Of Two Minds: Surviving 2020 – Plans A, B, and C

Charles Smith at Of Two Minds has an article on Surviving 2020 – Plans A, B, and C

As the bogus prosperity economy built on exponential growth of debt implodes, we all seek ways to protect ourselves, our families and our worldly assets. There are any number of websites, subscription services and books which offer two basic “practical recommendations:”
1. Buy gold (and/or silver) and don’t worry about timing the market as everything else will become worthless.
2. Establish a heavily armed and well-supplied hideaway before everything implodes.
My problem with these suggestions is that they are predicated on a decisive “end of the world as we know it” collapse of civilization.
While I am alive to the possibility of this cataclysm, an analysis of the many feedback loops which will slow or counteract such a decisive collapse suggests other alternatives are even more likely: my term for the slow, uneven decline of the credit/speculative-bubble era is devolution.
I cover feedback loops, historical cycles and why a lengthy devolution is as least as likely a scenario as abrupt collapse in my book Survival+ (free downloadable version is linked below).
In other words, I do not see planning for eventualities as “either/or.” I look at it in terms of three levels:
Plan A: dealing with devolution: government services are cut back, prices for essentials rise over time, fulltime paid jobs become scarce, the State (all levels of government) becomes increasingly repressive as it pursues “theft by other means,” i.e. the stripmining of private assets to feed its own fiefdoms and Elites; most assets fall in purchasing power (value) as the system’s financial props erode.
Plan B: When things become rationed/unavailable, services become sporadic, pensions stop being paid in full, spontaneous homeless encampments arise in heretofore “nice” areas, cities go bankrupt, small businesses go underground to survive the ever-higher taxes being levied on the few remaining productive enterprises, etc.
Plan C: if things fall apart: either move to communities where you or your family have roots (tough luck for all the millions of rootless Americans shifted around by corporate “relocations” the past 50 years) or turn to your neighborhood, town, friends, family, church and other social networks for cooperative strength.
The problem with putting all your resources into a “bug-out” strategy (Plan C) is that it might not come to pass, in which case you’ve misallocated your assets.
This is why I focus Survival+ on structuring a prosperity which will work on all levels. This prosperity has five basic parts:
1. Prepare for hybrid work by developing multiple skillsets, interests and contacts and understand that being productive and reciprocal is more important than getting paid (as I put it: “to take care of Number One, first take care of numbers 2 through 9.”)
2. Develop sustainable, overlapping social networks (self-organizing networks) in which you have more than one place to interact with the same person, i.e. at church or in the neighborhood. I call these non-State, voluntary networks transparent non-privileged parallel structures because they are independent of the State and Monopoly/Predatory Capital Elites.
3. Cut expenses to the bone so you no longer need a large income to “survive.” Consider lowering your taxable income by working less so you’re no longer working so hard just to pay taxes generated by high incomes. (Thanks to correspondent Stephen A. for noting that barter that results in gains is generally taxable. As always, check with the I.R.S. or a licensed tax advisor to confirm what income is taxable/nontaxable.)
4. Reach a new understanding of “prosperity”: health and social wealth are the “treasures” which money cannot buy. Yes, we all need some money, and preserving/growing whatever capital you do have will be difficult and time-consuming. There is no easy “one size fits all” solution.
5. Understand the importance and strength in building and maintaining personal integrity, the one asset we each control in totality and that no one can take from us. All reciprocal networks (financial, political, religious or social) depend entirely on trust, and the bedrock of trust is complete personal integrity.
Much of the devolution we now face is a direct result of the degradation of integrity. This moral/ethical component of financial implosion is glossed over by the corporate media because the Power Elites have implicitly undermined integrity and morality as a means of soldifying their control of the media and of the national income.
Yes, I know this all sounds wonderful, but how do you do it in real life? Well, life is and always has been a do-it-yourself affair. With 200 million+ employable people in the nation, what advice or recommendations can I possibly give to any one individual, when only that person knows their own interests, strengths and potential customers, clients, allies, competitors and mentors?
Let’s start with one simple truth: nobody knows the future. Thus everything we discuss now is contingent on a number of unpredictable interactions. To base our planning on one scenario is to risk misallocating our scarce assets and resources…(continues)

The Organic Prepper: What I Learned During the COVID Crisis

Daisy Luther at The Organic Prepper talks about lessons she’s learned during the pandemic – What I Learned During the COVID Crisis.

…Here are the things I’ve learned.

Trust your instincts.

I began writing about this virus back in January when it was announced that the entire city of Wuhan was being locked down and millions of people were under stay at home orders. With that many people under a mandatory lockdown, I was firmly convinced that this had potential global ramifications.

I had come back from Europe to attend a funeral in early January and was supposed to return on January 28th. After doing the research for the article mentioned above, I rescheduled my flight for March 28th and settled in with my youngest daughter at her apartment to help out with the bills. We immediately began stocking up.

A lot of folks at that time said I was crazy – a few here on my website but more so on other sites that republished my work. I’m no stranger to being called crazy – I’m in the preparedness industry and I like guns, so right there, the mainstream media sees me as a lunatic. It no longer bothers me and I was convinced that this was going to be a big deal.

Every day from January 23rd to the present, I’ve spent hours researching as this pandemic has unfolded. I sincerely wish that I had not been correct, but here we are, still in lockdown in many parts of the country.

You can prepare fast if you’re aware before other folks are.

I had sold or donated nearly everything that my daughters didn’t want before I took off on an open-ended trip to Europe last fall. The other items were divided up between my two girls. So while the daughter with whom I stayed still had a few things, like firearms, water filters, etc., the stockpile was pretty much gone.

