Grasshopper Nation: Planning For Those Who Aren't Prepared

Whom will you help? And how much will you be able to?
Friday, June 3, 2016, 8:40 PM

Take a moment to reflect on all the people you care about who aren't reading this article. Or sites like this, which wrestle with the implications of limits to growth and the concerning unsustainability of the economic and natural systems our society depends upon.

How many of your family members, good friends, and neighbors simply choose to ignore the messages from those of us alarmists on the "doomer" side, and live life trusting that tomorrow will always look and feel pretty much like today? Most of them? All of them?

Look, it's understandable. Humans aren't wired well to respond to future risk that isn't visible as an immediate threat. And temperamentally, we prefer good news over bad, so we seek to overweight the former and discount the latter. Who wants to stress out about what "might" happen tomorrow, anyways -- can't we just enjoy life today?

The rift between the preparedness-minded and those not is age-old, as fables like Aesop's The Ant & The Grasshopper date at least as far back as the 5th century BCE.

We spend our focus on this website engaging the "ants", the empirically-minded folks who look at the data and concur that there is sufficient possibility of one or several crises (economic, energy-related, environmental -- or a combination of such) occurring in the next several years. And that taking advance action is prudent.

But the ants are the minority.

Forget about planning for the more esoteric risks posed by faulty monetary policy or energy economics -- 72% of Americans don't even have a basic emergency response kit in place should an ordinary kind of disaster strike (power outage, hurricane, tornado, earthquake, etc).

The simple reality is that, if you're investing your energies towards building resilience against potential hardship, most of those around you likely aren't.

In the midst of your efforts, are you planning for their lack of preparedness?

Grasshopper Nation

The data shows us that the vast majority of Americans are not ready to deal with even minor setbacks.

In January of this year, released survey findings that revealed that only 37% of Americans would be able to cover an unexpected expense (e.g., auto repair, medical bill) of $1,000 with savings. The remaining 67% would have to borrow from friends and family, cut spending elsewhere, or use credit cards to come up with the funds.

In March, the Economic Policy Institute published an excellent chartbook titled The State Of American Retirement (for those inclined to review the full set of charts on their website, it's well worth the time). The EPI's main conclusion from their analysis is that the switchover of the US workforce from defined-benefit pension plans to self-directed retirement savings vehicles like 401Ks and IRAs has resulted in a sizeable drop in retirement preparedness. Retirement wealth has not grown fast enough to keep pace with our aging population.

The stats illustrated by the EPI's charts are frightening on a mean, or average, level. For instance, for all workers 32-61, the average amount saved for retirement is less than $100,000. That's not much to live on in the last decades of your twilight years. And that average savings is actually lower than it was back in 2007, showing that households have still yet to fully recover the wealth lost during the Great Recession.

But mean numbers are skewed by the outliers. In this case, the multi-$million households are bringing up the average pretty dramatically, making things look better than they really are. It's when we look at the median figures that things get truly scary:

Nearly half of families have no retirement account savings at all. That makes median (50th percentile) values low for all age groups, ranging from $480 for families in their mid-30s to $17,000 for families approaching retirement in 2013. For most age groups, median account balances in 2013 were less than half their pre-recession peak and lower than at the start of the new millennium.


The 50th percentile household aged 56-61 has only $17,000 to retire on. That's dangerously close to the Federal poverty level income for a family of two for just a single year.

Another survey breaking out retirement savings by generation shows that as unprepared as many Boomers are, their savings rates dwarf those of Gen X and Millennials. True, Boomers have had more decades to accrue money, but challenges to capital formation are also responsible in large part -- e.g.  lower real household wages, higher cost of homes and other living expenses, and early-career portfolio losses from the 2008-2009 market crash:


The result? 56% of all adult Americans have less than $10,000 saved for retirement.

When it comes to saving for the future, we are a nation of grasshoppers

But Wait, It Gets Worse

The statistics cited so far are depressing on their own. But what if American workers' ability to save gets further compromised from here?

There's a litany of reasons it very likely will. Here are just a few:

Declining Civilian Labor Force Participation Rate

Despite the manic (and wholly unbelievable) headline unemployment rate number released by the government, the real underlying story of US employment is one of a shrinking potential workforce.

We were treated to a most-egregious dose of BS from the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) just this morning in the Non-Farm Payroll Report, which showed the unemployment rate falling to a shockingly fantastic 4.7%. Amazing, right? What a recovery our central planners have pulled off!

But when you look at the underlying data, it's not a growing amount of jobs that's the main driver of this low rate. Rather, it's the decline in the pool of bodies deemed as 'eligibile workers'.  You see, after folks have been out of work for a certain length of time, the government gives up on them, and re-classifies them as permanently unemployable. Some of this is understandable: the boomers (who can) are beginning to retire. But as friend-of-the-site Dan Amerman has calculated, 74% of the jobless who have been removed from unemployment calculations are in the 16-54 age bracket. So, we are looking at a situation in which the government is subjectively choosing whom to count and whom to not count.

The percentage of the US adult population counted as potentially employable has been declining since the start of the new millennia, and gathered steam after 2008. How many people is the US government now counting as "not employable"? 95 million -- an all-time record:


Think about that for a moment. Our government is telling us that 95 million adults -- nearly 1/3 of all the people living in the United States -- are such hopeless prospects that we should simply forget about them ever working again.

Of course, removing these people from the official record allows administrations to trumpet rosy statistics like the 4.7% unemployment rate we saw this morning. So if they can get away with it, you can bet they will.

Until we start pushing back on such devious manipulation of the facts, we're just fooling ourselves as a society. Any cheerleading of the current chicanery just takes our eye off of the really important, and massive, structural problem: we have a ridiculously high number of our adult citizens who can't find gainful employment.

Layoffs & Automation

I've written at length recently about two other factors that will make it hard for today's workers to build retirement capital: layoffs and automation.

So far 2016 is setting a 7-year high in terms of reported layoffs. My earlier article Mass Layoffs To Return With A Vengeance explains how that trend is likely to accelerate from here, and why having a Plan B in place before receiving a pink slip is a particularly sound strategy right now.

