Friday, December 23, 2011

Episode 86. Liberty Ridge

Liberty Ridge is the story of an average middle-aged couple in America. They had bought into the "American Dream" of working hard, being valuable, saving for the future, and so on.

Like millions of others, they planned ahead, and were looking forward to an active retirement.

But the events of the past decade, especially the modest crash of 2008-9 (and it was modest compared to what's coming), alerted them to the folly of their plans.

They could see that the ride on the "crazy train"--America's doomed experiment with runaway entitlement programs and its ever-growing dependency culture--was coming to a sudden and unhappy end. Whether the crash was far off or around the corner, they decided they would jump off the train as soon as they could, hopefully before the train ran out of track.

Their journey is just one example of what each of us can do if we make liberty and self-reliance the priority in our civic lives.
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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Episode 85, Now Would Be a Good Time to Panic

It’s an old cliché, a crisis situation has got everyone scared, and some hero steps forward and says, “This is no time to panic!”, calming everyone and saving the situation.

Now I’m not suggesting that blind panic is the right reaction to any situation, other than when a pure adrenaline reaction is involved. But if you substitute “High sense of urgency” for Panic, I do argue for that.

Nobody knows exactly when the collapse will arrive. But the signs are there, and odds are high enough, and the risks to you and your family are high enough, that you should be acting as if the crash were right around the corner. What you should do, today, next week, ASAP, is what I talk about in this show.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Episode 84, When In Doubt, Kick the Can

As events unfold in the United States and around the world, if you want to predict what’s going to happen, you could do a lot worse than following the Kick the Can theory espoused by John Xenakis, the founder of Generational Dynamics.

According to Xenakis, whenever a hard decision needs to be made to change the course of events, the least disruptive course will be chosen, either by active selection or by inability to take any action at all.

I tend to agree. As a result, I strongly suggest that you NOT wait for anyone to come to the rescue. You need to take matters into your own hands, for the sake of yourself, your family, and the people you care about.

Don't rely on the next election to change the course of events. Get ready to handle what is coming. Don't depend on anyone else securing your liberty on your behalf.

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Episode 83, Europe and China Meltdown, Plus Something REALLY Scary!

It's my version of a Halloween show!

What we’ve been talking about for a long time is getting nearer all the time, and may be quite near.

Two things, in fact: the melting down of the economies of Europe and China. Obviously the US economy cannot maintain even its current level of anemia if Europe and China crash.

And if that’s not enough to worry about, there’s another seemingly small but very scary item that could, if it turns out to be more widespread, be very dangerous to whatever money you have managed to put away. It's called MF Global.

Don’t let the ups and downs of the stock market fool you into complacency, there is a big DOWN coming, and not just to the stock market.

The world is in the process of marking everything down, as we enter the terminal phase of the current debt supercycle.

Thirty plus years of debt explosion, the final necessary outcome of the 1913 creation of the Federal Reserve, which made possible the establishment and unchecked growth of the welfare state, is all coming to an end.

The big bust could come pretty much at any time, so make plans, and be ready.
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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Episode 82, Repudiate the US Government's Debt?

Way back in 1992, Murray Rothbard argued that the country’s best way out of debt was to repudiate it—simply stop paying it. Is that a valid option? What would happen if Uncle Sam just said, “Nope, not gonna pay”?

Back then the debt was a measly $3.5 trillion (less than half the GDP then) versus the $14.8 trillion today (almost exactly equal to the current GDP).

Back then, the entitlement guarantees and commitments numbered about $20 trillion in unfunded liabilities. Today it is over $100 trillion.

What Rothbard knew then, and what we know now, it that this—repudiating the debt—would eventually mean the end of the federal government as we know it. Therefore it seems very unlikely, but it could be an opening to the Free America that we've talked about in earlier episodes. It would force a radical reduction in the scope, cost, and power of the federal government.

And in other news: Is Occupy Wall Street just a preseason warmup for the demonstrations, strikes, and street battles to come in the runup to the 2012 election? What little book written by a Dartmouth professor, Gene Sharp, should you read to learn more about what's happening?

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Friday, October 7, 2011

Episode 81. Fellow Shruggers, It Is Almost Time to Declare Victory

From the earliest days of this podcast, I have advocated that the productive members of our American mess should go on strike.

I've argued that “shrugging out” will be the most effective means of ending our immoral and damaging Dependency Culture and bringing about the conditions necessary for Free America. And given what’s happened in the past year, it is obvious that we are getting close to victory. Message: Hang in there, it’s working!

We also look at what is motivating the Occupy Wall Street crowds and what the new protests portend for the future.

And we examine a great thought piece by Victor Davis Hansen that refutes the notion that we are living in one-of-a-kind times. The same human passions and frailties that drive us now drove us the same way centuries ago. We have all been here before.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Episode 80. Neighborhood "Liberty and Self-Reliance Group--An Update

I don't know how many groups there are like the "LASR" group in my neighborhood, but we would be a whole lot better off if they sprouted up everywhere like weeds.

LASR stands for Liberty and Self-Reliance, and it is the basis of our group. We've been in existence for several months, and we've grown in size steadily since the first meeting.

The purpose of our group is to help like-minded people in the area, people who believe in liberty and self-reliance, make preparations for the collapse we believe is coming. Not in the collectivist sense, but in the sense of sharing information and our resolve to get through the crisis through more productive and proactive efforts than simply voting in the next election.

In this show I go over our group's charter, our activities, the structure of our meetings, and the topics we've covered.

As great as the participation has been so far, we are just getting started. I'm very excited about the future of the group, and what it could mean for all of us when hard times come.
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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Episode 79. Do We Need The State At All?

Everyone knows that without the state we would be brutes in a state of nature, right?

Everyone knows that Anarchy is chaos, bad for everyone, and anyone who advocates it is crazy.

But does the absence of government necessarily mean chaos, and are its advocates crazy?

Most people don’t think the state is evil or corrupt. They think it is a force for good. And yet almost every one of them can cite examples of state corruption, and acts of evil committed by the state. Or if you present them a factual description of such a case, they will admit that it’s an example of state corruption or evil.

