Sunday, February 21, 2016

FM 21-76 US army survival manual

One of the chapters of Enjoy the Decline by Aaron Clarey is SHTF. It is a chapter that gives some guidance if disasters happen such as an economic meltdown or the destruction of our power grids. It is always a good idea to prepare for an emergency before it happens and Aaron gives a list of things you should stock up on before a disaster happens.

One of the items on the list is a physical copy of the FM 21-76 US army survival manual. After doing a quick Google search, I was surprised to find the entire manual was available online for free. The manual is only 277 pages long and I'd recommend anyone with some extra spare time to read the manual before hand and get a physical copy of it.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

The big issue no one is talking about

Of all the threats to America, the biggest issue is an internal one. In the past, I thought it was the poor that were absorbing the majority of government spending however a quick look at total government spending shows that Social Security and Medicare account for almost half of government spending. Currently, the United States has total unfunded liabilities of $100 trillion. Unfunded liabilities are promises to current citizens which will come due in the future. These include Medicare, Social Security, debt held by the public, and a few other items.

These are unfunded liabilities because we don't yet have the money to pay for these promises.

To put things into perspective, the total gross domestic product of the United States is only $18 trillion. The $18 trillion per year includes all of the production for the entire United States for just one year. Our current unfunded liabilities is 5.56 times our GDP.

With more and more of the baby boomers retiring and the millennial generation struggling to get decent employment, it is possible (if not already the case) that the unfunded liabilities will grow at a faster rate than GDP which leads to a situation where the unfunded liabilities can never be completely paid off.

This is how the economy will collapse if changes aren't made.

The federal government admits this. Every social security statement has the clause that by the year 2020 or 2030, social security will only be able to pay out 75% of the benefits it promised.

So, what is most likely going to happen?

1. Benefits will have to be cut in some way. In a sense, this is already happening. The government could just pay out a fraction of what it promised or just break the promise all together. A lot of people will fight tooth and nail against it and this is the reason why politicians never touch the issue. Threatening to strip the program is akin to political suicide. If benefits do get cut, the government would most likely grandfather in the older generation and strip the benefits away from the youth while still requiring the young to pay for the old. This is why the retirement age for my generation is 67 instead of 65 however the government will say it is because people are living longer.

2. Increase the FICA tax. This is hard for politicians to do because raising taxes is akin to political suicide. It is from FICA where the funding comes from. This also has the negative effect in that raising taxes on the average worker will hinder or destroy economic growth and may increase the dependence on other government programs.

3. Print more money. The government promised a number of dollars it would pay to social security recipients. It never made any promises on how much that money would be worth. Since this is a gradual solution and Americans slowly adapt to a lousier standard of living over time, I believe this is the most likely or used method.

People ask me why I buy gold and silver. People ask my why I want to buy guns and ammo. People ask me why I want to buy land in the middle of nowhere and learn how to grow potatoes. This is why.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Declining standards for university

Throughout my time at university, there was one instance that left me dumbfounded on how little the average college student knows. To provide some background, I was sitting through a geography class. Yet another completely useless classes that had nothing to do with accounting yet I was still required to take in order to get a degree.

Regardless of which major a student chose, he was required to take two lab courses. The options included physics, chemistry, biology, astronomy, geology, and geography. Physics, chemistry, and biology would have been an unnecessary headache. Astronomy was offered at unreasonable hours and geology was all taken so I was left with geography.

Thirty of us were sitting in a lab class and I think we were reviewing the topic of great circles. The instructor handed out maps to everyone in the class and asked us to locate China on the map. However, the maps were not labeled with the country name and this led to some confusion. After a minute, I noticed a girl close to me asking where China was.

And that is when it hit me. I could understand it if our instructor asked us to find a country like Nepal, Mongolia, or Yemen but China is the second largest country in the world (total land area).

If a 18 year old girl doesn't know where China is or what the outline of China looks like, it is really easy to jump to the conclusion that America is slowly turning into idiocracy. However it would be too easy to jump to this conclusion. Maybe we aren't dumb. Maybe this information is just absolutely irrelevant to the average Joe.

This girl, despite not knowing where China is located, mostly likely functions really well in the world today. She got up, got dressed, drove to classes, completed assignments, worked a job, paid bills, and spent time with her boyfriend. Upon graduating, she would probably work some job, buy worthless garbage, produce children, and watch Netflix. She would do all the things the average America does.

Every so often, I'll check zerohedge and hear some sort of article stating that most American's can't remember the stuff taught to fifth graders.

three branches of government
first five presidents
planets of the solar system
what is a pronoun
when did the civil war start
what is the biggest country
what is the most populated country

Yet, all this information really doesn't affect the average Joe's ability to function on a day to day basis.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Declining public transportation

The other day, I boarded the train at the metro station to get down town. While waiting for the train, I noticed a very unusual poster next to the transit map.

