The Survivalist’s Odds ‘n Sods:

SurvivalBlog presents another edition of The Survivalist’s Odds ‘n Sods— a collection of news bits and pieces that are relevant to the modern survivalist and prepper from “HJL”. Debtor’s Prison has effectively made a comeback in the United States.

Closing of Paladin Press

A reminder: Paladin Press is closing its doors at the end of this month, forever. They are now offering a huge 85% discount off retail on all remaining titles. But you must order by noon, Eastern Time, on November 29th.


The Latest: Zimbabwe called ‘at a moment of change’. After last weeks coup, the military has allowed the new president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, to be sworn in. Mnangagwa is Mugabe’s former deputy and has assured the people that they new government will be more open and inclusive. They are simultaneously stating that Mugabe will remain under house arrest for his own safety. The direction of this government still remains to be seen.


The inflation rate in Venezuela has soared to over 4000% as the economy continues it’s death spiral. As the their money is virtually worthless, the government continues their failed economic policies and a huge humanitarian crises is emerging. Food and medicine are in short supply and investors are threatening to seize Venezuela’s only remaining valuable asset – oil. Both the government and the state-run oil company have defaulted on some of their debts and it would appear they are poised to default on more. Currently, Venezuela owes over $141 billion to bondholders, Russia, China, contractors and oil service providers. Thanks to H.L. for the link.

Debtor’s Prison

The debtor’s prison system is making a comeback in modern times. Forty-three states, plus the District of Columbia, will suspend your drivers license if you have an unpaid court debt. For many people, a simple traffic fine can result in penalties that add up to an amount that they cannot afford, even if it is only a couple hundred dollars. But once their license is suspended, they person loses the ability to get to work to hold a job and actually pay the fine. Some states say that they give 30 days notice before taking such action, but many people say they never get the notices.


The U.S. government borrowed $30 billion to finance its involvement in WWI. Now, 100 years later, the government still owes that full $30 billion dollars (though not to the original lenders). In the meantime, they have paid over $15 billion dollars in interest. They don’t borrow money like you and me. They borrow and just keep rolling over the principle year after year, making the minimum interest payment to keep it from defaulting. If the loan ever comes due, they simply borrow more money from another load to pay it off. The U.S. is now over $20 trillion dollars in debt and climbing. There is a reckoning coming because they can’t do this forever. Sooner or later, no one will lend them money.


As tensions escalate in the Middle East and Syria continues to crumble in the onslaught of the power plays being waged within it’s borders, one country stands out among all of the others. Israel has conducted more than 200 humanitarian operations with 44 in the last month alone. Despite the history between these two countries, Israel is trying to win the hearts of the affected population by meeting their needs. This article is an interesting read explaining why Israel believes they have a moral obligation to provide such aid to those who have hated them.

Diderot Effect

Have you ever wondered why our nation, states, communities, and even families are in such sad financial shape? Reader P.S. sent in this article that explains the Diderot Effect. Why do we want things that we do not need? It is a deeply ingrained habit in our psyche, but it can be dealt with if we understand that basic question. As the saying goes: “90% of solving the problem is recognizing that there is a problem there in the first place.”

o o o

Please send your news tips to HJL. (Either via e-mail of via ourContact form.) These are often especially relevant, because they come from folks who watch news that is important to them. Due to their diligence and focus, we benefit from fresh “on target” news. We often “get the scoop” on news that is most likely ignored (or reported late) by mainstream American news outlets. Thanks!


  1. On the article about Zimbabwe, the last sentence says, “The direction of this government still remains to be seen.” It’s in Africa. I’m reminded of the words, Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

  2. The Diderot Effect huh? That explains it. We have been free of major debt for 3 years. We are inundated with adds for new trucks, tractors and fishing boats. My mantra has become “I have all I need and what I have fits.” I have a small barn that holds my stuff exactly as I like it. The Diderot Effect explains why I cannot walk away from vintage, made in USA hand and gardening tools at garage sales. My Wife laughs at my collection of pipe wrenches. Then I have to find a use for my newly acquired tool. I always apologize and just keep digging in the tool pile.

  3. Re the Diderot Effect, are we supposed to ignore all those ads to the right? How many people here have actually used a $4000 night vision scope to fight off zombie hordes at night?

    Maybe Rawles and HJL can do like the casinos and provide a phone number that lets survivalist shopping addicts register themselves so they can be blocked from ordering anything in the future.
    Although wives tend to keep the married guys under restraint — well, them and the divorce lawyers.