In spite of this, most people think absence of government is the craziest idea they've ever heard. America isn't perfect, they'll say, we need maybe a tweak of the tax code here, or adjustment of a benefit program there, but what we have is a pretty darn good system, why in fact it’s the best in the world. On the other hand, a society without authority, without a ruler, without a government? Why that is so off-the-charts crazy that only a Martian would think it was a good idea. Or maybe Charlie Sheen.

But reality is less black and white than that. History has shown us over and over again that it is a dangerous thing to give people power over others. Even through “free and democratic” elections. When you look closely at the services that government claims to provide, you see that the apparatus set up to deliver the service often causes more damage than the service is worth. And that the service is either contrary to the rule of law or can be provided much more effectively and efficiently by non-government organizations.

If you look under the covers of most government institutions, you will find many disagreeable things. Corruption. Destruction of values. Denigration of people. In addition to the confiscation of property and denial of liberty.

Most of what government does, and possibly ALL of what government does, is corrosive to the human soul. It robs us of our liberty, and it makes us dependent.

We need an awful lot less government than we have today. And it’s possible that we just don’t need government at all.

You have to think outside the box to handle the assertions made in this show. Slay a few sacred cows in your mental pasture, and give this one a listen. Comments welcome.

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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Episode 78. Free America! The Vision and The Vehicle

Successful change begins with the vision, the goal. A clear statement of the destination.

Of secondary importance is the vehicle, the means of getting there.

In 1962, President Kennedy gave America a mission: To land a man on the moon and return him safely to the earth by the end of the decade.

What Kennedy said, and what he did NOT say were both important. He set the goal, what was to be accomplished. He did NOT specify the means, how we were going to do it.

In this episode, we talk about the vision for Free America, our goals. What we want, and what we do NOT want. This is the Free America envisioned by SOME of the Founders of the Republic.

After clarifying the vision, we talk about several alternative vehicles that could take us from today's America to the Free America we want. And we describe why The Collapse is NOT this vehicle--it is only the crack of the starter's pistol.

We also talk about why Free America is NOT inevitable, and why several alternative Americas wait for us at the end of our journey, unless we make wise choices.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Episode 77. FUD and Flash Baboon Soldiers?

With the stock market making triple-digit excursions in both directions, the dreaded forces of FUD stalk the land.

That's Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. Fear is understandable, given what's happening all over the world. As for Uncertainty and Doubt, we can reduce them by assuming, pretty safely I think, that eventually the Big Collapse will arrive and make things quite clear, if unfortunately bleak.

But I think the odds are that the Collapse is NOT scheduled to occur in the next few weeks or months. I think it's actually time for calm resolve. Resolve to make progress on your preparations, both the physical preps advocated here, and also your psychological preps for achieving greater liberty and self-reliance in your life.

Tom Baugh, of Starving the Monkeys fame, puts the stock market gyrations into perspective: Eventually, we'll all be poor. It's what we are able to do with our brains and our limbs, to provide for ourselves and to create value for others, that will sustain us after the Collapse. It will be the basis of civilization after the crash sweeps away the monkey world of getting something for nothing.

And speaking of monkeys, what about these "flash mobs" and "blackberry mobs" everyone is talking about? What's really behind them? And how could they become a force used by our would-be monkey-masters to spread more FUD during and after the Collapse? Could "flash baboon soldiers" become a "1-800-Kristallnacht" used to stop a growing liberty and self-reliance movement in its tracks? And how might we counter that?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Episode 76. Crashonomics

Are we about to fall down down into the mouth of Jabba the Hut's pet Sarlacc?

In this episode, I talk about the real financial crisis facing America. Not the lightweight, scratch-the-surface stuff about the "Debt Crisis", but the politically unstoppable financial and social crash that many of us believe is coming.

I cite several well-regarded sources with differing perspectives on what will happen and why, and in some cases, the all-important when. Though in truth, even knowing when the next impact with the debt ceiling is will not help us much in predicting when the poop will actually make contact with the propeller.

The "smart crowd" is wrong about how they can steer our economy and society into a "controlled glide path" of very slow growth for 5-6 years, with limited pain and suffering, followed by a robust recovery. Our society lacks the political consensus to allow rational steering. And economics, the dim science, lacks the precision needed to thread the needle like that, assuming it's even possible.

We will instead slide into the Sarlaac's maw, after exhausting all available means of postponing the descent and after hoisting the top ranks of society as high above the pit as the government they control can put them.

It would be better, I argue, to fall in now, than to allow a desperate world to squander the wealth of nations in a doomed attempt to delay the inevitable.

We won't spend a thousand years in agony. Only a few, after which we get a fresh crack at creating a Free America, as some of the Founders originally intended.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Episode 75. Self-Defense, Home Defense, and Firearms

I've only talked about firearms in one previous show, well over a year ago.

With things slowly starting to slide downhill, I thought now would be a good time to talk about self-defense and home defense, which in my view must incorporate, in the extreme, use of a firearm.

There is a lot to think about when considering how to prepare yourself to avoid violent encounters, and when that is not possible, how to survive violence directed towards you.

Home defense is a special case of self-defense, with a set of advantages and a few disadvantages.

Preparing yourself for self-defense, and for home defense, is a process of many steps, and only one of those is selecting and acquiring a firearm. But it is an important step, and I share what I've learned about that too.

I hope none of us ever has to defend ourselves using lethal force, but it is our right to do so, and something for which each of us should be prepared.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Episode 74. Fermentation--A Great Hobby and SHTF Skill

Fermentation is an important process that you should learn to harness. It can help you feed your family and could turn out to be a hobby that becomes a source of income when the Stuff Hits The Fan.

In this podcast I talk about three applications of the process of fermentation: Composting, Bread-making, and Beer, Wine, and Mead-Making.

(Side note: Aerobic composting is actually decomposition, not fermentation. But that doesn't keep me from blindly lumping it together with the other two applications here! And another mistake in the audio--standard cinder blocks or concrete blocks are 16" by 8" by 8", of course, not 16x4x4. Many thanks to feedback from early listeners!)

A fun-topic show, with real, practical application. And even two recipes!

