Health

City Of Chicago’s Total Unfunded Liabilities Grew To Nearly $24 Billion In 2015

It’s been a while since I last blogged about the Illinois Policy Institute, a Chicago-based non-partisan research organization “generating public policy solutions aimed at promoting personal freedom and prosperity in Illinois.” Yet earlier this week, Ted Dabrowski and John Klingner published a sobering piece on the Institute’s website about Chicago’s mounting financial woes that just needs to be disseminated. From their article:

Chicago property owners concerned about their future property-tax bills have had plenty to worry about over the past year- but a new report on the city’s crumbling finances has all but ensured that property-tax hikes will continue to be a painful reality for local homeowners.

The city already passed a $700 million hike in October 2015 to help plug the hole in police and firefighter pensions, and the city is expected to raise property taxes by another $250 million to fund ailing Chicago Public Schools, or CPS, pensions. And with billions more in other health care and pension shortfalls still unfunded, more hikes are on the way.

But the newest debt numbers in the city’s 2015 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, or CAFR, show that without massive pension reforms, the city’s tax hikes are just beginning. The report found that the total city debt Chicagoans are on the hook for has more than tripled since 2014.

Chicago’s total unfunded liabilities have jumped by over $17 billion, growing to nearly $24 billion in 2015 from $6.5 billion in 2014. The increase is mostly due to new accounting standards and the fact that in March the Illinois Supreme Court struck down the city’s recent attempt to reform its broken municipal-workers and laborers pension funds.

Add to that their share of sister-government and Cook County pension and health care costs and long-term debt, and Chicagoans are on the hook for over $65 billion

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Disturbing stuff. But that’s reality for you.

You know, last week I read an “interesting” anonymous comment on the popular Chicago police blog Second City Cop. From the July 7 post entitled “And There it is….”:

Millennials as they are called are falling over themselves to move here. Look at Ukrainian village, Buck town south loop West loop, Lincoln Park. The city is becoming gentrified. Major companies are moving their headquarters here. City is on the upswing like it or not.

“City is on the upswing like it or not.”

Never mind its financial cancer that’s bound to metastasize in due time…

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

Sources:

Dabrowski, Ted and Klingner, John. “Chicago’s Total Debt More Than Triples To Over $24B In 2015.” Illinois Policy Institute. 11 July 2016. (https://www.illinoispolicy.org/chicagos-total-debt-more-than-triples-to-over-24b-in-2015/). 14 July 2016.

SCC. “And There it is…” Second City Cop. 7 July 2016. (https://www.illinoispolicy.org/chicagos-total-debt-more-than-triples-to-over-24b-in-2015/). 14 July 2016.

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Quote For The Week

“Somebody says they’re going to make America great again. They need to talk to people for whom it wasn’t so great. And then we need to recognize that white, non-college-educated Americans have seen great drops in their income, have seen great increases in their unemployment rate, have seen drops in their life expectancy. And they need to be brought along to the future. But they can’t live under the illusion that you can reclaim a past which is just that- past. This country is always about the future…”

-Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, speaking at Union County College (Cranford, New Jersey) on June 1

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

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Peter Schiff: Obama, Federal Reserve, Government Have Failed As ‘This Economy Is A Disaster’

Economist, financial broker/dealer, and author Peter Schiff appeared on the Alex Jones Show last Friday. Schiff, who correctly-called last decade’s housing crash and recent global economic crisis, discussed a number of subjects with Jones, including Puerto’s Rico’s recent default/economic crisis and “modest” U.S. inflation numbers. The “crash prophet” said of the U.S. territory:

It’s never a problem until it is. So Puerto Rico is broke, but now it’s a problem because the creditors figured out that they’re broke. Well America is more broke than Puerto Rico. That’s a fact. It’s just that our creditors haven’t figured it out yet. But when they do, then Donald Trump is going to end up being right, because all we can do is default. And if we don’t default, if we print money- which now Trump is saying, “Oh, we don’t have to default because we can print.” Well printing is worse than default, because printing doesn’t just wipe out the bondholders, it wipes out anybody who hold U.S. dollars.

