Monday, March 30, 2009

What Bittersweet Times are These . . .

. . . that we have to remind ourselves where our allegiances really lie.

Active military and law enforcement may want to take note of the existence of the Oath Keepers, a "non-partisan association of currently serving military, reserves, National Guard, peace officers, and veterans who swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic … and meant it." Their charter document is a list of orders that an Oath Keeper will refuse to obey.

It's sad that it's come to this, but comforting to know that there are those out there who take keeping their word seriously.

RIP: Constitutional Right to Assembly

Yes, folks, infringement of your Constitutional rights is alive and well.

Edited: An update.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Long Emergency: A Plausible Scenario

Many people have some level of preparation for a short-term crisis - say, a temporary power outage. Others who live in areas with known risks like tornados, hurricanes, or earthquakes may have a higher level of preparation, but probably nothing that would sustain them for more than two weeks.

It is important to consider, then, the possibility of a Long Emergency: a critical event causing crisis conditions for periods of months to years. Here is one plausible scenario that should get your attention: a coronal mass ejection (CME) from the sun, striking the earth so quickly that there would be little to no warning. It would fry the electrical grid, plunging the world into a pre-electricity era. Estimates for a full recovery in the United States range from 4 to 10 years.

It's important not to be overwhelmed by these possibilities. While such an event would no doubt impose severe hardship on everyone, there are ways to increase your chances of survival. Everyone should think in terms of the essentials: shelter, food, water. You can purchase water filters and pumps so that, if the tap water becomes unsanitary, you can make it suitable for drinking. You can store food and learn how to grow your own food. You can purchase solar panels (for less than you might imagine) in order to give your home a limited amount of electricity -- enough to sustain refrigeration, for example, by powering your refrigerators for a few hours a day.

I think it's important to approach crisis preparedness with a problem-solving mindset, and to not be overwhelmed by all of the possibilities or by the difficulty of preparing for a life off the grid. Simply cultivating an awareness of all the ways in which we are dependent upon electricity and other vital services, and then coming up with an alternate plan for replacement of those services, will go a long way.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Survivalist Library

The busy pace of modern life and our alienation from knowledge and skills that were once commonplace mean that it is almost impossible to learn every skill or piece of knowledge that we would need in the event of a crisis. Thankfully, books provide a convenient and cost-effective means of filling in the gaps in our knowledge. Here's a listing of books that I've found worthwhile enough to own, grouped by topic:

The Survivalist Mindset
The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes - and Why, by Amanda Ripley
The Survivors Club: The Secrets and Science that Could Save Your Life, by Ben Sherwood
The Gift of Fear (and Other Survival Signals that Protect Us From Violence), by Gavin De Becker
How to Be Invisible: The Essential Guide to Protecting your Personal Privacy, Your Assets, and Your Life, by J.J. Luna

General SHTF
When Technology Fails: A Manual for Self-Reliance, Sustainability, and Surviving the Long Emergency, by Matthew Stein
Just in Case: How to Be Self-Sufficient When the Unexpected Happens, by Kathy Harrison
Crisis Preparedness Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide to Home Storage and Physical Survival, by Jack A. Spigarelli

Gardening When It Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times, by Steve Solomon
Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners, by Suzanne Ashworth

The New Woodburner's Handbook: A Guide to Safe, Healthy and Efficient Woodburning, by Stephen Bushway
Root Cellaring: Natural Cold Storage of Fruits & Vegetables, by Mike and Nancy Bubel
The New Complete Book of Self-Sufficiency: The Classic Guide for Realists and Dreamers, by John Seymour

American Wood Heat Cookery, by Margaret Byrd Adams
Woodstove Cookery: At Home on the Range, by Jane Cooper
Cooking With Sunshine: The Complete Guide to Solar Cuisine with 150 Easy Sun-Cooked Recipes, by Lorraine Anderson and Rick Palkovic

Of course, learning how to do something for the first time, from a book, under stressful conditions is less than ideal. But it's a lot better than having to reinvent the wheel.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

What Are the Odds?