Pete's No-Knead Dutch Oven 5-Ingredient Bread
- 3 cups flour (freshly ground from hard white wheat is best)
- 1.5 teaspoons salt
- 1.5 cups of warm water (about 100 degrees F, no hotter)
- 1/2 teaspoon regular bread yeast (the dried kind from the grocery store)
- 1 tablespoon of vinegar, grapefruit juice, or orange juice (optional)

Mix the flour and the salt well in a large, oiled bowl. Add the yeast to the water and stir. Let sit for a few minutes so the yeast can bloom. Add the vinegar or juice to the water and yeast.

Next pour the water into the bowl of flour and salt, and using a spatula or a large spoon, stir the contents until they are mixed. Only 6-8 turns of the spatula should necessary; do not overwork the mixture. Cover the bowl with a wet towel or seal with a plastic cover.

Ferment the mixture over the next 18-24 hours in a warm (70-75 degrees or so) area. You can take a peek every 6-8 hours if you want. You will see the dough has grown considerably. You can fold the dough with a spatula 2-3 times on itself, but no more than that. Do this a couple of times until the 18-24 hours is up.

Turn out the dough onto a well-floured towel or piece of wax paper. Fold the dough on itself twice, then cover with the towel. Let sit for 2 hours.

Preheat the dutch oven and cover in a 500 degree oven. When ready, uncover the dough with floured hands and drop it in the center of the scorching hot dutch oven. Cover and bake for 30-35 minutes. Remove carefully from the dutch oven (it should slide right out after a few minutes of cooling), cool, cut and eat.

Pete's Soda Bottle Mead (an easy, homemade, and LEGAL adult beverage!)
- One 12-16 ounce jar of honey
- 1/2 teaspoon yeast (regular bread yeast, or champagne yeast from a winemaking store)
- Yeast nutrient (a half-cup of tea, 1/4 cup of lemon juice, or yeast nutrient from the winemaking store)

Sterilize a large bowl and any utensils you use in the dishwasher or with very hot soapy water (use a teakettle on the stove, but don't melt your bowl or utensils). Pour in the honey, and about the same amount of water. Whisk the honey and water mixture until the honey is fully mixed and dissolved. Whisk strongly so as to aerate the honey-water mixture. Add in the yeast nutient you have selected.

Bloom the yeast in a cup of warm water--no hotter than 100 degrees, else you'll harm the yeast.

After a few minutes, mix the yeast water in with the honey water, also known as the wort. Using a sterilized funnel, pour the wort into a clean two-liter bottle. Add water until the level reaches the "shoulder" of the bottle. Cap tightly, and shake vigorously for a minute.

Place the bottle in a warm, safe place. After a day or two, check the bottle. You should see signs of bubbling and even frothing at the top of the liquid, and the bottle may feel pressurized. If it is, slowly and carefully unscrew the cap until it starts to hiss, and watch the contents closely. If they threaten to stream out of the top of the bottle, screw the cap down tight, and try again. Eventually, burp all of the pressure from the bottle.

Revisit the bottle daily, burping it as necessary. It WILL be necessary for at least a week, and then things will start to slow down. After 2-3 weeks, the fermentation process should be complete. Decant the wort into another two-liter bottle, or a gallon-sized sun tea jar (the kind with a spigot near the bottom). Let it age in this container for as long as you can wait, though it is perfectly fine (and understandable) if you can't wait to sample the brew.

If you want, you can add 3-4 quarts of fresh or frozen (unsweetened) raspberries to each gallon of wort. After a few weeks you will have a pleasantly clear, red beverage that is tasty and will continue to get more mellow in taste for each week and month that you wait. Once again patience when it comes to fermentation is well rewarded.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Episode 73. Handling a Winter Power Outage

Ok, it's 100 degrees right now where I live, so naturally it's time to talk about a winter storm that knocks out power for a week.

That's the scenario recently tackled by our local Liberty and Self-Reliance (LASR) group, and we came up with some great thinking and a very useful list of preps for our part of the country.

And though we are 6 months "out of phase" with the weather, it's actually a useful thing to do in the abstract, when you can think through scenarios and disaster preps away from the heat of the moment, so to speak.

Categories we considered were Light, Shelter, Food, Health, Sanitation, Safety, and Security. (One very important category was left off of this list, do you know what it is?)

Go ahead and try this exercise yourself. Assume that the power will be out for about a week at the coldest time of the year. What items should you have on hands to ride out this situation in your home in relative safety and comfort? Then give this show a listen and compare notes.

At least two items that might land on your list turn out not to be all that important for this scenario, at least no more important than usual. Listen for that too.

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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Episode 72. What We Are Facing (Some day)

All around us, a continuous erosion of our standards and norms for living is clearly underway. Nothing can stop it, though unpredictable events will occasionally make things chaotically worse. Day by day the sea nibbles away the foundation of the oceanfront home, until it is swept away by a sudden violent storm.

Tom Baugh's recent essays on the liberty movement are brilliant, provocative and poignant. I talk about two of them in this episode, The Least You Can Do and Fourth Generation Rhinocerous Warfare. In them, he properly chastizes the liberty community for flaws that could prove fatal in the struggles to come. In the current "Gandhi phase" of our movement, we need to mentally prepare to do things in the future that mere dabblers and academics would abhor.

In terms of what's coming, although the timing of "the collapse" is impossible to predict, it is possible to chart a variety of trends likely to impact us economically and socially.

Time again to face the likely facts, and get ready for the trials ahead. Things will get a lot worse before they get better, but our founding principles (before the Hamiltonian corruption, if you please) will again be the prize.

And with the Independence Day holiday approaching, remember: "Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed."

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Baugh on the Battle for Liberty

Read this series of articles posted by Tom Baugh, in order:

1. The Least You Can Do,
2. Fourth-Generation Rhinocerous Warfare, and
3. The Essential Task.

Then read the Che Guevara piece Baugh recommends.

This is about losing your idealism and understanding the realities of what we will be facing when the end of "Pax Americana" arrives.