When asked by Alex Jones where all the inflation is being hidden, the CEO of Euro Pacific Capital pointed out:

It’s actually hiding in plain sight because, because first of all, the inflation is all the money printing. That’s the definition. The consequence of inflation is that prices go up. But look, stock prices went way up. Real estate prices went back up. Rare art went back up. Collectible cars went back up. I mean, asset prices have gone up like crazy- that is inflation. And, of course, anybody who lives in America knows that the prices are going up. Look, rents are up about 8 percent year-over-year. Look how much health care costs have gone up. Utilities are going up. Look at the price of food. Have you bought a steak recently at a supermarket? Prices are going up. It’s just that the government is not doing an accurate job of reporting, and that is by design…. The standard of living is going down. Americans are working two or three jobs a piece. And they can barely make ends meet. You know, this economy is a disaster. And everyone wants to pretend that it’s great, because no one wants to admit that Obama is a complete failure, that the Federal Reserve was a complete failure, that everything that government has done has failed.


“Venezuela Is America’s Socialist Future”
YouTube Video

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

(Editor’s note: A qualified professional should be consulted prior to making a financial decision based on material found in this weblog. If this recommended course of action is not pursued, then it must be understood that the decision is the reader’s and the reader’s alone. The creator/Editor of this blog is 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 contained herein.)

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Project Prepper, Part 45: Top 3 Threat Priorities

“As a result of my research and this blog, I’m now aware of the myriad of man-made and naturally-occurring threats to my life and lifestyle (and those of my loved ones), and think it’s probably wise to acquaint myself more with ‘prepping’ via a sustained ‘hands-on’ program of learning and doing, which I’ll call ‘Project Prepper.’

Through a series of posts on this blog which I suspect should last for quite some time (years?), I’ll be able to share my preparedness experiences with you…”

Survival And Prosperity, “Project Prepper, Part 1: It Begins,” October 24, 2012

This week’s “Project Prepper” post is going to be a little different. While I’m currently working on a number of projects related to fulfilling seven “innate survival needs” (hat tip Jack Spirko @ The Survival Podcast):

1. Physical Security
2. Financial Security
3. Water
4. Food
5. Sanitation and Health
6. Energy
7. Shelter

Today I’m going to talk about threat priorities. As a forty-something homeowner residing with my girlfriend in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois, in 2016, “I’m now aware of the myriad of man-made and naturally-occurring threats to my life and lifestyle (and those of my loved ones).” Regular readers of Survival And Prosperity know I blog about them frequently. But from my vantage point, here are the “top 3” I’m mostly concerned about:

1. Severe Weather
2. Financial Crisis
3. Terrorism

Concerning severe weather, here in the Chicagoland area residents have to contend with spring and summer storms that can consist of high winds, torrential rain, flooding, and tornadoes. Winter can bring along with it ice storms (not too often), significant snowfall/blizzards, and brutally-cold temperatures. Consequently, structural damage, utility outages, hazardous travel conditions, and other threats to life and property accompany such events.

Case in point, prior to my girlfriend and I moving into our house in 2013, a large part of the Chicago metro area suffered significant damage from a “derecho” (widespread, long-lived wind storm) event that left many area homeowners without electricity for several days. A real nuisance for most of those affected, but potentially deadly to those with serious health issues- like my elderly father. And in case readers think I’m talking about those far-off “suburbs” of Chicago here (I remember one real estate agent referring to Rochelle- approximately 80 miles west of Chicago- as a “western suburb” during the housing boom last decade), these extended outages were taking place in near “North Shore” enclaves. I remember watching one furious Northbrook homeowner being interviewed on the local televised news, saying how he had been without power for a number of days and couldn’t understand why it hadn’t been restored yet considering the high taxes he paid to live in such a nice area. Anyway, severe weather tops the list for me. Not as “sexy”- as some would say- as preparing for the “Zombie apocalypse,” but oh well.

