Category Archives: Economics
By: Tom Chatham
With more and more people raising the alarm about a coming recession, and possible depression to end all depressions, it is only natural for people to think about where they should put the wealth they have been able to hold onto. If you still have any wealth to speak of after the past several years, congratulations. If any of that wealth is in paper assets that can disappear overnight, you really need to think about a safer place to store it in the coming months and years.
As they say, if you can’t hold it, you don’t own it. If the banking system shuts down due to hackers, enemy attack or government edict, any money you think you have could disappear quickly never to be seen again. At that point all you have to prove it ever existed is a piece of paper that no longer means anything.
We are heading into a rapidly changing future where nothing can be taken for granted. When the current social and monetary system ceases to function, you will need wealth in the form of physical items to get by from day to day. Wealth is the excess production you have to save for the future. It does not matter what form that wealth takes as long as it preserves value for future use.
In a serious crisis, wealth in the form of physical goods can mean the difference between suffering and getting by. In a crisis, physical goods are as good as cash when the time comes to trade for items you need. In today’s crumbling system there are some notable goods that not only hold their value but can increase in value when times get tough and people scramble for limited resources.
These not only provide security and can put food on the table but they hold their value over time better than many items. They can be worth many times their original cost when they can no longer be bought due to the lack of a functional financial system or decaying social condition.
Like guns, ammo can be stored for many years and current social conditions seem likely to make ammo costs stay relatively high for many years to come. Like food, when you need it you will be willing to pay many multiples of it’s original cost to get it making suppliers very important people.
Any disruption of the food distribution system for prolonged periods will force people to return to home canning to insure a food supply for their family. Most people no longer have canning supplies at home and when the time comes that they realize they need them, the cost will be very high if you can even find them. Anyone stocking extra canning supplies beyond their own needs will find them a good trade item when the time comes. Canning supplies like everything else will continue to rise in price in the coming years.
Gold and silver-
As the ultimate time tested wealth storage mediums, gold and silver will allow those that store them the ability to make good deals in the future when paper assets have lost all value. It does not matter if the price goes up or down, they always maintain their value through good times and bad. Today, price manipulation has made these metals available to the public at a major discount to their actual value but that will only last as long as there is confidence in paper. Those stocking up now will reap the rewards for their forward thinking .
Alternate energy systems-
When the grid goes down or energy prices spike at a time when many people no longer have meaningful employment, the ability to maintain energy in your home will mean a great deal to impoverished families. Generators are great but during a long term crisis, the ability to maintain power with a generator is limited. Even if you have a large supply of fuel your generator will likely fail at some point due to extended use. Solar and wind power systems offer the advantage of a one time expense and after that offer years of low or no maintenance to maintain power for critical systems such as lights and refrigeration. They are also much quieter than generators to avoid undue attention from the community.
Tools can come in many types and forms. Tools allow you to fix or build items you need. They also provide you with the means to provide services you can charge for giving you a business to fall back on if it is ever necessary. Good quality tools can last a lifetime and maintain their value over time.
Knowledge is power. When you have the proper knowledge you can write your own destiny. Knowing what to do and how to do it when everyone else is running in circles gives you a major advantage in life. Knowledge also provides you with the ability to use that knowledge for trade or business purposes that can earn you income for items you need. It is difficult to put a price on a good library.
In a crisis food is the ultimate currency. Regardless of what the social conditions are, people will need food. Since most of the population lives in urban environments today, they are dependent on food deliveries to stay fed. When that system fails those with excess food supplies or an ability to produce more will have a form of wealth they can use. Your money will actually be growing on trees.
There are many resources that you can store depending on your abilities and needs but these offer some of the best returns for the investment over time. The need to store wealth is for future consumption when you may not be able to earn the money due to age or economic conditions. The ability to invest some of your wealth now in items that will reduce consumption and supply your future needs is a winning proposition for most people. Only you can know what you expect from the future so you must plan accordingly now to avoid the worries later.
By: Tom Chatham
The road to recovery from any type of societal collapse is largely dependent on the mechanism that caused the collapse. For this reason we need to determine what the likely cause of the collapse will be and have the appropriate equipment to fix the malfunction after it happens. This requires society to take a realistic look at the situation as it is and not how we want it to be.
