AIER: Tell Me Again How Governments Are Essential

Joakim Book at the American Institute for Economic Research rants about the uselessness of governments in Tell Me Again How Governments Are Essential.

I don’t like governments. I don’t like how they are set up, how they’re ruled, how their existence furthers a one-size-fits-all approach to complicated social problems, or how they distort markets and behavior when they grab a share of every productive economic activity that they can spot. I don’t like how they’re the antithesis of liberty, and I particularly don’t like how their services – almost always and everywhere – are subpar.

It would be one thing if governments took 50%, 60%, or 75% of the value you created but gave you such excellent services in return that you felt like you got your money’s worth.

Instead, we get a hodgepodge of regulatory failures, bank bailouts, dead kids in the Middle East, and a runaway national debt, while politicians live grand lives at the expense of the subjects they pretend to represent. Emergency by fake emergency, they grow in size, inching the battle lines of respectable power wielding a little further each time.

Everyone I know has stories about government malpractice, about navigating impossible bureaucratic jungles, about unfair tax practices or creatively interpreted conditions that render the service for which they’re supposedly eligible less than useful.

God knows there are plenty of such stories in the private sector too (dig deep enough and you often find an unsuited government programme or regulation at the bottom of that) but at least private enterprises are financially punished for providing lousy services. And usually there are plenty of options if you want a replacement.

Proponents of governments or social democracy more broadly are often untroubled by stories of obvious government incompetence or inefficiency: that it’s always 45 minutes on the phone before one gets answers to simple questions about arbitrary tax rules; that it’s 10 weeks delay for a simple piece of paper; that every five years or so I must renew official documents that they demand I have, at my own expense. They happily shrug them off as one-offs: bugs and accidents in an otherwise well-functioning system.

It doesn’t take many steps down Alice’s more conspiratorial rabbit hole before you start thinking that the unending stories of government incompetence are connected. That it’s not by chance that government services are so bad. To put it bluntly: this is what governments do and what governments are. They are obstacles in the way: bureaucratic hurdles for the rest of us to move around. They don’t build or create anything; they live off the creation of others.

My latest story is an outstanding transaction I have with the Danish tax authority since 2017. A few years before I had the audacity to put some of my meagre leftover savings (after governments had pilfered their share) in a handful of shares in a Danish company. That was my first mistake: in a world of spendthrift governments, thou shalt not save or invest but merely spend (under certain circumstances, you may buy government bonds to keep down the interest rate on the government debt).

Through a quirk of international capital taxation that I most certainly don’t understand – and if I had to venture a guess: almost nobody does – many countries centered on taxing dividend payments from listed companies at 15%. We can argue over the ethics or efficacy of taxing money that has already been taxed several times (in consuming the company’s products and services, or through corporate income tax), but that’s not the point. Many tax systems adjust to deal with this, automatically deducting in your tax returns the dividend taxes that foreign governments have withheld against your domestic tax bill. Standard government bureaucrats shuffling money around without actually making much of an impact on anything, but since that’s what governments do nobody was much surprised.

A few countries then discovered a sneaky flaw in the system. If they upped their rate above 15% to, say 27% in the case of Denmark or 35% for Finland, they could pocket the difference if foreign shareholders were too lazy to file the papers that would claim back the excess tax. With a stroke of a legislating pen, there’d be more tax funds in the Treasury, involving only the processing of some supporting documents and a few more hires at the relevant tax authorities: a victory for everyone but taxpayers, naturally.

I was not too lazy (even though my time would have been better spent doing precisely anything else). In the winter of 2016-2017 I gathered the documents I needed, I navigated the Danish tax authority’s forms and websites, and submitted everything. A few months later, I received a confirmation that my issue had been received and was being processed. Great: I was on track to get back the lordly sum of DKK 76.68 – or about $11 at the time. More for me, and less for them – precisely in line with my ideological priors.

Then began a long stretch of silence. I made a note in my calendar to periodically remind me, but I mostly forgot about the issue. Some time in 2018, I think, I received a letter from the Danish authority saying that they’ve run into some obscure problem and that the process had been delayed: they guided, as is the way of enlightened government bureaucrats, 12-18 months.

Of course, while I waited, my 76.68 Danish Crowns were not earning interest and if anything were slowly depreciating in their purchasing power. Again, as is the government’s way.

Last week, almost four years to the date after the issue had first been recorded with the Danish authority (and about 12 months longer than the maximum they had estimated), I received the attached letter in the post saying that they had been subject of some unspecific fraud and were further investigating all claims – and estimated another 18 months before payout.

Intriguingly, they mention something about paying interest for the delay. When I peruse the legalese of relevant Danish tax law, it seems to say that it will run at the official central bank rate (0.05%) plus 8%. With compounding, this would be something like 118 DKK (about $19 on today’s exchange rate) by the summer of next year.

To be seen is how they crawl themselves out of that one.

This is just one story, and all things considered a microscopically small story. But, as an old saying goes – that has unfortunately fallen out of favor in the English language but whose Scandinavian equivalent is still widely used – “Many a little makes a mickle.” And stories like these are everywhere.

In public finance, we might tip our hats to what Senator Everett McKinley Dirksen may or may not have observed against excessive government spending: “A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money.” Of course, that was before the Great Inflation, and these days the same sentiment must be expressed with “trillions.”

I’m still routinely shocked that people think governments are essential to the operating of civilized life and crucial for our well-being. The more interactions like these that I have, the more confused I am that not everyone jumps ship and embraces a smarter world.

So: tell me again, why do we need governments?

Michael Tracy: How the Censors Won

Journalist Michael Tracy writes How the Censors Won.

Thomas Rid testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2017

On March 30, 2017, the Senate Intelligence Committee convened one of what would become an endless series of exhaustive hearings on “Russian interference in the 2016 election.” Media, cultural, and political elites — bewildered and angry — were desperate to get to the bottom of how a former beauty pageant proprietor and reality TV show host could have possibly just won the presidency.

Understandably dissatisfied with explanations that would require any kind of reckoning with their own seismic faults, politicians and journalists poured an enormous amount of resources into directing blame for the ascendance of Donald Trump at nefarious external actors, with Russia and its devious online trolling initiatives suddenly catapulted to public enemy no. 1.

The star witness in that 2017 hearing, appearing right alongside former National Security Agency chief Keith Alexander, was Thomas Rid. Impressively presented by C-SPAN as a “War Studies Professor” at King’s College London, Rid made a passionate case that the US body politic had been woefully unprepared to contend with an onslaught of what he called “the dark art of disinformation.” Rid’s mission was to alert the Senate and the Nation as a whole to just how dire a threat this new breed of “disinformation” posed.

Rid placed particular emphasis on the problem of “unwitting agents” getting duped into advancing the geopolitical objectives of hostile foreign states, in this case Russia, by aiding in the propagation of their “disinformation” offensives. “Three types of unwitting agents stand out,” he intoned, remarking on the various culprits for the polluted political atmosphere which purportedly enabled Trump’s rise. “WikiLeaks, Twitter, […] and over-eager journalists aggressively covering the political leaks while neglecting or ignoring their provenance,” he charged.

Later, in his scarily-titled book Active Measures, Rid would elaborate at length on the Journalists Doing Russia’s Bidding theme — lamenting that in the heady days of the 2016 presidential campaign, “reporters, worn down by breakneck news cycles, became more receptive to covering leaked, compromising material of questionable provenance.” Taken for granted by Rid was that the allegedly “questionable provenance” of these materials ought to have been journalists’ paramount consideration, as opposed to whether the materials were 1) authentic (which they were) and 2) shed light on the secret behavior of the country’s most powerful political factions (which they did).

In any event, the three entities that Rid singled out for condemnation in the testimony — WikiLeaks, Twitter, and “over-eager journalists” — either capitulated to varying degrees in the ensuing years to his demands, or were otherwise neutralized. The founder of WikiLeaks was prosecuted by the US government and currently languishes in UK prison, which removed one of the central threats that so troubled Rid. Twitter, whose founder once espoused a relatively maximalist conception of free speech (at least compared to other social media companies) drastically changed its philosophy on such issues — embarking on repeat banning sprees, suppressing newsworthy materials falsely classified as “Russian disinformation” just weeks before the 2020 election, and eventually purging the sitting president from the platform.

Even more excitingly for Rid, elite journalists’ attitude toward the alleged menace of “disinformation” became increasingly indistinguishable from his own. In the years since that 2017 testimony, it was more and more the journalists themselves who led the charge in demanding censorship to curtail supposed “disinformation,” especially if they could somehow speciously link such “disinformation” to “harassment” and/or “violence.”

And the “over-eagerness” of journalists to report newsworthy information that Rid had condemned was replaced by journalists instead harboring extreme paranoia about being accused of aiding scary foreign influence campaigns — and thereby turning into “unwitting agents” of those scary foreigners. That created a new industry-wide taboo against doing anything which may be perceived as assisting in the dissemination of unjustly “hacked” materials, even if those materials are authentic and expose the malfeasant conduct of powerful officials. Thus, in the years since Rid’s testimony, journalists converted into the most vocal advocates for the suppression of online political speech and the constriction of the bounds of acceptable political discourse — in large part to counteract the claimed threat of “disinformation.” Rid had gotten exactly what he wanted.

So he was perfectly justified in expressing pleasure this week upon the publication of the latest Intelligence Community Assessment regarding “foreign threats” during the 2020 election. Rid gushingly proclaimed the document “remarkable” and indicated how “impressed” he was by it, with his pleasure extending to heaping praise on Facebook for having been “particularly proactive” in purging Extremely Dangerous political content from the internet. “Twitter also delivered,” Rid added.

The most telling part of the “Intelligence Community Assessment” was its contention that a key tactic of Russia is “exacerbating sociopolitical divisions in the US.” Variations on this Rid-adjacent theme have frequently percolated in elite discussions of the horrors of “Russian interference” since 2016: the idea that Russia seeks to gain world domination by inflaming domestic divisions in the US and undermining confidence in US institutions, and so journalism which unduly inflames domestic divisions and/or undermines confidence in institutions ipso facto helps Russia. But weirdly, you’ll notice, this decree never seems to apply to by far the most inflammatory purveyors of division in the country, that being mainline corporate media. It’s their foundational business model. Also left out of the equation is whether these vaunted institutions deserve confidence in the first place, or if lacking confidence in them is in fact the only rational response to their deceptions and corruptions.

Those who are expelled from social media platforms tend to be political actors who operate outside the ambit of hegemonic left/liberal corporate consensus, rendering them susceptible to marginalization per the framework popularized by Rid and the Intelligence Community he holds in such high esteem. Which demonstrates the ultimate function this framework: to limit and constrict the range of acceptable political opinion in the US, because deviation from the acceptable range invites accusations that one is “furthering the cause of Russia” (as Rid put it in the 2017 testimony). And during the Trump years, “furthering the cause of Russia” was seen as tantamount to abetting Trump and thereby fascism, which as you might imagine is not the greatest thing for journalists’ career prospects.

After the publication of the Assessment this week, there were momentary flutters of an attempt by corporate media acolytes to hype a zombie Russiagate revival — it was alleged in the Assessment that Russia had technically “interfered” again — but this attempt quickly fizzled. Even journalists groping for a titillating storyline to fill the Trump-sized hole in the media landscape can evidently recognize that this sequel was never going to be as good as the original. And either way, why bother focusing too much on whatever “interference” may or may not have occurred during the 2020 election, if it ultimately did not impede the achievement of the outcome that cultural and political elites so viscerally craved — the removal of Trump.

