Chicago-Area Urban Survival/Bug-Out Classes In December

Any Chicago-area readers looking to learn urban survival/bug-out skills in the coming month? Back in the spring I mentioned the C.U.M.A. Survival School in a post about Chicago Reader contributor Connie Vaughn taking such training from the outfit. I blogged:

I’ve come across the C.U.M.A. Survival School website before while researching Chicago-area prepper/survival training, and I’ve made a note to blog about it down the road.

This morning seemed like an appropriate time to talk about the school again as they’re offering survival training in December. From the C.U.M.A. website:

The C.U.M.A. Survival School specializes in no-nonsense training for everyone who is interested in Combatives, Self Defense, Urban Survival or venturing into the great outdoors. It does not matter if you are 45 year old civilian “novice” or a seasoned combat/law enforcement veteran; our goal is to provide quality instruction to anyone who is interested leaning valuable skill sets that can potentially save someone’s life…

The C.U.M.A. Survival School was founded by world re-known martial artist, CQC trainer, Book/DVD author, magazine writer and knife designer “SIJO” Waysun Johnny Tsai…

I e-mailed Waysun Johnny Tsai recently about upcoming survival-related classes they might be offering. From his reply last Thursday:

The Next one day 7 hour C.U.M.A. Urban Survival / BUG OUT classes are on Saturday, Dec 13th, 2014 and Sunday, Dec 20th, 2014.

The hours are 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM on either day.

Subject matter will include:

HOME PREPARATION AND BUGGING IN / SURVIVAL GEAR REVIEW (2 Hour Lecture/Near Schaumburg, ILLINOIS).

THE BUG OUT : Basic Winter Wilderness Survival at the BUSSE WOODS (Near Schaumburg, ILLINOIS / 3 Hours)

C.U.M.A. COMBATIVES: SURVIVING THE FIGHT (2 hours/ NEAR Schaumburg, ILLINOIS)

The cost for one day training is $150 per person …


“CBS CHANNEL 2 News on Urban Disaster Survival & Preparedness With The C.U.M.A. SURVIVAL SCHOOL”
YouTube Video

The class sounds real promising. Expert, hands-on urban survival training is hard to come by around these parts for some strange reason (or maybe not, as faith in the “Nanny State” among local residents remains foolishly strong). Busse Woods is a terrific venue (I used to fish there all the time when I was a kid). And I like that part of the instruction is dedicated to wilderness survival in the winter, which can get incredibly-brutal here in the Midwest.

This “keyboard commando” is certainly interested in enrolling some day.

Interested in the Urban Survival/Bug Out course or C.U.M.A. Survival School in general? You can visit the school’s website here for more information.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Quote For The Week

“We have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.”

-1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation, Abraham Lincoln (16th U.S. President. 1809-1865)

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Sunday, November 23rd, 2014 Quote For The Week, Religion No Comments

Peter Schiff: Gold Will ‘Take A Rocket Ship Back Up’ And Eclipse $5,000

Kitco News anchor Daniela Cambone got the chance to speak to Euro Pacific Capital CEO Peter Schiff on November 18. The “crash prophet” who correctly-predicted the U.S. housing bust and 2008 global economic crisis was at the Grand Cayman Liberty Forum, and here’s what the long-time gold bull had to say about the precious metal. From their exchange:

CAMBONE: So let’s tie this back into gold now. What’s your outlook for the metal? I know you’ve been bullish on the metal. Do you continue to be?
SCHIFF: Yes. I’m bullish. You know, it’s hard to call the short term obviously and people now are trying to say, “Oh Peter, you know, you were saying gold was going to go to $5,000.” It’s going to go to $5,000. And in fact, I looked at some of my CNBC interviews and I was predicting $5,000 when gold was $500. So, it’s not like I just started doing it when it was at $900. Right? I’ve had that target on my mind for some time. And I think we’re going to eclipse it. And I think when this decline is over-and it’s been 2 or 3 years since gold hit its high around $1,900- I think it’s going to rise faster than before. Normally markets go down- they take the stairs up and the elevator down. Well I think that gold is going to take a rocket ship back up, because I think when all the people who have been shorting gold and selling gold realize that they’ve got it wrong, and they want to buy it back- it’s just not there. Because I think the real gold- all the gold that was dumped out of ETFs- I think it’s sitting in vaults in Russia and China, and it’s never going to see the light of day again. So when the buyers want it back, it’s not going to be there…

