Task & Purpose: How to Layer Your Survival Kits for a Real-world Disaster

U.S. Air Force Senior Airmen Brittany Cup Choy, 20th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment journeyman, packs an ACES II ejection seat survival kit at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., March 7, 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christopher Maldonado)

In How to layer your survival kits for a real-world disaster U.S. Air Force Senior Airmen Brittany Cup Choy, discusses five basic survival kits to help you prepare for real world disasters. Read the entire article at Task & Purpose with more pictures.

Zombies, an alien invasion, or any other of your favorite apocalyptic scenarios are often used to spur interest in survival planning because each one forces you to think about being self-reliant. While it’s fun to plan for unrealistic situations, a good layered survival system actually prepares you for known and likely scenarios.

What would you do if your car slid off of an icy road at night in an area without cell service? How would you prepare if your house was built in a wildfire area? Or, will you be ready if you’re unlucky enough to have your house destroyed by a tornado? 

If any of those questions apply to you and you don’t have answers, keep reading because we’ve got you covered. In this article, we’ll show you how to create a survival system for real-world disasters. We’ll cover things like layering survival kits, general safety tips and best practices, and overall preparedness.

Why you should trust us

During my 17 years as an Army infantryman, I’ve had to survive in environments with extreme temperatures and severe weather with limited gear for extended periods of time. I’ve also graduated from Survive Evade Resist and Escape (SERE) school, and now I train military advisors. I’ve also applied this training in my everyday life for everything from flat tires to power outages to tornados. Through all of these experiences, I’ve developed a survival mentality in which I understand the importance of a layered survival system. The following information was based on training, experience, rehearsals, and extensive research. 

A layered survival system

A layered survival system means preparing a survival kit for the situations you are most likely to encounter. You probably have some kind of layered survival system in place already. Most people have an everyday carry (EDC), a road kit in their vehicle, and a go-bag in their house. But an optimal layered survival system is more than just a bunch of kits adding up to a bunch of stuff. It’s a way of planning and thinking to get the most out of your system, so you end up with gear that you actually need and redundancies you could actually use. In this article, we’ll cover five basic types of survival kits, which will prepare you for most real-world disasters. These include:

  • Everyday carry
  • Vehicle loadout
  • Cache
  • Go bag
  • Weapons package

In the survival community, we’re guided by a saying: “We live out of our bag, fight out of our kit, and survive out of our pockets.” The point of the saying is to prompt you into thinking about your relationship — both literally and figuratively — with your gear. 

In layman’s terms, to “live out of your bag” means that you should pack an actual bag so you and your family can survive for an extended period of time. A good standard is to pack so you’re covering all your needs for 72 hours. 

To “fight out of your kit” refers to protection. It’s a kit designed solely to protect you and your family from harm. This kit often consists of a firearm, ammo, and armor, as well as a trauma kit or medical pouch. 

Finally, to “survive out of your pockets” means having the necessary gear for survival on your person. This involves developing a proper everyday carry, which is your first and probably most important survival kit because it may be all you have if you cannot access your other kits. 

Everyday carry

Your everyday carry, or EDC, refers to the items you carry on a daily basis. They’re different for everyone, and if you’re anything like me, you might add, remove, or upgrade items every once in a while. A full EDC looks something like this: 

  • Money: Always carry some form of payment like a credit or debit card and cash. While cash is king, you can get away with about $100 of local currency. That should cover basic needs like transportation, information, food, etc. 
  • Knife: A good folding knife or small fixed blade. Think of it as a tool rather than a weapon. Survival should always be at the forethought of your choices. 
  • Cordage: A piece of paracord is monumental in making traps, lashing, or repairing things. Five to six feet of cord is more than enough. Braided keychains are very useful. 
  • Flashlight: A light source always comes in handy whether you need to signal for help or just need to see in the dark. A small penlight is more than sufficient.  
  • Handgun: If you decide to carry for self-defense, find a pistol or revolver you’re comfortable with using and carrying, which means training and finding the right holster. 
  • Reload: If you end up carrying a weapon, you should carry a reload as well, like a spare magazine or moon clip.  
  • Lighter: Always carry a fire-making device. Stormproof matches, butane lighters, etc. If not, a small ferrocerium rod will throw a spark even in the wettest of conditions.  
  • Jacket: Always take a warm- or wet-weather layer with you (even if you just stash it in the car). Even in the desert, you can become hypothermic. Your clothing is always your first layer of shelter. 
  • SnackA protein bar, energy bar, nuts, dried fruits, etc. This could be a mental gain or give you the energy to keep going. At the very least, it could calm the kids while you plan your next move.
  • Water bottle: Water is life. The average person needs about two to three liters a day to maintain good health. I recommend a water bottle with a built-in water filter.  

If you make everything on this list part of your EDC, you will be able to find a practical solution to almost any small-scale problem you encounter. Now, you might think that it’s a lot of stuff to carry, and you wouldn’t be wrong. If you do decide to carry everything on this list, you might want to consider getting a sling bag or fanny pack. 

Vehicle loadout 

Your vehicle loadout should prepare you not just for a flat tire or dead battery, but also for what you might encounter or, depending on your location, what you might not encounter (like a gas station). You might have enough gear to get by in most towns or cities, but what if you’re in a rural area and you: get two flat tires; run out of gas; hit a deer; experience an electrical fire: or get stuck on the side of the road on a freezing night? Will you be ready for any of those situations? If the answer is no or maybe, the following lists will ensure you are prepared. 

Recovery kit

  • Jack with a locking bar
  • Full spare tire and wheel package
  • Breaker bar or battery-powered impact gun
  • Fix-a-flat and/or tire-plug kit
  • Portable power station with air compressor and jumper cables
  • Wheel chock
  • Work gloves
  • Warning triangles
  • Flares

Spare fuel package

  • 2.5- or five-gallon fuel can
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Vehicle-specific fuel inlet funnel (if applicable)
  • Shop towels

First aid kit

  • Burn gel or bandages
  • Chest seal
  • NPA (Nasopharyngeal tube)
  • Tourniquet
  • Gauze
  • Iodine tincture
  • Disinfectant wipes
  • Assorted band-aids
  • Israeli bandage
  • Medical shears or seatbelt cutter
  • Applicable medications
  • Medical tape
  • Splint

Sustenance

  • Snacks or emergency rations
  • One gallon of water

Shelter

  • Extra set of clothing
  • Cold-weather jacket
  • Camp hammock or tent
  • Tarp

Miscellaneous

  • Road atlas
  • Traction mats
  • Shovel
  • Toilet paper and baby wipes
  • 3.5 pounds of baking soda (for fuel spills, battery explosions, and brushing your teeth)

NOTE: Before you go loading your vehicle with everything on this list, you should know that some of the items (like gasoline) can be extremely dangerous to store inside your vehicle. They can be even more dangerous if you’re in an accident. Therefore, you should take proper precautions and comply with state and local ordinances regarding such issues.  

An emergency cushion

Preparing a cache of emergency supplies is just good practice. It doesn’t matter if you stick it in a hole in your backyard, inside an old storage unit, or in a safety deposit box at the bank — an emergency cushion will help if you’re in a jam. You might be wondering what kind of jam am I in? In pop culture, such things are used when a character decides to go on the lam. Instead, think of a small disaster like a house fire or tornado. Those sorts of things can take a while to sort out, so for an emergency cushion, you’ll want:  

  • Money: $500 to $1,000 as a general rule. Certainly, enough to get you into a hotel and feed the family until you can figure out the next step.
    • You also might want to store items of value for bartering
  • Copies of keys, if applicable, for storage units, friend/family home, transportation, etc. 
  • Personal documents like insurance information, licenses, medical information, etc.
  • Communication tools like a prepaid cell phone, or a satellite phone with a plan, which is useful if in an area where fires or weather can damage cell towers. 