By the end of January, I was pretty sure that we were going to see mandatory quarantines or lockdowns here and I began stocking up. It’s important to note that at this point, you could still buy anything you wanted or needed. I grabbed some extra masks and gloves but most of my focus was on food and other everyday supplies. By the end of February, I was pretty content with the amount of supplies we had. I had spent as little as possible on “right now food” and focused most of my budget on shelf-stable items like canned goods, pasta, and rice.

For about $600, we accumulated a supply that would see us through a minimum of 3 months without leaving the house. I figured, if it turned out that I had overreacted, my daughter would use the food anyway.

I also started a personal spending freeze at the end of January. If it wasn’t an item we needed to become better prepared, I didn’t spend a dime. I was able to put back a few months’ worth of expenses while still stocking up. It helped that my daughter was living thrifty in a less expensive apartment with utilities included. I was very concerned about things like cash flow and it turns out, this has been a huge problem for a lot of people.

You can’t always have the “ideal” situation.

There were a lot of things about my situation that were less than ideal. But that’s probably true in a lot of cases. You just have to adapt to the reality of your situation instead of endlessly wishing it was different or feeling that it’s hopeless. “Less than ideal” does not mean that all hope is lost.

First, there was the situation of living arrangements. I have a daughter in Canada and a daughter in the US. My older daughter in Canada has been working longer and was better established. My younger daughter, who lives in the US, was new to the workforce and didn’t have a lot of money so I stayed with her to help out financially. Her apartment is in a lower-middle-class residential area of the city where she works. Thankfully, it is a two-bedroom and I only brought with me two suitcases.

Living in an apartment without much of a yard during this kind of event is not something I would have chosen, given time to seek alternatives. But we all know this crept up fast. Moving was not an option. I focused on hardening the apartment with plywood to put up at the windows, tripwires that could be set up quickly if needed, and sturdier locks. We got some quarantine warning signs that we could post if all hell broke loose as a potential deterrent, and I set up spotlights in the front yard. Currently, they face the stairs to the front door, but in a bad situation, they could be turned around to illuminate anyone coming up to the house instead.

I bought more ammo for our firearms and we sat down together to work through potential scenarios. We developed a “fatal funnel” in the front hallway and added “stumbling blocks” in the front hall that could be shoved in front of the door to slow down an advance. (Just cardboard boxes filled with hardcover books – nothing fancy.)

We made friends with the other family who lives in the building while maintaining our OPSEC. It’s always good to have allies and they have a better line of sight from their upper apartment.

Normally, I would have bought loads of organic food and preserved it myself, but early in the crisis, there was still a question of whether or not we’d have power throughout the emergency and there simply wasn’t enough time at this late date. My stockpile is not ideal – lots of storebought canned goods and carbs like pasta and rice – but it’s filling and versatile.  And most of all, it’s what was readily available. I was able to grab cases of canned fruits and vegetables and canned ravioli when it was cheap and abundant.

So while it isn’t our normal diet or even our normal preps, we’re fortunate to have it. We’ve continued to hit the store weekly for foods that are more “normal” but can easily shift to the stockpile if it becomes necessary.

As you can see there are a lot of things that aren’t ideal from a prepper’s point of view, but when disaster strikes, you have to adapt. So if your situation isn’t perfect, don’t just throw your hands up in the air and give up – ADAPT…(continues)

Click here to continue reading at The Organic Prepper.

LawOfficer.com: Officer Defends The Constitution & Placed On Leave Pending Termination

An article from LawOfficer.com about Port of Seattle Officer Greg Anderson – Officer Defends The Constitution & Placed On Leave Pending Termination

Port of Seattle Police Officer Greg Anderson filmed an inspirational, timely and truth filled video on May 5th.

Similar to what we have been saying here at Law Officer, he questioned why law enforcement around the country was enforcing newly invented rules in light of COVID-19.

“That is not how our job works okay, what really has been pissing me off lately is the fact that these officers that are going out here and enforcing these tyrannical orders… what they’re doing is they’re putting my job and my safety at risk because what you’re doing is your widening the gap between public trust and law enforcement officers,” said Anderson. He went on to say, “I want to remind you that regardless of where you stand on the coronavirus we don’t have the authority to do those things to people just because a mayor or a governor tells you otherwise I don’t care if it’s your sergeant or your Chief of Police we don’t get to violate people’s constitutional rights because somebody in our chain of command tells us otherwise it’s not how this country works those are de facto arrests you know we’re violating people’s rights.”

The next day, Greg woke up and received a message from his chain of command thanking him for a job well done.

He was relieved because like we often discuss in the Courageous Leadership Seminar, law enforcement is often crucified for telling the truth.

Three hours after he was told by his department they were in full support of his video,  Greg got a call instructing him to take down the video.

He refused.

By the next day the video had reached 430,000 views and the agency flat out told him “is time to pull the plug on this.”

Greg responded that “maybe we should embrace this message.”

A few hours later he was told that if if he didn’t take it down immediately and accept a letter of reprimand, the department would take a much harsher approach.

Greg refused to remove the video in part because of the content of that video.

DONATE TO OFFICER ANDERSON HERE

“I thought it was grounded in liberty and integrity and that no one would have issue with it,” Greg says.

“I had to be willing to die on that hill,” Anderson stated.

“The whole message I was trying to share that if you believe something in your heart you have to stand by that message, even if it costs you everything.”

With that, Greg told his boss, “I can’t take the video down.”

His Chief told him, “If you openly defy your Governor, you can’t be a police officer in the State of Washington.”

As is usual in the weak and cowardly leadership that has permeated this fine profession, Greg was subsequently placed on leave and threatened with termination.

Greg says “that I cannot afford to lose my job.”

He has kids and a house but he is steadfast in his beliefs.

And for that Greg Anderson is a hero.

