How Venezuela Turned Back to Capitalism when Socialism Failed

If you were paying attention over the last few years, you got to witness the collapse of Venezuela as it experienced the failed promises of socialism. Now capitalism may save it.

Ah, the glories of socialism. 

In one generation, Venezuela went from being one of the wealthiest countries in Central and South America to having a poverty rate of 96 percent. The monthly minimum wage of $2 made it the poorest country in Latin America and the Caribbean.  Yes, they are worse off than Haiti.)

Yep, that’s what socialism will get you. Four percent of the population living on the hard work and sweat of the other 96 percent. Four percent, the elites, living in high-end houses with armed guards while the rest of the country cannot afford to buy food or medicine, has intermittent electricity, and little or no clean water to drink. 

I wrote earlier this year about the tens of millions killed in China and Russia implemented socialism. They don’t have an accurate count of the dead in Venezuela yet, where malaria and other diseases made a comeback and where a simple infection can kill you due to a lack of antibiotics. They do know that millions fled the country. Among them are the ballerina that escaped to Columbia and became a prostitute, and the highly paid professional who made it to the U.S. and worked as a butcher.  Sadly,  they are the lucky ones. 

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Texas Freeze Damage Assessment Continues: Time to do Your Own

As the amount of damage done to lives, livelihoods, houses, business and agriculture continue to climb in Texas, you may want to re-assess your preps.

Fallout from the Texas big freeze continues as the less-immediate ramifications of the cold weather and resulting power outages come to light. For example:

Almost 80 people died as a result of the storm. This count could increase as coroner’s offices determine the cause of death for people who died during the cold spell.

The Texas Tribute is reporting that this could be the most damaging disaster in Texas history, possibly exceeding the $125 billion in damage after 2017’s Hurricane Harvey.

Damage to agriculture could total more than $500 million dollars. According to the Wall Street Journal:

  • Ninety-eight percent of the Valencia Orange crop and 55 percent of the grapefruit crop in Texas were destroyed by cold, plus the cold killed blossoms, resulting in the loss of next year’s crop.
  • More than 1.2 million chickens or eggs waiting to hatch died because of the storm.
  • Dairy farmers had to dump 14 million gallons of milk had to be dumped, and some dairy cows got frost-bitten udders and were for beef. The lost milk means less yogurt, butter, cheese and other dairy products.
  • Exotic animals from retired monkeys to springbok and other African animals raised in Texas were killed as they experienced temperatures never seen in their native lands.
  • Farmers also lost vegetables and other plants that were in the ground.
  • The damage is already contributing to food shortages in Texas.
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Our Nice Rectangular Garden Just Became a Quadrilateral

Sometimes the best laid plans of mice and men go awry. We learned that our topography isn’t quite as neat and square as the graph paper we plotted our garden on.

Earlier today, the neat planning work I had done on the computer to layout the garden went from theoretical to physical. In other words, we adapted our lines on a paper to stakes in the ground and mason string in between them.

The first time I went out there and took rough measurements, it looked like we could fit a 50’ x 40’ garden. What I didn’t realize is that the property line we are following (the fence is going to be about a foot inside it) is not exactly square. So we are going to end up with a trapezoidal garden.

The 40-foot length stayed the same at the top of the garden (which is what I had measured the first time). The 50-foot “side” of the garden would have been fine, but after consulting with my wife, we made it 60 feet. It was the bottom of the garden where we lot space, as it turned out to be 35 feet across instead of 40. That’s where the square became a quadrilateral, or a four-sided shape in which no sides are the same length.

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Survival Diary February 24: We Make a Trip to the City

We made our first big shopping trip to the city in two months and it drove home the difference between living in big cities, small cities and rural areas.

Today was our first trip to Sam’s Club in two months.  Since we were going to the city, we also went to Target, a bookstore, Home Depot, and had lunch at Chik-fil-A. 

Since the city is on the other side of a mountain range and takes more than an hour to get there, it was a very full day.  We left at 9 a.m. and didn’t get back until after 4 p.m.  Then we had to unload, unpack and put away all the food. 

We used the trip to Sam’s to stock up for everyday meals and to add some food to our long term-storage.  Canned good are very much in stock at the Sam’s Club we visited.  They had a very robust selection of dry goods as well.  They had excellent sales on pasta, some of which was 60 cents a pound when you bought a six-pack.  That’s a remarkable price when you consider that pasta is often a dollar a pound on sale and anywhere from $1.20 to 1.50 for a box.  We bought 12 pounds of pasta and added six jars of spaghetti sauce.

We bought other tomato products as well, including tomato paste and diced tomatoes.  Don’t overdo it with these products because canned tomatoes tend to have a shorter life in cans than they do in jars.  I have had more cans of tomato products on my shelf leak through than all other products combined.  This is a good argument for canning your own tomato products using Ball canning jars.