My more recent report Automating Ourselves To Unemployment examines the powerful incentives businesses both large and small have right now to replace human capital with technology. Yes, this has happened throughout history -- but never at such scale and such speed. And it's important to remember that once industry invests in automation technology, the jobs displaced never come back. Displacing a large percentage of human labor without a plan in place to put that displaced labor to productive use is a sure-fire recipe for long-term crisis. Our current trajectory has us hollowing out our workforce at an alarming rate. Unskilled labor needs a place of entry in order to build skills and work experience. Yet we are closing that door.

Disruptions In Financial & Energy Markets

Websites like this one publish numerous articles each week detailing the extensive reasons why a 2008-style correction (or worse) in the financial markets is likely overdue. A world economy awash in too much debt. Asset prices bubbles blown by excessive central bank liquidity. A weakening global economy. Stumbling corporate earnings.

This week? We learned that the CAPE Ratio is back at its 2007 overvalued heights. So many bubbles. So many pins...

The EPI chart above showed us that US retirement savings have yet to recover from the losses experienced during the Great Recession. How long will it take them to recover from the next major market correction? An additional 'lost decade'? Longer?

And on the energy side, the US economy is still reeling from the collapse of the shale 'miracle'. Times get tough when prices collapse: companies bleed red, and layoffs ripple through the oil & gas industry and the many other industries that service it.

But times may well get even tougher in the next chapter of this story. Right now, infrastructure is being shut down and sold off (the US oil rig count dropped from 1,600 to 400 over 2015 according to Baker Hughes). But total world oil consumption is still growing. When the current excess of oil stores is used up, we are very likely to experience a petroleum shortage before incremental supply can be brought back online. Remember those days of $100+ per barrel oil? We may be back to them sooner than you think. And with that, all of the associated price inflation in the cost of living that a higher oil price brings with it.

How Will The Unprepared React?

So -- lots of reasons to expect the vast majority of the population to be vulnerable to coming crises both large and small. When the next calamity strikes, how will these people likely react?

History gives us plenty of examples to answer this with confidence: Not well.

When resources per capita drop below a certain level on Maslow's Hierarchy Of Needs, civility is thrown aside. Desperate people act desperately.

We've heard examples of this from past podcast guests like Fernando "FerFAL" Aguille, who lived through several economic collapses in South America.

Closer to home, it took less than 24 hours for stores shelves to be emptied and fights to break out over water after a water main broke in Weston, MA, a suburb of Boston, in 2010.

But perhaps this classic episode from the Twilight Zone best captures the jettisoning of social mores in the face of unexpected crisis. 

Filmed during the Cold War, this short episode captivatingly dramatizes how quickly our social fabric can rip apart when unexpected threats arise. Specifically, it shows how the unprepared are likely to turn to -- and then, on -- those who did take precautions:


(click on the image above to play the video)

It's worth taking the time to watch this episode. It really hits home the importance of having extra supplies on hand for the inevitable 'unprepareds' banging on your door should a disaster arrive.

And it raises the critical questions:

  • Of the people in your life, which ones will you put aside reserve resources for?
  • How much are you willing to put aside for them?
  • And, what are your limits? At what point will you say "no"?

Preparing For The Unprepared

Our resources are finite. Most of us don't feel we have all that we require to meet our own needs and goals. And the best-laid preparations of the most planful of us can suddenly become woefully insufficient if too many unexpected family, friends and neighbors show up demanding our charity.

How do we prepare for the unprepared?

The short answer is we can't; not fully. But we can plan for how much to place in reserve for them.

Here at, we firmly believe in helping others; even those who scoff today at our "doomer" approach of preparing for the worst. But we realize that the demand from the unprepared masses during a crisis will most likely always dwarf your resources. So you'll have to make tough calls. Our advice is to make them now. Whom will you help? What are you willing to provide them with?

Making those choices is heartbreaking. But making them now allows you -- as well as your loved ones -- to better prepare today by setting expectations and creating specific goals.

Here's our advice for those of you wrestling with this thorny task:

  • Put your oxygen mask on first -- You can only be a help to others if you're first in a position to do so. It all starts with building resilience; reducing your vulnerability to the highest likelihood threats able to impact your lifestyle the most (job loss, market crash, sustained power outage, natural disaster, health issue, etc). Our book Prosper!: How to Prepare for the Future and Create a World Worth Inhering was created as a manual for doing exactly this. And its companion What Should I Do? Guide provides step-by-step guidance for a making your preparatons (be sure to start with Step 0)
  • Serve as a model -- Let your actions be visible as an inspiration to others. Allow them to see that preparing for the unexpected isn't just for the "tin foil hat" crowd. Emergency preparedness investments like stored food and water don't need to break the bank, can be made over time, and can involve the entire community in activity that brings it closer together. Building Social Capital, improving your health and fitness, learning new skills, becoming more energy efficient, learning to strengthen your emotional health and those you care about -- all of these are life-enhancing pursuits.
  • Keep your reserve assets confidential -- Don't make ALL of your preparations known. As the above section shows, desperate people take desperate action. The best way to guard against folks coming to take your most precious assets is for no one to know they exist. Beyond that, it often helps to have protective measures in place. Our Personal Safety & Home Defense Guide is full of advice on how to reduce your exposure to the most prevalent forms of invasion and attack.
  • Build awareness among friends/family of the risks in play --  Forewarned is forearmed. Our video series The Crash Course was created to build awareness of the macro risks we face today, and to explain them in an intuitive, approachable way to people of all backgrounds. Sharing that series (or the more condensed 1-hour Accelerated Crash Course) is an excellent way to open eyes and minds to the need for prudent action today. Again, use our What Should I Do? Guide as a catalyst for helping those who 'get it' take their first steps.
  • Get folks engaged in the right actions for the wrong reasons --  So your buddy next door doesn't want to hear about your "doomer" predictions? Try a different tact. Maybe he likes the idea of a neighborhood fall cider pressing party, and joins you in planting a few apple trees in each of your backyards. Our Community Building guide is full of ideas for engaging your neighbors in action in ways that make your community more resilient, even if they don't realize it through the fun they're having.
  • Define your line -- Let those whose welfare you're taking into consideration know of your intentions. Don't make it a guarantee; just let them know their security is important to you. But let them know now what the limits of your support will be -- or even better, give them a more restricted version (which will leave you some buffer in case of the unexpected). Setting these expectations in advance is valuable, even if the folks you're talking to aren't really listening. At the very least, you can proceed knowing you've done your utmost to be up front about what they can and can't count on you for. Review our guide on Emotional Resilience; you will very well need it to prepare your heart in case you ever do have to put these tough calls into action.
  • Empower the latecomers -- Invest in assets and agreements that enable late-arrivals to help themselves (tools, information/education, small jobs, etc). Helping people skill-up and provide for themselves both increases their ability to prosper and reduces the likelihood they drain your finite stores. And you'll be perceived as a benefactor within your community, which will be motivated to provide for and protect you (rather than abandon you) during times of adversity.

