Founders by James Wesley Rawles

Maynard Hutchings Rides Again!!!

Founders is the third fiction book from survivalist luminary James Wesley Rawles in a series with Patriots and Survivors.   I believe this one came out in the last half of 2012, so it’s fairly recent.

I think Rawles’ fiction is a lot like what Don Quixote would look like if it were actually written by Don Quixote.   By that I mean that everything seems a little too fantastic and idealistic.   All of the good guys seem to be devout Christian ex-military firearms experts with hearts of gold and pockets full of silver that always manage to triumph over evil without saying any four letter words in the process.

I think the general consensus on Rawles’ fiction is that the overall writing is poor, but he manages to work in a lot of prepper/survivalist wisdom into the storyline.   I read Patriots on a whim in 2009 and thought I had stumbled on to a thinly-veiled survivalist instruction manual.   I got a lot out of that one.   I think there are other writers in this genre that do a much better job painting a mental picture of SHTF scenarios, but I can’t think of anyone who does a better job than Rawles on the technical things like gear, gadgets and throwing in a little bit of how-to on some subjects.

Ok, on to Founders…   Honestly, I don’t think this book had any real redeeming qualities.   It didn’t do a good job of informing or entertaining.   I found myself glossing over some parts and even thought about giving up around page 50 or so.   Fortunately I had a slow night at work and was able to read the lion’s share of it there.   FWIW, it got a little better after the first part.

The fact that he’s very vocal about his Christian faith doesn’t bother me, but I feel it was cranked up a notch in this book.  I found myself getting annoyed with his lengthy depiction of one character’s religious awakening while sorely neglecting every other aspect of character development in the book.   All of the good guy characters seem to blend together.     Oh, he also wrote “piss” in this one, which is about as vulgar as he gets.   I laughed when I read this.   Although I think the clean language takes away from the realism of the book, I suppose I respect his decision to stick to his guns and “keep it clean”, even though he gets a lot of flack for it.

On the technical side of things, I think Rawles came up short compared to Patriots and even Survivors.   Like I said earlier, Patriots did a great job introducing survival/preparedness topics and Survivors wasn’t too bad in this regard either.    With both books I think someone interested in these subjects could find a lot of new things to look into.   With Founders, I think only one book that was mentioned jumped out at me as something to look into….and I forgot what that was already.    I also don’t think that this one showed the same range of cultural knowledge as Survivors did.

As far as the actual stories in the book, those weren’t great either.   Nothing stood out as being that gripping or really evoking much emotion.   Books like this are supposed to be full of all kinds of hair-raising situations.   Hell, one character had his son shot and it read like a police report.

The three books in the series take place more or less concurrently, so some of the stories in this book are meant to fill in the holes on some things mentioned in the others.    This book has the final days of the UN/Maynard Hutchings government and when reading the end of the book I got the impression that Rawles lost interest in this project and just wanted to get it over with.   I can’t believe how quick and uninspiring he made this big events.

I would recommend Patriots and maybe Survivors to anyone new to the world of survivalism/preparedness with the caveat that you’re not going to get world-class storytelling, but there’s a lot of good information buried in all of that awkward dialog.   This book, not so much.   If you read the previous two and want to continue on with the stories and you’re looking for something not too heavy to read, it might be worth it.

At the end of the day, I respect Rawles and acknowledge his wisdom.   I also think I understand that his primary focus isn’t exactly writing works that will earn him a spot among the western canon, but rather sharing what he knows about survivalism/preparedness with fiction as his canvas.   If only he was a little better at story telling and character development…

 

 

 

Platinum and Palladium: The Other Precious Metals

Gold and silver usually get the spotlight in the world of precious metals so sometimes platinum and palladium get looked over.   I’ll admit that when I gave a presentation on PM’s in February I spent no less than an hour talking about gold and silver and probably less than five minutes talking about platinum and palladium so I’m guilty of it too.    Still, platinum and palladium have been outperforming silver and gold and that trend could continue.

In the speech I gave I basically said that from an investment perspective platinum and palladium had some of the advantages of gold and silver, a few distinct disadvantages and different dynamics.