The comparatively muted reaction to the Assessment provides further evidence that “disinformation” and “interference” are only regarded as existentially dangerous by political and media elites if it can be causally tied to what they regard as a bad political outcome — such as the election of Trump. Imagine if just 42,918 votes in three states had been shifted from Joe Biden to Trump in the 2020 election, and Trump had won Georgia, Arizona, and Wisconsin and thus another term in the White House. Does anyone with basic memory-recall facilities of the past several years doubt for one second that even the slightest indications of “Russian interference” would’ve been frantically hyped again as a causal explanation for Trump’s victory? But with Trump out of the picture, the narrative has ceased to perform the function it served during the 2016-2020 period. So the narrative propagators can just claim victory and move on.

In other words, Rid is entitled to celebrate his role in fostering what is now a far more stringently regulated and policed online information ecosystem. He — the censor — won.


POSTSCRIPT: There’s thematic continuity between Rid’s successful crusade to bludgeon US political and media culture into submission, and the latest round of anti-Substack hysteria that is now reaching a fever pitch among embittered and resentful journalists. Though Rid isn’t expressly calling for the destruction of Substack like so many others are, he was a critical figure in inculcating the key premises that underly this escalating drive for censorship — excessively obtrusive “content moderation,” de-platforming, and other speech-suppression initiatives in the name of combatting “disinformation.” For those interested, I was on Tucker Carlson’s show last night discussing the rage-fueled journalist-led drive to destroy Substack.

The Organic Prepper: Americans Aren’t Experiencing REAL Shortages Yet. We’re Just Living with Limited Options

The Organic Prepper talks about supply chain issues in Americans Aren’t Experiencing REAL Shortages Yet. We’re Just Living with Limited Options.

Imagine going to the store to pick up some everyday item – say, body wash for the shower – and not being able to find your usual brand. In fact, you can’t find any brand. The store is completely out so you have to go with bar soap.

In the grand scheme of life, this isn’t a big deal. Soap is soap is soap, right?  But in the United States, we have become spoiled with choices. In even a small-town store, there are dozens of options for body wash, lotion, toothpaste, and all the other things we consider necessary to live a civilized life. Don’t like the fragrance? Just go with a different brand. That laundry soap works better on your delicates and this one works better on work clothes.

Options.

Options.

Options.

This is NOT how it is in other countries. In fact, you regularly have to substitute something else entirely for the item you went to the store to purchase.

I would imagine that is also similar to how it may look in the US as the supply chain continues to crumble and personal finances keep plummeting. After all, in places like Venezuela and Greece, we watched on the news as people stood in long lines hoping to find basics like soap, diapers, rice, and cash from the ATM.

In the spirit of adaptability and resilience, let’s talk about life with limited options.

Some Americans are already accustomed to life with limited options.

Some folks are in positions in which you eat what you’re served, you use the products that are supplied, and you drink the coffee that is available. Your options are to take it or to leave it. People deployed overseas to dangerous places have a few choices on the base instead of the dozens of choices they’d have in the US. This has prepared them for the retail austerity that we’re just lately beginning to see in the United States.

Folks who have lived in poverty for a long period of time tend to be accustomed to a lack of choices because their decision-making is largely driven by price. You don’t see a lot of people who are truly struggling using salon-quality shampoo – they pick up a bottle of Suave or the store brand.

Also, folks in remote areas have fewer choices due to limited transportation. They have a couple of different stores to go to, and the stores must stock the products that most people want, not a broad assortment of specialty items. The advent of Amazon and other internet merchants has helped those in isolated areas have a broader selection, but if the item is needed right away, the choices are fewer.

But the culture of abundance in the US is changing.

We’ve published quite a number of articles on this website about the fragility of our supply chain. Not only are grocery stores showing the strain, but so are clothing stores, hardware stores, appliance stores, and places like Walmart and Target.

All you have to do is walk into any department store. Where do you see the bare spots? That’s where the products we used to get from China used to be. It should be a vast shock and an awakening that so much of our manufacturing has gone to China to give us our quick fix of shoddy yet shiny merchandise at low prices. Nearly all the things that are now limited are because either the product itself or a vital component of it is made in China. Months ago, I warned that we’d soon be seeing supply chain issues of these essentials that formerly landed on a regular basis from China.

And this is just the beginning.

The difference between a lack of options and shortages

The word “shortage” is being thrown around a lot and it’s being misused. The Cambridge Dictionary defines the word shortage as “a situation in which there is not enough of something; a lack of something that is needed.” We had a shortage in toilet paper and cleaning supplies last year, but if we’re being pedantic, we are not currently suffering from “shortages” in food or consumer goods.

What we’re experiencing right now is a limit of options. No longer can you walk into the store and have 17 shades of beige from which to select your bathroom towels. When bopping around internet forums and chat groups, I’ve seen people complaining about this type of thing. We’ve lived for so long with such an abundance of variety that to many folks, it seems positively unthinkable to no longer be able to spend a half-hour waffling between cerulean, navy, and indigo for your placemats.

But it’s important to be clear that at this point, we may not have huge numbers of options, but we can still eat food from every food group, clean our homes, buy socks and underwear, and get dish soap. Real shortages are when there’s simply nothing to buy.

I’ve lived outside the US for most of the past two and a half years, in southern Europe and Mexico, and the type of choices we have in American stores is absolutely unheard of elsewhere. I wrote about the grocery stores:

Let’s take meat, for example. Here in the United States, our stores have a lengthy expanse with hundreds of packages of meat down one aisle of the store. Outside the United States (at least where I spent most of my time) you had a little corner with a couple of chilled cases of meat. In those cases you could find chicken in perhaps three forms – whole, cut up with bone-in, and chicken breasts. For beef, you might find a roast and ground meat. With pork, you might be able to get a tenderloin, a larger bone-in roast, and some pork chops.

Moving along to other sections of the store, produce is not a vast corner with 25% of the contents of the store. It was a small section and the options were fairly basic. You didn’t have 17 brands or types of potatoes from which to choose. You just had potatoes in general in a large bin where you reached in and bagged your own.

There was food, and plenty of it. It was just that you didn’t have 29 different brands of salad dressing. You didn’t have as much processed food. You had access to basics. (source)

So while right now it feels like we have shortages, there are really only a few things that are actually in short supply. Currently, in comparison with many other parts of the world, we still live in the land of plenty. The sooner you adapt to limitations, the better off you will be when true shortages occur.

Living with limited options

The key to not feeling deprived is learning to live within our current limitations. Whether that is a lack of food options, undesirable homekeeping items, or a lack of money, we need to learn to manage this. Here are a few tips to help adapt.

Try to think in terms of “different” instead of “worse.” The most important thing of all is to adjust your mindset away from one of deprivation. Where I live currently is beautiful with a year round growing season. Glorious, farm fresh produce is everywhere. But you can’t find the same kinds of processed foods that are readily available in the United States. At least in the part of Mexico where I live, you can’t pop into the grocery store and buy a frozen dinner or a frozen pizza or the same brands and flavors of potato chips they have in the US. I’ve heard ex-pats complaining about the “lack” of food when it’s literally growing all around us. But it’s different and some people are creatures of habit. Different is difficult for them.

I choose to look at the local food options and see them as a culinary adventure. I ask the local vendors how to cook things like jicama and plantain and they’re nearly always happy to make suggestions. (Although sometimes our conversations take place via a translate app on our phones.)

Your favorite brand of detergent isn’t there? Well, there are two kinds to choose from and the ingredients to make your own. Therefore, laundry soap is available.

Learn to cook with different cuts of meat and in-season produce. Maybe you wanted to make beef stew but there’s no stew meat available. Grab an inexpensive cut of roast beef and either ask the butcher counter to cut it up for you or cut it up into stew meat yourself once you get home. Learn to debone a chicken (here’s a quick video) and be sure to put those bones in the freezer to make some stock later on.

Start shopping for seasonal fruits and vegetables. You’ll save money, eat better, and you’ll be looking for what’s available as opposed to blueberries in December.

Buy locally. I can’t say this enough – you need to shorten your supply chain. By limiting the distance your products must travel to get to you, you will naturally have a more abundant selection. If I were to buy household goods here in Mexico, I could easily find pottery and copper, but stainless steel is an item that comes from much further away, and therefore, my selection is very limited.

This is true of household goods, manufactured goods, and food. Focusing on a local diet is essential for self-reliance.

Produce what you can. Are you producing or simply consuming? Surviving the current economy requires that you be a producer instead of a consumer. It’s not enough just to buy locally. You need to also be producing some goods. Building, sewing, needlecrafts, gardening, foraging, hunting, and animal husbandry skills will be more and more important.

Make sure to stock up on heirloom seeds while you can, as well as supplies and tools for the other items you produce. As well, learn multiple ways to preserve your extra food so that you have plenty to eat when harvest time has passed.

Make things last. Learning to mend, repair, maintain, and alter the goods you already have means you don’t need to replace them as often. Most folks really don’t think about how quickly things wear out when you use the same items all the time. My wardrobe is small since I’m mobile, so I’ve been wearing things out a lot more over the past two years. I hadn’t considered how often I replaced socks or how quickly I’d wear through shoes if I only have a couple of pairs for every day use.  I’ve never darned socks so much in my entire life.

Being able to alter clothing for growing children and for hand-me-downs can help reduce your wardrobe budget as well. Maintaining your essential tools means they will be in good shape when you need them most urgently. Instead of replacing, start repairing. A lot of small components are becoming more difficult to find, so get your spare parts now. Keep a few handy items on hand for quick fixes.

Use creative problem-solving skills. Finally, the most important thing is to learn to solve your problems creatively. Whether you call it workarounds or MacGuyvering, figuring out ways to fix things or make them using limited supplies is one of a preppers most vital skills.

When you have a repair done in Mexico, sometimes the handyman will ask you if you want it done the American way or the Mexican way. The American way will be prettier and the “proper” way to fix it while the Mexican way will be a little more labor intensive, require easy-to-obtain parts, and will be a whole lot cheaper. That’s why the USB port in my Jeep was repaired instead of replaced and why my bathtub gets filled using a garden hose that hooks up under the bathroom sink.

You may look at these kinds of alternatives right now with disdain, but I assure you that the ability to create a “redneck repair” will serve you well in the future.

This doesn’t mean there are no shortages.

There certainly are shortages of things like deep freezers, canning jars, certain automotive components, and specific foods. But we’re still at a point where we can work around this and keep living a lifestyle that is fairly normal.

However, it may not always be that way. As our economy continues to crumble we’ll see fewer imports and less manufacturing. After all, how are people without money going to buy consumer items? We could reach a point at which even if you have money, the items you want to buy are unavailable.

Start living more simply and going by the Great Depression credo: use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.

Tenth Amendment Center: When Can an Originalist Scholar Begin with the Constitution’s Text?

Constitutional scholar Rob Natelson at the Tenth Amendment center writes When Can an Originalist Scholar Begin with the Constitution’s Text?

I. The question

I recently wrote a post for the Federalist Society Blog, in which I examined the Constitution’s enumeration of who can be impeached and convicted. I concluded that the enumeration, coupled with the rules of construction the Founders intended to accompany the document, created a presumption that ex-officers could not be. But I added that this presumption was rebuttable by extraneous evidence.

Professor Michael Ramsey wrote a notice on the posting. He remarked that most originalist inquiries can proceed as I did—that is:

*          examine the text and apply the rules of construction to it, thereby establishing a presumptive meaning, and then

*          turn to outside evidence to see of it rebuts, qualifies, or reinforces the presumptive meaning.

I agree with Professor Ramsey. However, his comment got me thinking about the minority of cases where one cannot proceed in that manner. These are instances in which the text remains unclear even after applying the rules of construction. Moreover, sometimes after examining the text it even remains unclear whether that text is unclear. In fact, what seems obvious on initial examination may be entirely wrong.