Financial crisis. Regular readers of Survival And Prosperity and its predecessor know I’ve been on the lookout for coming “tough times” for some years now. From this blog’s “About” page:

Back in 2004 when SP’s creator/editor Christopher Hill was surveying the economic and investment landscape in support of his own investing activities, he concluded from his own research that the United States was heading towards a financial crash. Deciding that this was something other Americans might want to know about, Mr. Hill launched the independent financial blog Boom2Bust.com, “The Most Hated Blog on Wall Street,” on Memorial Day Weekend 2007 with the purpose of warning and educating others about the approaching U.S. economic crash. He has been credited with calling last decade’s housing bubble and subsequent bust, the 2008 global economic crisis, and the “Great Recession” as a result of his work on this project. Chris wrote over 1,500 posts on Boom2Bust.com during its nearly three-year run, with many of these picked up and republished on the web sites of The Wall Street Journal, Fox Business, Fox News, Reuters, USA Today, the Chicago Sun-Times group, the Austin-American Statesman, the Palm Beach Post, and the West Orlando News, among other media outlets. Chris was also interviewed for a May 2009 MSNBC.com article as a result of his work with the blog.

Since Memorial Day Weekend 2007, I’ve stood by and watched as the bursting of the U.S. housing bubble and subprime mortgage crisis was quickly followed by carnage on Wall Street in the autumn of 2008 and a “Great Recession.” I also observed how the Washington politicians and the Fed responded by “papering up” the mess with massive government and central bank intervention. But as everyone knows, you can only “kick the can down the road” so far. And my concern is that the road is rapidly coming to an end. Visit this blog often enough and you might get that sense as well.

Consequently, I’ve come to believe that the U.S. financial crash I still see headed our way won’t be like an airplane that suffers a sudden, catastrophic failure and plummets back to Earth like a rock. Rather, taking into account the abilities of the federal government and central bank to keep the aircraft aloft for quite some time, the crash may be more akin to a slow- yet-unavoidable descent into the ground. At which point, Americans might be left pondering what had happened to them, just like Argentines did after their economy crapped out in the early 2000s after prosperous times.

Making matters worse is the fact that I still reside in Cook County and Illinois, whose financial troubles are well-publicized. While I’ve left Chicago, I still haven’t made Wisconsin my permanent home address.

When the “balloon goes up” locally and nationally, I suspect everyday living is going to get particularly gritty around these parts.

As terrorism is concerned, post-9/11 I found myself working in the public safety field. As part of my duties at a local fire department, I catalogued potential terrorist targets in the area in the hunt for money to upgrade the agency’s response capabilities. It was my belief that the threat was real then, and it remains so today. Even more so in 2016, as U.S. border security is quite suspect at a time when those who would wish to harm the “homeland” continually make their operational capabilities and future desires for wreaking death and destruction known.


“Border Patrol Admits US Citizenship Doesn’t Matter”
YouTube Video

Like I’ve repeatedly said before on this blog, I believe it’s only a matter of time before the United States suffers terror attacks possibly resembling what occurred in Beslan (Russia) in 2004, Mumbai (India) in 2008, and more recently in Paris and Brussels. And a terrorist strike rivaling or even surpassing the carnage of September 11, 2011, is not out of the question as far as I’m concerned. New jihadists continue to replace their fallen predecessors in this “War on Terror,” and the religious duty of killing “infidels” remains the same. On May 6, 2011, I wrote:

In 2005, Dr. Paul L. Williams, a journalist and author, published the book The Al-Qaeda Connection, in which he discussed plans for a future nuclear terrorist strike, dubbed “American Hiroshima.” He wrote:

Bin Laden asserts that he must kill four million Americans- two million of whom must be children- in order to achieve parity for a litany of “wrongs” committed against the Muslim people by the United States of America. The “wrongs” include the establishment and occupation of military bases between the holy cities of Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia, the support of Israel and the suppression of the Palestinian people, the Persian Gulf War and the subsequent economic sanctions, and the invasions of Somalia, Afghanistan, and Iraq…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

These days, the Islamic State has stolen the headlines from Al-Qaeda and other Muslim extremists. But such religious fanaticism as a whole remains a top concern for me.

