Death To The Dollar

         The news is buzzing right now with an idea that’s been thrown around: getting rid of the U.S. Dollar. The paper dollar has long been a staple of our economy. Backed by gold and trusted virtually everywhere in the world, the U.S. Dollar has proven to be a fundamental importance to the American way of life. Sadly, there are those within Congress and the Federal Reserve who feel that paper money is becoming a burden and have begun circulating the rumor that perhaps we’d be better off without it.
         As a way to reduce the deficit, the Federal Reserve has made claims that making paper money is expensive and a waste of tax money. (Disclaimer: The U.S. Dollar is not actually made from paper, but for the purpose of my post I am calling it paper.) The Federal Reserve minted billions of gold dollar coins. Most of those coins rarely see the light of day, being kept locked away in the Federal Reserve. The prospect of doing a little house cleaning has got the Reserve jumping on the bandwagon of trading in the paper dollar for the coin dollar. But is this really the best of ideas?
         We have all felt the annoyance of having a pocket full of coins and sitting down in our car and having that change fall out and get lost, never to be seen again. Change is hard to hold on to. It can slip out of your pocket and be lost forever on the floor of a movie theater or the cushions of a restaurant booth. Most vending machines are not designed to take the large, thick dollar coins, but most all of them have paper money slots. Wallets, purses, and envelopes are all designed to functionally hold, protect, carry, and utilize the dollar bill. Just the sheer weight of a coin versus paper money and the thought of carrying clanking metal in your pocket is enough to deter anyone from being interested in this.
         Bills are convenient. They can be easily transported or mailed. They make any transaction a breeze. And there is nothing better than cold, hard cash when making purchases or trying to haggle a deal. Just ask anyone at a garage sale, flea market, or pawn shop. Bills come in the most popular forms of a one, five, ten, twenty, fifty, and a hundred. So this begs the question, if coins replace the paper, will a separate coin be made for each bill? If not, imagine converting fifty one dollar bills into fifty one dollar coins. Doesn’t sound very pleasant does it? If they do make a separate coin for each bill, how would we differentiate them from each other and from the other coins already in existence? What materials would be used and what president’s image would be utilized? Another thing that will have to be considered is the dozens of other coins we have already. Pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, half dollars, golden dollars, all of these will still, presumably, be in circulation. Anytime we make a purchase, we will get a mountain of coins back as our -quite literal- change.
         If you stop and think about it, it would seem that all the time, effort, and money spent on this project wouldn’t be worth the miniscule amount of savings that are being claimed by the committee. First off, you would have to initiate some sort of recall for paper money. The sheer massiveness of trying to round up and trade in every paper bill in the world can’t even be fathomed. It’s an impossible task. Secondly, assuming coins would be made for each bill, then entire committees would have to be assembled to design each coin. Then materials would have to be gathered and actual coins would have to be produced. Another lengthy assignment. Lastly, after the coins are made, you’d have to get them into circulation. Banks would have to be converted. Every single store in the country would need to have their bills swapped out for coins. Considering the lack of appeal and interest in the already minted dollar coins, this all appears to be an idea that most businesses and consumers would not be behind.
         Another problem with coins is that they can’t be verified or traced. Bills have serial numbers and authentication strips that show up under black lights. A consumer can go online and trace the origin and recent purchases used with a bill in their possession. Coins have no verifiable imprints and include no serial numbers. One would assume that counterfeiting a coin would be much easier than a dollar bill. How does the committee plan to accommodate this huge oversight?
         The smart idea would be to do away with coins altogether. Make every sale an even dollar and then we can all stick to paper. The coins can be kept for collectors and personal minters. Whatever isn’t preserved can be melted down and used for other purposes. With the rising cost of food prices a pocket full of quarters hardly gets you anything in a vending machine anymore. Most individuals use bills for vending machines. A lot of machines have now been retrofitted with credit card readers making physical money a thing of the past.
         Coins are the most primitive form of money. Ancient civilizations used crudely stamped coins, misshapen and no two alike. A stack of coins will take up more space, with less worth, then a stack of bills. The Federal Reserve will be hard pressed to find any citizen who is happy to go along trading a hundred dollar bill in their wallet for a hundred bronze coins in their pocket. It’s impractical and burdensome. The committee tossing this idea around has cited various numbers about how much money it would save the government in the long run. Meanwhile the government continues wasting billions on Homeland Security initiatives in order to control and document every citizen. Billions more are wasted on foreign aide and unsubstantiated wars. Trillions are wasted on failing businesses who wouldn’t know an accountant if one applied for a job as CEO. Looking to the fringes of unimportant issues to save money is not the way to fix the ever increasing debt of this country.
         Nothing vital will be earned by trading in paper bills for metallic coins. In the long run, it will prove to be a horrible initiative and a taxing change. The U.S. Dollar may be declining, but there’s little evidence that China will be more accepting of a physical coin over a dollar bill. It seems more like swapping out a flat tire with another flat tire. The real issue is not in the dollar itself, but in the economy it’s trying to fuel. The economy and the politicians with their hands in the piggy banks are the things that need swapped out and replaced. Switching from a paper system to a coin system feels like a cheap ploy to avert everyone’s attention away from the fact that regardless of what the physical currency is, the U.S. Dollar -and the government backing it- aren’t worth a damn these days.