Subject of an upcoming podcast, of course.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Episode 71. Collectivists Never Quit

Collectivists believe what they believe--that free markets are bad, capitalism is bad, it's too "dog eat dog", people need to "collaborate", etc., etc.

And they will not let facts intrude on this cozy mindset that, "We're all in this together." If the truth were admitted, that collectivism inevitably leads to state-sponsored violence against individuals to confiscate their property, the network of lies that prop up collectivism would be exposed for what it is.

Along comes CNN with a program that explains how innovation works in our "modern age". It's not the result of someone coming up with a better mousetrap, pleasing his fellow man by improving his life, exchanging his valuable innovation for money or other things HE values, voluntarily. No, it's the result of a sophisticated partnership between government and industry, because in today's world, the "cost of entry" is too high, or the cost of "changing the infrastructure" is prohibitive, etc., etc.

CNN's program cited two examples to "prove" this "new model" for innovation in America: GPS and the Internet. Both examples are bogus.

Both GPS and the Internet were originally MILITARY programs, designed by and for the exclusive use of the military. In the case of GPS, it never became useful in the civilian world until after the military expenditures for the satellites and ground stations had been deployed, and the military decided not to turn on the "denial of accuracy" provision during peacetime. And absent a war with another superpower with enemies using our own GPS system for precision navigation, it will remain that way.

Innovation didn't come to GPS until it became clear to commercial industry that full GPS accuracy would be available to civilians. And then the market for GPS receivers exploded, driving the ongoing miniturization and other innovations.

The Internet began as Arpanet, the military's alternative survivable network for transmission of military orders during a national state of emergency, including a nuclear attack. Arpanet developed the original network protocol for the Internet, but the Internet as an innovation didn't take off until universities and then commercial companies began to replicate the network in a technical environment that resembled the Wild Wild West (back in the 1990s) more than the orderly, systematic, government-regulated "innovation" portrayed by CNN.

One more time: Governments don't innovate. They make decisions based on politics, not economics or science. Collectivists can't and don't innovate, they inhibit innovation.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Episode 70, Starting a "Liberty & Self-Reliance" Group

In this episode I talk about starting a LASR--a Liberty and Self-Reliance group--in your town or neighborhood.

What's a LASR group? It's a group of people who live near you who share your concerns about the coming collapse, and share your desire to do something constructive to protect themselves and their families from the worst.

Why should you worry about your neighbors? Because each one of them who fails to prepare will suffer undue hardship, of course, but more selfishly, each unprepared one of them will become a burden to those around them, and could even become a threat. On the positive side, each one of them could be a valuable trading partner should hard times come.

How should you go about organizing a "Liberty and Self-Reliance" group? And why call it that, versus something like, "Survivalists of North Gulch"? How do you get started? How do you recruit members? What should you talk about in your first meeting--and what should you NOT talk about? And what is the big potential downside of starting a LASR?

If you are well into your preparations, I urge you to consider starting your own LASR. If you are able to help other families near you become much better prepared to face hard times, the hard times you end up facing could be lessened significantly.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Episode 69, Acquiring a Shrug Out Property

In this show, I talk about a "Shrug Out Property" that my wife and I recently acquired.

By "Shrug Out" I mean a piece of land we can develop and live on which will be productive for us, allowing us to live comfortably without needing conventional jobs, paying income taxes, and helping to prop up the Dependency Culture that we shruggers despise.

In this show I describe what our objectives were, what priorities we had for the property, how we went about finding the best place for our needs and means, and how we plan to develop it into a productive homestead. Your mileage may vary, but in covering how we approached our decisions, I think this show will help you gain valuable insights in making similar decisions to fit your own needs.

Oh, and by the way, that silly old thing called the U.S. Economy? The clock is ticking my friends. Keep plugging away at your preparations.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Episode 68, Will the Crash be Fast or Slow?

Many people think the economic and social collapse coming to America will happen quickly, and without warning. Others think the nation is on a slow decline that will continue unfold for years, until a lasting upturn begins.

In this podcast I talk about these two points of view, and discuss logical and historical support (and lack of it) for each position.

If you haven't considered the likely nature and pace of the upcoming crash, this show will help you think through the alternatives, and how your assumptions should affect how you prepare.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Episode 67, Tom Baugh is Fully Taxated, Part 2

This is the second of a two-part series with Tom Baugh, author of Starving the Monkeys about his recent articles on the US federal tax code.

Listen to Tom talk about:
- How to take advantage of the tax code's bias in favor of big business in your own life.

- How Chuck the ordinary citizen can lease his own home to ChuckInc, his Class C incorporated business.

- How current events are signaling that any tax advantages you wrest from the system are best treated as temporary.

- What recent events, such as the Wisconsin public sector union rollback, the "Arab Spring", and inflation of various commodities are revealing about the approaching collapse.

Be sure to check out Tom's "Fully Taxated" series of articles, and his latest piece, "Why I Don't Fear Islam". Always controversial, often persuasive, it is Tom at his very best.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Episode 66. Tom Baugh is "Fully Taxated", Part 1

In this episode, I talk with Tom Baugh, author of Starving the Monkeys about his recent article on the US federal tax code.

Listen to Tom talk about:
- Why the good old fashioned American "rags to riches" success story is bunk.

- How bonds are the ruling class' "secret sauce" for making huge amounts of money.

- How the tax code is set up to screw certain types of people, and benefit others.

- How you can take advantage of the tax code to cut dramatically the IRS's bite from your paycheck.

Be sure to check out Tom's "Fully Taxated" series of articles.

Part 2 will come out in the next podcast, in which Tom talks about practical aspects of incorporating as a Class C corporation, some unexpected advantages of doing so, and about current events bringing us closer to the edge of the cliff.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Episode 65. Hobbies That Can Make You Money After TSHTF

After talking about current events (the killing of Osama bin Laden), we get right down to it: How are you going to make money, or more generally, produce value you can trade, after the stuff hits the fan?

A lot of people work today at jobs using skills that will have no practical value, possibly for years, once the economy collapses and all that specialization goes into the bit bucket.

But at the same time, a lot of people do things in their spare time that could, with a little bit of planning and some imagination, be real value-makers post-crash.