Go bag

Although there’s a lot of overlap, a go bag is very similar to a bug out bag. One is meant for a temporary evacuation of your residence while the other is meant for a long journey. While the difference between the two might be semantics, it’s important to understand the differences before you pack it. 

For this article, we’re focusing on go bags. It’s something you stow by your front door or inside your car and fill with essentials meant to get you to a temporary shelter or back home. The packing list might be similar to a day hike. They include: 

Shelter

  • Poncho
  • Poncho liner
  • 25-foot cordage

Fire

  • Ferro rod
  • Stormproof matches
  • Lighter
  • Cotton balls soaked in Vaseline

Water

  • Bottle filtration system
  • Iodine tablets
  • Water bottle

Food

  • Emergency food rations
  • 10-foot snare wire
  • 50-foot fishing line 16 pounds test
  • Small to medium fishing hooks

Medical

  • Burn gel or bandages
  • Suter kit
  • Tourniquet
  • Israeli bandage
  • Medical tape
  • Band-aids
  • Quick-clot gauze
  • Alcohol wipes
  • Personal hygiene items

Navigation

  • Compass
  • Local map

Tools

  • Folding saw
  • Settlers tool
  • Multitool
  • Fixed-blade knife
  • Canteen cup
  • Headlamp
  • Hatchet

Miscellaneous

  • Electrical tape
  • Zip ties
  • Sewing kit
  • Batteries

By now, you have probably noticed some overlap between the go-bag and vehicle loadout. It’s true, there are some, but the reason for the redundancies is if one system fails for whatever reason — lost go-bag or missing car — you have the backup. It’s another layer in your layered survival kit.

Weapons package

A weapons package should be designed to prepare you for the worst-case scenario. Think about a natural disaster that disables critical infrastructure and outpaces government resources. A good example is Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Many all over the Gulf Coast were left stranded without electricity, running water, or protection by local authorities. And since then, multiple states have loosened carry laws during a state of emergency. With that being said, a weapons package in this setting is intended for protection and defense (rather than offense). A weapons package typically consists of three weapon systems: an emergency EDC, a backup, and a main gun. 

Emergency EDC

  • Sub-compact to full-sized handgun (tailored to attire)
  • IWB holster
  • Extra mag/speedloader/shells

Backup

  • Compact to full-size handgun
  • Gun belt with holsters and a survival knife
  • 2x magazine pouch or more, plus ammo for the main gun
  • Small medical pouch (built for hemorrhage/gunshot wounds)

Main gun (trunk gun) 

  • Long gun
  • Fighting load carrier or plate carrier
  • Extra magazines or shells (no more than 3x magazines/35 shot shells)

Additionally, whenever you’re handling weapons, you should practice proper gun safety and comply with all local, state, and federal laws… (continues)

RealClear Politics: When Misinformation Drives Bad Policy

In When Misinformation Drives Bad Policy, John R. Lott, Jr., president of the Crime Prevention Research Center, writes about the American public’s badly misinformed perception of violent crime. On average, the American voters believes that 46% of violent crimes involve firearms, when the figure is actually less than 8%. John Lott has made a name for himself with such books as More Guns, Less Crime, The Bias Against Guns, Dumbing Down the Courts, and The War on Guns among others.

To President Biden, public health researchers, and the media, violent crime is all about guns. But a new survey finds that people are badly misinformed about how much violent crime involves guns. The average likely American voter is way off, thinking that over 46% of violent crimes involve guns. In fact, the true figure is less than 8%.

Not surprisingly, those who believe that most violent crime involves guns are more likely to view gun control as the solution.

Biden has given four major speeches on violent crime (hereherehere, and here). Each one of them was focused on enforcement of gun control laws. In the four speeches, he mentioned “gun” or “firearm” 179 times. The term “weapon,” sometimes in connection with “assault weapon,” was used another 31 times.

The words “crime,” “violence,” or “violent” were mentioned about half as often – 94 times. He only mentions the words “murder” and “homicide” seven times in these four presentations, and entirely omits them from his two most recent talks.

But this “guns first” approach ignores a basic fact – over 92% of violent crimes in America do not involve firearms. Although Biden blames guns for the increase in violent crime, the latest data show that gun crimes fell dramatically.

The U.S. Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey, in the latest year available (2020), shows that there were 4,558,150 rapes, robberies, and aggravated assaults, and the FBI reports 21,570 murders. Of those, 350,460 rapes, robberies, and aggravated assaults (see Table 8) and 13,620 murders involved firearms. So, while it’s true that firearms are the weapon of choice in more than half the murders in this country, it’s also true that only 7.9% of violent crimes were committed with guns.

The new McLaughlin & Associates survey of 1,000 likely voters from April 20 to 26 for the Crime Prevention Research Center shows how misinformed people are. People across the country, of all races and incomes, have wildly inaccurate beliefs about how frequently violent crime involves guns.

Even so, there are large differences across groups. The average Democrat estimates that 56.9% of violent crimes involve guns, whereas the typical Republican gave an answer of 37%. Those with the highest incomes (over $250,000 per year) and those who work for the government give the highest numbers – 56.1% and 51% respectively. Women (50%) believe that more violent crimes involve guns than men do (43%). Urban Americans say 48%, whereas rural Americans say 40%. But the biggest difference is between blacks (59%) and Asians (31%).

The McLaughlin survey also gave people three options on the best way to fight crime: Pass more gun control laws, more strictly enforce current laws, or have police concentrate on arresting repeat violent criminals.

Some respondents at least got it right that less than 20% of violent crime involves guns. Just 8% prioritized more gun laws, and 15% focused on stricter enforcement of existing laws. An overwhelming 71% thought the best way of fighting crime was to arrest violent criminals.

Some likely voters thought that more than 80% of the violent crime involved guns. Most supported either more gun control laws (33%) or more strict enforcement of current gun laws (28%). Only 36% of them wanted the focus on arresting violent criminals.

Those who think that most violent crime is committed with guns consistently support more gun control. Those who don’t believe that instead want to focus on arresting violent criminals and keeping them in jail.

Perhaps the gun control debate would be very different if the media had done a better job of informing people about crime. The most newsworthy cases, unfortunately, don’t tend to be typical of violent crime. Focusing on how to solve 8% of violent crime does nothing to solve the other 92%.

Radio Contra Ep. 158 Fourth Generation Warfare

NC Scout of Brushbeater.org speaks with author Marc J. O’Connor in episode 158 of Radio Contra.

Episode 158. I’m joined by Marc J. O’Connor, author of “Electronic Warfare for the 4GW Practitioner” to talk fourth generation warfare unfolding in American politics, the strategy the Left has employed, the role of NGOs in subverting American infrastructure and what this means for the future of the US.

Radio Contra Ep. 158 – NC Scout and Marc J. O’Connor on 4th Gen. Warfare

Doom and Bloom: What To Do About Baby Formula Shortages

The Altons at Doom and Bloom Medical have an article up on What to Do About Baby Formula Shortages.

A large survey of 11,000 stores have found that fully 43% are sold out of baby formula. More mothers are breast-feeding their babies these days, but most still find themselves using baby formula at one point or another in their child’s first six months of life. A formula shortage panic is part and parcel of a society that is unprepared for shortages in the face of disasters and other upheavals.