In such cases, we must consult outside evidence to establish a presumptive meaning.

Fortunately, the impeachment enumeration I addressed in my FedSoc post was clear, at least as far as I needed to go. However, as explained below, on first reading another impeachment phrase—“high . . . Misdemeanors” —is not.

In this post I offer some guidance as to when an initial resort to extraneous evidence is necessary to establish the text’s presumptive meaning. For illustrations, I’ve mined my thirty or so articles and book chapters on the original meaning/understanding of specific constitutional clauses.

II. Dictionaries

In some cases, I have been able to reach a presumptive meaning by examining 18th century dictionaries. Mind, though, that when consulting dictionaries, one must not stop with Samuel Johnson, because his definitions are sometimes archaic or idiosyncratic. I have about 25 18th century dictionaries in PDF form, not counting multiple editions. Some are specialized, such as dictionaries focusing on law, military terms, Latin, or Law French. Most are general-purpose. When writing on original meaning I consult all or most of them. I find I can learn much from how their definitions vary or track each other.

But dictionary searches can prove inconclusive. Sometimes dictionaries offer multiple definitions, so you have to examine extraneous evidence to determine which one the Constitution employs. Sometimes a term appears in a specialized dictionary, but not in others. Sometimes the definition employed by the Constitution does not appear in any dictionary at all.

Results like this compel resort to extrinsic evidence to determine presumptive meaning. Here are some typical scenarios.  You will notice that some of them overlap.

III. Some Scenarios

Scenario #1: The dictionaries offer several common meanings of a word or phrase, but it is not clear which one the Constitution employs

I encountered an example when researching my article on the Coinage Clause. The Coinage Clause reads, “The Congress shall have Power . . . To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin . . . ” As is true today, during the 18th century the most common use of the verb “to coin” was to strike metallic tokens. Libertarians long relied on the assumption that this was the Constitution’s meaning, and therefore claimed paper money is unconstitutional. Left-of-center commentators relied on the same assumption to illustrate the impracticality of originalism.

However, no one seems to have noticed a textual problem with interpreting coinage as referring only to metal. That interpretation would leave Congress in the unlikely position of enjoying power to regulate foreign metallic tokens, but bereft of power to regulate foreign paper currency.

The 18th century dictionaries reported a secondary meaning of “to coin:” to fabricate. Today that usage is exceedingly rare: a survival is the expression “to coin a phrase.” But a survey of 18th century databases revealed that the secondary meaning was then much more common. People spoke of “coining” paper money, leather money, and so forth.

Thus began a full-bore investigation into the history of money, especially the extraordinary monetary innovations undertaken in the colonies of British North America. After acquiring this background, my presumptive conclusion was that the Coinage Clause authorized Congress to issue and regulate “coin” in media other than metal. Ambiguous comments during the Constitutional Convention were insufficient to rebut this result, and the ratification-era debates only reinforced it.

When researching my early article statutory retroactivity, I encountered another problem with which the dictionaries offered no help. This was ambiguity of the phrase “ex post facto law.” During the 18th century, the term might refer only to criminal statutes, or it could include retroactive civil statutes as well. The framing and ratification records clarified that the prevalent understanding was the former. A search for contradictory evidence led only to confirmation: James Madison’s and John Lansing’s subsequent drive for Takings and Due Process clauses to limit the scope of civil retroactivity.

Scenario #2: A word or phrase with an ordinary meaning appears in the Constitution, but as a legal term of art

In this scenario, a colloquial meaning may appear in lay dictionaries, but the manner in which the Constitution uses the word appears in law dictionaries or other legal works.

Over the years, I’ve been impressed by how often a puzzling word—or even, at first blush, an unpuzzling one—turns out to be an 18th century legal term of art. It’s not so surprising, if you think about it. The chatter about how the Constitution is written in “plain language” is not quite the truth. The Constitution is a legal document and it was written by a group of people about two-thirds of whom had been practicing lawyers. Most of advocates who explained it to the public were lawyers, Madison and Tench Coxe being the most notable exceptions.

Nor were their explanations necessarily unintelligible to the involved American public, because that public was then unusually well educated in law: As Edmund Burke remarked when urging conciliation with America, “In no country perhaps in the world is the law so general a study.”

Of course, you expect a phrase like “habeas corpus” to embody a legal meaning. You don’t expect the same from a word like “necessary.” Yet in research on the Necessary and Proper Clause, I found that the Constitution uses “necessary” as a signal for incidental powers—a very common approach in 18th century legal documents.

Learning enough to establish a presumptive meaning for the Necessary and Proper Clause required deep initial research into contemporaneous law books, documents, and judicial cases.

Other examples of 18th century legal boilerplate reproduced in the Constitution include “Privilege” and “Privileges and Immunities.” A search through contemporaneous law and legal documents found that they denoted government-created entitlements, including very important ones such as trial by jury and “the Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus.” But as the Constitution used those words, they did not comprehend rights established by nature and nature’s God. They were creations of government. Justice Bushrod Washington therefore got it largely wrong in his famous, and somewhat incoherent, passage in Corfield v. Coryell.

It probably comes as no surprise that “direct tax” was another legal term of art. What did surprise me is that the concept was far more defined and comprehensive than commonly supposed.

Both Britain and American states adopted omnibus tax statutes that provided for assessment of certain items and imposed levies upon them. In Britain and some states these were called “Land Tax” laws. But they levied on much more than real estate. They taxed human beings (capitations on both free and slave); status; wealth; professions (“faculties”) and other activities; wages, interest, profits and other kinds of income; household items, livestock, and other personal property. All the levies imposed by these omnibus statutes, and others like them, were called “direct taxes.” (Other statutes imposed indirect taxes, primarily on consumption or discrete events: excises and other “duties.”)

Thus, the Supreme Court’s much-abused case of Pollock v. Farmers’ Loan and Trust Company was correctly decided, for income taxes are direct taxes after all.

Obviously, arriving at a presumptive meaning of “direct tax” required a great deal of work with extrinsic evidence, including but not limited to 18th century tax statutes.

One final example: For decades commentators had argued over the Constitution’s term “high . . . Misdemeanors” as a ground for impeachment. Apparently only one researcher, Raoul Berger, had considered whether the phrase might be a legal term of art. But his investigation, undertaken without the benefit of modern word-search technology, was cursory and unsuccessful. Too late to prevent me from embarrassing myself in print with another hypothesized definition, I finally thought to check legal sources and certain lay sources (such as encyclopedias) explaining legal terms.

The answer was decisive: High misdemeanors were serious crimes not meriting the death penalty, such as bribery (which the Constitution mentions in this context) and assault. A mere breach of fiduciary duty was not, as I previously had thought, a high misdemeanor.

Scenario #3: The Constitution’s use of a term is not in dictionaries at all

Sometimes the framers employed words and phrases in ways that don’t appear in 18th century dictionaries or similar reference works. Instead, the constitutional meaning arose in a context the lexicographers had overlooked.

I encountered this situation when researching the Constitution’s use of the word “emolument.” The dictionary definitions were very broad: “profit” or “advantage.” Those broad definitions, I found, accurately reflected much lay usage, but for various reasons they made no sense in the constitutional text. Hence it became necessary to consult extraneous evidence to arrive at a presumptive meaning.

It turns out that in political discourse, “emoluments” carried any of three narrower meanings: (1) financial gain or, more commonly (2) gain from salary or wage plus associated fringe benefits, or (3) fringe benefits alone. Placing the Constitution’s emoluments clauses within the wider context of a then-current trans-Atlantic movement to reform how government officials were compensated enabled me to fix on what I believe is correct: An “emolument” as the Constitution uses the term refers to gain from a salary or wage plus associated fringe benefits.

Scenario #4: Some of the Constitution’s words are Americanisms

This is really a subset of Scenario #3, because these are usages that do not appear in the dictionaries, almost all of which were published in Britain.

For example, in researching my article on the Taxation Clause I found that “Eighteenth century British lay dictionaries defined ‘duty’ widely enough to include almost any financial exaction” and commercial dictionaries defined it more narrowly. But in American usage, a duty was “any financial exaction that did not qualify as a direct tax.” Thus, a duty could mean an indirect tax or a non-revenue-producing exaction to regulate commerce or other conduct. Other evidence reinforced this presumed meaning.

In 1787, the word “constitution” was an Americanism-in-development. In Britain it referred only to the political system, and that is how all contemporaneous dictionaries defined it. That was the American meaning when the Declaration of Independence was written (“a jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution”), and it was still employed that way in Virginia’s 1786 call for the 1787 federal convention. (Contrary to common belief, the convention was called in late 1786 by the Virginia legislature, not by Congress; Congress’s February 21, 1787 resolution merely endorsed the effort after seven states already had accepted Virginia’s invitation.)

However, the meaning was in flux. The “frames of government” adopted in the states often were called “constitutions.” Then came the U.S. Constitution, whose title sealed the change. A new Americanism was born.

Scenario #5: A word may have a constitutional meaning we don’t suspect because that meaning is now archaic

My favorite example of this—in fact, I think a perfect one—is the appearance of “perfect” in the Constitution’s Preamble. Modern Americans sometimes puzzle over how a Union can be made “more perfect.” This is because we almost always use this word to mean “without flaw.” How can something be “more without flaw?”

The answer is that the more common 18th century use of the term was the Latinate meaning of “complete” (Latin: perficere, to finish). The new Union was to be more complete—more tightly woven together—than the union formed by the Articles of Confederation.

Fortunately, there are not many non-legal archaisms in the Constitution—at least not many that sneak up on you. They are more likely to do that when you read other Founding-Era materials.

A good example was Leonard Levy’s mistaken conclusion that the Senate was to be the primary conductor of foreign policy because the framers sometimes referred to the president as the foreign policy “agent.” Levy didn’t realize that there was another, more Latinate, meaning of “agent” then common. Although an “agent” could mean a representative, it also could mean a “doer” or “driver” (from agere, to do or drive). The founders were using the latter sense: The president, not the Senate, was to be the primary driver of foreign policy.

Of course, you might not realize that a word is an archaism and therefore not think to consult a dictionary. That is one reason I recommend that constitutional scholars immerse themselves in 18th century writings and become familiar with the Latin language. (“But that’s time-consuming and hard!” Answer: “You bet it is.”) Latin was the Founders’ second language and significantly influenced 18th century English usage. If you have it, you see much more.

IV. Conclusion

Professor Ramsey is correct to say that we usually can reach a presumptive meaning of a constitutional provision from the text alone. But there are many situations in which you have to consult extrinsic sources before arriving at a presumptive meaning.

If you find yourself in such a situation, I can offer two sources of comfort: First, much of the evidence you explore while seeking the presumptive meaning leads you to evidence that rebuts or reinforces that meaning. Second, the historical journey is usually fascinating.

Prolonged Field Care: Medical Support to Resistance

Prolonged Field Care published an article originally from the 2019 Special Warfare magazine on Survivability: Medical Support to Resistance  which discusses “a whole-of society approach to preparing military and civilian medical resources that will build readiness and resiliency… improve casualty mortality rates and enable both resistance members and allied forces to sustain the fight.”