Severe weather, financial crisis, and terrorism are natural and man-made threats that register the most on my radar. But this doesn’t mean I discount other potential dangers to life and property either (pandemic, severe space weather, and war would probably be the next three on the list). As such, an “all-hazards” approach is emphasized in my “Project Prepper” activities.

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

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Resource Of The Week: SurvivalBlog.com’s Quick-Start Guide For Preparedness Newbies

Even before I started Survival And Prosperity back in November 2010, I’d been dropping by SurvivalBlog.com, “The Daily Web Log for Prepared Individuals Living in Uncertain Times,” on a regular basis. James Wesley, Rawles (“JWR”) is behind that blog, which launched in 2005. The former U.S. Army intelligence officer-turned-survival author, blogger, and retreat consultant has managed to turn the project into the “Internet’s most popular daily blog on survival and preparedness topics.” And his books are pretty good too.

A couple of weeks ago while surfing SurvivalBlog.com I came across a link to a guide for new preppers on the site. From the section entitled “SurvivalBlog’s Quick-Start Guide for Preparedness Newbies”:

I often get e-mails from folks that have just found SurvivalBlog or that have just finished a copy of my novel “Patriots”, that they received as a gift from a relative or a friend. Their response is surprisingly uniform: People feel overwhelmed by the enormity of what it takes to get a family prepared.

First, take a deep breath and relax. Just realizing that you need to get prepared has already put you ahead of 70% of your neighbors, who are sadly little more than clueless sheeple. If you accumulate a one-month food supply then elevates your preparedness into the 80th percentile of preparedness. And by the time you work your way up to a one year supply, you’ll be in the 98th percentile. It’s not very difficult, it’s not very expensive, and it’s not very time-consuming. Just do it one step at a time…

The “Quick-Start Guide” focuses heavily on tackling a “List of Lists,” which includes:

• Water List
• Food Storage List
• Food Preparation List
• First Aid /Minor Surgery List
• Chem/Nuke Defense List
• Biological Warfare Defense List
• Gardening List
• Hygiene/Sanitation List
• Hunting/Fishing/Trapping List
• Power/Lighting/Batteries List
• Fuels List
• Firefighting List
• Tactical Living List
• Security-Firearms List
• Communications/Monitoring List
• Tools List
• Book/Reference List
• Barter and Charity List

It’s impressive for a “quick-start” guide, chock-full of useful preparedness/survival information. If I thought TEOTWAWKI was fast approaching and hadn’t done much to prepare for it, I would likely turn to this resource to rapidly get me going in the right direction.

Check out “SurvivalBlog’s Quick-Start Guide for Preparedness Newbies” for yourself here.

(Editor’s note: Link added to “Resources” page)

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

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In Print: Blockade- The Diary Of An Austrian Middle-Class Woman 1914-1924

Slowly but surely, I’ve been bringing back those different series of posts I started running in November 2010. It’s been a while since I published an “In Print” piece (December 2014), but truth be told, I’ve hardly had time to read any books (to completion) for quite some time. Seriously. That’s changing, and a number of titles I have in my possession will be presented and discussed in future “In Print” posts. Some real good material there too.

This week’s “In Print” selection is entitled Blockade- The Diary of an Austrian Middle-Class Woman 1914-1924, which was written in 1932 by Anna Eisenmenger. I’m not sure exactly how I heard about the “diary,” but I’m glad I did- as were others. You see, I had just finished reading it when I posted the following comment on the blog area of the SHTF School website (produced in conjunction with well-known Balkan region war survivor/prepper/survivalist “Selco” and “dedicated to urban survival and preparedness”):

“Suggest someone who is dear to you to read real life experiences.” Selco, I recently read a book (diary actually) from around your part of the world that I found relevant and intriguing- Anna Eisenmenger’s 94-page “Blockade – The Diary of an Austrian Middle-Class Woman 1914-1924,” available for free on archive.org. “Diary of an Austrian woman who lived through World War I and the interwar years in Vienna. She witnessed the devaluation of the currency and the government controls on food, fuel, and travel. Her sons were wounded in the war and one turned to extremist ideals in the wake of the war. Interesting personal view of a sometimes overlooked historical period.” Eisenmenger talked about a range of topics, including asset protection, bartering, civil unrest, food shortages, health issues, urban versus rural when TSHTF, and going to extremes to save one’s family.