In a statement, Anderson wrote, “I’ve received tons of questions regarding my termination from the Port of Seattle Police. So I figured I should explain. I have been placed on administrative leave (still being paid) pending investigation. I was told by both the agency and my union that this will result in termination due to it being an insubordination charge for refusing to take down the video. I’m not sure what the timeline looks like. I walk un-intimidated into the fray. Thank you for all the support.”

The Port of Seattle Police Department has refused to comment.

Liberty Blitzkrieg: You’re Being Conditioned to Live in a “Smart City” – Resist It

Michael Krieger of Liberty Blitzkrieg writes this article to warn of the dangers of so-called “smart cities” which are really high tech surveillance states, tracking your every movement and tracing every human contact you make- You’re Being Conditioned to Live in a “Smart City” – Resist It.

And at the dead center of it all is Eric Schmidt. Well before Americans understood the threat of Covid-19, Schmidt had been on an aggressive lobbying and public relations campaign pushing precisely the “Black Mirror” vision of society that Cuomo has just empowered him to build. At the heart of this vision is seamless integration of government with a handful of Silicon Valley giants — with public schools, hospitals, doctor’s offices, police, and military all outsourcing (at a high cost) many of their core functions to private tech companies.

The Intercept: Screen New Deal

Each crisis in the 21st century has been aggressively and ruthlessly wielded into a massive wealth and power grab by the American oligarchy and national security state. The big power grab following 9/11 centered around whittling away constitutional rights via mass surveillance in the name of “keeping us safe”, while the money grab after last decade’s financial crisis concentrated wealth and assets into fewer hands while entrenching financial feudalism and making the Federal Reserve and mega banks even more powerful.

Despite the success of this diabolical and intentional concentration of money and power, there’s still too much privacy, freedom and independent wealth around for the imperial oligarchy to feel comfortable. As such, the current pandemic is being used to put the finishing touches on whatever little political and economic freedom remains in these United States.

The lessons learned from prior crises are being rolled out simultaneously this time around while people remain incapacitated at home due to Covid-19. The 2008/09 financial collapse taught those in power they can get away with unprecedented, unaccountable theft during an economic and stock market crash. Similarly, 9/11 demonstrated people will relinquish civil liberties without much protest when immersed in a state of fear.

As such, a new round of society-wide economic pillaging has occurred and is ongoing, while at the same time an equally nefarious agenda to sell you on a completely new way of living — conveniently brought to you by technocratic big tech oligarchs — is in the works.

During moments of heightened confusion and fear, the public is sold and conditioned in subtle ways to accept some new reality they never asked for or wanted. The “smart city” appears to be a key oligarch bucket list item this time around, and I’ve started focusing more attention on it after watching the following exceptionally creepy clip from Reuters.

There’s a desperate and deliberate attempt to emphasize how “smart cities” will benefit humanity and solve a plethora of problems, but the video’s creep factor simply cannot be ignored. Significantly, the plan here seems to be to just go ahead and create smart cities without asking permission from the residents who live there. Thanks to governor Andrew Cuomo, it appears New Yorkers will be big tech oligarchs’ first guinea pigs.

Health care and education represent very big areas of human civilization. Who voted for Eric Schmidt to mold and micromanage New York as if it’s his own personal startup?

As reported by The Intercept:

Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who joined the governor’s briefing to announce that he will be heading up a blue-ribbon commission to reimagine New York state’s post-Covid reality, with an emphasis on permanently integrating technology into every aspect of civic life.

“The first priorities of what we’re trying to do,” Schmidt said, “are focused on telehealth, remote learning, and broadband. … We need to look for solutions that can be presented now, and accelerated, and use technology to make things better.” Lest there be any doubt that the former Google chair’s goals were purely benevolent, his video background featured a framed pair of golden angel wings.

Just one day earlier, Cuomo had announced a similar partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop “a smarter education system.” Calling Gates a “visionary,” Cuomo said the pandemic has created “a moment in history when we can actually incorporate and advance [Gates’s] ideas … all these buildings, all these physical classrooms — why with all the technology you have?” he asked, apparently rhetorically.

It has taken some time to gel, but something resembling a coherent Pandemic Shock Doctrine is beginning to emerge. Call it the “Screen New Deal.” Far more high-tech than anything we have seen during previous disasters, the future that is being rushed into being as the bodies still pile up treats our past weeks of physical isolation not as a painful necessity to save lives, but as a living laboratory for a permanent — and highly profitable — no-touch future.

So we get a pandemic and suddenly the governor of New York is like yeah let’s just let a couple billionaires and their organizations decide what society needs to look like. It’s as brazen as it is dangerous.

In my last piece, I warned that the imperial oligarchy would try to sell the public on the ludicrous idea we need to become China to defeat China. Meanwhile, Eric Schmidt hasn’t been particularly shy about his apparent desire to recreate China’s surveillance state in the U.S…(continues)

Click here to read the entire article at Liberty Blitzkrieg.

 

EFF: COVID-19 and Digital Rights

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading nonprofit organization defending civil liberties in the digital world. Here are their thoughts on threats and opportunities arising from COVID-19 response, COVID-19 and Digital Rights.

Surveillance. Governments around the world are demanding extraordinary new surveillance powers that many hope will contain the virus’ spread. But many of these powers would invade our privacy, inhibit our free speech, and disparately burden vulnerable groups of people. Mindful of the stakes, we ask three questions when analyzing proposals that would provide greater surveillance powers to the government: Would the proposal work? Would it excessively intrude on our freedoms? Are there sufficient safeguards? Different proposals raise different issues. For example:

  • Government has not shown that some intrusive technologies would work, such as phone location surveillance, which is insufficiently granular to identify when two people were close enough together to transmit the virus.
  • Some surveillance proposals are too dangerous to a democratic society, such as dragnet surveillance cameras in public places that use face recognition or thermal imaging, mounting such technologies on drones, or giving police officers access to public health data about where people who have tested positive live.
  • Some technologies, such as aggregate location data used to inform public health decisions, need strict safeguards.
  • No COVID tracking app will work absent widespread testing and interview-based contact tracing. Bluetooth proximity is the most promising approach so far, but needs rigorous security testing and data minimization. No one should be forced to use it.