Hope is a primary driver of resistance movements, and the best way to keep hope alive in a resistance movement is to keep people alive. There are many aspects to enhancing survivability of a resistance movement, and medical support is one critical part. Doctrinal military health service support constructs, such as combat support hospitals or forward surgical teams, will be wholly inadequate to support resistance movements in a peer conflict in Europe for the primary reasons that they are overmanned and under trained. This article will discuss a whole-of society approach to preparing military and civilian medical resources that will build readiness and resiliency of our allies or partners, improve casualty mortality rates and enable both resistance members and allied forces to sustain the fight to regain territorial sovereignty against an illegal occupation. Medical infrastructure is vastly different in peacetime Europe than in more austere areas frequented by U.S. Special Operations Forces. Medical evacuations begin with calling 112, the European 911 equivalent, ambulances arrive to provide pre-hospital care, sometimes with physicians onboard, the patient is transported to a trauma center, and medical care is generally comparable to U.S. standards. If peer conflict occurs again in Europe, medical infrastructure will be severely degraded and significant obstacles to medical support will immediately arise, especially regarding extremely prolonged evacuation times and scarce resource availability. The U.S. military has not faced as severe a challenge to provide medical support since World War II. The SOF medical community has been bracing for the regression of medical support in emerging conflicts since at least November 2017 when U.S Army COL (Ret.) Dr. Warner “Rocky” Farr published The Death of the Golden Hour and the Return of the Future Guerrilla Hospital; yet the existential threat facing Eastern Europe poses the worst case scenario for medical support to resistance. The restricted mobility for friendly forces in territory occupied by a peer adversary will severely limit external medical support to U.S. SOF and our allied partners, including the resistance. The isolation of U.S. and allied forces in a denied environment will by necessity convert the delivery of medical care from a linear progression of medical evacuations from point of injury to higher echelons of care outside the combat zone, to a cyclical progression of evacuation, treatment, convalescence and return to duty, all completely within occupied territory.

A resistance scenario in Europe presents a unique risk to U.S. SOF supporting resistance movements, as organic capabilities will not be able to provide required medical support in this tactical environment. Recent exercises have demonstrated that U.S. SOF surgical teams will be severely restrained and may not be survivable in a denied environment, and conventional medical forces will likewise be absent. U.S. SOF medics are highly capable within their scope of practice, but over-inflation of their ability results in commanders miscalculating risk; a medic’s ability to reduce serious risk is often predicated on access to definitive care. The Maquis in occupied France and Partisans of Yugoslavia faced similar challenges in World War II but were still able to provide medical support despite great odds. The relevance of these historical precedents might be limited, however, by exponential advances in technology over the last 75 years. Providing medical support to U.S. SOF and resistance forces will be immensely challenging, but there is one great advantage over historical precedence: there is time and space now to enable ourselves and our allies and partners to be prepared to provide medical support to resistance prior to conflict, instead of reacting after a violation of a country’s national sovereignty.

BACKGROUND

In early 2018, SOCEUR conducted a multinational SOF exercise focused on irregular warfare and resistance in the Baltic region of Eastern Europe. Key medical lessons learned from the exercise were that medical evacuation in restricted areas during peer conflict is incredibly challenging, and U.S. SOF surgical teams as currently configured and trained will have low, if any, chance of survival in occupied territory. It was evident that planning medical support solely using only a U.S. military doctrinal construct was impractical and ineffective; civilian medical resources were identified as, and will necessarily be, the center of gravity for medical support to resistance. Resistance doctrine was turned to as a possible solution to the way ahead, but existing doctrine was found to be largely inadequate for the range of potential operational environments in future conflicts against a peer adversary in Eastern Europe. The focus of U.S. resistance doctrine on unconventional warfare and resistance movements assumes that conflicts have already begun or are ongoing. Furthermore, reverse engineering resistance constructs prior to conflict is difficult because it is impossible to forecast who and what will survive the initial invasion. The whole-of-society approach advocated by the Resistance Operating Concept was embraced as a potential solution for addressing critical gaps in providing medical support to resistance.

WHOLE-OF-SOCIETY APPROACH TO MEDICAL SUPPORT FOR RESISTANCE

The SOCEUR Surgeon’s Office has developed a whole-of-society approach to enable medical support to resistance (Figure 01) as a tiered approach to improve trauma care from point of injury through surgical intervention, convalescence and return to duty. Additionally, it aims to increase medical interoperability with Allies and partners in preparation for a resistance scenario in Eastern Europe.

U.S. SOF MEDICINE

The core of this approach begins with increased readiness for U.S. SOF. If peer conflict in Eastern Europe occurs, U.S. SOF medics will be required to treat casualties on extended timelines with limited supplies. Proficiency in Prolonged Field Care improves the SOF medic’s ability to do this, but is dependent on the medic’s ability to transfer casualties to higher echelons of care for definitive treatment or required convalescence. SOF surgical teams may be part of the solution, but will require manning changes and additional training in order to improve survivability in peer-adversary occupied territory.

Previously, the SOCEUR Surgeon’s office developed and conducted a course in UW medicine for surgical teams. This training was conducted as a proof of concept in Fall 2017, and was subsequently turned over to U.S. Army Special Operations Command with a request to further develop UW training for SOF surgical teams. Currently, the SOCEUR Surgeon’s office is continuing to develop Trojan Footprint as an opportunity for U.S. SOF medical units to practice UW medical tactics and techniques in a major exercise. The command is developing training opportunities for U.S. SOF medics and surgical teams to work in partner-nation trauma centers in Eastern Europe. This aims to achieve multiple objectives including enhanced interoperability of U.S. medical personnel and potential partners, information sharing regarding medical materiel and techniques and potentially to raise standards of trauma care as best practices are shared between allies and partners. The strong relationships that would be created by this course of action would be mutually beneficial. These types of training opportunities may be expanded beyond U.S. SOF to other U.S. military medical personnel, further increasing interoperability and alliance building. SOCEUR is also assisting USSOCOM to define the Special Operations Forces Baseline Interoperability Standards for medics and surgical teams. These efforts attempt to link SOF medical requirements to National Defense Strategy priorities in order to develop the force for the future, and not simply to fight the last battle. Finally, current U.S. SOF doctrine on medical support to resistance appears to have gaps in Eastern Europe’s potential operational environment, especially with regard to preparing Allies and partners to conduct resistance prior to conflict. Working with USASOC’s medical teams will help develop future iterations of doctrine in order to prepare U.S. SOF for best success in an extremely challenging environment… (continues)

Click here to download a PDF version of the article.

Colion Noir: Proof Facebook Fact-Checkers Are Censoring Debates On Constitutional Rights Like the 2nd Amendment

From Colion Noir:

I made a video in response to US Representative Mike Thompson, who tweeted, HR8 “A Universal Background Check Bill”, Has bi-Partisan Support from 90 percent of the American People. In my video, I stated that this is not true, because the polls where Mike Thompson got this 90% number from were misleading because they didn’t ask about Universal Background Checks which are different from the Regular background checks that we already have.

I further Stated that if the people who were polled understood the distinction between a background check and a “UNIVERSAL” background check and that a Universal Background check can’t be enforced effectively without a national gun registry I highly doubt 90% of Americans would agree with a UNIVERSAL Background Check.

Four Days after I released my video, I got an email from a guy named Tom Kertscher with PolitiFact asking me to submit proof by noon CT today.

A few hours later, PolitiFact Released an article from Tom concluding my video was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its news feed & my video was false.

Tom is anything but objective on this issue. All you have to do is search Guns on his Twitter feed and the vast majority of his gun tweets are anti-gun tweets from politicians and the PolitiFact articles that he’s written to try to disprove pro-gun arguments.

Toms’s entire argument for why my video was false, is based on polls about background checks. Here’s the problem, none of the polls used the phrase UNIVERSAL Background Checks in their question. Tom used it in his title when he concluded: Support for UNIVERSAL Background checks on gun buyers is near 90%, but none of the polls actually used the phrase UNIVERSAL background check or explained the difference from the Background Checks we already have.

The reason why this is important is that Universal Background checks do not only apply to gun sales they apply to all transfers.

It’s even harder to believe this 90% Number when this percentage doesn’t show itself when universal background checks are voted on the state level.

Washington State has universal background checks but it only got 59% of the popular vote in Washington and that’s a state that hasn’t elected a Republican senator since 1994 or a republican Governor since 1980.

In Nevada, it only got 50.5% of the popular vote and in Maine, Lost with only 48% support.

If you combine the number of people who actually voted on universal background checks in all three of those states, it’s close to 3.97 million people, and each of these states leans blue, and out of the 3.97 million voters in those three states, only 54.7% voted in favor of Universal Background Checks.

Facebook is supposed to be a platform for open discussion. Instead, it’s turning into a platform where random fact-checkers get to play GOD.

How are we supposed to have an open dialogue and exchange of ideas and opinions when the platforms where the vast majority of these conversations are happening, use a clearly biased “Independent fact-checker” to justify invalidating my video and as a result limiting its reach.

I’m just trying to inform people about one of the most important if not the most important right we have in this country.

I get that Facebook is a private platform and they can do whatever they want and use whatever guy named after a pair of shoes they want to determine what can be posted on your platform but have an ounce of intellectual honesty and let us have the conversation without artificially limiting our voices.

That doesn’t help the country nor does it help the platform. We become stronger as a country by sharpening our ideas against the blade of open discourse. All these so-called fact-checkers are nothing more than political and intellectual bullies, not because they critiqued my video but because there’s no one to check the fact-checkers.

They have the final say and their say dictates how many people get to hear and see my ideas and that indirectly makes them Gods of online political and intellectual discourse and it’s insanely dangerous.

Urban Survival Network: Nine Important Survival Antibiotics Every Prepper Should Know

Urban Survival Network has an piece on Nine Important Survival Antibiotics Every Prepper Should Know. Someone recently quipped that there are two stages to serious gut infections: Stage One you wonder is you’re going to die, and Stage Two you wish you would die. My wife, who spent some days hospitalized because of such while in the Peace Corps, confirmed the truth of this witticism. Questionable meat/food and bad water, staples of a disaster situation as well as remote third world villages, can lead to just such circumstances. In good times, the doctor and antibiotics may only be a miserable, embarrassing few hours drive away, but in a disaster…

It often happens that preppers overlook antibiotics as a part of their preps, but these wonder meds can actually turn out to be life savers. Effective and easy to use, survival antibiotics will certainly come in handy post collapse and when you’re having to deal with an infection. To be completely honest with you, I had been blissfully unaware of the many types of antibiotics that existed until not too long ago when I developed an infectious colitis in my colon. I didn’t know about the condition until I was in excruciating pain and I went to see my doctor. This infection was triggered by a bacterial infection, and one of the causes may have been through the consumption of uncooked meat.

The situation was life-threatening and it was something I could no longer ignore – this is where antibiotics stepped in and literally saved my life. For no less than 10 days I took a cocktail of two different antibiotics (Metronidazole and Ciprofloxacin) and in less than two weeks I was back on track. I do not even want to think about what could have happened to me if I didn’t take the antibiotics. Now just put yourself in my shoes – what if you were confronted with a similar situation and were in urgent need of medication? This is why stocking up on survival antibiotics could be a serious matter.

In this article you will find the top 9 most efficient and most widely used survival antibiotics, but before we move on to describing each type it is important to understand that I am not a doctor and I am not entitled to give any medical advice. If you want professional and competent advice, I strongly recommend you to consult your doctor as he/she is the only one who can give you the details you need.

Also, it is important to understand that one should never take antibiotics for a simple cold, a small fever or a slight pain – these medications are aimed exclusively at bacterial infections and they should be taken only in case of emergency, and only when your doctor tells you to. If you take antibiotics on a constant basis, you will become immune to them and their efficiency will be decreased in the long term, which means that you will have a hard time trying to treat bacterial infections in the future.

Like any other type of medication, antibiotics may trigger some side effects – if you notice a rash, then you might be allergic to a compound in the antibiotic, and you must stop taking the medication and consult your doctor immediately. Also, the meds must be taken for as long as recommended by your doctor, even though you may feel better after only a couple of days – this does not necessarily mean you have overcome the infection completely!