In response to a question of how to download the diary in a “readable format,” I added later:

If Selco and gang don’t mind me posting it here, below is the link on archive.org to the page where Mrs. Eisenmenger’s diary can either be read (page top) or downloaded (page right). I opted for the .pdf version, which worked fine in my Acrobat Reader. If the link gets stripped, you can go to archive.org, enter “Blockade The Diary” in the search engine (not that “WayBackMachine” box) and the link to the page where you can read/download it should appear near the top of the search results. Hope this helps. I found the diary insightful and sobering. Hard to believe it was published in 1932 as it reads like a modern manuscript…

https://archive.org/details/Blockade-TheDiaryOfAnAustrianMiddle-classWoman1914-1924

Selco and others were grateful to me for pointing out this free resource, with one blog reader going so far as to write:

Thank you so much for recommending this book. What a great read and if I was part of a prepper group, this book would be recommended reading…

No problem. And now I’m recommending it to Survival And Prosperity readers.

You can use that link to Blockade I shared with the SHTF School folks. I just tested it and it’s still “live.”

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

(Editor’s note: Info/link added to “Resources” page. Tomorrow though as I’m beat from doing chores at the family’s place in Wisconsin earlier today and driving back to Illinois.)

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Project Prepper, Part 41: 2016 Status Report

Last week in the “Project Prepper” series of posts I recapped what the series is all about for those who didn’t already know.

Today, I’m going to talk about where the project stands a little over three years in the works.

Originally, I decided my preparedness education and activities would focus on a prioritized list of six “innate survival needs” (hat-tip Jack Spirko @ The Survival Podcast). That included:

1. Security
2. Water
3. Food
4. Shelter
5. Sanitation and Health
6. Energy

In May 2015, I split up “Security” into “Physical Security” and “Financial Security” (following Spirko’s lead). The revised list now looks like this:

1. Physical Security
2. Financial Security
3. Water
4. Food
5. Sanitation and Health
6. Energy
7. Shelter

After its adoption I blogged on May 20, 2015:

“Physical Security” is still priority number one because I predict the push for more gun “control” will continue while crime simultaneously gets worse. “Financial Security” breaks into the list at number two because the most likely disaster I see on the horizon is an economic one. “Shelter” now brings up the rear as I’ve completed that move from my Chicago apartment to a house in the suburbs (plus there’s my family’s place in Wisconsin where I spend time).

In my last “status report” (December 10, 2014), I wrote:

Decent strides have been made in the area of security… Physical security on the exterior/interior of the new house has been improved, particularly with landscaping, lighting, and locks. Personal safety gear, supplies, and tools have been acquired, with training having commenced a few years back.

Concerning water, the foundation for an emergency water supply is now in place. While utilizing some water storage containers I had prior to this project, I’ve acquired additional containers. To maintain the quality of the water for an extended period of time, I purchased aerobic stabilized oxygen. I’ve also kept a couple of cases of bottled drinking water on hand, along with an emergency water containment system that holds up to 100 gallons of fresh water in a bathtub standing by in the wings. At present, my girlfriend and I have close to a week-and-a-half supply of emergency water each (based on federal government guidelines of one gallon per person per day). Even though this is significantly more than Uncle Sam’s 72-hour recommendation, I’m not comfortable with this amount.

Concerning food, the foundation for an emergency food supply is also in place. Taking advantage of price drops and gift cards, my girlfriend and I scored a relatively-inexpensive 1-week supply of high-quality freeze-dried meals each. Like with the water though, I’d like to increase that amount commensurate with the potential emergencies I’ve identified.

Concerning shelter, purchasing that house last spring was a pretty big “prep.” And it was certainly an improvement over the multi-family housing arrangement where my girlfriend and I used to live. As much as I love the city of Chicago and would have liked to stay in our northwest side neighborhood, my girlfriend and I are much better off here in a close-by suburb, all things considered.

