May 102014
 
Will the police protect private property WTSHTF, or will they take it?

Will the police protect private property WTSHTF, or will they take it?

This is the third 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, and then move on to the second part, pointing out some current legal support for the capricious taking of our personal property, before continuing on with this third part.

As preppers, one of our concerns must be what happens WTSHTF, and 95% or more of the people around us are starving and dying, while we’re ‘sitting pretty’ in our retreat, surrounded by shelter, energy, food, and many of the creature comforts we’ve become used to.

Some preppers anticipate that the unprepped majority of the people in the country will attempt to take their provisions by force.  Others worry that the unprepped majority will attempt to take everything they’ve carefully accumulated and stored through some sort of abusive but semi-legal process.

In many respects, the abusive but semi-legal process is the more threatening.  That’s not to deny the danger of an armed gang of marauders, roaming the region, looting and plundering any which way they choose.  But at least that is something that one can lawfully defend oneself against, and as long as one observes proper protocols, one doesn’t run the risk of breaking any laws in the process.

But what does one do when the local sheriff turns up at your door with a court order compelling you to surrender all your ‘illegally hoarded’ supplies?  You surely can’t shoot the sheriff!

We’ve written before about some of the semi-legal ploys that may be used to try and talk you out of your provisions, and of course, when the judge, jury, and sheriff are starving themselves, your chance of getting a fair hearing is not very great.  Please see our articles ‘The Present Legal Support for Seizing our Food and Other Supplies‘ and ‘Preppers Beware :  Our “Hoarding” Can be Deemed Illegal‘ for more on these issues.

We’ve never suggested that these two articles represent the totality of legal risks we must consider.  And, even if they did, how quickly could a starving local town council, county board of commissioners, or even state/federal legislature pass new laws giving the authorities more ‘perfectly legal’ rights to take more things from people who had prudently prepared?  A day?  A week?

However, it is appropriate to understand the current range of legal ‘threats’ that exist, so today we’re revealing another one.  This is something that – like so many laws – started off with the best of good intentions and then somehow evolved and extended itself to a point now where few people could fairly defend it at all.

You might remember back when laws were being passed that would seize the proceeds of crimes from criminals.  In addition to whatever other punishments a convicted criminal might have imposed on him, he’d also be deprived of his ‘ill gotten gains’.  This made sense, sort of.  What was the point of jailing a drug dealer for a year or so if he got to keep the several million dollars he’d made in profits?  Many people would consider a several million dollar payment more than compensated for a year or two in prison!

This process is called criminal forfeiture.

Civil Forfeiture

We have nothing against criminal forfeiture.  But, we described that process merely as background to what we now are bringing to your attention.  Please read on for the really worrying part of this article.

Something happened, the criminal forfeiture concept evolved and extended way beyond their initial concept and justification.  Nowadays we have laws that allow ‘the authorities’ to take anything – real property, personal property, cash, anything at all – from people when the police or prosecutors suspect the person of wrongdoing.  This is called civil forfeiture.

Whereas in a criminal case, the authorities have to convict someone by going through the due process of the legal system, using a high standard of proof – ‘beyond all reasonable doubt’; in these new scenarios, it seems there is no need for any due process at all, and not even much need for proof.  All that is required is for the police/prosecutor to say ‘we think you’ve done something bad’ and based on that thought, they can then proceed to deprive the person of pretty much whatever they choose.

That sounds impossible to believe, right?  It sounds beyond un-American?  It sounds like only something you’d see in the most corrupt of African republics.

Well, don’t just trust us (and don’t trust anyone else, either).  Do your own research – you could search for civil forfeiture laws on Google, or for civil forfeiture abuse if you preferred (the links take you to the Google searches).  Read any of the articles returned in the search results to get the confirmation of what we’re saying.

Or you could simply read this news item, published yesterday, about a recent case and its implications.

You’ll see in the article that even though some states have legislated against civil forfeiture, there is a loophole whereby federal agencies can still use this concept, and they can (and will) conscript state, county and city authorities to assist them by ‘splitting the winnings’ with the local authorities.

Whatever happened until ‘innocent until proven guilty’?  One could also suggest such actions fly in the face of the Fourth Amendment of our Bill of Rights (unlawful seizures), the Seventh Amendment (a right to jury trials for all matters in controversy exceeding $20) and the Eighth Amendment (prohibiting excessive fines and unusual punishments).

This is appalling law and public policy.  But when you have a situation where bad laws directly benefit the law makers and the law enforcers, then – as the article above points out – it can be very hard to overturn them.

Back to the implications of this to us as preppers.  Do we need to spell it out?  We risk having an officer of some authority confront us, and while struggling to hide the smirk as he says it, tell us that he suspects us of some wrong-doing (and for sure, with so many regulations and requirements these days, we are all guilty of breaking some law or regulation, knowingly or unknowingly) and because of that suspicion, he is taking all our stored food and fuel.  He doesn’t even need a court order.

Police officers we know claim that everyone is always guilty of something, and, if they choose to or need to, they can validly arrest anyone at any time.  They generally consider this a good thing, but should we agree with them?

What Can We Do?

So, if the authorities (meaning way too many people from way too many different government groups) can pretty much take anything they want from us at any time, with little or no due process in the middle, what should we do?

We don’t have a whole heap of suggestions in answer to this problem.  But we can point out that it would be wise to distribute your provisions and supplies over several different locations, so that if you do end up being forced to give up ‘everything you have’, this means that you only have to give up everything you have at your main retreat location, and can then switch to your backup resources.

See also our articles about the essential importance of becoming part of the community so that you can anticipate, influence and moderate such negative actions rather than be blind-sided by them.

Aug 152013
 
State by state policies on underage drinking (click link for full size map),

State by state policies on underage drinking (click link for full size map),

Maybe you enjoy the occasional drink, and maybe you’re a teetotaler.  Either way, you might agree that a state’s policies towards drinking provides another insight into its general moral and interventionist approach to how the state feels it should regulate the lives of its citizens.