We explore a pretty long list of valuable hobbies in this episode. News you can use, at least when times get tough.

In talking about each of these value-makers, I skip the obvious stuff, and talk about what you need to know in transforming a once-a-week hobby into a steady craft, and what challenges you are most likely to face.

One challenge in particular stymies a lot of people who wish they could convert their life's passion into currency. Learn how to overcome it in this show.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Episode 64. Atlas Shrugged, the movie

Back on the "air" again after a brief absence, and I have some explaining to do, I know.

I nearly lost my job a couple of Mondays ago when they blew up my department, but fortunately I managed to land on my feet and actually in a bigger and more important role than what I had before. But I have had a rough time and rougher schedule and I was simply unable to prepare and record a show in the time I had available.

Before talking about the main topic, we go over current events, why I think this is the eye of the storm, and I talk about lessons I think we can all learn from job loss, whether it actually happens or comes uncomfortably close.

I saw Atlas Shrugged, Part 1, the big-screen movie about the famous novel. In this show I describe the film, which is being panned by the critics, of course. Some of the critics hate various movie-making aspects of the film, but others simply hate individualism.

(There IS one fatal flaw that simply should never appear in a professionally made modern movie--listen to the show to find out what it is.)

To cut to the chase, two out of four stars. It could have been better, but it's still worth seeing, and it's great to finally have broken the Atlas Shrugged ice on the silver screen.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Episode 63. FOOD!!! Storing It & Making It So You Have It When You Need It

I call this the Food 101 show for preppers, because it's all here, at a high level:

- What kinds of food should you store, and why?
- What are the biggest challenges regarding the types of food you need to store?
- How much food should you store?
- Where should you get the food that you will store? What are alternative sources? What source is the cheapest and best quality?
- How and where in your home should you store food? What do you need to do to preserve the food you store?
- What are the limitations of a "pantry rotation" system?
- What does it mean to "eat off the stack", and what is a better, more sustainable strategy?
- What are the limitations of storing food, and why should you grow at least some of the food you need?
- Are you waiting to become a gardener AFTER the SHTF? Why is that a mistake?
- What form of livestock will probably be the most common when "SHTF Gardens" become popular?
- What's happening now that makes it imperative not to wait any longer before you accumulate your food reserves, and other emergency preps?

This is the positive, pro-active side of modern survivalism. It's about becoming more self-reliant, more resilient in the face of what's coming. And we do it in the way you've come to expect from the Shrugging Out podcast--we eat the elephant one bite at a time--logically, systematically, and in an easy-going, listenable style.

If you haven't started to store food and set up a garden, then now's a great time to get busy. If you've already started, fantastic--time to scale things up and get to the next level.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Episode 62. Bugging Out in an Emergency

Last show, we talked about the "Suburban Prepper", and what you should do if you plan to stay in your suburban home when the SHTF.

In this show, I talk about how you should plan in the event that you have to leave your home base and "bug out".

The topics for this important show include:

- How to decide when you should bug out. What are the conditions sufficient AND necessary to pull the trigger and leave your home base?

- How many routes should you plan to take to your Bug Out Location, assuming you have one, and why?

- Which navigation methods should you use to assure you arrive where you want to go?

- What are the important (and unimportant) characteristics of your Bug Out vehicle, and why? (BTW, that is NOT my BOV pictured!)

- What tools and supplies must you "not leave home without" in your Bug Out vehicle?

- Bug Out Bags--what should be in yours, and why?

- Additional bug out supplies--what else should you consider taking with you, and why?

- What self-defense preparations should you make when bugging out?

- How should you practice "bugging out"? What weather situation should you watch for in order to have a realistic bugging out dry run?

- When should you bug out even when you don't have a Bug Out Location?

It's a lot of ground to cover in one show, but it's important stuff. Listen to this show, and then do your own planning for how you will bug out, how you will decide when to leave, what routes you might take, and what you will bring with you.

And don't stop with thinking and planning. DOING is what matters here. We don't know when the stuff is going to hit the fan, but it is better to be prepared early than to be one single minute too late.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Episode 61. The Surburban Prepper

The clock is ticking down to next crash of the stock market, and the economy, and it could well be The Big Collapse we’ve been expecting. With so many of us living in suburbs, what should we be doing to prepare?

The 'Burbs might not be the best place to ride out the Collapse, but they're not the worst either. If you lack the resources needed to set up your own "bugout location" way out in the country, this show is for you.

In this podcast, you will learn:

- The liabilities of the typical suburb in a survival situation
- The unexpected ASSETS present in most any suburb when the SHTF, and how to put them to good use
- What assumptions you are making when you decide to ride out the Collapse in your neighborhood
- How to do a SWOT analysis of your neighborhood--a balanced assessment of its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats
- What threat to a suburban neighborhood must you prepare to defend against?
- Should you keep your preparations secret from your neighbors, or should you talk to them about prepping?

These are tough but vital questions you have to answer for your own situation.

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The Mugging FED Apologizes for Mugging Us

From a Reuters story that appeared today:

The United States is on a fiscal path towards insolvency and policymakers are at a "tipping point," a Federal Reserve official said on Tuesday.

"If we continue down on the path on which the fiscal authorities put us, we will become insolvent, the question is when," Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Richard Fisher said in a question and answer session after delivering a speech at the University of Frankfurt.

"The short-term negotiations are very important, I look at this as a tipping point."

But he added he was confident in the Americans' ability to take the right decisions and said the country would avoid insolvency.

"I think we are at the beginning of the process and it's going to be very painful," he added.

This is like a mugger telling you, during your mugging, which he is committing, what a terrible shame it is that you are being mugged.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Episode 60. Shrugging Out, One Year In (1st Anniversary)

Hard for me to believe it, but this is the one-year anniversary since I took to the microphones for the first time to start a new podcast called "Shrugging Out".

The subject of this show was suggested by a listener, who suggested that it would be of general interest to listeners what it was that led me to my current understanding of liberty and current events, as expressed in these shows.

I consider myself to be a regular person, just making his way through life in modern America, and so it took a little convincing that this would be an interesting subject, but he was persuasive, and so here is the result.