Like gold and silver, both platinum and palladium are good ways to have a portable tangible asset with a lot of value.   Today (April 3, 2013) platinum is about $1560 and palladium is about $760.

Just like gold and silver, the demand is worldwide and they’re traded on the commodities exchange.   Someone always needs these metals, as they’re extremely important in the industrial world.   A small percentage of platinum is used for jewelry and investment and everything else is industrial demand.   This differs from gold and silver, where about 10% of gold is used for industrial purposes and silver demand is almost evenly distributed.    Theoretically speaking, if worldwide industrial demand goes up, so will these metals.  If it goes down, they could go down.

One of the downsides to these metals that I gave was that they’re not as liquid or as widely recognized as gold and silver.  You can always sell it back to the bullion dealer you purchased it from, but it might be hard to get a fair price in your local area.   Many people keep gold and silver for the potential to barter if the economic system collapses – most people couldn’t tell you the current spot price of gold and silver, but everyone knows that gold and silver are valuable and at least that gold is more valuable than silver.    There isn’t that same level of cultural familiarity with platinum and palladium.   Besides, if the S really HTF I’m sure the demand for both of these metals would be way down.     I can’t see either one being very good for barter.

The supply side of platinum and palladium is promising for investors because both are rare and mining is prone to disruptions.   South Africa is the leading producer of platinum and second largest producer of palladium.   Russia is the largest producer of palladium and second of platinum.   There’s some of both metals mined in the US and Canada, but for all practical purposes Russia and South Africa rule the roost.   Both countries are known for corruption and inefficiency and the primary palladium mines in Siberia are only accessible for a few months out of the year.    There was a labor dispute in South Africa that shook the platinum market earlier this year.

According to some reports, South Africa and Russia are planning on forming a cartel similar to OPEC around these metals.    I purchased a couple ounces of palladium a couple years ago when the price dropped due to the Russian government dumping some of their stockpile on the market in order to pay some bills.  I guess it’s more responsible than just taking on more debt, like some other governments….

Oh, platinum is so rare that all of the platinum ever mined could fit into a room about the size of the average living room.   All of the gold ever mined would fit into a cube about the size of the infield of a baseball diamond.   So if you have a little bit of platinum, you really have something special.     It takes about 10 tons of platinum ore to get one ounce of pure platinum.   It takes about 3 tons for gold, to put it into perspective.

There are also people who make a living salvaging palladium from catalytic converters (the primary use of palladium – there’s a couple grams in each one).   When the price of palladium shot up a few years ago, there were even reports of theft, kind of like when copper goes up wire theft goes up.

Ok, I’ve kind of been shooting from the hip on this one so I’ll sum up with I think that platinum and palladium are worth looking into for investment purposes and diversifying your physical assets but maybe not the best idea if you’re stacking PM’s solely under the premise that all hell will break loose someday.

Rediscovering Sardines

I think I went from age 12 through 26 without touching seafood (other than calamari once at Red Lobster).  From age 8-12 about all I’d eat in the way of seafood was canned clam chowder.    Then for some reason I absolutely couldn’t get myself to eat it.

In 2008 I went to London and walked past a popular fish & chips joint near Boylen Ground, home of West Ham United after a match.   I didn’t have anywhere to be and it smelled really good so I figured I’d give fish another shot because I really wanted to like it.   I ended up liking it and working it back into my diet since then, although I prefer terrestrial vittles.

With the exception of all the more obscure ways of preparing seafood like lutefisk and whatever that fermented shark from Iceland is called (tried that, it was the absolute worst thing I’ve ever tasted), I would have pegged sardines as the fish I would be the least enthused to eat.   I heard someone singing their praises for the health benefits a while back ago and ended up finding a good sale on the Wild Planet brand of sardines and buying a few tins.

I tried them today.   I pretty much flinched as I took the first bite and found that they really weren’t that bad.   In fact, they were pretty good – I could see myself eating them every now and then.

Why do I think this is significant enough to actually type something about it?

