Notes for Sunday – July 05, 2015

On July 5, 1810, P. T. Barnum, the great American showman, was born. He died on April 7, 1891. He is often credited with the phrase “There is a sucker born every minute.” While the actual attribution of the quote is suspect with many versions of the story abounding, the concept remains valid, especially when one considers the economic state of the entire world. Only in a world of fools could the economy of entire nations, indeed the vast majority of the world, be driven solely off of debt.

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We have reached the halfway point in round 59 of the writing contest. If you want your article to be entered in this round, get it finished and sent in to us. Remember that we can now handle pictures, but they must either be taken by you or you must have written permission to use them in your article.

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Today, we present another entry for Round 59 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The $12,000+ worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,195 value),
  2. A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
  3. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 Nato QD Billet upper with a hammer forged, chromlined barrel and a hard case to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR type rifle to have quick change barrel, which can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools, and a compact carry capability in a hard case or 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  4. Gun Mag Warehouse is providing 20 Magpul pmags 30rd Magazines (a value of $300) and a Gun Mag Warehouse T-Shirt. (An equivalent prize will be awarded for residents in states with magazine restrictions.),
  5. Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  6. A pre-selected assortment of military surplus gear from CJL Enterprize (a $300 value),
  7. A Model 120 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $340 value),
  8. A $300 gift certificate from Freeze Dry Guy,
  9. A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo,
  10. KellyKettleUSA.com is donating both an AquaBrick water filtration kit and a Stainless Medium Scout Kelly Kettle Complete Kit with a combined retail value of $304,
  11. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $300 gift certificate, and
  12. Two cases of meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Second Prize:

  1. A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
  2. A FloJak EarthStraw “Code Red” 100-foot well pump system (a $500 value), courtesy of FloJak.com,
  3. The Ark Institute is donating a non-GMO, non-hybrid vegetable seed package–enough for two families of four, seed storage materials, a CD-ROM of Geri Guidetti’s book “Build Your Ark! How to Prepare for Self Reliance in Uncertain Times”, and two bottles of Potassium Iodate– a $325 retail value,
  4. A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials,
  5. Twenty Five books, of the winners choice, of any books published by PrepperPress.com (a $270 value),
  6. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $150 gift certificate, and
  7. RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.

Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  2. A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
  3. Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
  4. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
  5. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances,
  6. APEX Gun Parts is donating a $250 purchase credit,
  7. Montie Gear is donating a Precision Rest (a $249 value), and
  8. Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value).

Round 59 ends on July 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Aquaponics, by A.M. in NC

Introduction

As a forward to this article, let me tell you a little about myself. I’ve been an avid daily reader of SurvivalBlog for about four years now and an avid prepper since my days as a Boy Scout. I’m 30 years old with a wonderfully supportive wife and two adorable girls. About two years ago, after being introduced to the idea of aquaponics, I started thinking about how much the cost would be to get started, how much more of my time toward prepping this would take up, and then finally how I would convince my wife that this would actually allow me to spend less time in the garden? (Insert an eye roll here.) After researching for about three months, I convinced the Mrs. that this would be cool and she approved $500 of our budget to go towards this endeavor. All in all I’ve spent about $1000, greenhouse included. That may cause a sticker shock, but that was spent over time as my setup got more complex.

I’d love to go commercial, but the FDA frowns on any food and manure coming into contact. Under normal applications, this would make sense, but with aquaponics, the fish waste (manure) is converted to usable nutrients. Plants grow at an alarming rate, with 1/10th the water, in an incredibly small space. The FDA has no problem permitting hydroponics, but aquaponics is counterintuitive to what the government says is “okay”. I think the readers here would all agree that Uncle Sam’s “We know what’s best for you ” policies aren’t always correct. The few aquaponics commercial operations out there have started in hydroponics.

I liked the article by F. B., however his/her practical application of that current setup doesn’t seem applicable in a SHTF scenario. For example, they cited too many power requirements. Think small and off grid. Below, I’m going to address what to build, why it’s done this way, and problems I’ve incurred along the way. The one thing I can say is that I’m sure someone can make improvements. There is no correct way to make a perfect set up. However, there are definitely some things not to do. 

There are four main types of aquaponic set ups and combinations that can grow lots of food. I would advise you to research each on YouTube for further explanations.  The first is vertical towers. Plants grow out of a vertical pipe, where water trickles through/over the roots. The second is media grow beds, where there is a constant inflow of water and a bell siphon to drain (aka ebb and flow). The third is a raft system where plants grow in a raft, through which the plant is grown above on a floating board and the roots hang below in the water. The fourth is NFT, or nutrient film technique. The water flows through long gutters or pipes, and plants are planted in lines sticking out of the top with roots hanging inside the pipe. All of these techniques are soil-less. The plants take in all the nutrients needed through the water. 

Growing Bacteria and Getting Up to Speed

It should be said that any system takes approximately a year to get fully functional. At first, I shrugged this off, but realistically it takes a year to get all of the chemical balances,  pH, nutrients, microbes, and bacteria where they need to be. As you know, planning ahead goes a long way. When the system is finally set up, only weekly checks of nutrients, pH, nitrite, and nitrate levels are necessary. 

The bacteriological processes that need to take place or get established are twofold. One type of bacteria converts ammonia to nitrites. The second type converts nitrites to nitrates. Nitrates are the driving factor that make plants grow. Ammonia becomes present generally through three factors. Fish produce ammonia through their gills and through fish waste. Any uneaten fish food, or solids from fish food, releases ammonia. Dead things in the system, particularly fish, will release ammonia. NOTE: Ammonia above five ppm will kill your fish!!! A good rule of thumb is to have one pound of fish per two gallons of water in your system. The amount of fish your system can handle depends on the amount of biological surface area in your system. More surface area = more pounds of fish. The more fish in the system means more available nitrates, which presents a need for more plants. I have about a dozen fish at about 30 total pounds in a 170 gallon set up. 

