Monthly Archives: September 2015
By: Tom Chatham
In 2008 Congress passed Positive Train Control (PTC) legislation to reduce train collisions and over speed accidents. These new electronic control systems can activate train braking systems when dangerous conditions are detected. These new systems were to be installed by Dec. 31, 2015. After this effective date it is a violation of federal law to operate trains on certain sections of track not controlled by PTC systems.
BNSF Chief Executive Carl Ice, advised Senator John Thune (R-South Dakota) in a Sept. 9 letter that BNSF would shut down most of its network by Dec. 31 rather than violate a new law mandating that positive train control be operational by Dec. 31. CSX has also questioned whether it should violate federal law and other Class I carriers may follow suit. This presents the real possibility of a transportation shutdown at the beginning of 2016. Most of the public is unaware how much the national distribution system relies on rail transport and without it how quickly we would cease to function normally.
BNSF has spent $1.5 billion so far on the upgrades and will likely spend another $500 million to fit about half of its track that handles 85% of its traffic. Portions of both trans continental routes will not be operational by the Dec. 31 deadline set by Congress in 2008 nor will commuter zones in Chicago, Seattle and Minneapolis.
BNSF reads the law as saying no train can legally operate on a PTC mandated line after Dec 31 if the system is not operational by that time. Ice is careful in his letter to state BNSF will not refuse to run their trains in violation of the law just that he does not see how they can due to exposure to potential legal claims should an accident occur.
Everyone thought the six years given to implement the system was sufficient but implementing it has been a nightmare. Most of the system components are new, FRA was slow to issue new rules, signal engineers to build the system and make it work are few and everything was kept on hold for a year while they waited for the FCC to issue permits for the construction of new towers and antennae. They are also having problems with the new system activating braking systems unnecessarily causing rail delays. Of the 82,043 miles of track that must be equipped with the new technology only about 5,151 miles have been completed. As of 2014 only 3,376 locomotives have been equipped with the technology which is about 15% of the nationwide fleet.
The railroads have sought an extension but Congress has thus far failed to issue one. In July the Senate passed a highway funding bill that extends the deadline but so far the House has failed to pass it. If they do not act soon the bulk of the rail system will come to a screeching halt on Dec 31. A shutdown of the rail system is a critical link that can wreak havoc on the just in time delivery system which is critical to many functions in society such as food distribution and energy supplies such as coal.
There are only three possible outcomes to this problem.
– Congress will amend the law
– Congress will give an extension to the railroads
– The railroads will shut down
If the railroads shut down the majority of their rail shipments the shelves across America will start to go bare within a few months. It will take this much time for most of the durable goods currently in the distribution system to be delivered and sold to end users. Perishables such as fresh and frozen food items will be affected much faster and shortages will show up within a few weeks. It would also be a problem for the bulk agricultural products people depend on such as corn and wheat. Even if the system is only shut down for a short period it can create a dead zone in the distribution system that will take time to refill. Railroads are warning customers to prepare for a worst case scenario according to Association of American Railroads President Edward Hamberger.
In all likelihood Congress will issue an extension for the railroads but due to the dysfunctional nature of the government these days, we cannot count on that so you should plan ahead just in case the worst does happen and rail traffic stops.
By: Tom Chatham
In the coming days we will ultimately see very many problems and disasters that take many by surprise. This article is not to diminish the potential severity of these coming events but to help you realize the more important aspects of these events.
If you are on the ocean and your boat gets a hole in it, you will likely sink eventually if you cannot prevent the boat from filling with water. That event in itself may seem like a disaster at the time but when taken in context with other events taking place, how serious is that hole?
The future will provide you with many events that you must navigate and to do so you must be able to see them clearly for what they are and determine which is the most dangerous. The question soon becomes, what requires more attention, the hole in the boat, the circling shark or the tidal wave heading in your direction?
My dad once had a boat he worked in called a Mckee craft, it is like a larger version of a Boston whaler. This type of boat is built in a special way. It is fiberglass inside and outside but in between these two fiberglass layers is a layer of Styrofoam. This gives this type of boat a lot of buoyancy to the point that you can literally fill it with water until water runs over the sides and it will not completely sink. You can even cut it into pieces and the pieces will float. It is like a boat with its own built in life preserver.
Going back to the hole in your boat, if you are in a Mckee craft and it gets a hole in it and there is a shark circling you know you will not sink completely and will be able to stay away from the shark to some extent but the tidal wave could be deadly. You are confronted with events, some of which are problems and some which are disasters. You need to be able to recognize the difference and plan accordingly.