Perhaps the point that we are most sensitive to is whether the state feels it should reach into a person’s private house, family customs and religious practices and forbid any underage drinking, even as part of normal family life or religious ceremonies.  The assumption that the state knows better than parents about what is best for a child is an aggressive assumption at the best of times, and while there are occasionally tragic and egregious examples of how some parents show they don’t do a good job of caring for their children, there are also statutes to cover such practices.

A ‘lowest common denominator’ imposition on a total blanket ban on any type of drinking for people under the age of 21 seems regrettable, and we’re not even going to start along the lines of ‘you can vote, you can drive, you can serve in the armed services, you can marry, but you can’t have a drink at your own wedding’, although we’re very sympathetic to the comment.

Suffice it to say that blanket bans on alcohol consumption because a very small minority abuse alcohol makes no more sense than blanket bans on firearms for similar reasons.

Let’s look at what restrictions states pose on so-called ‘under age’ drinking and on alcohol related issues in general.  But first, a bit of history is in order.

The History of US Drinking Age Laws

With the repeal of prohibition in 1933, states were allowed to set their own alcohol laws.  Most states set 21 as the minimum age to drink in public.

In 1971, the 26th Amendment lowered the voting age to 18, and at that point, 30 states lowered their minimum drinking age – perhaps to 18, or in some cases to 19 or 20.  By 1982, that number had grown to 46 states allowing a lower than 21 minimum drinking age.

But in 1984 the National Minimum Drinking Age Act gave a backdoor ability back to the federal government to regulate a national minimum drinking age.  Although not empowered to set a national drinking age, and in an attempt to avoid violating the 10th Amendment (reserving such powers to the states themselves), the federal government said ‘You are free to set any age you like, but, oh, by the way, if you don’t set the age to 21, we’ll reduce the amount of federal highway funds we give to you by 10%’.

No state wished to lose out on these large annual grants (back then, some states were getting up to $100 million annually and these days it is much more), and so all 50 states quickly revised their minimum drinking age back to 21.  This gives the United States the county in the ‘developed world’ with the highest minimum drinking age (next comes Iceland and Japan, both with a 20 age limit).  Interestingly (and we’ll let you ponder this without our prompting) restrictions on drinking alcohol is of course something we have in common with some of the most severely Muslim nations.

State by State Underage Policies

Five states have an outright ban on all underage drinking, no matter what the circumstances or situation.  These five states are Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, New Hampshire and West Virginia.

If you’re considering a move to the ‘American redoubt’ states, you should note Idaho’s inclusion on that list.  The other redoubt states are considerably less intrusive on your private personal lives, at least when it comes to alcohol.

The other 45 states all allow for one or more exceptions to their underage drinking laws.  These include on private, ‘non-alcohol selling’ premises and with parental consent, or even without parental consent, on alcohol selling premises with parental consent, for religious purposes, for medical purposes, and several other categories of narrow applicability as well.  You can see a complete list here.

If you’d like to see how the US compares to other countries, you can see a list of 138 different countries and their policies here.

Sunday Liquor Sales Bans

Another area where states feel they need to mandate ‘morality’ or in some other way control our lives is by restricting our ability to buy spirits on a Sunday.

Twelve states have an outright ban on Sunday sales.  These are Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Oklahoma, Alabama, Mississippi, Montana, Minnesota, Indiana, North Carolina and South Carolina.

A special mention goes to Indiana – it bans all alcohol sales – not just spirits, but wine and beer too, on Sundays.

Here’s an interesting map showing state by state Sunday spirit policies.

Other State and Local Laws About the Sale of Alcohol

Some states restrict the sale of variously beer, wine and/or spirits, requiring them only to be sold through dedicated outlets, possibly state-owned.  Others are less restrictive.

And whether liquor can be sold anywhere or only through specific outlets, some states have a department that controls perhaps the wholesaling or retailing of spirits (reasonably common) and possibly wine and beer too (less common).

This page has a good summary of the relevant laws, state by state.

In addition to state-wide laws, there can also be even more restrictive county and/or city laws.  In particular, there are a number of ‘dry’ counties that may restrict and ban the purchase and/or consumption of alcohol in that county.  There are also dry towns and cities.

This page seems to have the most complete list of counties, cities and townships that are dry.

Laws about Beermaking, Winemaking, and Distilling

There are probably going to be both federal and state laws to consider when it comes to making your own booze.  Let’s start off with the bad news first.

It is illegal to distill your own spirits without a federal license.  It is also illegal to own still apparatus.  You can’t even make vinegar without a bunch of paperwork, because vinegar goes through a stage where it is alcohol rich but not yet sour enough to presumably discourage guzzling it down!

It seems fair to say that the restrictions on distilling spirits remain as strict today as they ever have been, and while there are plenty of books out there about how to make your own spirits at home, they don’t do you a service by failing to highlight just how illegal the activities they are encouraging you to do actually are.

To quote from the relevant government department’s website (The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau division of the Dept of the Treasury) :

There are numerous requirements that must be met that make it impractical to produce spirits for personal or beverage use

It is rare to see any government department admitting that their paperwork requirements are cumbersome.  Bottom line – they really don’t want you distilling your own spirits.  If you are caught breaking these laws, the penalties can be harsh and may possibly involve imprisonment.

However, the news is more positive when it comes to wine and beer.  Federal law allows you to make 100 gallons of beer per adult, up to a maximum of 200 gallons per household, each year, but for personal use only, not for sale, and restrictions may be imposed on taking the beer off your property.  Similar provisions allow you to make the same 100 gallons/person or 200 gallons/household of wine annually.  (Note that to qualify for the 200 gallon allowance, there must be at least two adults of legal age to drink in the household).

