Friday, December 30, 2011

Settled in

I have moved since my last post. I am now several states and over 1,000 miles away, living the retired life. I begin school in two weeks, and I am ready to begin my new life. Two years of school, and I can begin my next career. It will pay more than the $19 an hour I made as a firefighter, I promise you that.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Chickens roosting

A have a point to make, but first some history:
In 1951, the democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran, Dr. Mohammad Mosaddegh, grew tired of the British Empire's monopoly on Iranian oil reserves, and nationalized the oil industry. The Brits needed that oil, so Churchill got Eisenhower to overthrow the Iranian government during Operation Ajax in 1953. This placed Shah Pahlavi in charge as an authoritarian dictator. That's right- the US made the world safe for democracy by overthrowing a democratically elected government and turning it into a dictatorship. Iran was supplied with military weapons by the United States until 1979.

In 1979, the Islamic revolution overthrew the dictatorship and placed Ayatollah Khomeni in charge. In the process, the Iranians raided the US embassy and took the occupants hostage. The American people were outraged. Also that same year, the United States began training and equipping a force to overthrow the Russians in Pakistan and Afghanistan. That force was led by a man named Osama bin Laden.

Iran became a thorn in America's side, and needed to be reined in. A perfect ally was found in Saddam Hussein, the leader of Iraq. The CIA supplied him with weapons and other aid, so that he could fight Iran. Reagan removed Iraq from the list of terrorist nations, and began selling arms to them. A list of the supplied aid:
Helicopters, intelligence, war planning, machine tools, computers, instruments, and other goods to support missile and WMD development, howitzers, bombs, and other military hardware, along with billions of dollars in foreign aid. This aid continued until 1990.

In 1990, the US sent troops to Saudi Arabia to counter the ambitions of Saddam Hussein. This infuriated bin Laden that foreign troops would be in his country, and he turned his attention to the west.

Terror attacks increased, culminating with the attack on the World Trade Center in 2001. Our non-stop meddling in the affairs of the middle east led us to this point.

In a way, Reverend Wright had it correct, America's chickens had come home to roost. Ron Paul also has it correct: it is time that we as a nation stop interfering with other nations. This mantra that we have in this nation of never ending war has got to stop.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Why use banks?

I was reading this article about a young man who had a savings account with less than $5 in it who racked up over $200 in banking fees. With a balance of $4.95, he was charged a $9.95 account maintenance fee, and this caused the account to overdraft, thus triggering a $28 per day overdraft fee. By the time he was notified by mail of the problem a week later, he had racked up $229 in fees.

This got me to looking at my own account. Banks used to be an excellent way to protect your money. You placed your money there for safekeeping, and the bank paid you a small amount of interest for the privilege of being able to lend your money to others. Checking accounts, not being available for lending, typically charged a small fee for the convenience of keeping your spending money safe.

Not any longer. At prevailing interest rates, you are only earning about $1.50 a month on a $10,000 savings account. So at the end of a year, you have exposed your ten grand to the risk of being stolen by the government via inflation, and by the very company that you have entrusted your hard earned money with through the use of fees and charges, all for the token sum of $18.  An account of $10,000 earns $18 in interest in a year, but loses hundreds of dollars in value from inflation.

What I have done instead is to leave operating funds in my checking account, which being direct deposited at a credit union, lets me avoid banking fees. I keep one month's expenses in a savings account at the same credit union, which gives me a measure of insurance against overdrafts and small to medium unexpected expenses on short notice, and I invest the rest.

Now remember that gold typically holds it value against inflation. That is, an amount of gold will hold its value when measured against inflation, with the exception of small, short term variation and broker fees. It is those fees and variations that must be accounted for. For example, I bought gold when it was $1370 per ounce in September of 2010. There is a small premium for my preferred form of gold, and along with broker's fees, I paid $5400 for 4 ounces of gold.At today's price, I could sell that 4 ounces for roughly $8900- a profit of $3400, which is an annual return of nearly 200%.

Now today is a down fluctuation time- time to buy more. Gold has fallen almost $150 per ounce in the last 30 days. That is not a bad thing. As I write this, gold is down to $1580 an ounce, as the dollar increases in strength due to the impending collapse of the European Union. This means that we can buy gold at rock bottom prices. I am thinking of grabbing a few ounces this week or next, and catching it near the bottom.

Once the United States crashes in similar fashion (which is inevitable, considering the way we are emulating the out of control spending of Europe) people left with dollar denominated assets (stocks, bonds, savings accounts) will find their savings evaporated by inflation, while those holding assets like metals, oil, and durables will find that they have held their value.