The Economist Intelligence Unit has just released a white paper titled Manning the Barricades: Who's at risk as deepening economic unrest foments social unrest.

The first part of the paper discusses the economic situation at hand; the second part analyzes the likelihood for social and political unrest around the world. This report figures the odds of SHTF in America as follows:
  • 60% chance of successful recovery by 2010 due to stimulus efforts
  • 30% chance of protracted depression
  • 10% chance of dollar collapse, leading to total SHTF.
The authors warn that the threat of serious social uprising is not taken seriously enough:

Indeed, in two important respects the prevalent warnings tend, often unwittingly, to underplay the threat. First, few observers take into account the sheer number of countries that are now at a significant risk of political instability and, second, they underplay the extent to which the risk extends to rich, established democracies. Many still think that the threats are largely confined to the world’s poor and "failed states". The suggestion that disturbances in the developed West could shake the foundations of these societies is broadly dismissed.

Thankfully, the USA is only ranked as "moderately" at risk compared to regions like sub-Saharan Africa. The authors also note that political upheaval may take other forms than merely social unrest, but could also lead to rollbacks in democracy.

Probably the most practical point to take from the paper is that, as the dollar is devalued by the massive stimulus packages and significant inflationary pressures continue to build, those who will suffer most will be those who are heavily in debt. Under such circumstances many will lose their jobs and those who don't will see their real wages shrink, making any debt a proportionally much heavier burden than before.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Notes From a Real-Life SHTF Survivor

This post is long and will take you perhaps an hour to read. However, it is worthwhile. It describes the experiences of "Ferfal," an architect living in Argentina, which suffered an economic meltdown in 2001 and still had not recovered as of 2005 when this information was first published.

Anyone looking for a real-world description of what life is like when society breaks down -- rampant rapes, thefts, kidnappings, tortures, power outages, bartering and black markets, and other sad facts of day-to-day life -- as well as what types of tactics Ferfal resorted to in order to keep his family safe, should look here first.

The Cloward-Piven Strategy

The playbook for the Obama Administration (aside from Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, read from the looter's point of view): by creating orchestrated crisis (i.e., government incompetence is deliberate), the radical left can overthrow capitalism and install a socialist state. This is also known as the Cloward-Piven Strategy. A few choice nuggets from this article:

The "Cloward-Piven Strategy" seeks to hasten the fall of capitalism by overloading the government bureaucracy with a flood of impossible demands, thus pushing society into crisis and economic collapse. ...To achieve their revolutionary change, Cloward and Piven sought to use a cadre of aggressive organizers assisted by friendly news media to force a re-distribution of the nation's wealth....

No matter where the strategy is implemented, it shares the following features:
(1) The offensive organizes previously unorganized groups eligible for government benefits but not currently receiving all they can.
(2) The offensive seeks to identify new beneficiaries and/or create new benefits.
(3) The overarching aim is always to impose new stresses on target systems, with the ultimate goal of forcing their collapse....

Cloward and Piven looked at this strategy as a gold mine of opportunity. Within the newly organized groups, each offensive would find an ample pool of foot soldier recruits willing to advance its radical agenda at little or no pay, and expand its base of reliable voters, legal or otherwise. The radicals' threatening tactics also would accrue an intimidating reputation, providing a wealth of opportunities for extorting monetary and other concessions from the target organizations. In the meantime, successful offensives would create an ever increasing drag on society. As they gleefully observed: "Moreover, this kind of mass influence is cumulative because benefits are continuous. Once eligibility for basic food and rent grants is established, the drain on local resources persists indefinitely."
So next time you shake your head and wonder why we don't know how the bailout funds were spent, or how Timothy Geithner could have known about the AIG bonuses as early as last fall... remember this.


This blog will be a clearinghouse of information on crisis preparedness, survival, and self-sufficiency. May it be of use to you.