Schiff proclaimed later:

This is the best fundamental environment I’ve ever seen for gold. And also, I do believe that the dollar’s days as the world’s reserve currency are numbered, and when the dollar is no longer accepted as the reserve currency, what’s going to take its place? It’s not going to be the euro. It’s not going to be the yen. I think it’s going to be gold. I think the world is going to go back to gold…


“Gold Will Take Rocket Ship Back Up – Peter Schiff | Kitco News”
Gold discussion starts at 3:44
YouTube Video

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s notes: Info added to “Crash Prophets” page; I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein.)

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Jeremy Grantham: Fed Will Engineer Another Stock Bubble, Crash

Today I spent my lunch reading the latest quarterly letter from British-born investment strategist Jeremy Grantham. Last time around, the founder and former chairman of Grantham, Mayo, Van Otterloo & Co. (GMO)- which oversees $120 billion in client assets as of September 30- was predicting a bubble in the U.S. stock market. From “Summer Essays”:

My recent forecast of a fully-fledged bubble, our definition of which requires at least 2250 on the S&P, remains in effect.

As the S&P 500 sits at 2,051 as I type this (199 points below that bubble benchmark), Grantham- whose individual clients have included current Secretary of State John Kerry and former Vice President Dick Cheney- still thinks U.S. equities are headed for bubble territory- before crashing. From his aptly-named “Bubble Watch Update”:

I am still a believer that the Fed will engineer a fully-fledged bubble (S&P 500 over 2250) before a very serious decline…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

For those looking to put their money to work, Grantham lamented:

It is a particularly tough process today with nowhere to hide and no very good investments compared to, say, the time around the 2000 bubble when there were several…

Nevertheless, he offered:

An example of a portfolio that might be used in a world that excludes private equity and venture capital, and for a client who can do without a benchmark and can settle for owning a (hopefully) sensible long-term efficient portfolio. Efficient, that is, in terms of trying to minimize risk per unit of estimated returns…

This example portfolio was comprised of Equities (39%), Fixed Income (30%), Cash/Cash Plus (17%), and Alternative Strategies (14%).

Grantham concluded the essay with more talk about that U.S. stock bubble and crash. He penned:

My personal fond hope and expectation is still for a market that runs deep into bubble territory (which starts, as mentioned earlier, at 2250 on the S&P 500 on our data) before crashing as it always does. Hopefully by then, but depending on what the rest of the world’s equities do, our holdings of global equities will be down to 20% or less. Usually the bubble excitement – which seems inevitably to be led by U.S. markets – starts about now, entering the sweet spot of the Presidential Cycle’s year three, but occasionally, as you have probably discovered the hard way already, history can be a snare and not a help.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Jeremy Grantham’s made some great investment calls (hence Cheney and Kerry being clients), so his prediction about U.S. stocks having quite a bit more room to run shouldn’t be so easily dismissed.

You can read the entire quarterly letter (.pdf file) on the GMO website here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s notes: Info added to “Crash Prophets” page; I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein.)

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CHIEF Supply, Pyramid Air 10% Off Sales

Just wanted to let Survival And Prosperity readers know about the following sales going on over at affiliate marketing partners CHIEF Supply (reviewed here) and Pyramid Air (reviewed here). From an e-mail I received from Charlotte, North Carolina-based CHIEF Supply:

Ends Today
10% OFF Select Brands

With promo code OFF10NOW
*Enter promo code in cart. Additional discount codes excluded. Offer expires Thursday, November 20th at 11:59 EST

Looking at the CHIEF website, it looks like those select brands include Blackinton, Damascus, Orion, Shelby, and Smith & Warren.

Click on the banner ad below to check out the one-day event. Please note that by clicking on the ad and purchasing a product, I receive a commission from the sale. And don’t forget to enter that promo code if you buy anything!