Most people do not even realize that we are heading for an economic collapse of epic proportions so talking about recovery may seem like we are getting too far ahead of ourselves. What you need to understand is that what we do now, before the collapse will determine how well we are able to recover from it and how fast. When you leave on a trip you pack the appropriate clothing and make sure the car is running well and you have emergency equipment like a spare tire with you just in case. When the economy collapses if we do not have the proper emergency equipment on hand to fix the problems, we will find ourselves stranded and unable to move anywhere.
From a societal standpoint, being unable to move means we will not be able to resolve any of our problems quickly and will out of necessity begin to prey on one another to fulfill our needs. This is what will cause loss of life on a monumental scale as the crisis is drawn out over time. Having the proper emergency equipment and a plan to use it will greatly reduce the suffering that is endured by society. This does not mean there will be no pain, only that we can keep it manageable.
A nations wealth is derived from having a product to sell. A service economy is dependent on having a wealthy society that has sufficient disposable income to support service jobs that consumers pay for rather than doing the jobs themselves. A society cannot get wealthy by washing each others clothes. There must be some type of real production to generate true wealth.
For this reason, the type of collapse many western nations now face will require them to have the ability to actually produce real goods following any collapse to begin the generation of wealth that is required to lift society out of any depression. This means society will need those with insight to have the necessary emergency equipment standing by after the collapse to begin the production of real goods and provide people with real jobs. The lack of jobs and resources following any collapse will mean poverty and predatory actions by society when things finally bottom out.
Most of the manufacturing ability of America has been shipped overseas. This means when a collapse occurs here we will once again need the ability to produce those things we need because we will lack the ability to buy them from others. The lack of a functional manufacturing sector means we will suffer in the future if we do not set aside the necessary emergency equipment we will need in the future to restart our manufacturing ability. As with many things we will need equipment to produce other equipment to build up that ability. The lack of this basic equipment to rebuild that manufacturing ability will doom this nation to poverty and third world status for decades to come.
This does not necessarily mean we will need to build large factories with thousands of employees. We will likely need to focus on smaller mini manufacturing sites employing a few dozen people in each. This is a first step to building larger more productive factories in the future. .
China has embarked on a building spree over the past decade and the result is the existence of many ghost cities and new infrastructure all over China. They possess all of the manufacturing technology of the west and the factories to produce the goods. They have also sought to secure raw materials all over the world for future use. They have built up a huge stockpile of gold. All of this means that China has positioned itself to have the necessary infrastructure to recover from any collapse that the world may face in the future. They have the equipment to build their own wealthy middleclass to fuel their rise in the future. They will do what the U.S. did in the 20th century and build up a wealthy middleclass and become a world leader economically, militarily and politically.
Americans need to realize that China now owns vital ports and businesses in the U.S. Following an economic collapse China will be in the position to increase its manufacturing ability in the U.S. and smother any American attempt to rebuild its own manufacturing ability making it independent of foreign influence. This is the threat to America recovering any future collapse if we do not have a large number of independent operators that can rebuild manufacturing ability at the local level quickly following any serious event.
If America wishes to remain free, we need people with vision to prepare for this eventuality and be able to respond with a new program of production to counter the many dangers we will face in the future. There are two areas that should be concentrated on as far as production is concerned. The first is the extraction or harvesting of resources and raw materials. The second is the conversion of those raw materials into finished goods.
Once you lose the ability to work and earn a living you become a government serf that is forced to bend to their will as you ask for handouts to survive. In an economic collapse the medium of exchange is destroyed along with the savings of the masses. When this happens people can no longer buy the goods they need to survive. Two of the things that survive collapse are individual labor and raw materials. When you can combine these with a third item, production equipment, you have the means to provide the basics of survival for the people and a means to produce their way through the difficulties they are facing. Absent a medium of exchange people will still be able to work for the things they need. This is the key to overcoming a serious crisis that can fracture the population and destroy societies.
Small localized production can make all of the difference when goods are needed to sustain families at the most basic level. The basis of any society is the ability to produce agricultural products. Food is a basic necessity and is the basis of any prosperous society. It is the first level in any production scheme to provide basic goods. Food provides the means to support industrial production. Industrial workers earn pay so they can buy food for their families. Food becomes the primary trade item to support other types of production that eventually provides a higher standard of living for society.
In a collapse, a food producer with a small industrial facility can trade food for the labor to produce factory goods that provide value added goods for society he can trade for other items. With this type of production, a community can overcome economic obstacles even in the absence of a medium of exchange. The industrial equipment could be as simple as a portable saw mill, a grain mill, fiber processing machines such as a spinning wheel and floor loom or a shop filled with wood working or metal working machines. The size and scope of production will be dependent on the abilities of these forward looking individuals to procure these machines prior to any crisis.
