Jul 302013
 
A private road to your retreat for sure, but who maintains and repairs the bridge if it fails, and how will you get to/from your retreat if the bridge is out?

A private road to your retreat for sure, but who maintains and repairs the bridge if it fails, and how will you get to/from your retreat if the bridge is out?

Every four years, the American Society of Civil Engineers releases a report card on the state of the country’s infrastructure, giving grades, state by state, to a number of elements ranging from the quality of drinking water to the number of bridges needing repair, from energy self-sufficiency to schools and parks.

Not much of this has any direct relationship to us as preppers.  But there are some very weak correlations between a state that has a good infrastructure at present and it therefore also being a state which might be able to better withstand stresses to its structure during some sort of disaster, being a state which could manage for a longer time with ‘deferred capital investment and maintenance’ during the period of a Level 2 situation, and being a state which is more likely to recover sooner from whatever the problem was.

Furthermore, all other things being equal, a state with good infrastructure is probably a better run state every which way, and a better choice to live in, both now and in the future.

You can see their entire 2013 report card here.  You should appreciate that this is a group with a vested interest in developing infrastructure, because such activities directly result in more work for their members.  But even after recognizing their bias, it remains true that a state they rate as better than another state truly is better, no matter how actually good or bad each state may be.

Unfortunately, it seems the methodology used to grade the states was possibly inconsistent or maybe just plain incomplete, and not all states were given grades.  This makes it difficult to compare state by state, but you can see some basic facts about each state, both by clicking states from the map on this page and by selecting the states by name after clicking the states label from this page.  It seems that both routes give you the same information, but presented in slightly different formats.

Something to consider when you’re considering what state to locate your retreat in, perhaps.

You also of course need to consider not just about an entire state, but also about the county and local area in which you would locate.  Don’t be like one family we know – they proudly told us of their great retreat location, down a country road well off the main traffic routes.  The only problem?  There was no other road access to the property, and the road to their property included a bridge which was washed out unexpectedly, one spring (note – not the bridge pictures at the top of this article!).

It was six months before the county repaired the bridge!

Jul 172013
 
How did our country change from Andy Griffith type consensus policing to military style police assault?

How did our country change from Andy Griffith type consensus policing to military style police assault?

We hear this lie way too often, and sadly we see some people base their future plans on the lie.  Don’t fall for this trap.

So, what is the lie?  Go to any gun rights forum and you’ll see it in its purest form.  In the context of gun rights, its purest form is someone asserting, not as a joke but as an apparent truth ‘they’ll take my gun from me only when they pry it from my dead fingers’.

But the lie exists, sometimes in obvious form and sometimes in more subtle form, in many different contexts, not just gun rights.  The prepping version of this lie is ‘I’ll never let them take my preps from me’.  In its broadest form, it is any person claiming that they will take extreme action to oppose anything they disagree with.

There’s a corollary to the lie as well, which is even more deceptive and dangerous.  The corollary takes the form of ‘I know (members of some official/government/law enforcement/military group) and they’d never agree to (do some unconstitutional act).’

The prepping version of this corollary is ‘The local police would never agree to an illegal/unconstitutional order to come and seize my stores.’

We have two words to offer to the bold brave blowhards who claim they’d die rather than relinquish their firearms, who claim they’ll shoot it out rather than surrender.  New Orleans.  There’s a huge number of ‘good old boys’ living in the New Orleans area, and exactly how many of them refused to allow the police to seize their weapons after Hurricane Katrina?  Exactly zero.  None.  Zip.  De nada.  They meekly surrendered their guns like the sheep they truly are.

Or, to put it in another context, how about all the gun owners in states that place restrictions on gun ownership already.  How many of those people have made brave (perhaps ‘foolhardy’ is a better term) fights to the death over their claimed rights?  None.

If they are told they are not allowed ‘assault rifles’ they meekly comply.  If they are told they can’t have magazines with more than ten rounds, they meekly comply.  If they’re told they need to get a firearm owner’s certificate and permission to buy a firearm – yes, again they meekly comply.  But then, after having meekly complied with all these restrictions, they tell us that if someone tries to take their firearms from them, they’ll fight to the finish!  Apparently they don’t realize their firearms rights have already been largely taken from them.

And as for the corollary (that decent right-thinking police would refuse to comply with illegal/unconstitutional orders), again, two words.  New Orleans.  How many police and county sheriff deputies refused to seize people’s weapons, often at gunpoint, even from friends and neighbors?  Again, zero.

For the preppers making similar statements, how many preppers openly defy laws restricting how much fuel they can store in a residence?  None that we know of.  Sure, some preppers might discreetly choose to ignore some restrictions, but how many do so openly and are keen to fight to the death over that issue?  None (and just as well – we have a bad enough a public image already!).

Furthermore, and bearing in mind the billions of bullets that the Department of Homeland Security is amassing, if/when the authorities come to seize your preps or guns or whatever, who is to say they’ll need to rely on the help of the local police?

How big is the DHS?  The short answer is they are the third largest Cabinet department (after DoD and Veterans Affairs).  They employ about a quarter million people and have a budget of more than $100 billion (the DHS budget requires more than $300 from every man woman and child in the country, every year), but the question is the wrong question.

The better question is ‘how big is the entire government security/enforcement apparatus?  The DHS is only the most visible part of the growing government security and control organization.  This Sept 2010 article by the Washington Post (surprisingly critical for a left of center publication) says that some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence, in about 10,000 locations around the US.  The WaPo article can’t even guess at the total headcount of all these organizations and private contractor companies.

To put those 10,000 locations into context, there are 50 states and 3,143 counties in the US.  That means that each state averages 200 different locations with shadowy security type structures in place and people employed by them; or, if you prefer, an average of 3 locations in every county.

And that was back in 2010.  You have to believe the numbers have grown still further in the almost three years since then.

Here’s one more version of the enormous lie.  This one diffuses out the claim a bit – ‘The people in our area would never allow (whatever) to happen; they’re too conservative’.

That is a harder claim to ridicule, of course, which is why it is often made.  But if you hear that claim being made, go have a look at the election results from the area that is supposedly ‘too conservative’.  Okay, so maybe they elected a Republican congressman/senator/whatever, but by what size of majority?  If you look at conservative states that are touted as ‘the American Redoubt’, did you know that in 2008, Montana almost gave its electoral college votes to Obama rather than McCain?  McCain had only 2.5% more votes supporting him than Obama.  How conservative is that?

If we drill down to county level results, some of the ‘best’ areas of Idaho and Montana for preppers have surprisingly large Democratic bases – as much as one in three people votes Democrat, even when faced with such stark choices as between (in 2012) Obama and Romney.  Sure, some counties are more overwhelmingly Republican, but some counties are strongly Democrat too.

So if you have one-third voting Democrat, and at least half of the other two-thirds being only weakly Republican, our question becomes ‘just how conservative is your area, really?’.

For example, the small city of Troy in MT, which you’d hope would be ultra-conservative, has a city ordinance banning firearms from city parks.  This is in a state touted as being one of the most ardent supporters of the Second Amendment (where in the Second Amendment does it say ‘except in city parks’?).  Indeed, not only does this show a surprisingly anti-gun sentiment in Troy, but it also points out the regrettable lack in Montana of a comprehensive state level pre-emption statute forbidding all county, city and town gun laws in addition to the state laws.

What Is Our Point?

Okay, so we’ve roamed around the topic fairly broadly here.  What are we actually trying to say?

Simply this :  If you take comfort in the claims by other people that if/when something unconscionable occurs, they will resist such things all the way to the use of deadly force, and even at risk of personal injury or death, you are mistaken.  And if you take comfort in the claims by other people that bad things could never happen because either it is unconstitutional or because good honest Americans would refuse to enforce the provision, you are again mistaken.

If you think that bad things could never be imposed on the American people because we, the people, would oppose such things, and because the Americans directed to impose such bad things on us would refuse to do so, you are very very mistaken.

The ugly reality is that we are already increasingly constrained by laws that many people would consider unconstitutional, particularly as regards the first, second, and fourth amendments.  The ugly reality is that whenever people have been confronted by armed police demanding they acquiesce and allow their property to be searched without a warrant or due cause (ie after the Boston bombing) or demanding they surrender their firearms (ie after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans) everyone has uniformly acquiesced.

We are already much closer to a police state than we realize, and our constitutional rights have been massively constrained.  How did weaponless friendly Andy Griffith morph into police in tactical gear with body armor and fully auto weapons, and with head masks obscuring their identity and making them all the more impersonal and unaccountable?

How did a world where firearms training was often offered at schools morph into a world where a child drawing a picture of a gun gets suspended and ‘counselled’ (some might say ‘brainwashed’)?

Where in the Fourth Amendment does it say ‘except if within 100 miles of the border or an international airport’ (which includes much of the American Redoubt, and indeed, nearly all of the populated country in general)?  This is how the Fourth Amendment reads – a clear statement that has become almost unrecognizably distorted :

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

You need to realize that bad things could and might happen, and if they do, there is unlikely to be any popular uprising against such bad things, and that the authorities will be able to enforce such things with overwhelming force.

Our founding fathers would not recognize the America of today.

Jul 152013
 
The sign says 'buy local' but even if these 'fresh' apples are local, they have probably still been sitting in a cool store for many months before being shipped to the supermarket.