State laws can be more restrictive than federal law, but it seems all 50 states now allow home beermaking (the last two states to allow this being Mississippi in March 2013 and Alabama in May 2013).

We believe that when Mississippi legalized home brewing it also legalized home winemaking, but we are not sure if the same happened in Alabama.  We believe all other 48 states allow home winemaking, generally in line with the federal 100/200 gallon limits.

This site has convenient access to each state’s relevant legislation.  It seems this main index page has not been updated to reflect the current situation in MS or AL, but if you drill down to the specific state legislation, you’ll of course get an accurate understanding.

Summary

We make no moral judgments about anyone’s alcohol consumption, although clearly there are people with an alcoholism problem and that is regrettable.  But we have two general comments to make.  The first is that there is absolutely no evidence at all to suggest that greater restrictions on alcohol have any positive effect on the alcohol problems in a community.  There are clear regional differences in alcohol use, as shown in the data here and this more extensive data here.  But our sense is that the regional differences are a reflection of regional lifestyles and values more than they are of varying rules and restrictions.  In other words, perhaps the less that people drink by choice, the more restrictive a set of conditions they may impose on themselves, and their lower levels of consumption reflect not the legal constraints but rather personal preferences.

Our second point is to observe that we feel it is as unwelcome a state intrusion into our private lives to mandate when and where and how we can buy and consume alcohol as it is to restrict our firearms ownership or other similar things.

It seems entirely possible to us that the more active a state and county is in controlling how its citizens can access and consume alcohol (ie the more it is a ‘nanny state’ and feels it knows best what its citizens can and can’t do, and the less it trusts its citizens to make their own choices), the more empowered the governmental authorities will feel themselves to be when it comes to doing other things ‘for our own good’ too, either during normal times or during a crisis.

One further point about this, in case you care.  We are Christian, and we understand what is required to live a Christian lifestyle.  We are happy when other people live their lives and follow similar values to our own.

But we completely fail to see any authority in the Bible that empowers us to impose our Christian values on other people, whether they wish to follow them or not.  People who claim Biblical authority to constrain the lives of other people are, in our opinion, no better than Muslim extremists who claim the Koran allows and encourages them to wage their war against ‘non-believers’.  Being a New Testament Christian is all about honoring choice and freewill, not about forcing people to do anything insincerely.

While we do indeed like to be in a Christian community, we would not want to be in one which ended up as a severe theocracy, imposing some person’s opinions about how people should lead their lives.  Let’s allow us all the freedom to do as we wish, whether it be owning firearms, storing food, making/buying/drinking alcohol, or whatever else that is and should be private and personal.

So, to summarize what has become a lengthy summary, how a state (and county) seeks to restrict and control its citizens and their access to alcoholic beverages might, for some of us, directly influence where we establish a retreat, and for others of us, might provide a weak insight into how aggressive the state/county currently is and may be in the future at generally intruding into the private lives of its citizens.

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.

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’.

Mar 022013
 
Countries need constitutions.  Your community needs a similar document.

Countries need constitutions. Your community needs a similar document.

If you follow our advice, you will seek to create or join a community retreat of like-minded folk rather than attempt to survive on your lonesome.

The inescapable reality is that one person, one couple, one family, even one extended group of family and friends; all these small groupings of people are probably too small to viably survive a Level 3 and possible even a shorter Level 2 scenario (defined here).  See our section on Communities for articles on the need to be part of a larger community.

As you probably already know from personal experience, it is difficult enough keeping everyone on the same page in any small family unit with a more or less understood hierarchy of authority.

This problem grows as the community size grows, and probably in an exponential rather than linear manner, and as it loses the bonds of family, it becomes even more anarchic.  At the same time, an appropriate and cohesive community government and management is clearly essential, and becomes more necessary as the community increases in size.

With a very thin line separating success from disaster, and with no external support resources eager to come rushing to your aid if there are problems, you have to optimally solve all problems that come your community’s way; you have to get it right every time, and you need the unanimity of support of your people united behind you in common purpose.  You have to be able to organize and manage the people in your group and to have them working cohesively together, rather than doing a dozen different things, a dozen different ways, with no coordination.

How to achieve this?

Even Homogenous Groups of People are Naturally Very Diverse

Even if your prepper retreat community is only your own extended family, that is probably an enormously diverse group of people with very different views on things, and of very different ages and backgrounds.

You might have the weird aunt, the obstreperous uncle, the drunk cousin, the addicted nephew, the strong-willed imperial grandmother, the aged infirm grandfather, the rebellious teenager, the left-wing sister and the right-wing brother, and a spouse that you either do or don’t get on well with, to say nothing of all the other stereotypes that uncomfortably end up taking roost in all families.

Invite in another family group, and all of a sudden you have all their foibles too.

As you become a community of people from different backgrounds, you’ll also encounter very great differences in personal and financial power.  One person might be struggling to make ends meet, the other person might be a dot-com millionaire.  One person might be a high court judge, and the other might be a high-rise janitor.

Indeed, here’s an interesting paradox.  With all due respect to the millionaire and the judge, both of whom are used to being in positions of great authority and view themselves as very successful and very wise; when it comes to surviving in a Level 2 or 3 scenario, it may well be that the much more practical skills of the janitor or working class wage earner are more helpful and valuable, and the life/world experiences of these people more attuned to deciding how to operate the community as a whole.

There’s another point as well.  Just because you are all apparently united in terms of being concerned about how to survive possible future adverse events, that does not mean you agree on much at all.  You might have different views about which possible risks are the most important and which are the least important.  You might have different views about how to prepare for and respond to each risk.