This may seem like pie in the sky dreaming to some but the fact remains. The future will only be as difficult as we make it. If we fail to prepare then we are preparing to fail and that will cause suffering on an unimaginable scale yet to be seen. Even a small amount of preparing can yield huge dividends when the time comes so anything you can do to prepare for the changes to come will be worthwhile. I am a big believer in infrastructure and the benefits it brings with it. A farm with specialized equipment can produce more products and create more wealth than one with typical farm equipment. Someone raising livestock that sets up their own small processing facility can process their meat for increased worth and has the means to hire persons to do the work for payment in food products. A dairy that has the ability to produce cheese can increase their product line and produce a product that will keep longer.
When crisis strikes in the future the amount of infrastructure available at the local level will determine what hardships we will face. The production of real goods is the only way we will get through a future crisis and keep society in tact for the duration. The wealth of local communities will depend on what products they have to offer in the future. A lack of local production will end with poverty and societal breakdown that may not be recoverable for many years to come.
By: Tom Chatham
There are many people in the U.S. planning for hard times these days but even those numbers are just a small percentage of the entire population. Most people still believe the government line that everything is getting better. They want to believe life will go on as always because the alternative is too much for them to think about.
Those that are preparing have made the mental leap required to prepare themselves for a future that is less than normal. They have reduced their spending on normal consumer items and reallocated those resources to items that will help their families cope with disruptions in the future. They are preparing for the uncertain times ahead.
Most of these people are imagining a time when resources are cut off or hard to find for a period of time. They are trying to imagine the worst case scenario and prepare to get through those times in tact. They are storing supplies to meet their needs for this period of time. While that is a good idea and will benefit them greatly when the time comes, it may not be enough.
The future that stands before us will be a period of catastrophic change. Things will not be as they once were and they may never be that way again in our lifetimes. It is for this reason that planning for a period of disruption may not be enough. A longer term plan may be required to ensure sufficient resources for the rest of your life.
This will require you to think bigger than you have and develop a plan that goes far beyond your current stores. It does not have to be a big plan or an expensive one, it merely has to provide you with a road map to help you maintain a reasonable standard of living.
Your first reaction to this may be, I don’t have the resources to prep now so that is just not possible. You need to keep in mind that any plan of action starts out as a written plan to act as a guide. It will cost you nothing but some of your time to think about possible actions you can take in the future and write them down. That is always the first step to solving problems that seem too big to handle by yourself. As you write them down and address problems one at a time the bigger problem will become many smaller problems you can easily solve.
There are no guarantees for the future. The way you live today will likely change in the near future. When those changes happen you may not have the ability to live as you do now. Your income and living situation may change and when they do you will have to come up with solutions. If you have already come up with solutions and planned a course of action when it is necessary, it will be easier for you to remain calm and confident as you change your lifestyle to cope with the changing conditions. Here are some questions you will need to answer to get you started in your long term planning.
How will you feed yourself?
Where will you live and what kind of shelter will you have?
How will you provide clean water to drink and cook?
What will you do for clothing?
What kind of sanitation will you have?
How will you stay healthy and provide medical care?
What will you do for transportation?
What kind of communications will you have to stay informed?
What kind of security will you have to stay safe?
What energy resources will you need and how will you provide them?
What will you do to earn money or trade for goods?
What special equipment will you need to live and prosper in the future?
These are some of the questions you must be able to answer to insure your living conditions are sufficient in the long term. Simply answering these questions now will provoke you into thinking about possible solutions to future problems that you may not want to think about right now. Keep in mind that your living conditions will likely change radically in the future whether you plan for it or not so you will make it much easier on yourself if you think about it now.
When answering questions about the future keep in mind that you must be thinking about providing resources for years and not just a few months. This will mean you must have a plan to produce or procure resources in some sustainable way. The more resources you can produce yourself the easier time you will have procuring them. Any production you have will also provide you with goods to sell or trade. Thinking through this type of situation will many times provide you with solutions to problems simply by solving other problems. The more thinking you do now, the less you will suffer in the future.
By: Tom Chatham
If anyone wants to see where western civilization is headed they need only to look at Venezuela today. The Bolivar has gone from 6.3 per dollar to 1,000 per dollar in the past few years. Last year farmers were ordered to turn over certain crops to the government for dispersion in government owned stores. About 100 shopping malls are now having their power cut for several hours a day as power shortages become a problem. But, as one citizen said, it doesn’t really matter because there isn’t anything to buy anyway. Last year their economy dropped 10% and this year it is expected to drop another 8%. They just had 36 747 cargo aircraft deliver newly printed cash to keep up with inflation.