Empty Wallet, Empty Stomach

         Today I noticed a sign posted on the vending machines at work. It stated that on September 10th, the price of sodas would be going up. The sign stated that due to the raising cost of food and labor that they had no choice but to raise the prices. I’ve read articles about the ever increasing price of food and the diminishing quantities of food you’ll be getting -basically paying more for less. And although I’m sure the grocery store has slowly been shrinking boxes and raising prices, this was the first time I really took notice of it affecting me on a personal level. Hard times are coming to this country. Soon riots won’t be fought over winning Championship teams or police brutality. Someday in the near future people will rob you for food and water. Desperate times make desperate people. Corporations are running on fumes. The status quo has to change. They’ll begin it by laying off workers and closing factories. That much we’ve seen already. After that, they’ll stop trying to make fresh, healthy alternatives and just process everything to sell you void, nutrition-less products. This has been the norm for years now. Then they’ll give you less of their product but charge you more for their services. Your dollar won’t stretch as far. Your food won’t last as long. Eventually this will all lead to people stealing and killing one another. If you are a prepper, you are already somewhat in the mindset of expecting this. If you are not a prepper, than I would strongly recommended preparing yourself and your family. Store long term food and water. Begin hoarding foods with long shelf lives. Sometime in the near future food and water will become a scarce commodity. So how can you prepare for the worst?

Stockpiles – Everyone should be prepared for long term emergencies. Regardless of the price of food or the possibility of food shortages, in the event of a long term catastrophe – such as earthquake, hurricane, tornado- it’s vital to have food on hand for you and your family to survive off of. There are tons and tons of products out there with five year shelf lives. Get them and stockpile away. Start off with a 72 hour pantry. Have enough food and water for your family (and pets!) for three days. Once that is accomplished, slowly grow that number out. Increase it to a week, then two weeks, then a month. Slowly over time, try to at least get up to six months worth of supplies. But keep in mind that every once in awhile some products need to be used and replaced. Check expiration dates once a month and keep track of when things may go bad. No sense wasting money by letting things spoil. Some foods that last a long time are military MRE’s and numerous canned goods. Several companies sell safely sealed five year water supplies. Try to avoid dehydrated foods as they will consume vital water supplies in order to properly eat them. Be sure to store goods such as sugar, salt, spices, cooking fuels, grains, flour, and multivitamins. Your favorite foods might one day run out, build up your supplies now and prepare for the long haul.

Gardens – Growing your own fruits, vegetables, and herbs will be extremely vital in order to survive a catastrophe. Not only that, but if food becomes scarce, you will have your own organic, fresh supply on hand. Be sure to do some research and find foods that are symbiotic to your landscape. It will be a waste of time and money if you try to grow something that isn’t native to your soil. Also learning how to can goods and salt meats will help you preserve and stockpile fresh ingredients throughout the non-harvest seasons. Experiment with it now, before it becomes a way of life so that you can build your confidence and skills for the real deal. Start small: perhaps a small collection of herb pots on the window sill. Grow something, keep it alive, and use it for cooking. Once you become aware of how to tend for smaller plants, branch out and start growing larger things. Once you really get the hang of it, start a garden. Instead of paying someone else for their labor, learn to do it yourself.

Homemade – One of the best things you can do for yourself is learning how to take raw ingredients and turn them into your favorite foods. We’ve all grown accustomed to purchasing prepackaged, already cooked foods from the store. But how many of us could make a loaf of bread from scratch and bake it to a golden crust perfection? Learn how your favorite foods are broken down. What are the main ingredients? What happens if you forget one or use too little/too much? Find alternatives for cooking without a stove or a microwave. By learning to cook and bake from scratch, you can save yourself hundreds of dollars in grocery bills. And you can stockpile long lasting ingredients to be combined and cooked later. The best possible example I can use is bread. You can’t stockpile bread. It goes bad, turns moldy, and decays at a fairly rapid rate. However if you know how to make bread, you could stockpile flour, water, wheat, grains, and all other pertinent ingredients, then you’ll be able to make fresh bread any time you please. If you know how to make casseroles, pies, bread, noodles, catch and filet fish, or hunt and skin wild game you’ll be able to provide for yourself if the worst case scenarios come true.