Many new government surveillance programs are being built in partnership with corporations that hold vast stores of consumers’ personal data. We need new laws to protect our data privacy.

Free speech. The free flow of ideas about COVID-19 is vital. This includes anonymous whistle-blowing about containment efforts, online criticisms of government responses to the crisis, and prisoner access to social media to tell the world about outbreaks behind bars. Governments will inevitably abuse any new powers to censor what they deems false information about the virus. When online platforms increase their reliance on automated content moderation, in part because human moderators cannot safely come to work, those moderation “decisions” must be temporary, transparent, and easily appealable

Government transparency. Government decision-making about the virus must be transparent. When governments temporarily close the physical spaces where they make decisions, for purposes of social distancing, they must adopt new transparency accommodations, such as broadcasting their proceedings. While government responses to public records requests may be slower during this public health crisis, the outbreak is no excuse to shut them down altogether…(continues)

The Prepared Homestead: PRIME Act for Food Security

In this video, The Prepared Homestead discusses the PRIME act (HR 2859/S 1620) which would exempt custom meat slaughtering from federal inspection requirements and allow states to regulate it as long as the distribution in only within the same state.

This bill expands the exemption of custom slaughtering of animals from federal inspection requirements.

Under current law, the exemption applies if the meat is slaughtered for personal, household, guest, and employee uses. The bill expands the exemption to include meat that is

  • slaughtered and prepared at a custom slaughter facility in accordance with the laws of the state where the facility is located; and
  • prepared exclusively for distribution to household consumers in the state or restaurants, hotels, boarding houses, grocery stores, or other establishments in the state that either prepare meals served directly to consumers or offer meat and food products for sale directly to consumers in the state.

The bill does not preempt any state law concerning (1) the slaughter of animals or the preparation of carcasses, parts thereof, meat and meat food products at a custom slaughter facility; or (2) the sale of meat or meat food products.

See also Real Milk: PRIME Act Reintroduced in Congress

…The PRIME Act would give states the option of passing laws to allow the sale of custom-slaughtered and processed meat in intrastate commerce direct to the consumer and to venues such as restaurants, hotels, grocery stores, and boarding houses. Federal law currently prohibits the sale of custom-processed meat; meat from a custom facility can only go to the individual or individuals who own the animal at the time slaughter takes place–a requirement costing farmers a substantial amount of business. Many potential customers either don’t have the funds to buy a whole animal or the freezer space to store it.

Farmers who sell meat by the cut must use a slaughterhouse that has an inspector present during the actual slaughtering. Many communities in the U.S. have custom facilities nearby but not inspected slaughterhouses; this means hauling the animals several hours to an inspected facility, driving up the farmer’s costs and stressing the animals. There are places in this country where the farmer has to book a year in advance with the slaughterhouse under inspection for the slaughtering of livestock.

The decline in slaughterhouse infrastructure since the passage of the Wholesome Meat Act in 1967 has been one of the biggest problems small farmers face. The Wholesome Meat Act gave the federal government jurisdiction over meat processing and sales in intrastate commerce. At the time the Act passed, there were nearly 10,000 slaughterhouses in the U.S.1; as of January 1, 2019, there were 2,766.2

Passage of the PRIME Act is more important than ever. There continues to be growing demand for grass-fed beef, but with the lack of local slaughterhouses, small farmers are missing out on much of that business. Instead of business that could go to small American farmers, imported “grass-fed” beef has the dominant market share in the U.S. According to reports, 75% to 80% of grass-fed beef sold in this country is imported. Due to lax country-of-origin-labeling laws, much of this meat is labeled as being produced in the U.S…3

Bayou Renaissance Man: State Bailouts, Possible Violence

Peter Grant at Bayou Renaissance Man has written an article about states looking for bailouts via coronavirus funding and the exacerbation of the possibilities for violence from dwindling government assistance in Bailing out the states: the momentum – and the prospect for violence – builds

…Essentially, many state and local governments are using the pandemic as an excuse to suspend constitutional rights and liberties, and govern by decree.  They’re now trying to extend that to the federal government as well, by making it dance to their fiscally irresponsible tune.  As the American Spectator points out, “Now that officials have learned they can suspend our civil liberties by edict, expect such “emergency” measures any time there’s another crisis, real or perceived.”  I expect that’ll apply to bailouts as well.

I don’t think those agitating for a federal bailout, using the economic misery generated by the pandemic as a lever to apply pressure, have thought this through.  If their residents find that government largesse is no longer flowing (at least in the amounts they want);  and if they believe (or have been told, loudly and repeatedly, by their politicians) that they’re entitled to such largesse;  then they’re going to get out of control and try to take what they want.  The results are likely to be catastrophic for law and order, and civil society.

I think the ordinary people of America realize this.  After all, that’s why they bought more guns in March than any other month in previous US history.  They’re getting ready to defend what’s theirs – and I believe they’re right in anticipating the need to do so.  Again, bold, underlined text is my emphasis.

“Simply put: I wanted peace of mind when it comes to the safety of my family,” Eaton said.

. . .

“To me, it’s all about protecting my family, and if a gun makes that easier, so be it,” Scott, a California tech worker with a wife and daughter, said.

Many of the new gun owners cited concerns about personal protection as states began emptying jail cells and police departments announced they would no longer enforce certain laws. Jake Wilhelm, a Virginia-based environmental consultant and lacrosse coach, purchased a Sig Sauer P226 after seeing Italy enact a nationwide lockdown on March 9.