A banking crisis or bank holiday is a problem which can be controlled by taking some of your money out of the bank or holding some of it in precious metals. A power grid shutdown can be dealt with by having alternate energy sources and knowing how to do without electricity for extended periods. A breakdown in society can be handled by having a safe place to go and having suitable weapons to protect your family.
In the future you will be confronted with short term problems that can be lessened by prudent planning and there will be disasters that you cannot avoid with any planning but you must realize which events are just problems and which are disasters so you do not develop tunnel vision and place too much emphasis on the wrong event.
There are many disasters that can and will befall society in the future and it is up to you to plan for any disasters that may affect you where you are and assume the worst case scenario when making plans to deal with these events. If you plan for the worst and something less violent happens, you will find it more of an inconvenience than a disaster because you will be ready to deal with it head on.
We could be looking at financial collapse, social collapse, climate disruptions, natural disasters, wars and food disruptions in the near future. Having a years supply of canned goods but not having a manual can opener is a problem but not having any food could be a disaster. Some of these things should only be problems for you and others will develop into disasters. You have some ability to determine which are disasters and which are just problems.
Having a boat that will float no matter what will lessen the number of problems that you will have to focus on at any given time and will make any disaster less disruptive overall. If you have not already done so, now is the time to make sure you have a good boat to weather the coming storm and get you through the violent waters ahead. Proper planning will help insure any problems are just inconveniences and disasters are just a problem.
By: Tom Chatham
Gold and silver are good assets to hold to insure the preservation of EXCESS wealth but there are other assets that are even more valuable longterm. Those things that can be used to produce a product are the elements that can be used to leverage your time, resources and talents to produce wealth. The ability to produce excess is the basis of the need for wealth preservation.
Physical goods in the form of equipment that can be used to create or produce goods needed by society are the basis of prosperity and wealth in the world. Gold and silver only become necessary when society begins to produce more products than the producer can use. This excess production is then traded for those things that can preserve the value of this excess production until it is needed by individuals.
Machines to build or repair such as saws and hammers, sewing machines, metal fabricating machines such as lathes and mills and machines to convert raw materials to value added products such as steel to I beams or pots and pans, wheat to flour or pasta, lumber to finished furniture and cotton to cloth are the assets that define how prosperous you are as a nation. A nation derives its wealth from having a product to sell. That will never change. It is true for nations as well as for individuals.
Individuals need to have the ability to produce something in excess of their needs to advance to the need to store that excess. This requires tools and equipment in most cases. You do not necessarily need to process your own resources to generate this excess. A miller can provide the equipment to grind grain for the community taking part of the production for his time and effort. This gives rise to the service economy where individual specialization is traded for other services and resources rendered. In most cases this service will require specialized equipment not possessed by the general population. This specialized equipment is an asset more valuable than gold and silver in many cases.
The goods need to exist before gold and silver can be traded for them and gold and silver need to exist to preserve this excess production for future use. Storing some of your excess production today in equipment that you can use to start a cottage industry will insure gold and silver will have useful value in the future. You cannot have one without the other.
When a person uses their wealth in such a way that allows them to employ several others, it will not only increase their wealth but insure prosperity for others. The ability to earn payment in return for their time and energy allows these employees to utilize these funds to provide income for the butcher, baker and woodsman. This is the basis for the economy small or large. The economy is what ultimately determines the value of any asset.
The ability of individuals to insure a functioning economy will determine the wealth and standard of living of everyone. A safe asset is one that contributes something to the ability of the economy to function properly. Without that, wealth is determined by what each individual can produce themselves for themselves insuring wealth will be limited for many and unequal as ability will determine what that wealth will be. Restricted access to resources and goods eventually leads to war. In war, no asset is completely safe.
When it comes to the next generation, the options are going to be very limited. If parents expect to pass on any of their hard earned wealth it must be done in a way that prevents government from devaluing or stealing it outright. The use of gold, silver, diamonds and some types of land will likely be the best options. If the government cannot find it or get their hands on it, it will make keeping it that much easier. Given the current situation even guns, ammo and reloading equipment might be seen as a good asset to hold for future use. Along these lines, tools and specialized equipment that can be used to produce some type of income will also be an advantage for youngsters that would otherwise have difficulty finding employment in the future. The greatest thing you could do for your children is to develop some type of business that can be handed down to them to give them the chance to make it in the future where government intervention has destroyed the economy and future job prospects.