Not all grow media is the same! There are four main types of media used in most systems today. One, known as “miners moss”, or synthetically woven fibers, definitely provides the most surface area, however this can be expensive. This type of media is usually used in vertical towers. Next in line would be expanded shale, which is what I prefer due to it being porous in nature. Expanded shale provides much more surface area. I like pieces that are 3/4″ in diameter. It is also the most cost effective. Hydroton, or small 1/2″ clay balls, are common but also can be expensive. The cheapest option is 3/4″ gravel.  From experience, it works well, but weight is always the problem due to the amount needed for a system. I have three large bags of expanded shale in my grow bed; these bags cost me $100. It measures 40″ x 37″ x 15″ deep. The other surface area occurs on the root systems of my plants in the NFT pipes.

Something else to discuss at this point is deciding what you want to grow. Your system should target one of two things: either growing greens/herbs or growing fruit bearing fruits/veggies. Greens (lettuce, arugula, kale, collards, herbs) will require very little potassium or phosphate. The addition of those two can cause an algae bloom, which will cloud your water and suck up all the dissolved oxygen which can kill the fish. Fruit bearing plants require much more frequent testing and observation of nutrients, so as not to have deficiencies. I personally prefer the greens. I often add organic nutrients, such as Natures Nog, Epsom Salt, Kelp Meal, and Azomite at the rate of one tablespoon/week each. The fish also tolerate it well.

The fish you choose should be the ones you like to eat. If you don’t like your fish, neglect often happens and the fish die. I like catfish. Mmmmm, they’re tasty! They tolerate swings in temperature and low oxygen levels, which happen in summer when the water warms up. The higher the water temperature gets, the lower the DO (dissolved oxygen) becomes. I take my daughter fishing for our catfish. Anything smaller than five pounds goes in the tank, where they grow until they become dinner. Anything bigger is dinner! Other types of fish that work well are tilapia (in warmer climates), bream, and crappie. In colder climates, you are better off using perch, salmon, or trout. I supplement red wiggler earth worms as feed every so often, but mostly I use 30% protein fish food at the rate of one handful once a day.

The Build

In this section, I will describe my set up and the “why” behind it. You could modify this to work any way for yourself, small scale or large. I started by digging a trench 30 feet long and three feet deep. I buried a piece of black 4-inch drain pipe without the holes, leaving one end sticking out of the ground, which is outside of my greenhouse and has a screen filter on it. The other end comes up inside the greenhouse. A small 4-inch fan pulls outside air in, cooling/warming it (depending on time of year) using geothermal energy as it passes through the pipe. This also creates a positive pressure inside my greenhouse. I built a PVC-framed greenhouse covered with Polyethylene. The greenhouse is closed at one end and has a door at the other. I use a 60% shade/filter over the top during the heat of summer. This allows the greenhouse to stay cool in the summer. I use an IBC tank, which holds about 150-170 gallons. I cut the top off and flipped it over to hold the expanded shale. On the surface of the expanded shale is where the two types of bacteria convert ammonia to nitrates.  The lower part of the IBC is buried to ground level. By doing this, the water stays close to ground temp, which eliminates my need for a water heat source. The top is covered with a *dark blue tarp to keep light from getting in. Any place light can touch the water will cause algae to grow. I have a 400 gph pump that pumps water constantly up to a dark blue, 40-gallon plastic drum through a swirl filter; the bottom of the two 40-gallon drums sit about three feet off the ground. This is the first step that removes solids. This must be the first step, because those solids WILL clog up the grow bed media (thus causing “dead spots”). That water then flows to a second ibblue drum bio filter. Look at YouTube for designs on both. When the water leaves the blue drums it overflows into the 4″ pvc NFT system. The NFT tubes consist of (6) 4″ PVC pipes that are 10 feet long,  interconnected so that water flows in at one end and out the other, passing along the roots of 70 plants along the way. I plant 15 plants per week in small trays. (See the section on “Seeding and Trays” below). The lettuce is 68-day Butterhead Bibb lettuce and spends the last four weeks growing in the NFT. I prefer Bibb as it has thicker leaves, a buttery taste, and is often considered gourmet lettuce. I have the pipes over the expanded shale to shade it from getting hot. If your grow media, like gravel or shale, gets too hot, it will warm up the water and kill the fish. You must shade it somehow, either with vegetation or another means. From the PVC NFT system, the water has a constant inflow into the shale. Once the water level fills to just below the surface (about 1″), a 1″ PVC bell siphon kicks in and drains the tank. This is also a crucial part of my set up because it drains about 18 Gallons of water in three minutes. This quick rush of water draining back into the fish tank keeps the water stirred and aerated, thus eliminating the need for an air stone. Because so much water enters with such force, it breaks the surface tension of the water, allowing CO2 and other harmful gasses to escape and not suffocate the fish. Then the water is pumped back to the blue drums and thus circulated. The only power required for this is my 400gph pump and 4″ fan for the greenhouse. In the event of a power outage (short or long term), I have planned to keep the system running with minimal input. Ahead of time, I’ve installed a 1/4″ drain pipe on the bottom of the second blue drum with a flow regulator. If the power fails, I’ll have to go out twice a day and manually use a bucket to fill the 40-gallon drum from the reservoir. From there, gravity will force water through the NFT system, and the bell siphon will drain the upper tank. The only power necessary to keep the whole thing running is for the 4″ air fan.

Seeds and Start Up Trays

I use only pelleted heirloom seeds, when possible. I prefer to buy 2,000-10,000 seeds at a time and keep them in the freezer. I have two grow trays that I keep in the garage. I use Rockwool 1.5″ starter blocks. Rockwool tends to be caustic, meaning it has a pH of 8.0. An ideal range for any aquaponics system is 6.3-6.6. If you don’t lower the pH of the Rockwool ahead of time, the seeds generally will not sprout. Before planting I soak/submerge the Rockwool in a bucket with water and squeeze a lemon into the water, mixing it before putting the cubes in. I let them sit for 12 hours, thus lowering the pH to around 6.0-6.3. I then take them and put them into a tray, insert one pelleted seed per cube, and put the lid on the tray. Usually seeds will sprout in 10 days. Once the second set of leaves appears, I transfer the sprouted cubes to a second tray. I keep the water in the bottom of the slotted sprouting tray at as little as possible, just barely touching the rock wool. The cubes will soak up water, thus causing the roots to shoot out the bottom. Once the plant is about 35-40 days old, and root development is long enough, I transplant them to the NFT PVC pipes. Spacing at this point is 8″ apart.