You might have different views about how the community should be funded, and different views about the community’s social values.  Some of you might anticipate a dystopian ‘Mad Max’ type of future, others of you might cling to a utopian hope of the nobleness of spirit of people allowing for a cooperative graceful decay in social support without major disruptions.  Some of you might seek to mandate that everyone be trained in self-defense and carry weapons with them all the time; others of you might wish to create a gun-free oasis where everyone treats everyone else with positive courtesy and respect.  Some of you might be beyond Attila the Hun on the extreme right of social values, others of you might be way to the left of Marx.

How can you accommodate all these very different opinions and value systems in your community without coming to blows and having your community splinter and fail?

The High Stakes Associated with Your Community’s Values and Direction

Some people might think ‘we won’t have any problems, because we are all fellow preppers, so we all have a common set of values’.

Unfortunately, as we have just touched on above, the concept of being ‘united’ because you are all preppers is a total fallacy.  This one point of commonality no more unites you in all other respects than would, well, all owning Chevrolet cars, or all liking music performed by Bob Dylan.

Because you are not just debating a trivial point like whether you should go out for Mexican rather than Italian food, or whether you should open the cabernet or the merlot, but instead are discussing matters which you view as being literally life and death, we anticipate that levels of heated argument could quickly become the norm rather than the exception.

One person might believe that the most important risk to protect from is that of nuclear attack/radioactive fallout, and is insisting that you all live in underground bunkers with hydroponic systems in the lower levels for food, whereas the person adjacent sees that as a non-event and instead worries about an economic collapse and insists on developing a self-supporting rural economy with everyone living above ground and working outdoors in the fields.

Another person might believe the most important risk to protect against is an EMP event, and insisting on creating a lifestyle that does not rely on vulnerable electronics at all, which the person opposite embraces technology and insists on using it as much as possible to help enhance the community’s standard of living.

There is the person who believes it will be necessary to dedicate most of the community’s resource to building an impregnable fortress against the certainty of repeated and sustained attack by hostile forces, and next to them there is the person who sees little or no danger from other groups and wishes to concentrate on building up sustainable resources and to live in ‘regular’ housing rather than thick-walled castles.

How then can you possibly hope to find a middle path that pleases everyone?

That’s a trick question, because the answer to it is ‘You can’t and shouldn’t’.  It is an unachievable impossible objective, and one best not attempted.

For example, if you ask the person wanting to set up in a deep underground cellar to instead agree to live in an above ground rambler, you are asking them to sacrifice their fundamental precept as it applies to prepping.  They won’t do that.

And on the other hand, if your community ends up with both above and below ground structures, and simultaneously is both high-tech and low-tech, and is founded on principles of peace, love, and the nobility of one’s fellow humans while at the same time requiring everyone to be armed and ready to use deadly force, well, that’s not a community at all, is it.  Which leads to a clear conclusion.

You Can’t Please Everyone

You should not try to create a community that is exactly what everyone wants.  Clearly it is impossible to combine some of the polar opposite viewpoints, even in the limited examples in the previous section.

While there truly is wisdom in crowds, and it is beneficial to have a broad range of opinions and viewpoints in your community so that all matters are considered; at the end of the day, you have to focus your limited resources in some areas and de-emphasize other areas.  You have to prioritize your prepping activities and undertakings.

You don’t want to be myopic and single-minded in your approach to what you do, but you do want to be focused on doing some things well, and having a clarity of mission and purpose.  It is definitely true that none of us have a guaranteed accurate and complete understanding of what the future may hold, and so we need to be open to a range of possible future outcomes, but it is also definitely true that we don’t have limitless funding to create a robust survival solution for every possible future risk.  We have to focus and prioritize.

As we start to focus and prioritize, we start to become a more attractive proposition to some potential community members, while becoming less appealing to other potential members.  Hopefully the one part balances out the other part, but the important thing is that people who join are doing so having already, up front, agreed with the basic concepts of what the community will be all about.

The Community Mission Statement

Noting how ideally you will become a group of people with a reasonable number of shared values, it makes sense to codify these points, so that everyone understands what they are.

You need to create a community ‘mission statement’ – a similar sort of thing to a corporate mission statement – a statement of purpose for your community, enshrining its values, assumptions, and priorities.

Corporate mission statements have become a lot fuzzier and less focused, and have become cluttered with a bunch of politically correct irrelevant nonsense.  The more specific you write your mission statement, the clearer a ‘guiding light’ and directional purpose you have for the future.

If you say ‘we are creating a hippy community practicing free love and natural living with lots of magic mushrooms and other lifestyle activities’ then people can choose to join it or not.  You might instead say ‘we are adopting a strict Amish/Muslim/whatever approach to our community and everyone must fully comply with the lifestyle and philosophy underpinning it’ then again people are free to become a part of that community or not.

Once you have decided on the guiding principles and general direction and focus of your group, people can make an informed decision if they wish to participate, with the understanding, knowledge and acceptance of what it is they are joining and signing up for.  The key thing is that people understand what they are getting involved with, and will hopefully self-select so that your community members are supportive of your community’s core values and precepts.

Sure, some people will choose not to join your community.  But that is okay.  You can’t please everyone and you shouldn’t try.

Here’s a rather academic analysis of corporate mission statements that might be worth reading, if for no other reason than to see the handful of sample corporate mission statements it highlights within it, ranging from very short to quite long.

If you do read the linked analysis, you’ll see that in part they are fairly dismissive of corporate mission statements.  But a corporation has other governing documents over and above its mission statement, and it exists within a huge abundant morass of legislative requirements for how and what it does, and so it doesn’t ‘need’ a mission statement quite as much.

Your community is starting with probably no governing documents at all and little in the way of legislative oversight, and anticipates a possible future where legislative oversight may be even less present than it is now.  And, unlike a corporation where the only things at risk are people’s jobs and investments (not that these aren’t important!) in your community, you’ll be facing life and death issues.  The stakes are much higher for your community than for any company.

What Should You Put in a Community Mission Statement?