This is the price of socialist programs and lack of sound economic practices. With currency inflating at this rate it is impossible for anyone to save from one year to the next. With government taking farm commodities how long will farmers continue to produce crops they will not get paid for or be paid in increasingly worthless currency. With power shortages commerce cannot continue in any serious way.
Gold has begun its move upwards in reaction to failing bank policies and the realization by the public that all is not well. If you do not get resources before they are gone you will not get them or you will pay dearly for them. Empty stores and closed banks make resource acquisition difficult if not impossible and life becomes much more difficult to survive on a daily basis. Nothing can create shortages like socialist policies and global war.
Saudi Arabia, Turkey the UAE and other actors in the Mideast are massing troops to intervene in the Syrian crisis. They must move soon or rebel forces which include Al Qaeda and ISIS troops will be destroyed by Syrian, Russian and Iranian forces that now threaten Aleppo and soon Raqqa which will end the civil war in Syria once and for all. The latest reports indicate about 350,000 troops, 2,000 tanks, 2,400 airplanes and over 400 helicopters are massing in northern Saudi Arabia. If this force invades Syria it is possible Russia may be forced to utilize tactical nukes to stop them. Once that line has been breached there is no telling where it might end.
One thing that is certain is that bankers and politicians will welcome an escalation to distract the people from the fact that they are about to loose everything they have. Major banks around the world are on the verge of bankruptcy which will trigger a massive derivatives meltdown. When that happens you can kiss any paper assets you have goodbye forever.
In times like this it is only prudent to protect yourself from the machinations of those that push the buttons of global commerce and banking. The rise in gold and silver indicate people are becoming aware of the dangers and are taking defensive positions. Those that realize inflation and shortages of consumer goods are on the horizon are taking the necessary steps to get through the times ahead. They are also taking steps to get through any dangers that governments and bankers are orchestrating to cover their illegal actions.
Let the difficulties in Venezuela be a fair warning of what can happen when the system no longer works properly and you are left to your own devices to get by. The ability to care for yourself is critical when large systems fail. When they fail everything you normally depend on stops and no amount of wishful thinking will change things. If you cannot touch it, you will not have it. A smart man learns from his mistakes. A genius learns from other peoples mistakes. Learn now or pay dearly later.
By: Tom Chatham
We have seen the massive drop in the Baltic Dry Index over the past few months indicating shipping of bulk materials around the world is slowing down to unprecedented levels. We have seen the shutdown and mothballing of hundreds of locomotive engines in the U.S. just over the past few months indicating goods and raw materials are not being shipped in the normal volume as in years past.
We are seeing hundreds of stores run by major retailers being shut down around the country indicating people are not buying goods at the same rate as in years past. Most of our manufacturing ability has been shipped overseas to lower input costs. It has been reported that as many as 15% of the farmers in the U.S. will go out of business this year.
This all means two things. People no longer have the means to buy at will and the amount of goods available will continue to fall until there are severe shortages in the system. The lack of production and distribution will insure that the standard of living of most Americans will drop in the coming months as supply is outstripped by demand in a collapsing economy. As indicated above, the collapse is not coming soon, it is here now.
When goods become scarce, it does not matter what the cost is if you have no money to get them. The lack of basic goods in the economy will be the straw that breaks the American illusion that everything is just fine. It will happen just as sure as the sun rising every morning. It will be a slow process where you notice more and more empty shelves and certain brands become out of stock for longer and longer periods. No production and no shipping carriers means no product on the shelf in time.
When this happens it will not matter to people if we are in deflation or hyperinflation, they will suffer the same in either case due to lack of goods and lack of a medium of exchange with which to maintain their living standards.
If society has the goods it needs at the local level it does not matter what mechanism people use to trade for those items. The trade will happen and living standards will be maintained. Money can be printed at will but real goods must be made from scratch with labor and raw materials. Real goods determine your standard of living and not necessarily the amount of money that exists in society.
Because of this the ability to store and produce real goods at the local level are the only solution to a collapse in the medium of exchange in a country. It is happening now. Fiat money is becoming more worthless by the day and goods are not being produced and shipped as normal. This can only end one way if nothing is done to curtail the lack of goods that people need.