Pests and Pest Controls

Anyone who does this for any amount of time will find that once pests arrive, they’re hard to get rid of. I keep ladybugs and predatory wasps in my greenhouse year round. A ladybug will eat 50 aphids per day and predatory wasps usually take care of the rest. They seek out and find aphids and other pests. If an outbreak is too bad, I will apply organic controls using a spray bottle and spraying directly on the leaves. Usually a citrus and castor oil blend will do the trick. Make sure not to get it into the water, as fish are usually affected quite easily. 

In Closing

The best part about aquaponics is that once the system is all set up, there is very little upkeep. I haven’t had to weed in two years. It’s wonderful! You’ll also find that the nutrition levels of your aquaponic lettuces, fruits, and veggies are higher than store bought by leaps and bounds, not to mention that it always tastes better when you grow it yourself. I’ve killed all of my fish three different times. I add 10 gallons of water per week to keep the tank topped off. In a SHTF scenario, fresh lettuce and herbs provide lots of flavors and roughage. In stressful situations, the last thing you want is a GI block or GI problems after all of the preparation. Add this in with fresh fish, crawdads, beans and rice, rice and beans, and life shouldn’t take too much of a hiccup. God bless all of you, and stay vigilant! Work like it all depends on you, and pray like it all depends on HIM!!! 

Proverbs 22:3

Letter Re: Illusive Self Sufficiency

Hugh,

When I read the letter from RG, I thought, “Did my husband write this?” We have been in the same spot, also at year three of striving for preparedness and self sufficiency. I wrote SB over a year ago; it was the article on Year One at the New Retreat. We have continued our preps and property improvements and are still working very hard. I suspect we will never reach that point where we have thought of everything.

Since my husband travels as part of his work, a great deal of the work around the property falls to me. When he is home, he really does a lot and it’s great. But nevertheless, I work hard. I think it is easy to get overwhelmed and fall into the trap of believing that everything has to be perfect and complete. I have put some thought into this recently, and here are some of the strategies I am using to continue our preps and work towards lightening my load:

  1. Don’t try right now to be fully self sufficient. Try instead to be ready to implement self sufficiency. That means buy some groceries now, have a fertile, tilled garden space and good seed ready to go. Like us, we’ve had the practice on the gardening. Last year my garden was wonderful; this year it looks awful. I tried planting some old seed (sugar beets, corn, and carrots) just to use up old seed and experiment with growing fodder for my cattle. Lack of rain did not help, and so only some things are coming in. I am tilling up part of it this summer and will throw some clover seed in to add nitrogen back to the soil. Instead of worrying about trying to make the garden produce this year, I am going to free up more time to do those other things I need to do. In the fall, I will add some manure and prep the garden for spring. I also plan to shop for fresh heirloom seed, having not seen one sugar beet come up this year. I also have the backup supply of food to lean on. When the SHTF, we have family joining us, and they can share in the work of planting and caring for a full garden.
  2. Raised garden beds are a good long-term investment if planted with perennial food items. Last year I built (six) 4ft by 12ft beds. Then, my husband helped me set them in the ground. I made them two feet high and paid to have good compost mix brought in by the truckloads. I planted some permanent type plants. They have not required near the maintenance the rest of the garden needs. One is a dedicated asparagus bed, which I intentionally have not harvested from yet as a way of letting the root systems develop further. Other beds are planted with strawberries, rhubarb, and herbs. These all come back on their own. I have tomatoes and tomatillos, some of which have also returned on their own. My potatoes also returned on their own. Even though I dug them up last year, a few always hide and they grew back in the same rows. Even non perennials I have planted in raised beds have been less work. I’ve decided to build six more garden beds. They are a time saver and a back saver, and they’re easy to weed. I think this is a smarter way to use my time for now.
  3. Let fruit and nut trees do the work. I have been lucky enough to discover full grown fruit trees on our property– most recently mature and freely growing cherry trees. I have hazelnuts growing freely but planted some walnuts as well. We also planted a very large orchard when we first moved in, and I don’t have to put in near the same amount of work on them as I do the garden. These nut and fruit trees have been a great time saver. I planted some blueberry bushes as well, which I think I will move to a raised bed this fall. Other ideas would be to plant blackberries if you have piece of land that stays wetter, or think about planting gooseberry bushes. Anything that you plant once and it produces year after year can save your energy.
  4. Having the right tools helps. For instance, filling and moving the water containers for my poultry flock was getting hard on my back. I bought a simple garden wagon to cart the waterers around. A simple tool made a job a lot easier for me. I use it for moving bales of hay and salt blocks, too. I would encourage others to reconsider their tools used in the most common and difficult tasks.
  5. Throw money at a problem. Even for those who are not in good financial shape, take into consideration the cost of hiring someone to help with work versus the cost of medical for an injury and also weigh the value of your time. If for instance you are 60 years old (like me) and want to save money by doing it yourself, imagine the potential injury and cost of medical afterwards. Or, consider if you work for $20 an hour and can pay $10 an hour for some labor, hire someone and continue to work at what you can do. Sometimes it just pays off to hire someone for some help. Another thought on this, if you have a savings account or an IRA you can draw from, does it make sense now in your situation to purchase something that would solve a major prepping issue for you? Consider the potential risk that your savings might get confiscated in TEOTWAWKI. Would it pay for a water well, solar panels, tractor, diesel tank, propane tank, generator, some good weapons, et cetera?
  6. I don’t necessarily subscribe to the idea it’s easy to find like-minded individuals. I think they will emerge when the time comes, but I do know who lives around me. Since I have dairy farms around me, I know who has milk. I know who the big fishermen are around me and who my fellow hunters are. None of them grow fruit like I do, and I’m sure we can find grounds for barter. At present, I don’t feel I need to produce everything my family uses.
  7. Remember the Sabbath, go to church, and rest on Sundays. It is so easy when you are overwhelmed and have a long list of “to-do’s” to try to make up time on Sunday. I confess. I am one of those who has worked on a Sunday trying to get some task done, only to be tired all week. I find that getting the spiritual nourishment and physical rest on Sunday gives me more power to get things done later.