The sign says ‘buy local’ but even if these ‘fresh’ apples are local, they have probably still been sitting in a cool store for many months before being shipped to the supermarket.

One of the issues we as preppers instinctively accept and understand but struggle to explain to non-preppers, is the huge degree of fragility and multiple dependent layers upon which today’s society is built.

Exactly like a house of cards, if a single component in any of the dependencies fails, the entire structure is at risk of colossal failure in a manner that would not have been possible 50 or 100 years ago.

The problem we have in explaining these dependencies is that many of them are obscured and not at all intuitively obvious.

Here’s an interesting example of a surprising statistic and dependency.  70% of the food we eat passes through or is dependent on the ‘cold chain’ – refrigeration is needed as part of its processing, storage, and distribution.

Some of this we know about already.  It is unsurprising to learn that the milk we drink and the meat we eat has been chilled pretty much through its entire history from the minute it was first obtained.

Some other things are less obvious, but if we think about it, we’re not very surprised.  Look in the produce section of your supermarket, and although you’ll see things like potatoes and onions in bags or loose, displayed at room temperature, we might realize that they’ve been sitting in cool stores for months between when they came out of the ground and were put on display in the supermarket.

Oh – and of the potatoes we eat (the average American eats 36 lbs a year), most are not just kept chilled/cool, but are actually hard frozen.  Astonishingly, 29 of the 36 pounds of potatoes we eat are in the form of frozen French fries.  Who’d a thought?

The same is true of fruit as well.  Apples, oranges, etc – all these things are kept in special temperature environments – indeed, not just the temperature is managed to a very exacting degree, but so too is the humidity and even the gas mix surrounding the fruit.

But how about things as unobvious as, for example, even peanuts?  Yes, they too are kept in cool storage to extend their shelf life.

Our point is simply this.  A power failure – even a power shortage – would threaten 70% of our food supplies.  Without refrigeration, we’d have two problems.  The first is that we’d no longer be able to harvest food when it was plentiful, inexpensive, and in season, then store it for future sale/consumption some months later.  This would make for a crazy situation with some months having enormous gluts of food products and other months having nothing at all.

The second is that without refrigeration, we’d no longer be able to have vast distances separating where our food is grown and where it is eaten.  At present food travels at times almost literally half way around the world to reach our supermarkets.  If we had to rely on food grown within a day or two of our homes, that would destroy the viability of many major cities because the amount of food growing area needed to support the millions of people in the urban concentrations would stretch out impossibly far.

Anyway, food for thought, as it were. 🙂

More details in this rather pompous article and this very incomplete web site.

Jul 132013
 
Perhaps a broken window that lets in wildlife and weather, six months of unattended decay, and your retreat might end up being like this when you arrive.

Perhaps a broken window that lets in wildlife and weather, six months of unattended decay, and your retreat might end up being like this when you arrive.

So you finally find yourself confronted with the need to bug out to your retreat.  The good news is at least you have a bug out location, and you’ve practiced and prepared for the eventuality of having to bug out, unlike most of your neighbors and friends.

You load up your vehicle with everything you need to safely and successfully travel to your retreat, feeling confident and relaxed about having prepared prudently, and set forth.  Because you’ve planned and even practiced this before, you’ve nothing to worry about, right?

Wrong!

In this two-part article series we first look at the problems inevitably associated with bugging out, and then in the second part, consider how to address and solve these problems.

Part One – The Four Problems

It is true that you’re in a better position and have a better prospective future than your un-prepared friends, but your future is far from guaranteed.  Until you get to your retreat, you are as vulnerable as anyone/everyone else – perhaps even more so as you are limited to only what you have in your vehicle – something that offers very little security or resource.  You are now confronting a terrible number of unknowns and variables and risks where anything from random bad luck to more serious things may interfere with your journey to your retreat, your future plans and your future life.

Let’s look at four sets of risks that may interfere with your optimistic expectations.

1.  Getting There Safely

This is probably a risk you’ve thought about already, but just because you’ve thought about it, that doesn’t mean you can protect against it.

Clearly you need to bug out as early as possible, before the rule of law has totally collapsed, before the roads get jam-packed full of other evacuees from your city, and before modern-day ‘highwaymen’ start preying on travelers.

Maybe you are successful at doing this, and manage to beat the rush out of your city, but what happens if you have to travel through other cities on the way to your retreat?  It is one thing to beat everyone out of your city by (say) four hours, but if you need to pass through another city that is four hours driving from the start of your travels, you’ll have no headstart at all on the outflows of desperate people from the second city.  Maybe you beat the rush by a day, but have a two-day drive to your retreat – you’ll be no better off than anyone else on the second day of your travels.

How far is it from where you live to your retreat?  Each mile that you must travel is 1760 yards of potential for a puncture, a radiator hose bursting, or any other sort of unexpected problem with your vehicle.  Each mile that you travel is 5280 feet of risk from any type of unexpected ‘third party’ event – not just evil people doing evil things to you, but ‘innocent’ acts of bad luck such as a traffic accident, perhaps.

Maybe you don’t get involved in an accident yourself, but maybe a semi some miles ahead of you on the freeway has jackknifed and is blocking the freeway, with traffic backed up for miles, and with hours of delay.  Meanwhile you’re burning through your precious gas to keep the car warm (or cool) and you’re at risk of anything and everything in a stationary vehicle.

Talking about weather, do you have any seasonal issues to be concerned about?  Have forest fires ever closed the roads in the summer?  What about snow in the winter?  Remember that you don’t just need the highways to be ploughed and drivable, you need the last few miles of dirt road to your retreat to be passable too.  How will you handle that, if it is an issue?

If you’re in a vehicle visibly loaded with supplies (or, even worse and more conspicuously, towing a trailer), and if word has got out about whatever disaster it is you’re fleeing, you’ve become a tempting tasty target for evil-doers all the way along your route, haven’t you.  Our feeling is that you need to be in an ‘ordinary’ vehicle with no visible amount of extra supplies in it.

It isn’t just evil-doers you need to worry about.  It is do-gooders too.  Maybe the state’s governor has declared martial law and requires all people and vehicles to be off the road during hours of darkness.  So instead of driving all day and all night to your retreat, you suddenly find yourself needing to pull over and anxiously/uncomfortably wait until the morning before you can continue your travels.

Sure, we know that you drive many thousands of miles a year normally, and never have any sorts of problems at all.  But this isn’t normal.  This is anything but normal, and with Murphy’s Law waiting to trap you every possible way, the ‘simple’ act of getting to your retreat will be fraught with risk.

2.  Will Your Retreat be Secure

Okay, we’ll say that you managed the drive to your retreat safely and successfully.  Congratulations.  🙂  And now you’re driving up the driveway, and round the corner, there’s your retreat, ready and waiting to welcome you.

You hope.

What say someone else has decided to make your retreat into their retreat?  What say you arrive to find it already occupied by people who could care less that you say it belongs to you.  They’ve got the retreat, and they’ve got guns and are willing to use them if you don’t leave and abandon your claims to ‘their’ retreat.

Or maybe you find your retreat looted, burned out, vandalized, abandoned, and unlivable.  All your precious preps have disappeared.

Now, please don’t tell us proudly about your ‘op-sec’ and how no-one knows about your retreat.  That’s sadly not true, no matter what you might think and hope.  We discuss the impossibility and the ill-advisedness of trying to keep your retreat secret in our two articles, ‘Is It Realistic to Expect Your Retreat Will Not Be Found‘ and ‘The Ugly Flip-sides of Opsec‘.

Here’s an alarming thought.  Maybe you hire a local person to protect your retreat, and to visit it once or twice a week to make sure it is safe and secure.  But how do you know that he won’t then turn around and make your retreat into his retreat when things go bad?

3.  Will Your Retreat be Functional

Let’s hope for the best, and assume you not only safely made it to your retreat, but that the retreat is still standing, secure, and unoccupied.  Great.  But your problems are not yet over.

You unlock the main door and go in to the house.  You are immediately overwhelmed with the smell of rat urine and feces.  You go to your store rooms and find that you’ve a happy thriving colony of rats, enjoying your supplies, with little or nothing left for you to now survive on.

Or maybe you discover that a pipe burst in the last freeze, and you’ve got water damage throughout the house.

Or maybe some tiles blew off the roof and you’ve had rain and other things coming in through the roof.

Maybe all those things work fine, but you go to flush the toilet and you discover it is blocked.  You don’t know it, but some time over the last year, a tree’s roots broke through the pipe to your septic tank, blocking the flow of water and, ahem, other stuff, and you’re going to have to somehow troubleshoot your problem and fix it.

Maybe you discover that your fuel tanks have rusted through and all your fuel has seeped away, leaving you with empty tanks and polluted ground.

Maybe everything works well, but after a week or two, you discover that there’s a design problem with your heating system, and it keeps giving problems and eventually becomes totally broken.  Or perhaps bad wiring burns out/shorts out your battery system.  Maybe ‘infant mortality’ (the propensity for electronic devices to sometimes fail early in their life) strikes and destroys your charging system or some other essential element of your retreat.

Maybe it is a more low tech problem.  Your well proves not to be capable of sustained supply of water – sure, it tested fine for a 15 minute test, but now you’re using it, day in and day out, it runs dry.  Or the reality of the power your solar cells can provide proves to be massively less than the theoretical amount they should have delivered.  You can probably think of many more vulnerabilities.