In a nutshell, there is a wide range of antibiotics available on the market and they come in many different sizes, shapes and strengths. The following antibiotics can treat most bacterial infections, and for further information on antibiotics, their uses and their mechanism of action I strongly recommend you to read some medical books (many of them are available in PDF format as well). Having said that, here are (in my opinion) the top 9 most efficient survival antibiotics:

1. Cephalexyn
Cephalexyn is currently one of the most commonly used antibiotics for respiratory infections of all kind, mainly pneumonia and severe bronchitis. At the same time, doctors prescribe Cephalexyn to treat middle ear infections as well. This survival antibiotic comes with few adverse reactions and what’s most important is that it can be safely used by children as well as by pregnant women.

2. Amoxicilin
Amoxicilin has almost the same mechanism of action as Cephalexyn, keeping in mind that it is aimed at respiratory infections and it deals with the same types of bacteria. Children and pregnant women can safely take Amoxicilin to treat bacterial infections, although this survival antibiotic can trigger serious allergic reactions. If you notice any of the signs that indicate an allergic reaction, stop taking Amoxicilin and get in touch with your doctor immediately.

3. Ciprofloxacin
Ciprofloxacin can be considered an all-purpose survival antibiotic, given the fact that it can treat a wealth of infections, from infections of the prostate and the urinary tract to bronchitis, pneumonia, bacterial diarrhea and even the infectious colitis I was talking about at the beginning of the article. However, it must be mentioned that Ciprofloxacin must never be used by pregnant women and children at all costs!

4. Metronidazole
Metronidazole is widely used for the treatment of anaerobic bacteria and it is commonly used in conjunction with other survival antibiotics to treat colitis, diverticulitis and other infections of the intestines. Moreover, it is also very good for the treatment of meningitis, lung and bone infections as well as for the treatment of bacterial vaginosis. Nursing or pregnant women and children should avoid taking Metronidazole.

5. Sulfamethoxazole And Trimethoprim
This is a combination of powerful antibiotics that are especially created for urinary tract infections and respiratory infections. At the same time, this antibiotic cocktail is highly efficient against staphylococcus aureus that is resistant to Methicillin – a very strong strain of staph .

6. Ampicilin
Ampicilin is certainly one of the most popular survival drugs at the moment, because it carries a very low allergy risk and it is aimed at treating different infections like gastrointestinal infections, bacterial meningitis, infections of the respiratory tract and even the feared Anthrax.

7. Azithromycin
Azythromycin is not exactly the cheapest survival antibiotic on the market, but it is a very versatile and effective medication as it treats Syphilis, Typhoid, Chlamydia, Lyme disease and a wealth of respiratory tract infections. It has some side effects like nausea and diarrhea but they are rare, therefore it is generally safe to use.

8. Erythromycin
Erythromycin treats the well-known Lyme disease, Chlamydia, Syphilis and various infections of the respiratory system and middle ear. Nonetheless, it must be mentioned that Erythromycin can trigger several unpleasant side effects, from diarrhea and vomiting to nausea and severe abdominal pain. Even so, it is still great to have this survival antibiotic around, just in case!

9. Doxycycline
Doxycycline has the same effects as Erythromycin. Doxycycline can treat some dangerous illnesses such as Malaria or Typhus. This antibiotic must never be used by pregnant/nursing women or children. You’ll also need to drink a lot of water while on Doxycycline. This Antibiotic can be found as “Fish Cycline”, and although not intended for humans, it can still be used with little issue (unless of course expired).

Conclusion
To sum it up, you don’t need to have all 9 survival antibiotics when you travel – you only need two or three types that cover the widest variety of infections, just to stay on the safe side. They should be kept in the refrigerator to expand their lifespan (without freezing them, as this affects their efficacy). These antibiotics are cost-effective and they can save your life or the life of somebody dear to your heart, so make sure you do not neglect them! It is better to have them and not need them, than to need them and not to find them at a looted/plundered drug store.

Activist Post: How the FBI Is Identifying, Tracking and Rounding Up Dissidents

From Constitutional lawyer John Whitehead come the article at Activist Post titled Digital Trails: How the FBI Is Identifying, Tracking and Rounding Up Dissidents

“Americans deserve the freedom to choose a life without surveillance and the government regulation that would make that possible. While we continue to believe the sentiment, we fear it may soon be obsolete or irrelevant. We deserve that freedom, but the window to achieve it narrows a little more each day. If we don’t act now, with great urgency, it may very well close for good.”—Charlie Warzel and Stuart A. Thompson, New York Times

Databit by databit, we are building our own electronic concentration camps.

With every new smart piece of smart technology we acquire, every new app we download, every new photo or post we share online, we are making it that much easier for the government and its corporate partners to identify, track and eventually round us up.

Saint or sinner, it doesn’t matter because we’re all being swept up into a massive digital data dragnet that does not distinguish between those who are innocent of wrongdoing, suspects, or criminals.

This is what it means to live in a suspect society.

The government’s efforts to round up those who took part in the Capitol riots shows exactly how vulnerable we all are to the menace of a surveillance state that aspires to a God-like awareness of our lives.

Relying on selfies, social media posts, location data, geotagged photos, facial recognition, surveillance cameras and crowdsourcing, government agents are compiling a massive data trove on anyone and everyone who may have been anywhere in the vicinity of the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

The amount of digital information is staggering: 15,000 hours of surveillance and body-worn camera footage; 1,600 electronic devices; 270,000 digital media tips; at least 140,000 photos and videos; and about 100,000 location pings for thousands of smartphones.

And that’s just what we know.

More than 300 individuals from 40 states have already been charged and another 280 arrested in connection with the events of January 6. As many as 500 others are still being hunted by government agents.

Also included in this data roundup are individuals who may have had nothing to do with the riots but whose cell phone location data identified them as being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Forget about being innocent until proven guilty.

In a suspect society such as ours, the burden of proof has been flipped: now, you start off guilty and have to prove your innocence.

For instance, you didn’t even have to be involved in the Capitol riots to qualify for a visit from the FBI: investigators have reportedly been tracking—and questioning—anyone whose cell phones connected to WiFi or pinged cell phone towers near the Capitol. One man, who had gone out for a walk with his daughters only to end up stranded near the Capitol crowds, actually had FBI agents show up at his door days later. Using Google Maps, agents were able to pinpoint exactly where they were standing and for how long.

All of the many creepy, calculating, invasive investigative and surveillance tools the government has acquired over the years are on full display right now in the FBI’s ongoing efforts to bring the rioters to “justice.”

FBI agents are matching photos with drivers’ license pictures; tracking movements by way of license plate toll readers; and zooming in on physical identifying marks such as moles, scars and tattoos, as well as brands, logos and symbols on clothing and backpacks. They’re poring over hours of security and body camera footage; scouring social media posts; triangulating data from cellphone towers and WiFi signals; layering facial recognition software on top of that; and then cross-referencing footage with public social media posts.

It’s not just the FBI on the hunt, however.

They’ve enlisted the help of volunteer posses of private citizens, such as Deep State Dogs, to collaborate on the grunt work. As Dinah Voyles Pulver reports, once Deep State Dogs locates a person and confirms their identity, they put a package together with the person’s name, address, phone number and several images and send it to the FBI.

According to USA Today, the FBI is relying on the American public and volunteer cybersleuths to help bolster its cases.

This takes See Something, Say Something snitching programs to a whole new level.

The lesson to be learned: Big Brother, Big Sister and all of their friends are watching you.

They see your every move: what you read, how much you spend, where you go, with whom you interact, when you wake up in the morning, what you’re watching on television and reading on the internet.

Every move you make is being monitored, mined for data, crunched, and tabulated in order to form a picture of who you are, what makes you tick, and how best to control you when and if it becomes necessary to bring you in line.

Simply liking or sharing this article on Facebook, retweeting it on Twitter, or merely reading it or any other articles related to government wrongdoing, surveillance, police misconduct or civil liberties might be enough to get you categorized as a particular kind of person with particular kinds of interests that reflect a particular kind of mindset that might just lead you to engage in a particular kinds of activities and, therefore, puts you in the crosshairs of a government investigation as a potential troublemaker a.k.a. domestic extremist.

Chances are, as the Washington Post reports, you have already been assigned a color-coded threat score—green, yellow or red—so police are forewarned about your potential inclination to be a troublemaker depending on whether you’ve had a career in the military, posted a comment perceived as threatening on Facebook, suffer from a particular medical condition, or know someone who knows someone who might have committed a crime.

In other words, you might already be flagged as potentially anti-government in a government database somewhere—Main Core, for example—that identifies and tracks individuals who aren’t inclined to march in lockstep to the police state’s dictates.

The government has the know-how.

It took days, if not hours or minutes, for the FBI to begin the process of identifying, tracking and rounding up those suspected of being part of the Capitol riots.

Imagine how quickly government agents could target and round up any segment of society they wanted to based on the digital trails and digital footprints we leave behind.

Of course, the government has been hard at work for years acquiring these totalitarian powers.

Long before the January 6 riots, the FBI was busily amassing the surveillance tools necessary to monitor social media posts, track and identify individuals using cell phone signals and facial recognition technology, and round up “suspects” who may be of interest to the government for one reason or another.

As The Intercept reported, the FBI, CIA, NSA and other government agencies have increasingly invested in corporate surveillance technologies that can mine constitutionally protected speech on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in order to identify potential extremists and predict who might engage in future acts of anti-government behavior.

All it needs is the data, which more than 90% of young adults and 65% of American adults are happy to provide.

When the government sees all and knows all and has an abundance of laws to render even the most seemingly upstanding citizen a criminal and lawbreaker, then the old adage that you’ve got nothing to worry about if you’ve got nothing to hide no longer applies.

As for the Fourth Amendment and its prohibitions on warrantless searches and invasions of privacy without probable cause, those safeguards have been rendered all but useless by legislative end-runs, judicial justifications, and corporate collusions.

We now find ourselves in the unenviable position of being monitored, managed and controlled by our technology, which answers not to us but to our government and corporate rulers.

Consider that on any given day, the average American going about his daily business will be monitored, surveilled, spied on and tracked in more than 20 different ways, by both government and corporate eyes and ears. A byproduct of this new age in which we live, whether you’re walking through a store, driving your car, checking email, or talking to friends and family on the phone, you can be sure that some government agency, whether the NSA or some other entity, is listening in and tracking your behavior.

This doesn’t even begin to touch on the corporate trackers that monitor your purchases, web browsing, social media posts and other activities taking place in the cyber sphere.

For example, police have been using Stingray devices mounted on their cruisers to intercept cell phone calls and text messages without court-issued search warrants. Doppler radar devices, which can detect human breathing and movement within a home, are already being employed by the police to deliver arrest warrants.

License plate readers, yet another law enforcement spying device made possible through funding by the Department of Homeland Security, can record up to 1800 license plates per minute. Moreover, these surveillance cameras can also photograph those inside a moving car. Reports indicate that the Drug Enforcement Administration has been using the cameras in conjunction with facial recognition software to build a “vehicle surveillance database” of the nation’s cars, drivers and passengers.

Sidewalk and “public space” cameras, sold to gullible communities as a sure-fire means of fighting crime, is yet another DHS program that is blanketing small and large towns alike with government-funded and monitored surveillance cameras. It’s all part of a public-private partnership that gives government officials access to all manner of surveillance cameras, on sidewalks, on buildings, on buses, even those installed on private property.

Couple these surveillance cameras with facial recognition and behavior-sensing technology and you have the makings of “pre-crime” cameras, which scan your mannerisms, compare you to pre-set parameters for “normal” behavior, and alert the police if you trigger any computerized alarms as being “suspicious.”

State and federal law enforcement agencies are pushing to expand their biometric and DNA databases by requiring that anyone accused of a misdemeanor have their DNA collected and catalogued. However, technology is already available that allows the government to collect biometrics such as fingerprints from a distance, without a person’s cooperation or knowledge. One system can actually scan and identify a fingerprint from nearly 20 feet away.