– They’re a very healthy food.    They’re good sources of omega 3’s, selenium, calcium, vitamin D, coQ10, potassium and iron.   There’s beneficial fats and they’re dense in protein.

– They’re convenient.  Just open and eat.   No cooking required.

–  They’re good for storage, just like other canned foods.

–  A tin of sardines is about the size of a bar of soap, so it’s easy to carry around a bit of nutritionally dense food.   It’s also easy to store a lot of nutritionally dense food in a small space with sardines, especially considering the rectangular shape of the box/tin.

–   There are a lot of concerns about eating fish because they accumulate toxins easily and virtually anywhere you’ll get fish will likely come from waters with contaminants.   As I understand it, smaller fish like sardines and anchovies tend to accumulate a lot less toxins than larger fish that are higher on the food chain (bioaccumulation) and tend to have longer lifespans.    Interestingly enough, they also contain selenium which is good for fighting things in your body that shouldn’t be there.

So yeah, I’ll probably start working these in to my diet and food storage.

 

13 in 2013 Update 3/28

The other day I made cheese for the first time.  Mozzarella, which is supposed to be among the easiest.   No problems there.   I haven’t had much of it yet, but it tastes just fine.   I’m planning on making a pizza with it shortly.    I’ll make ricotta sometime soon (that’s one of the easier ones too) and then move on to some others.

I picked up the parts for my bee hives the other day.  I got two starter hives plus six additional boxes.   There’s a little bit of assembly required – I have to put some waterproof glue on the edges and nail everything together.  It’s something I should be able to do in a couple of hours in front of the TV or whatever.    My bees will be ready in May to pick up

Winter gardening went well, I just removed my cold frame and aquarium.   I think it’s warm enough for spinach, lettuce and other greens to be fine without protection.   I’m going to either take down my greenhouse this week when I get some time or move it to a different bed to get something like beans or summer squash started.    At this point, I think I can just unstake it, lift it up and sit it down on a different bed without too much fuss.      The other day I forgot to vent my cold frame and when I opened it in the afternoon a ton of steam came out of it.  The plants are fine, but I can see that some of the leaf tips got blanched due to high temps inside.   That thing works pretty well.

I still haven’t seen the video from my precious metals/bartering presentation I did last month.   I think it went well, but maybe there were technical difficulties with the recording.   The local preparedness group has been growing and we started bartering tables after the meetings, which is pretty cool and hopefully it takes off.   We now have a group discount at Mother Earth Products too, which is nice.

 

The Nine Nations of North America by Joel Garreau

 

 

I post a lot about topics like regionalism, devolution, localism and secession and I think this is a very important book that inadvertently covers these topics.   At the very least it’s a good book to help understand the United States and how un-monolithic it really is.

This book was written in 1981 (which was the same year I was born) and is amazingly relevant, despite how much has happened since then.   It covers topics like the uncertainty of the sun belt’s future, the decline of the rust belt, ethanol subsidies in the Midwest, the growth of cottage industries in New England, some American cities being important Latin American cities and many other little things that have come to pass or are coming to pass now.    Being a geography aficionado and having known of this book for a while, I can’t believe I hadn’t read it up until now.

When we look at the world around us, we tend to look at it in terms of political units like states and countries.   Even regions are usually thought of as a grouping of states.  Garreau’s book completely ignores political boundaries and looks at culture, economic activity and the environment to define regions.     These are the things that really make where we live what they are.

Take Illinois for example… Sure it’s one political unit, but there are more or less three different regions within the state.  Chicago is in “the foundry”, which is an area defined by heavy manufacturing, being urban and high concentration of non-WASPs.    The central part of the state is part of the “breadbasket”, defined by agriculture being the dominant business, mild-mannered culture and being mostly rural.  The southern part of the state (along with Southern Indiana) is considered part of Dixie, where people tend to be culturally, economically and politically intertwined with the South.   I remember a guy I went to boot camp with from somewhere way down south in Illinois who had a very thick southern accent and we all thought it was funny he was from the same state as Chicago.  If you look at a map, the southern tip of Illinois really isn’t far from Mississippi as the crow flies.