Chief Supply Corp.

As for Pyramid Air, the Warrensville Heights, Ohio-based company’s e-mail said:

Sitewide Holidaze
FREE Shipping (on US orders $150+) +10% off (Some items excluded)
AND 2x Bullseye Bucks (Must have a Pyramid Air Account)

Enter code EarlyBF-14 at checkout
Deals expire Nov. 27, 2014 at Midnight EST

What exactly are Bullseye Bucks? From their website:

For each item you purchase, you will receive Bullseye Bucks. Each Bullseye Buck you redeem is equal to one penny (US $0.01). For instance, if you have 1500 Bullseye Bucks that you can redeem, that would be equal to US$15.00 you can subtract from the total of that purchase.

Click on the banner ad below to check out what Pyramid Air is offering. Please note that by clicking on the ad and purchasing a product, I receive a commission from the sale. And don’t forget to enter that promo code if you buy anything!


By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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U.S. To Become Argentina After Financial Crash?

Of all the various threats to America today, there’s one that seems more likely to occur than the others and which I’m most concerned about.

So much so I decided to start blogging about it back on Memorial Day Weekend in 2007 as creator/editor of Boom2Bust.com, “The Most Hated Blog On Wall Street”:

A U.S. financial crash.

And seven years on and trillions of dollars later spent trying to “kick the can down the road,” I feel it’s pretty much inevitable at this point.

Cheery thought, I know. But at least it’s not the end of the world.

Actually, I think we started on that journey even before the 2008 global economic crisis and “Great Recession” reared its ugly head and was eventually “papered-up” by Washington and the Federal Reserve.

So the U.S. economy won’t be doing a high-speed nose-dive into the ground. Rather, it’s embarked on a slow, gradual descent where the end result will be the same- a pile of smoldering wreckage.

If there’s a recent example in the world the United States might end up emulating, I suspect its Argentina, who suffered a financial collapse at the end of 2001 and which still is tormented by their crash.

Enter Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre, who regular readers of this blog might remember me mentioning before. I first brought up FerFAL on Survival And Prosperity within days of launching the blog. I wrote on December 1, 2010:

Last week I mentioned that I follow a couple of blogs on a regular basis. Surviving In Argentina is one of those and is authored by an Argentine named Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre who, like Orlov, has first-hand experience of what a financial collapse looks like. In his blog, Aguirre (who has lived in the U.S.) talks about how he and his young family survived the economic crisis in Argentina and how they’re coping now. It’s a rich source of information for surviving tough times, so much so FerFAL went ahead and wrote The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse in 2009.

Aguirre recently came out with two videos on YouTube.com in which he draws on his experiences in Argentina (he resides in the United Kingdom these days) to share with viewers what life was like after the vibrant Argentine economy collapsed last decade:


“Life after an Economic Collapse: The same… only Worse Part I”
YouTube Video


“Life after an Economic Collapse: The same… only Worse Part II”
YouTube Video

I understand FerFAL plans on releasing a third video to complete the series. In the meantime, I highly-recommend watching the first two to get an idea what life might be like if (when?) the United States suffers a similar fate as that South American country. Pretty sobering stuff if you ask me.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Obama’s Foreign Policy In A Nutshell

I’m going to roll back things a bit today. Last night, I talked about the 1-hour Huckabee TV special “Threats To America” on FOX News. In the segment about China, KT McFarland, the FOX News National Security Analyst and host of FoxNews.com’s DEFCON 3, talked about how the Obama administration perceives our nation’s place on the world stage. McFarland told Huckabee viewers:

This administration came into office not thinking America should be the greatest power in the world. They thought if America gets taken back a peg or two, that’s going to make the world a better place. They don’t think America has necessarily been a force of good in the world. And as a result, they’re very comfortable with seeing the rising China, the rising Middle East, the rising Iran. And why? Because they think if America steps back, then somehow this global community is going to be in charge of things and we’ll all be at peace. When in fact, if it’s not America, then who is it? It’s Chinese rules. It’s Moscow rules. It’s Tehran rules. Or, even worse, it’s complete chaos.