In summary, to newbies just getting set up, I recommend starting with fruit and nut trees, raised garden beds, get to know what your neighbors, grow and do, buy good labor-saving tools, and spend a little money where it’s smart to do so. Respect the Sabbath. It is hard work to strive for self sufficiency, and these are my tips to make it a little easier.

Good luck to R.G.! I would also like to hear from others their ideas on how to work smarter, not harder. Not all of us are young spring chickens!

Mrs. RLB

Economics and Investing:

Rosy jobless numbers cover up bad news. – J.F.

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Famous Rothschild Banking Dynasty Facing Fraud Charges In France

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Non-working America soars by 640,000 in one month to new record of 93.6 million. Not in the labor force Americans up 11 million since 2010.

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Sugar, flour, rice: panicked Greeks stock up on essentials – G.G.

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Greek banks prepare plan to raid deposits to avert collapse. – G.G.

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Tax Like It Is July 4, 1776. – PLC

Odds ‘n Sods:

An interesting multi-part look at the history of the ancient world: Production Versus Plunder

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Government Trolls Are Using “Psychology-Based Influence Techniques” On YouTube, Facebook And Twitter – H.L.

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Hackers Installed Sophisticated Malware on U.S. Computers. Why Doesn’t Anyone Care? – G.P.

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Tragic tale of the German who wouldn’t salute Hitler Lives, families, fortunes, and honor. – G.P.

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Americans Don’t Deserve to Celebrate July 4th This Year. – B.B.

Hugh’s Quote of the Day:

“And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves; and would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple. And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves.” Mark 11:15-17 (KJV)

Notes for Saturday – July 04, 2015

It’s July 4, 2015, and today’s festivities have a disappointing bittersweetness. Instead of a genuine celebration, they seem like more of a wistful memorial to the freedom that we once enjoyed. Just 239 years ago we fought a war of independence, but now we find ourselves under the thumb of globalists, statists, and internationalists. It is time to pluck a few chickens and warm up the tar pot. – JWR

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Today, we present another entry for Round 59 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The $12,000+ worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,195 value),
  2. A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
  3. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 Nato QD Billet upper with a hammer forged, chromlined barrel and a hard case to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR type rifle to have quick change barrel, which can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools, and a compact carry capability in a hard case or 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  4. Gun Mag Warehouse is providing 20 Magpul pmags 30rd Magazines (a value of $300) and a Gun Mag Warehouse T-Shirt. (An equivalent prize will be awarded for residents in states with magazine restrictions.),
  5. Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  6. A pre-selected assortment of military surplus gear from CJL Enterprize (a $300 value),
  7. A Model 120 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $340 value),
  8. A $300 gift certificate from Freeze Dry Guy,
  9. A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo,
  10. KellyKettleUSA.com is donating both an AquaBrick water filtration kit and a Stainless Medium Scout Kelly Kettle Complete Kit with a combined retail value of $304,
  11. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $300 gift certificate, and
  12. Two cases of meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Second Prize:

  1. A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
  2. A FloJak EarthStraw “Code Red” 100-foot well pump system (a $500 value), courtesy of FloJak.com,
  3. The Ark Institute is donating a non-GMO, non-hybrid vegetable seed package–enough for two families of four, seed storage materials, a CD-ROM of Geri Guidetti’s book “Build Your Ark! How to Prepare for Self Reliance in Uncertain Times”, and two bottles of Potassium Iodate– a $325 retail value,
  4. A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials,
  5. Twenty Five books, of the winners choice, of any books published by PrepperPress.com (a $270 value),
  6. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $150 gift certificate, and
  7. RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.

Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  2. A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
  3. Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
  4. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
  5. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances,
  6. APEX Gun Parts is donating a $250 purchase credit,
  7. Montie Gear is donating a Precision Rest (a $249 value), and
  8. Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value).

Round 59 ends on July 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Do What You Are Good At, But Work At What You Aren’t, by R.D.

Fear and prudence

I’ve never thought of myself as being particularly knowledgeable on specific things regarding preparedness. I wasn’t in the military, so I don’t feel qualified to give “tactical firearms advice”, but I like to shoot and train as much as possible. I’m not an EMT, but I’ve put together several first aid kits that our family feels comfortable using. I’m not a farmer, but we have learned basic gardening over the last seven years in our small urban garden. I’m not a professional mechanic, but I prefer to maintain our cars and equipment largely by myself. I’m not a politician, but getting involved in local affairs can help liberty in profound ways. I’m a product designer by trade, but I don’t consider myself an artist, which is actually pretty strange.

I think for the average person, we don’t think that there is much we can contribute to helping ourselves and others become more self sufficient, if there is such a term. It’s also a bit confusing for us because we are Christ followers and consider Christ to be sufficient for our needs. Is this a double standard? I don’t think so, but it’s taken some learning and understanding to come to grips with this. It’s easy to be fearful when talking about preparedness, but we have no need for fear. We learn ways to be prudent and creative, which is biblical.

A couple of experiences and casual comments over the last couple of months have encouraged me to share a bit of knowledge or insight into our family’s decisions and dreams for the future and what we’ve learned together.