It does not matter if money is little pieces of paper or plastic cards, if the goods are not available the result is the same. The ability of government entities to control either money or goods is a way to control society and force compliance from the people. This is the reason for calls for a cashless society. The government can control money all they want but if they have no control over real goods in a community they really have no control over society.
Real goods trump money of any kind when it comes to everyday living. If you have a years worth of goods stored in your home or the ability to produce them locally, it does not matter if you have a million dollars or no money at all. It does not matter if the store shelves are full or empty. It does not matter if goods are being produced and transported. If you have access to those goods you have what you actually need and not paper promises to get them at some future date for an unspecified amount.
When people think about economic collapse they almost always think about how they will get the money they need to buy stuff. They do not realize that real goods are the actual key to getting by in those dysfunctional times until it is too late. Economic collapse almost always goes hand in hand with the lack of physical goods. You can do without the money but you cannot do without the goods.
In times of monetary dysfunction, real goods become the actual currency society relies on to survive day to day. Real goods can be traded and sold when fiat money is useless. Real goods are the real currency of the world and now is the time to realize that before the monetary crisis prevents the acquisition of those resources. A pantry full of food is worth more than two million in a frozen bank account.
By: Tom Chatham
Regardless of how much you earn it is always possible to save and build wealth little by little until it amounts to something substantial. Most people are in a hurry for everything. They want it right now and that mentality makes it impossible to deploy a long term plan to get where they want to be.
There are those that suddenly get rich but they are not typical of the average guy. The average guy needs a plan to get where they want to be and that plan will rely on certain habits to build wealth. The more money you save and the more wealth you build up, the more opportunities that will open up to you.
With the current economic situation threatening to get worse before it gets better it is even more important now to start utilizing some good habits that will help you . Good financial habits will help you get to the other side of any financial crisis in better shape than those around you. These habits will also allow you to see the long term picture and take advantage of opportunities that come about even in bad times.
Develop a stream of income- This is typically your primary income but it should also encompass any opportunities you come across that can increase your net worth. It can be a reoccurring payment or an occasional boost from opportunities that present themselves on occasion.
Increase ownership of productive real assets- You need to save for the future and that savings should be in real assets that will always be worth something regardless of the economy. It may be gold, silver, diamonds or real estate such as good farmland. These assets should also include ventures that produce a positive cash flow.
Save/invest some of what you make- You must save some of what you make regardless of how little that is. If you make $5,000 a week and spend $5,000 a week you are not wealthy just a highly paid broke person unless some of that money is going into fully owned real assets.
Invest in productive education- All education is not created equal. If you plan to go into debt to get a degree make sure it is necessary. Education in the medical or engineering field will likely pay for itself but going deep into debt to get a liberal arts degree may be a waste of time and money unless you already have a job waiting for you.
Read as much as possible- Reading is one of the most overlooked habits that people never think about. Most people today hate to read and that reduces their chances of identifying opportunities or solving problems. The more you read the larger your data base will be for solving problems or being creative in making money.
Don’t lose money- This seems like a no brainer but most people don’t really think about it. Making money is easy compared to holding onto it for the duration. If you are frugal but turn around and invest money in poorly thought out schemes or loan it to someone that won’t pay it back you have not accomplished anything.
Learn to read people- The failure to read peoples true intentions can cost you everything. There is always someone out there that wishes to separate you from your wealth and it is your job to prevent that from happening.
Building wealth takes time and work. To succeed everything must work properly. One bad habit can ruin all of your hard work and prevent you from reaching your planned goals. It takes planning, execution and willpower to keep it all together.
There is a saying that you can give a poor person a million dollars and they will just end up poor but you can take a million dollars from a rich person and they will just go out and make another million. I actually know a guy that inherited 50 million dollars and about 5 years later he was broke and had nothing to show for all of that wealth. Poor habits make you poor and rich habits make you wealthy.
There is another saying that if you hang out with poor people you learn how to be poor and if you hang out with rich people you learn how to be rich. This is all about learning certain habits regarding wealth and how to handle money. We learn throughout life and what we learn determines how well we do.
By learning good habits to building wealth, the average person can build an empire over time. It does not matter what your ultimate goal is. You can only achieve it if you exercise a certain amount of control over what you do. Learning what works and what does not is the key to unlocking your future wealth.
By: Tom Chatham
Most people want to live a life of extravagance but their meager paychecks often fall far short of reaching that happy place. As a result they are forced to borrow their way to their imagined happiness causing them great financial stress along the way. People have been sold on the idea that newer and bigger is better.
