Bridges, new Bridges, Get Your Fresh Infrastructure Here

A trillion here, a trillion there; pretty soon you’re talking about some real money. Money we don’t have, but don’t worry, you’ll eventually pay for it.

On the heels of a $2 trillion COVID-19 relief bill that spend far more money than necessary of dozens of things that have little or nothing to do with COVID-19, we are now getting a look at the next piece of over-laden spending bill the Biden administration will try to shove through Congress and down the throats of the American people: The $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan.

I am not against the idea of rebuilding our roads, bridges, damns, locks, ports, airports and trains. For example, I think the interstate highway system is one thing that made this country great and continues to aid commerce and transportation.

But…

What happened to all the money allocated for those so-called “Shovel Ready” projects during the Obama administration? Before we allocate more money for infrastructure, I’d like to get a report on how the last chunk of change was spent and whether we, as a country and as taxpayers, got what we expected out of it. If private industry said, “We’re going to spend $662 billion on capital improvements over the next 8 years,” then you can bet shareholders would want a detailed accounting of how that money was spent and how it benefitted the organization. So before you rush to spend more money, Mr. Biden, how about accounting for the last project? How well did you spend those funds?

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The Foolishness of Attempts to Ban So-Called Ghost Guns

Attempting to ban or regulate Ghost Guns is a useless motion gun grabbers are going through. Criminals will get guns no matter what, just like the got alcohol in the 1920s and drugs in the 1990s.

On Friday, the bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATFE or just ATF) met with the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) and multiple gun manufacturers to discuss ghost guns. (EDIT: See our note at the end of the article.)

For those of you wondering how a gun comes back from the dead to become a ghost, let me disabuse you of that notion. The term “Ghost Gun” refers to a gun without a serial number, usually made at someone’s home. These days, many ghost guns are made using something called an “80 percent receiver.” In other words, a hunk of metal that looks like a gun part is sold to a hobbyist who uses either a mill or a drill press to finish the hunk of metal into the receiver for a gun

Once the metal is milled, drilled out, or filed into a finished receiver (not an easy task), the home builder must acquire and fit all the other parts to the gun, like a barrel, trigger, stock, etc. Because there are lots of manufacturers selling repair and replacement parts for popular firearm platforms—like the AR-15, the Glock 17/19, and the 1911—home builders can source the other parts and turn their fished receiver into a gun. Because these guns don’t have serial numbers, they are called “ghost guns.” 

While 80 percent receivers appear to be the gun grabber’s biggest concern, anyone with a decent 3D printer can also make a ghost gun. There are also molds into which you make a plastic receiver in just hours.

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Inflation Strikes Again and Energy Prices Spike due to Polar Vortex

Our market disruptions continue, resulting in more supply-and demand imbalances and rising inflation. Cold temps exacerbate the problem and send natural gas prices soaring

We wrote recently about COVID-19 causing shortages, which in turn cause prices to rise, giving us inflation.  About a year after COVID-19 hit these shores, it is still interfering with the supply side of the supply-and-demand equation.

As this story reports, container ships are piling up at sea off Los Angeles and Long beach due to logistics issues on shore, many of which are caused by the coronavirus, including more than 800 members of the Longshore and Warehouse Union who have tested positive.  The slow unloading has repercussions down the line because it ties up ships. Ships at anchor waiting to unload are not delivering goods to the next port or available for another sailing.  As a result, imports slow and store shelves don’t get replenished. 

To put this in perspective, if all the boats could be unloaded, it would represent 190,000 truckloads of goods. 

In addition to finished goods, many of the containers have parts destined for U.S. manufacturers.  The global connectivity of means U.S. manufacturing is slowing down thanks to things happening off our shores.

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Shortages and Inflation Grow; New Policies not Helping

First it was guns and ammo in short supply. Now its computer chips. This is causing inflation and Biden’s policies are making it worse.

We’ve talked about shortages before. We’ve talked about inflation before.  And we’ve talked about how the ammunition shortage is driving up prices.  Now we learn that computer ship shortages are causing prices to increase.  For example, components from smartphones, for example, are up 15 percent in the past six months.

The chip shortage is causing repercussions in the automotive industry where ship shortages shutting down automotive production for companies liek GM, Ford and Nissan.  When production shuts down, the economy takes a hit, both on a national level and on a local leave as people get paid for fewer hours worked.

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How to Fight Back Against the Elites

Marie-Antoinette, who famously said “Let them eat cake,” is a good example of the attitude the elite have today.

We’ve talked about “the elites” before, and it raises the questions, who are the elites and how do you identify them? What can we do about them? (More on that later.)

Some would say that the elites are defined by money, but I would argue that.  Was Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart at elite?  I don’t think so.  And I’m not sure that Warren Buffet is an elite, yet he’s one of the richest guys out there.