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After the Deep Freeze, we Experience the First Twinges of Spring

After a spate of cold days with temps dropping into the teens, we see the first signs of spring and we test our gravity-flow water system.

Today was the first day it felt like spring instead of winter. Temps were in the low 50s instead of the low 30s.

It isn’t spring, of course; it’s still February, but the promise of spring is in the air.

Where I grew up, the first flowers we would get were snowdrops and crocuses. None of those here, but I did spot the yellow flower pictured above. I don’t think it’s a dandelion, but if it is, I’ll take it; it’s still our first sign of spring.

So I did what every red-blooded American does on the first day of warm weather and I sighted in my new (to me) .308 rifle. It was only at 25 yards, but it gave me the excuse to break it down, clean it and lube it after the fact. Happily, it functioned fine which is always a bit of a concern when dealing with a used gun.

Now I just have to decide if it makes sense to get an optic for it. I guess I should try shooting at 200 yards to make that decision.

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The Best Way Preppers Should Spend their Stimulus Check

As Congress creeps closer to yet another stimulus bill, Preppers may be in for a windfall. Here are our suggestions on how to spend it.

Yesterday, I suggested you use the coming (temporary) period of exuberance and excitement after the COVID-19 nightmare draws to a close to prep. Below are some suggestions in greater detail, but because we’ve talked about food and water before, we’re going to start with the bigger preps and work backwards:

Get Out of the Cities

I think the biggest priority for any serious prepper should be to move out of an urban or suburban location and to a rural one. I’m not talking “vacation country” where people go to spend two weeks a year, but hardcore country where just about everyone owns a chainsaw, a rifle and pickup truck.

Your stimulus check won’t buy your new property, but it can cover the travel and other expenses related to a property search.

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Winning! COVID-19 Retreats. Will Social Distancing be Next?

With some experts prediction COVID-19 will be beaten by April, we look at what this could mean for the county and the economy.

In a shocking turn around, word is starting to spread that COVID-19 in the United States may be gone, or at least reduced to a minimal level, as soon as April, and that things will be “back to normal” by summer. This means domestic airline travel could bounce back, people could go on vacation again, and schools and colleges could return to face-to-face teaching in classrooms in the fall of 2021.

Dr. Marty Makary, a professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Bloomberg School of Public Health, writes in the Wall Street Journal that “We’ll have herd immunity by April.

“There is reason to think the country is racing toward an extremely low level of infection. As more people have been infected, most of whom have mild or no symptoms, there are fewer Americans left to be infected. At the current trajectory, I expect Covid will be mostly gone by April, allowing Americans to resume normal life.”

In the past two weeks, the number of new cases per day have fallen by 44 percent, and more than 80 percent since the peak of 300,000 new cases on January 8 to 55,195 reported yesterday. In the past week, the number of new deaths has also dropped sharply and hospitalization continues its downward curve. There are now less than half as many people hospitalized due to the coronavirus than at its peak seven weeks ago.

We talk about the social and economic impact of a world that has suddenly banished COVID-19 below, but first a look at the global numbers which are also dropping rapidly.

Global Numbers

Here are the global numbers showing the course of COVID-19 over the past week:

Week over week chart of COVID cases growth
COVID-19 growth is down sharply over the past seven weeks. This week-over-week chart shows only single digit growth. Data from Johns Hopkins.

While the United States is poised waiting to report 500,000 COVID-19 deaths, India surpassed 11 million cases, Brazil passed 10 million, and Mexico exceeded 2 million cases in the past week. Otherwise, the COVID-19 chart on Johns Hopkins’ website showed little change. Indonisia moved ahead of Peru, but otherwise the rankings were unchanged.

The rest of the world turned in some mixed performances, with cases I the UK, Russia, Spain, Italy, Germany, Columbia, and Medico were steady or down a tick, cases in France were up from 2 to 6 percent and also rose in Poland, Iran, Ukraine and Czechia.

What Does Getting Back to Normal Mean?

Let’s assume for a minute that cases continue to drop and by May or June we are under 10,000 COVID-19 cases and related 100 deaths per day, or roughly 3 percent of the peak. One would think that would mean the following:

  • And end to lockdowns, re-opening of all types of business, and a return to full-service indoor dining at or near normal occupancy levels.
  • No more mandatory social distancing and mask wearing (although people may continue to do so voluntarily).
  • Re-opening of offices and a return to the former conditions in factories, meaning production that was cut back due to social distancing can ramp back up to prior levels, helping to alleviate shortages.
  • Mass transit ridership could jump, helping the many systems that are suffering from a lack of ridership over the past year.
  • Re-opening movie theaters (whether anyone attends is another story), live concerts, sporting events, trade shows, conventions, county fairs, and other large events.
  • A return to in-class grade school and college.
  • No restrictions on domestic travel and no capacity limits at tourist events like amusement parks, bus rides, cruise ships, ferries, or beaches.
  • Handshakes and hugs might even return.