Preparing for this show took me back a long ways, and so as not to bore you with a personal story, I tried to relate my own evolution to how yours may have unfolded.

A surprising number of people have written me over the past year to tell me how much they appreciate the show, and how it gives them useful information at times, at other times something provocative to think about. Others have told me that it gives them comfort to know that they are not alone, that other people share their views on the state of the world today, and what we believe is coming. This gives me tremendous satisfaction, as you can imagine.

If you like listening to the show, take a second to write me a quick e-mail, at I'd like to hear from you, and hear what you are concerned about. Also, if you like the show, please consider forwarding a link to the website to a couple of people you know who might also appreciate it.

Lots of interesting events happening around the world--plenty to talk about in the next show.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Episode 59. "Rollback" by Thomas E. Woods

This podcast is not about advocating books, and there is no kickback from any of the authors whose books I’ve advocated now or in the past.

But occasionally a book comes along that is incredibly informative and timely. Rollback by Tom Woods is such a book.

Dr. Thomas Woods is a senior scholar with the Ludwig von Mises Institute. He’s an American historian who has studied the history of the economy.

I overview Rollback in this podcast, chapter by chapter, reading brief excerpts and commenting. It won't spoil the book for you or cover more than a fraction of the ground it covers, so don't worry about that. But you simply must be aware of the facts laid out about our federal government and, "our wise overlords" as Woods refers to them.

Topics covered in the book:
- Is it already too late to avoid the collapse?
- What is the real story of the Federal Reserve?
- Pentagon spending--at least that is money well spent, right?
- But we need the government to protect us from unsafe workplaces, poisonous food, and dangerous consumer products, right?
- How exactly can we roll back the federal monster before it's too late?

The first chapter of the book is also available as a free PDF. By itself it's a great read. But get the book and bone up for the upcoming battles with the collectivists on alternatives to the ridiculously overgrown government we have now.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Episode 58. Don't Hate the Collectivists, Scorn Them

Ah, Collectivists. They're everywhere. And they’re infuriating, yes, but try to enjoy their tantrums. Pity their weaknesses. Look forward to their comeuppance. Don’t let them provoke you into doing something foolish.

Labor unions (including public sector unions, such as the Wisconsin state employees) are infuriating, but they are going to lose, I think. Whether they do or not is important politically. If Wisconsin, and Ohio, and Indiana and the other states can defeat them and enforce reductions in their benefits and restrictions on collective bargaining, the reduction in government worker union power will continue. If on the other hand the unions win, the crash will simply come a bit sooner.

Robert Samuelson, the economist, provides the history of labor unions, which are in serious decline in the private sector, but growing when it comes to government employees. Carl Rove cites a significant and growing wage gap between unionized and non-unionized government workers, in favor, of course, of the unionized workers.

Collectivists aren't just in the unions. Senator Diane Feinstein weighs in with a whiny, whimpering column about a cut in federal government subsidies for "green energy" programs in California. Too bad, so sad.

And Don, a long-time listener to this podcast, provides a scholarly piece on the federal debt, interest on the debt, and what makes its reduction mathematically possible but politically all-but-impossible.

Finally, ditch the term "New America", folks--the collectivist Left is about to grab it for themselves. Let's go with "Free America" instead. Something they're less likely to steal, it's more explicit about what post-crash America will be all about, and it even works as a noun and a verb.

Free America. I like it! Let's make it happen!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Are these the Hank Reardons of our time?

John Hinderaker of the Powerline blog discusses the Koch brothers (pictured, Charles left, David right).

When I read it I was reminded of the heroic businessman described in Atlas Shrugged, Hank Reardon, the inventor and producer of Reardon Metal.

A lot of people, collectivist people, irrationally hate the Koch brothers, who own the second largest privately-held company in the US (the first being Cargill). Some of these lefty haters are probably dumb enough to believe that the left-wing blogger's stunt of posing as David Koch in a call to the Wisconsin governor was real. It will probably live in lefty lore as such.

The money quote from Hinderaker's post:

"It is remarkable that at this late date, when Communism and socialism have been wholly discredited around the world, businessmen who run one of the world's most respected companies, have created many thousands of jobs and vast amounts of wealth, and have paid taxes in amounts that are incomprehensible to the rest of us, are demonized for pointing out the obvious benefits of free enterprise."

We know less about Governor Walker. While obviously better for individual liberty in Wisconsin than the other politicians he beat to get the job, we don't know how tightly he embraces the absolutes of liberty that animated the Declaration of Independence.

Interesting too, how the Wisconsin battle is being set up as the Unions' last stand but the Union referred to is actually the labor union movement, especially government employee unions. In the private sector, the union pits employees against management. Government employee unions pit government employees against the people. Sick.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Episode 57. New America is Coming

Well, if a small shrink-back of a secondary entitlement to state workers in Wisconsin on the heels of the "November mandate" is going to create so much angst, what will happen when a few brave leaders try to unburden the creaking oxcart of our national dependency culture before it collapses under its own weight?

And what happens if such leaders fail to emerge in the first place?

Either way, what will happen is a violent chaos, of course, the timing and severity of which cannot be predicted.

No one knows which of us, or how many, will survive the collapse. But we have been considering for some time now what kind of America will emerge on the other side. One of the alternatives is a restoration of the original American idea. Here on the Shrugging Out podcast, we call it "New America".

In this show I speculate on how the survivors of the crash can shape the America that the colonists wanted when they wrested control of their sovereignty from England. Individual liberty, self-reliance, free markets, and a government that protected the individual's right to life, liberty, and property. An old idea, but new to us: New America.

What should we do to restore the vital needs of a recovering citizenry, the millions (but not hundreds of millions) who will likely survive the collapse? Food, energy, housing, commerce, education, security, health care, and the rest?

Good questions, I think, and I hope my speculations provide you with a starting point for your own thoughts about what your role will be in the New America.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Atlas Shrugged (the novel), John Galt's speech

This is the fifth and final in my series of podcasts in which we review the struggle between individualism and collectivism with the help of the richness and clarity that Ayn Rand set forth in her magnum opus.