    1. @Don,
      I don’t think you have understood the point of the Diderot Effect. The Diderot Effect is about appearances. Are you buying the night vision scope because it looks cool and will impress your buddies? Or are you buying it because it’s a somewhat expensive part of an overall defensive/offensive plan? There is a world of difference between those two goals. Those who have used NV gear in actual (or even practice) tactical situations know what a tremendous force multiplier the tool is. But if your buying it just to look cool for your buddies, then you have succumbed to the Diderot Effect.
      Secondly, it is also about wise usage of the resources that God has given you. If you are having trouble paying your bills, are in debt up to your eyeballs and don’t have the basics (like food, water and medicine) covered, then you have no business spending $4000 dollars on a Night Vision device. If you have all of those covered and are looking for ways to increase your effectiveness, a NV device is a wise investment in your overall plan.
      By the way, you can’t just buy a $4000 device and call it good. It’s only one part of an integrated package. You will be spending alot more than $4000 to use one effectively.

      1. 1) But the article on the Diderot Effect also emphasized one purchase being a motivation to buy many more associated items/ accessories.
        2) One can rationalize buying an AR15 as “insurance” — whereupon the need to buy 2000 rounds of ammo, 20 magazines, a $4000 night vision scope, and a $400 reloading set follows as a matter of course. Wel, until the wife starts muttering about boys making excuses to buy toys.
        3) I myself am leery of throwing stones at glass houses. Spendthrifts at least get some immediate enjoyment out of their buying today — which seems a step ahead of me storing a lot of expensive items in my basement which will have value only in the unlikely event that the world comes to a horrible, disasterous end — in which case there will be little to enjoy of anything.
        4) Instead of a $4000 night vision device one should arguably put the money into some platinum coins or S&P 500 index fund. But those investments would not be as sexy if displayed to one’s buddies.
        5) We are following the shopping list laid down almost 40 years ago by Mel Tappan in 1979 — and by Robert Heinlein in 1948. But when in the past 68 years have those items been needed or of use?
        6) I am obviously not arguing against survivalism — I would not be at this site if I felt that way. I merely argue that we need to apply a rational discipline to our own purchases that we would urge onto others.

        1. @Don,
          But you are still muddling the two different scenarios together into one. Are you buying an unnecessary accouterments so that you can show it off to your buddies or is it part of a well thought out plan? Are you still making massive loan payments (house, car, RV, etc..) or do you have a planned progression out of debt?
          There are also many uses for NV gear other than hunting and killing two legged prey. I regularly use mine to dispatch coyotes seeking death and destruction upon my livestock. Just in that role alone, it has paid for itself many times over. (not just the NV device, but the dbal2 laser and headgear along with the AR-15 it works with.) So no, I haven’t faced roaming hordes of zombies, but it has been a worthwhile tool and one in which I have no regrets purchasing. Of course, I didn’t put it on a credit card or take out a second mortgage on the house to get it either.
          There is nothing wrong with owning “things” if they are part of a well thought out and pre-planned strategy. The Diderot Effect is about frivolous things. Read the theory again. Diderot obtained an item of comfort, but not necessity which led to a whole string of “comfort” upgrades that he wouldn’t normally have purchased. If you are purchasing a $4000 NV device on that principle, then you have fallen prey to the Diderot Effect. However, if you know that your end goal is to be able to easily manage targets in the pitch black of night (for whatever reason) and the NV is part of that plan, it doesn’t mean that you are following the Diderot Effect at all. I carefully researched each and every aspect of the NV gear and knew exactly what I was purchasing and why. Even though I didn’t buy it all at once, I knew before hand what each items was that was required and carefully budgeted for every item. That is not the Diderot Effect at all.
          Another issue that we must be careful about is two fold:

          1. Are you purchasing it because your buddies have one and you want what they have?
          2. Are you denigrating the purchase because you want one and cannot afford it?

          Both of those aspects are driven by jealousy. In short, if you don’t want one and don’t purchase one, that’s fine. But it also doesn’t mean that everyone who owns one has fallen prey to the Diderot Effect. There is a huge distinction.

          1. HJL,Whew, for a minute I thought my tool addiction might be in jeopardy,but as part of a useful accumulation(2 is 1)of necessary things I can justify it(plus my neighbors like getting stuff fixed)

          2. @VT
            I would also add the old adage of “buy once, cry once”. Buy the best tool you can afford that will do the job. (But be aware that price is not always a determining factor in what the best tool is.)