Influence your local government for liberty

Not long ago I decided to go to a city hall meeting in our town for an issue that I felt compelled to speak up on. It’s really out of my comfort zone to confront city leaders or the police chief on any issue. We are one of several towns in the area that installed video monitored traffic cameras a couple of years ago. It’s been a growing concern that the government has taken too much liberty in their monitoring of our movements and activity. By just doing a little research, showing up at a town hall, and giving an educated opinion on these issues, it actually helped sway the council into removing these cameras this year. It’s a small enough town where the leaders “have” to listen to you. Most people don’t show up to town halls, so it’s a relatively captive audience. Use this opportunity to get to know your leaders and influence them to gain back some liberty. It’s our responsibility. A lot of things aren’t even put to a vote, but they want to know what people think.

During this time, I met some of these city leaders. Though we disagreed on some issues and agreed on others, for whatever reason we started talking about “national preparedness month” and how our town wasn’t as prepared as others in the area. I casually showed them a small trauma kit that I recently put together. They were shocked (no pun intended). One of them is an actual EMT, and she couldn’t believe how complete it was, and even gave me a few ideas on what to add to it (a Halo chest seal). My wife and I like to spend time in the outdoors, so first aid kits are pretty common to us, but one of the city officials asked if I would present these kits at one of their meetings. They made the comment that I was an “expert” in this field, and most of the people they come in contact with in the city don’t have this basic knowledge. I’m an “expert”? I guess it’s a matter of perspective, but they all agreed that maybe picking up some Band-Aids, tape, and gauze would probably be a good start for everyone. I may even be able to present some first aid kit ideas at a city event later this summer. Sharing knowledge that seems basic to you could be invaluable to someone who hasn’t taken the time to learn it for themselves, and this could actually save lives. Most people don’t know where to begin with a basic first aid kit, but the gear available has gotten so easy to use and readily available through online sources.

Work hard at what you are good at and harder at what you aren’t

The second comment came recently when a friend of mine decided to casually start looking for a rural homestead but needed it to be fully set up because he didn’t have my “skillset”. It was my skillset? Again, my trade is a product designer. I sit at a computer or grab a pencil and sketch out ideas for a company to use and sell. That’s not what he was talking about. I’m not a homesteader, by our standards.

About four years ago, my wife and I picked up 10 acres of semi-remote property deep in the heart of the Redoubt. The market had bottomed out, so we picked it up inexpensively with cash.

The property is eight hours from where we currently live. We had this dream to build a small shed cabin on it, but with a few weeks of vacation per year it just wouldn’t work to build it on site. For a couple of years I thought of ways to prefab the walls and possibly drive them up to the site. During this time, we collected doors, vinyl windows, RV appliances, and hardware from craigslist, garage sales, and generally just scrounging around. Last year, I decided to fab the cabin in our small two car garage, one wall at a time. I stacked them outside until it was finished. We trucked it up and assembled the whole thing, minus the roof in two days. Within a week, we had a 16’x16’ cabin in a remote location to go to. It’s slowly getting done, and it’s more comfortable to stay in each time we work on it. I can’t monitor it, and it’s subject to weather, fire, and theft, but the lessons learned cannot be taken away. I can now build a shelter for my family, and I was not a builder. This gives me a sense of security.

We are a long ways from getting to where we want to be as far as preparedness goes, and we’re still learning. My wife jokes sometimes about how 10 years ago when we met, there was no way we would have even considered building a house or growing a garden. As we’ve seen and experienced the economic downturn, our priorities changed to learning some of these skills. They are something we can teach and pass along to our 1-year-old daughter or help friends or family learn. My dad was a huge resource in how to build structures. He learned a lot from my grandfather. Will we ever live in a remote area permanently and commit to being full time homesteaders? I think there is still quite a bit of time and learning before that actually happens, but we press on and keep working at things that we aren’t good at yet.

Car maintenance

Most people bring their cars in for oil changes and basic maintenance. I would encourage you not to do that. The modern mechanic can do things much easier and faster than I can, but you would be surprised at how many basic and semi-advanced procedures are posted online. Youtube is a wealth of knowledge for automotive work. Try at least changing the spark plugs, air filter, and oil. Purchase a simple engine code reader (if you have a modern car); they are inexpensive now and work fine. Some of them literally tell you what component is failing and at a fraction of the price of a visit to the dealer or shop. Keep up with your car’s maintenance and be familiar with it. Feel the radiator hoses for weak spots. Listen for odd noises with the brakes and bearings. Try to be preemptive. There are a million ways for any car to fail, but sometimes simple maintenance will give you better odds. Most of the cars I have owned have had well over 200,000 miles on them. I don’t expect all of them to get this, but you might be surprised. If you can repair a car, you can get a much better price on a higher mileage one. I try to always improve something on our truck every time we prepare for the long drive to the property. Maybe I just replace the shocks or a worn steering component, or I just fix a trim piece that broke.

Basic gardening

I won’t cover gardening too much here, since there have been many great articles on SurvivalBlog about gardening. However, the same thing applies. Learn how to build simple raised beds. They are easy to grow food in, they drain water well, and they keep the soil profile consistent. Someday I want to get a tractor (a ’53 Jubilee) and learn how to clear land to make a real mini farm, but that’s a long ways off. Start small, even with 5-gallon buckets. There are so many books written on this subject. Learn how to rotate crops, practice companion planting, and apply basic organic techniques. If anything, the food grown in your yard will taste much better than what you can get in a store.

Be curious, learn creativity

Keep learning new things, things you are interested in, and things that can help you or your family. I mentioned we are Christians. God values people who are creative. I think we all have creativity in us. Creativity helps us adapt and come up with new ways of solving problems. It’s like a muscle that needs to be exercised. Pray about new ideas. God values this and knows a fair bit about creating.

One thing that amazes me is that most of the great scientists were largely God-fearing people. Michael Faraday was a devout Christian; this computer wouldn’t function without his contribution to electronics. His life’s work was to understand the connection between God and science. We should do the same. God loves it when we seek Him, and He tends to reveal things at the right time. When things get tough, pray for creativity, among other things. It’s something I continually struggle with, but when I do it things work out.

1 Chronicles 22:15-16 “Moreover, there are many workmen with you, stonecutters and masons of stone and carpenters, and all men who are skillful in every kind of work. Of the gold, the silver and the bronze and the iron there is no limit. Arise and work, and may the LORD be with you.”

