Tuesday, October 23, 2012

U.S. Senator: Printing Money Will Lead to More Severe Inflation

In an interview with Reason.com, Sen. Tom Coburn explained how the low interest rates and lack of hyperinflation now was a harbinger of things to come:

reason: So looking at low interest rates is missing the larger point?
Coburn: It’s missing two important points. One is that we’re the best-looking horse in the glue factory. The second point is that just because we have low interest rates doesn’t mean they’ll always be low. When you’ve printed $3.6 trillion worth of money—right now it’s printed but it’s not in the economy, it’s sitting on bank assets listings and the Federal Reserve asset listings—what happens is when that money starts moving, when the velocity of that money starts moving, you’re going to see 15, 18 percent inflation. 
So the debt bomb is two things: short-term is deflationary, long-term is highly inflationary. And that has a real meaning to anybody that’s living in our country. If you’re my age or less, and you have socked away something for your retirement, the purchasing value of that goes away.
For the full article, go here.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Think Inflation Is Not Here? Think Again!

Inflation is a function of economics that describes the purchasing power of money.   Generally speaking, the larger the money supply, the less each individual dollar is worth, and the less it can buy.   People usually think inflation means prices on goods and services are increasing, when in reality the value of the money they possess is decreasing.

According to Inflation Data, the inflation rate in September was 1.99 percent, which is very low and on the surface looks good.  If inflation was high, say, over 10 percent like the 1970s, then interest rates on things like cars and housing loans would climb, and it would indicate that the U.S. dollar was very weak. 

Why is this important?  For one thing, the U.S. dollar is THE reserve currency for the entire world.  People buy things like oil on international markets in dollars.  The dollar is in demand even though our own Federal Reserve is creating money out of thin air because of this.

The problem with the "official" core inflation rate is that it does not include food and fuel costs.   The increase in the price of gasoline and other fossil fuels has been well documented in the news, but I have not seen as much in the media about the cost of food rising, until now.

This piece on The Blaze shows just how much prices have gone up for 21 everyday items families might purchase based on data from the Bureau for Labor Statistics.  The  article compares price data from 2002 and 2012, which covers from the early parts of the Bush administration to the Obama administration.

Here are some highlights:

  • Eggs: 2002  – $1.03; 2012 – $1.80 or a 73 percent increase
  • Loaf of Bread: 2002  – $1.01; 2012 – $1.41 or a 39 percent increase
  • Ground Beef: 2002 – $2.28; 2012 – $3.69 or a 61 percent increase
This is one of the reasons why in my previous post during National Preparedness Month in September 2012 I urged readers to begin adding to their food stores.  The cost of food is rising! With the Federal Reserve adding further fuel to the inflation fire via quantitative easing, the pressure on the dollar's value is only going to increase.  

There is no doubt food and fuel prices are going to increase. By adding to the amount of food you store in your house now, you are deferring these additional costs into the future and ensure that in a crisis you have the means to sustain your family.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Preparedness Review of the Walking Dead Episode 301: Seed

Spoiler Alert!!!

Rick:  We have to go in there ... hand to hand.

Synopsis:  The group has been on the run all winter, dodging herds of walkers and scavenging as they go.   Rick is desperate to find a safe haven so that Lori can deliver safely.   Despite this, things between the couple are strained.   When the group finds the prison, Rick decides on a dangerous gamble to clear it of walkers to use as a base.

Seed picks up pace-wise from Beside the Dying Fire, Season 2's finale, but several months have passed since the fall of Hershel's farm.  Lori at this point is VERY pregnant, and the group has been on the run since the homestead was overrun by zombies.  

It is interesting to note how hardened and cohesive the group has become.   Gone are the days of keeping the kids and women back while the men deal with the walkers, and endlessly debating courses of action. Everyone who has survived is a soldier now ... even Carl, who has become exactly what Lori feared, a hardened killer.  Even little Beth Greene, who last year tried to commit suicide rather than face what the world has become, is able to muster up the courage to survive this world gone mad.  

Andrea and Michonne (the character with the sword from last season) have been on the run all winter as well.  Andrea is sick, and Michonne has found aspirin for her fever, but despite the illness the former wants to leave their temporary home.   She feels she will die if she doesn't keep moving and fighting the illness.   Of more interesting note are their other traveling companions.  These are two walkers Michonne has disarmed, literally, and de-jawed (I think I just made up a word there).   She uses them like pack mules and leads them on chains.

