick any version. The three in print. "Double Ought", "The Grey Nineties", or how about the screenplay?

The story is simple. A massive meltdown of America's economic system leads to chaos and anarchy across the country. A group of people, having long ago prepared a retreat in rural Idaho, take refuge and spend the following years fighting off hordes of convicts, cannibals and New World Order shock troops all while preaching the Good News.

The story is full of action and fast dialogue and the characters are basically decent people.

"Patriots" gets bogged down in overly detailed lists and descriptions of every type of firearm, ammo and accessory imaginable. Story characters become faceless blobs identified only by the make, model and finish of their weapon.

When I first read "Patriots" (an online version several years ago), I was halfway through the book and still had no idea if Mary (Todd's wife in this version) was tall, fat, red headed, two-headed or skinny as a rail. But I did know she carried a Remington 870 Junior Model in 20 guage.

Regardless, the tedious trend today has every post-SHTF writer, especially the Internet based writers, attempting to copy and surpass the "Patriots" model. I wonder sometimes if writers remember some of the great TEOTWAWKI novels like The Stand, Alas Babylon or Lucifer's Hammer? Camoflage patterns were not quickly identified, but the characters and storyline were first rate, riveting and memorable.

I like "Patriots" and think it should be on your survivalist fiction bookshelf. Further, I try and keep up on Rawles' blog from time to time for helpful survival information. However, I wish that prospective survivalist writers would attempt their own writing style and focus on character development and storyline first.

"Patriots" is out with a new, extended and updated version for 2008. Check out Amazon for great pricing and availability.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Prepare! More about pre-1964 silver coins

Ever since I published this last post on pre-1964 silver U.S. coins, I have been taking quite a bit of heat. Not only from "preppers" but also from coin and precious metals dealers, coin collectors, and silver bugs.

Pre-1964 U.S. silver coins, they say, offer a good and affordable way for small and first time precious metal investors to get into the game. Pre-1964 silver coins, quarter, dimes, halves and dollars, are 90% silver. Since 1964, none have been produced with that much silver content. Thus, they are worth much more than similar, but later dated coins. And with silver now over 17.00 an ounce, pre-1964 silver U.S. coins are a surprisingly good investment.

Typically, pre-1964 silver U.S. coins are sold as "junk silver" which is a bit of a contradiction in terms because I tend to believe the dollar is junk and precious metals hardly fit that term.

Look, I have nothing against, pre-1964 silver U.S. coins. I like finding an occasional 1954 quarter or dime in my change. It's sad knowing that some unsuspecting ignorant individual dropped a single dime worth a dollar and a half into a soda machine, and that it became my "mini lottery".

But investments in portable wealth, whether it be art, precious stones or even pre-1964 silver coins, is a liquid investment. Which means one has to be prepared to sell their investment for higher gain at some future date.

For me, preparing for the future means investing in hard material possessions which offer a high, long-term rate of return. Investments like land, livestock and cash crops.

I cannot eat a pre-1964 silver coin, nor can my family. I cannot fend off a burglar with a pre-1964 U.S. silver quarter nor can I use it cure my sick child of a fever.

So, continue to invest in pre-1964 silver U.S. coins if it works for you and your future needs. But please, stop sending me email beating me up about my post or my opinion.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Prepare! Pre-1964 silver coins are a waste of time

Read the official Junk Silver Blog Here.

Are junk silver coins really a waste of time? No, in fact it is highly desirable to have some form of portable currency during and after an emergency. Starting with a credit card with plenty of room, then cash, gold or silver and finally, trade goods. 
Personally, I am a big fan of pre-1964 silver U.S. coins. Rather, I created this post to dispel a notion many armchair survivalists cling to, but also to remind readers to stock tangibles (food, water, etc) before investing in precious metals. 

First up, read all the survival fiction you can find out there on the internet. 

And that is fiction with a capital F.

Every protagonist has a stash of pre-1964 coins for barter, trade and commerce. And without fail, so does every other character they meet and wish to conduct business with. They all seem to have a mason jar full of Franklin silver halves, Roosevelt dimes and old quarters.

And so, when the inevitable "trading faire" (who comes up with this stuff?) opens, everyone shows up with a pocket of pre-Beatles change jingling and ready to purchase chickens, honey and auto parts.

Horse feathers.

For those just joining the end of the world, pre-1964 US coins have a silver content of 90% silver. To the "fiat currency" crowd, these coins were the last "real" money available to citizens.

Most pre-1964 coins have been pulled from circulation, both by the government and by collectors. I still find a silver coin from time to time, usually about one or two a year. With silver so highly priced, it makes sense to keep those dimes which are now worth over a dollar for metal value.

However, I don't know anyone who has a stash of pre-1964 US coins. Most people I meet don't even know such coins had any value. So why do SHTF authors think that commerce will quickly migrate from barter (or theft) to usage of pre-1964 silver coins so quickly when so few people have any to spend?

Most likely, gold and silver and precious stones will have a certain value for a time after the SHTF, but will fall out of favor as people realize they cannot eat a diamond ring or ward off bad guys with a Kruggerand.

My advice is to stock the following in your post-TEOTWAWKI bank account FIRST with: 
- Food.
- Supplies needed to produce clean water, i.e. bleach, filters, storage containers, etc..
- Guns and ammo.
- Manufactured goods like nails, screws, lumber, concrete, safety pins, sewing needles, etc.
- Medicines. Aspirin alone is worth its weight in pre-1964 silver coins.
- Shoes and clothes in general.
- Feminine products and birth control.
- Cleaning supplies particularly disinfectant, bleach, soap, etc.
- Toilet paper (cash money on a roll!).
- Gardening supplies (tools, seeds, potting soil) and animal feed. For that matter, small livestock like chickens, goats and rabbits.

Stock up enough ammo and egg laying chickens and you can become the next Warren Buffet of the post-apocalyptic world. Only after your food and other supplies are stocked should you take dollars and invest them in silver U.S. coins or gold.

Check out the Junk Silver Blog here.

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