Concerning sanitation/health, not much work has been done in this area yet. As health is concerned, I’ve acquired a good deal of basic first aid supplies and instructional material in the last couple of years. But it’s been too long since I’ve had any training in this area. It’s one of my goals in 2015 to complete an American Red Cross First Aid/CPR/AED class and build a comprehensive first aid kit- as well as having the knowledge/skills to use it. In addition, while working around the house has been good for the body, I really need to improve my physical fitness. Not only will it help me cope with the difficult times I see coming down the pipeline, but hopefully it will keep me from having to rely on our floundering health care system as much as possible.

On sanitation, an unforeseen (and somewhat costly) improvement was carried out late last year on our sewer line going from the house. I’ll spare readers the details, but a new cleanout was added on the front of the home, and with it, a check valve. Should the city’s sewer system fail for any reason (extended power grid failure?), the valve should prevent sewage from backing up into our house and through the toilets. At least, that’s how I understand it should work. When it comes to people having to “go to the bathroom” in an extended grid-down scenario and dealing with the waste, I’m already researching a number of possible solutions.

Finally, as energy is concerned, for short-term blackouts I’ve been looking at portable generators to use at first until my girlfriend and I can afford a standby generator that can be hooked up to the natural gas line coming into the house. I’m also exploring if we can’t utilize renewable sources of energy somehow. I really hope so, because it’s probably what we’ll be forced to turn to in a long-term grid-down situation. That being said, we are limited by what we can use due to our location in a major metropolitan area.

So that’s where I stand with “Project Prepper” as 2014 draws to a close. Decent progress has been made in tackling those “innate survival needs,” but there’s still a lot more work that needs to be done. Hopefully, time and money will be on my side in the new year.

“Hopefully, time and money will be on my side in the new year.”

Regrettably, “time and money” were not on my side. That being said, I was able to make some progress on “Project Prepper.” Going down that revised list of “innate survival needs”:

1. Physical Security: Additional lighting has been added around the property to illuminate the exterior of the house. More personal safety tools and gear have been acquired, along with training material purchased from affiliate marketing partner Paladin Press.

2. Financial Security: No progress, although efforts have been ongoing since 2004. More on this another time.

3. Water: Additional water storage containers have been purchased and acquired. I bought one Reliance Products Aqua-Pak 5 Gallon Rigid Water Container
via Amazon.com to try out (review forthcoming), and have been stockpiling empty 2-liter plastic bottles.

4. Food: Nothing’s been added to the existing emergency food supply. Although regular readers of Survival And Prosperity might remember the “experimental” food garden my girlfriend and I grew last year using heirloom seeds from My Patriot Supply’s Survival Seed Vault.

Cucumbersaurus Revisited

Cucumbersaurus Revisited: It was DELICIOUS, by the way

ANY CHARACTER HERE

Despite a number of rookie mistakes and other challenges, I’d say it was a success, and I can’t wait to grow another, more expanded one this year.

5. Sanitation and Health: I wasn’t able to take that American Red Cross First Aid/CPR/AED class and build a comprehensive first aid kit in 2015 like I wanted to. I have started a new workout regimen though in an effort to improve my physical fitness. I blogged back on August 26, 2015:

As for the standards I’m shooting for, I’m leaning towards those embraced by Blackwater, Inc. Founder and former CEO Erik Prince talked about them in his recently published book entitled Civilian Warriors: The Inside Story of Blackwater and the Unsung Heroes of the War on Terror:

Our employees may have been retired from the military, but Blackwater didn’t hire your typical “retiree.” After the eight-week Moyock training programs that turned those veterans into diplomatic security professionals, our final physical fitness test standards required men to run one and a half miles in less than ten minutes, forty-five seconds; execute twelve pull-ups in a row, seventy-five push-ups done in two one-minute sets, and seventy-five sit-ups in two one-minute sets; and drag a 175-pound dummy eighty feet in under one minute

(Editor: Bold added for emphasis)

6. Energy: No progress.

7. Shelter: No progress. But to be fair, the house in the Chicago suburbs was a pretty substantial prep.

I’m disappointed I didn’t accomplish more since that December 2014 status report. Particularly as I believe time is ticking before the “balloon goes up.” From this point on, I’ll need to get “time and money” back on my side to keep “Project Prepper” moving forward. I’m up to the challenge.