Those that have seen through this thinly veiled sham have learned that happiness can come at much cheaper prices causing less stress and more fun. There are many ways to have a good standard of living without all of the expense. Living within your means is the key and learning not to try to keep up with everyone else is important. There are many ways to live well without all of the expense and the following are just a few of the ways to make that possible.
Buy used and save- If you find something in good shape that you like and at a great savings over a newer version why not get it. It can be furniture, toys, clothes or a car. I have a truck that I bought 15 years ago for 2 grand. Since then I have put another 2 grand into repairs and maintenance. For four thousand dollars I have had a vehicle to drive for 15 years and it still runs good. Over that time many people have bought not one but two new cars at an average cost of $20,000 dollars. This means these people have had to earn $36,000 dollars ( after taxes) more than me just to have a vehicle to drive. I can think of a lot better things to spend money on than a car.
Cook instead of order- Many people like to go out for dinner and there is nothing really wrong with that. If you work hard you deserve to treat yourself from time to time but eating out a lot can really add up over time. Cooking at home from scratch is much cheaper and healthier in most cases. This is especially true if you grow some of your own food. If you can save even one thousand dollars a year on your food bill that can add up over time.
Cheap Entertainment- One way to save a lot of money quickly is to dump the cable TV and get a HD antennae. These cost as little as $30 dollars and can pull in broadcast stations from up to 100 miles away. A typical cable or satellite bill can run $80 dollars a month. That amounts to $960 dollars a year. The antennae I have pulls in over 40 channels from two cities about 50 miles away, all for free. Many people off grid have given up TV completely but it is nice to have the ability to see the local news and weather at a minimum. There are also ways to save on family vacations. Most people live within driving distance of a park or historical site. These can make for great weekend getaways for the family and if you pack a pick-nick basket it can be a cheap way to spend time with the family. If you can add some fishing gear and basic camping gear you will have a way to spend several days away from home inexpensively as you fish, hike and explore. This type of gear also gives you equipment to use in an emergency at home where power and cooking ability are cut off.
Utility bills- One way to save on your water bill is to keep a few rain barrels by your home to use in watering your garden or lawn. This is also useful if the power goes out and you need water to flush the toilet. Having a few solar panels or a small wind turbine to charge a battery pack can help cut down on power usage. This is really helpful if the power goes out. One of the biggest power users in the home is the hot water heater. These things keep 60 or 80 gallons of water hot 24/7 just in case you need some. This is like leaving your car running 24/7 just in case you need to go somewhere. You can cut down this power usage drastically by getting a tankless water heater. These can be electric or gas and only run when the hot water faucet is on. Heat is also another big power user, especially in the northern states. Having a wood stove or fireplace insert can cut your heating bills drastically and they can be used even if the power is out which is a bonus.
Affordable housing- The single biggest expense that many people will ever have is the cost of their housing. Most people determine how much home they can buy by looking at their future expected earnings. This can have catastrophic consequences if they loose their job, home prices fall or the economy tanks. In the last few years we have seen all of these things happen. People are accustomed to buying more than they can afford just because someone is willing to lend them the money. Is it better to have a 1,400 sq. ft. home with a 30 year mortgage or a 600 sq. ft. home that is all paid for? This is something that people need to think very hard about because we are entering a new paradigm where easy money will be a thing of the past.
Ownership over debt- When you use debt to buy things you end up paying two or three times what the original price would have been if you had just saved your money and paid cash. If you go around in life paying twice as much for everything you will never have any savings to fall back on nor will you have as many hard assets that can preserve your wealth. When you think about it in these terms you come to realize that you are giving away most of your hard earned money to people that provide you with convenience and are taking advantage of the consumer mantra sold to people as the normal way to live.
I have stated before that if you have a paid for home and produce most of your own food and power, you could make $10,000 dollars a year and live as well as someone making $40,000 a year. This is because you will be saving a lot of money on interest and conveniences that the average person can provide for themselves. It is also important to understand that having a smaller home and an older car will save you a great deal of money on insurance payments and property tax every year. Reducing your necessary income will also reduce your income taxes every year as well. Why slave away every day just so you can give most of that money to someone else?
Reducing your expenses is more of a mental problem than a physical one. Once you have the right attitude about it and realize where most of your money is actually going it becomes easier to scale back your spending and start living like you should. Life does not have to be hard or expensive. Those are things we do to ourselves by not thinking things through and trying to take the path of least resistance.
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.