In this case, the formula shortage is thought to be due to a major recall by one of the three companies that make the product: Abbott labs. Recently, several infants were hospitalized with cronobacter sakazakii, a bacterium that was identified in the company’s Michigan plant. One of the babies is reported to have died. Supply chain issues may also be a factor in the current crisis.

If you have Abbott products in your pantry, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) asks that you check to see if it might be at risk for contamination. Recalled lots can be identified. Check to see if the first two digits of the product code are 22 through 37, the code contains K8, SH, or Z2, and has an expiration date later than April 1, 2022. Abbott’s website has a search feature that allows you to plug in your lot numbers to see if it’s part of the recall.

Baby formula is meant to be as close to human breast milk as possible, making an acceptable substitute difficult to find. What to do? You should first consult with your pediatrician, of course, about the issue. Some pediatricians say that Pedialyte is an option for a day or so to keep the baby hydrated. Others say that toddler formula will do for a few days while you’re hunting for the right stuff. Infants over one year of age on formula can slowly transition to whole milk. A few say small amounts of cow’s milk can even be given in babies 6 month of age or over for a short time.

The brands removed from supermarket shelves include popular brands like Similac, Alimentum, and Elecare. Pediatricians from Prisma Health are reported in South Carolina’s Greenville News as suggesting the following substitutes for recalled products:

Similac 360 Total Care/Advance substitutions: Gerber Good Start Gentle, Enfamil Infant, Enfamil NeuroPro, Enfamil Enspire, Up&Up Advantage/Infant, Parent’s Choice Advantage/Infant

Similac Soy Isomil substitutions: Gerber Good Start Soy, Enfamil Plant Based, Up&Up Soy, Parent’s Choice Soy

Similac Neosure substitutions: Enfamil Enfacare

Similac Sensitive/360 Total Care Sensitive substitutions: Gerber Good Start Soothe, Enfamil Gentlease, Up& Up Sensitivity, Parent’s Choice Sensitivity

Similac for Spit-up substitutions: Enfamil AR, Parent’s Choice Added Rice Starch

Similac Total Comfort substitutions: Enfamil Reguline, Up&Up Advantage Complete Comfort, Parent’s Choice Tender

Similac Alimentum substitutions: Gerber Good Start Extensive HA, Enfamil Nutramigen, Up&Up Hypoallergenic, Parent’s Choice Hypoallergenic

Similac Elecare substitutions: Nutricia Neocate Infant, Enfamil Puramino, Nestle Alfamino

If these options are not available, there isn’t a lot of advice that the government or the pediatric establishment give as alternatives. They recommend continuing to breastfeed or returning to breastfeeding if the infant was recently weaned. Another suggestion is to search for it in places other than supermarkets: pharmacies, for example. Look in areas where the infant population is low (such as senior communities), you may find more available there. Of course, if you can find your baby’s formula online from a trusted source, use that avenue.

If you do find a supply, though, the government says not to get more than a month’s worth (because that’s just greedy). Needless to say, advice like this goes against the grain for preparedness folk.

It’s possible that an infant could transition to solid food. A baby that’s ready should be able to:

  • remain stable in a sitting position.
  • hold their head steady while sitting up.
  • have sufficient coordination so they can look at food, pick it up, and put it in their mouth by themselves.
  • swallow food easily without frequently spitting up.

Other behaviors could be mistaken as ready for solids. Chewing fists and wanting extra formula are not indications to switch over.

The opinion of the FDA, CDC, and almost all pediatricians is that no formula shortage should result in using cow’s milk in young infants, plant milks like soy or almond, watering down existing formula, or making your own. They explain that all these options are dangerous and can overload an infant’s kidneys or cause electrolyte imbalances that can lead to seizures. The CDC states that homemade formula recipes you’ll find online can contain harmful ingredients or be contaminated.  They recommend you ignore those “mommy blogger” recipes.

Unfortunately, solutions to the problem are scarce. Some websites actually advise mothers to borrow a can of formula from a neighbor as a strategy. Not exactly a long-term answer.

Of course, families with infants should listen to their pediatricians, but what happens when the approved commercial substitutes are sold out? What if a disaster knocks out formula manufacturing altogether? In the old days, there were nursemaids, but that doesn’t seem like a popular career path today. Up until the 1960s, some mothers were even sent home with homemade formula recipes.

If the formula shortage continues, you might have little choice but to buck the pediatric establishment and make your own. I’m not a pediatrician and haven’t been in a situation where I needed formula and there was none to be had. Having said that, you have to do something if you can’t find formula and your baby needs to eat. Here are a number of links to various “mommy blogger” homemade recipes (none of which, I have to admit, I’ve tested myself):

https://wehavekids.com/parenting/Emergency-Baby-Formula

https://dustyoldthing.com/1950s-homemade-formula-recipes/

Formula – Homemade Baby Formula – The Weston A. Price Foundation

https://wellnessmama.com/wprm_print/203435

It should be noted that no formula recipe using honey is safe for infants, due to the risk of botulism.

For now, it may take a little searching to find the formula you need, but be sure to consider what you’d do if there was none to be found. That’s part of being prepared; if we all had a plan of action for every contingency, we’d be a nation that could weather any shortage.

(Addendum: There’s a program called “Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies” that has formula stockpiles in various parts of the country. Worth checking into.)

TACDA: Preparing Your Neighborhood for Emergencies

The following video is a recording of a webinar presented by The American Civil Defense Association earlier this year on Preparing Your Neighborhood for Emergencies. It goes over getting your neighbors on board, planning for possible emergencies, HELP and OK signs, training, and how the neighborhood responds. As it is a recording of a webinar, there are questions and answers throughout the presentation.

Washington Policy Center: Trust Your Neighbors but Identify Your Cattle

Pam Lewison at the Washington Policy Center discusses Electronic Cattle Transaction Reporting (ECTR) related (“identified cattle”) inspection fee reductions and their disproportionate effect on dairy and small cattle operations who don’t use ECTR (“unidentified cattle”) in Trust Your Neighbors but Identify Your Cattle.

The Washington State Department of Agriculture is proposing a cost cut for livestock brand inspections for “identified cattle” from $1.30 per animal to $0.80 per animal and is set to host a hearing May 24 on the topic.

According to the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA), the cost cut will save livestock producers money and maintain the solvency of the livestock inspection program at the same time.

The saying in cattle country goes, “trust your neighbors but brand your cattle.” 

The problem our state faces is the need to both identify livestock and log animal disease traceability information at the same time. Brands are a useful and necessary tool for animals that spend a portion of their lives away from the watchful eyes of their owners. RFID or EID tags are ear tags that provide a digital storage mechanism for animal disease traceability.

Washington state is home to some 9,000 ranch families raising approximately 230,000 head of beef cattle. In addition to our robust beef industry, there are more than 400 dairies in Washington state housing approximately 275,000 dairy cows. The care and raising of these animals vary based upon the practices of the livestock owner but, generally, beef cattle are on range pasture for a portion of the year while dairy cattle are handled every day.

The inspection cost-cutting proposal from WSDA is only applicable to “identified” cattle, or cattle that have an RFID/EID tag and may be branded. Leaving “unidentified” cattle, or cattle that do not have an RFID/EID tag or a brand, still set to pay a fee of $4 per animal. The proposal notes the goal is to wean livestock producers off the need to have inspectors present for private cattle sales and incentivize them to use the ECTR system instead.

However, it still disproportionately punishes dairy operators and small livestock operations, neither of which have a particular incentive to brand their cattle or use an RFID/EID tag, by not addressing the $4 per animal fee for all unidentified cattle.