The book kept my attention, but some parts of it seemed unnecessary and almost like an uninspiring travel write-up.   I’ll admit I skimmed through some of these parts to get to the meat and potatoes.     I understood some of the anecdotal stories as being representative of the regions, but some really did seem disconnected from the book

Another interesting aspect of the book is that he doesn’t stop at international borders.   Canada is just as disjointed as we are and the author points out that someone in say, Hamilton, Ontario probably has more in common with someone in Erie, PA than they do with a fellow Canadian in Ville de Quebec, St. John’s, Vancouver or Saskatoon.   I know that occasionally Canadians like to pretend that they come from a completely different planet as the United States, but there are a lot of close regional connections between our two countries.   I know I’ve met people from Ontario while in Europe there’s kind of an unspecified acknowledgement that we both come from the same kind of place.

In a way the book was actually kind of optimistic in the way it recognized the regions’ strengths.   New England may be poor, but it’s completely bought and paid for and well-suited for an energy crisis.   The Islands and MexAmerica are very important economic hubs for all of Latin America.  The Breadbasket feeds the world.  Ecotopia is well-suited for trade with the Pacific Rim and ahead of the game on environmental/urban planning issues.   I forgot what he said was promising about Dixie or the Foundry, but I guess I can come up with a few things from my own thinking.

At any rate, this book (or at least just looking at the idea of the book) is a good one for seeing the world a little differently than most people do.   When you understand the idea that political borders are often arbitrary, some things become a little more clear in the world.

 

City of Chicago Launching Urban Farming Initiative

Chicago Mayor Launches New Initiative To Transform Empty Lots to Thriving Urban Farms

Hey look, Rahm Emmanuel is behind something that isn’t completely despicable!

I think it’s a good thing that the municipal government of Chicago is getting behind turning abandoned lots in the inner city over to food production.   That’s definitely better than leaving blighted properties standing and bringing the rest of the neighborhood down, hoping that some day a Starbucks will sprout there.

Reading between the lines in this article, I have a feeling that the project is off to a bad start.    They say there are about 15,000 lots abandoned lots in the city of Chicago and it could cost up to $250,000 to get a single lot ready for production.   Bullshit.   It only costs that much when “the machine” is involved.   I guarantee that someone who wants to get a lot prepared for urban farming can get that done for a tiny fraction of that figure.     I also wonder about doling the lots out to people with agricultural training/experience.   Do they think they’re going to find a lot of idle trained farmers sitting around inner city Chicago?  If they’re going the route of offering some kind of classes or instruction to people willing to learn and maybe offering something like a county extension office, that’s probably a good idea.

Hopefully my skepticism is unwarranted and the people in these neighborhoods are able to end the “food desert”, make their neighborhood a little more vibrant and spur a little economic growth.

Mother Earth Products – New Affiliate

Mother Earth Products

Many bloggers or people who run websites throw affiliate marketing links on their page in order to make a few easy bucks if visitors click the links and buy whatever is for sale.

Honestly, I have a couple on my site that I’m not really all that interested in and I have two companies that I really like and actually do business with –  Honeyville Grains and Chelsea Green Publishing.    Honeyville Grains is a great place to get bulk beans, grains and long-term storage food shipped to you at a reasonable cost  and Chelsea Green comes out with some great books.    I have an Amazon one because it allows me to get very specific with the product (i.e. a link to a book that I review) and most people are more comfortable ordering with Amazon than they are stand-alone sites.

I was recently contacted by Theodore from Mother Earth Products and I’m really into this new company and looking forward to being an affiliate for a few reasons:

–  They have a great selection of freeze dried and dehydrated foods at great prices and nice options for quantity (i.e. you can get as small as a two cup pouch or as large as a 35lbs bag with several options between).

– Everything is non-GMO

– Reasonable shipping prices

– The 1 gallon size mylar bags are comparable to #10 cans quantity-wise but take up a lot less space.

–  Perhaps the biggest kicker to me is that this business is ran by a family right here in Central Iowa that really lives the preparedness lifestyle.   I like the idea of keeping it in the community.