KT McFarland on Obama’s foreign policy (starts at 2:37)
YouTube Video

I consider myself a lifelong student of U.S. foreign policy and international relations. And even have some academic and work experience in these areas as well. Having followed this administration’s dealings with the rest of the world since day one, I’d have to say McFarland- who’s held national security posts in the Nixon, Ford, Reagan administrations- seems pretty much spot-on in her assessment of Obama’s foreign policy.

“Somehow this global community is going to be in charge of things and we’ll all be at peace”

I used to think this might be possible (mostly skeptical however) back when I was a college/graduate student.

Then I wised up after observing how the real world works.

Got realpolitik? Because China, Russia, and Iran sure as hell do.

Remember what one of Barack Obama’s predecessors- John F. Kennedy- warned:

Domestic policy can only defeat us; foreign policy can kill us.

Amen to that. I’m not saying idealism is necessarily a bad thing. Just that U.S. foreign policy makers need to start “keeping it real” again, as other nations will pursue national self-interest over the “global good” when the situation arises, the two cannot be mutually-satisfied, and the perceived benefits outweigh the costs.

When America “gets taken back a peg or two,” in many cases spurning the greater good (and inviting the ire of Uncle Sam/others) doesn’t look nearly as “expensive” as it once did.

And some still wonder why China, Russia, Iran, and others have been so active on the international stage the last couple of years…

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Chicago’s 2015 Budget Includes Tax And Fee Hikes

Gee, who could’ve anticipated new fee and tax hikes look to be in store for Chicago next year?

From Fran Spielman over on the Chicago Sun-Times website this morning:

[Chicago Mayor Rahm] Emanuel will campaign for re-election on a budget that raises $62.4 million through “targeted” tax hikes and closing “loopholes,” which amounts to the same thing.

People who live, work and play in Chicago will be paying more for everything from parking and vehicle leasing to cable television and stadium skyboxes…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

These individuals have been doing that for a number of years now. Hal Dardick pointed out over on the Chicago Tribune site:

As the Chicago City Council prepares to approve his latest budget Wednesday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel repeatedly has reminded voters that he didn’t raise city property taxes during his first four years in office.

But that doesn’t mean homeowners haven’t had to pay. Under Emanuel, vehicle stickers cost more. Cable TV and phone taxes went up. And water and sewer fees increased significantly…

Taken together, Emanuel’s hikes mean the typical Chicago family will pay about $481 more to the city next year than it did in 2011. That’s the equivalent of a typical Chicago homeowner paying 60 percent more in city property taxes, which are nearly $800 a year for city and library services on a $250,000 home…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

“Nearly $800 a year for city and library services on a $250,000 home”

In the Chicago neighborhood I recently moved out of, I’m not sure if any inhabitable houses at that price range with more than 2 bedrooms/1 bath even exists. So I’m guessing a number of my old neighbors- who already shoulder a significant tax burden for the city- will be somewhat pissed to hear of this “good news” coming out of City Hall.

That being said, it’s not exactly Chicago’s “financial reckoning day” we’re talking about here. But it’s probably not what Chicagoans want to deal with as the holiday season kicks-in.

As for the well-publicized pension crisis going on in the “Windy City,” Spielman added:

By December, 2015, the City Council must decide whether to raise property taxes — or find other new revenues — to fund a state-mandated, $550 million payment to shore up police and fire pension funds.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

So a property tax hike might also be coming down the pipeline.

One more thing. Regarding the ongoing manpower shortage in the Chicago Police Department? That doesn’t look like it’s going to be resolved in 2015. From the Sun-Times piece:

Once again, the mayor’s budget includes only enough money to keep pace with retirements. It also includes roughly $70 million in police overtime, down from $100.3 million in 2013 and a projected $95 million this year…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

“Crime is down!” Yeah, whatever.

As always, I’m glad to see Fran Spielman and Hal Dardick are on top of their game.

What does all this mean for Chicago residents/workers/visitors?

It’s probably wise to budget a good deal more money for anything city-related next year. Even more so in 2016 considering what could be in store with the city’s public pension mess and what Cook County is telegraphing these days (blogged about Monday).