The livestock inspection department should set a single flat rate for all cattle to better encourage use of RFID/EID tags and logging of private sales via ECTR. A single per animal fee may help foster the use of RFID/EID tags by livestock owners who have resisted the transition from a blank plastic tag to the electronic tags.

Unlike many cattle-heavy states and our direct neighbors, Washington hasn’t figured out how to create an inspection system based on a flat fee per animal. Several other western states – Idaho, Oregon, Montana, Nevada, and Colorado – all charge a flat fee per animal with an additional call-out service fee for any inspections that occur on a ranch rather than in a sale barn. The flat fees charged range in price from $0.55 per head (Colorado) to $1.19 per head (Idaho). Other fees like check-off assessments and animal disease traceability are also added on to those costs…(continues)

The Hill: White House Yields to a National Rage Addiction

Jonathan Turley, Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University, wrote an opinion piece for The Hill titled From court packing to leaking to doxing: White House yields to a national rage addiction. In the piece, Turley discusses Democrats’ continued bootlicking behavior toward the mob.

Nearly 70 years ago, a little-known lawyer named Joseph Welch famously confronted Sen. Joseph McCarthy (D-Wis.) in defense of a young man hounded over alleged un-American views. Welch told McCarthy that “I think I have never really gauged … your recklessness” before asking: “Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”

It was a defining moment in American politics as Welch called out a politician who had abandoned any semblance of principle in the pursuit of political advantage. This week, the same scene played out in the White House with one striking difference: This was no Joseph Welch to be found.

After someone in the Supreme Court leaked a draft opinion in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a virtual flash-mob formed around the court and its members demanding retributive justice. This included renewed calls for court “packing,” as well as the potential targeting of individual justices at their homes. Like the leaking of the opinion itself, the doxing of justices and their families is being treated as fair game in our age of rage.

There is more than a license to this rage; there is an addiction to it. That was evident in March 2020 when Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) stood in front of the Supreme Court to threaten Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh by name: “I want to tell you, Gorsuch, I want to tell you, Kavanaugh, you have released the whirlwind and you will pay the price! You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions.” Schumer’s reckless rhetoric was celebrated, not condemned, by many on the left, even after he attempted to walk it back by stating that “I should not have used the words I used … they did not come out the way I intended to.”

What occurred at the White House this week is even more troubling. When asked for a response to the leaking of a justice’s draft opinion, White House press secretary Jen Psaki declined to condemn the leaker and said the real issue was the opinion itself. Then she was asked about the potential targeting of justices and their families at their homes, and whether that might be considered extreme. It should have been another easy question; few Americans would approve of such doxing, particularly since some of the justices have young children at home. Yet Psaki declared that “I don’t have an official U.S. government position on where people protest,” adding that “peaceful protest is not extreme.

In reality, not having an official position on doxing and harassing Supreme Court justices and their families is a policy.

Whether protests are judged to be extreme seems often to depend upon their underlying viewpoints. When Westboro Baptist Church activists protested at the funeral of Beau Biden, it was peaceful — but many critics rightly condemned the demonstration as extreme; some even approved of Westboro activists being physically assaulted. When the church brought its case before the Supreme Court, some of us supported its claims despite our vehement disagreement with their views, but 42 senators filed an amicus brief asking the court to deny free-speech protections for such protests. The court ultimately ruled 8-1 in favor of the church.

In this case, the Biden administration and the Justice Department have condemned the court’s leaked draft — but not the threatened protests at justices’ homes, even though those arguably could be treated as a crime. Under 18 U.S.C. 1507, it is a federal crime to protest near a residence occupied by a judge or jury with the intent to influence their decisions in pending cases, and this case remains pending. (Ironically, prosecution could be difficult if the protesters said they had no intent other than to vent anger.)

Even if protests at justices’ homes are constitutionally protected, that does not make them right, any more than the lawful Army-McCarthy hearings of 1954 were right.

In 1954, the left was targeted for its political views; today, it is the left which is calling for censorshipblacklisting and doxing. In such moments of reckless rage, presidents often have become calming voices, tempering extremist passions in their own parties. When they have failed to do so, history has judged them harshly, as in the case of President Eisenhower’s belated condemnation of Sen. McCarthy, something he reportedly regretted for the rest of his life.

President Biden has repeatedly shown that polls, not principles, guide his presidency. He showed integrity as a senator by denouncing court packing as a “bonehead … terrible, terrible” idea. However, he has stayed silent as today’s Democrats have pushed to pack the court with an instant liberal majority, a demand that increased this week. Biden long supported the Senate’s filibuster rule and said efforts to eliminate it would be “disastrous” — but when today’s mob formed, he flipped and denounced the filibuster as a “relic” of the Jim Crow era.

Even on abortion, Biden has shifted with the polls. He once opposed Roe v. Wade and supported an amendment that would negate the decision. At the time, he declared that “I don’t think that a woman has the sole right to say what should happen to her body.” Now President Biden has switched his position without really switching his logic. He recently declared that he supported Roe because “I’m just a child of God; I exist” and thus can decide what happens to his body. Accordingly, he denounced the Supreme Court’s draft opinion as “radical” and affirmed the right of a woman “to abort a child.

Whether it is court leaking, packing, doxing or other tactics, many Democratic politicians and pundits continue to follow the mob rather than risk its ire…(continues)

Doom and Bloom Medical: Bleeding Wound Management, Part. I

The Altons at Doom and Bloom Medical have part one of an article on bleeding wound management.

In a destabilized society, traumatic wounds may be commonplace is scenarios where there is a desperate population and no rule of law. Even routine activities of daily survival may cause injuries that could become life-threatening. Therefore, the family or group medic must always be prepared to deal with bleeding wounds. Some of these, especially those in the abdomen and chest, are likely to be fatal without advanced medical care. In this article, let’s commemorate National Stop The Bleed Month (I’m a certified instructor through the American College of Surgeons) by concentrating on those hemorrhages that are survivable.

Cuts in the skin can be minor or catastrophic, superficial or deep, clean or infected. Significant cuts (also called “lacerations”) penetrate both layers of the skin (dermis and epidermis) and are associated with bleeding, the amount of which depends on the blood vessels disrupted. Knowing how to manage hemorrhagic wounds quickly and effectively will be of paramount importance for the survival medic.

In studies of casualties in recent wars, 50 percent of those killed in action died of blood loss. 25 percent died within the first “golden hour” after being wounded. The golden hour is the time after which a victim’s chance of survival diminishes significantly if untreated, with a threefold increase in death rate for every 30 minutes without care thereafter.

If there is active bleeding and the wrong artery is severed, however, it could take just a few minutes for a person to “bleed out” and be beyond medical help. A severed femoral artery can lose more than a pint of blood a minute. With hemorrhage, the reality should, perhaps, be called the “platinum five minutes” instead.

Venous bleeding manifests as dark red blood that drains steadily from the wound, while arterial bleeding is bright red (due to higher oxygen content) and comes out in spurts that correspond to the pulse of the patient. As the vein and artery usually run together, a serious laceration can have both.

Once below the level of the skin, large blood vessels, muscles, and nerves may be involved. You’ll identify more problems with vessel and nerve damage in deep lacerations and crush injuries. In any case, bleeding control must be achieved.

In response to fatalities due to bleeding in recent military conflicts, the U.S. instituted Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) guidelines. It is thought that up to one in five deaths from hemorrhage in the field may be prevented with quick action by those at the scene. Civilian and law enforcement authorities have established similar strategies in response to the hard lessons learned by our soldiers; so should the family medic.