This show covers the famous (or infamous) John Galt speech, which takes place midway through Part 3 of the novel. It is supposedly three hours in length, but don't worry, I only read and comment on the best passages (in my opinion), so this show is only an hour long. (Only! you're saying....)

The John Galt speech is Rand's exposition of her philosophy of Objectivism. Not named as such in the novel or the speech, it is the celebration, and the declaration of the absolute supremacy, of reason over feelings, and over faith.

Rand spends a bit of time in the speech bashing religion--I skip those parts, as I think the peaceful coexistence of faith and reason under many practical circumstances has been adequately established. Nobody's perfect, not even Ayn Rand.

But the most delicious passages, where Galt thunderously delivers his contempt of Collectivism, shredding every corrupt nook and cranny of its bankrupt code, and exalts and explains the virtues of rationality, and the virtue of those who produce and trade freely--those passages are read aloud, for the pleasure they bring all of us who believe in Individualism, and more importantly, who understand rationally, with the help of Galt's speech, that individual liberty and responsibility for one's self is objectively the moral course for mankind.

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Monday, February 7, 2011

Episode 55. 2011--So Far So Scary!

It's early February, and 2011 is shaping up to be a humdinger of a year already!

In the news: Egypt’s insurrection, protests and riots across the Middle East, massive winter storms, the attempts to repeal Obamacare, the "looming crisis" of the federal debt ceiling, states headed toward bankruptcy, food and oil prices up, unemployment in the US—has it gone down or up?

Which of these news items is just background noise, and which items are "signal", the important stuff you need to pay attention to?

What is the one key metric that you should watch with respect to jobs in the U.S.? (hint, it is NOT the unemployment rate).

What is the real issue with federal spending, the characteristic that makes the situation so formidable? (It is NOT the annual deficit, or even the cumulative debt.)

Why is the Tea Party going to be sorely disappointed six months or so from now?

With the normal interest rate lever rendered ineffective, what is the Fed doing to try to stimulate economic activity, and what side effect is it having (which will have a disastrous impact eventually)?

What caused this collectivist mess in the first place?

What is likely to happen when the collapse arrives? How will it unfold?

What should you be doing to prepare based on what's happening now?

This is basically a recap show of the trajectory of the U.S. economy and the impending collapse, and what you should be doing about it now to protect yourself and your family. Timely, I think, given the apparent calm we're experiencing now. It could be the eye of the storm.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

What is the "Right to Bear Arms" All About, Anyway?

Here is the text of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as ratified by the States:

"A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

Some people believe that the Second Amendment is about the right to defend oneself from physical attack, and in a related sense, about protecting one's family and property from criminal attack or theft. But that is only partly what the Amendment is about. You certainly do have the right to defend yourself, your loved ones, and to protect your property, but if the Second Amendment were only about that, it would be lacking an essential ingredient of liberty.

The Second Amendment is actually about something more important than personal defense. A hint of what it is comes from this passage in the Declaration of Independence:

"[W]henever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government."

Had the original Colonists been disarmed by the British government, there could have been no Revolution, and there would have been no independent United States of America. The Second Amendment is primarily about preserving the possibility that if the national government becomes tyrannical, and if, after exhausting all peaceful means available to them, the people are unable to abate the tyranny, the people have the right, and by the 2nd amendment cannot be denied the practical means, of forcibly replacing an otherwise unchangeable tyrannical national government.

Many people doubt this aspect of the Second Amendment, but there is ample evidence that it is about preserving the concept that the government may only govern with the consent of the governed:

Americans have the right and advantage of being armed - unlike the citizens of other countries whose governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.
-- James Madison, The Federalist Papers

"The best we can hope for concerning the people at large is that they be properly armed."
-- Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist Papers at 184-188

"One of the ordinary modes, by which tyrants accomplish their purposes without resistance, is, by disarming the people, and making it an offense to keep arms."
-- Constitutional scholar and Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story, 1840

"The bearing of arms is the essential medium through which the individual asserts both his social power and his participation in politics as a responsible moral being..."
-- J.G.A. Pocock, describing the beliefs of the founders of the U.S.

Men trained in arms from their infancy, and animated by the love of liberty, will afford neither a cheap or easy conquest.
-- From the Declaration of the Continental Congress, July 1775.

The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them."

-- Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story of the John Marshall Court

Militias, when properly formed, are in fact the people themselves and include all men capable of bearing arms. [...] To preserve liberty it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them.

-- Senator Richard Henry Lee, 1788, on "militia" in the 2nd Amendment

That the said Constitution shall never be construed to authorize Congress to infringe the just liberty of the press or the rights of conscience; or to prevent the people of the United states who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms...

-- Samuel Adams, in "Phila. Independent Gazetteer", August 20, 1789

Incidentally, you have the right to bear arms whether or not the U.S. Constitution (or your national government's laws) explicitly say so. This is a right with which every human being is born. Your government may, of course, without moral validity, forbid you to be armed, which is another matter entirely.
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Monday, January 31, 2011

Atlas Shrugged (the novel), Part 3

This is the third of a three part series (plus two "auxiliary" shows) in which we review the struggle between individualism and collectivism with the help of the richness and clarity that Ayn Rand set forth in her magnum opus.

This show covers the final section of the book, Part 3, the part called "A is A", named after Aristotle's law of identity. It begins with the main Individualist characters in Galt's Gulch, and covers the return of Dagny to the real world, its downward spiral into chaos, the climactic shrugging out of Hank Reardon, the capture of John Galt by the government, and the final scenes in which the folly of collectivism drags the whole of American society to the abyss from which it can finally be saved by the triumphant return of logic, reason, and Individualism.

Again, my purpose for doing this is not to review the book as literature, it's to consider what happens in the novel in light of what's happening today, and to enjoy the absolutely delicious failures of collectivism and the eventual triumph of individualism in specific, memorable passages of the book.

Thank you so much for all the comments you've e-mailed me regarding Parts 1 and 2, and the podcast in general. Always welcome, and I welcome corresponding to you individually (after all, we're all about Individualism, aren't we? ;-) ).