There's no doubt this is a thorny subject, with imperfect answers. But to fail to plan for the needs of the unprepared is, in itself, a plan to fail. After all: it's a grasshopper nation, and we ants are too few.

~ Adam Taggart

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Arthur Robey's picture
Arthur Robey
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Thanks Adam. Your charts show

Thanks Adam.

Your charts show that the millennial cohort are saving a nice fat pool of money. Any chance that it be confiscated? 

There is an up side to automation too. It can over-produce, given the resources to do so. I predict that the excess production will be used in the first instance in an attempt to decrease the population. When that fails it will be noted that we are an ape/pig hybrid with a very poor fertility rate.

Therefore I see a flare up of violence and then silence as the land empties due to hunger, sterility and disease.

Those who survive will wonder what the fuss was about, as they order Henrietta the robot to pour another beer and prepare the bath.

The issue is how to get that goal. A goal that will only be achieved if evolutionary forces favour stable, high intelligence hominids.  This is not a given.


Jbarney's picture
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Good Coffee Read

Thanks Adam.

This ends up being what I mentally digested as I drank my coffee and tried to organize my thoughts for the projects I need/want to do around the house today.  The over all point of the article is well taken and is a good reminder that no matter how much we prep for certain events, one major problem in a crisis really might be those who have not prepared.  Interesting, that Twilight Zone episode was something I had never watched until after the 2008 situation, when I started to come to the old webpage. Another visitor posted it on one of the forums, and it does a great job getting you to think about a true SHTFS.  Someone may have done everything realistically possible to provide for their family, etc, but as the ship sinks, as everything gets worse....everybody goes down.

On the subject of retirement, I am significantly torn.  I don't feel comfortable putting money into the markets at all, so literally the last two years of extra cash have gone into the projects around the house.  I am a public school teacher, and am paying into the teacher's retirement system, but in the long run I think I have already mentally put that in the same category or Social Security.  The Crash Course does a crazy good job illuminating the reality of the situation looming for that program, and I have to accept that my own teacher's retirement probably won't be there either.  I'm 40 and the more I think about it, the more it is pretty obvious.

So retirement decisions based on the land we own.  Setting up the orchard (planting more trees today!) getting the bees and the mushrooms, grooming a flat section of my property for a nice long termish thinking garden, etc.  We don't have the cash available yet to get the solar panels, but we have talked to one company.  It does seem like a good investment.

The one final thought I take away from this article is the reality of rural vs urban. The simple fact is I would not want to live anywhere near a city when any number of disasters start to unfold.  Depending on the magnitude of the crisis and the aftermath, the number of people who are unprepared is going to be a huge problem.  While most Americans think Vermont is actually part of Canada, I am fine with that, because we are so small.  I don't want to be competing with hundreds of thousands or millions of other people.

Final thoughts.....

Coffee cup is empty.  Time to get to work.


LesPhelps's picture
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Good article, Adam.

I did an Internet search on preppers in the US.  A 2012 story indicated that there were "now" 3 million preppers in the United States.  If that is accurate, even if the number is now somewhat higher, that puts preppers at around 1% of the overall population.

So, in honor of Dr. Bartlett, the math has to be considered.

Assume that the average prepper home has a one year supply of food per household member.  If that food is doled out evenly, to preppers and the unprepared alike, the food will last perhaps 1% of a year, or  less than 4 days.

There is no good number for the US shelf stable food inventory, but I suspect the number can be expressed in weeks.

The issue of who you are willing and able to help is one thing.  How you are going to deal with the father of five from down the block, who knocks on your door is another.  The issue of how that same father is going to respond, if you are reluctant or unprepared to help, is yet another issue.

I could be classified as a partial prepper.  My wife knows what is happening but has no desire to ever be a survivalist.  Partial prepping is a compromise we have reached.  I can accommodate a short interruption in the commercial food distribution system, or a gradual decline in the commercial food distribution system, but not an immediate and permanent collapse of food distribution.

I wonder what percentage of the population can be classified as partial preppers.

We moved last fall and now live in a much smaller community with six times the land we had before and half the property tax.  I just finished some raised beds at my new home. I am pleased with them.

One of my neighbors has already pointed out that it will take a few years of organic veggies to offset the cost of this garden, but you'd be amazed at how easy it is to maintain.

Someone provided a link recently to an article written in 2014 entitled "Preparing for a Beautiful End."

It closely mirrored where my thoughts have been headed the last year or so.  Humanity is past the point where corrective action can significantly reduce the hardship to follow, or at least that's my take on where we are today.

kwklein's picture
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The Shelter Twilight Zone

I would just like to offer some additional encouragement to watch that episode of The Twilight Zone.  It's (IMHO) the best one ever.

(Even better than Shatner's airplane episode)




Oliveoilguy's picture
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Partial Prepper

LesPhelps....I might fit into that category, as might many who live in Rural America. With wild game, gardens, solar panels and rain collection, my family might last a while in a collapse. But we don't have "survival food" and a bunker mentality. Actually...the things we have done are better characterized as "back to the land" rather than "prepping".  And in a crisis, I will be very thankful to live on soil rather than concrete.

sand_puppy's picture
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When the switch is thrown

One underlying theme I hear is that there are two basic states.  And there is a chance we might toggle between states, possibly abruptly.

State 1.  Stable, business as usual, abundant cheap clean water flows from the tap, food magically appears in the supermarket, money comes from the ATM, “society” cares for the indigent and sick, the police/paramedics/fire-fighters are just a phone call away and people act “civilized.”

State 2.   Crisis, where all the rules are suddenly rewritten, possibly abruptly.  Clean water no longer flows from the tap, the supermarkets are empty, police are not available and the rules of how we act with each other are suddenly re-written.

For example:  my need to get water might abruptly get ranked higher than my respect for property rights (the water belongs to you) or my concern for your physical safety.