Letter Re: Most Important Prepping, by JM

HJL,

JM’s article on preppingis very good, well written, and info we need.

But, what about senior citizens like myself who are on the downside of 70s, partially disabled by a neurological condition and couldn’t walk a mile if my life depended on it?

My wife, who is five years younger and in better shape than myself, can outwork most men. I have adequate weapons, some stored water and food, but I don’t feel we are more than 30-40% prepared. We would like to protect our home as long as possible. We are in an older, smaller sub-division about 45 years old and in a cul-de-sac. I know lives are more important than buildings. Should we drive to a safer location or tough it out here? Thanks for any feed back. BTW, I am also a Ham radio operator, extra class.

Be blessed. CC in Ohio

HJL Responds: This is probably the prime reason why like-minded communities are so important. While survival in complete isolation is possible, it is very difficult, and a simple failure can be the difference between life and death. The advice may seem harsh, but if you don’t think that you can survive where you are at when TSHTF, then you need to take care of it now. Living in a cul-de-sac in a urban community may be comfortable now while all of the amenities of civilization are readily available, but that may not be the case when things get tough. Do you have a relationship with your neighbors now? If not, how do you know that you can trust them when you need them the most? Imagine that your community is dealing with a situation similar to Baltimore or Chicago. If you don’t think it is possible to survive then, why are you waiting until things get bad to get out? Make the move now, while the moving is relatively painless. Find a like-minded group of friends or family and get connected. If you have physical handicaps that are going to limit what you can do, you must be part of a community to survive.

Economics and Investing:

Over at The Survivalist Blog, there is a re-post of some good analysis by Joel Skousen:

Will Economic Collapse Predictions Finally Come True This Fall? (Take particular note of Joel’s warnings about the accuracy of predictions by Pastor Lindsey Williams.)

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Greek banks prepare plan to raid deposits to avert collapse – JBG (requires login)

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Items from Mr. Econocobas:

Greek Bank Closures May Deplete Supermarket Shelves

Greece Maybe Out of Cash by Weekend

Greek Banks Considering 30% Haircut On Deposits Over €8,000: FT

The Complete Greek Referendum Walk-Thru: When, How, What To Expect; And What Comes Next

Odds ‘n Sods:

Top sheriff: America now ruled by ‘oligarchy’. – H.L.

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Schools Implant IUDs in Girls as Young as 6th Grade Without Their Parents Knowing. – D.S.

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Surplus military Humvees heading to the highway?. – T.J.

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If you remember this StarTrek movie clip, you are going to love this: Optically Clear Aluminum Provides Bulletproof Protection. – D.C.

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128 Unaccompanied Alien Children Caught At Mexican Border Per Day In May. – B.B.

Hugh’s Quote of the Day:

“he hath said, which heard the words of God, which saw the vision of the Almighty, falling into a trance, but having his eyes open: how goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, and thy tabernacles, O Israel!” Numbers 24:4-5 (KJV)

Notes for Friday – July 03, 2015

JRH Enterprises is having an Independence Day sale on New 3rd Gen Pinnacle Autogated PVS14 High Performance model night vision monoculars. These come with all the standard accessories and JRH is throwing in a FREE weapons mount to the first 20 orders. These PVS14’s are Brand new with a 10 year factory warranty. Also on sale is the NightFighter 2 combo that includes the HP PVS14 as well as ACH helmet, IR laser and more.

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Today, we present another entry for Round 59 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The $12,000+ worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,195 value),
  2. A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
  3. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 Nato QD Billet upper with a hammer forged, chromlined barrel and a hard case to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR type rifle to have quick change barrel, which can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools, and a compact carry capability in a hard case or 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  4. Gun Mag Warehouse is providing 20 Magpul pmags 30rd Magazines (a value of $300) and a Gun Mag Warehouse T-Shirt. (An equivalent prize will be awarded for residents in states with magazine restrictions.),
  5. Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  6. A pre-selected assortment of military surplus gear from CJL Enterprize (a $300 value),
  7. A Model 120 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $340 value),
  8. A $300 gift certificate from Freeze Dry Guy,
  9. A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo,
  10. KellyKettleUSA.com is donating both an AquaBrick water filtration kit and a Stainless Medium Scout Kelly Kettle Complete Kit with a combined retail value of $304,
  11. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $300 gift certificate, and
  12. Two cases of meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Second Prize:

  1. A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
  2. A FloJak EarthStraw “Code Red” 100-foot well pump system (a $500 value), courtesy of FloJak.com,
  3. The Ark Institute is donating a non-GMO, non-hybrid vegetable seed package–enough for two families of four, seed storage materials, a CD-ROM of Geri Guidetti’s book “Build Your Ark! How to Prepare for Self Reliance in Uncertain Times”, and two bottles of Potassium Iodate– a $325 retail value,
  4. A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials,
  5. Twenty Five books, of the winners choice, of any books published by PrepperPress.com (a $270 value),
  6. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $150 gift certificate, and
  7. RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.

Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  2. A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
  3. Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
  4. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
  5. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances,
  6. APEX Gun Parts is donating a $250 purchase credit,
  7. Montie Gear is donating a Precision Rest (a $249 value), and
  8. Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value).

Round 59 ends on July 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Seriously Mentally Ill (SMI), by N.N.

My experience is based on working with the SMI population in a behavioral health outpatient clinic and through personal experience with a spouse with a SMI diagnosis as well as a parent with an SMI diagnosis. The types of individuals that are in the SMI population vary wildly and can been acutely symptomatic and asymptomatic depending on their diagnosis. This is NOT a complete guide on mental illness; it’s only an experienced perspective on mental illness.

Acute symptoms

Acute symptoms are often easy to identify; they include talking to self, responding to internal stimuli, depression, aggression, or suicide.