Developers are hard at work on a radar gun that can actually show if you or someone in your car is texting. Another technology being developed, dubbed a “textalyzer” device, would allow police to determine whether someone was driving while distracted. Refusing to submit one’s phone to testing could result in a suspended or revoked driver’s license.

It’s a sure bet that anything the government welcomes (and funds) too enthusiastically is bound to be a Trojan horse full of nasty, invasive surprises.

Case in point: police body cameras. Hailed as the easy fix solution to police abuses, these body cameras—made possible by funding from the Department of Justice—turn police officers into roving surveillance cameras. Of course, if you try to request access to that footage, you’ll find yourself being led a merry and costly chase through miles of red tape, bureaucratic footmen and unhelpful courts.

The “internet of things” refers to the growing number of “smart” appliances and electronic devices now connected to the internet and capable of interacting with each other and being controlled remotely. These range from thermostats and coffee makers to cars and TVs. Of course, there’s a price to pay for such easy control and access. That price amounts to relinquishing ultimate control of and access to your home to the government and its corporate partners. For example, while Samsung’s Smart TVs are capable of “listening” to what you say, thereby allowing users to control the TV using voice commands, it also records everything you say and relays it to a third party, e.g., the government.

Then again, the government doesn’t really need to spy on you using your smart TV when the FBI can remotely activate the microphone on your cellphone and record your conversations. The FBI can also do the same thing to laptop computers without the owner knowing any better.

Drones, which are taking to the skies en masse, are the converging point for all of the weapons and technology already available to law enforcement agencies. In fact, drones can listen in on your phone calls, see through the walls of your home, scan your biometrics, photograph you and track your movements, and even corral you with sophisticated weaponry.

All of these technologies add up to a society in which there’s little room for indiscretions, imperfections, or acts of independence, especially not when the government can listen in on your phone calls, monitor your driving habits, track your movements, scrutinize your purchases and peer through the walls of your home.

These digital trails are everywhere.

As investigative journalists Charlie Warzel and Stuart A. Thompson explain, “This data—collected by smartphone apps and then fed into a dizzyingly complex digital advertising ecosystem … provided an intimate record of people whether they were visiting drug treatment centers, strip clubs, casinos, abortion clinics or places of worship.

In such a surveillance ecosystem, we’re all suspects and databits to be tracked, catalogued and targeted.

As Warzel and Thompson warn:

“To think that the information will be used against individuals only if they’ve broken the law is naïve; such data is collected and remains vulnerable to use and abuse whether people gather in support of an insurrection or they justly protest police violence… This collection will only grow more sophisticated… It gets easier by the day… it does not discriminate. It harvests from the phones of MAGA rioters, police officers, lawmakers and passers-by. There is no evidence, from the past or current day, that the power this data collection offers will be used only to good ends. There is no evidence that if we allow it to continue to happen, the country will be safer or fairer.”

As I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, this is the creepy, calculating yet diabolical genius of the American police state: the very technology we hailed as revolutionary and liberating has become our prison, jailer, probation officer, Big Brother and Father Knows Best all rolled into one.

There is no gray area any longer.

Forward Observer: Why the Battlefield Is Everywhere

Intelligence analyst Sam Culper of Forward Observer talks about China and cyber warfare in Why the Battlefield Is Everywhere.

Good morning. It’s Sam Culper with this week’s Forward Observer Dispatch.

Last week, I wrote about the reasons why conflict is virtually certain to escalate with China, leading to either a shooting war or a financial, monetary, and cyber conflict, which could lead to a shooting war. The history lesson is that monetary wars lead to military wars.

Either way, this is going to be a messy 10-20 years.

I’m picking my way through another chapter of Unrestricted Warfare, the 1999 essay/manual written by two People’s Liberation Army officers.

I want to share a key takeaway from the chapter:

The authors discuss how technology is changing the nature of warfare, from a “line” to an “area” and eventually to the entire world. Here’s the money quote:

“Just think, if it’s even possible to start a war in a computer room or a stock exchange that will send an enemy country to its doom, then is there [a] non-battlespace anywhere?”

“Where is the battlefield?” the authors ask. “The answer would be: Everywhere.”

The authors go on to write that, in light of this, the future protagonist of war is not the professional soldier, but the hacker.

This is exactly the kind of mindset and activity we’re seeing today, re: Chinese hacking campaigns.

At some point in the next four years, perhaps coinciding with the 2024 election, the U.S. could be forced to decide and act on going to war with China over Taiwan. I’m not advocating for or against it, but simply pointing out that a decision will be made.

This is one reason why Trump tried to pull U.S. Forces from the ends of the Earth.

Chinese military leaders privately say they’re within two years of being able to invade Taiwan.

The commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command is requesting missiles be deployed to Taiwan, Japan, and the Philippines to counteract what he describes as a shifting balance of military power that has become “more unfavorable” for the United States.

I want to encourage you, if haven’t already, to consider how prepared you are for systems disruption. If we go to war with China, we’re going to feel the effects here at home: disruptions to power, internet, communications, transportation, the stock market and financial services, etc.

According to Unrestricted Warfare, the key to beating the United States is to make them prioritize self-preservation ahead of geopolitical goals. Prepare accordingly.

Always Out Front,

Samuel Culper

See also, Yahoo!’s ‘We’re going to lose fast’: U.S. Air Force held a war game that started with a Chinese biological attack

Financial Times Admiral warns US military losing its edge in Indo-Pacific

CSG: Introduction to Systematic Politics Classes, April 2021

The Center for Self Governance is holding three different Introduction to Systematic Politics courses in April. The live classes are taking place in various places in Missouri, but they are all also available online at the same time.

April 7th, Morning, Cape Girardeau, MO, Live/Online

April 7th, Evening, Jackson, MO, Live/Online

April 9th, Washington, MO, Live/Online

In Block 1 you will distinguish Partisan from Systematic Politics, learn the origins of Systematic Politics, and identify the Systematic Politics of Layer and Marble Cake Federalism.

Colion Noir: S.736 Feinstein Introduces Bill To Ban All Commonly Owned AR-15s & Magazines Over 10 Rounds

We posted on this a few days ago, before the bill had been given a number. Here’s Colion Noir talking about S. 736, the Assault Weapons Ban of 2021, or officially “A bill to regulate assault weapons, to ensure that the right to keep and bear arms is not unlimited, and for other purposes.” They just want to save you from your rights; that’s all.

The Organic Prepper: How Preppers Have Adapted to These Uncertain Times

Daisy Luther at The Organic Prepper talks about Here’s How 30 Preppers Have Adapted and What They Foresee Happening Next. With various food and supply shortages during the pandemic and extended lockdowns, it is harder to stock up on essential items and individual financial situations may have worsened.

There’s a lot more crazy and a lot less money than usual, and as I’ve written before, the face of prepping has changed. It’s a lot more difficult (and expensive) to go out and stockpile as we did a few years ago, and the event we’ve faced has been a slow-burning SHTF event that has slowly and insidiously taken away financial security from hundreds of thousands of Americans.

I wondered how others have changed the way they prep to adapt to these times so I asked the folks in our Me-We group if they’ve changed how they prep and if so, what changes they’ve made. If you are interested in joining the group, go here, answer four questions, and be sure to change your profile picture from the Me-We basic images. We don’t care what you change them too, we’re just trying to avoid “bot” traffic from prowling through our group.

Here’s how readers have changed the way they prep.

With some of the comments, I’ve added a comment or a link in italics for more information.

Eileen:

I am working on doing even more with even less. I was laid off at the beginning of Covid. Hubby’s paycheck is down a bit. We have been watching the cost of regularly used items skyrocket, yet again. Teaching myself to grow more long term food items this year. At this point, Daisy, just not giving up feels like prepping, even if it’s just to get up tomorrow and try again.

Here’s an article on how to keep going when things feel hopeless.  ~ D

Lynn:

We are getting ready to move. I am using my food preps to see what we really need and what has been hard to use up. Mostly pertaining to food and household essentials. Saving the money to buy fresh preps after the move. We moved a year ago and I had a huge stockpile that had to be moved twice in two months. I think it is better to use it up than move it and then replace it with fresh food and water.

This is a great way to rotate your stock and always have fresher products available. Just pay attention to the things that are in shortage or difficult to acquire. You may not want to go through that supply just yet. ~ D

Jeff:

I have been building up at least a year’s supply of essential items like laundry detergent, shampoo, hand soap, toothpaste, etc. I will be using the stimulus check to add to my freeze-dried food inventory (mostly protein) since I have 1k lbs of dry food stored away. I don’t know if hyperinflation, war, or another pandemic may hit but if it does the goal is to be able to go at least a year without leaving the house.

This is a fantastic goal!

Tami:

After the Texas snowstorm, I’m prepping mainly for life without electricity. I’ve lived off the grid before but had stopped so I’m going back to it. I also realized my need for more stored water .

Here’s an article about preparing for longer-term power outages. It’s a great place to start if you’re new to prepping or if you simply need to make sure you have the things you need. ~ D

Christina:

Prepping mainly for economic upheaval. We kicked up food storage (have a working pantry) January 2020, but it wasn’t an issue to grocery shop in my area, so I slacked off a bit. August of 2020, we put together 6 months of food (again a working pantry I use and replenish), paying off debts, saving money, buying silver, ammo, guns, etc. Anything that will aid us as food and fuel prices goes up or our income goes down. So far, our income has increased since last year, but you never know. I’ll add my pantry includes HH / personal items too.

Stocking up on things other than food is really important. Here’s a list of non-food stockpile items that may inspire you to add to your own supplies. ~ D

Vicki:

We are prepping for civil unrest and skyrocketing inflation. I’ve been watching the groceries I normally buy going up a lot. We are planning to grow more veggies and put in some more fruit trees. We are also making sure we have extras of the tools we use, and enough supplies to fix things(tools, machinery, plumbing, electrical, etc.) that might break. Lumber has also gone up a huge amount, so we are buying extra of that too.

Having spare parts for tools and essential equipment is a vital and often overlooked prep. ~ D

Diane: Everything I can think of from food to security.

Keeping your preps balanced and not focusing too specifically on just one aspect is advised. Toby talks about the vital balance in this article. ~ D

Max:

Building out networks and relationships. Human terrain not “stuff”.

Here’s advice on building community even during a pandemic and be sure to check out Selco’s on-demand webinar about community building. ~ D

Susan:

I think hyperinflation and the possible dollar collapse is more possible now than ever. I am adding canned and dried food stocks to my preps especially items that are predicted to become exorbitantly expensive like corn and coffee. I am also eagerly watching my garden waiting for it to thaw out. Most of the snow and ice is gone except in the woods.

Here are some things you can do right now to get ready for garden season and here’s some advice on how to start planning your garden. ~ D

Sheri:

I’m turning more of my yard into vegetable/herb gardens and will preserve most of the produce. Adding to non-perishables when I see a good sale. Learning basic survival and self-sufficiency skills. Moving toward a simpler lifestyle, so living without modern conveniences will be less of a shock.