         The cost of food is only going to go up. Unless humans somehow evolve to need less water and nutrients, our daily requirement isn’t going to diminish any time soon. We all need food and water. It is as necessary to our survival as air. Keep an eye on the things you buy. Pay attention to trends in prices and volume in packaging. Be aware of what you’re getting for what you’re paying. If it starts to get too expensive, stick to the basics. Fresh produce, lean meats, no empty, sugar-filled foods. The only person concerned about what you are eating is you. Take care of yourself. The big processed food companies are only worried about the margins and profit.

5.8 DC Earthquake

         The news has been a buzz this week with stories about the recent 5.8 magnitude earthquake that hit the eastern coast of the United States. It was the first earthquake of it’s kind in that area since the 1800’s. Following up this earthquake a massive hurricane named Irene is coming violently to that same coast line. This is a prime example to show you that disaster can strike any time, any where. And it doesn’t necessary just stop with one event. In less than a week, a region was hit with an earthquake and then a hurricane. Mother Nature doesn’t wait for you to be prepared. The unexpected can hit at any time and can be layer after layer of tragedy. It’s better to have a kit and a plan but not need them than to get overwhelmed with disaster and have no measure of personal assistance in place. I’ve said it before, but I’ll repeat as often as possible: THE GOVERNMENT WILL NOT BAIL YOU OUT. If you expect for FEMA to ride in on silvery manned white horses baring gifts of food and water and clean clothes, you seriously need to reevaluate who you vote into office. The government can not save us all. And as Hurricane Katrina showed us, sometimes no one is coming. This earthquake hit the DC area. What if it had crippled the government? Taken down the White House, killing hundreds of our leaders? Then if Hurricane Irene hits Florida and causes devastation, who’s coming to the rescue? Nobody. You need to prepare yourself and your family. Today I’m going to be discussing some earthquake survival tips. You might think the area you live in is immune to such things, but the entire crust of the earth is under constant pressure. At any given moment tectonic plates can shift causing tremors, earthquakes, or even sinkholes. Although you might not live right on a fault line, a powerful earthquake usually includes tremors and aftershocks which can ripple out for hundreds of miles.
         The most important thing to remember during an extremely violent earthquake is that your home gas and/or electric power as well as your water need to be shut off. Know how to do this and do it immediately. If there are downed power lines, your home line may be prone to surges that can electrocute you and fry your electronics. Powerful electric bursts might also make things such as computers and tv monitors explode. Play it safe and turn your fuse box off. If an underground gas main is ruptured during the quake, this can cause enormous amounts of problems. Leaking gas is toxic and can asphyxiate you, your family, or your pets. If a spark connects with leaking gas it can cause an explosion that could easily kill you or potentially start a fire. Water mains can flood or become contaminated. It’s vital to your survival to keep your cool and to shut these things off before doing anything else. Especially shut off the grids if you have to evacuate. No one wants to come home to a burned down house or to a house full of useless electronics.

US Earthquake region

The U.S. Earthquake Zones

         The picture above is FEMA’s graph of hotspots for earthquake activity. But just because you live in a zone outside of the deadlier zones doesn’t mean you can’t be affected by tremors and aftershocks. If you happen to live in a highly active earthquake zone, there are several things you can do to prepare prior to an earthquake strike.

  • Make sure you have plenty of food and water stocked up. In case the roads are badly damaged, aid might not be able to reach you. Have enough food to take care of your family. And don’t forget your pets! They need to eat too. FEMA recommends that the average adult needs at least 3 gallons of water per day for survival and hygiene. This amount can fluctuate depending on age. Plan accordingly.
  • Be sure to have a solar powered or hand crank emergency radio to keep you in the loop with what’s going on. This is especially important if a bulletin is released that your area needs to evacuate.
  • Prepare your home by making it sturdier and more durable in the event an earthquake happens. Suggestions usually range from securing bookshelves to wall studs and getting strong latches for cupboards to strapping water heaters down securely and moving heavier items to lower storage areas. Avoid hanging pictures or other decorations over your bed.
  • Make a plan in advance. Find a secure space in every room in your home where you can drop down low without the risk of something falling on you. Train yourself and your children for survival.
  • It is also recommended that you keep flashlights and dusk masks stored ready for use. An earthquake can leak all kinds of dust and dirt into the air. A mask can help you avoid trouble breathing, allergens, or even asthma attacks for those who suffer from them.