There are countless things that can go wrong with a property, both while it is occupied and also while it is unoccupied.  Unless you’ve been using the retreat on a regular and sustained basis, you have no way of knowing if the reality of its practical ability to support you will be the same as its theoretical promises.  You’ve no way of knowing if the equipment and services you’ve built into it will prove to be reliable low-maintenance and sufficient for your needs – indeed, you don’t even know for sure what your actual needs may be.

4.  No Ongoing Farming Activity or Experience

Okay, now let’s assume that none of these preceding three potential problem areas are giving you any grief.  Lucky you!  So let’s now look at the fourth potential issue.

Depending on when you arrive at your retreat, sooner or later you’re going to need to switch from eating from stored food supplies to growing your own future food needs.  And when you do this, if you are doing it for the first time, you’ve a huge new Pandora’s Box of unknown uncertain issues to confront and resolve.

Sure, you’ve got books galore on how to grow your own food, but have you actually ever done it, for real, before?  More to the point, have you done it for several seasons in a row at your actual retreat location?  The answer to this question is almost certainly no.

So now – for the first time – you find yourself grappling with who knows how many problems and issues.  Insects and other infestations and wildlife might attack/destroy/kill/eat all your harvest.  The soil might be lacking in some sort of nutrient – or it might have too much of another type of chemical in it – do you know how to understand and correct that?

You might do a great job of planting and caring for the crops, but when it comes to harvesting, you might discover that you lack the manpower to harvest the food before it spoils.  Sure, you grew a perfect crop, but you only managed to harvest a quarter of it.

You might discover that one part of your property has the wrong type of soil and another part has too much water (or too little water).  Another part might have too little sun.  And protecting your crops from wildlife and diseases will be a full-time job.  All the deer you were so enchanted to see when you first bought the property – what do you think they eat?  Yes, your food!

Farming is something that requires more than book learning.  It requires skill and experience – both in general terms and also in the specific issues and challenges posed by your particular property.  It is more than likely that your first few years of cropping will be full of challenges and disappointments.

If you are raising animals, that too is far from a guaranteed ‘can’t lose’ scenario.  Where do the animals come from to start with?  Who will care for their health?  Where will their feed come from?  Who will slaughter/butcher them?  Where will the meat be stored?

None of these issues are impossible to resolve, but they all assume a great supply of experience and know-how.

Read About Solutions in Part Two

If you’ve read this far, you now understand that bugging out is not as easy as it sounds, and, perhaps more importantly, moving into an empty unused retreat and relying on it instantly becoming the resource you hope it to be is something fraught with many uncertainties and possible problems.

The good news is that these problems are not impossible to solve.  Please now click on to the second part of this article – ‘The Three Solutions to the Four Problems of Bugging Out‘.

Jul 132013
 
It is vastly preferable not to have to start farming your land from scratch after a disaster.  Better to have the farm already operating as a going concern.

It is vastly preferable not to have to start farming your land from scratch after a disaster. Better to have the farm already operating as a going concern.

This is the second part of a two-part article about issues to do with viably bugging out and transitioning to ongoing life in your retreat.  If you arrived here direct from a search engine or other website link, you might choose to first read the first part which sets out the four main problems associated with bugging out, and then return back here to read about the three solutions we propose.

Solving the Four Problems of Bugging Out

In the first part of this article, we explained the four main categories of problems with the typical concept of maintaining a bug-out retreat and moving there in a crisis :

  • It may be difficult to get to when you actually need to bug-out
  • The retreat or may not be available and in good condition when you get there
  • The retreat may quickly prove to have problems and limitations once you start to live there
  • The reality of starting to provide your own food may turn out to be much more difficult than you’d hoped for

There are solutions to all these problems, please now read on.

Solution 1 – Bugging Out Very Early

In its ultimate form this solution might seem extreme, and it might be massively life changing, but it is also the ideal answer.  Move to your retreat now and live there permanently.  That way, when – if – TSHTF, you are already in place, with a known quantity as your retreat, with all systems tested and functioning.  The only major impact will be you switch from enjoying the convenience of electricity from the national grid and local utility company, and you can no longer order in supplies of liquid/gaseous fuels as and when you need it.  Oh, and the local country store can no longer be counted on to have much of anything for sale, either.

But at least you are already in place, already set up, and your lifestyle changes are minor rather than major.

You might perceive it impossible to turn your back on your high paying jobs, your city lifestyle, and everything else.  That might be true (in which case, keep reading, for our second best solution), but maybe you should also revisit some of your assumptions about what you need and must have.

For example, you can live much more inexpensively in the country than in the city, and things which you formerly perceived as essential and necessary ($100+ meals several times a week when eating out, tickets to expensive shows, expensive business clothing, etc) can be replaced with much less expensive but still pleasant alternates (alternating between having friends for dinner and going to their place for a meal, or treating yourself to a meal at the local diner where dinner for two costs $20, enjoying the less sophisticated but more sincere amateur and high school productions, plays, musicals, and wearing comfortable unassuming clothing rather than name brand fashions).

Instead of needing to pay for both your residence in the city and your retreat, you now only need to pay for your retreat, which probably costs less than your in-city residence.  And maybe instead of an impressive 4,000+ sq ft mansion, you realize that for your family of four, you can live perfectly comfortably and conveniently in a still spacious 2,000 sq ft residence.  You no longer need to choose a property as much to impress and as a visible statement of your ‘success’ and affluence, instead, you can now choose a property for functionality, convenience, and appropriateness.  Instead of making payments on (eg) a million dollar home on a one-eighth of an acre lot, you’ll own, outright, (eg) a half million dollar home on a five acre lot.  Oh, you’ll also be saving money on property taxes and insurance, too.

Instead of buying or leasing a new premium brand vehicle every year or two, you buy an ‘old junker’ (that in truth is neither old nor junk) and keep it for ten years.  It has fewer electronics, but is much more reliable because of that, and both easier and cheaper to repair when it does give trouble.  A more modest older car can save you the better part of $1,000 a month right from the get go.

And instead of working a 50 hour week, plus another ten hours on commuting, you now have 60 hours free to farm your property or work in a local business/store in the nearby town.  Maybe you can even take advantage of tele-commuting and still do some of your previous work, but remotely from your retreat rather than in person in the office.

Instead of spending hundreds of dollars a month on a health club, and tens of hours doing artificial exercise in a gym, you instead spend time working in the fields, simultaneously getting exercise and instead of spending money, earning money and growing food.

When you actually start to pick apart the elements of your modern lifestyle and convert them to an alternate lifestyle, you might be astonished at how it proves possible to turn your back on many of the seductive traps of modern-day consumerism and end up with a truly relaxing, healthy, enjoyable lifestyle in the country.

We’d also suggest you consider not just the concept of moving to a solitary retreat where you live on your own.  Moving to become part of a prepping-focused self-sufficient community means you’re part of a group of like-minded people, with similar values and objectives.  You’ll quickly fit in with such people, and be able to benefit from the synergy that comes from being part of a larger community.  Our Code Green Community represents one such approach to this, but there are of course others too.

We discuss this concept from a slightly different perspective in an earlier article we published, ‘Bugging Out Very Early – a Lifestyle Choice‘.  It is for sure a massive change in lifestyle, but one we urge you to consider.

Solution 2 – A Fulltime Retreat/Farm Manager

The second solution is an interesting one to consider.  You should contract with someone to farm your retreat property, and to maintain its grounds and the security of your dwelling.  Maybe they even live on the property themselves (in a separate building).  This would be a farm manager type person.

If your retreat is going to be adequate to support you and your family and anyone else who would join you, then it should also be adequate, in normal times, to be farmed on a commercial basis such that the income from its farming activities is at least enough to pay the farm manager’s salary, and maybe even leaving you with some extra cash generated too to cover the costs of owning your retreat.  Maybe the income generated by actively working your retreat property will allow you to afford a larger, more productive and therefore more viable and life-sustaining property right from the get-go.

This means that if/when you need to evacuate to your retreat, you arrive at a self-supporting farm that is already in operation as a going concern, and even complete with skilled staff on-site.  Sure, you’ll need to adjust its operation – it will no longer be able to benefit from mechanized agriculture, but it is better to downsize an ongoing farm than to need to start one from scratch.

You and your farm manager will already know the most productive patches of land, what grows best and where, and how to succeed in spite of animals, disease, and other natural challenges.

This is of course also a feature of our Code Green Community – you can have your lands farmed in absence, and your dwelling reasonably secured and policed, but it is also something you could realistically arrange for your own ‘stand alone’ retreat property too.

The only thing to be slightly aware of is the possible danger that your farm manager comes to view your farm as his farm, and when you arrive to settle there, he may feel unwilling to relinquish control of it.  You’ll need to pick your manager carefully and be sure to positively assert and demonstrate your ownership/management/leadership at all times prior to arriving so as to ensure such problems don’t arise.

Solution 3 – Moving to an ‘Added Value’ Retreat Community

Maybe neither of these first two approaches are feasible.  There are some people, in some situations, where that is unavoidably the case.  That is unfortunate, but it is no reason to despair.