I will return to regular news-oriented podcasts very shortly, though I will at some point work in a fifth and final show about Atlas Shrugged devoted to the famous three-hour speech on Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism delivered by John Galt in the final stages of Part 3.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Atlas Shrugged (the novel), Two readings from Part 2

This is the third of a multi-part series in which we review the struggle between individualism and collectivism with the help of the richness and clarity that Ayn Rand set forth in her magnum opus.

This show covers two special passages in Part 2 of the book, a couple of monologues (yes, Rand was famous for them) by two characters. They are absolutely delicious to those of us who despise the immoral illogic of collectivism.

The first passage is Francisco d'Anconia's famous speech about money. In answer to the weary challenge that, "Money is the root of all evil," he rises to ask, and then answer, the question, "What is the root of money?" Although we all know that nobody, even someone uncommonly brilliant, can speak extemporaneously in this way, it is nonetheless an inspiring reminder of what it is that creates value in the first place, and how the simple genius of free trade not only makes the world go 'round, it is also inherently virtuous.

The second passage is the "train hobo's" monologue (a bit more believable as a speech) recounting the immorality and illogic of the Twentieth Century Motor Company as it is taken over by the collectivist descendants of its original founder. The seemingly idealistic precepts of this crew, that "We're all in this together," are revealed in this speech to have done nothing less than to loose the darkest impulses of mankind, a would-be Midas touch that emerges as a malevolent leprosy of the mind and spirit.

Yummy reading to those of us who respect the morality of individualism and despise the moral corruption and fiscal failure of collectivism.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Shout Out to "The Survivalist Blog"

I've referenced a number of survival blogs over the past year, but my favorite is the simply but aptly-named The Survivalist Blog by M.D. Creekmore (pictured). I've been linking to it for some time now, and I recommend it highly to listeners of The Shrugging Out Podcast.

M.D.'s blog has been, to me, the most practical and readable blog when it comes to the "shrugging out" philosophy that I have found. He "shrugged out" years ago, to a modest patch of land in the Appalachian Mountains, from which he has been showing thousands of people how to live, and thrive, off the grid.

What I like most about The Survivalist Blog is the sheer, unbeatable, been-there, done-that practicality of his posts, week in, week out. If he's done it, it's relevant. If a random survivalist topic occurs to you while pulling weeds in the raised bed garden he inspired you to plant, or while cleaning the "best SHTF gun" he recommended (no, it is not a specific firearm), you'll probably find it addressed in depth somewhere on his blog. The blog is also well-organized by category, and by popularity of posts.

M.D.'s info on practical survivalism ranges from a comprehensive set of step-by-step get-started posts to a host of in-depth treatments of food storage, gardening, homesteading, medicine, trapping, finding rural property and other topics. It is, in my view, the definitive website for the person who's serious about getting on with life while getting off the grid.

I think my favorite repeat feature is, "What Did You Do To Prep This Week?" which almost always inspires me to take some kind of action, or at least to take stock of what I need to do next.

What I don't like about The Survivalist Blog is how much it reminds me that my thinking about survivalism tends more toward the theoretical end of the spectrum. For example, I enjoy thinking (and talking!) about how the government shouldn't be doing X, whereas M.D. has made whatever X happens to be irrelevant, at least to himself and how he lives. Curse you, M.D. Creekmore, for practicing what you preach. And thank you for reminding all of us that the difficult process of "shrugging out" is imminently possible.
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Episode 52. The Shooting of Congresswoman Giffords

Jared Loughner is either insane or evil for what he did. Why precisely did he target a U.S. Congresswoman? Why didn't he just open fire on a random crowd of people? It's an interesting question, I think.

In his warped or evil mind, he targeted her because he saw her as important. But what makes a Congresswoman important to citizens, more important than numerous other people who arguably have, or should have, much more influence upon their lives? Is the inflated importance, and power, of the federal government in part to blame? IN PART?

Collectivist commentators have used this incident to blame "right wing media" for inciting Loughner to commit this monstrous crime. And others bring up their tiresome arguments against the 2nd Amendment, ignoring the facts that punitive gun regulations are obeyed only by the law-abiding. Some even ridicule those who cite the 2nd Amendment as the peoples' last resort in the case of a tyrannical government. They're barking up the wrong tree. They attack a bedrock American principle. The 2nd Amendment isn't about hunting, or even self-defense. It's about protecting our liberties.

It's all explained in the Declaration of Independence. To quote Annie Savoy, "You could look it up!"


Sunday, January 9, 2011

Atlas Shrugged (the novel), Part 2

This is the second of a three part series in which we review the struggle between individualism and collectivism with the help of the richness and clarity that Ayn Rand set forth in her magnum opus.

This show covers Part 2 of the book, the section called "Either-Or". It takes place in the middle of the full decline of the American economy, the enactment of the disastrous "Directive 10-289", and the continuing disappearance of the key industrialists and producers. It ends with Dagny Taggart crash-landing her plane in what turns out to be Galt's Gulch.

Again, my purpose for doing this is not to review the book as literature, it's to consider what happens in the novel in light of what's happening today, and to enjoy the absolutely delicious failures of collectivism and the eventual triumph of individualism in specific, memorable passages of the book.

I've received many comments on Part 1 of the Atlas Shrugged series. I obviously should have done this sooner, but better late than never. I hope you enjoy this episode, and please send me your comments either way.

By the way, my brother Jack, who suffered a very serious stroke on the morning of Christmas Eve, has begun speaking again, so he continues to make progress. Many thanks for your concerns and wishes for his recovery.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Episode 50. Health Care and the Government

With my brother still in the hospital recovering from a serious stroke, I decided to do a show about health care, centered around what the government should do, given its Constitutional mandate to protect our rights.

Covered in this episode:
- Health care in the U.S.--where are we, and how did we get here?
- Where is American health care heading?
- Why does the debate on health care boil down to emotion vs. logic?
- What should be government's role when it comes to health care?
- How should health care work in the United States?

Plenty to talk about on this subject.

Incidentally my brother is doing well. We expect to hear him speaking soon, and walking, and whatever shape his recovery takes, time will tell. Many thanks for your concerns and comments. Our prayers are being answered. He is coming back to us.