            Speaking of tools, sometimes you need more of them. I tend to be a bit focused when working on projects and can’t always remember where I put the tape measure. When you spend more time looking for the tool than actually using the tool, there might be a problem. My solution was to buy tape measures in bulk. After about 30 of them, even when I can’t remember what I did with the tape measure I just had in my hand, I can probably find one in short order.
            Every spring, we do a thorough cleaning of the property and that is usually when I end up with a drawer full of them. The rest of the year, I can usually find one or two.

          3. 1) But the question is how does one decide what is a reasonable purchase and what is frivolous.
            2) For example, some people argue that savings should be put into gold. Harry Brown , with his Permanent Portfolio, noted that gold is an excellent asset in some some circumstances — and a bad one in others. He argued for a 4 way hedge –cash, long term Treasury bonds, Stocks and gold — that would preserve wealth no matter what happens.
            3) Survivalists need a form of Harry’s Permanent Portfolio. Our purchases are an extreme form of a stock put — a bet that not only will the market go down, it will go really down. Which is a possibility but history suggests it is not the most likely one. So we need to look at what is happening in the world and trim our sails accordingly.
            4) Some purchases are so low in cost and would provide such value in TEOTWAWKI that they are obviously worthwhile. Wheat, salt, sugar,etc last for decades, and are very cheap.
            5) Some thing are dual purpose — corned beef, tuna fish,pasta etc last a long time and can be consumed at some point with a restocking plan.
            6) Used books with useful skills seem valuable — assuming you have storage space.
            7) A rifle and handgun seem reasonable — but a large armory is much less so. Registered Firearms are likely to be confiscated by the government in any TEOTWAWKI event and people engaged in firefights get shot sooner or later. How many rounds could you fire before someone nails you?
            8) Expensive items that have no dual use or which depreciate are most questionable of all.
            9) On Sept 1, 2008 Amazon was $32 a share. Now it is $1,186 a share. How much have survivalist supplies appreciated? Yes, Amazon may collapse — but if you could sell it now for a lot of gold coins.

          4. 9) On Sept 1, 2008 Amazon was $32 a share. Now it is $1,186 a share. How much have survivalist supplies appreciated? Yes, Amazon may collapse — but if you could sell it now for a lot of gold coins.

            How much is that gold worth (or Amazon stock) when you need food or water?
            How much is that NV gear worth when the bandits (two or four-legged) are stealing your food and water at night?
            How much would you be willing to pay for that NV gear (and would you consider it frivolous) when your wife and/or daughter are being raped by the local gang?

            You’re still confusing the two sides of the coin. The Diderot Effect is about “Appearances”. If any purchase you make is part of the Diderot Effect, why do you own a house rather than a hut? Why do you own a car? Why do you own your tools?

            Even in the example given by the article (The silk robe), there are circumstances when that robe would be an appropriate purchase. It all depends on what your needs are, what/where you are. You cannot apply a blanket statement such as “no one needs…” as each person and situation is different. What is valuable to you may not be to someone else. What is worthless to you may be valuable to someone else.

          5. PS Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is now worth $100 billion — and many others in the Richest 1% also gained greatly from
            the Big Bailout. Meanwhile the federal debt doubled –increased over $10 Trillion. Your share of that just that increase in federal debt is
            equal to 5 years worth of your annual income tax payment.

            So we might want to rethink this idea that buying an AK-47 is a good defense against thieves and bandits.

          6. @Don

            Bezos, federal debt, AK-47?

            So what do each of these items have to do with each other? Are you suggesting that disarming yourself is how you deal with Capitalism and federal debt?

          7. 1) I am arguing that special purpose tools –like an AK47 — that have usefulness only in a low probability situation will not help if you end up in one of many more alternative, more likely situations. Nor will they pay the bills. Or protect you from the ravages of threats like politicans, lawyers,etc.

            2) Indeed, may be contra-survival if they consume limited resources best applied elsewhere/in more profitable investments — or distract one from addressing more pressing and urgent issues or problems. Or get you put in jail — look at what almost happened to George Zimmerman.

            3)Hence, many people would regard survivalists’ purchases as frivolous, although some could be justified as insurance or dual use. If TEOTWAWKI ever occurred, then we could say ” I told you so” but our satisfaction would probably be shortlived.