In every disaster novel I have read, a common element is a character or two who doesn’t toggle correctly.  They just don’t/can’t “get it” that ALL of the rules are now different.  They approach the new situations assuming the old rules still apply.  Their lack of imagination and inflexibility gets them eaten (in the case of Jurassic Park).








newsbuoy's picture
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North Country Blues

They say in the East that they're pay'n too much...

JimSander's picture
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Academy Award nomination

I never knew that Chris Martenson was such a fine actor.

His performance in "The Shelter" as the doctor in the bomb shelter was wonderful!

Seriously, the resemblance is uncanny....

agitating prop's picture
agitating prop
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Keeping plans private

I had (past tense) a home safe before I moved. It wasn't part of an end of the world plan and very few people knew about it. But it did get me to thinking.  If your neighbors know you are preparing for a shtf scenario, your house gets ransacked first.

Gold bugs who use social media as a megaphone about their precious metal holdings, "hidden where nobody will ever find it," are courting danger, if things become as dire as they proclaim. They may be armed to the teeth but others may out gun them, out 'mean' them and outsmart them. 

As far as helping out your nearest and depends how. If you want to keep your plans private, only tell them if they can keep quiet. 


LesPhelps's picture
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North Country Blues

Dylan does not look 22 years old to me in that video.  He looks about 16.

Cherihuka's picture
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"hidden where nobody will ever find it" - Funny, but not...

Words uttered by every pirate,  every big-time train robber, every Egyptian grave robber ...and all other kinds of men who made off with someone else's gold... or maybe that was just a really good movie script, lol.

True story: my husbands old high school friend in another state (they talk on FB), was a gold-bug who told his live-in girlfriend about his gold stash, and that he "hid it where nobody will ever find it".

You know, before they separated...  You know what happened next? Are you laughing yet?  Somehow someone mysterious found his stash and stole it (among other prepping valuables), but he stands by his Ex... because they separated on good terms! It just couldn't have been her.... or her brother... or new boyfriend...  "hidden where nobody will ever find it"  - famous last words! 

I don't think many people CAN stash enough food for a year for themselves these days. That 'measly' $500 mentioned above is an unimaginable amount to me right now. We 'owned' 10 wooded Colorado acres in a 3000sqft dream home just 2 yrs ago. Short story: dual-tracked illegal foreclosure... and now business is crashing. We downsized to a 523sqft rental, moving where we could afford to live, but living is still not easy. I would love to be stocking up for the 5 kids and 5 grandkids I worry about, and family members (who live 3 miles from the San Andreas fault line, between that and the San Jacinto fault). Without the means right now, no matter how much I obsess over getting a foothold, I'm afraid we won't have the time. 

A garden, even a big one, if you have weather, water, and time on your significant deer, rabbit, potato beetles or 2-legged thieves... will NOT sustain you. You must have more calories than veggies provide, and probably more protein.  You've got to grow enough to feed chickens to provide eggs (and meat), and it wouldn't hurt to have goats and bees (milk and honey, right?) But you'd better figure out a way to guard them all (even if you're not in bear country). 

Practically all cooked veggies taste better with some kind of flavoring besides just being 'combined in a pan'... so CARE must be taken to grow herbs and garlic, and have a way to procure salt... and then you need to know how to dehydrate and jerk and however else you can preserve the harvest. And have a secure storage space, oh, and containers for it. Because winter is very long. 

Take a look at Venezuela today... these people had the same kinds of warnings we are going thru now. Then suddenly the oil prices crashed their economy. Now they are eating the dogs, cats, pigeons, and whatever else... violence on the streets even includes a mob that burned someone alive. Their water is brown and running low due to drought, and the electricity is only on sporadically.  The lessons for what is coming, are there; sadly, "Locusts are grasshoppers", is the truth.



robie robinson's picture
robie robinson
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You know you need a mare, and she best be settled. Congratulations.

i hope to post pics of Kelsey and her foal...she is bagging up.

i,ve had thousands of sheep to lamb and beeves to calve under my husbandry, but Kelsey,my only draft mare, has me on pins and needles.

husband, father, farmer.... 


charleshughsmith's picture
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it's illegal in Venezuela to post the 'real' price of money

It's amazing how bad things can get before the power structure actually changes. I spoke with two associates who are Venezuelans this weekend and they report that it's illegal to post the black market price of Bolivars (the state currency) on the web. That act will get you arrested and tossed in jail. The official exchange rate is 9 bolivars to $1, but the street price is 1000 to $1. 

I sent them bitcoin last month, and BTC has been enormously useful because it can be sent digitally and exchanged for local currency. I think this proves the utility and value of crypto-currencies as things fall apart,

One of the guys is unemployed and is not too afraid of being robbed--he sold everything in his house to buy food. As for food--there is only potatoes for sale, as farmers are forced to sell their produce at official rates. So they cart their produce to Colombia where they can sell it for a fair price. My friends report the stat-subsidized food ran out last week. the other fellow has a job (both are educated professionals) that pays $18/month in real-world exchange rates. Household income is around $35/month.

Electricity is spotty outside Caracas. This is blamed on drought, but my correspondents report the real cause is the money to maintain the grid was stripped to prop up the state. In their view, Venezuela is not just undergoing a political crisis--it's undergoing de-industrialization as a result of gross mismanagement.

But with the army supporting the state's elites, change is being postponed/suppressed.

There may be a wealth of lessons to be drawn from this; at least one is failed regimes cling onto power via the military until their populace is hungry and desperate enough to face the army's guns.

Cherihuka's picture
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The same Charles Hugh Smith of ZeroHedge fame -because 2 minds!?

I'm noticing a lot of crossovers suddenly- between those I read and listen to /am attuned to, now speaking and sharing with each other more and more. It's a strange comfort to see the familiar names among other familiar names (familiar in the sense that I approve of their messages enough to understand where they are coming from - not that they are all widely known or in the news per se). It feels like more of us are gathering on the same page/from similar viewpoints. 

If that IS you, Charles, then both of us can cast off the tinfoil hats (everyone at ZH wears one by osmosis); since Chris doesn't have one on, that means we lose ours by osmosis! Yay!

Oh... Chris is referred by/attached to ZH too. Darn it!  