This is precisely why my preps are low-tech. ~ D

Stacy:

Survived Texas without blaming the governor or president for leaving me in the cold. We need more stored water. Had enough but saw that I needed more for cleaning. Need larger pots. Fed 7 people easy as my house was only one with gas cooktop. Need cookware to feed 20…and preps to make my own soup kitchen. Need back up potty! Do I have 100 candles? More lamp oil. The little tealight under flowerpot did help to make room cozier. Store for this. A way to wash clothes. A way to take warm shower and wash hair. Prepare a menu, recipes, and storage for meals on the stove top. Prep to share with family. (I live on 20 member family compound.) A way to charge phone. Size c batteries to listen to CDs….more CDs. Hootch. OTC

Awesome learning experience. I can definitely help with instructions for this off-grid kitty litter potty for humans. ~ D

Ezra:

We are working on paying off debts (Dave Ramsey) and materials for life without electricity. We lost power for 4 days during the winter storm here in Texas

Here are a couple of articles you may find helpful regarding debt (one is directly from Dave’s strategies) and here’s an ebook about dealing with power outages. ~ D

Lynn:

We are focusing on our garden this year. Our goal is to be as self-sufficient as possible in regard to produce. I want to save seeds from the garden for the future. We aren’t growing grains, wheat, and oats, though. That is a future project.

Here’s our favorite source for seeds – you can also get a free garden planner at that link and it is a small, family-run business. ~ D

Rob:

The money hasn’t changed for me in the Great White North. I’ve realized, though, that prepping for an event like an EMP is trying to play apocalypse lottery; better to consider the consequences of whatever it is you worry about and prepare for those. It stops you from making assumptions. (Makes an ass of U and umptions). I.e. instead of prepping for an EMP, I’m prepping for a collapse of communication and transportation of goods like food, no matter the cause. I’m expanding my EMP-proof storage still but I’m more prepared to handle, say, a food shortage whereas before my food plans only involved getting out of the city and joining a full farm.

I think there’s a lot of wisdom to what you said there. A lot of folks hyperfocus on just one thing when in fact most disasters are an entire series of bad things. Some useful links might be this one about making a Faraday cage, this one about a communications collapse, and this one about the strain on our transportation system for goods.

Bestsmall country:

Hi Daisy, I’ve been watching everything since early 2018, and the most striking thing is the correlation between Q and the Bible!! I did most of my prepping back then. Long-life food, seeds (I learned how to grow veg). All done under the radar, especially Crypto and PMs. Skills will be the REAL asset. I’m hoping a local viewer of my channel will ‘kidnap’ me because the idiots that wouldn’t listen will be banging on my door

OpSec is more important than ever! Here’s an article that might help others who are thinking like you about doing things under the radar. ~ D

Kamay:

Not much change, if any. Been prepping for the collapse of society, food shortages, and the possibility of a grid failure. We try to do all farming, gardening, preservations without the use of electricity and fancy gadgets. We recycle, upcycle, make do and live outside the box.

Simplicity is key! I like your style :). ~ D

Letia:

I need to get ready for a garden! Strawberries will come back, and I’ll start canning again. I need to check my jars. I have some cases but need to check in case folks are back to normalcy or still canning. I need to practice shooting! I need to work on security with more cameras and change the button lock on my back door. 🙄

DEFINITELY practice shooting. It’s a perishable skill. Here’s an article about creating a safe room at a reasonable price that might be helpful for the security aspect. ~ D

Kris:

Taking care of my animals and plans to raise more meat chickens – so more to feed. Buying feed in bulk and pricing out different feed options, etc.

Have you checked out the fodder method? I took a class on it when I lived in California, but did not set up my own system because we were moving. Here’s a really good article about it. The guy I took the course from had chickens strictly on fodder and free-range. ~ D

Roxanne:

We’re pretty much preparing for our retirement. Then we’ll be on a much lower income. We’ve paid off all our debt except what we use on our credit cards which we pay off every month. We’ve sold off a lot of things which we didn’t need to get rid of the debt. We’re thinking we could be looking at another depression or some other economic troubles. I’ve been trying to grow different vegetables to learn how to do it well. I also have been dehydrating what I can and vacuum sealing them in large mason jars. I plan to learn to pressure can this year so I can take advantage of any sales at the stores on meats and vegetables which don’t grow here.

Here’s an easy how-to for pressure canning, and if you happen to have a glass top stove, some pressure canning options that will work for you.

Heather:

We of the Down Under are keenly aware that we no longer matter with your particular ruling family’s politics. China is now a far more serious threat in the Pacific area. We also no longer refine fuel here, much of it comes from Singapore. We are prepping for blockade/ interruption to supply lines as this would pretty much cripple the country. We have gardens, fruit trees, and are stocking up a bit more on canned goods. We aren’t allowed to store more than a couple of jerry cans of fuel. Also, I have been sure to keep medical checkups and dental checkups very up-to-date for the family as you never know when these things just won’t be available.

You bring up an excellent point with regard to medical and dental care. During the past year of Covid restrictions many people saw health issues getting far worse because they were unable to seek preventative care, or even take care of conditions that arose.  Handling these things while we an is vital. ~ D

Shannon:

I prep for hyperinflation, power grid issues, (due to natural disasters), and civil unrest. I live in the PNW, so we’ve had our share of rioting, unrest, and fluke weather. Prepping food, supplies to deal with no electricity, trying to learn how to cope without electricity. We sold property in Ca. and moved up here and bought property with land.

With the changes you’ve made, you are most likely looking for some suggestions on becoming more self-reliant with the land and new resources you have available. Check out the self-reliance manifesto here. (Some links are no longer working – we’re striving to keep up!) ~ D

Kate:

We’re planning to buy a house/property in the next few years, so we’ve been saving wherever possible. Luckily the covid didn’t affect our income. Cutting back on trips to town. Waiting for the garden to dry out and also waiting for my seeds to arrive. Going to grow mostly for cellar storage this year….potatoes, squashes, carrots, turnips, etc. Jar lids are really hard to find here on Vancouver Island…hopefully, by the fall, I’ll be able to can sauce and V8. Keeping up with buying hard copy books on natural medicine, crafts, foraging.

I’ve really lucked out and gotten some used books on those topics at yardsales. I once spent $100 at a yardsale buying every book the person was selling because her deceased relative had been into food preservation and herbalism. Talk about a motherlode. Another potential goldmine for you is Thriftbooks, which has millions of used books for sale. If you are new to root cellaring, this article may be helpful. ~ D

K:

I’ve spent the last year really focusing on smaller potential SHTF situations (a week to a month type). I feel like I’m in decent shape as far as that goes. Now my focus is more long-term. I want to get sustainable food production set up and keep hounding my kids about the likely change to digital currency in the next few years along with a rise in inflation. I have preached for years that our reliance on food from outside of our areas is going to be a problem in the future. That’s my focus now.

A couple of articles on two topics you mentioned are this one about how our everyday lives would change in a cashless society and this one about why preppers need to localize their food sources. ~ D

James:

Economic misfortune, (job loss, economy downturns) civil unrest, power grid/natural disasters. I am set for two years monetarily, approximately 6 months for comestibles, and a decent self-defense set up although still working on hardening the house. I am also to a lesser extent prepared to bug out home if things really go to s**t, however as I am currently OCONUS I am probably screwed on that part.

That definitely makes things difficult. I think what I would focus on in your shoes is making certain that your family members are able to hang in there for a period of time while waiting for you to make it home. You don’t want them to be in a situation where only you know how to do something important. Redundancies are essential. ~ D

Rita:

We have concentrated more on being self-contained and self-sufficient. We source our needs locally as much as possible. A LOT quieter about accomplishments and acquisitions. For the most part, we no longer have strong public opinions about much of anything. We are becoming more internalized and grey. As we get older, the fighting spirit is still there, but reality says to stock up and shut up. We see civil unrest, and difficult times, if not out and out economic collapse and civil war. The USA is a powder keg right now and some dumba** is going to light the match

Surviving this crazy time does have a lot to do with keeping your thoughts more private. And sometimes the fight you win is the one you don’t participate in. ~ D

Valerie:

Economic collapse is my greatest concern. We are planting a larger garden and stocking up on nonperishable food. I plan to can more this year. In fact, today I scored a lightly used All American 910 canner at the goodwill. $5.99. Scratch that off my bucket list!

Oh my gosh, what a SCORE!!!!!! I’m sure a lot of us reading that are positively green with envy. And the good thing about the All American is there are no parts or gaskets that might need to be replaced. ~ D

Rosemary:

I can’t shake the feeling that we will have a grid-down situation in the near future, so getting prepped for that has been my top priority. Next is food shortages and hyperinflation. Bigger garden & more canning is on my list for this season. I wanted to buy heating mats & lights too this year but didn’t have the extra funds, so I am trying Winter Sowing in gallon water & milk jugs. I have 20+ jugs done so far with lots more to do. Fingers crossed it’s a success!

I’ll be really interested to hear how your Winter Sowing goes! Please keep us posted. Here’s a link to my book on Amazon, Be Ready for Anything. It goes into a lot of detail about long-term power outages in both summer and winter. ~ D

Martha:

Although my area doesn’t normally see really low temps, it does get cold in the winter, and after seeing what happened in Texas, I’m adding a portable heater (either propane or kerosene) to my list of supplies  ASAP.  Just wish AC was as easy to prep for if the grid goes down.  Looking at doing solar with battery backup to keep fridge, freezer running too, and even 1 window ac unit to keep the house at least bearable when it 115 in the summer.

Wow, that sure sounds like some miserable weather to lose power in. Here’s an article about handling hot weather power outages, an article about how to calculate how much power you need to be able to generate, and the off-grid heater I recommend. ~ D

Laura:

In light of the recent hacking into MULTIPLE national security systems, I think the grid down is the biggest threat. Financial collapse would be second after that. I’m using some of the stimulus funds to buy larger ticket items. A respirator/gas mask is next on my list. Additionally, I bought heating pads and fluorescent lights for seed planting this year-going well. Also just bought five 55-gallon water barrels that need washing and set up. Busy time for me trying to keep up with all this.

Here are some thoughts on preparing for a major cyber attack and an article on respirators and gas masks – I hope you find them helpful. ~ D

Daisy:

Yep, it’s me. The thing that I have changed over the past year about my preparedness is paying attention to the local governments and how they’ve responded. I’ve lived in 3 different places over the course of the lockdowns and each place has managed the response to covid very differently. It’s important to understand how your own local government reacts to things because once you do, you can begin to predict what they’ll do in a different situation. I’ve also gotten a lot better at getting information from others without them realizing I’m doing it, and making friends who can be helpful in a variety of events. (Read more in this article.)

Traveling from place to place, I’ve learned to prep fast and I’ve learned how to make due with what’s available, instead of being so choosy. I plan to continue working on my adaptability levels, for I believe that is my most important skill. My primary goal is to avoid trouble in the first place and my secondary goal is to survive if I can’t. I foresee more restrictions after a brief reprieve and a lot more difficulty for those who just want to be left alone to do so without jumping through hoops…

Washington Policy Center: Risk of Texas-style Blackouts in Washington Is Real and Growing

The Washington Policy Center reports that the risk of Texas-style blackouts in Washington is real and growing based on soon-to-close coal-fired electrical generators and projected increases in demand, among other reasons.

Key Findings

1. The recent blackouts in Texas have increased awareness of the need for reliable sources of electricity.

2. The risk of a power shortage in Washington is already slightly above the acceptable standard of 5 percent for Loss of Load Probability (LOLP).

3. That risk increases dramatically in the upcoming years, reaching 26 percent in 2026.

4. A new assessment being completed by the NW Power and Conservation Council could find the risk is even higher than that.

5. Removing the four Lower Snake River dams would cause that already high risk to increase even more.

6. Reducing the LOLP to an acceptable level in our state will be challenging given the limits on building new dispatchable energy sources like hydro and natural gas.

Introduction

The recent electrical blackouts in Texas have sparked a great deal
of discussion about how society can provide a predictable supply of
electricity while reducing the environmental impact of producing energy.
The costs of getting policies wrong, as has been demonstrated in Texas
and California, can lead to expensive and deadly outcomes.