BLOOD BASICS

It’s worthwhile for the medic who may be dealing with bleeding wounds to know some basics about blood. Blood is a specialized fluid that comprises about 7-8 percent of a person’s total weight. It’s involved in:

•             Delivering oxygen to the body from the lungs and eliminating carbon dioxide (a process called “gas exchange”).

•             Forming clots that stop hemorrhages.

•             Transporting substances that fight infections and disease.

•             Delivering waste products to the kidneys and liver.

•             Helping to regulate body temperature.

There are four main components to blood:

Red blood cells (RBCs): RBCs are the cells that carry oxygen to body tissues, thanks to a special iron-containing protein called “hemoglobin.” Red cells account for 40-45 percent of total blood volume. They start as immature cells in the bone marrow that mature and are released into the bloodstream. The average lifespan of a red blood cell is about 120 days.

White blood cells (WBCs): These cells account for only about one percent of total blood volume, but are extremely important for fighting infection and disease.  There are several types, including short-lived cells deployed for immediate response and longer-lived ones that regulate the function of immune cells, make antibodies, and directly attack infected cells and tumors.

Platelets and other clotting factors: These are small cell fragments that allow bleeding to stop by gathering at the wound site and helping to form a clot. Like RBCs and WBCs, they originate in the bone marrow.

Plasma: A yellow liquid that transports all of the above throughout the body.

Together, these components are referred to as “whole blood.”

PHYSICAL EFFECTS OF BLOOD LOSS

Evaluating blood loss is an important aspect of dealing with wounds. An average size human adult has about 10 pints (4.73 liters or 4730 ml) of blood. The effect on the body caused by blood loss varies with the amount incurred. The American College of Surgeons recognizes four classes of acute hemorrhage, along with expected signs and symptoms:

Class I:  Hemorrhage is less or equal to 15 percent of blood volume (1.5 pints/750 ml) in an average adult male. 750 ml is the amount in a bottle of wine. A person donating 1 pint of blood is giving slightly less than 500 ml. At this level there are almost no signs or symptoms, although some may have a slightly rapid pulse and feel vaguely faint or anxious.

Class II:  Hemorrhage is 15 to 30% loss of total blood volume (1.5-3 pints/750-1500 ml).  The body’s efforts to compensate for less red blood cells at this point results in a faster heartbeat and breathing rate to speed oxygen to tissues.  This patient will appear pale and skin will be cool.  They’ll feel shaky, weak, and anxious. Blood pressure remains, for now, within normal range. Urine production begins to slow down in order to retain fluid volume.

Class III: Hemorrhage is 30 to 40% loss of blood (3-4 pints/1500-2000 ml).  At this point, the heart will be beating very quickly and breathing very fast as the body encounters difficulty getting enough oxygen to tissues.  Blood pressure drops. Smaller blood vessels in extremities constrict to keep the body core circulation going. This patient will be confused, pale, and in hypovolemic (low blood volume) shock. Urine decreases significantly. In normal times, blood transfusion is usually necessary. 

Class IV:  Hemorrhage is more than 40% of total blood volume (greater than 4 pints/2000 ml). The heart can no longer maintain blood pressure and circulation.  All parameters are well outside normal range and the patient becomes lethargic due to lack of oxygen and circulation to the brain. Without major resuscitative help at this point, organs like the kidneys fail. The patient loses consciousness. Heart rate and respiration slows and eventually ceases as the patient dies.

ABCDE VS. CABDE

The traditional initial field assessment of a victim usually involves the acronym ABCDE. Although ABCDE may mean different things to different people, one interpretation goes as follows…(continues)

The Machine Gun Nest: Biden’s Ghost Gun Rule is Dead on Arrival

The Machine Gun Nest writes about the Biden administration’s latest attempt to strip rights from the American people in Biden’s Ghost Gun Rule is Dead on Arrival Thanks to the 0% Receiver. It has long been recognized in the USA that a person may manufacture a firearm for their personal use with no need for any licensing, registration, or serial numbering. Gun controllers, however, are willfully ignorant on the current laws, historical context, and even the simplest technical understanding of firearms.

Yesterday, President Biden, the Department of Justice, and the ATF announced the details of their new 364-page rule for the redefinition of “frame or receiver.” In doing so, they have decided to attempt an illegal rewrite of the 1968 Gun Control Act. 

If you’ve been paying close attention to headlines the past few weeks, you may have noticed a surge in articles pertaining to “ghost guns.”

The corporate media has been setting up Biden for an easy “win” on guns with this new rule. Likely because of Biden’s low poll numbers headed into the midterms. 

Initially announced in April of 2021, almost a full year later, we’re finally able to see what sort of egregious gun control has been put together for the law-abiding gun owner. 

The rule stems from the gun control lobby’s obsession with home-built firearms. The problem here, though, is that to regulate privately made firearms, or “PMFs” as they’re defined in the new rule, the ATF had to cast an extremely wide legal net. 

In the 364-page rule, we can see that the Biden admin intends to ban “ghost guns” by creating a new class of highly regulated items by redefining the term “firearm” to include parts and collections of parts that the ATF now considers to be “readily” convertible into functional firearms. 

The example used in the press conference was a Polymer80 kit, which quickly sold out of all available models after the announcement of the rule change. 

It’s important to note that from what we can tell from the rule change and the opinion of others in the know, this rule does not ban possession of firearms made from 80% kits. It also does not mandate the serialization of those already made firearms or 3D printed items for personal use. What it does do is require the serialization of 80% kits that are in possession of Federal Firearms Licensees (also known as FFLs) and manufacturers. It’s interesting because the expected outcome of this rule, as Biden pitched, was the complete and absolute ban of “ghost guns” altogether. 

In addition, ATF has commanded Federal Firearms Licensees to hold 4473 records on-site indefinitely. This small change may go unnoticed by many, but this is a significant step towards a legitimate registry. This action shouldn’t surprise many gun owners, who already know that these rule changes are not about saving lives; they’re only about the consolidation of power.

Firearms Policy Coalition had this to say: 

“Far from “clarifying” anything, the rulemaking tortures simple terms from law into multi-part definitions, with newly injected sub-terms like “readily” having their own lengthy definitions. This is clearly an attempt to sidestep Congress, as Biden even indicated in his remarks today.”

Here’s the irony of the situation, though. Regardless of how overly complex it is or how wide a legal net the ATF decides to cast, this rule change will have little to no effect. 

That’s because of the 0% Receiver. 

In response to the announcement of the Biden Admin’s proposed rule change, Defense Distributed decided to shift its focus to the creation of 0% receivers

Cody Wilson of Defense Distributed had this to say about the new rule:

“The receiver rule is an illegal attempt to rewrite the GCA outside of Congress. Nevertheless, Ghost Gunner anticipated this maneuver and is now shipping Zero Percent receivers which perfectly defeat the rule from day one. Americans will always be able to build firearms in the privacy of their homes.”

This rule change has caused a surge in demand for Defense Distributed’s Ghost Gunner 3. The Ghost Gunner is a small CNC Machine that users can insert a bar of aluminum, press a button, and after the machine mills out the metal, have a completely legal, privately made, non-serialized firearm frame ready to go. 

Because all the Ghost Gunner 3 needs is a block of aluminum to produce the firearm frame, the Biden Admin & ATF would need to regulate blocks of aluminum to stop people from producing privately made firearms. While the DOJ may be able to convince a judge that an 80% lower is likely to be made into a gun, a block of aluminum is a much harder sell. 