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(UPDATE: The Chicago City Council approved Mayor Emanuel’s proposed 2015 city budget Wednesday by a vote of 46-4, and “puts off dealing with the city’s most vexing financial woes until after next year’s elections” according to the Tribune Thursday morning)

Sources:

Spielman, Fran. “Chicago City Council set to pass Emanuel’s $7.3 billion budget.” Chicago Sun-Times. 19 Nov. 2014. (http://politics.suntimes.com/article/chicago/chicago-city-council-set-pass-emanuels-73-billion-budget/wed-11192014-742am). 19 Nov. 2014.

Dardick, Hal. “Higher Emanuel fees and taxes add up.” Chicago Tribune. 19 Nov. 2014. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/politics/ct-emanuel-budget-2015-met-20141118-story.html#page=1). 19 Nov. 2014.

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Huckabee TV Special ‘Threats To America’

Anyone catch the FOX News show Huckabee this past weekend? The one-hour special was entitled “Threats To America,” and the weekly political commentary program that’s hosted by Mike Huckabee pointed out several of them. The former Arkansas governor told viewers Saturday:

Tonight on this Huckabee special- threats to America, and what really ought to scare us. We’re going to be talking with experts around the world to separate the fact from the frivolous. And we’re going to find out if the government is preparing for problems- or if they’re just playing possum. Our purpose is not to present our version of a Freddy Krueger movie. No, it’s to help you understand the real threats that this country faces, and what the country and what you could and should do to be ready.

The experts consulted were:

• Lieutenant General Daniel Bolger, United States Army (Ret.)
• Pete Hegseth- CEO of Concerned Veterans for America
• KT McFarland- FOX News National Security Analyst and host of FoxNews.com’s DEFCON 3
• Gary Berntsen- Former Central Intelligence Agency officer
• Gordon Chang- Lawyer, author, and TV pundit
• Shawn Henry- Retired executive assistant director at the Federal Bureau of Investigation
• Frank Gaffney- Founder and president of the Center for Security Policy

As for those threats to America? They include (in order presented on TV special):

1. Terrorism


YouTube Video

2. China


YouTube Video

3. Cyberattack


YouTube Video

4. Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP)


YouTube Video

5. Misuse Of U.S. Military


YouTube Video

Real interesting stuff- from what I saw. Unfortunately, I can’t find what I believe is the last part of the show anywhere on YouTube.com. Oh well. I think the “meat” of the TV special is above.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Ferguson And Firearms

Outside the “Land of Lincoln” tonight, there’s the following story coming out of the St. Louis, Missouri-area as many await the grand jury decision on the shooting death of Michael Brown in nearby Ferguson. From the CBS St. Louis website:

Talking to “St. Louis Coptalk” forum, a supposed police officer in the Ferguson area issued a warning to others in the community to “protect” their families with firearms…

Vocative reports that under the name “A Concerned Cop,” one commenter shared the following warning:

“If you do not have a gun, get one and get one soon. We will not be able to protect you or your family. It will be your responsibility to protect them. Our gutless commanders and politicians have neutered us. I’m serious, get a gun, get more than one, and keep one with you at all times.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Sounds like sensible advice, all things considered.

Don’t forget training on the firearm(s) too!


“Gunsite: Tactical Shotgun for Self-Defense [Part 1/5]”
YouTube Video

Meanwhile, sales of home defense guns in that part of the country are brisk. Amanda Terkel reported on The Huffington Post website this afternoon:

Local gun stores are seeing this buildup of tension first-hand, with sales of firearms skyrocketing.

Metro Shooting Supplies, which is located near Ferguson, usually sells 30 to 40 firearms per week. But this week, the owner told The Washington Post, the store has sold 250. In other words, there has been about a 700 percent spike in sales.

“These people are afraid,” said owner Steve King. “One hundred percent of them are buying because of Ferguson.”

Defensor Tactical is a firearms shop in St. Louis that does a significant amount of business in body armor and custom rifles. John Heidbrink, an employee at the store, told The Huffington Post that Defensor Tactical has also seen an increase in sales lately.