Think of a Community Mission Statement, perhaps, as you would the US Constitution – you want it to be broad in principle, but also reasonably short and easy to understand and not open to misinterpretation.  It should be general and talk about the concepts at a high level – the overall strategies rather than the specific tactics.

As an example, the US Constitution says, in its sixteenth amendment

The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.

All this does is to allow the government to collect taxes.  It doesn’t set tax rates, or specify deductions, or write anything like that into the Constitution, those details are subsequently managed by passing laws that conform to the Constitution.

The Constitution – and your Mission Statement – is and should be a document which is semi-fixed in form and difficult to change.  The laws made by the governing body are more readily enacted and amended, and the regulations made under the laws are even more readily made and changed.

The Mission Statement should have general statements about the moral and social principles the group will adhere to, and how its governing structures will operate and be appointed.  The Constitution should also have details on how it too can be changed or modified.

Ideally, you should also prepare a broader code of governance (ie the equivalent of the laws that have been enacted under the Constitution), and we’ll write more about that in subsequent articles.  But, first things first, and so you should start off, right now, with a mission statement, or ‘definition of purpose’ or ‘reason for being’ or ‘plan of management’ or whatever else you want to call the document.

You’ll almost certainly come up with subsequent documents in the future, and make changes to what you start off with, but you’ve got to start somewhere.

Now for some very important things.

First, do we need to point out that this should be a written document.  Don’t just think about it, and then tell people who will be joining you ‘This is our mission’ and talk casually about your general thoughts.  Spoken words can be forgotten or misunderstood or disputed.  Written words can indeed also be misunderstood and disputed (that’s what lawyers do for a living!), but at least they are there, on paper, and provide a starting point for subsequent discussions and analysis of ‘so what did we actually mean when we said that’.

Second, involve everyone currently identified as participating in your community in the creation of the founding document.  You’ll want to do this carefully, and you’ll want to give everyone a chance to ‘buy in’ to the concept.  Have a series of meetings where you draft and then think about, then revise and think about the form and content of your mission statement, and work through it until you’ve come up with something everyone agrees upon.

Now – one important thing.  Although we are urging you to obtain broad agreement from all ‘stakeholders’ in your new mission statement, you don’t want to compromise its content or water it down to a meaningless jumble of empty statements – to use an example from above, you don’t want to end up with a community that will be half in an underground bunker breathing air through anti-radiation filters, and the other half in sprawling unprotected ramblers above ground.

If you can’t reach agreement with some of the people who are planning to join/form this community with you, then you should be delighted that you are having this discussion and disagreement now, prior to TSHTF, and at a time when you are not talking about life or death decisions and implications, and when any of your group can still back out of your community concept gracefully and switch to other communities more closely aligned with their views.

While you don’t want to force dissent and divisions, you do want to get the basic ‘ground rules’ understood and accepted now, and if you can’t get agreement, don’t end up with a useless compromise.  Dissolve your group and form a new group with a more closely shared common view about how you wish to approach the future.

Another important thing – once you have created your mission statement, get every present and every future adult member of your group to sign a document acknowledging that they have read the mission statement, that they have had it explained to them to their satisfaction and they are sure they understand what it means, that they have had all the opportunity they need to ask questions and get answers about it, and that they accept the mission statement and agree to abide by it as a member of the community, and that they agree that if they subsequently have issues with the mission statement, they will either work through the formal designated approach to get the mission statement changed, and/or (if not successful) agree to either leave the community or abandon their dissent and appropriately and positively be bound by the mission statement as it changes.

This statement should also acknowledge that if the mission statement subsequent changes via the provision for amending it that exists, they agree to accept the revised mission statement, and/or to attempt its orderly change or to leave the community.

Get them to have their agreement notarized, to further stress their formal acceptance.  This is analogous to the Naturalization Ceremony that new US citizens go through.  They are tested on their knowledge of the US constitution and general form of government, and then they have to complete a formal oath agreeing to respect and uphold the constitution.

This agreement from each member may or may not have any legal force and binding nature at all, but it has a moral status associated with it.  If someone complains, you can say ‘I understand your feelings, but you agreed to this when you accepted our mission statement – see, here’s your signature on the form here; and if you’re not comfortable with it now, you know what your choices are’.

It gives you the moral high ground, in other words.  How you choose to use that moral high ground is up to you!

A Possible Form of Compromise

Although we said your community can’t possibly include groups of people with starkly opposite views, that’s not to say you should rudely reject such people when you encounter them.  Because there is an underlying point of commonality – the desire to prepare for and to survive an uncertain and troubled future.  You agree on that, you just disagree on how to best do this.

Why not suggest – and even help – people with different perspectives to set up neighboring communities.  You can have the hippy commune to the north, the low-tech EMP-safe community to the south, the nuclear bunkered people to the west, and the high-tech group to the east.

If it turns out their view of the future is more correct than your own, then you might benefit greatly from their presence!  And if your community and their community is both flourishing, you have trading partners, a broader diversity of people and resources, and enhanced ‘safety in numbers’.

You are still free to build your community the way you wish, and by welcoming neighbors, this in no way detracts from your vision and mission.

Feb 252013
 
A beautiful country scene, for sure.  But is it also a viable source of water for your retreat?

A beautiful country scene, for sure. But is it also a viable source of water for your retreat?

We are writing this on Oscar night 2013, so let’s use an Oscar linked concept for this article.

Did you ever watch the Oscar-winning movie, Chinatown?  It was nominated for 11 Oscar awards in 1975 and won the best screenplay award.  The movie starred Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway, and – yes, here now is the segue to this article – featured a plot to do with the struggle for water rights in California.

Access to water is a very contentious thing, both in modern times and historically.  A Google search for ‘water right disputes’ brings up 39 million pages.  Depending on where you are, your ability to use the water on your land – indeed, in states such as Oregon, even your ability to use the rainwater that falls freely from the sky – is almost certainly restricted by a mess of state and federal statutes.