I don't know if I really have a point to make, but I do have questions that go round and round... like "Will we ever get to a place where we don't feel like we are 'of two minds'??? Living in two simultaneous and opposing realities?" or, "Will it really ever crash (like Venezuela)... or is that skewed logic, because we can print forever like Japan?"

(I'm beginning to believe it will not ever happen here! I'll think we'll just go straight into some pre-planned  Orwellian 4th Reich!)  It's getting so insane now with the political type activity. Then theres the TPP and Troika weird stuff...and I can't even watch Alex Jones, (lol - if I wasn't over 50 I might be living in a cave by now.) 

Reading/watching/listening to the damning economic facts and reports... I know it's not really 4.7% unemployment...  You know how Juncker said "When it gets serious, you have to lie"?, I see how true that statement is among the political class, and feel like we are currently already in a secret half-hidden Banana Republic already.  Only some people have the "anti-matrix tinfoil hat sunglasses" on - and they -like US- can see that the Emperor/Empire has no clothes, while the other people are still laying down palm fronds and pitching pennies at it's feet. 

I've done everything I can - and am still relatively in the same position as someone who pays no attention and understands none of what's going on behind the scenes. The info has not helped me prepare except to have plans in place, and continue working toward things - but mostly I have lost sleep obsessing over the inability to overcome obstacles for the past few years. I feel as vulnerable now as ever, and recognize my tenuous position; how we are captured by the system while being oppressed or stripped clean of resources by it. The best advice I ever see is over and over again - this one is via robie robinson on another recent thread here (Chris interview w/FerFal on Societal Collapse): 

"Collapse now; and avoid the rush."   

In other words start practicing being poor/living with scarcity now, so you aren't so affected by the rug (of life supports) being pulled out from under you, and finding yourself like everyone else: in shock, witless and helpless, without resources. I promise, it really sucks when it's not by choice and you have no back-up, like a parents basement and  pension pmts in the mail... At this point we, and even the Greeks still have that much. At first I was abhorred by the Greeks staying in the Euro, but that was before I got to this place, or understanding. Now I see how people will cling to the hell they know, the little reliability there is in it - rather than risk all on HOPE, where it could all fall apart like Venezuela. It is right in front of our faces how dark things will get. 

It is the Zombie Apocalypse everyone imagines and preps for: the Zombies are angry at the oppressive system, but hunger is a fear -- bigger than anger, guns or darkness.  

Read more on that particular interview with FerFal:

Michael_Rudmin's picture
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Collapse now and avoid the Rush

When in trouble, when in doubt, flap your arms and run about.

You collapse your way, I'll collapse mine.


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I think it can and will get

I think it can and will get very bad in America. Part of me says that things are pretty smooth right now, how could they get so bad, so quickly? Then the logical brain kicks in and analyzes the situation.


  1. The US will soon lose its trade deficit privilege. After that, no more imported electronics. Then what are people going to do with their time???? Kill each other, I gues. Electronics will become very expensive and any imports will have to be balanced with exports until prices increase justify it (food is the only thing I can think the US could export in return for electronics imports, but in a hyperinflation scenario that food will be needed domestically, plus food production will likely go down in such a chaotic situation).
  2. No more net oil imports. Right there US oil consumption will have to go down by 1/3. But then add in the imminent crunch in shale oil production as that previously inflated bubble has now crashed the other way and resulted in no capital investment over the last few years, so when the short lived wells run out, production from there is and will tank. So let's say US oil consumption drops by another 1/3.
  3. The western financial system ponzi scheme will collapse and that whole sector of the economy and workforce involved in the "unproductive" usurious debt-based money sector will vanish. What is that, like 10% of the workforce? What props up New York? Without Wall Street, where would New York be? How will those people find jerbs? Right there, expect 10 million people either killing / robbing from each other or fleeing into the hinterlands like Vermont. Similar with LA, except when people flee from there they won't be able to find water.

I see all of this being easily precipitated by the single event of the dollar losing reserve currency status and its value crashing internationally. I don't see a likely scenario where it could "sort-of" partially lose reserve currency status because things have been inflated so much that any real correction will have to be catastrophic. If decades ago things would have been allowed to correct on their own accord then maybe some sort-of "soft" rebalancing of international currencies would have prevented a total collapse in the dollar.

We are in pretty good shape, no possible shortage of water (comes from well on property, and a river in backyard), an acre of productive land if needed, electric car, wood stove. Electricity comes from hydro so not likely to be cut off for too long. Have solar panels but haven't set them up yet. Pretty far away from big cities. Have a couple boats, easy access to the ocean. Come to think if it, we are in a good situation. Only problem is we still have some mortgage debt, it would be nice to pay that off but that would have to come from selling PM's. Which is better?

newsbuoy's picture
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Se Amigo

And is it not ironic that with all the suffering in Venezuela and Haiti and other little places that the American tax payer is happy to send billions of USD per year to countries with theoretical threats. And in the case of Haiti actually loot the country via the relieve money sent to a foundation of an american political family with very dodgy accounting (ie fraud)...stay tuned for more on that. 

After-thought: does "neo-liberal" translate to "corporate mafia" in any language?

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Warning about poking the bear

Dimitri Orlov teams up with The Saker (a Russian military analyst) and several other Russians living in the west to voice their concern about the western provocation of Russia.  This is quite concerning to me.

A Russian Warning

We, the undersigned, are Russians living and working in the USA. We have been watching with increasing anxiety as the current US and NATO policies have set us on an extremely dangerous collision course with the Russian Federation, as well as with China.

The undersigned include: Evgenia Gurevich, Ph.D., Victor Katsap, PhD,  Andrei Kozhev, Serge Lubomudrov, Dmitry Orlov and The Saker (A. Raevsky)

But we—knowing both Russian history and the current state of Russian society and the Russian military, cannot swallow these lies. We now feel that it is our duty, as Russians living in the US, to warn the American people that they are being lied to, and to tell them the truth. And the truth is simply this: If there is going to be a war with Russia, then the United States will most certainly be destroyed, and most of us will end up dead.

This group brings a particular perspective to this issue that includes knowledge of the sophisticated technological state of the Russian military and a keen eye to the "Russian is evil" mythology being produced in the western press.  This is combined with the progressive encirclement of Russia with western military assets, most recently placing the Aegis Ashore anti-ballistic missile sites virtually on Russia's borders.