Instead, you can consider ‘added value’ retreat communities, where you’d be joining a community of like-minded people, with some of the community already living in place, thereby providing security for your retreat facility, and making it easier for you to join a going concern rather than starting everything, on your own, from scratch once you evacuate to your retreat.  Maybe you don’t even wish to live an agrarian lifestyle, working on a farm in the fields.  Maybe you wish to provide some type of services or do something else within a community – anything from being a storekeeper to a restaurant owner to a doctor or other professional service provider.  While we all focus first and foremost on the most essential things – shelter, water, and food – the reality is that an optimized life in a Level 2 or 3 situation will require a lot more than ‘just’ growing food and eating it.

Our Code Green Community would be one such solution, others may also exist, or you might create your own with a group of friends.

Not Solved – The Physical Act of Bugging Out

The preceding three solutions have been focused on ensuring you have a viable sustainable living situation after having transitioned/bugged out.

But if you are choosing to remain in place until a time when you need to bug out in response to an emergency situation, you still need to focus very clearly on the most certain and secure way to travel to your retreat in a crisis.

You need to be able to go to your retreat well in advance of problems growing to a point of social collapse, and/or you need to be able to quickly get to your retreat securely when problems become unmistakably and unavoidably present.  The latter solution seems to revolve around non-traditional means of transportation – either the extra flexibility of motorcycles or the freedom from infrastructure that an airplane provides.

We discuss these issues more in our section on bugging out.

Summary

By obvious definition and implication, when a crisis occurs, WTSHTF, it is then too late to discover weaknesses, shortcomings, problems, and overlooked forgotten essentials that are present in our retreat.  We need to have all these matters addressed and resolved well prior to any situation that tests their efficacy in ultimate measure.

In the first part of this article, we looked at some of the types of problems you might expect to encounter when activating your bug-out plan and hunkering down to survive a crisis.  In this second part, we suggest some solutions to minimize the possibility of such problems arising and interfering with your ability to safely and securely survive.

We’d wish you good luck, but luck should have nothing to do with your chance of succeeding in an adverse future.  You need to be well planned and well prepared.

Jul 072013
 
The Midland WR300 and the WR-120B are excellent and affordable SAME equipped NWR EAS compatible radios.

The Midland WR300 and the WR-120B are excellent and affordable SAME equipped NWR EAS compatible radios.

We’ve written before about the need to urgently make your way to your shelter if you receive a warning of pending nuclear attack, and about setting a policy for how long you wait for others to join you in your shelter.

But these considerations overlook one vital issue.  How can you get any such warnings of any type of pending disaster that you need to respond to?  It isn’t just pending nuclear Armageddon you have to be worried about, either.  All sorts of weather related events, or other local emergencies – dangerous chemical spills, public safety/law enforcement alerts, and so on – might occur, and it would be advantageous to be among the first to know of such issues.

In scenarios where seconds may literally make a life and death difference to your ability to adequately respond to an urgent threat, you can’t rely on noticing an item on the television news or hearing a special announcement on a regular radio.  You need some type of specific warning system that will grab your attention directly if an urgent warning is issued.

The good news is that there is a national system in place for such warning messages to be promulgated, and it is tied in to the National Weather Service – the NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards (NWR) service.  You can get special radio receivers that will be activated by such warnings (see below for details).

These Emergency Alert System (EAS) emergency messages are sent out with additional data attached to them, specifying the type of alert message and the county it applies to.  Messages can be for a single county, for up to 31 different counties, for an entire state (or multiple states), or for the entire nation.  The geographic tagging of the message is referred to as Specific Area Message Encoding or SAME.

Alert messages fall into one of various different descriptive categories (ranging from Avalanche watch messages to volcano warnings) and have one of four different status codes signifying their degree of immediacy.  The four codes are :

“W” for WARNINGS “A” for WATCHES “E” for EMERGENCIES “S” for STATEMENTS

  • A WARNING is an event that alone poses a significant threat to public safety and/or property, probability of occurrence and location is high, and the onset time is relatively short.
  • A WATCH meets the classification of a warning, but either the onset time, probability of occurrence, or location is uncertain.
  • An EMERGENCY is an event that, by itself, would not kill or injure or do property damage, but indirectly may cause other things to happen that result in a hazard. For example, a major power or telephone loss in a large city alone is not a direct hazard, but disruption to other critical services could create a variety of conditions that could directly threaten public safety.
  • A STATEMENT is a message containing follow-up information to a warning, watch, or emergency.

Emergency and Statement type messages are sometimes grouped together as ‘Advisory’ messages, making for a three level set of categories.

Here’s a list of different message types that might be sent as part of a NWR EAS message.

SAME/EAS Capable Radios

Clearly it makes sense to buy a specific radio designed to receive these types of messages.  The radio, while switched on, would normally be silent and would only come to life if it received a message coded to the county or counties that you wanted to receive alert messages for.

Ideally, you’d want the radio to be mains operated but with a battery backup capability so if the power goes out, the radio will still continue functioning.

You want to be able to program the radio as to which counties you wish to receive alert messages about.  We suggest you should program alerts for adjacent counties as well as your own county, especially if your county is small or you are close to the boundary with another county.

Some radios also allow you to filter out some types of alerts that you don’t want to be advised about – for example, if you live a long way from the coast, you might not be interested in coastal flood warnings, and you might decide to forego receiving child abduction messages no matter where you live.

And, of course, you want to be sure the radio has some type of loud warning device – an alarm or siren – that will sound when it receives a warning so you’ll be instantly notified.

noaaSome radios might be certified as complying with either the Public Alert Standard or as being approved by the NOAA as having the necessary capabilities for the system.  You can see the two logos displayed here.  Radios that are so certified might not be fully featured, and ones that have not paid for the certification may be equally featured or even better.  So these certifications are interesting, but not mandatory.

publicalertWhile some model radios can be expensive, you can also find excellent units for under $30 – for example, this Midland WR-120B which sells for about $25 at Amazon .  If you wanted to spend a bit more, the Midland WR-300 is also a good choice (about $45), but doesn’t have any additional ‘must have’ features compared to its cheaper cousin, the WR-120B.

Summary

All the preparations in the world will be useless if you’re not warned in time to respond to a sudden unexpected threat.

The NWR EAS system might send out warnings in time for you to respond to them, but only if you have a compatible radio receiver that will ‘switch on’ and alarm/alert you when it receives the specific types of warnings you have told it to respond to.

While the NWR EAS system isn’t guaranteed to always give you adequate notice of all pending threats, it certainly increases your odds of being alerted in time to adequately respond.  With compatible radios costing as little as $25, it is something you should invest in.

Jun 242013
 
This map shows the maximum posted daytime speed limits on rural interstates.  TX is fastest at 85, the grey states are all 75.

This map shows the maximum posted daytime speed limits on rural interstates. TX is fastest at 85, the grey states are all 75.

What would life be like without cars and other forms of motorized transportation?  That’s a question we’ll almost surely find the answer to in a future Level 2/3 situation, but until such time, having convenient transportation is an essential part of our lifestyle.

Actually, convenient transportation will become even more vital in a Level 2/3 situation in the future, in a scenario where you might be more reliant on horse or other animal power rather than gas/diesel power.  These new constraints will completely redefine what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable transportation issues/constraints, and some of the present day issues (eg congestion) will probably disappear entirely.  We’ll also see the gradual decay and diminishing of our amazing current national roading system, bridges will fail, and so on.

But the future issues and challenges are a matter for other articles.  In this article, we mainly look at many of the issues associated with present transportation.  These issues impact on the desirability of potential locations as retreats, because hopefully for the indefinite future, life will continue as normal, and our experiences will be shaped by present day issues rather than by the challenges of TEOTWAWKI.

There’s another reason for looking at such issues as well.  How a state legislates for traffic matters gives you an oblique perspective of how intrusive and controlling the state wishes to be in the lives of its citizens.  The more traffic laws, and the higher the penalties, the more likely there are to be too many laws on too many other things too, and draconian penalties for all sorts of other minor offenses too.

Here are a number of criteria to consider when choosing retreat locations.  Our map graphic at the start of this article touches on one consideration – the freeway speed limits each state allows.  You can see a larger size map here, and this page has a more detailed table of data for each state.

If you are like us, you’ll probably equate being able to drive faster with a better state in general to live in.  🙂

Driving Safety

Of course, the justification for lower speed limits is usually safety.  Dubious data suggests correlations between traffic speeds and traffic safety.  We’re not going to argue the point about how fast is too fast, but we will definitely agree that there are very large differences between states in terms of vehicle accident rates.

The most relevant measure of the safety (or danger, if you prefer) of driving in each state is to look at the deaths per 100 million miles traveled.  This is more relevant than the deaths per 100,000 of population, because some states have people driving much greater distances than others.  Here’s a table that shows this data both ways.  The safest state was MA, while the most dangerous state was MT, with nearly three times the rate of fatalities (1.79 per 100 million vehicle miles in MT, 0.62 in MA).

One word about the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.  We’ve used their data for many of the elements we look at in this article, but we also understand them to be funded by a group with a massive vested interest in the matter – insurance companies.  What is the vested interest that insurance companies have about road safety?  That’s a good question, and there are two possible answers.

The first answer is that by making the roads safer, insurance companies can lower their premiums and also make more profit from lower premiums, because they don’t need to pay out on accidents as often.  That’s obviously the positive view.  But there’s a second answer, too – by encouraging states to penalize more and more types of driving, the insurance companies create opportunities to raise insurance premiums based on a driver’s ‘safety record’.  Some cynics feel that this may be the stronger motivation.  We make no statement, but we do point out that there are both these issues driving the apparently laudable promotion of safety issues by the IIHS.