         If you suddenly find yourself in an earthquake scenario, take steps as quickly as possible to keep yourself safe. If indoors, get under a strong table or desk to avoid anything falling on you. If you can’t find anything to hide under, try to get in an interior doorway and brace yourself against the frame. Only do this if you are sure the frame is secure and won’t collapse on you. Be sure to avoid bookshelves and other furniture that can fall on you. Try to get away from windows and be prepared for fire alarms or even sprinkler systems to go off. Most importantly, do not panic. Most earthquakes do not last very long. Hold out, keep your head protected, and try to ride it out. If you are outdoors and on foot, get to a clear space, away from buildings, trees and especially power lines, and get down on the ground. Wait out the tremors. If you are driving, pull the car over in a safe spot away from anything that could potentially fall on you. Stay in the car and wait out the quake. Again, try to keep a rational head, keep yourself protected and wait it out. Whether indoors or out, find a secure spot where nothing can fall on you and wait until the earthquake is over. Statistically most fatalities during earthquakes don’t happen from ground movement. Most people are killed because of falling debris or collapsing buildings.
         In the event you find yourself trapped under debris there are some important guidelines to follow to ensure your survival. First, assess yourself. Can you wiggle your toes and fingers? Is your breathing impaired? Does anything hurt? Are you bleeding? If you find yourself in good working order but simply trapped, try to find a light cloth to cover your mouth and nose with to avoid breathing in dust and debris. The universal “Help Me!” signal is a set of three. For someone trapped, you should find something large that makes noise, and hopefully vibrates, and tap it three times. It doesn’t have to be continuous, but every 30 seconds to a minute, tap three times to let rescue workers know you are trapped. Do not light any matches as there may be a gas leak. Try not to move too frequently and cause dust to kick up. Stay calm and conserve your oxygen. Most importantly, do not try to dig yourself out. You have no way of knowing what’s above you and a shift in debris could cause the entire structure to collapse completely on top of you.
         If an earthquake strikes and you are fortunate enough to be prepared and not get trapped under debris, immediately get your family outdoors. If the integrity of the building you are in has been compromised, it could collapse. Once outdoors, check over yourself, your family, and your pets. Check for injuries, especially bleeding. Look for bruises and scrapes. In animals, check for awkward breathing or heavy, unnecessary panting. Lastly, earthquakes do not normally just happen and then end. Most times after the earthquake, tremors or aftershocks can be experienced for several hours or even a few days. Expect this and inform your family so no panic occurs. If you live near a coastal region, it’s especially important to have an emergency radio available to listen for updates regarding tsunamis, as these are common if an earthquake strikes near or in the ocean. People have a tendency to grow fearful during natural events that are beyond their control. Earthquakes happen and will always happen. The plates beneath our surface are constantly shifting and ever changing. Be prepared, make a plan, and do your best not to lose your nerve if an earthquake should happen. The earthquake might take you by surprise, but survival should not.

The earthquake earlier this week was around 5.8, which isn't too severe but can still cause many problems.

Looters In London

         If you’ve been following the news feed this week, you may have read about the intense riots going on in London right now. People are being robbed on the street, beaten, and some even forced to strip naked in front of gangs. A pair of women were quoted to say they were rioting to “show the rich and the police that we can do what we want.” This should be an eye opener for anyone in the world, but survival preppers are keeping a very watchful eye on these events. It’s for things like this that preparing for indefinite collapse of government services is a must. You must be able to lock yourself inside and survive for an extended period of time. You must get training to defend yourself. And you must never doubt the seriousness of your fellow man to lose his sanity and get caught up in the rush of a crowd. For three straight days looters, rioters and gangs have ruled the streets with the police unable to even curb the tide of violence and destruction. Buildings have burned to the ground and countless victims have been assaulted in broad daylight. Meanwhile Britain’s Parliament has actually been discussing in recent weeks of cutting back on the police force due to budget concerns. Also let us not forget that the Britain police do not carry firearms, nor are they even issued real bullets. I read a report this week the police were “considering” using plastic bullets. In this type of environment, criminals thrive. They are literally in the streets doing whatever they please with no authoritative power — not the police, not the government, not even the military — doing anything to challenge them. From the various news reports I have read today, there doesn’t seem to be any immediate resolution coming for the riots. This type of thing can happen any where. And it’s best to prepare for it. It’s not unreasonable to believe this could happen in a city near you. The United States has seen it’s fair share of rioting. And we all know the devastation that took place after Hurricane Katrina. Be wise, get yourself prepared, and count your blessings that our right to bare arms hasn’t been taken from us.

A small spark creates a roaring fire...

A building burning in London. Image by Associated Press.