While many of these restrictions may seem overly onerous and interfering, at least they provide some sort of certainty and guarantee as to what we can expect with the water that passes through our properties.

And perhaps because of the comfortable certainties we sometimes take for granted, we’ve often had people proudly tell us about their retreat, and how it has a river or stream or creek running through/alongside their property.  This, we are told, guarantees them all the water they will need, and perhaps also promises them a rich bounty of fish too.

They are more or less correct, but only in terms of today.  But what happens WTSHTF and the rule of law crumbles and disappears?  What happens when people still need water, but their other sources of water (perhaps an electrically pumped well, or city water, or whatever else) are no longer available?  They have no choice but to turn to any nearby river or stream and start taking water from it, surely.

So, depending on where you are along the flow of the river, stream, creek, or whatever you wish to call the body of water moving through your property, its normal flow of water, that is currently protected, with any offtakes and uses controlled, restricted and limited, could change drastically if people simply start taking whatever they believe they need.

That’s a problem, but it is only part of the problem.  What also happens when people lose their sewer service too?  Will they start feeding sewage into their stream?  Will they start washing their clothes in the river?  With the loss of electric pumping, will they take their herd of cattle to the river to drink, rather than having water taken up to cisterns and troughs, with the cattle defecating, urinating, and disturbing the water while there?

Maybe the person upstream from you will even throw dead animals in and generally use ‘your’ stream as ‘nature’s automatic trash removal service’?

All of a sudden, you find yourself either with no water at all, or with polluted water that’s not safe to drink.

Oh – and the fishing?  How well is that going to work when the guy upstream from you, and the guy downstream from you, both throw nets across the entire river, preventing any fish from getting to your stretch of water?

Now – don’t get us wrong.  We like water, and there’s nothing more scenically enhancing than having a ‘safe’ water flow through your property year round.  If there’s a chance to use it for hydro power generation, then so much the better – but note our careful use of the word ‘safe’.  You don’t want a river that has such a volume of water that it is changing its path, eroding its banks, and possibly prone to flooding your fields on occasion.

When evaluating any water that flows through your property as a suitable source of water and possibly fish, you need to very carefully understand what happens to every foot of that water flow from where it first starts, and all the way along its journey to where it enters your property, and some distance beyond as well.  Maybe the guy upstream might build a dam and divert the water’s flow entirely.  And if there’s any danger of someone downstream of you building a dam or in some other way blocking the water flow or causing the river to burst its banks and spill out over your land, that’s something you want to know about too.

It isn’t just your immediate neighbor upstream of you.  Each person from the water source to you can impact on the quality and quantity of water available to you.

And your problems may not only relate to ‘good’ uses of the water.  Maybe the guy upstream from you – or the guy upstream from him – wants to force you (or your neighbor, or both of you) off your land and so they will simply block the river upstream of you and suddenly what was fertile land and easily irrigated becomes neither.

Go watch some more movies.  There’s a dozen or more westerns involving disputes over water rights.  Should we also point out that, at least in the movies, the disputes were seldom peaceably resolved?

There’s another flip-side to this issue too.  If you are planning on being able to help yourself to water from the stream WTSHTF, how do you think the people downstream of you will feel if the water that they too may be relying on diminishes in flow?  Someone, somewhere, is not going to passively accept the change from a healthy flow of water to a muddy polluted trickle of effluent, and is going to start going upstream and ‘persuading’ people to ensure that he can get ‘his’ ‘fair’ ration of water, too.  Note the quotes around those two terms; water rights are truly a contentious subject and people have very different perspectives as to what is right and fair, depending on their situation and needs.

Our point is simply this :  You can’t rely on the current state of water flow on your property, with the underlying assumption being that everyone who potentially could do something to the state of the waterway will continue to abide by every one of the sometimes annoying and restrictive regulations that attach to the rivers and streams that may flow through our land.

If you are in an area which needs supplemental water, and if it is realistic to expect that people will turn to the water source flowing through your property for their water needs (which, after all, is actually exactly what you may be planning to do yourself, too!) then you need to be sure that there’ll be enough water for everyone, including the people downstream of you, because if everyone doesn’t get enough water, disputes will break out, and with people’s survival at stake, the disputes won’t merely involve writing nasty letters and filing law suits to be litigated through the courts over the course of many years and many appeals.  They will get violent.

This also points to another thing.  After TEOTWAWKI, people’s use of the land they are on will surely change.  In some cases, land will be abandoned, but in other cases, land will start to be farmed more extensively and, as best possible, more intensively too.  It is not enough to only understand what might happen to the water flowing through your property today, you also have to guess how this might change in the future.

Some of these future changes could be entirely unexpected.  What happens if someone starts some sort of factory that either consumes a significant amount of ‘your’ water, and/or discharges waste into the stream?

The more you think about that beautiful stream currently flowing through your property, the more you should come to realize that you can’t take it for granted in a Level 3 or even Level 2 situation.  In other words, even if you have what seems to be a perfectly good river/stream providing water to your property today, check out alternate sources of water so that you’re not relying on a single water source in the future.

Feb 222013
 
The red states are the states with the least restrictive firearms controls, according to the Brady Campaign.

The red states are the states with the least restrictive firearms controls, according to the Brady Campaign.

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence is not a resource many preppers would expect to be helpful when choosing where to locate their retreat, but maybe if you flip things around, it can become useful.

Sadly, like many other presumably well-intentioned folk who simply don’t like guns, the Brady Campaign distorts the truth in their attempts to push their anti-gun advocacy, and right-thinking people doubtless find it easy to be offended by their myopic half-truths and distortions.

The Brady Campaign publishes a more or less annual report that scores each state based on the gun laws in that state, awarding a score from 0 (actually, it is possible for a state to get -4) to 100.  California scores top, with 81/100.  Arizona, Alaska and Utah are at the other end of the scale, all three getting a perfect 0 (but let’s hope a state manages to dip into minus territory in the future!).