What about the role of alcohol in fatal accidents?  Less is known about this than you might think, because not all drivers involved in fatal accidents have their blood alcohol tested.  Furthermore, the total numbers of cases by state are surprisingly low, so statistically, the answers are not always very significant.  You can see a table here, however, and most of the states score very similarly to each other.

These days all states have a limit of 0.08g of alcohol/100ml of blood, but penalties vary.  This table shows how severely different states treat DUI/DWI.

Driving Costs

The cost of driving varies appreciably from state to state.  The main variations in cost are insurance, gas prices, and registration costs.

This table lists typical insurance costs by vehicle, ranging from the most expensive states (LA, MI and GA – $2699, $2520 and $2155) to the least expensive states (NC, IA, ME – $1085, $1028, $934).

This table shows the cost for a vehicle title and annual registration by state, although it seems to us that some states have additional fees imposed by city and county authorities in addition to the state fees shown in the table.

Fuel taxes hit you every time you go to the pump.  This table has 2010 data by state, including not just a simple statement of how much is taken in state and local gas taxes out of every gallon, but some additional data too.  Page 8 probably has the best table, highlighting the huge range in tax levels, from a high of 58.1c/gallon in IL to a low of 8.0c in AK (or 14.0c in the lower 48 states, in WY).

Depending on where your retreat would be located, and where you might regularly drive, you might find yourself up for turnpike fees too.  Here’s a list of toll roads in the US and here’s some more data on the fees they charge.

Seat Belts, Helmets, and Phones

A difficult compromise that all states, counties and cities have to wrestle with is where to draw the line between allowing their citizens the freedom to make wrong/foolish decisions on the one hand, and insisting on proper/best behavior on the other hand.

We make no value judgments about these issues, but you might find the different ways that different states respond to some of these bellwether issues to be illuminating.

The first of the big three issues is requiring people to wear seat belts.  Although all states except NH now require front seat passengers to wear seat belts, there are different approaches to enforcing the law, and a wide variation in terms of special child restraint laws.

This map distinguishes between states that have seat belt laws as a primary enforcement item, and those with it as a lesser secondary enforcement item.  This map shows the age below which children have to be in an appropriate restraint system, and this table has detailed information on state seat belt and child restraint laws.

A related topic is requiring riders on motorbikes and bicycles to wear safety helmets.  Only 19 states require all motorbikers to have helmets, and 28 more require helmets of some riders (eg younger riders).  As for bicycles, 21 states have bicycle helmet laws, although none apply to all riders, state-wide (but there may be county or city laws applying to all riders).

This map shows motorbike helmet laws by state, and this map shows bicycle helmet laws by state.  Here is a table with information on the applicability of such laws.

The third of the ‘big three’ things is the use of cell phones while driving.  Hand-held cell phone use while driving is banned in 11 states, and text messaging is banned in 41 states.  This map shows state laws on hand-held cell phone use, and this map shows state laws on texting while driving.  Here is a table of information about these two issues.

Traffic Enforcement Issues

Depending on your perspective, states that are less aggressive at traffic enforcement either show a wanton disregard for the importance of human life, or perhaps, alternatively, are less intrusive and obsessive at controlling every last detail of our lives.

In particular, we have a strong dislike of states that aggressively use photo-radar and red-light cameras.  Again, opinions differ, but there are credible concerns widely expressed that suggest such devices primarily exist to make money for the local authorities (and for the companies that operate them under contract).  Too often we’ve read about cases where traffic lights have their timings changed (ie shorter orange light times) when red-light cameras are installed, and speed cameras are as likely to be located where normal average speeds are high as they are in areas where accident rates are significant.

This table on the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s website lists state and local policies on the use of such devices.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has an interesting summary table of state policies and penalties for speeding and ‘reckless driving’ (a concept which is very subjective) and more detailed information on each state from this menu.

We really don’t like states which potentially can jail first time speeding offenders.  Of course, that almost never happens, and if you’re speeding truly fast, then even in a non-jailable state, you can find yourself locked up, because the officer who stops you will simply upgrade your ticket to reckless/dangerous driving or some other more serious charge.

Traffic Congestion

No-one likes getting stuck in traffic, but it seems to be an unavoidable part of living in any moderate to large-sized city.  For many reasons, all ultimately being, of course, based on money, few if any roads are built to a traffic handling capacity such that they can conveniently handle not only average volumes of traffic but also peak surge volumes.

However, your retreat is unlikely to be anywhere near a big city, so we’ll ignore those issues (but here’s a good starting point if this is relevant to you).

Instead, let’s look at more rural parts of the country, and traffic flows there.  Here’s a map showing freight traffic movements across the country (we think it dates back to 2010 or earlier).  It provides an interesting perspective on where commercial traffic flows across the country.

Looking ahead, here’s a second map that shows only the extra amounts of freight traffic expected to be added in addition to the freight traffic already shown in the first map, above.  That gives you a good impression of where future traffic will be appearing.

Both these two maps were taken from this report.

Here’s a more forward-looking map, showing projected truck traffic in 2035.

In addition to simple traffic, how about congestion?  This map shows the predicted level of congestion on freeways and other major roads in 2020, and this map adds more secondary routes to its 2020 congestion display.  Both are taken from this report.

Other Transportation Issues

There are many other considerations that you might want to also evaluate.  For example, here’s a map that ranks states by the quality of their bridges and what percent are deficient and in need of priority repair/replacement.  PA is the worst state, FL the best.

This map is part of a fascinating website that gives you detailed information about all the road bridges in your area.  That’s a relevant issue to understand, because it gives you a clue to what may happen in the future WTSHTF and road maintenance stops – how long before the essential bridges in your area start collapsing?

A related, but more difficult to get hard data on, issue is that to do with road maintenance needs in general.  For example, do you have roads along hill-sides that are subject to landslides falling onto the road, or slips/floods washing the road away?  Do you have roads lined by large trees that could fall over and block the road?

Another issue to consider is snow removal in winter.  If you’re in an area with appreciable winter-time snow, what happens to the major and minor roads in your area?  Will you get snowed in, and if so, would it be for a few days or might it be for many months?  As for WTSHTF, there’ll of course be no snow removal in that type of scenario.  What will you do in that situation?

A related part of these questions is to consider what the potential seasonal problems could be if/when you need to bug-out to your retreat.  How much of the year might the roads be impassable?  Are there any major risks on the routes you would have to take that may interfere with your bug-out plans?

Summary

The quality of our roading system, its reliability, and the associated costs of traveling by private vehicle are essential aspects of our present normal life.  At the present, they are factors to consider in choosing a retreat location.

In the future, if a Level 2/3 situation does eventuate, some issues will become irrelevant, but other ones will become vitally important.  You need to consider both present and future issues when weighing transportation considerations as part of your retreat selection process.

Jun 182013
 
Might the government be able to legally take your food supplies from you?

Might the government be able to legally take your food supplies from you?

This is the first part of a three-part article about the risk of having everything we’ve stored taken from us – not by force by a gang of armed violent looters, but by color of law, by local or federal law enforcement agents or the National Guard or even regular Armed Forces.

This is one of the most important articles we’ve published.  Please read it carefully, because if you don’t understand these issues now, you’ll surely be sadly surprised when they become relevant in some future emergency.

In the first part, immediately below, we talk about how such ‘un-American’ acts like taking one person’s possessions and ignoring concepts of private ownership (what we used to call, with revulsion, Communism) are becoming the normal accepted situation, and we talk about how such a seemingly flagrant breach of the Constitution could in fact occur.  It is important to understand this, because too many preppers – while open to the possibility of so many different types of future disasters – are insufficiently open-minded about the type of response from the rest of society when such a disaster occurs.

The second part switches from talking about what might occur and instead focuses on what laws are already on the books.  There are already laws that empower the President to command the Armed Forces to take almost everything we have, in an apparently lawful manner.  These are laws, in effect today, that have been passed and approved by (of course) both the House of Representatives and the Senate, and which have not been constitutionally challenged.

The third part introduces you to an appallingly un-American concept, civil forfeiture.

The first part is dismaying, but the other parts are terrifying.  Please do bravely read on.

We call ourselves preppers, and we stockpile food and other essentials in case of a breakdown in the normal functioning of our society and an inability to continue to live as we normally do.  We feel this is a sensible and prudent thing to do, and something to be encouraged.

But not everyone sees things the same way we do.  Instead of what we consider to be prudently stockpiling in good times, then carefully conserving and using up our resources in a future emergency, some people will describe us as selfishly hoarding.  Of course, such accusations will never be made in the present day times, not while our consumption-driven economy benefits from people buying as much of everything as they can afford, and then some more too.

But what about in the future, when all of a sudden, things which were formerly commonplace become rare, and even the most basic essentials of life – food, water, shelter – become precious and scarce?  Will the people who sneered at us for prepping simply ‘suck it in’ and say ‘Our bad, you were right, we were wrong, so we get to starve while you get to live’?  Or will they say ‘It isn’t fair that these selfish people have more food than they need, while we are without food – it is only right they be forced to share their food fairly with us’?

Historically, America rose to greatness on the basis of the first response – people were responsible for their own success or failure.  If they worked hard and did well, they got to enjoy the fruit of their labors and the flowering of their success.  If they made bad choices, or were lazy, then they suffered the consequences.