Although Washington State has a very different energy mix and utility
system, the experience in Texas is a good reminder of how state leaders
should assess the resiliency of our electricity generation and the grid’s
ability to withstand a serious winter storm.

What is the outlook for the stability of Washington’s electrical supply?
Currently, the risk of blackouts is slightly higher than is acceptable and
the danger will get much worse in the near future. The high risk is a
warning that the state’s energy policy should not ignore reliability.

Power outages in Texas

Several factors contributed to the outages in Texas.

The basic cause of the outages was a storm that caused winter demand
to hit an all-time high during the night of February 14, 2021. Soon after
midnight on February 15th the electrical system could not meet demand
and rolling blackouts were initiated by the grid manager, a Texas state
agency known as ERCOT, causing the big drop in natural gas generation
and a smaller drop in coal generation. Home heating has priority over
electrical generation for supplies of natural gas, so a loss of fuel could
have contributed to the reduction in natural gas generation. With high
demand and struggling supply, the frequency of the alternating current
dropped below 60 Hertz to a level that required some facilities be shut
down to prevent equipment damage.

Additionally, once the winter weather moved in, the amount of wind energy
available declined significantly. In the week before the storm, variable wind
generation ranged from 3,000 megawatt hours (MWh) to 21,000 MWh. When the
storm moved in, that range narrowed to a maximum of 9,000 MWh to below 1,000
MWh. Some have noted that ERCOT only planned for about 6,000 MWh of wind,
so the reduction was not unexpected. That is true, but that left nuclear, coal, and
(mostly) natural gas – i.e. dispatchable electricity (because it can be dispatched
when needed) – to meet the extremely high demand for power.

Rising risk of blackouts in Washington State

Could a similar situation, with dispatchable energy unable to keep up
with demand, happen in Washington State? The chances of that scenario are,
unfortunately, increasing.

To estimate the chance that outages or electricity shortfalls could occur, the
Northwest Power and Conservation Council (NWPCC) calculates the annual Loss
Of Load Probability (LOLP), which is the “the likelihood (probability) that system
demand will exceed the generating capacity during a given period.”

It is important to keep in mind that a loss of load could simply mean that grid
managers ask major industrial users of electricity to shut down or reduce demand.
It does not necessarily mean what we saw in Texas. Additionally, reducing the risk
that electricity supply falls short can mean adding generating resources that may
be idle much of the time. Generation that is only used when demand is very high
means the cost of the electricity will be very high. So, while we could, theoretically,
push the LOLP to near zero, doing so would be very expensive…(continues)

Click here for PDF of report.

Atlas Obscura: Qurt – Long-lasting, Ancient Road Snack of Central Asian Nomads

Qurt at the Osh Bazaar in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. JACKIE ELLIS / ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

Atlas Obscura has a recipe for qurt, a dried, dairy product, which when hardened can last for years without refrigeration, though a thirteenth century friar said it was “hard as iron slag.” The hardened qurt can be softened with water and mixed with jerky and flour to make a sort of stew. Here is Make the Ancient Road Snack of Central Asian Nomads.

ONE WINTER MORNING, PRISONERS AT the Akmola Labor Camp for Wives of Traitors to the Motherland, part of the Soviet gulag system from the 1930s to 1950s, trudged to a nearby lake. As they began gathering reeds to heat their frigid barracks, children and elders from the neighboring community approached the shore. The kids hurled small, hard white balls toward the women, and the camp guards cackled: Their charges weren’t hated only in Moscow, but here in remote Kazakhstan as well, recalled Gertrude Platais, who had been arrested in 1938 and sent to serve her sentence there.

While it initially seemed like an insult, the villagers had the opposite intent. One of the prisoners tripped on the projectiles, got a whiff of milk, and suspected they were edible. Back in the barracks, Kazakh prisoners explained that it was qurt, a traditional dried dairy product that had sustained nomads across Central Asia for centuries. Long-lasting, easy to carry, and packed with protein and calcium, the balls—described as “precious stones” in a poem about the incident by Raisa Golubeva—provided a much-needed supplement to the sparse prison rations.

Qurt, also called qurut or kurt, derives from the word for “dry” in many Turkic languages and is made by straining fermented milk from a sheep, goat, cow, camel, or mare until it’s thick enough to be rolled into balls and dried in the sun. In a 13th-century report from the Mongol empire, the Flemish Franciscan missionary Friar William of Rubruck described the result as “hard as iron slag.” Different variations exist throughout Central Asia, the Caucasus, and the Middle East, including the Persian kashk, Jordanian jameed, and Armenian chortan.

Kurdish women preparing the dried dairy balls in Turkey, where they're known as kashk.
Kurdish women preparing the dried dairy balls in Turkey, where they’re known as kashk. BABLEKAN/CC BY-SA 3.0

Qurt’s portable nature and long shelf life made it an ideal road food for Central Asia’s nomadic peoples. According to Kazakh historian Moldir Oskenbay—who likens the taste of qurt to “a dried and salted feta cheese”—it dates at least as far back as the seventh century B.C., when the Scythians roamed the Eurasian Steppe. Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Turkmen, Uzbek, and other groups of herders took along versions as they moved to graze their animals. “Qurt was a really good way for them to preserve yogurt so they could eat it while they traveled,” says Malika Sharipova, a food blogger from Uzbekistan who has written about making traditional Uzbek cuisine. Hardened qurt is also highly versatile: It lasts for years without refrigeration and can be eaten straight, dissolved in boiling water to create a beverage, or mixed into traditional soups and dishes like Tajik qurutob.

Qurt even gave nomads a strategic military advantage in the 12th and 13th centuries A.D. by allowing them to ditch cumbersome kitchen supply carts and travel light, Oskenbay explains in her paper “Fermented Dairy Products in Central Asia: Methods for Making Kazakh Qurt and Their Health Benefits.” Balls of qurt dissolved in water with flour and jerky made for quick camp dinners: “No need to search for fuel for the fire, or take time for cooking,” she writes.

Various flavors at the Chorsu Bazaar in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
Various flavors at the Chorsu Bazaar in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. LBM1948/CC BY-SA 4.0

Centuries later, freeze-dried qurt nourished Soviet cosmonauts in space. Today, it’s still hailed as a source of longevity, said to improve digestion, ward off osteoporosis, and support the health of children as well as pregnant and lactating women. Kept in a dry place, it will remain edible for several years, and some say close to a decade. “It won’t spoil, but it will get really, really hard,” Sharipova says. (If exposed to humidity, however, it can become moldy.) While qurt is traditionally made at home in rural areas and bought by city-dwellers at markets, mass-produced versions are now available at grocery stores and online.

Central Asian markets like the Chorsu Bazaar in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, showcase the vast array of qurt available: softer “new” qurt; rock-hard “stone” qurt, which may have been dried for years; light brown smoked qurt, which Sharipova recommends pairing with beer; qurt with red pepper, coriander, dill, mint, or basil; and shapes ranging from tiny spheres to apple-sized balls.

The author's homemade qurt.
The author’s homemade qurt. SUSIE ARMITAGE FOR GASTRO OBSCURA

“People are getting crazy and creative about making different kinds of qurt,” she says. “You can play with the texture, you can play with the taste … you can make it less salty, you can make it really salty.” Sharipova prefers the classic white variety and doesn’t like it to get too hard, so she keeps it in a paper bag in the fridge.

You can make your own qurt at home, the way it’s done in Central Asian villages. However, it’s a multiday process and if you don’t have access to the sunny, dry weather of the Eurasian Steppe, you’ll need to employ a few hacks to “cheat nature,” as Max Malkiel—a home cook born in Tajikistan who now lives in Germany and posts recipe videos on YouTube—puts it.

Homemade Qurt

Adapted from recipes by Malika Sharipova, Max Malkiel, and “Recipes from an Uzbek”

Note: Methods and terms for the various dairy products below may vary by culture and location.

Ingredients
2 liters of whole or low-fat milk
6 tablespoons of plain Greek yogurt
Salt to taste
Dried herbs and spices to taste (optional)

The finished suzma should have a nice, spreadable consistency.
The finished suzma should have a nice, spreadable consistency. SUSIE ARMITAGE FOR GASTRO OBSCURA

Step 1

To make qurt, first you need to make suzma, a creamy drained yogurt with a spreadable consistency. To make suzma, you need to make qatiq, a natural (and also delicious) drinkable yogurt. If you’d like to speed up the process, and you can find suzma for purchase in your area, you can also start there and skip to Step 3. (If you don’t have a Central Asian bazaar at your disposal, you may be able to buy suzma at a Central Asian shop like Brooklyn’s Tashkent Supermarket. Some recipes also describe how to make qurt from tvorog, a farmer’s cheese widely available at Russian grocery stores; I did not test this, but if you go this route, you’ll also want to start with Step 3 and ensure that your cheese is well drained before attempting to roll it.)

To make the qatiq, heat the milk in a pot to about 122° F (50° C). (If using unpasteurized milk, boil it first, then let it cool to this temperature.) If you don’t have a thermometer, turn the heat off when the milk is noticeably warm, but you can stand to hold your finger in it for 10 seconds without discomfort. Then stir in the yogurt. At this point, the contents of your pot will still be milky in consistency. Pour the mixture into glass jars and wrap them with towels to keep them warm; Sharipova suggests using three thick ones. (I wrapped my jars in dish towels, topped with hand towels, then covered them with a large bath towel and a blanket.) Leave the wrapped jars in a warm place and let them ferment for eight hours. Then enjoy a glass of creamy qatiq; it will be a drinkable but noticeably thicker liquid.

To turn into suzma, the qatiq must drain for about eight hours.
To turn into suzma, the qatiq must drain for about eight hours. SUSIE ARMITAGE FOR GASTRO OBSCURA

Step 2

Now, it’s time to turn your qatiq into suzma. First, add salt to taste. Then carefully pour your qatiq into a flour sack towel. I found it easiest to do this by laying the cloth over a colander first. Secure the top of the towel with a rubber band and hang it over a bowl or your sink to drain. You can also use a cheesecloth, but make sure it’s not too gauzy. The qatiq should drip steadily as it drains, but you don’t want it to gush through all at once. Leave it for about eight hours as the whey separates.

Step 3

Now we have suzma; set some aside to eat on bread or as a dip for vegetables. If you’ve purchased your suzma, it may be thick enough to begin rolling into qurt (Step 4). However, if you made your own, you may need to let it drain in the cloth for another few days to reach the optimal consistency. (I learned the hard way by trying to roll suzma that wasn’t thick enough and wound up with sticky, yogurt-covered hands.)

There is no exact timeline, but Sharipova says the suzma is ready to be rolled when you can stand a spoon in it. Mine took about two days to get there.

Step 4

Once your suzma is nice and thick, add salt to taste and any additions, like ground red pepper or dried herbs. Roll it into balls, keeping in mind that smaller ones will dry quicker. (Mine were about the size of small to medium gumballs.)

Step 5

Put your qurt balls on a wooden cutting board, cover them with a clean dish towel, and leave them in a warm, sunny place to dry for several days, depending on how hard you’d like them to be.

If warm and sunny is not in the cards where you live, you can use Max Malkiel’s method. (I discovered his advice after my first batch of qurt started to grow mold as it dried.) Set your oven on the lowest possible temperature—he uses 50° C, which is approximately 122° F—and place your qurt inside on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper for an hour. Do not preheat the oven first.

Your qurt should now be a bit rubbery. Dry the balls with a hair dryer on full power for about 10 minutes. Set aside to dry further at room temperature. Repeat the oven and hair dryer steps three days in a row. For harder qurt, leave to dry for a few more days at room temperature.

Enjoy your qurt and go slowly. A little bit of the salty stuff goes a long way! Store in a breathable cloth bag in a dry place or in a paper bag in the fridge.