            4) Jeff Bezos used some small change from his fortune to buy the Washington Post , which runs 20 attacks a day on the President we elected. Bezos’ support for the import of cheap foreign labor is known, as is the sweatshops he runs in his stockrooms –although robots may soon replace the humans. Amazon destroyed many small businesses across America — in part by not paying the state and local taxes needed to fund our firemen , policemen, roads,etc. Instead of buying anonymous books and goods with cash at a store– and have our community gain from the circulation of money, –we send it to Seattle to an entity that records our every purchase.

            Bezos is not a future , hypothetical threat — he exists today. And our consumer purchases are what gives him enormous power. Our survival purchases are buying the chains that will bind us.

          8. @Don,

            I agree with most of your points – especially the one about needing an Amazon alternative. However, the reality is that people’s rhetoric usually doesn’t match their actions. Everyone here would like it if SurvivalBlog was not an Amazon affiliate, but the reality is that even though the option exists to support SurvivalBlog directly, the vast majority don’t. That’s OK. It is a free choice by them, but it necessitates that we are an Amazon affiliate and that we sell advertising on the blog as well. We have bills that have to be paid. I do disagree with this statement:

            1) I am arguing that special purpose tools –like an AK47 — that have usefulness only in a low probability situation will not help if you end up in one of many more alternative, more likely situations. Nor will they pay the bills. Or protect you from the ravages of threats like politicans, lawyers,etc.

            If the government ever becomes so oppressive that the people must rise up against it as the founding fathers intended (no matter how remote the possibility), that time will be to late to get your AK-47/AR-15/whatever. As my Army Ranger friend used to tell me regarding parachutes: “It’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.”

          9. 1) As an example, my son recently gave me an expensive reloading set as a gift –purchased from and delivered by Amazon. While I was touched by my son’s generosity, I noted that much of the profit from my son’s purchase will go to a man trying to install a government that will take my guns away.
            In that regard , any survivalist’s purchase from Amazon is frivolous.

            We need an Alternative Amazon — online merchants that will support our rights and with some of the profits going to fund a survivalist news media that will expose how/when the corporate news media –incl Bezos’s Washington Post– is misleading us.

          10. 1) None of my comments above were intended in any way to be a criticism of survivalblog. I had not even noticed the Amazon advert.
            2) My comments were more a recollection of my past blunders/buyers remorse over some purchases.
            3) Your comment noting that sites which support the interests of common citizens need our monetary support is valid.

  4. Re: Debtors prison.
    Maybe we should actually put the offenders in jail, instead of just suspending their drivers license.
    We had an instance of employee theft 15 years ago. Employee found guilty, ordered to pay for what he stole. We never saw anything. That judgement is still on the books and has never been enforced, and the perp continues life as normal, while us and others he stole from have to adjust our lives to work around the impact of his thievery.
    We all have to live within our means. If we look at our current situation in this country we can surely attribute most of our woes to the non-accountability of people in debt. Go bankrupt, change the name of the company, get loans, default, and repeat cycle. There should be consequences for not managing your finances, however small they may be. When people default, everyone else pays for it, with increased lending costs and added public debt. Jail time for these people has worked in the past and will work again.
    And maybe we should go one step further. Hold elected officials responsible for the budgets they create out of other peoples money. If elected officials knew they could be prosecuted en masse for irresponsible managing of our public funds, maybe we could clean up the swamp a little quicker.

  5. Debtors prison is very real. Aggressive ADA’s will put you in jail for failing to pay child support. They take your drivers and fishing/hunting license too. People are quick to say that the father should pay. Indeed I agree but apparently no one thinks the mother should pay as well. They don’t go to jail when they don’t pay and rarely are even asked to pay child support. It appears to be a law that is enforced for men only. Literally 100’s of thousands of men are being prevented fro getting jobs and enjoying the same rights we all get to enjoy. This needs to be changed.

    1. GoneWithTheWind
      You are absolutely right about the court’s bias towards men. I sound like a broken record but feminist ideology is behind it. There is also the reality of a general brokenness in our society (marriage/family/hearts) that has contributed to this predicament.

      Men are starting to get bitter and the women (and weak men – male feminists)who push for these policies would be wise to take notice of this growing frustration before it turns into a movement of vengeance. MGTOW is a sign that we should pay attention to.

  6. I am sorry to hear of Paladin Press closing. I’m in my mid-thirties now and on the internet for awhile and never heard of them before this article. When I was a young boy I got the Lindsey catalog but never ordered anything from them before they closed. Seems like all the good old boys are dying out and there’s no one to replace them.