“We’re a smaller shop in a small section of St. Louis, but we have a constant flow of business,” he said. “Our volume of sales has definitely increased — not to the order of what we saw right after Sandy Hook, but it’s definitely a constant flow. Lot of interest.”

“Two or three of my personal friends who have been agnostic on guns and have had no real interest in buying one have suddenly asked me [about them],” he added. “So we’re seeing a lot of first-time buyers and people that just continue to collect and get more.”

“Two or three of my personal friends who have been agnostic on guns and have had no real interest in buying one have suddenly asked me [about them]”

I can’t begin to count how many times I’ve heard/read something similar since I started researching personal safety matters several years ago.

More on Ferguson later…

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

“Report: Alleged Officer Warns Ferguson ‘If You Do Not Have a Gun, Get One’” CBS St. Louis. 18 Nov. 2014. (http://stlouis.cbslocal.com/2014/11/18/report-alleged-cop-warns-ferguson-if-you-do-not-have-a-gun-get-one/). 18 Nov. 2014.

Terkel, Amanda. “Ferguson Area Gun Store Sees 700 Percent Spike In Sales Ahead Of Jury Verdict.” Huffington Post. 18 Nov. 2014. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/18/ferguson-gun-sales_n_6179254.html). 18 Nov. 2014.

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Fixed? Illinois Public Pension Gap Surpasses $111 Billion

“The Illinois General Assembly barely passed legislation yesterday that’s been touted to ‘fix’ the state’s $100 billion public pension crisis.

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, who has promised to sign SB0001, declared in a press release Tuesday:

Since I took the oath of office, I’ve pushed relentlessly for a comprehensive pension reform solution that would erase a $100 billion liability and restore fiscal stability to Illinois.

Today, we have won. The people of Illinois have won.

Not so fast, big guy…”

-Survival And Prosperity, December 4, 2013, post

I remember when Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed off on Illinois Senate Bill 1 (or 0001, take your pick) on December 5 of last year, talk about the State’s monstrous public pension funding gap practically disappeared overnight. But yesterday, Benjamin VanMetre of the Illinois Policy Institute- “an independent research and education organization generating public policy solutions aimed at promoting personal freedom and prosperity in Illinois”- dredged up that nightmare for Illinoisans over at their website. That “$100 billion liability” that was supposed to be “erased.” It’s now more than $111 billion. VanMetre wrote:

Illinois’ unfunded pension liability grew to more than $111 billion this year, according to official estimates. That’s a $48 billion increase just since 2009.

That $111 billion pension shortfall means the state now has only 39 cents of every dollar it should have in the bank today to pay for future benefits. In the private sector, these funds would be deemed bankrupt…

Illinois Senate Bill 1, which was touted to reduce the State’s annual pension payment by more than $1 billion, is currently facing a legal challenge. VanMetre added:

But as we wait for a decision, Illinois’ pension debt continues to grow. The state’s pension payment for the current budget year totals $6.9 billion, and without reform, that pension payment will balloon to $7.6 billion for the 2016 budget year; an increase of $681 million…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

So what’s the likelihood of the courts shooting down this new public pension law? As I wrote in that December 4, 2013, post:

This legislation is almost certainly headed to court, as in the Illinois Supreme Court. As I noted on December 1, a provision of the 1970 Illinois Constitution defines public pension benefits as “an enforceable contractual relationship” that “shall not be diminished or impaired.”

And even if it passes constitutional muster, consider what I also added in that post:

As I blogged yesterday, the Wall Street Journal recently picked apart the legislative “fix,” and concluded not only was it “fake” but:

Even under the most optimistic forecasts, these nips and tucks would only slim the state’s pension liability down to $80 billion- which is where it was after Governor Quinn signed de minimis fixes in spring 2010 to get him past that year’s election…

“$80 billion.”

Stay tuned…

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

VanMetre, Benjamin. “Illinois’ Pension Debt Balloons To $111 Billion.” Illinois Policy Institute. 17 Nov. 2014. (http://www.illinoispolicy.org/illinois-pension-debt-still-ballooning/). 18 Nov. 2014.

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Brutal Chicagoland Winter Coming?