  • Common symptoms to look for when assessing whether or not an individual is mentally unstable can include: laughing/giggling at internal stimuli, talking to self, inability to control emotions, verbal/physical aggression, unrealistic delusions, paranoia, or attempt to complete suicide.
  • There are generally two categories of the SMI population– those who have drug induced psychosis, and those who are legitimately SMI because of genetic reasons or trauma related reasons.
  • Drug induced psychosis generally pertains to the use of substances like alcohol, caffeine, cocaine/methamphetamine, hallucinogens, nicotine, opioids, and sedatives. The use of these substances in some cases will likely never lead to a psychosis related incident, however, used in quantity or excessively over time they can cause psychosis. The biggest problem with drug related psychosis is that there is significant damage done to the brain that can be irreversible.
  • Legitimate cases of a person having an SMI diagnosis are quite common. Some common diagnosis can include anxiety disorders (social issues, phobias), mood disorders (depression), schizophrenia/psychotic disorders (delusions, aggression, and hallucinations), and schizoaffective type (dementia).
  • I will use delusions as an example, because they can often lead to aggression due to the altered state of reality for the individual. Delusions can take many forms. They can include paranoia (believing someone is trying to kill them or you are trying to kill them), belief that they are an alien, or believing that they are the richest person in the world and all they needs is you to sign for them at the bank to get their money. The reason why delusions can be dangerous is that, while seemingly harmless to the non-SMI person, to the person with the delusion it can turn into a violent situation is they believe someone is preventing them from acting on what they see as reality. That is the key factor; these types of individuals believe to their core that this is reality and that your reality is not valid.
  • Mood disorders are another dangerous SMI diagnosis. The danger is not always to the non-SMI individual but often to the SMI individual because of the depression that is often associated with a mood disorder diagnosis. Individuals with a mood disorder often have a chemical imbalance that prevents them from being able to regulate their moods based on their environment (like being happy when you should be happy and angry when you should be angry). In these cases, it is dangerous because, without access to medication, mood regulation can swing violently from extremely depressed and a danger for suicide to extremely angry and a danger for homicide.
  • Schizophrenic/psychotic related disorder can be the most dangerous. These individuals, without medication management, can be unpredictable, violent, and deadly.

Individual Reactions

When interacting with these types of individuals, it is important to note that while what is listed above can be common, it is not a definitive guide to SMI individuals. Each person will react to medications, environmental stimulation, and trauma in many different ways. That is why two people with identical diagnosis can be on completely different medications.

  • Some simple skills to use in a situation where an individual is struggling with some of the non-violent symptoms, like depression, suicidal ideation, or anxiety, can be the difference between life and death for some.
  • Skills, like active listening, which can be very difficult when you as the listener are in a stressful situation, can be essential. Often people experiencing these symptoms just want to be heard, either as a requirement to fulfill a need as part of their diagnosis or because of previous trauma they need to be heard because they were not heard when it mattered to prevent the trauma. Active listening is simple; it is listening to someone without interjecting your opinion, asking simple unobtrusive questions (how are you feeling, what can I do to help), and following through if you agree to something. Follow through can determine whether or not that person feels like they can trust you in the future (establishing a rapport).
  • Another skill that many struggle with in daily life is knowing when and how to speak calmly, particularly in a less-than-calm situation. Pausing between sentences to think before you speak will not only prevent you from saying the wrong thing but it also lengthens the time someone is listening; the length of time you can speak with someone calmly can greatly help with their ability to calm down and may deescalate a situation.
  • Redirection works well with individuals that are experiencing anxiety or are having difficulty understanding a situation. Changing the subject of a conversation is often simple, but changing the topic to something that can prevent a return to the original reason for the redirection can be difficult. Redirecting to a topic that would require active thinking, such as redirecting to work that needs to be done and explaining how to do it; or physical redirection, like getting someone to actively engage in a physical activity can help. Just asking someone to walk with you can be a useful redirection or doing chores together can be a useful redirection.
  • Avoidance of SMI individuals is dependent on your situation; it could be someone in your group/home (family), or it could be a neighbor. Clearly we are asked to love thy neighbor; however, we can love them and respect them from afar. In the case of someone in your group or family, we are committed to their protection either from themselves or their environment. When traveling, it is provident to avoid people experiencing some of the symptoms that have been noted, primarily because of safety and unpredictability.
  • Dangerous SMI individuals can and should be avoided if possible, but what is more likely to happen is that they either randomly or specifically target you for some reason only known to them. Many times these dangerous individuals can start out as being charming but are easily agitated and can become verbally abusive in an instant. These individuals also can be violent. In cases where you suspect that an individual is SMI, you should utilize all of your skill set to avoid conflict and remove yourself from the situation immediately, but you should also be prepared to defend yourself as necessary.

Loved Ones Can Be Most Difficult To Help

Loved ones with an SMI diagnosis can be the hardest for those of us who do not have to deal with the symptoms and management of the diagnosis to understand and help. In a situation where a family member utilizes medication to manage the severity and occurrence of their symptoms and access to that medication is limited or exhausted, understanding how to proceed is important to your family’s safety and to the safety of your loved one.

  • Tapering off medication is always the best course of action should that medication not be available in the future. This is because there are some medications such as Clozaril that, if stopped abruptly, can cause a resurgence of symptoms that were worse than prior to the medication but can also cause flu-like symptoms or seizures.
  • Stress management is an issue, if your loved one has a mood disorder related diagnosis. In this case, it will be important to limit the amount of stress that they are exposed to. Utilizing them for simple tasks, such as cleaning, cooking, or possibly taking care of children can help prevent them from experiencing some symptoms.
  • Understanding that there are some alternatives to medication management, like meditation, homeopathic type remedies, and stress management can help (not stop) the occurrence of symptoms.
  • It should be noted that homeopathic methods should only be used if the person has a full understanding of them as well as the risks associated with using them over medication management and stress reliving methods. Please encourage your loved one to have a dialogue with their prescriber discussing access to medication and alternatives to medication where appropriate.
  • There are, however, risks associated with any type of disruption to medication for those that are SMI. Becoming psychotic is a possibility, but the most likely risk, particularly with the excessive use of antidepressants in the U.S., is suicide.
  • Being able to talk to someone about thinking about suicide can be extremely difficult. It has been for millennia a taboo and in many cultures is not spoken about at all. If you suspect that someone is contemplating suicide, you should ask them. The simple act of asking someone if they are thinking about suicide can open the door to prevention. Think of the things that can convince them to live and use them. Play on their emotion for an individual, and get them to commit to safety for a set period of time.
  • The realities of the SMI population are that death is only preventable as long as it can be prevented. In cases where it cannot be, those left should understand that the person who completed suicide was not doing it for themselves. In their mind, they believed they were helping you or their family. While this does little to comfort someone or justify it, it is a perspective rarely looked at.