They offer an insiders perspective of the Russian temperament:  Russia does not surrender.

There is no objective reason why US and Russia should consider each other adversaries. The current confrontation is entirely the result of the extremist views of the neoconservative cult, whose members were allowed to infiltrate the US Federal government under President Bill Clinton, and who consider any country that refuses to obey their dictates as an enemy to be crushed. ... [A] maniacal insistence that the USA must be a world empire, not a just a regular, normal country, and that every national leader must either bow down before them, or be overthrown. In Russia, this irresistible force has finally encountered an immovable object.

I have the impression that they are voicing a real concern over where this global domination effort could go.  They are seeking to remind westerners that their own civilization will be destroyed in a kinetic war with Russia.

[I]f tomorrow a war were to break out between the US and Russia, it is guaranteed that the US would be obliterated. At a minimum, there would no longer be an electric grid, no internet, no oil and gas pipelines, no interstate highway system, no air transportation or GPS-based navigation. Financial centers would lie in ruins. Government at every level would cease to function. US armed forces, stationed all around the globe, would no longer be resupplied. At a maximum, the entire landmass of the US would be covered by a layer of radioactive ash. We tell you this not to be alarmist, but because, based on everything we know, we are ourselves alarmed. If attacked, Russia will not back down; she will retaliate, and she will utterly annihilate the United States.


Even if the entire Russian leadership is killed in a first strike, the so-called “Dead Hand” (the “Perimetr” system) will automatically launch enough nukes to wipe the USA off the political map. We feel that it is our duty to do all we can to prevent such a catastrophe.

They call on NATO military officers to think critically and take the moral high ground by refusing orders that violate the Nuremberg Tribunal war crimes criteria and to refuse orders that initiate a war of aggression.


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currency reflects confidence in government


Fascinating that its illegal to post the market price of Venezuela's currency.  I claim that the value of the currency reflects the confidence of foreigners and the locals in the government in power, and if you are a central planner who wants to control all aspects of your nation, certainly you don't want anyone posting daily evidence of that collapse of confidence.

Hmm.  This would be another "signpost to leave the country."  When the black market rate for the currency is substantially higher than the official rate, and then it becomes illegal to post the black market rate.  At that moment, you've lost the freedom to talk about reality.

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Cherihuka - cheap to store food

I am sorry you dont think you can store food, but I believe you can. Anything and everything is better than nothing, so instead of getting overwhelmed, just start slowly and steadily. If you have $5 a week, you can get started. Better if you have $5 each a week, so $10, but f $5 is it, start there. If you dont think you have this to spare, you arent looking hard enough, pick one thing to cut back on, so many choices : food budget ( 2 meals a week meat free or no coffees or snacks out or ?), Drive a little less, downgrade your phone minutes or internet speed ( We just downgraded internet speed, dont even notice), etc... since you see it is this important, I know you can find $5 or $10 a week to put towards the effort.

 The LDS cannery has prepackaged cans of staple foods, one person/months worth is 6 cans, $20ish total price (I havent checked lately for exact). You want to get 5 cans grains ( rice, oats) and one of beans per person/month. You can get one months worth per month. Or, package your own grains in cheap or free 5 gallon buckets. You can store under your bed. If you move your bed away from the wall 1 ft., you can store 1 years supply for one person (so, 6 months for the 2 of you) in 12 5 gallon buckets, stacked 2 high in this waste space. Or raise the bed, and put under it. You cn put flat LDS cases of cans on the floor of your closet, proabably another years worth, flat, not stacked, and then just put your shoes on top of these. 


So, you have enough money and room to add at least one months worth of staples per month. Start now.

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Readiness for a collapse

I have been thinking more about Cherihuka's comments that she really isn't too prepared.  Sometimes I feel a lot the same.  My small suburban garden is profoundly too small to feed my household.

Yet for the current state of the world we are fairly well adapted.  I have a day job as a professional and quitting to live off the land doesn't make sense at the current time.

Should we experience a many-month long collapse like Venezuela, I hope that our stored food and water would get us through the transition period.

The big advantage I think we have, thanks to the Crash Course, is that we are already anticipating collapse and can change our life routines fairly promptly when the starting gun fires and it is completely clear that "the Titanic has begun to list."  We are through the denial phase and the early making-sense-of-it phase.

I already have a good idea what pipes, pumps and purifiers I need to finish our rainwater collection system.  I know where I would expand the garden, how much compost and mulch I would want delivered, etc. where to put the chicken coop and that I need to find a meat CSA and veggie CSA promptly.

And as soon as my wife sees the need, we could convert our pretty lawn to garden over a few weeks.

However, my very smart, but unaware neighbors will spend much of the collapse period denying that it is happening and repeating the mantra "everything will be back to normal soon."

So maybe what we have is greater readiness for collapse.


Super cheap food storage strategy for a transition

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robie robinson
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gave  up trying to string the 21st century out into the...instead found i could live with the 19th early 20th century technology and am waiting to step back. Our community needs a miller and harness maker/tanner. pretty much ready.

Kelsey continues her healthy approach towards parturition. 


Yoxa's picture
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Something else to collect: recipes

Half a ton of grains and beans in the pantry would be A Good Thing, but give thought to what you'd actually do with them when the time comes to use them.

Collect recipes for a variety of ways to cook the things you're storing, and test them now to find out what you like. Collect spices and condiments accordingly, to add to your stash. That could make a big difference to your pleasure in eating, either for simply rotating your supplies or in time of actual need.

Also, since we're preparing for collapse, make sure you're equipped for some basic cooking without electricity if needed. and know how to use what you've got.

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On that episode of Twilight Zone, it's always been one of my favorites.

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Great Post Sand Puppy

I chuckled when I read your post, as my family has pretty much had the same conversation up fact, we have a large enough property where it is too our benefit to convert some of the lawn into productive land....  So, I doubled the size of the garden this year, and made the "green effort" of doing so without using any fossil fuels.  I was so into the work that I actually spent many mornings before school (a few times out in the garden right before 5:00 A.M.) working on getting the grass/roots out of the soil.  It looks pretty good.

There was an extensive area that we cleared for the orchard, and I have to admit a sick pleasure in going around and putting out random squash seeds in mounds of dirt.  Trying the indigenous approach.  If the shit hits the fan, I hope to have plenty of squash and dry beans to make it through the winter. 