Brrr! It’s pretty chilly out here in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. But I understand Chicagoland residents are just getting a taste of the coming winter, as temperatures are expected to climb back to around 50°F by Sunday. I don’t know about you, but I still have a lot of chores to take care of around (outside) the house, so I’ll take any “warm” day I can get to knock those out.

A number of Chicago-area readers might be wondering- is this winter going to be as brutal as the last one? Especially as it concerns the pocketbook? Here’s something I caught in my Sunday paper the other day. From Julie Wernau for the Chicago Tribune:

The good news is that this season’s residential winter heating bills in Chicago, from November through March, are expected to fall more than $150 from last year.

A milder winter this year is expected to reduce consumption and cut heating costs even as gas prices in the Midwest tick upward.

“It’s going to be colder than average but not as persistently cold,” said Jeff Johnson, chief science officer for Schneider Electric Weather, which provides weather forecasting for utilities. “There will be intense cold shots, but we’re also looking at milder interludes in between.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Wernau added that Peoples Gas is forecasting the average bill for customers this coming winter will be $912.66- down $176.84 from last winter. Nicor is expecting their average bill will drop around $125.

On the flipside, I had heard in the last couple of weeks that the winter of 2014-15 was going to be a nasty one again. That term “polar vortex” was being kicked around a lot. The boat hauler my family uses in southeast Wisconsin even warned me there would be no shortage of cold and snow in the coming months.

I really hope Schneider Electric Weather and the local gas companies are correct with their winter predictions, because I just heard my neighbor shoveling snow a few minutes ago. Time to bust out my work clothes and see what’s up…

Typical Winter Attire In Madiganistan

Typical Winter Attire In Madiganistan

ANY CHARACTER HERE

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Wernau, Julie. “Winter heating bills could drop by about $150.” Chicago Tribune. 14 Nov. 2014. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-winter-heating-bills-1116-biz-20141107-story.html#page=1). 18 Nov. 2014.

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Tuesday, November 18th, 2014 Energy, Preparedness, Utilities, Weather No Comments

Global Economy Flashes Warning Signals

I’m picking up on a growing number of “bad vibes” about the global economy these days.

First, Rich Miller reported on the Bloomberg website Thursday about the findings of the latest Bloomberg Global Poll of international investors:

The world economy is in its worst shape in two years, with the euro area and emerging markets deteriorating and the danger of deflation rising, according to a Bloomberg Global Poll of international investors.

A plurality of 38 percent of those surveyed this week described the global economy as worsening, more than double the number who said that in the last poll in July and the most since September 2012, when Europe was mired in a recession.

Much of the concern is again focused on the euro area: Almost two-thirds of those polled said its economy was weakening…

Europe isn’t the only source of concern in the global economy, according to the quarterly poll of 510 investors, traders and analysts who are Bloomberg subscribers. More than half of those contacted said conditions in the BRIC economies — Brazil, Russia, India and China — are getting worse, compared with 36 percent who said so in July.

(Editor: Bold added for emphasis)

Granted, it’s just a poll. But there’s also this from British Prime Minister David Cameron in a piece he penned that was published on The Guardian (UK) website Sunday:

Six years on from the financial crash that brought the world to its knees, red warning lights are once again flashing on the dashboard of the global economy.

As I met world leaders at the G20 in Brisbane, the problems were plain to see. The eurozone is teetering on the brink of a possible third recession, with high unemployment, falling growth and the real risk of falling prices too. Emerging markets, which were the driver of growth in the early stages of the recovery, are now slowing down. Despite the progress in Bali, global trade talks have stalled while the epidemic of Ebola, conflict in the Middle East and Russia’s illegal actions in Ukraine are all adding a dangerous backdrop of instability and uncertainty…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Cameron added the following, which I thought was pretty funny (disturbing?):

When we faced similar problems in recent years, too many politicians offered easy answers, thinking we could spend, borrow and tax our way to prosperity. Those were the wrong answers then; they are the wrong answers now. We are not going to repeat the mistakes of the past…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Sound like any country you know?