“[My fiancée and I] came to the conclusion in early March that if a nation like Italy was going into full lockdown, we in the U.S. were likely on the same path,” Wilhelm said. “Given that, and knowing that police resources would be stretched to the max, I decided to purchase a handgun.”

. . .

“I think a lot of people were afraid of exactly what’s happening now,” Viden said. “They’re afraid if it continues to go on longer, things are going to get worse.

. . .

The fear extended past the disease to how communities would bear the strain of job loss, lockdown orders, and law enforcement policies adopted in the wake of the spread. One Tampa inmate who was released over coronavirus concerns has now been accused of murder, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Brian, a 40-year-old living near Tampa, lost his full-time bartending job in March but was concerned enough about deteriorating public safety that he dipped into his savings to purchase a Smith & Wesson M&P Shield.

“My biggest fear is that our local police force comes down with the virus,” he said. “If the good guys are all out sick, who is going to stop the bad guys? When people have no hope, they get desperate. And we fear the worst is to come.

More at the link.

You want to know why my friends want me to upgrade their rifles?  You want to know why I’ve been warning about COVID-19 as a threat to personal security, and suggesting ways to keep your shooting skills honed, even during the lockdown?  You want to know why I wrote my recent three article series about personal defense rifles?  Look no further.  To quote a sixties trope, “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.”  As I pointed out a few weeks ago, the grasshoppers are already coming after the ants.

I expect that problem to become exponentially worse during the next two to three months.  Other observers are even more pessimistic than I am.  (Try this one as an example:  “The economy is dead on arrival, the pin to the grenade has already been pulled, the majority of Americans simply don’t realize it yet.”)

I don’t think it’s going to be as bad as that, but it’s certainly going to be a very difficult few years ahead.  I can only hope and pray that the worst expectations and predictions are wrong.

Click here to read the entire article at Bayou Renaissance Man.

Organic Prepper: All-Out Civil Unrest to Erupt?

Photo courtesy Newsweek

Daisy Luther at The Organic Prepper has a piece up about widespread unrest because of stay at home orders and economic carnage – Tempers Are Flaring Over Lockdown, Masks, and Money: Is All-Out Civil Unrest About to Erupt?

Across the nation, tempers are flaring over the continued lockdowns in many parts of America, and also on the requirement to wear masks in public. I wrote previously about the possibility of civil unrest over the lockdowns, and unfortunately, it appears that’s where we’re headed.

The longer the lockdowns are continued, the more likely it is that we are going to see violence erupt.

People seem unable or unwilling to respect the opinions of others with regard to COVID19, which has affected every family differently. Some are devastated by the loss of or risk to loved ones, while others are struggling to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads. Others are rightfully concerned about the losses of liberty that we’re seeing. All of these concerns are valid, and not mutually exclusive.

Some violence has already occurred over mask requirements.

Just over the past couple of days, there were several disturbing incidences of violence when people refused to wear face masks in businesses that required it. Whether or not you think that you should be wearing masks, violence toward employees is not the answer. People working in retail just want to keep their jobs, and unfortunately, that sometimes leaves them in the vulnerable position of having to police customers who don’t want to comply with store policies.

A physical fight erupted at a gas station in Decatur, Illinois when a customer refused to don a mask to pay for his fuel. Sgt. Brian Earles with Decatur Police spoke to the press about the incident. It seems that a 59-year-old customer got into a verbal altercation with a 56-year-old cashier when he was trying to pay for gasoline without a mask, as is mandated by the state of Illinois. The customer allegedly shoved the cashier, who said he felt threatened, and the cashier responded by punching the customer in the face. The customer was arrested and charged with battery over the incident.

In Holly Michigan, a Dollar Tree customer refused to follow the posted store policy of wearing a mask. When a young female employee approached him and let him know of the policy he responded by saying, “Here, I will just use this as a mask,” and wiped his face on her sleeve. The customer continued to behave belligerently until he left. The entire incident was caught on store surveillance.

At a Family Dollar store in Flint, Michigan, the most violent response yet occurred when Calvin Munerlyn, a security guard for the store, was shot and killed after he refused to allow a customer’s daughter to come into the store without a mask.

Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton said Sharmel Teague “began yelling at Munerlyn and spit at him and Munerlyn told her to leave the store and instructed a cashier not to serve her.”

Sharmel left the store. About 20 minutes later, she returned with two men who officials identified as Larry Teague and Ramonyea Bishop. The two men confronted Munerlyn, and Bishop shot Munerlyn in the back of the head, the prosecutor’s office said.

Bishop is Sharmel Teague’s son, the office said. (source)

Sharmel Teague and both men have been charged in Munerlyn’s death.

Anti-lockdown protests are spreading across the nation.

A lot of people aren’t formally protesting – they’re simply ignoring restrictions. Parks and beaches have been full of people who are sick of being stuck at home. Police officers are fed up with going out to break up crowds and enforce social distancing.

While some states are beginning to lift lockdowns, others are not. Protesters across the United States are demanding that restrictions be lifted. The Hill reports that protests are taking place in California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Tennessee, and Washington. There are also protests occurring in Massachusetts, Vermont, and Maine, as well as North Carolina.

Protests are scheduled this coming weekend in Oregon, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Louisiana, and Wisconsin…(continues)

Click here to read the entire article at The Organic Prepper.

Raconteur Report: Remember These -Clowns?

Aesop at Raconteur Report is an anesthetist currently dealing with covid-19 patients. He has been commenting on the pandemic for weeks now and has become increasingly fed up with people’s ability to believe only what they want to in regards to the virus. In Remember These —Clowns? Aesop once again tackles the ridiculously incompetent viral interview by Drs. Dan Erickson and Artin Massihi from California who foolishly estimated a fatality rate of 0.03% for the virus based on their own inability to understand statistics. As previously noted, Aesop has been fed up for a few weeks, so his articles are liberally sprinkled with colorful epithets which may well be offensive to some.