The same can be said for 3D printing. Are we to assume that PLA plastic is to be regulated as a firearm? 

Because gun control has a hard time passing in the legislative branch (even with all three branches of government controlled by democrats currently), the Biden admin has resorted to governing by executive fiat, using the executive branch to pass new “regulations” using existing law. 

As of right now, the rule change has 120 days to take effect after it hits the federal register. Many groups such as Gun Owners of America & Firearms Policy Coalition have already announced their intent to sue the Federal Government over these new rule changes.

Herland Report: The Global Financial Revolution and the End of the PetroDollar Hegemony?

The Ukraine-Russia war and related sanctions have driven Russia to work with China to forward alternatives to the Swift banking system and the hegemony of the US Dollar in international trade. Much has been written lately about the possible collapse of the PetroDollar with some arguing that the the PetroDollar will never fail and others worrying over its imminent demise. If you live in the USA, the existence of the PetroDollar contributes to your quality of life by making the dollar stronger, increasing your purchasing power. If the PetroDollar were to cease to exist, then you would probably be paying more for all goods. Below are a couple of articles discussing the issue.

Herland Report: The Global Financial Revolution and the End of the PetroDollar hegemony?

Foreign critics have long chafed at the “exorbitant privilege” of the U.S. dollar as global reserve currency. The U.S. can issue this currency backed by nothing but the “full faith and credit of the United States.”

Foreign governments, needing dollars, not only accept them in trade but buy U.S. securities with them, effectively funding the U.S. government and its foreign wars, writes author attorney Ellen Brown, published at her blog. Brown is chair of the Public Banking Institute, and author of thirteen books, follow her website here.

But no government has been powerful enough to break that arrangement – until now. How did that happen and what will it mean for the U.S. and global economies?

First, some history: The U.S. dollar was adopted as the global reserve currency at the Bretton Woods Conference in 1944, when the dollar was still backed by gold on global markets. The agreement was that gold and the dollar would be accepted interchangeably as global reserves, the dollars to be redeemable in gold on demand at $35 an ounce. Exchange rates of other currencies were fixed against the dollar.

But that deal was broken after President Lyndon Johnson’s “guns and butter” policy exhausted the U.S. kitty by funding war in Vietnam along with his “Great Society” social programs at home. French President Charles de Gaulle, suspecting the U.S. was running out of money, cashed in a major portion of France’s dollars for gold and threatened to cash in the rest; and other countries followed suit or threatened to.

In 1971, President Richard Nixon ended the convertibility of the dollar to gold internationally (known as “closing the gold window”), in order to avoid draining U.S. gold reserves. The value of the dollar then plummeted relative to other currencies on global exchanges.

To prop it up, Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger made a deal with Saudi Arabia and the OPEC countries that OPEC would sell oil only in dollars, and that the dollars would be deposited in Wall Street and City of London banks.

In return, the U.S. would defend the OPEC countries militarily. Economic researcher William Engdahl also presents evidence of a promise that the price of oil would be quadrupled. An oil crisis triggered by a brief Middle Eastern war did cause the price of oil to quadruple, and the OPEC agreement was finalized in 1974.

The deal held firm until 2000, when Saddam Hussein broke it by selling Iraqi oil in euros. Libyan president Omar Qaddafi followed suit. Both presidents wound up assassinated, and their countries were decimated in war with the United States. Canadian researcher Matthew Ehret observes:

“We should not forget that the Sudan-Libya-Egypt alliance under the combined leadership of Mubarak, Qadhafi and Bashir, had moved to establish a new gold-backed financial system outside of the IMF/World Bank to fund large scale development in Africa. Had this program not been undermined by a NATO-led destruction of Libya, the carving up of Sudan and regime change in Egypt, then the world would have seen the emergence of a major regional block of African states shaping their own destinies outside of the rigged game of Anglo-American controlled finance for the first time in history.”

The first challenge by a major power to what became known as the petrodollar has come in 2022. In the month after the Ukraine conflict began, the U.S. and its European allies imposed heavy financial sanctions on Russia in response to the illegal military invasion.

The Western measures included freezing nearly half of the Russian central bank’s 640 billion U.S. dollars in financial reserves, expelling several of Russia’s largest banks from the SWIFT global payment system, imposing export controls aimed at limiting Russia’s access to advanced technologies, closing down their airspace and ports to Russian planes and ships, and instituting personal sanctions against senior Russian officials and high-profile tycoons. Worried Russians rushed to withdraw rubles from their banks, and the value of the ruble plunged on global markets just as the U.S. dollar had in the early 1970s.

The trust placed in the U.S. dollar as global reserve currency, backed by “the full faith and credit of the United States,” had finally been fully broken. Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a speech on March 16 that the U.S. and EU had defaulted on their obligations, and that freezing Russia’s reserves marks the end of the reliability of so-called first class assets.

On March 23, Putin announced that Russia’s natural gas would be sold to “unfriendly countries” only in Russian rubles, rather than the euros or dollars currently used. Forty-eight nations are counted by Russia as “unfriendly,” including the United States, Britain, Ukraine, Switzerland, South Korea, Singapore, Norway, Canada and Japan.

Putin noted that more than half the global population remains “friendly” to Russia. Countries not voting to support the sanctions include two major powers – China and India – along with major oil producer Venezuela, Turkey, and other countries in the “Global South.” “Friendly” countries, said Putin, could now buy from Russia in various currencies.

On March 24, Russian lawmaker Pavel Zavalny said at a news conference that gas could be sold to the West for rubles or gold, and to “friendly” countries for either national currency or bitcoin.

Energy ministers from the G7 nations rejected Putin’s demand, claiming it violated gas contract terms requiring sale in euros or dollars. But on March 28, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia was “not engaged in charity” and won’t supply gas to Europe for free (which it would be doing if sales were in euros or dollars it cannot currently use in trade). Sanctions themselves are a breach of the agreement to honor the currencies on global markets.

Bloomberg reports that on March 30, Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of the lower Russian house of parliament, suggested in a Telegram post that Russia may expand the list of commodities for which it demands payment from the West in rubles (or gold) to include grain, oil, metals and more.

Russia’s economy is much smaller than that of the U.S. and the European Union, but Russia is a major global supplier of key commodities – including not just oil, natural gas and grains, but timber, fertilizers, nickel, titanium, palladium, coal, nitrogen, and rare earth metals used in the production of computer chips, electric vehicles and airplanes.

On April 2, Russian gas giant Gazprom officially halted all deliveries to Europe via the Yamal-Europe pipeline, a critical artery for European energy supplies.

U.K. professor of economics Richard Werner calls the Russian move a clever one – a replay of what the U.S. did in the 1970s. To get Russian commodities, “unfriendly” countries will have to buy rubles, driving up the value of the ruble on global exchanges just as the need for petrodollars propped up the U.S. dollar after 1974. Indeed, by March 30, the ruble had already risen to where it was a month earlier…(continues)

Continue reading “Herland Report: The Global Financial Revolution and the End of the PetroDollar Hegemony?”

AIER: Explaining Free Speech to the Twitterati

In Explaining Free Speech to the Twitterati, Max Borders at the American Institute for Economic Research writes about free speech and free speech on private property. If someone holds up their private property as a public forum, should they be held to respect free speech, including free speech that the owner doesn’t like? Additionally, just because the US Constitution is a limitation on government, does that mean that the concept of free speech holds no moral suasion against private individuals?

Reason and free enquiry are the only effectual agents against error. … Reason and persuasion are the only practicable instruments. To make way for these, free enquiry must be indulged; and how can we wish others to indulge it while we refuse it ourselves.