Today I received a large box of samples from MEP and it’s going to take a while for us to get through them.    We started off tonight by whipping up the sloppy joe and veggie burger TVP mixes as well as baking some homemade buns.   I was impressed with both and will definitely order some of the sloppy joe TVP.   The flavors of both tasted like actual spices instead of the chemically flavor that usually comes with flavored foods.  I think a lot of people are turned off by TVP because it’s not meat, but in a lot of cases I think it’s the best meat substitute and very agreeable for things that normally take ground meat.  It can also be used to stretch meat dishes, i.e. adding a little bit of it to something like chili, meat sauces, etc to save money.   As far as long-term storage foods go, I would be more excited to hear that we’re going to have TVP sloppy joes for dinner than rice and beans and the price is a lot lower than some of the long term storable meals.

Looks like we have TVP pepperoni pizza and tacos in our immediate future, as well as TVP bacon, sausage, ham, chicken and beef to work with.    I also have some of their soup mixes and dehydrated vegetables to try out.   I’ll post my reviews and what we do with these things as they come.

I also really like the idea of dehydrated vegetables.   They’re very convenient if you do a lot of cooking.    We make a lot of soups and stews and sometimes it’s easier to grab a handful of this-or-that and throw it in than chop stuff.   It’s also a sure bet that you have it around – sometimes I’ve been left hanging with no fresh garlic, onions or celery but was able to get into the dehydrated stuff.   They have a very long shelf life and take up very little space, all things considered.    These things really are a good idea for day-to-day eating, not just when you’re camping or TEOTWAWKI.

So I just wanted to post about this new affiliate because it’s a company that I really want to see succeed and so far it’s looking like they’re going to be a great resource going forward.

 

 

Big Trouble in Little Cyprus

 

Everything You Need To Know About the Cyprus Bank Disaster

 

People who watch the economic situation in Europe are familiar with the “PIIGS” (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain) or the “peripheral countries” getting all of the fanfare for all of the EU’s problems, but EU member Cyprus has managed to slip through the cracks (for the most part) of the mainstream media’s attention.   I guess that’s understandable, considering it’s on the peripheral of the periphery, out there just south of Turkey in the Aegean.   It’s also statistically insignificant in the grand scheme of the EU’s GDP, but psychologically some kind of meltdown there can do some damage to the overall economy of the EU.

The economy of the island is based upon tourism, British ex-pats and offshore banking.   There’s a ton of money from Russia there, sitting outside the reach of the Russian government’s greedy little paws.    There also might be some offshore oil deposits, which might add an interesting twist to the story.    Banks in Cyprus have taken a beating over investing some of that capital into the Greek economy (Cyprus is mostly Greek).

The EU and Cyprus have recently agreed to a bailout plan that will cost the German taxpayers a ton of money and a levy on all bank accounts in Cyprus of 6.75% on accounts less than 100,000 Euros and 9.9% on accounts of more than 100,000 Euros.   The accounts with less than 100,000 are insured in a similar arrangement as our FDIC.      The banks closed on this news in order to avoid bank runs, as everyone naturally wants to get their money out of Cyprus.    The British government says it will reimburse British citizens and government employees (there’s a large UK military base on the island) with Cypriot accounts courtesy of the already-strained British taxpayer.

A lot of wealthy/powerful Russians stand to lose a lot of money via backdoor nationalization in this situation and they aren’t happy.   This is an interesting geopolitical wildcard here because who knows how Russia will respond to this.   On one hand, the government will be happy about all of that money potentially coming back home to Mother Russia.  On the other hand, Putin might have a lot of very powerful people insisting that they “do something”.    If things are looking like they’re going into crisis mode in the EU now, imagine what it would look like if Russia decided to shut off the gas to Europe – that would really throw them over the cliff.   I hope they tread lightly over there…

The other geopolitical factor here is Turkey, but this one might be a bit of a long shot.  The northern part of the Island is de facto Turkish with a strong Turkish military presence and Turkey is on the rise as a regional economic, political and military power.   We seem to be heading towards a multi-polar world I can see Turkey having more influence in the world in the coming years – not quite one of the big boys like the US, China, Russia or the EU, but maybe on the next tier or so down.