…I asked four doctors at work this week about the (now banned) video; they’d all seen it, and I got three facepalms, and one double facepalm, by way of their thoughts on the content. The latter from someone who went to medical school with them. Emergency medicine is a very small pond, as it turns out.

But it also turns out I wasn’t the only one to see through their bullsh#t in about a minute.
Besides about a hundred YouTube and Twitter takedowns of their ascientific horsesh…er, rose fertilizer, everyone not wowed by their name-imprinted scrub tops has pretty much debunked every bit of malarkey they pimped last week. To the point that even the MSM has taken official notice of what legendary internet idiots they were:

(KQED) Drs. Dan Erickson and Artin Massihi, co-owners of Accelerated Urgent Care, which offers Bakersfield’s only private walk-in COVID-19 testing site, held a press conference on April 22 to report their conclusions about COVID-19 test results. During the conference, broadcast on YouTube, the doctors said that 12% of Californians tested so far have been infected. Extrapolating that to the general population, they estimated that as many as 5 million Californians have likely contracted the virus. They then used the total number of COVID-19 deaths statewide (roughly 1,200, as of last week) to calculate a death rate of just 0.03% — similar to the average death rate from seasonal flu.

“Millions of cases, small amount of death,” Erickson stressed repeatedly during the press conference, saying fears about the virus were overblown and questioning the need for widespread quarantine measures.

But public health experts were quick to point out the major flaws in the doctors’ methodology – namely that only a tiny percentage of Californians have actually been tested, a group that is more likely to test positive and is not representative of the larger population.

They were also quick to debunk the doctors’ findings as misguided and riddled with statistical errors — and an example of the kind of misleading information they are forced to waste precious time disputing.

The doctors should never have assumed that the patients they tested — who came for walk-in COVID-19 tests or who sought urgent care for symptoms they experienced in the middle of a pandemic — are representative of the general population, said Dr. Carl Bergstrom, a University of Washington biologist who specializes in infectious disease modeling. He likened their extrapolations to “estimating the average height of Americans from the players on an NBA court.” And most credible studies of COVID-19 death rates are far higher than the ones the doctors presented.

“They’ve used methods that are ludicrous to get results that are completely implausible,” Bergstrom said.

In a rare statement late Monday, the American College of Emergency Physicians and the American Academy of Emergency Medicine declared they “emphatically condemn the recent opinions released by Dr. Daniel Erickson and Dr. Artin Messihi. These reckless and untested musings do not speak for medical societies and are inconsistent with current science and epidemiology regarding COVID-19. As owners of local urgent care clinics, it appears these two individuals are releasing biased, non-peer reviewed data to advance their personal financial interests without regard for the public’s health.”

Those who support continuing to shelter in place described the doctors as self-promoters whose chain of urgent care centers would benefit from reopening. Non-COVID medical visits have plummeted during the pandemic, they note, endangering the practices of many doctors.

“As struggling business owners, their economic frustration is understandable. But it can’t be mistaken for science. People trust doctors,” Michigan emergency room doctor Rob Davidson wrote on Twitter. “When they tell Fox viewers to ignore recommendations from real experts, many will believe them. … The impact of rejecting science-proven recommendations in exchange for these erroneous ideas would overwhelm health systems and cost lives. While re-opening the economy might be good for their Urgent Care Centers (sic), it would kill medical personnel on the actual front lines.”

Word to your mother: ACEP and AAME aren’t political organs, they’re professional organizations, representing not two urgent care doctors, but 31,000  and 37,000 (respectively) board-certified emergency room physicians, and they tend to stay apolitical. So when they tell you you’re full of sh#t, jointly, in public, in front of everyone, and make a special web page to make an example out of you and call you out as poster children for how not to do your job, it’s the equivalent of the Pope telling a priest he’d better re-think his doctrine, as the archbishops start pilling up bundles of kindling, straw, and wood around the priest’s feet.

The inside-baseball word is that these two wingnuts may have their board certifications challenged with BCEM, and have it pulled as a result of being this egregiously and publicly stupid. They’re concerned, based on video views before it was pulled, that the average person can’t tell the difference between these two jackasses, and any other ER doctor.

There are limits, it seems, to how big a jackass ACEP /AAEM will tolerate, and still allow someone to practice as a certified emergency doctor.

Which means business at those two idiots’ urgent care center is about to take an even bigger turn for the worse.

I’ve told you before, half of all doctors (nurses, veterinarians, and everyone else) graduated in the bottom half of their class. There’s no crime per se in that, but it also means their degree or license doesn’t trump everyone with more IQ points than they have, who subsequently points out their shortcomings. With a flamethrower.

But those of you desperate for anything to bolster a weak position probably shouldn’t so quickly latch onto guys willing to set themselves on fire, personally and professionally, just to tout conclusions based on something they mined from deep up their own hindquarters.
It never ends well, for anyone.

But it’s always fun to watch from the third-person perspective.

AIER: Why Didn’t the Constitution Stop This?

Robert Wright at the American Institute for Economic Research writes about Constitutional issues surrounding the pandemic and lockdown orders in Why Didn’t the Constitution Stop This?

constitution

The genius of the U.S. Constitution is that the Framers, especially James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, saw it as a constraint on bad policymaking. Given the number of really bad policies that various US governments and officials, from school boards to POTUS, have implemented, especially recently, it is high time to restore weakened or lost Constitutional restraints against arbitrary rule.

Five forces threaten Americans with destruction: 1) nature; 2) foreign powers; 3) the national government; 4) state and local governments; 5) themselves. The threat from 3, 4, and 5 is double-edged, meaning that Americans can be harmed by the actions of those forces as well as by their inaction.