The poster gave detail instructions on how to evacuate a train inside the tunnel or outside the tunnel. Should an even happen, passengers were told to board the platform and walk towards the closest rail station. They were instructed not to touch the third rail or else they would be electrocuted and die.

It is good that passengers know what to do incase of a train failure however my mind went in another direction when I saw this poster. I had used the transit system on and off for the past twenty years and had never seen such directions posted in the train station.

Why would the metro station be putting these posters up if they were not expecting to have more malfunctions, breakdowns, and problems in the future? With the decline of several sectors in the current economy, surely the infrastructure of public transit would be affected as well. Even six years back, I recall the transit system undergoing cuts due to less revenue coming in.

In the past 20 years of using the transit system, I've never had a train break down to the point where passengers had to evacuate anywhere. I'll check in the next few weeks to see reports of broken trains.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Once thought out aspirations of becoming a CPA

Back in college, I was sitting through my classes thinking about what it would one day be like to become an accountant. At the time, I had no idea what accounting was and knew no accountants to get information from. Still, I remember it was an aspiration of mine to become a certified public accountant. Admittedly, I wanted to become a CPA because of the money and the prestige and status of being a CPA.

However, becoming a CPA would come with a cost. Where I live, there are three requirements. You have to complete 150 credit hours of college education with 30 of those hours being upper level accounting classes. You have to work at least 2 years in the field under a CPA. Finally, you have to pass the CPA exam.

Completing the education requirement would almost require getting a master's degree. Upon completing my undergrad, I had 120 credit hours and only 21 of those hours were upper level accounting courses. I'd need to take another 3 accounting courses for a semester. That would put me at 129 credit hours and I'd need to take another 21 credit hours which would be roughly 7 classes. When I last checked tuition for my state university's MBA program, I recall tuition being about $20,000. This barrier alone was enough to prevent me from jumping into the track right after graduating college.

The second requirement, I might have actually fulfilled. I've worked as a staff accountant for almost three years and I report directly to the CFO who is a CPA. But getting to this point was a giant pain. With no prior work experience, I had to take whatever job I could get before finding a job as an accountant 3 years after graduating university. At this point, I'm not even sure my boss would sign off on this requirement for me but it really isn't a big deal to me. After working as an accountant for almost three years, I can definitely say that I really don't want to become a CPA. The money is good but the hours and demands are just unreasonable. At times, I think I might be happier just making pizzas or serving coffee. However, the third requirement is the absolute deal breaker.

The third requirement is to pass the CPA exam. It is a little known secret that the CPA is a double acronym for couldn't pass it again. From what I last heard, the CPA is made up of four parts. The exam takes one year to complete and all four parts have to be completed within one year or else parts of the test you have passed start expiring. Each part of the exam costs a few hundred dollars to take and the best way to prepare is to take the becker prep classes. After four years of high school, four years of college, and three years of accounting work, this is absolutely something I refuse to do.

A big fat salary is nice, but unbearable work loads, unbearable hours, progressive credentials, and legal exposure outweigh all of the benefits on top of all the hoops a man needs to jump through to become a CPA.

Luckily for me, a man can become a staff accountant right out of college. And while the salary tops out at around $55,000 per year, it requires a lot less pain and suffering. Where I am right now, I kind of plan on staying. I don't really plan on advancing my career. Thank God for minimalism and not making life breaking mistakes, I can sustain myself off of a modest salary. And when I decide to live in a steel container in the woods, I plan on sustaining myself on a minimum wage.

The path that I took. Becoming an accountant and working years in the corporate world is not a path that I regret however I wouldn't do it over again. If I had to do it over again, I'd just become a plumber or a carpenter.

I will say this. I'm glad I never went down the path towards becoming a CPA. I know it was the correct choice for me. Really dodged a bullet there.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Checklist for 2016

1. Purchase 60 ounces of silver
2. Look for land in South West to purchase (Texas, New Mexico, or Arizona)
3. Stock up on some guns and ammo before the New World Order confiscates all the guns
4. Stock up on one year worth of groceries
5. Buy a 40 foot steel shipping container
6. Figure out how to grow potatoes in trash cans and practice subsistence farming
7. Increase bench press to 300 pounds max
8. Start collecting camping gear and equipment and put together a bug out bag
9. Direct some resources towards stocks (basic survivable, nothing fancy)
10. Figure out how to harvest rainwater or get water delivered to cisterns
11. Take the car in for a tune up / buy a secondary vehicle
12. Start living life