Here’s a link to their interactive state map.  Click on a state to get a detailed scorecard for the state.

The data the Brady Campaign provides for each state is interesting and seems to be reasonably accurate.  While it is far from a complete evaluation of all possible firearms related laws and restrictions (for example, although of perhaps less general interest, it doesn’t talk about things such as restrictions on silencers or full-auto weapons, or whether one can have loaded long guns in a vehicle, or whether it is necessary to volunteer you have a licensed concealed weapon on you when interacting with a law enforcement officer) it still provides a good overview of each state’s approach to gun laws.

For your purposes, you can probably simply flip their study around.  The lower scoring the state, the more you’re likely to feel at home there.

The information on the Brady site also appears to be somewhat out of date.  We rely on an excellent site, www.handgunlaw.us, whenever we need to research a firearms related issue.  The site is fastidiously maintained and usually amazingly up to date, and whenever we’ve interacted with the site’s curator, he has been fast to respond and helpful.

The handgunlaw.us site also has links to each state’s specific legislation and other related information.  Recommended.

Can we observe one curious thing.  If you look at the most restrictive states for firearms ownership (below) these states also seem to be the states with the most firearms manufacturers.  The current gun craziness is actually forcing some companies to now consider moving.  If you find yourself talking to a manufacturer in a firearms-unfriendly state, ask them to move, too.

Summary

According to the Brady campaign, for our purposes the states with the least amount of onerous restrictions on firearms ownership are :

1= Alaska (perfect 0 score)
1= Arizona (perfect 0 score)
1= Utah (perfect 0 score)
4= Idaho (2/100)
4= Kentucky (2/100)
4= Louisiana (2/100)
4= Montana (2/100)
4= North Dakota (2/100)
4= Oklahoma (2/100)
10= Florida (3/100)
10= Wisconsin (3/100)

And the states with the most restrictions on firearms ownership

50  California (81/100)
49  New Jersey (72/100)
48  Massachusetts (65/100)
47  New York (62/100)
46  Connecticut (58/100)
45  Hawaii (50/100)
44  Maryland (45/100)
43  Rhode Island (44/100)
42  Illinois (35/100)
41  Pennsylvania (26/100)

Feb 102013
 
No-one wants to get stuck in the snow.  But surely we do want the right to choose, for ourselves, if we try to travel in bad weather or not.

No-one wants to get stuck in the snow. But surely we do want the right to choose, for ourselves, if we try to travel in bad weather or not.

One of the major dichotomies between preppers and non-preppers is what they expect of the government in a time of crisis.

Non-preppers typically assume ‘We don’t need to do anything ourselves to prepare for a crisis, because if one ever should occur, the government will be there to help us’.  Preppers are more likely to think ‘Sooner or later a severe crisis will occur; one which will overwhelm the government’s ability to care for everyone, and so we need to be able to independently care for ourselves’.

Which is the more correct opinion?  That’s essentially an unanswerable question, but we get hints about the possible answer from occasional regional emergencies and crises.  For example, Hurricane Sandy, three months ago, saw some people without power or water and even without shelter for days, weeks, and in a few extreme cases, without suitable solutions a month and more later.

Lessons from a Level 1 Event – Snowstorm Nemo

As this article is being written, the snowstorm Nemo is dumping snow across the northeast of the US, exactly as had been predicted for some days prior to its commencement.  And this relatively minor Level 1 event (ie short duration and/or of only limited/regional impact) gives us another glimpse of what might occur when something really big and bad occurs without warning.

As reported here, the governor of Massachusetts astonished both his state and the entire country when he announced on Friday afternoon, before the storm hit, that he was banning all traffic on all roads.  Not just banning rear wheel drive cars on freeways, not just requiring ‘traction devices’ on vehicles (ie chains), but outright banning all vehicles, no matter what their snow capabilities, and on all roads, no matter how snow-covered or snow free they may be.  Freeways, highways, surface streets, minor roads, the lot.

The serious of his ban was underscored with the penalties offenders are being threatened with.  Up to a $500 fine and/or up to a year in jail.

Although an extreme and rare measure, his actions were then matched by the governors of Connecticut and Rhode Island.

How would you – how do you – feel at having your state’s governor suddenly announce a total ban on vehicular travel, for no reason greater than a shortly to arrive snowstorm?  Is the greatest nation on the earth’s best response to bad weather to lock its citizens indoors for the duration, and to cower from the storm’s effects?

Is the first casualty of an adverse event to be civil liberty and freedom?  Even a half-decent constitutional lawyer would come up with grave concerns about the constitutionality of such a blanket ban on all forms of travel (other than by foot).

Was This a Rational Act?

But, ignoring those sorts of thoughts for now (if you can) – how exactly is forbidding us from driving anywhere actually helping us?  There’s also the underlying and offensive assumption that we can’t be trusted to act sensibly in bad weather ourselves and that therefore the government needs to decide for us, and issue a blanket ban on everyone’s travel, no matter how able they and their vehicle might be to travel in the snow or not.

There is also the question, not asked by the regular media – in areas where the snow removal crews have literally given up and gone home, what happens in an emergency?  What happens if there is a fire?  A medical emergency?  Or an outbreak of lawlessness?  How can fire, paramedics or police get to the location?

What if you work shifts and were at work when the travel ban was announced?  Or were about to drive to work?

Most of all, and turning now to the question this article is headed by, can we count on ‘the authorities’ – a dismayingly long list of organizations and individuals who claim the power to control and restrict our lives – to act rationally and appropriately when confronting an emergency?  Is it sufficient for us to sit back, do nothing, and rely on the government to save the day?

Or would it be prudent to prepare for extreme and adverse situations and to be able to care for ourselves?