The relaxing of the repressive rules could have an enormous impact on the economy. Yes, some things will take time to come back and some things may never come back (like forcing people to work in an office five days a week), but anything social will bounce back rapidly. That means restaurants, bars, summer camps, boardwalks, beach vacations and many other activities that restart could provide millions of jobs in a fairly short time.

Massive Psychological Lift

There could be tremendous psychological benefits of a return to group gatherings like church, parties, weddings, graduations, funeral,s and just having friends over to visit. People will celebrate the return to normalcy, which could extend the economic benefits of reopening. When people feel confident they spend. When they feel exuberant, they over-spend. Either one will boost the economy.

Of course, exuberance leads to bubbles. Markets and people will be pumped-up and over-inflated, which makes the potential for a huge collapse that much worse. And what is likely to pop the bubble? Huge government deficits, rising interest rates, and increased taxes to compensate for the stimulus spending and lost revenue.

My advice is to use what I see as a coming period of exuberance as a time to prep. Buy that rural property you always wanted while mortgage rates are still low and you can sell your house at a good price. Buy your survival food and build your prepper pantry when the end of the world is the last thing on anyone’s mind. (Look how quickly the Texas freeze has been dropped from the news cycle.)

Take your next stimulus check and dedicated it to paying off bills and improving your preps. Get a second job or a side gig while people are hiring. Use the time and money to prepare yourself for the next catastrophe because it seems like they are coming more and more frequently.

To put this rapid decline in case growth in perspective, we recommend you look back at COVID-19 at its peak when the UK was seeing cases grow at 16 percent over the course of a week.

Prepper Diary February 21: Our Chicken Coop Plans Get Updated

We get some professional advice regarding our chicken coop design and garden layout.

After having a zoom call with our friend who raises chickens and also works as a county extension agent, we have changed our chicken coop plans somewhat and changed the layout of our raised beds to help eliminate erosion by offsetting the beds.

My planned coop was originally 4’x8’, the size of a standard sheet of plywood (32 square feet). I have enlarged it to be 4×12 (48 square feet). I am building it with a divider so that we can split it in two if we raise chicks next year, want to introduce new chickens to the flock, or offer a broody hen raising eggs or chicks a private location we can do so. This could also be useful if we want to raise a batch of meat birds at some point.

I mentioned this plan to a friend who raises chickens, and he heartily endorsed the idea, saying that he had to add such a partition a year or two after building his coop and that it would have been easier building it in from scratch.

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Lessons Preppers Can Learn from the Texas Big Freeze

Every disaster should be analyzed to determine what we as preppers can do to survive. Here are some initial thoughts regarding the Texas power outages.

Our hearts go out to the folks in Texas who suffered through the brutal cold spell this past week, many with no electricity or heat. A surprise ice storm or sub-zero temperatures are bad enough when all your utilities work, but the failure of the Texas Power Grid resulted in dozens of deaths and likely billions of dollars in damage.

Texas has a population of close to 30 million. At least half of them suffered power outages in this past week. About a third have been warned to boil their water. Grocery stores ran out of food and had trouble getting resupplied. Many restaurants are closed because they have run out of food and/or don’t have clean water. At the peak, Walmart closed more than 500 stores, most of them in Texas.

As unfortunate as this event has been, it provides lessons we can all benefit from. So, let’s take a look at that disaster and some of the things you can learn from it. Hopefully, these suggestions can help you avoid a similar situation in the future. If you took different lessons from it, post them in the comments below.

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When Did American Become a Third World Country?

As the country draws ever closer to socialism, there is one thing keeping us from falling into the quagmire of socialism: Privately owned firearms.

  • Rolling power outages
  • Seeming endless riots and protests
  • The media acts like mouthpieces for the government
  • The rich get richer while the poor get poorer
  • People who complain or speak out lose their platform to do so
  • Government spokespeople threaten reporters
  • There are shortages and long wait lists to obtain goods
  • Government gun confiscation and bans
  • Large numbers of people wait in food lines
  • High unemployment and massive deficits
  • Politicians want to lock up people they disagree with

At any other time, I’d say the above are signs you are living in a third world socialist country. Today, it’s just life in these United States.

I find that frightening.

In just these last few decades, this country has slid so far down the slope towards socialism that it is hard to think we will not soon be a third world socialist country heading to the inevitable collapse. We could be the Venezuela of the Northern Hemisphere. Or maybe we will wall off California and a few major cities and let them become the East Germany of the United States. (And if you don’t know what that means, get a world history book written before the year 2000 and look it up.) 

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