The episode opens with Rick and company finding and clearing a house of zombies in search of food, only to find a couple of cans of dog food are all that's left.   Walkers arrive, and soon the group is back on the road.  During a rest break Daryl and Rick go hunting and find the prison.  The group penetrates the outer courtyard and clear it.  With the safety of fences and the ability to rest after weeks on the road, Rick decides to clear the inner courtyard and penetrate the prison itself in search of sanctuary.

The phalanx attacks, and Glenn is holding my LMF knife.
The group action is visceral and compelling; they are nearly overrun as guard walkers in riot gear attack, and the group has to figure out how to penetrate riot helmets.  Their superior tactics and aggressive action carry them through;  Rick leads the team in a pre-planned phalanx-style formation that keeps everyone covered and allows them to take the zombies one at a time as they attack piecemeal. 

They find a way into the prison and clear one cell block.  Then, the group gathers resources from the dead guards (flash bang grenades, more weapons, and body armor) and proceeds to search the interior to find the commissary and infirmary.   Stumbling into a herd of walkers in the dark, Maggie and Glen get separated and when Hershel tries to find them is bitten on the leg.   Rick, in a desperate bid to keep him alive, amputates his lower leg before the acute infection can kill him.   The episode ends with more survivors - prisoners who have taken refuge nearby - stepping into the open.

Preparedness Discussion

There is a lot here to discuss.   It is pretty obvious the writers have taken past criticisms into account.  Showrunner Glen Mazzara, who wrote the episode, does a masterful job of showing us rather than telling us what has happened in the months after their exile from the farm.

First, being on the run without a fall back location STINKS on ice.   This group is on the run, out of resources, and running out of time.

In a crisis, you can do two things, stay put or leave.   If staying put, or "bugging in" is not an option, you should have a destination in mind before you leave -- a relative's house out of the danger area, a hotel (with resources to pay for it), or a secondary location if you can afford it.  If you are staying with someone, ask if it's okay ahead of time.   If you are buying a second location like a hunting cabin, etc., make sure it is secure and remote.  This is your safe haven.  

If possible, cache some supplies there ahead of time.  For instance, if your plan is to go to your brother's house two hours away, ask if you can leave a couple of bins of supplies there;   put in some spare clothes, bedding and storage food.  That way, if you show up with just the clothes on your back, you have something to wear and will be able to contribute food to the household.

None of this was possible for Rick's group.  The scope of the disaster is such that there is precious little they could take and very little is left to scavenge.

Secondly, everyone needs to contribute to the group's survival.  EVERYONE.  Note how all the members of our band of heroes helped take down the walkers in the initial penetration of the prison.     Even Carol, the meekest of the group, is in a tower firing an AK-47.  

As parents, we typically try to shield children from harsh reality.  That is a good thing.  The problem is when parents become overprotective.   Kids need to learn how to do some age appropriate things for themselves.  While no one expects a 13-year-old to become a trained killer like Carl has, the fact is there are some practical preparedness skills kids can learn;  how to start a fire, basic land navigation, using tools like knives to enhance survival, etc.

Lastly, group members with irreplaceable skills need to be cross-training others or consideration needs to be given to leaving them in reserve.  Hershel is their only medical resource, and taking him deep into the prison was a mistake on Rick's part.   In my opinion, Hershel should have stayed and Carl should have gone on the mission.   I know Carl is his son, and he wants to safeguard him as much as possible, but losing Hershel puts everyone at risk.

Preparedness Lessons for Episode 301:

  • While staying in one's home is preferable, have an alternate location if possible with multiple routes to it preplanned.  Make sure you cache resources there.
  • All members of a family or group need to contribute to survival.
  • People with skills vital to the continued success of the group should be protected to the extent possible.

Next week:  The group continues to try to save Hershel as they come to terms that some of the prison population survived.   I am sure they were all in there for parking violations.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Walking Dead Returns Sunday ... Let's Hope They Learned Something.

For readers of my blog (the 12 of you) you know that last season I published preparedness-themed views of AMC's hit TV show The Walking Dead.  My plan is to return to the reviews this season, and hope that our intrepid band of misfits has actually learned something about survival.  

Given their track record, I am not optimistic, but it does make for good television.

Here is a preview of the first episode.

Rest Break