– Thomas Jefferson, from Notes on the State of Virginia

If ever you were wondering about free speech, you could turn to Twitter. The Twitterati will tell you everything you need to know about free speech and what it means in 280 characters or less. 

First, they will tell you that free speech has nothing to do with anything that happens on Twitter because Twitter is a private company. 

Private companies may control speech as they wish “ya dopes” because the Constitution only protects citizens from censorship by the U.S. government. 

Got that? 

Free speech has been reduced to 45 words. And if you are not a U.S. citizen, those words don’t apply.

Then, they will tell you that critics of private companies like Twitter are, therefore, not only out of bounds but that free speech concerns are an affront to freedom of association (and therefore also disassociation). 


From this, you might think that apologists for digital lynch mobs and private censorship have been worshipping at the altar of libertarian brutalism. Though technically accurate in Abstractionland, narrow construals of free speech overlook more than a few essential points. 

Free Speech: Letter and Spirit

In the United States, it is true that the First Amendment only protects people from government censorship. It is also true that private property rights trump free speech. Property owners generally make the rules about speech on their property, and those rules can be illiberal, arbitrary, and grossly unfair as long as the government is not involved in setting those policies. (The latter point is an important qualifier to which we’ll return).

But the thing about free speech is it has a letter and a spirit, which the Founders understood

So, apparently, does Elon Musk.

The letter is the law, but the spirit transcends the law among conscientious people. And Musk is one of them. He just bought the largest stake in Twitter, which will surely test the Twitterati.

But according to liberals such as John Stuart Mill, we ought to practice speech toleration even in private settings. The ought here is moral, not legal. If one objects to censorship or suppression on private platforms, she appeals to the spirit of free speech, which differs from the First Amendment. One can and should apply moral suasion beyond a strict legal doctrine. We do it all the time. Sure, some people get confused about the difference, but some free speech “scolds” are simply appealing to an established liberal doctrine, which we call toleration.

By analogy, let’s imagine that the same brutalist libertarian criteria applied to people living in the Jim Crow South. Regarding the law, one can agree that property rights and freedom of association should always trump free speech in private settings. So when a racist denies entry to a person of another race, solely because of his race, one might argue that is wrong. To forbid an innocent human being from sitting at a lunch counter or attending a university, even if the owner’s decision comports with a principle of property rights and freedom of association, would still be wrong. That’s because discrimination based solely on race is wrong under most liberal ethics. So if Adam Bates (referenced above) is determined to protect “freedom of association,” but refers to anyone who evokes the spirit of free speech as “scolds,” he must also be prepared by his own narrow rationale, to defend the racist owner of the lunch counter in our example. 

Good luck with that.

By Twitterati logic, anything goes as long as it’s legal, and if it’s legal, you should just shut the eff up. But that sort of thinking excludes too many extra-political and extra-legal standards and practices that give rise to peace and progress. 

The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf tries mightily to find the spirit of free speech among the free-speech reductionists.

Friedersdorf got a number of dismissive responses including this, from someone I generally respect and consider a liberal:

Therefore, the idea that “consequence cultures” has, and ought to have, no limiting principle at all, nothing that checks it, questions it, or stands in its way–according to reductionists. Not even the greatest Enlightenment liberals offer anything of substance to the conversation because they appeal to points on spectra that don’t exist.

What a godawful failure of imagination. 

The “consequences” of consequence culture can therefore be completely arbitrary – the contrivances of a mob or any illiberal march through the institutions – as long as they do their job. That job is to contrive “consequences” that push people into submission, subjection, or silence.

Too many people are “basically okay with that,” which is one reason discourse has turned to shit, not to mention much of social media. I suspect those who tolerate such intolerance enjoy watching Twitterati team sports more than they seek understanding or strive to uphold any principles essential to community life outside The Church of State.

Those who think they have some sort of gotcha when it comes to this two-step about “private companies” might be Brutalist Libertarians, Regime Leftists, or something in between — but they don’t seem to be liberals. To be a liberal, after all, is to think that the best antidote to bad opinion or “misinformation” is higher-quality speech and evidence that tracks truth and respects discourse norms. Liberals seek to protect speech in both spirit and letter to a greater extent, even if such protections can never yield perfect outcomes. The discursive process generally creates better outcomes over time. 

In the domain of morality – which is distinct from politics or law – people have to practice it together for community to form and strengthen. Toleration is a moral practice. It’s no wonder that beltway types never seem to appreciate that. Washington is a cesspit where good opinion is about whom you know and what you’re trying to get out of them. Twitter is just Washington’s domination discourse extended to the centralized internet. In other words, it’s politics all the way down. The moral fibers that help weave people together in community and collective intelligence might as well be dental floss among the purveyors of politics, policy and punditry.

But human progress depends on a dance of cooperation and competition rooted in discourse norms designed for people to track truth. As we have indicated, one such discourse norm is the practice of speech toleration. As Mill writes in On Liberty,

The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.

Now, I have a Jewish daughter. My appreciation of Mill doesn’t mean I’ll invite neo-Nazis into my home to say hurtful things to her, you know, out of some disproportionate sense of liberal toleration. 

I’m simply arguing we can all do better, even if there are no bright lines or points on a spectrum. For example, it is possible to have moderated platforms with far more liberal speech policies. The owners of said platforms ought to liberalize those policies, notwithstanding real threats from authorities. Likewise, individuals needn’t be so quick to press the block button when someone disagrees with them. Instead, they can try harder to use it with patience and discernment in a framework of liberal toleration. Why? At the very least, contact with diverse ideas, viewpoints, and opinions help one test and strengthen one’s position. 

Illiberalism Goes Viral

Mill’s insights have perhaps no more important application than in our effort to understand an evolving virus during a dangerous pandemic. School marms, censors, and public health authoritarians have too frequently sought to silence dissenting voices, mock alternatives, and belittle justifiable questions about any number of illiberal public health measures. And, ironically, they have also been the greatest purveyors of misinformation…(continues)

Mises Wire: The State – It’s Oligarchs All the Way Down

It’s turtles all the way down.

There is an old saying about the world resting on top of a giant world tortoise, and a question about what the holds up the tortoise with the answer being “It’s turtles all the way down.” In this article from the Mises Institute, Professor Jason Morgan of Reitaku University in Kashiwa, Japan, writes about government as a hierarchy of oligarchs in The State – It’s Oligarchs All the Way Down.

The standard history of post-Soviet Russia goes something like this. During the Soviet era, there were no real prices because of the Communists’ incessant, blanket meddling in economic activity. Nobody knew what anything was really worth. Not a loaf of bread, not a mine full of uranium. It was all owned and redistributed by the state. When the Soviet Union collapsed, the state of course disappeared. Suddenly, there were no prices, and no owners. It was like a gigantic economic free-for-all. A “Wild West,” as the saying goes. Everything was up for grabs.

In a fashion that Mises readers will immediately understand as textbook Hoppean-Rothbardian, in the midst of this chaos the worst of the worst rose to the top. The hyenas moved in to tear at the Soviet carcass. Ruthless and cunning opportunists took over formerly state-run factories and extraction operations. A kind of national gang culture emerged, and the logic of this gangland mentality worked to sort out the spoils among the strongmen. Some people, those who were particularly well endowed with craftiness, came out ahead, appropriating to themselves billions upon billions of dollars’ worth of oil, gas, and mineral rights, among other commodities. Those nouveau riche from the Russian criminal class we now call “oligarchs.” And the king of all the oligarchs, the baddest dog in the junkyard, turned out to be a former KGB colonel and deputy mayor of St. Petersburg, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.