One of my favorite scenarios is the development of a small diversified family farm where most or all of your needs can be met from within while selling excess on the local market for needed income. Add to this a few small cottages that can be rented out for a modest price and maybe even a small industrial plant to process fibers such as cotton, wool or flax. Mini mills are now available that makes this a possibility today. A small store on site that can sell locally produced items such as soap, candles, food, clothing or medicinal herbs will all add to income opportunities to insure a decent standard of living. The number of products that can be locally made and sold are numerous and allows for many such farms in an area without fear of duplication.
To get by in the future people are going to have to learn to be creative once again in order to take care of themselves and their families. The west line has moved meaning Americans will be forced to live in a smaller economy with a lower standard of living than in the past. If you do not adjust to that now you will be forced to later under much more difficult circumstances. The assets you preserve during the coming years will determine how well you will live and how well your children will live. Nothing is guaranteed at this point so the future is entirely on you.
By: Tom Chatham
It has become an almost daily event that Russian troops are seen around America in many different situations. Some are seen in Russian uniforms, some in American uniforms and others in civilian clothing. Some have been seen with military vehicles and aircraft and some with DHS vehicles. They are blending into areas in many different ways. Is there a specific reason why?
There is an old Chuck Norris movie called Invasion USA. As part of the plot mercenaries dressed as cops drive up to a local gathering spot and open fire on the youngsters there killing some before they leave. When the real cops arrive responding to the shooting they are attacked by the people thinking more cops are coming to kill again.
In any type of scenario where the government declares open warfare on the American people there is going to be a percentage of cops and troops that will not follow orders and will side with the people. Everyone already knows this especially the government. If these troops and cops are successful in coordinating with the local populations it will make things a great deal harder for the government to pacify the nation.
In this situation it is necessary for the government to prevent this coordination by any means necessary. This might take the form of federals coming into a town or neighborhood and rounding up or shooting locals. Once this happens the locals would see anyone dressed this way as the enemy and shoot first and ask questions later. This would make it difficult if not impossible for those forces loyal to the population to make contact and join forces with them.
By preventing this coordination the federals would be fighting a fractured opposition which would make winning easier. Loyal troops and cops would be taking fire from both sides. This type of plan would make the integration of foreign troops into military units and even local forces like DHS necessary.
If this type of situation did happen it would be necessary for civilians to have some means of identifying loyal troops and police when things began to unravel and the bullets started flying. It would be easier for national guard troops that are already known by the local communities they serve in but for active duty forces that are fractured it would be harder to gain the trust of local communities once things begin to unwind. It is also likely that any national guard unit that is not fully aligned with the federals would find themselves locked out of their armories in the opening hours of any hostilities preventing them from accessing their weapons and equipment.
There are many types of divide and conquer operations in progress at this time. The militarized police forces that are allowed to gun down civilians with no repercussions causing backlash against law enforcement. The protest groups and government backed instigators pushing for a race war to fracture the population. The destruction of good jobs eventually forcing desperate people to turn on each other to survive. The war against Christians, gun owners and veterans to weaken any possible resistance to future government controls. The military attempt to demonize Evangelical Christians, Tea Party groups and organizations like the American Family Association and Family Research Council. All of these actions to foment distrust between the population and military and law enforcement personnel are meant to prevent any cooperation between these groups in the future to the detriment of the federal government.
Everything we are seeing now could very well culminate with attacks on the population by federal forces seeking to maintain chaos until they have the upper hand. Initial actions would likely be to seize control of infrastructure such as power, water, food and communications systems. Then urban and suburban areas would be sealed off to contain the majority of people and prevent dispersion to the countryside where they would be harder to control. The last actions would be to seize control of the farmland to insure control of food supplies to exert further control over the population. It is likely the rural areas are where the most brutal fighting will take place as anti federal supporters fight for their very existence before everything is lost.
The U.S. is being set up to take a hard fall and anyone that fails to see that will suffer horribly for the time they have left alive. The invasion has already begun and most do not see it or believe it. Personnel are being prepositioned and when the time is right they will move in force on an unsuspecting population. Crisis followed by overwhelming force will leave the population reeling from the sudden changing environment and prevent most from doing anything substantial to save themselves. Time is short. If you have not made your peace with God and prepared for the times ahead you have nobody to blame but yourself.