But at some point in the last 50 years or so, that has flipped around.  Successful people are no longer praised and respected for their success, and failures no longer feel humbled and embarrassed by their failure.  Now we see successful people viewed suspiciously, while people who have failed in their lives through laziness and lack of work now are proud of their failure and demand to be supported.  Our entire ‘progressive’ tax system penalizes success right from the get-go, and we increasingly hear the mantra being chanted ‘The rich must pay their fair share’.

But how much is ‘their fair share’?  Certainly, we agree that everyone should pay tax, but is it fair that some people should pay five or ten times more tax than some other people?  Is it fair that some people should pay one hundred times more tax than the average person, and is it fair that half the country should pay no tax at all?  Increasingly, it seems that many people believe these scenarios to be true.

There has been a steady shift from the overall tax burden being broadly and equally shouldered by all, to more and more of the taxes being paid by fewer and fewer people.

Here’s a fascinating chart that shows this steady trend over the last 30 years, taken from this article.

taxes

Is it truly fair that 1% of the country pays almost as much in taxes as the other 95%?  Indeed, the people who clamor that the wealthy are not yet paying their fair share seem to think that the 1% should pay even more and more.

Furthermore, the government’s role in the nation’s economy is expanding.  Our economy is increasingly revolving around government activity rather than around private enterprise, and that’s a recipe for economic disaster – just ask any of the failed communist regimes.  What that means is that increasingly people rely on the government for their income – they either work for the government or work for a company that contracts to the government or receive benefits from the government – this is a growing mass of people who have no history of making a living in the private sector; people who have learned to view the government as the source of everything they need in their lives.

This article here has a series of charts that shows how our economy is becoming increasingly a government based economy, but it only covers the last ten to twenty years in most cases.  It still provides a terrifying read of where our economy is headed.

But to look at a longer series, look simply at this chart which shows – in inflation adjusted dollars – the growth of the annual federal budget from 1962 through until 2015.  The chart was taken from this article.

budgetc

One last point on this topic.  We’ve shown you the growth in federal government.  Now match that with growth also in state government, county government, city government, and all sorts of pseudo-government organizations.  The transition of our economy from one predominantly featuring private industry to one now made up of government organizations is even more widespread than you might have thought.

So what does this commentary on our nation’s tax system and growth in government have to do with the main theme of this article – the risk of having our stockpiled supplies taken from us?

We have looked at the nation’s evolving attitude towards ‘compulsory sharing’ – another name for taxation – to show how there is a growing belief, and maybe already one held by the majority of voters, that wealthy people have an obligation to sacrifice the wealth they have created and to give it to less wealthy people.  If you agree with us at this interpretation of our changing tax collection policies and social expectations, then you understand the first point we are going to make.

US Society Now Condones Compulsory Taking From the Wealthy

Our point is simply this.  Today it is now normal and accepted to take from the ‘haves’ and distribute to the ‘have nots’, through an increasingly unbalanced tax system and via an ever larger and larger governmental process.

People say it is ‘fair’ that wealthy people should pay more and more, and people say it is also ‘fair’ that not wealthy people should pay less and indeed be actively subsidized – not only do such people not pay taxes, but they become net recipients of welfare support.

We’re the first to acknowledge that there is truly a small percentage of the country’s population that needs support and assistance through no fault of their own.  But we don’t believe that this ‘small percentage’ is actually half our entire population.  Our definition of fairness, and our view of the obligations of citizens in general, is that all people should pay taxes, albeit to a varying degree.   If only a small section of society pays taxes, our democratic process becomes perverted whereby the majority can impose whatever taxation policies they wish on the minority – all cloaked in the nebulous concept of ‘fairness’, of course.

There’s another element to compulsory taking as well.  We’re not just talking about the taking of abstract money from people who have ‘too much’ money.  We’re also talking about the increasingly aggressive use of ‘Eminent Domain’ powers for public bodies to take private property and to repurpose it for ‘public good’.  Eminent Domain is when the council takes your land to build a new road, for example, and compensates you ‘fairly’ for the taking (if it is land that has been in your family for generations which you don’t want to lose at any price, the council’s view of ‘fair’ may not coincide with your own).

But the concept of ‘public good’ has insidiously expanded – there have been examples of councils taking land for commercial developments such as shopping malls.  The most celebrated example of eminent domain abuse – Kelo vs New London – was contested all the way to the Supreme Court, which, alas, approved the taking of the land – here’s a short and easily read article on this particular case.

There are many other dubious and arguably unfair uses of eminent domain – a search for “abuse of eminent domain” on Google brings 1.28 million results.

Our point is simply that society’s respect for private ownership – whether it be money or land or pretty much anything else – is dwindling.  And that is happening during good times – imagine now, if you can, how quickly the last remaining elements of respect for private personal ownership will disappear in difficult times.

The Social and Practical Basis for Taking Our Food and Supplies From Us

There are several things to think about when it comes to considering what would happen WTSHTF.  We of course discuss these things regularly with other people, and a significant number of people refuse to accept that anyone would wish to take anything of theirs.  Much as we wish their views to be correct, we sadly disagree.  But it is interesting to see the full spectrum of opinions and denials offered to us.

Some people will acknowledge that a very small minority – unlawful gangs of ‘bad’ people – might wish to do that, but that the overall forces of law and order will prevent such things from happening.

Some people will acknowledge that there might be pressure to take our supplies from us, but that the police would never enforce an unlawful order.

But let’s look at past experiences and events to see if these two denials are founded in fact.

For the first point – the police and other agencies will protect those who ‘have’ from small groups of unlawful gangs, we have three words to offer.  Los Angeles riots.

Look at what happened during the LA riots in 1992.  During six days, large swathes of Los Angeles were in total anarchy, a known 53 people were killed, and more than 2,000 were injured.  More than 3,600 fires were set, more than 1,100 buildings were destroyed, and total damage probably came in at about $1 billion.

The Los Angeles police were supplemented by thousands of other local, state and federal law enforcement officers, and by the California National Guard and regular US Marines and other Armed Forces too.

All of this happened due to protests about the Rodney King Police Officers trial and verdict.

Now ask yourself.  If a mere court case can cause this, which takes six days to get under control, and requires the airlifting of tens of thousands of additional public safety personnel to bring the lawlessness under control, what happens when a more major event occurs, and when tens of thousands of police reinforcements are not available?

Note also our article by a police veteran, where he clearly says ‘the police won’t be able to cope and cities will collapse stunningly quickly’.

For the second point (the police would not enforce unlawful orders), we’ll again offer up three words, although one would be enough.  New Orleans Katrina.  The local police and sheriff’s offices seemed to take more pleasure than expected, and to use more zeal than is common for the Big Easy’s finest at doing anything, when it came to seizing people’s firearms – a blatantly illegal act, and carried out in an area where firearms ownership is generally positively viewed.

If that’s not enough, how about another three words.  Boston Bombing Manhunt.  Thousands of law enforcement personnel, dressed in full combat gear like they were each about to singlehandedly go to war against the entire muslim world, went door to door through Boston suburbs, carrying out house to house searches.  They had no search warrants.  They had no reasonable cause or suspicion.  And, furthermore, their searching was all to no avail – the two bombers were not detected as a result of this house to house searching.

Make no mistake.  People weren’t being politely asked if they could have their houses searched.  Their houses were being searched at gunpoint, and refusal was not an option.

Now add to this the fact that after TSHTF, police officers will be as hungry and needy as most other non-prepared people.  They will have a vested personal interest in complying with orders to search and seize food and other valuable supplies.  Maybe they’ll even get a ‘finder’s fee’ bonus based on how much food and supplies they seize.

We’ll be generous and accept that a small percentage of police officers might refuse to go along with any such orders.  But for every police officer refusing to comply, there’ll be a dozen volunteers willing to take his place.

All of the preceding has assumed that taking our food and other supplies from us would be illegal.  But that’s not necessarily a valid assumption.  Alas, quite the opposite.  Please keep reading.

Future Legal Support for Seizing our Food and Supplies

There already is probable legal support for having our supplies taken from us, but we’ll leave that for the second part of this two-part article.  Let’s assume, for the moment – as most of us naively do – that there are no laws or regulations authorizing the authorities to take our food and other supplies from us.  So let’s think – how could such laws be created, and what would we do?

Don’t get on a moral high horse and say ‘It is unconstitutional and so could never happen’.  Unconstitutional laws are enacted every day, and constitutional laws are applied in unconstitutional manners – that’s why we have the legal system, all the way up to the Supreme Courts of our state and of the entire US – to protect us from either inept or wrong-thinking law makers.  Every day, courts throughout the country find laws to be badly written and unenforceable (and also, every day, courts also choose to enforce badly written laws that should not be enforced).  So it is plenty possible that an unconstitutional law could be enacted (and far from certain that the courts would toss it out, even in good times).

And, think about it.  Politicians are not renowned for either their high moral principles, or their own foresight and preparedness, are they.  When things go bad, they’ll be among the first to be starving, and among the first to be demanding that we share our food with them.

So, there’ll be an emergency session of – you name it.  Maybe even your homeowner’s association.  Your local city council.  The county council.  And/or the state legislature.  There will be legislation drafted in double-quick time, and passed almost unanimously even quicker.