More next week…

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

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Signs Of The Time, Part 93

“Mandatory depression screening for all Americans”?

Just got wind of this “doozy” Monday afternoon from the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity. Former Texas congressman and two-time Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul wrote in his weekly column Sunday:

The United States Preventive Services Task Force recently recommended mandatory depression screening for all Americans. The task force wants to force health insurance companies to pay for the screening. Basic economics, as well as the Obamacare disaster, should have shown this task force that government health insurance mandates harm Americans…

Mandatory depression screening will not just raise insurance costs. In order to ensure that the screening mandate is being properly implemented, the government will need to create a database containing the results of the screenings. Those anti-gun politicians who want to forbid anyone labeled “mentally ill” from owning a firearm will no doubt want to use this database as a tool to deprive individuals of their Second Amendment rights.

If the preventive task force has its way, Americans could lose their Second Amendment, and possibly other, rights simply because they happened to undergo their mandatory depression screening when they were coping with a loved one’s passing or a divorce, or simply having a bad day. As anyone who has been mistakenly placed on the terrorist watch list can attest, it is very difficult to get off a government database even when the government clearly is in error. Thus, anyone mistakenly labeled as depressed will have to spend a great deal of time and money in what may be a futile attempt to get his rights back.

Mandatory depression screening will endanger people’s health by increasing the use of psychotropic drugs. These drugs often have dangerous side effects. Their use has even been linked to suicide. The fact that almost every mass shooter was on psychotropic drugs is another good reason to oppose any policy that will increase reliance on these medicines

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Disturbing. You can read Ron Paul’s piece in its entirety over on the Institute’s website here.

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

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SP Intel Report- December 1, 2015

I hope Survival And Prosperity readers had a nice Thanksgiving holiday. I’m going to keep the SP Intel Report short and local tonight as I get back into the swing of things.

Chicagoland

Chicago Thanksgiving Holiday Shootings Leave 8 Dead, At Least 20 Others Wounded

The long holiday weekend was a bloody one for Chicago. It was reported on the Fox 32 (Chicago) website Monday morning that 8 people were killed and at least 20 others wounded in shootings across the city. According to the HeyJackass! website this afternoon, the “Windy City” has tallied 2,750 shootings and 464 homicides year-to-date. Yikes.

‘Magnificent Mile’ Retailers Say Protest On Black Friday Resulted In Sales ‘25 Percent To 50 Percent Below Projections’

Kim Janssen reported on the Chicago Tribune website Monday afternoon:

Activists who blocked the entrances to stores on North Michigan Avenue on Black Friday to protest the fatal shooting of a black teenager by a white Chicago cop may have split opinions with their tactics.

But their goal of forcing retailers to suffer economic pain on what’s historically the busiest shopping day of the year was a success, according to unhappy store staff and managers who said Monday that Black Friday sales on the Magnificent Mile were 25 percent to 50 percent below projections

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

As if the city of Chicago needed more financial misery heaped on it these days.

Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy Fired

“I’ve never quit on anything in my life. I’m 56 years old. Don’t expect that to change… The mayor has made it very clear that he has my back…”

-Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy on November 27, 2015, in response to calls for his resignation post-Laquan McDonald shooting video release


“FNN: Garry McCarthy out as Chicago Police Superintendent”
YouTube Video

“The mayor has made it very clear that he has my back”

Famous last words .

While I wasn’t a fan of Superintendent McCarthy, I do thank him for his several years of public service on behalf of the residents of Chicago.