5-10 years ago Turkey was trying to jump through the hoops to get into the EU (under some admittedly degrading terms), but now it’s looking like both sides have lost interest in this idea and Turkey would probably be better off without being a member state.   Turkey’s role in NATO made sense during the Cold War, but no so much anymore.   Plus both Turkey and the rest of NATO have shown that they’re not 100% committed to each others’ national defense policies.   Turkey has been a thorn in the side of the US in Iraq and very reluctant militarily in Afghanistan (but good with humanitarian aid) and we haven’t been very helpful to our ally with their problems in Kurdish Iraq and we didn’t dare say a cross word to Israel when they attacked the Turkish flotilla to Palestine – I bet if Syrians attacked the Turkish ship instead of Israel, we would’ve been chomping at the bit to do something.

Oh yeah, there’s also a deep, pathological hatred between the Greeks (represented here by Cyprus who are Greeks in every sense but passports) and the Turks.  Things have gotten better between the two nations over the past few decades, but it’s still there.    Two years ago I visited the military museum in Istanbul and they had a room dedicated to the 1970 skirmish between Greece and Turkey in Cyprus.   A couple things that stood out to me was a satchel with a placard stating that it came from a “Martyred Turkish soldier in the Cyprus Peace Operation”.   There was also a display of an unassuming American army uniform but the name tag was a Greek surname.  It was just something that someone may have stumbled upon in a suburban Chicago surplus store and had absolutely no connection to anything with Cyprus.   To me this spoke volumes.    Oh, and right now the nationalist Golden Dawn party in Greece has been bringing up the Turkish boogeyman in their dialogue.   There was even a story that surfaced in the Western media earlier in the year about how the Golden Dawn put retaking Constantinople into their party platform although I think that had more to do with the media completely sensationalizing something from those guys than reality.    I’m sure many Greeks hold the romantic notion of the Ecumenical Patriarch rolling up to the Hagia Sofia in a tank to deliver the divine liturgy, but I really doubt anyone is putting that on the agenda in Greece.

I’ve gotten a little deeper with Turkey than I intended to when I started typing but long story short, I think there’s a real possibility of them doing something to assert themselves which will basically be their way of giving the EU and/or Greece the middle finger.

Back to Cyprus, this is a unique situation and I’ll be watching it to see what unfolds.   For all practical purposes there are all kinds of backdoor ways that governments can suck wealth out of the people, but this is notable because it’s so direct.   The thought of bank levies has never even crossed my mind.   Instead of dancing around the reality of the situation, it’s like they’re saying that everyone is going to take a bite of the proverbial shit sandwich.   Thinking optimistically, I guess it’s a good thing that they’re being honest.

Last time things really heated up in Europe there was a big rush into the dollar for security, so I’m wondering if gold and silver prices will go down tomorrow as presumably more European money will come our way.

I think this situation makes a good case for keeping some portion of your wealth outside the system into hard assets like land, precious metals and means of production.    It also makes a good case for keeping some physical cash on hand.   If I were in Cyprus, I’d rather grab some Euros from underneath the mattress right now than worry about standing in lines or trying to track down an ATM with cash still in it.

 

See also  The Case for Keeping A Little Extra Cash Around

 

 

 

Ron Finley: A Guerilla Gardener in South Central

This video is awesome.   It’s about Ron Finley, a guy from South Central LA who began starting gardens all over his impoverished neighborhood.   He mentions some of his head-butting with the municipal government of LA and some of the reasons why he does what he does.

As a middle class white guy with tentacles reaching out to both the high brow and the low brow world, I get to hear armchair quarterbacking from all sides on issues of poverty.   Usually one segment has something to say along the lines of “fuck ’em, make them get jobs, no one ever gave me shit” and the other segment usually offers something along the lines of throwing more money at the problem and vague calls for more “education”, without really specifying what that even means.     On this specific issue of “food deserts” (places where nutritious food is scarce and junk food is abundant) and everything around it, usually the discourse ranges between anecdotes about people using food stamps to buy cheetos and grape soda or lofty ideas about how they should just put a Whole Foods on Crenshaw Boulevard or if they would just throw a bunch of organic vegetables on kids’ trays at school to solve the problem.      Ron Finley isn’t waiting for the “them” to solve the problem or spending a lot of time talking about it, he’s going nuts planting things all over South Central LA and sharing it with his community.