    In all honesty, it is a commentary on the wider economy and the choices that certain generations are making. I drive around and see people buying houses that are far too large for their needs on one side and people who can’t afford to buy any house at all on the other side and just barely getting by.

    It used to be that there was a wide range of options available to people, and utilizing the knowledge through places like The Whole Earth Catalog, Garden Way Publishing, Loompanics, Lindsey Books, Paladin Press, Gingery Books, and others was one of the ways to get ahead and better yourself either by using knowledge to either save money or make money. Today it seems like people are either too busy working on the plantation or too poor/lazy/electronically babysat to be able to do anything at all.

    Please don’t get me started on the topic “but it’s all available on the Internet”. NO it’s not. You might be able to find the information if you have the specific search query and know exactly what you’re looking for, but if you have an errant space, you’ll never find it. Try searching for the black book of booby traps. Then take the space out of “booby traps” and see what you get.

    Some of the best resources available are the old catalogs of these old book publishers as you’ll then know what to search for to find the old books.

    1. 1) The other big difference is that you used to be able to buy books ANONYMOUSLY at gun shows, some book stores,etc without Amazon keeping a life time file on your reading interests for the convenience of whatever government agency is interested in the information.
      2) Just as you used to be able to buy things ANONYMOUSLY in places called stores –without Amazon keeping a life time file on your buying habits for the conveniecne of whatever government agency is interested in the information.

  7. Diderot,
    Reminds me of the book “Henry and the Great Society.” In some ways the trend is similar to that story. Going from a life of purpose and contentment to one of convenience (but at a deeply personal price).
    I think the book is still free online.

  8. The Recovering Feminist-

    Thank you for posting the book “Henry and the Great Society”. I looked it up online and read the whole thing this afternoon. Many lessons in that book and lots of good info there.

  9. Re: National Debt

    Anyone who takes a serious look at growth of the National Debt must realize that at some point, it will become not just unpayable (it is already by the snaky laws the CONgress has been allowed to write in pretense of “governing” it) but not even refinanceable. Who loans anything of real value to a nation that (a) can’t repay, (b) has shown a lot of “you owe us” attitude to anyone who asks for repayment, and (c) has a military capable of making collection “problematic?”

    Like Diderot, the CONgress, once they discovered how easy it was to make us into tax-slaves, and compel us to pony up, discovered a lot of things they “needed” to do with what they could borrow. So the debt increased rapidly enough that some of them (and us) will be still living when the bill comes due. But even had they limited their spending to what most people might agree they actually “needed,” eventually, the end of financing the national operations “on the come” would one day arrive. (Insert favorite doomsday scenario when that happens.)

    This is entirely due to the nature of what was actually “borrowed.” To summarize: It was (1) essentially worthless, i.e. all but free to the “lenders” — paper, ink, and eventually, electrons; (2) the legally prescribed means of repayment, the “interest on/for the debt” was not created (lent into being) at the time the debt was created, so “repayment” necessitated additional borrowing. (Where would they get more “Federal Reserve money” than they had borrowed, but from the “Federal Reserve,” the sole authorized creator?

    So we have a system whereby a few privileged families, through the banks they own (which in turn, own the Federal Reserve) are able to have their minions create “reserves” out of essentially nothing, then loan the magic “money” out to a government, to spend on … whatever … which then compels its productive serfizens to pay it back with an ever-growing portion of their time and effort. We are now to the point where the total of income taxes paid by individuals barely balances merely the annual interest paid to those favored fortunate few families who own that fountain of unearned wealth, the “Fed.” And our “economy,” (such as it is) is now indirectly financing the rise of our direct competition in other nations.

    This is a classic illustration of the logic behind the Biblical injunction against “unequal weights and measures.” Political writers often refer to such poorly understood subjects, as “the Elephant in the room,” allowing Leftists to pretend that such doings are strictly the fault of rascally Republicans, leaving the angelic Democrats to polish their halos. I suggest instead, that it’s more like the 600 lb. Brown Recluse Spider, licking its chops, hiding in the corner of the jail cell we’ve allowed ourselves to be locked in. Unless we get out, leaving the spider in the cell, we’re all going to be dinner, taxpayers, and tax-eaters alike, and there’s no unthinking, dumb luck, way out. It’s time to understand the situation, however unfamiliar an activity that may be for some.

    1. The national debt cannot be repaid, will not be repaid, and we will not stop borrowing. Eventually a market crash, bubble burst or inflation will be large enough that we won’t be able to borrow or print our way out of it. I think that day will be soon.

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