While having money is an ingredient to being one of the elite, you can have money and not be elite.  Wealth, if you flaunt it and wield it like a weapon, can give you privilege, and it is the privileged who are among the elite.  People like Sam Walton and Warren Buffet didn’t assume the mantle of privilege and acted like regular guys.

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Send Lawyers, Guns, and Money: WallStreetBets Shows us how to Fight CW2

Are we witnessing the first shots fire in anger of CW2? Will it be fought with money and words, instead of guns?

When historians in the year 2072 look back and the Second Civil War (CW2) in America, they may well consider the implosion of GameStop Shorts orchestrated by the Reddit sub WallStreetBets the first killing blow struck by regular guys fighting back against the elites.  The January 6 invasion of the Capitol was just a warning shot across the bow.  Taking down the shorts is the first true shot fired in anger.

There has been much written about GameStop, the trading platform Robinhood, the hedge fund Melvin Capital and the roll of Citadel, so I am not going to repeat it.  Instead, I will refer you to this article by Andy Serwer and Max Zahn that ran last week. 

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What You Should Do now that the Georgia Election Results Are In

The actions on January 6 will have long-reaching, unintended consequences. We discuss what you can expect and how to prepare for what is to come.

When we were looking for our prepper property, we set a goal of moving before Election Day.  We missed it by about five weeks, but am I darn sure happy that I moved before inauguration day. I’m also glad I do not live or work in Washington, DC.

In yesterday’s book review, I talked about the lead character being slow to catch on and recognize the problems they were facing.  I wrote, “You’d think a military vet would be able to see the writing on the wall and make better, faster decisions.”

I recommend that you look at the world around you and ask yourself if January 6, 2021 was a day that should have motivated you to act.  If you don’t, you may one day look back on it and think to yourself, “That’s when the first domino fell.  If only I had acted then instead of doing nothing.”

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This Christmas, Give a Gift to Someone You Don’t Know

On Christmas, even more than other days, we are thankful that we have so much when others have so little. Give a gift so someone you don’t know. Support a foodbank or other charity.

It is sad to think that on Christmas Eve that there are people out there without presents to give to their loved ones.  No way to tell someone how special they are other than with a hug and a kiss or a pat on the shoulder.  Just as sad to realize many do not even have enough food to enjoy Christmas dinner with their family.

Thankfully, there are charities that provide gifts for children when their parents cannot.  It is re-affirming when you see the relief a parent feels when they realize they can give their child a gift, thanks to your kindness. It is one less burden then have to face during a tough time of year.

There are also places that serve Christmas dinner and foodbanks that pass along groceries to the needy.  Tens of millions are taking advantage of their services this year, many for the first time.  But the problem goes beyond Christmas and Thanksgiving.  More than 27 million households in the U.S. “sometimes or often” do not have enough food to feed the family. 

Times like this remind us of two things: How lucky we are that we not only have enough food to feed ourselves today but have supplies put aside for months or even years, and how slippery the slope is.  The line between most of us who have enough and those of us who do not is getting thinner and thinner.

If you can afford to do so, join my wife and I in giving to support your local foodbank.  They will always accept food, but they can do even more good with cash.

If you cannot afford to do so, keep reading.

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Prepper Diary December 6: On the Road Again

We zip off to the mountains for one final delivery. Meanwhile the boxes pile up and the food runs low at home.

We are on the road again.  Just a trip up one day and back the next to drop things off at the new place, but there has been some snow up here in the past few days, which made the trip that much more interesting. 

We’ll be back late Sunday and then full move is scheduled later in the week.  We loaded the inside of the rental pickup truck with potted plants and the back of it with the last of the ammo, and boxes of bottles, cans, jars, jugs and other liquids the moving company won’t take.  This includes liquor, cooking oil, food like olives and pasta sauce, cleansers, a few aerosol cans, and a surprising number of bathroom items like shampoo and body lotion.

We also packed a cooler of frozen food to transfer up there.  Then we threw all manner of odds and ends, like brooms, mops, plant stands, and garden tools, on top and covered it with a tarp to keep off any rain or snow.  I’m afraid we looked at bit like the Beverly Hillbillies again.

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Prepper Diary December 3: Trading Convenience for Safety

2021 is less than a month away, yet COVID-19 is rising, lockdowns are looming, the political divide is growing. It might be worse than 2020.

I made a run to the hazardous materials drop off location today and dropped off all sorts of things that have been hanging round in my basement or garage that we did not want to move.  These included: cans of oil-based paint, garden chemicals, used motor oil, aerosol can and spray bottles of household cleansers, fluorescent lightbulbs, and an assortment of other things you don’t want to pour down the drain or dump into the standard waste management system.

The guys working at the center were friendly and helpful and, best of all, it was free.

While I was out, I dropped a table off with someone who wanted it and bought more boxes at a U-Haul store.  I also poured $239 worth of change into the machine at our credit union.  This was the last of our loose change. 

We’ve been doing other moving-related chores like changing our address and canceling our television.  From here on out, we’ll be watching streaming TV only.

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