I like the idea of taking those used shipping containers to make farmer’s market kiosks or cafes serving healthy locally grown food.   There’s probably a ton of them nearby due to the LA/Long Beach ports and well, there’s a little bit of an imbalance between the amount of things we’re importing from the Orient and what we’re actually exporting, but that’s another story.   It kind of reminds me of the impromptu farmer’s markets that sprouted up in The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil and I suppose the situations really aren’t that different from each other:  poor people that need food and grew it themselves.   I’m sure the jobs that would created by the sale of produce are ones that people would really take pride in – it’s one thing to collect a check to work at the cell phone kiosk, but manning a local farmer’s market stand is probably something that someone really feels good about doing.   Plus it would most likely keep everything within their own community.

Now here’s a little bit of my middle class armchair quarterbacking:   No one is really taught how to do things anymore.   As a society we imply to kids that building things, growing things, fixing things, etc. is below them and anything other than four years of college and an office job means you missed the target.   We get too wrapped up patting kids on the head and telling them they can be astronauts, cure cancer or be the president that we often forget to teach them how to do things that will be valuable to them in their adult life.   For example, if kids were taught how to grow food like this guy is doing, that’s a great life-long skill and like Finley says “it’s like printing money”.   I think this lack of emphasis on true life skills hurts the poor the worst.

I like the finale of this video.    “Grab a shovel and plant some shit”   They should make bumper stickers that say that.

Suburbs “Secede” from Atlanta

 Suburbs Secede From Atlanta

I heard about this story the other day and figured I’d post it because it’s a microcosm of where I see things going and in a way it’s kind of hopeful because it shows that you don’t always have to sink the ship/leave with the girl you came to the dance with, etc.

The TL;DR version:   The city of Atlanta has a lot of problems ranging from the omnipresent municipal debt problems, corruption and the real possibility of the public school system losing accreditation.   I’ve never heard of that happening before to a public school system, so that has to be bad.   Bucking the trend against larger cities incorporating smaller ones, many communities within the Atlanta area have begun to incorporate themselves as new cities in order to get away from Atlanta’s problems and have apparently been successful so far.   Oh, and there’s been a handful of accusations of racism for good measure.

An anonymous “key leader” in the black community (side note: who knows what this actually means.  Could be a city councilman with a bit of pull or it could be some random self-aggrandizing asshole with no pull)  who wants to file a lawsuit against the new cities made the following statement:

“So when you allow powerful groups of citizens to opt out of a social contract, and form their own, it may benefit the group opting out, but it hurts the larger collective,”

It’s also mentioned that the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus was upset over this and tried to bring the cities back into Atlanta’s orbit via a lawsuit in 2011 because the “super-white” cities diluted the voting power of black voters in Atlanta.   To me it seems like it would be just the opposite but what do I know, I’ve never been voted into office.
So the municipal government and some “city leaders” are pissed off because some of the city’s more affluent former residents aren’t happy with being forced to pay for mismanagement that they (largely) didn’t ask for as well as being politically subordinate to a voting bloc that as the GLBC suggests doesn’t vote in their interests.      Now there’s a lot of crying and yelling “they can’t do that!” even though they just did.
I really hope to see more of this throughout the country.   This allows people who feel they’re being mistreated to take greater control over their affairs and it forces the people doing the mistreating to cope without the people they’re mistreating.   We’ve had “bigger is better” engrained into us over the past few generations and maybe that’s not the case when it comes to these things.   Being a handful of different cities doesn’t mean that the people in the suburbs can’t work, shop or entertain themselves in Atlanta and vise-versa.   All it means is that everyone gets a little more responsive local government.
Sure it sucks for the people of Atlanta, but you have to draw the line somewhere.

 

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