The national government, for example, can harm Americans by being insufficiently prepared for natural catastrophes and foreign incursions, as with Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the 9/11 attacks. It can also harm Americans, though, by doing too much, as with the invasion of Iraq and the way-too-long occupation of Afghanistan. (Relying too much on FEMA instead of states or private initiatives may be another example, but less clear cut than the needless wars.)

The national and state governments are supposed to check each other’s power, so that if one overreaches, the other can thwart it. We usually think about this in terms of “states’ rights” but in fact federalism, as the concept is sometimes called, runs both ways: the states should check the national government when necessary but the national government should also check the power of the states when they overreach, as they sometimes do.

Advocates of states’ rights often cite the Tenth Amendment, which reads in its entirety “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Because the word “expressly” does not occur before “delegated” in the ratified version of the amendment, however, it is among the weakest parts of the Constitution.

Traditionally, though, the states retained primary control of so-called “police powers,” the powers that form the legal basis for the economic lockdowns that have imprisoned most Americans for over a month now. Books have been written about this stuff so obviously I cannot relate all the details and nuances involved but ultimately they matter little in the present case. The key point is that police powers, national, state, or local, do not provide carte blanche to governments. Specifically, the Constitution constrains state police powers in numerous ways.

Importantly, courts see Constitutional rights as tradeoffs between conflicting interests. So while the Constitution says that the national and state governments cannot infringe individual speech rights, they can pass laws that make it illegal for an individual, for example, to falsely yell “fire” in a crowded theater. The notion is that the property and natural rights of the theatergoers trump the free speech rights of the liar.

Similar restrictions apply to the right of assembly. All Americans have the right to assemble with other Americans for any lawful purpose but state police powers, the positive duty of states to protect the physical safety of assemblers and non-assemblers, mean that governments may restrict assemblies through permit systems.

Similar arguments are made to defend the pistol permit systems common in many states. They are bogus but show how far courts go to balance one person’s rights with those of others. If you believe that gun control laws should be followed because they are laws passed by democratically elected representatives you have missed the point of the Constitution, which, again, is to constrain policymakers, to protect individual Americans from the national and state governments and also other Americans.

Just because a majority wants some policy doesn’t mean that that policy is a good idea, after all. I imagine at one point in March 2020 a majority of Americans might have thought it a good idea to deport, tax, infect, or maybe even kill Chinese-Americans in order to make “them” pay for what “they” did to “us.” (I don’t want to link to evidence of that … just look at your social media feeds if you need evidence.) That is a typically ugly human reaction to trauma but one that would have been proven empirically wrong as well as morally bankrupt and economically inane (sunk costs). Thankfully, the Constitution remained strong enough to prevent that horror.

It did not, however, prove strong enough to prevent state governments from taking their police powers too far. They engaged in fancy word play to hide the fact that they acted without a shred of precedent. What they imposed is not a quarantine, which constrains the movement of sick people, nor a cordon sanitaire, which locks people into an afflicted area, nor a protective sequestration, which locks people out of an unafflicted area. Instead, they have implemented partial martial law (military rule essentially) by imprisoning Americans in their own homes without due process of law and stolen their property by shuttering their businesses. (Some recompense has been attempted but of course only bluntly and at a cost to all taxpayers, including those in states that did not shutter most businesses.)

Remember, just because a state has general police powers doesn’t mean it can do whatever it wants, whenever it wants, simply because its actions are popular, or passed into law, or urged by some scientist. Imagine, for example, if some executive thought everyone ought to drink bleach, crazy as that seems, and actually mandated it. Would you do it? (Hint: Don’t do it! Even if some guy in a suit or lab coat tells you that you must.) What if some leader believed that the coronavirus is spread primarily by clothing and mandated that we all go naked in public, except for our masks and gloves of course? Or if one thought an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) would solve the problem (and destroy all computers in the process)?

Any promulgation that violates the Constitution, in any way, shape, or form, is null and void. A federal judge has the authority to declare any state law or executive order unconstitutional and demand that it be revoked. Judges generally give governments broad leeway to protect “public health” but the policies must be rational and they must weigh the rights of all involved parties. Historically, many government epidemic responses never got litigated because the crises passed before suits could be brought and because quarantines, cordons, and sequestrations can make rational sense in specific situations. But, again, state governments for some reason have tried to combat the novel coronavirus with novel policies that come with huge negative side effects for everyone — workers, consumers, and taxpayers — and that have and will continue to cause deaths, minimization of which is the ostensible goal of lockdown policies.

Why draconian lockdown rules have not yet been deemed unconstitutional I still do not know, but the fact that a former federal judge who teaches at Harvard apparently does not know the difference between a quarantine and a lockdown might provide a clue…(continues)

Click here to continue reading at AIER.

Mises Institute: Bitcoin and the Theory of Money

It has been a while since we last ran a bitcoin article, but we certainly haven’t forgotten about it. With the economic woes gripping the world, the precarious place of the US dollar, and a lot of uncertainty about everything, gold has risen 12.8% year to date and thoughts turn to alternative money. Here’s Robert Murphy at Mises Institute with Bitcoin and the Theory of Money.

In a modern primer on money mechanics, it is necessary to provide at least an introduction to Bitcoin.1 Consequently, in this final chapter we will first give a basic explanation of what Bitcoin is and how it works. Then we will place Bitcoin in the framework of money that we developed in chapter 2, seeking to answer the fundamental question: Is Bitcoin money?” Finally, we will relate Bitcoin to an important component in the Austrian school’s discussion of money, namely Ludwig von Mises’s “regression theorem.”