These types of actions reveal another reason why preppers seek a retreat location in some states but not in others.  Where would you rather be – a state which bans you from travel, whether you could safely travel or not, or a state that says ‘You’re an adult, you’re responsible for your own actions, and we already have laws forbidding unsafe types of driving.  Do what works best for you.’?

There’s an uncomfortable feeling of deja vu associated with the governors’ edict banning all road traffic.  It is both different – but also similar – to the decision after Hurricane Katrina to impound the firearms of lawful citizens.

Are the Police Mindless Automatons When it Comes to Enforcing Unjust/Unconstitutional Laws?

We’ve often had people discuss various future scenarios with us and tell us ‘Sure, the authorities may issue unconstitutional bans on all sort of things, but our police or military would never enforce them’.

Unfortunately, that is – and demonstrably – not the way the system works.  Apart from extremely egregious edicts – for example, if the MA governor had said ‘Shoot anyone, at sight, without warning, if they are driving on the road after 4pm’, it is not the role of front line police officers to question the validity of the orders they are given.  They are not attorneys and certainly not scholars of constitutional law and civil liberties.  It is their job to do what they are told to do on the basis of what seems to be, on the face of it, appropriate following of their chain of command and the assumption that their superiors know more than they do about the validity of the orders they are being given.

Typically the police take the pragmatic view that it is their job to simplistically enforce the laws as they are written, and it is the job of the courts to decide if the laws are fair, right, and proper.  Remember, although the police may arrest you and detain you, they are actually not determining your guilt or sentencing you to punishment.  They are simply stopping you doing what appears to probably illegal or harmful activity and delivering you to a court for the court’s decision as to if your actions were acceptable and – if illegal – what the consequences should be.

In that case, the police are as likely to give ‘the benefit of the doubt’ to the court as they are to you.  If they are not sure if a law is being broken or not, but if things feel wrong to them, they will probably assume the law might be being broken and proceed accordingly.

The police will of course adapt their enforcement actions based on court decisions, and sometimes their internal legal department will issue advice and guidance as to how new laws should be applied.  But whereas most normal laws and regulations occur with plenty of advance notice, allowing everyone to consider and prepare their positions for how it will be implemented and enforced, emergency regulations happen with little or no notice and no time for a careful and rational discussion about the underlying validity of the edict or how it is to be applied.

Again, the best answer to the question ‘What would happen/what would they do’ is to look at past examples.

How many police officers in New Orleans refused to seize privately owned firearms?  We’re unaware of any massive resistance at all by the police to that draconian edict.

Has there been any push-back by police at any level, or perhaps by their unions, to the ‘no-one can travel’ orders?  If there has, it sure hasn’t made the papers.  Indeed, unlike the outrage that welled, but only long after the firearms confiscation, there’s been precious little outrage to the decision to ban all traffic.

There are other smaller examples too – small to us, but huge to the people affected by them.  How about the man arrested on charges of ‘hoarding’ petrol after Hurricane Sandy – he went to the gas station with three or four five gallon containers, buying gas on behalf of himself and neighbors.  He wasn’t hoarding, he was sensibly helping his neighbors and cutting down on congestion and problems.  But his cooperating and coordinating with his neighbors got him arrested as a hoarder, and none of the people got their petrol.

All of these examples point to one last lesson.  We already know that, as preppers, we’re a minority in society today.  We need to remember that the rest of society does not share much of the same mindset that we have, and in an extreme situation, may (will) not act the way we’d expect ‘rational’ people (ie people sharing our mindset) would act.  We say this not to disparage – after all, it is a precondition and underlying tenet of faith that supports the democratic process that not only does the majority rule, but generally, the majority also rules appropriately and correctly.

When to Bug Out

There’s one more thing for people to consider as well.  This event shows that the authorities will happily suspend our civil rights before something possibly bad happens, because it is ‘best for us’ if they do so.

For those of us who consider bugging out, but who like to delay that decision as late as possible, perhaps it is necessary to rethink that strategy.  If the authorities impose travel bans or 24 hr curfews or call it whatever you like in the future, you’re clearly unable to bug out.  It would be terrible to be just about to leave when a travel prohibition takes effect.

It may be something else – maybe there will be a law passed compelling people to share their food.  Sounds unthinkable?  Not really.  Seizing lawfully owned firearms was unthinkable, banning all travel for any purpose in any type of vehicle also seems unthinkable.  You need – as a prepper – to consider the unthinkable, and to see the world not just from your logical and fair-minded perspective, but from other perspectives too.

As regrettable as it may seem, the possibility of massive changes to our rights and freedoms may make it advisable to bug out even earlier than you otherwise might choose to do.

Lessons for Preppers

Preppers generally predict and plan for a future with a collapse of government and a lack of any government response after a major impactful event.  But there’s another type of future too – where the government goes into overdrive, and rather than doing nothing, might start doing the wrong thing.  Perhaps that is an even worse future, and certainly one which also needs to be considered.

As we repeatedly see in minor Level 1 type events, when TSHTF, even in a small way, the authorities can not be consistently relied upon to always act rationally and appropriately.

Furthermore, incorrect and inappropriate decisions by the authorities are likely to be implemented and applied without any second guessing by the agencies in charge of enforcing the decisions – possibly police and other law enforcement, but maybe other agencies ranging from health to environmental to energy.

Preppers need to anticipate not only a future negative event, but they also need to anticipate dysfunctional responses by the authorities – responses that may harm and restrict the ability of preppers to benefit from their preparations and to survive quietly and unhindered by the authorities.

A plan to respond to a future emergency, while prepared fastidiously to be compliant with all ‘normal’ laws that are in place in normal times, might fail due to emergency restrictions and regulations imposed in the panic of a crisis.

For these reasons, we suggest that bugging out early, and moving to a retreat location where the authorities are less likely to inappropriately respond to problems, is an essential consideration.