The big downside here is physical security. I have a large, heavy safe, a cell phone connected burglar alarm, motion activated security lights, and numerous other security measures. Add to that the fact that there is an armed guard residing on the premises (me), and this is a pretty secure facility.

Use banks for short term liquidity, hold hard assets for long term savings. So here is my advice:
1 Get rid of all of your debt.
2 Establish a short term emergency fund of 1-2 month's expenses (not income).
3 Have at least one month's worth of food and needed supplies in the house.
4.Go easy on the luxuries like dining out, video games, expensive electronics, etc.
5.Save money in hard assets. (Things that hold their value that you can readily sell or trade for things you need)
6.Pay for a place to live in full. If you are making payments, you don't own the house, the bank does.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


I own about two dozen handguns, give or take a couple. While this is a sufficient number of handguns to give members of the antigun coalitions a heart attack, and have the press talk about my "arsenal," there are many avid gunners out there that own far more than I. As a concealed weapons permit holder, I find myself carrying a handgun about 80% of the time when I am out of the house. Now many people will say that this is a large number of guns, perhaps even too many, and to them I say: Each one of my handguns fulfills a unique purpose, and was a needed addition to my collection. Each handgun brings to the table some advantages and some disadvantages. Some examples:

Smith and Wesson J Frame: I own a Model 642, a hammerless .38 Special that I find myself carrying a plurality of the time, as it is easily concealable and very lightweight (16.5 ounces loaded). In Florida, it is frequently difficult to find a comfortable cover garment, and I have found that sliding the J frame into a pocket holster in the right front pocket of my trousers or into a Galco Ankle Glove is a very convenient. I even carry this revolver in a belly band while jogging. The fact that it is a revolver simplifies the operation of the pistol and makes correcting a malfunction as easy as pulling the trigger again. The disadvantages to this revolver are: It only holds 5 rounds, reloads take a considerable amount of time, and the sights on this pistol leave a lot to be desired. Accuracy beyond 12 yards is poor under any kind of realistic defensive shooting conditions.

Kimber Ultra TLE II: This Commander sized 1911 in Stainless steel, with night sights and Crimson Trace Laser Grips is the pistol that I find myself carrying most often when cover garments allow. Loaded with Gold Dot 230 grain +P hollow points, I get over 400 foot pounds of .45 defensive power. I carry this pistol in a Brommeland Max-Con V inside my waistband on my right hip, and a single 7 round spare magazine on my left hip. Other times, I opt for a Saddle holster from Andrews Leather. I like the combination of thin profile, accuracy, smooth trigger, and easy concealability that this pistol offers. The disadvantages are that the pistol has a lot of sharp spots on it that seem to either dig in to sensitive skin, or wear holes in my clothes.

I also frequently carry one of the two Sig Sauer P229s that I own. Of the pair, I carry the .357 Sig the most, but I also carry the 9mm frequently. The chief advantage of these pistols is the 13 rounds of .357 or the 14 rounds of 9mm that this pistol can hold. Both pistols have night sights and Crimson Trace Laser Grips. I usually carry this model in an Andrews Leather McDaniel II inside the pants holster, a Saddle style holster, or a belt slide holster.  The chief disadvantage is that the pistol is thick enough that concealing becomes an issue, especially since the grip laser tends to cause my shirt to ride up.

Another pistol is my Sig Sauer Mosquito. I bought this because I needed a .22LR with which to practice, as the ammunition is pretty cheap, but I have found several advantages to this particular pistol that I hadn't considered before owning one. First, it is great for new shooters, especially women. The noise and recoil are not nearly as intimidating, and the women LIKE shooting it, an important factor when trying to convince new shooters that guns are not as scary as they thought. This particular pistol has convinced at least three formerly anti-gun leaning people to not be afraid of guns, and one of them actually now carries a pistol as a CCW holder. Additionally, some cheaper brands of .22 ammo cause a lot of malfunctions, which is good for sharpening my own skill at rapid malfunction clearing drills.

In short, every gun I have serves a unique purpose, and have never been used to kill anyone, despite what the anti-gun crowd claims.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Spend it like it isn't yours

As of November 30th, the National Debt stands at a whopping $15.1 trillion. It took the Obama administration less than three years to borrow $4.5 trillion, what it took the Bush administration 7 1/2 years to borrow. In nearly every measurable way, the Obama administration has been even worse for the country that Bush was. Why isn't the press reporting on this?