Finally, exacerbating fears about global economic health was the following “shock” announcement. Mitsuru Obe and Eleanor Warnock reported on The Wall Street Journal website this morning:

Japan Falls Into Recession

Japan’s economy shrank for a second quarter in a row, after a sales-tax increase took the steam out of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ’s bid to turn Japan into a global model of revival.

Mr. Abe, who has sought to revive the world’s third-largest economy after two mostly sluggish decades, is set to announce this week that he will delay plans to raise the nation’s sales tax next year and call elections in December…

“Two mostly sluggish decades”

Some really bright financial-types suspect Japan’s so-called “zombie economy” is what’s ultimately in store for America. While I have no doubt about a coming U.S. economic crash, I remain somewhat more optimistic for the country’s prospects upon emerging from the coming carnage.

Stay tuned…

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

Cameron, David. “David Cameron: Red lights are flashing on the global economy.” The Guardian. 16 Nov. 2014. (http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/nov/16/red-lights-global-economy-david-cameron). 17 Nov. 2014.

Miller, Rich. “World Economy Worst in Two Years, Europe Darkening, Deflation Lurking: Global Investor Poll.” Bloomberg.com. 13 Nov. 2014. (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-11-13/world-outlook-darkening-as-89-in-poll-see-europe-deflation-risk.html). 17 Nov. 2014.

Obe, Mitsuru and Warnock, Eleanor. “Japan Falls Into Recession.” The Wall Street Journal. 17 Nov. 2014. (http://online.wsj.com/articles/japan-falls-into-recession-1416182404). 17 Nov. 2014.

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2015 Cook County Budget Holds Line On Taxes, Fines, And Fees- For Now

Cook County residents dodged a bullet this time around.

John Byrne and Hal Dardick reported on the Chicago Tribune website Friday:

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle on Friday won easy approval for her $4 billion 2015 budget proposal that includes no new taxes, fines or fees

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

For now. Byrne and Dardick added:

Preckwinkle earlier this year warned that the 2016 budget will be far more difficult to balance because debt payments will grow and the county will need to pay $144 million more into the county workers’ retirement system if she secures the pension fund changes she seeks from the General Assembly…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Regular readers of Survival And Prosperity know I suspect those “new taxes, fines, or fees” are coming soon. I wrote back on May 22:

Last week, I blogged about the possibility of property and/or sales taxes going up soon in Cook County, Illinois. Dave McKinney and Brian Slodysko reported on the Chicago Sun-Times website on May 13 the hikes might occur as part of a pension “reform” bill.

Hal Dardick and Monique Garcia added on the Chicago Tribune website tonight:

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle hit Springfield Thursday to try to build support for changes to the county pension plan that she says would halt its ongoing decline toward insolvency.

She met with Senate President John Cullerton House Speaker Michael Madigan, both Chicago Democrats, and also Republican legislative leaders. “I think she’s got a good chance to pass this bill,” Madigan said afterward…

Although Preckwinkle has not identified how she would pay for her plan, it calls for the county to put $144 million a year into the pension fund. If funded with property taxes, that would cost the average homeowner up to $65 more a year, starting in 2017, according to one internal county document the Tribune obtained.

Preckwinkle, however, said Wednesday that she has closed even larger budget gaps through cuts and other, smaller scale tax and fee increases without raising property taxes — while also lowering the county sales tax by a half-cent on the dollar…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Yet, McKinney and Slodysko wrote last week:

County officials do not believe they can cut enough from the budget to cover the cost, the source said…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Only a matter of time now before those hikes kick in. As I also noted in that May post:

What’s that line I keep repeating on this blog?

Higher fees, fines, and taxes. Less government services.

As much as I hate saying it, that’s what Chicago and Cook County residents should be preparing themselves for down the road.

I’d say that probably applies to all Americans, come to think of it.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Byrne, John and Dardick, Hal. “Preckwinkle wins easy approval of $4 billion budget.” Chicago Tribune. 14 Nov. 2014. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-cook-county-budget-met-1115-20141114-story.html). 17 Nov. 2014.

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Quote For The Week

“Have you met Joe Biden?”

-U.S. Representative Trey Gowdy (R-SC 4th District), on impeaching President Obama for issuing an Executive Order granting amnesty to illegal immigrants in the United States

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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