The legislation will probably have at least the semblance of fairness associated with it.  It will offer you compensation for the food and other supplies taken from you.  You’ll probably be given a check for some fair value for your food based on what it would cost in normal times, or possibly you’ll be given a voucher that can be used to get replacement food at some future time when food becomes plentiful again.

But how much value is a check, when the banking system has failed?  For that matter, how much value would cash be, when there’s no food for sale at any price?  How much value is a voucher, when you can’t redeem it for anything and will have starved long before normalcy returns?

The stark reality is that you’re likely to find yourself confronted with a properly enacted law that ostensibly empowers other people to take just about everything you have from you.

Now, as for the judicial review of this law and the takings carried out under its authority, how well do you think that is going to go for you?  Whether you are liberal or conservative, you’ll probably concede that judges no longer impartially enforce the law (always assuming that they ever did!), but rather, they selectively and actively interpret the law based on their own personal beliefs and values.

Keep in mind that the judge is being asked to decide if he, too, should be able to share in your food, or if he too will starve while you survive.  How impartial a judgment do you expect to get if/when you can get your case heard in a court?

And there’s the other problem – will the court system still be operating?  Even if it is, if you get a hearing in a month, and a judgment in two months, what will you do for the two months (or more, especially if you lose and then have to appeal) while you’re waiting, having already given up your food?  One thing’s for sure – the way this will work is ‘take first, argue about it in court later’.

Our prediction is that if society’s collapse occurs slowly enough for legislative bodies to continue to meet, there will definitely be high-minded seeming emergency laws passed to make ‘hoarding’ illegal.  But you’ll quickly discover that the definition of hoarding makes you a hoarder.

If you think that is unlikely, people were arrested and prosecuted for ‘hoarding’ when they attempted to get ‘too much’ petrol during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in the New York area in 2012 – even in cases where one person was the ‘designated driver’ going to get petrol for multiple families.

All fairness, all reason, all logic – all these things will be abandoned in the panic that will follow TEOTWAWKI.

Continued in Part Two and Three

Our point in this first part of the three-part article series is that a large part of society – perhaps even the majority – condones taking from other people and transferring their wealth and even their property so that other people can benefit.  You probably consider this immoral and wrong, but the 50% of the country who pay no taxes seem to have no difficulty with their consciences while all the time demanding that the rich pay more and more, which the takers ludicrously describe as ‘paying their fair share’.

Even people who might find this an uncomfortable situation at present will get a very different perspective when they see your house as the only one with power, heat, and light, and smell the rich smell of food cooking, in a scenario where they have none of any such things.  Some people may respond by simply trying to steal food from you at gunpoint, others will throw themselves on your mercy and beg for food.  But the biggest threat will be the people who pass a new law to force you to share everything you have.

But wait.  There’s more.  Please now turn to part two (and then subsequently on to part three), where we stop considering future possible scenarios, and instead focus in on the actual laws that are already on the books, and how they give close to unlimited unrestricted power to the President to take anything he wants from anyone at all, for close on any reason.

We know that sounds impossible to believe, so we back up everything we say with links to formal proof of each statement we make.

Jun 182013
 
In just over ten years since it was formed, the Homeland Security Department has grown to employ 240,000+ people, including FEMA.  This massive army of people are surely all there to help us, right?

In just over ten years since it was formed, the Homeland Security Department has grown to employ 240,000+ people, including FEMA. This massive army of people are surely all there to help us, right?

This is the second part of a three-part article series on how everything we’ve saved and stored could be – lawfully – taken from us in an emergency.

If you arrived on this page from a search engine or website link, you might wish to first read the first part of the article, which talks about how our society has evolved to the point where the majority already feel no shame in taking property from people who have it and appropriating it for themselves.

Perhaps because preppers tend to be fair-minded people, they find this concept hard to accept.  Please read through the first part, and force yourself to realize just how possible this is.

These Future Scenarios Are Real, Not Hypothetical

Now for the really vital part of this two-part article series.  In the first part, we’ve been talking about hypothetical future scenarios, and like all such things, maybe we are right, and maybe we are wrong – you need to selectively pick and choose what you feel to be most likely and to base your own plans accordingly.

But what would you think and what will you do, if/when you learn that there are already laws on the books to empower the ‘authorities’ (ie everyone else) to take our carefully stockpiled food and other supplies from us?

There are indeed federal laws/regulations/orders on the books to cover exactly this type of scenario.  There may be other federal level plans as well.  In addition, there are probably state level provisions you need to be aware of as well.  Let’s start with a look at state level issues, then move on to the federal level.

This is Real, and Documented, Not Just Scare Stories to Sell You Something

We often come across sales pitches trying to sell us something that have a detailed presentation including a lot of assertions about a lot of things, but their assertions are light on the facts and heavy on the fiction.  So we’ve learned to discount and ignore much of such stuff when we encounter it.

But we’re not trying to sell you anything.  And we will give you links to everything we tell you about in this article.  See for yourself, confirm for yourself, and be prepared to be astonished and dismayed at what you find out.

State Level Emergency Provisions

You need to know what emergency powers the governor of your state has.  You might be astonished at how extensive they could be, and some of the ‘better’ states actually have some of the most unrestricted powers available for their governors – the ‘frontier days’ thinking of those states’ constitutions still flows through, and such laws have not been rewritten for a more cautious and legally constrained present day scenario.

If a governor declares an emergency – either in part of the state or all the state – he can then do all sorts of things.  You probably know about ‘martial law’ – a vague concept that means different things in different cases, but which essentially means that many of your constitutional rights are suspended during the period of martial law.  Most governors have their power to declare martial law validated by the state constitution.

Here is a useful discussion about martial law, including examples of its misuse and abuse – sometimes resulting in judicial action overturning the martial law, but not always.

Some states might have no specific provisions for declaring martial law as such, but they may have provisions for other types of emergency declarations such as a ‘Public Health Emergency’ or a generic ‘State of Emergency’.  The same can be announced at a national level by the President as well.

Governors can sometimes do things such as call people up into the state militia, at which point, you become subject of course to military command and control.  Maybe the first requirement after being drafted into the state militia will be to assemble at some make-do barracks, requiring you to leave your retreat.  What do you do – comply, or be charged with ‘desertion’?

And, guess what the next order might be?  To go around your neighborhood, requisitioning any food and other supplies you can find!

National/Federal Emergency Provisions

Did you know that we are currently in a state of emergency – indeed, for most of the time since 1950, our country has been in a state of emergency.

See this discussion for an eye-opening explanation of our current state of emergency, including the disclosure that in the 1970s, Congress discovered – to its surprise – that the county was in a state of emergency dating back to the Korean War, initiated in 1950, which people had generally forgotten about and never repealed!  Congressional oversight?  Alas, not at all!

And as for the courts applying good sense to this farcical situation, apparently not – courts have upheld sentences that were made more severe due to the existence of a state of emergency, even though there truly was no emergency present.

You probably know that the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 forbids US troops from performing law enforcement action on US soil.  So how then to reconcile events such as troops being deployed to the LA riots in 1992?  Well, it seems that there are exceptions to everything, which is a chilling thought – heaven forbid that you too should become an ‘exception’ to the normal application of justice and jurisprudence.

More seriously, as covered in this helpful discussion, there is a possibility that the Posse Comitatus Act was quietly repealed and overturned by a provision of the 2012 National Defense Authorisation Act (section 1021).  Here’s a discussion of it here.

But if the innocuous and limited seeming provision in the 2012 Act overturns the Posse Comitatus Act, it is because much of it has already been overturned.  Prior to the 2012 Act, in the 2007 Authorization Act, section 1076 massively emasculated the Posse Comitatus Act :

The President may employ the armed forces… to… restore public order and enforce the laws of the United States when, as a result of a natural disaster, epidemic, or other serious public health emergency, terrorist attack or incident, or other condition… the President determines that… domestic violence has occurred to such an extent that the constituted authorities of the State or possession are incapable of maintaining public order… or [to] suppress, in a State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy if such… a condition… so hinders the execution of the laws… that any part or class of its people is deprived of a right, privilege, immunity, or protection named in the Constitution and secured by law… or opposes or obstructs the execution of the laws of the United States or impedes the course of justice under those laws.

We can translate that lengthy statement for you.  What it means – truly – is that the President can order the military to do pretty much anything to anyone, at any time, for any reason.

Specifically, he can order the military to ‘restore public order’ – and you might wonder what ‘public order’ is.  Truly, that’s a broad term capable of many meanings, and so too is the verb before the noun – ‘restore’.  What types of things can he order the military to do to restore the public order?  There’s no limit specified, so presumably whatever he (and he alone with no need to get approval from Congress) feels to be prudent, necessary, and appropriate.

A partial clue is gathered by looking at the examples of types of things that may cause the President to invoke these powers.  An insurrection or conspiracy (a conspiracy of course can be just talking about something, even though the ‘conspirators’ don’t actually do anything) that deprives any part or class of people (which means anyone) of a right/privilege/immunity/protection – wow, with the expanded view of what a person’s ‘rights’ are these days, to say nothing of their privileges, that covers just about anything.  If that’s not enough, it goes on to add ‘or opposes or obstructs the execution of the laws of the US’ which means that anyone talking about (conspiring) or actually opposing any law can be responded to by the President calling out the Army (and the Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard too!).