Our chickens arrive on Sunday!



Grover's picture
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Garage sales as mining sites

I like to go to garage sales late on Sunday afternoon. People have garage sales to get rid of unwanted stuff. Early birds get there early and snap up the "good" stuff. When I get there, the pickings can be pretty slim and the folks having the sale are ready to get on with their lives.

I always strike up a conversation with the owners. Eventually, they ask me what I'm looking for. I tell them that I'd like to get into canning and ask them for advice on the subject. They'll tell me what I need and how to do it. About a third of the time, they say that they have some old jars ... if I'd like them. Sometimes they want a quarter each, but most of the time, they'll offer to give it to me for free. Then, they say that I'll need a pressure cooker/canner ... and they sometimes have one. I've gotten some really nice ones for around $20. If they haven't used it in 10+ years, they're thinking they might as well get rid of it.

I don't lie, but I'm not being completely truthful. They might assume that I'm a pleasant old guy who is down on his luck. Their goal is to get rid of unwanted stuff. I let them feel good about helping me.

When I get home, they get stored in the garage with the other excess equipment. I've got about a dozen of them in various sizes. I also have over 500# of rice and the same amount of pinto beans that I plan to give to my neighbors when things go south. If things go way south, it won't be enough, but it will give them an opportunity to get through the immediate crisis. While their bellies are full, they won't see me as an enemy/target.

Pressure cookers work really well to cook tough foods with little energy and they can be used over a makeshift campfire or a propane stove. If the electricity goes out, I can put my freezer goods in jars and preserve rather than watch it all spoil.

Cast iron cookware is another good find. If it is really rusty, nobody wants it, but it is very easy to season. The heavier, the better. It can be used on a campfire or propane stove/BBQ. I always buy canned tuna packed in oil by the case when a store has a loss leader sale. Precook the beans and rice in the pressure cooker and finish it off with some tuna in the cast iron. The oil keeps it from burning and adds flavor.

Boxes are a horrible thing to constrain thoughts. If you don't think outside the box, you won't see opportunity.




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Adam Taggart
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Very good discussion!

I'm pleased at the thoughtful comments posted so far. Some quick reactions:

  • Jbarney -- Yes, the retirement expectations of many of us need to be revisited given the depressing data in the article above. I don't love the idea of putting money to work (on the long side) in this market, either. Personally, I continue to build cash -- part of which is parked as "dry powder" to deploy after a market correction, with the remainder funding investment across the seven other non-financial Forms of Capital. Like you, I prefer rural to urban (it's why I live where I do now), though I agree with those who calculate that suburbia will actually be the worst zone to live in if there's a real long-term crisis -- it has the worst of both worlds: fewer centralized services compared to cities, and fewer resources compared to rural areas. Hearty congrats on your garden expansion and your imminent chicken delivery!
  • Les -- Props to you, as well, for the impressively constructed raised beds! Those things look like they could withstand an artillery shelling. I empathize with your thoughts on the inevitability of collapse. My feelings is: We do what we can do. The alternative is simply resignation, making the outcome inevitable. I sense you think somewhat similarly -- and I'm confident your beautiful beds and the bounty of their harvest is inspiring your neighbors to do more, too, than they would otherwise.
  • Cherihuka -- I hear your anxiety at your level of (un)preparedness, which most of on this site either share or remember. I simply advise you to note that you're already better off than most by already being aware of the real rules of the real game that is underway. And it sounds like you've put at least some preliminary preparations in place. As Chris has been saying ever since I've known him -- the different between just 3% prepared vs not at all is night and day. It's true. And remember the Eight Forms Of Capital framework we use in Prosper! -- even if cash is scarce, there are a number of other equally-important areas of resilience that don't require much money (if any) to develop. And I agree wholeheartedly with your idea of starting to live now with scarcity. The more of us who "make ourselves rich by making our needs few" (a sentiment stolen from Thoreau) today, the fewer folks who will suffer if our way of life gets halved tomorrow.
  • Mark_BC -- One note of caution: don't make your plans too dependent on the US dollar losing its reserve currency status in the near term. A decade ago, many folks who think like us were confident we were a year or two away from that happening. But even today, there are smarter minds than mine who just don't see another existing currency replacing the dollar anytime soon, for purely mathematical reasons.  Might we see something new, like the SDR Jim Rickard's predicts? Maybe, but I don't see the world switching over to that without years and years of ubiquitous currency collapse first. Just my 2 cents. Otherwise, your life sounds pretty well-situated in terms of resilience. To your question about PMs vs paying off mortgage -- the short answer is: discuss this with a profession financial advisor, ideally one who understand the macro risks we discuss on this site (you can talk to the firm we endorse for free -- Fyi: they can't open accounts for Canadian residents due to US/Canada regulations. But they can talk with you). FWIW, while I love the idea of freeing oneself from the shackles of a mortgage, I personally wouldn't do it with my PMs unless it was after they had gone through a substantial upwards re-valuation. 
  • Food Storage -- there were several comments about food storage and the canneries the Mormon Church offers. For those who haven't read it, I wrote in detail about my visit to a Mormon cannery, which was an excellent experience -- I highly recommend getting your long-term stored food from one. Also, Peak Prosperity's Food Storage wiki is one of the best and most comprehensive resources on the web, IMO, for this topic.
  • Grover -- Nice work on creating a resource for your community to tap in time of trouble. You are building a healthy vault of Social Capital in advance. After you hand out those cookers, rice and beans, you will have a lot of neighbors willing to reciprocate with other goods & services that you value. Way to pay it forward!
Cherihuka's picture
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Encouragement for getting thru another day!

Everyone has such thoughtful and useful and encouraging responses. Sometimes it feels like little things aren't enough, but you all are right- they add up and they count toward something important. Giving up isn't an option anyway!

How could we quit when those we love, who cannot see and won't hear what's happening & what is coming, need us to be ready?

It's not impossible, it's just wearying sometimes (the weeks' news is not ever good anymore, and has made me feel not only pitifully unprepared, but inadequate for the task at hand... you know?) We just have so much ground to cover and time feels like it's getting short.

But resilience is all about getting back up on your feet and bouncing back, isn't it? Where there's a will, there's a way.

Grover, your tactics rock, thanks for sharing them! 