Broadening your understanding of what it is to have a serious mental illness can be difficult, because of the stigma that is often associated to those who are ill. It can be done, and if mental illness is present in your life it is another thing we should be prepared to handle.

Letter: The $100 Bet on Greece

HJL,

As I write this, Greece and its financial woes are in the news again. There is nothing especially surprising about that, as Greece has been there before. Greece has been in a state of “soft default” since at least 2009. For the last five years Greece and the EU have engaged in on again – off again negotiations trying to tap dance around what has become known as “The Greek Debt Crisis”. The can, as they say, has been kicked down the road several times.

At the end of this month (June 2015), Greece is due to cough up about $1.8 billion in an interim payment to the EU. The Greek government has already said they will have to borrow the money to be able to make the payment. How quaint.

But is it different this time? It just could be. Up to now, the two players in this comedy/drama have been the European Union and Greece. The EU has talked tough, but typically has caved in at the last minute, fearful of Greek threats to leave the EU, abandon the Euro and re-issue their own currency. The EU responds with bridge loans, deadline extensions and increased demands. Greece, for its part has enacted some financial austerity measures, tax increases, and regulatory control, all of which have been quite unpopular with Greek citizens. Demonstrations and riots by the population protesting austerity have been common, and the Greek economy is suffering near depression level devastation.

In January 2015, Greece elected a socialist, Alexis Tsipras, to the office of Prime Minister after he promised a hard stance toward the EU and elimination of much of the financial austerity the EU was demanding. Sort of the Greek equivalent of a car in every garage, two chickens in every pot and forgiving your debt.

The Bet

If you had $100 to spread on the possible outcomes of the current Greek payment dilemma, how much would you put on each possibility? Here are the choices as I see them.

  • Choice #1. The EU caves in as usual, and kicks the can down the road. The payment deadline is extended with the explanation and platitudes that “talks are continuing and progress is being made”. Greece promises “more austerity”, begs for mercy, and perhaps makes a nominal payment.
  • Choice #2. Greece goes into hard default, leaves the EU.
  • Choice #3. (Wild Card # One) Vladimir Putin (Russia) steps in and loans Greece the money to make the payment.
  • Choice #4. (Wild Card # Two) Barrack Obama (the United States) steps in and loans Greece the money to make the payment.

Here is where I would put my $100.

  • Choice #1. $40 (A 40% chance)
  • Choice #2. $0 (No bet)
  • Choice #3. $20 (A 20% chance)
  • Choice #4. $40 (A 40% chance)

Now for the explanations.

  • Choice #1 really needs no explanation. In summary, it’s the same old – same old.
  • Choice #2 is almost as easy to explain. Greece needs the EU a lot more than the EU needs Greece. Leaving the European Union would not solve Greece’s financial problems. In fact, those problems would likely become much worse. If Greece left the EU they would have to drop the Euro and re-issue their traditional currency, the Drachma. The socialistic promises the Greek government has made to the population over the years would still have to be dealt with and they would have a much weaker currency with limited international acceptance with which to do it. Increasing civil unrest would be a certainty. Even extreme left wing Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras must realize this.
  • Choice #3. Ridiculous, you say? Maybe not. Russia would love to have an “in” to western Europe. Putin has already made several statements hinting that Russia might do business with Greece to help with their debt repayments. A natural gas pipeline from Russia to Greece has already been mentioned as a possibility. The current government in Greece is not nearly as “pro-western” as in the past, and is certainly looking for a way out of their financial mess, so don’t dismiss Choice #3 without serious thought.
  • Choice #4. A U.S. bailout of Greece? This is a very real possibility. There are three reasons I rate this as a strong possibility.
    1. The U.S. does not want the European Union to fall apart. If Greece bolts the EU, Portugal, Italy and Spain could follow. These four countries are collectively called “The PIGS”. They all have essentially the same economic problems, though at the moment Greece is in the worst shape of the four. If one or more of these four left the European Union, there, as they say, goes the ball game.

      Collectively the EU is an important trade partner of the U.S., and stands as a bulwark against eastern Europe and Asia.

    2. If it actually appears that Russia might bail out Greece, the U.S. would likely jump in and try to preempt any deal Putin would make. A United States deal rather than a Russian one would be backed by most other members of the EU, especially Germany. At the moment Germany is the economic strongman in the EU and would wield considerably more influence than any other member. Germany has never been overjoyed at sharing an eastern border with Russia, and would justifiably become absolutely paranoid at also sharing a western border with one or more countries under strong Russian influence. If Choice #1 fails, Germany will back Choice #4.
    3. In the last decade, the U.S. has turned decidedly more to the left politically. Whatever the reasons for this, the voting majority now sees adrift toward European Socialism as a desirable direction for the U.S., even if many who advocate it don’t understand it. To be “more like Europe” is a goal that many, including some elected officials, openly advocate. In short, the European Union has become a “kindred spirit” in the minds of many in the U.S.. Watching them fail would be an admission of defeat for the economic system that some in this country aspire to. If a smooth solution (essentially, Choice #1) isn’t forthcoming, I believe the U.S. taxpayer will be the financial backstop for Greece.

Well, now you know where I would put my money. In the end, I believe Greece and the EU will both blink. How would you bet? Just don’t bet the rent money that Choice #4 won’t happen! – NCL