Explaining Bitcoin with an Analogy2

“Bitcoin” encompasses two related but distinct concepts. First, individual bitcoins (lowercase b) are units of (fiat)3 digital currency. Second, the Bitcoin protocol (uppercase B) governs the decentralized network through which thousands of computers across the globe maintain a “public ledger”—known as the blockchain—that keeps a fully transparent record of every authenticated transfer of bitcoins from the moment the system became operational in early 2009. In short, Bitcoin encompasses both (1) an unbacked digital currency and (2) a decentralized online payment system.

Bitcoin

According to its official website: “Bitcoin uses peer-to-peer technology to operate with no central authority; managing transactions and the issuing of bitcoins is carried out collectively by the network.”4 Anyone who wants to participate can download the Bitcoin software to his or her computer and become part of the network, engaging in “mining” operations and helping to verify the history of transactions.

To fully understand how Bitcoin operates, one needs to learn the subtleties of public-key cryptography, which we briefly discuss in a later section. For now, we focus instead on an analogy that captures the economic essence of Bitcoin, while avoiding the need for new terminology.

Imagine a community where the money is based on the integers running from 1, 2, 3, … up through 21,000,000. At any given time, one person “owns” the number 8, while somebody else “owns” the number 349, and so on.

In this setting, suppose Bill wants to buy a car from Sally, and the price sticker on the car reads “Two numbers.” Bill happens to be in possession of the numbers 3 and 12. So Bill gives the two numbers to Sally, and Sally gives Bill the car. The community recognizes two facts: first, the title to the car has been transferred from Sally to Bill, and second, Sally is now the owner of the numbers 3 and 12.

Further suppose that in this fictitious community an industry of thousands of accountants maintains the record of ownership of the 21 million integers. Each accountant keeps an enormous ledger in an Excel file. The columns run across the top, from 1 to 21 million, while the rows record every transfer of a particular number. For example, when Bill bought the car from Sally, the accountants who were within earshot of the deal entered into their respective Excel files “Now in possession of Sally” in the next available row, in the columns for 3 and 12. In these ledgers, if we looked one row above, we would see “Now in the possession of Bill” for these two numbers, because Bill owned these two numbers before he transferred them to Sally.

Bitcoin Car Sale

Besides documenting any transactions that happen to be within earshot, the accountants also periodically check their own ledgers against those of their neighbors. If an accountant ever discovers that his neighbors have recorded transactions for other numbers (i.e., for deals for which the accountant in question was not within earshot), then the accountant fills in those missing row entries in the columns for those numbers. Therefore, at any given time, there are thousands of accountants, each of whom has a virtually complete history of all transactions involving all 21 million numbers…

Click here to read the entire article at Mises Institute.

Off Grid Ham: Small Solar Can Give Big Results

Chris Warren at Off Grid Ham has another good article up on small solar arrays for power, Small Solar Can Give Big Results…If You Play It Right.

Call now! Operators are waiting! small solar power

You’ve probably seen the campy ads hawking small solar power systems and “solar generators”. These ads make some remarkable claims and the manufacturers are deliberately vague on the technical specifications of these products. They further fuzz up the facts with unrealistic depictions of hypothetical situations. small solar power

I especially get a chuckle from the TV commercial showing happy, cheerful kids playing a board game in a large, well-lit house during a power outage and raging storm outside. The entire house is powered by, we’re supposed to believe, the advertised product which is a small battery pack weighing almost nothing and fits under the bed. Are small solar power systems worthwhile, or are they junk? As anyone with at least one functioning brain cell should suspect, the truth lies somewhere in the middle grey area.

Pictures are better than words. small solar power

This video was recently posted to the Off Grid Ham YouTube channel. It’s just over three minutes long and demonstrates the power of small scale solar.

Small scale solar has been addressed on this blog before, and my advice is still the same. If you are looking to take amateur radio off grid with solar, your best option is a purpose built home brew system made from components that you personally selected for your application. Furthermore, a DIY system is almost always less expensive. If you don’t care about cost and just want a plug-and-play “solar generator,” then by all means go drop several hundred dollars for a glorified battery in a box (you’ll lay out another few hundred on a matching panel to charge it). To be fair, it’s a very cool looking box but in the end you’re only paying for looks so in that regard you’re getting your money’s worth. small solar power

I’m not knocking the functionality of these products. They actually do work very well if used within reasonable expectations. I’m sour on them because of their breathtaking price tags and marketing that vastly oversells their capabilities. The ads are targeted to non-technical people who will not bother or know to ask the right questions. The technically-savvy people who know what to look for will have a hard time finding even basic specifications such as amp-hour ratings on batteries. The information is usually dumbed down with generic statements like, “runs a laptop for twelve hours!” small solar power

The bottom line: They work, if you keep it real.

small solar power

Off Grid Ham original photo ©2017

The bottom line is that small solar power systems do work, up to a point. Forget about powering your house through a storm with anything that will fit under a bed, unless there is physics-defying alien technology out there I haven’t heard of yet. But if you need to run a QRP radio, charge up your handhelds, and have some juice leftover for other needs, a little 50-150 watt solar setup paired with a modest battery should suit the job just fine. And you don’t need to plop down six hundred-plus dollars to do it.

In the video a continuous 50 watt load is easily supported by the small system. It gets better: The system in the video is overbuilt for a 50 watt load. I used it for demonstration purposes, but you could get by with much less…(continues)

Click here to read the entire article at Off Grid Ham.

The Prepared Homestead: Coronavirus – Six Actions You Should Be Taking Now

The Prepared Homestead has a video out talking about six steps that you should taking right now in regards to the pandemic and resultant/simultaneous supply chain/economic problems. He covers (1) sizing up the situation, (2) scenario development – best, most likely, worst case, (3) taking stock of your financial situation, (4) topping off supplies, (5) growing some of your own food, (6) working on your health. Much of one and two will be familiar to you if you’ve taken or read Forward Observer‘s SHTF Intelligence or Area Study book/classes.