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JimSander wrote: I never knew
JimSander wrote:

I never knew that Chris Martenson was such a fine actor.

His performance in "The Shelter" as the doctor in the bomb shelter was wonderful!

Seriously, the resemblance is uncanny....

I swear the other guy is Peter Schiff too.

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More warnings on the effect of NATO's encircling of Russia

The installation of the NATO Aegis Ashore Missile Defense system in Romania and Poland tightens the noose on Russia.  More ominously, instillation of this system right on Russia's border is a step indicating that the USA has turned away from MAD towards the "winnable nuclear war" way of thinking. 

If either side feels that it can win and that nuclear war is inevitable, then both sides are motivated to try and seize the advantage of the first strike.  The stability of MAD (launching nuclear weapons would be suicide--don't EVER do that) suddenly shifts into instability (launching nuclear weapons in a surprise first strike gives us the best chance of winning).

Eric Zeuss publishes at The Saker (picked up at zh) Obama Slams the Door in Putin's Face.

Putin has requested to meet with Obama and discuss Russia's concerns about this encirclement and dismantling of MAD but Obama has refused to meet or open the topic for discussion.  Refusal to discuss the issue is itself a very clear response.

Shifting from MAD to Winnable Nuclear War

That theory, of a winnable nuclear war (which in the U.S. seems to be replacing the prior theory, called “M.A.D.” for Mutually Assured Destruction) was first prominently put forth in 2006 in the prestigious U.S. journal Foreign Affairs, headlining “The Rise of Nuclear Primacy” and which advocated for a much bolder U.S. strategic policy against Russia, based upon what it argued was America’s technological superiority against Russia’s weaponry and a possibly limited time-window in which to take advantage of it before Russia catches up and the opportunity to do so is gone.

Paul Craig Roberts in ... “Washington Is Beating The War Drums” ... observed that “US war doctrine has been changed. US nuclear weapons are no longer restricted to a retaliatory force, but have been elevated to the role of preemptive nuclear attack.

A Russian correspondent, John Helmer, articulates the problem that Putin will be progressively cornered by this approach.  Even though Russia does not want a nuclear war, at some point, convinced that it is about to be attacked preemptively, Russia will feel that it must initiate an attack on NATO itself, first.  He refers to this as "The Trigger Point."   The history of election year "October Surprises" makes one wonder.....

For maximum effectiveness, an attack must be first, sudden, and completely without warning.  In all kinds of martial encounters from Karate, to gun fights at the OK Coral and now, to nuclear exchanges, shooting first offers great advantage.  John Helmer's article is recommended highly.  Please look at the people and institutions mentioned the John Helmer's article and the authors (and institutions sponsoring them) in the Rise of Nuclear Primacy paper.

Anyone have a "Shelter?"

Cherihuka's picture
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Sand_Puppy... "Putin will be progressively cornered by this approach... Russia will feel that it must initiate an attack on NATO itself, first... The history of election year "October Surprises" makes one wonder..."

We are all trying to connect dots to find core understanding thru the latest events... I have a tendency to 'wonder' a lot because I do not want to wear a tinfoil hat... but here I think the pieces are beginning to culminate in lines going straight between dots. 

Put on the skeptic goggles if you can... but there have been continuous vids of military equipment on trains; out of the ordinary trains (and other movements) that cause people enough alarm to stop and video them and then post to youtube. I'm sure we would all prefer to take comfort in them, but the dots are adding up.

This 10 minute clip of various video locations doesn't offer speculation but shows not only these trains, but how those watching/video-ing them are alarmed by them - it is definitely out of the normal experience. 

Convoy Trains Transporting Military Vehicles Tanks Carrying Hauling Moving Equipment USA



Here is one with the strange/U.N. insignia on vehicles (it's not the only one out there, either, just the most recent):     Would they need these for the Cascadia Drill???

None of the videos sound like the people are 'proud patriots' showing vids like bragging rights of our military might. They are all un-easy, if not alarmed or VERY perplexed. I've seen many vehicles on the trains sporting U.N. insignia (!) right alongside U.S. military tanks...

How can one NOT wonder when they can be seen along with the footage of FEMA stuff (detention/re-education camps? or just getting ready for Cascadia?), and stories of police state (things outside the law like exposed secret detention centers in various cities)... and that is creepy enough to warrant attention. Not that anyone could do anything about it, but tt seems that these 'fringe' ideas are worth looking at, because surprises on a grand scale- whatever they are - are not easy to deal with on any level. 

Now in light of sand_puppy's post, I "wonder" if it might actually be part of invasion defense measures. Perhaps against the Bear we've been poking with a stick. Or the dragon we've awoken from slumber and been blowing raspberries at.  

I'm sure we would love to get better, more reliable info than Dahboo77 or Alex Jones' speculations... anyone have a source of insider info or personal experience to validate/invalidate these trains... or a verifiable/reasonable explanation for the U.N. identifications? 

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Prepping For Beginners
For those of you who want to start prepping and don't know where to start I highly recommend this guys blog. He reviews survival related ebooks and products that I have found very useful in my prepping adventures.
Michael_Rudmin's picture
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Posts: 1000
Grasshopper nation? Why not locust nation?

I am reminded of my story of Chicken Little, who found a seed of corn.  She said, "A seed of corn!  I will plant it."  Then she asked the duck, the goose, the cat, the dog, etc.. "Who will help me plant the corn?"  And they all said "not I".  So she said "I will do it myself, then."  Then the same thing happened for watering and weeding, harvesting and milling, and finally baking bread.  In each case, they refused to help.  So finally, when the bread was cooling, she asked "Who will help me eat this bread?" And all the animals said, "I will!!!"  And Chicken Little said, "No, when I asked for help in planting and weeding and harvesting and milling and baking, none of you were willing to help, and I had to do it myself.  Therefore, I will eat this bread myself."  So all the animals had chicken and dumplings for dinner.

Dave Fairtex, you still have hope.  Sometimes, maybe I do a little, too.  More often than not, I'm pessimistic about this whole thing.  And yes, this does relate exactly to the main theme at hand...  but sometimes I wonder if it even matters.  If the grasshoppers are actually wolves, we may go down no matter what we do.

Usually, I think they're wolves.  Sometimes, I think they're just human.  Often, I think the two are the same, and I despair.

Locust nation.



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