A by-now-infamous 2009 episode in the Russian town of Pikalyovo sums the whole thing up perfectly. Prime Minister Putin (then on theatrical break from his main job of president) showed up to order a factory complex restarted so thousands of breadwinners could get back to work. One of the factories was owned and supplied by Oleg Deripaska, one of Putin’s rival oligarchs. Putin humiliated him at a public meeting, ordering Deripaska to sign an agreement which would reopen the factory complex, thereby showing the world that Putin was in charge of every operation in Russia. When Deripaska had signed the agreement, Putin twisted the knife by making Deripaska return to him his pen. Oligarchs gonna oligarch. Putin is the man, and he will show up in any town to have a shootout with anyone foolish enough to cross him. One big O.K. Corral: this is how most of us in the West understand Russia today.

But let us think a bit more carefully, going back to our Hoppe and Rothbard for help. What is a state? A state is a gang of criminals. A state is organized crime on a massive scale. A state is oligarchs everywhere. It always is, always has been. Political scientist James C. Scott’s most recent book, Against the Grain (2017), details how the “earliest states” preyed on human endeavor. States extract protection money (euphemistically called “taxes,” sometimes also called “tribute” or “war bonds”) from as many people as the criminals who sit in the state’s central chambers or on the state’s throne can reach.

Russian oligarchs post–Soviet era are hardly unique. States are just this, just as we see in the relationship between Putin and the beta oligarchs. The only thing shocking about the Russian case is that it is more transparently corrupt than usual. Most states clothe their theft behind anthems and flags and tales of heroic deeds. The Russian Federation lost its politico-mythic backing when it rose out of the ashes of the USSR. But it is trying to get it back. Stalin has been rehabilitated in Russia as a great man. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine will one day be remembered as the glorious sacrifice of the brave for the motherland. All states are gravity fields for propaganda and fake news. Give Russia time, and she will look just like all the other states again. You won’t be able to see through the shop windows the smash-and-grab going on inside. Everything will look grand and state-like. The Russian state will normalize, and nobody will call its elite “oligarchs” anymore.

Thus, statists have a natural incentive to legitimate one another’s plundering schemes. Presidents and prime ministers and kings drink to one another’s health at sumptuous galas paid for with private property taken from all the rest of us (who never get invitations to the ball). I wouldn’t be surprised to find crowns and ermine capes coming back in fashion among state leaders soon. Statists think they’re gods, and they act like they own everyone else’s money. Not just Russia, not at all.

Indeed, this Hoppean-Rothbardian insight, that states are basically groups of oligarchs who give themselves titles and medals, can be expanded far beyond the Russian example. For if the current crop of Russian oligarchs are just standard statists, then the narrative about the collapse of the Soviet Union must also be called into question. It wasn’t that the Soviet Union collapsed, in this sense. It was that one form of oligarchy gave way to another, with a messy period of transition in between. The Soviet Union was “Communist,” but communism was never about the equal distribution of wealth or the alleviation of social problems. As Hoppean-Rothbardians, we must not take statist excuse making at face value. Communism was, and remains, a system for gathering total social and economic control into the hands of a very few. In other words, a cover story for oligarchy. The current Russian oligarchs aren’t doing anything new. Before them there was Stalin, of course, and Brezhnev and Khrushchev and Lenin, and the handful of other divines who took everything from the Russian people and lived in opulent palaces with servants and harems and caviar.

And it isn’t just Russia. What state does not have oligarchs running it? It’s a trick rhetorical question, because, as I’ve been saying, states and oligarchies are the same thing. Communism, democracy—it’s all from the same barrel. Unjust enrichment comes in many different flavors. But the main ingredient is always taxation and consolidation of ownership into the hands of the elite. The exclusion of the hoi polloi from the fruits of their expropriated labor is what makes the state the state. There are grand halls and massive monuments in the state’s capitals, marble utterances of the state’s political theology scattered across the land. The state has its own saints and martyrs, its own calendar of holy days. The state is a kind of religious ritual, only the tithe is not optional. And it’s a lot more than 10 percent. That’s what a state is, theft dressed up as solemn duty. People die all the time for the state. Graveyards are filled with the state’s dead. The state charges the bereaved for those cemeteries’ upkeep. More taxes. No matter what happens, the state always wins in the end.

So let’s use this knowledge to examine the current situation in Ukraine. A world-class oligarch, who relaxes in a Russian Versailles, is going up against a very minor Ukrainian oligarch to his west. This arriviste oligarch has the ambiguous backing of a massive cabal of big-time oligarchs in Western Europe and the United States. This cabal calls itself the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and it is a very exclusive club. Members have access to an impressive array of security options, including all the best equipment of some of the biggest militaries in the world. The ostensible leader is the American president, whose son has grown extraordinarily rich by conspiring with the oligarchy in Ukraine, where the North Atlantic Treaty Organization oligarchs are now glaring across the borderlands at the oligarchs in the Kremlin. The Atlantic oligarchy wants to crowd in on the turf of the Russian oligarchy, and a Ukrainian oligarch is caught in the middle. The people who are normally taxed by the oligarchs are also the ones who are being shelled and who are being sent out in tanks to do the shelling. More deaths for the glory of the state—which doesn’t exist, being simply a euphemism for “oligarchy.”

There is more. An upstart oligarchy in Beijing hovers over the tense scene, appearing ready to broker “peace” among the other oligarchs when its own interests will be best served. And the Beijing oligarchy has its own coterie of beta oligarchs, including the tribute bearers in Taiwan, Hong Kong, the Korean Peninsula, and Japan, all of which are filled with political cronies with access to their own income streams ultimately deriving from the paychecks of lowly taxpayers. When the time comes, the taxpayers in those places will also die for the oligarchs. American Marines are on Okinawa waiting their turn to die, too. The oligarchs are going to live, though. They are going to do just fine. War and peace—the oligarchs make money either way. “L’état, c’est moi!” Yes, exactly.

The fact that the United States Department of Justice managed to slap sanctions on Russian “oligarchs” in record time after Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, and is now deploying a special “task force” to appropriate the property of Putin and his network of grifters, tells us everything we need to know about what is going on in Eastern Europe right now. The task force—can you believe the chutzpah?—is aimed at “Russian Elites, Proxies, and Oligarchs.” Abbreviation: REPO. The state taketh, and then the state taketh some more.

Lenin called World War I a war among the capitalists of Europe. He was wrong. It was a war among oligarchs, statists who extract wealth from legitimate economic activity at the barrel of a gun. And when some oligarchs step out of line, they are killed off and the other oligarchs take the spoils. Ditto for Ukraine. It’s not the “West” versus the Russian oligarchs there. It’s the oligarchs versus the oligarchs versus the oligarchs. It’s oligarchs all the way down. Read Hoppe and Rothbard, and don’t fall for the latest round of fake news about the always, everywhere criminal state.

Radio Contra Ep. 148: James Wesley, Rawles on Economics, Precious Metals, and Community Protection

In Radio Contra Episode 148, NC Scout of Brushbeater interviews author and preparedness blogger James Wesley, Rawles.

I’m joined by James Wesley Rawles of Survivalblog.com and author of the Patriots series to discuss the danger the Dollar is currently in, investment strategies for precious metals, and how to better prepare yourselves and communities for the potential coming unrest as the result of a economy run amok.

Radio Control Ep. 148: NC Scout Interviews James Wesley, Rawles