There may be valid bona fide reasons why such powers are required, but do you really feel comfortable seeing how the entire rule of law and due process and habeas corpus and constitutional rights and protections can be annulled, by one person, at any time, for any reason?  Haven’t we just allowed our President to become our Dictator?  (Your instinct is to say ‘No, of course not’ and maybe to vaguely talk about ‘checks and balances’, but force yourself to think about this.  What checks and balances, what controls and restrictions, are placed on the ability of the President to invoke these powers, to use these powers, and to abuse these powers?)

There’s more.

Hoarding of Just About Anything Can Be Banned

There was an interesting Executive Order signed by President Obama in March 2012.  There’s a lot of legal stuff in it, and only when you get towards the end, do you suddenly realize ‘OMG!  What is this I’m reading?’.

Look at section 801 of the order, defining the things covered.

Sec. 801.  Definitions.  In addition to the definitions in section 702 of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2152, the following definitions apply throughout this order:

(a)  “Civil transportation” includes movement of persons and property by all modes of transportation in interstate, intrastate, or foreign commerce within the United States, its territories and possessions, and the District of Columbia, and related public storage and warehousing, ports, services, equipment and facilities, such as transportation carrier shop and repair facilities.  “Civil transportation” also shall include direction, control, and coordination of civil transportation capacity regardless of ownership.  “Civil transportation” shall not include transportation owned or controlled by the Department of Defense, use of petroleum and gas pipelines, and coal slurry pipelines used only to supply energy production facilities directly.

(b)  “Energy” means all forms of energy including petroleum, gas (both natural and manufactured), electricity, solid fuels (including all forms of coal, coke, coal chemicals, coal liquification, and coal gasification), solar, wind, other types of renewable energy, atomic energy, and the production, conservation, use, control, and distribution (including pipelines) of all of these forms of energy.

(c)  “Farm equipment” means equipment, machinery, and repair parts manufactured for use on farms in connection with the production or preparation for market use of food resources.

(d)  “Fertilizer” means any product or combination of products that contain one or more of the elements nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium for use as a plant nutrient.

(e)  “Food resources” means all commodities and products, (simple, mixed, or compound), or complements to such commodities or products, that are capable of being ingested by either human beings or animals, irrespective of other uses to which such commodities or products may be put, at all stages of processing from the raw commodity to the products thereof in vendible form for human or animal consumption.  “Food resources” also means potable water packaged in commercially marketable containers, all starches, sugars, vegetable and animal or marine fats and oils, seed, cotton, hemp, and flax fiber, but does not mean any such material after it loses its identity as an agricultural commodity or agricultural product.

(f)  “Food resource facilities” means plants, machinery, vehicles (including on farm), and other facilities required for the production, processing, distribution, and storage (including cold storage) of food resources, and for the domestic distribution of farm equipment and fertilizer (excluding transportation thereof).

(g)  “Functions” include powers, duties, authority, responsibilities, and discretion.

(h)  “Head of each agency engaged in procurement for the national defense” means the heads of the Departments of State, Justice, the Interior, and Homeland Security, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the General Services Administration, and all other agencies with authority delegated under section 201 of this order.

(i)  “Health resources” means drugs, biological products, medical devices, materials, facilities, health supplies, services and equipment required to diagnose, mitigate or prevent the impairment of, improve, treat, cure, or restore the physical or mental health conditions of the population.

(j)  “National defense” means programs for military and energy production or construction, military or critical infrastructure assistance to any foreign nation, homeland security, stockpiling, space, and any directly related activity.  Such term includes emergency preparedness activities conducted pursuant to title VI of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. 5195 et seq., and critical infrastructure protection and restoration.

(k)  “Offsets” means compensation practices required as a condition of purchase in either government to government or commercial sales of defense articles and/or defense services as defined by the Arms Export Control Act, 22 U.S.C. 2751 et seq., and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, 22 C.F.R. 120.1 130.17.

(l)  “Special priorities assistance” means action by resource departments to assist with expediting deliveries, placing rated orders, locating suppliers, resolving production or delivery conflicts between various rated orders, addressing problems that arise in the fulfillment of a rated order or other action authorized by a delegated agency, and determining the validity of rated orders.

(m)  “Strategic and critical materials” means materials (including energy) that (1) would be needed to supply the military, industrial, and essential civilian needs of the United States during a national emergency, and (2) are not found or produced in the United States in sufficient quantities to meet such need and are vulnerable to the termination or reduction of the availability of the material.

(n)  “Water resources” means all usable water, from all sources, within the jurisdiction of the United States, that can be managed, controlled, and allocated to meet emergency requirements, except “water resources” does not include usable water that qualifies as “food resources.”

These definitions are written in to the 1950 War and National Defense Defense (sic) Production Act, and so let’s see what the act itself has to say for itself.

Go directly to section 2072.  That’s the key part from our perspective.

§2072. Hoarding of designated scarce materials

In order to prevent hoarding, no person shall accumulate (1) in excess of the reasonable demands of business, personal, or home consumption, or (2) for the purpose of resale at prices in excess of prevailing market prices, materials which have been designated by the President as scarce materials or materials the supply of which would be threatened by such accumulation. The President shall order published in the Federal Register, and in such other manner as he may deem appropriate, every designation of materials the accumulation of which is unlawful and any withdrawal of such designation.

In making such designations the President may prescribe such conditions with respect to the accumulation of materials in excess of the reasonable demands of business, personal, or home consumption as he deems necessary to carry out the objectives of this Act [sections 2061 to 2170, 2171, and 2172 of this Appendix]. This section shall not be construed to limit the authority contained in sections 101 and 704 of this Act [sections 2071 and 2154 of this Appendix].

So the President can simply say that anything more than (for example) a week’s supply of food (and all the other things listed) is an amount ‘in excess of the reasonable demands of personal consumption’ and then order the Army to impound everything you have in excess of that amount.  End of story.

Well, no, not quite the end of the story.  Let’s just look at one more thing.

The Mysterious Nature of FEMA

You’ve probably heard the occasional scare stories of FEMA camps where people will be forcibly resettled, and speculation about the extraordinary level of ammunition purchases by the Department of Homeland Security (FEMA is one part of the huge new monster that the Homeland Security Department has become since it was formed in November 2002).

Maybe you’ve wondered what FEMA is doing with the mine-resistant armored vehicles it now has.  Or maybe you’ve simply dismissed FEMA as something that gets a lot of criticism whenever there’s a real emergency but not likely to be a relevant part of any extreme emergency in the future.

You might be right.  But you might be wrong.  One of the things that really has us puzzled is seeing job vacancy postings for low and mid level FEMA managers, with the requirement that such people be able to obtain a Top Secret security clearance.  We’d like to know – what is there that would require a FEMA administrator to have a Top Secret security clearance?

Our point is simply this.  In minor regional type emergencies, we certainly agree and appreciate that FEMA is there to help out as best it can.  But in a serious Level 2 or Level 3 disaster – a situation which totally overwhelms FEMA’s ability to solve the problem – might the role of FEMA then change into something darker and more sinister?

We don’t want to get into the deeper darker conspiracy theories of what FEMA and HSD might be and do in the future, but we would like to be reassured that these theories truly are as impossible as we hope them to be.

We have no answer to these questions.  But we wish we did, because we can readily see a future scenario where the government (which, of course, always ‘knows best’) decides the best thing to do is to centralize all food and other survival resources – all the stuff listed above in the Executive Order – and then distribute it ‘fairly’ as it sees fit.

And, in case you didn’t read the first part of this two-part article, distributing ‘fairly’ is a code phrase that means ‘we’ll take as much as we can from people who have the thing, and then give it to people who don’t have the thing’.  The people without the thing doubtless feel that is fair, but how do you feel, as someone more likely to be losing your preps, while seeing people who laughed at you for being a prepper now having your preps passed over to them?

This all ignores the illogic of the concept of redistributing food and other supplies.  You personally might have enough food and other supplies to see yourself safely through the emergency situation.  But if your supplies are taken and split twenty different ways, probably the only result will be that all of you will fail to survive, albeit with the 20 people now sharing your preps lasting a bit longer than they would have otherwise done.

How is the net result improved by having everyone die, rather than by allowing those who chose to prepare for an emergency enjoy the benefit of their preparations and survive?  At least, if you got to keep your materials, you would survive.  Nothing will allow for most non-prepared people to survive an extreme emergency, but having you too share in their misery and failure doesn’t make things any better or any fairer for anyone.

Summary

There’s a lot of content in this two-part article, and it paints a terrifyingly dark possible future, where we run the risk of losing everything we’ve been going to such lengths to amass.  If you’ve not already done so, we recommend you now read the first part.

If you don’t think such a thing would ever happen in the US, please read through the linked articles – articles that expose past abuses of power and of compulsory taking in our nation’s past.  Alas, rather than making such past actions less likely in the future, the social evolution of the last 50 years seems to empower and make more likely future actions of ignoring our constitutional rights.

The laws and authorizing powers are already on the books.  All it takes is a single proclamation by the President – not even an Act of Congress – and the end of the rule of law as we know and cherish it could occur.

A prudent prepper will consider these concerns very seriously, and will be careful about what they store, and where and how they store it, and – most of all – be very selective about who knows what they have.

Please see other articles in our Legal category for more thoughts and ideas on these issues.

Please Read on to Part Three

Please continue this article series in part three, which introduces you to the totally un-American and terrifying concept of ‘civil forfeiture’.