Illinois

Illinois State Rifle Association Issues ‘Urgent Alert’ On Prepping For Terrorism

While I haven’t been following the activities of the Illinois State Rifle Association for long, I don’t think I’ve ever seen them this worked up about such an issue. From a November 14 Facebook post:

URGENT ALERT –
DO NOT PUT YOUR FAMILY SECURITY ON THE BACK BURNER
EVENTS IN PARIS ARE JUST A WARM UP EXERCISE
YOU MUST ARM AND TRAIN YOUR FAMILY TO ENSURE SURVIVAL

People around the world were treated today to a brutal spectacle having its roots in political naivety, ignorance of history, and wholly misguided immigration policy. Does that sound familiar? It should, because it aptly describes not only to the French government, but the sitting U.S. administration as well.

If you are of the mind of, “…it can’t happen here” then you are sorely deluded. The apparatus to launch a Paris-style bloodbath is already in place here in the United States. All these determined terrorists are waiting for is the go-head from their higher headquarters.

We may be only hours or even moments away from the news that dozens if not hundreds of Americans – just like you and your family – are laying dead or dying in a heap on the floor of some sporting, shopping or entertainment venue. We may be only hours or even moments away from hearing about how the police are looking for “…a few extremists” responsible from the carnage.

It’s not a question as to whether this is going to happen here, because it will. The real question is whether you are prepared to stand and protect what is yours. Are you prepared and able to defend yourself and your family? When the inevitable moment of truth arrives, are you willing to stand and fight or will you be content to play dead – hoping desperately that it is not your day to die?

The survival of you and your family is not mere fodder for some analysis of the war on terror – it’s a cultural imperative. As an American, you are very fortunate that you have a formula for survival and it’s called the Second Amendment. However, the power of any right is directly proportional to how vigorously it is exercised. Left unattended, the rights you enjoy under our Second Amendment will wither away.

To better the chances of survival for you and your family, the Illinois State Rifle Association urges you to do the following:

1. Make sure every person in your family holds a FOID card and that all eligible family members hold Illinois concealed carry permits.
2. Assemble a family defense arsenal consisting of one or more semiautomatic rifles such as the AR-15; one or more 12-gauge pump action shotguns, and one or more semiautomatic handguns. If you do not have a family defense arsenal, this is a good weekend to begin putting it together.
3. Be sure that you and every member of your family have had sufficient training in the use and field servicing of the weapons in your family defense arsenal.
4. Be sure that you have sufficient quantities of the proper ammunition on hand to defend your family.
5. Resolve this weekend to get yourself and your family into a physical training regimen. Your physical conditioning may be the difference between life and death during a Paris-style attack.
6. Encourage your extended family and friends to develop plans for protecting self and family from the threat of terror our government takes so lightly.

You have to understand that this is not a battle you can hire someone else to fight for you. When the time comes, you may very well find yourself standing nose to nose with a guy intent upon obliterating you, your culture, and everything you hold sacred.

Are you prepared?

Disturbing. Yet nothing to scoff at, as I too believe it’s only a matter of time before a major terror attack is launched by jihadists against the U.S.

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

Sources:

“8 killed, 20 wounded in Thanksgiving weekend shootings across Chicago.” Sun-Times Media Wire. 30 Nov. 2015. (http://www.fox32chicago.com/news/crime/54615863-story). 1 Dec. 2015.

Janssen, Kim. “Michigan Avenue Black Friday protests cost stores 25-50 percent of sales.” Chicago Tribune. 30 Nov. 2015. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-black-friday-mag-mile-fallout-1201-biz-20151130-story.html). 1 Dec. 2015.

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SP Intel Report- November 11, 2015

Chicagoland

Moody’s Predicts Chicago’s Unfunded Pension Liabilities Could Grow For At Least Another Decade

Regrettably, the City of Chicago’s pension crisis is far from being resolved. From a press release out of Moody’s Global Credit Research division Tuesday:

New York, November 10, 2015 — Today, Moody’s Investors Service released a scenario analysis of the City of Chicago’s (Ba1 negative) possible pension funding paths. The scenarios incorporate the city’s recently adopted property tax increase as well as the outcomes of two key decisions pending with the State of Illinois (Baa1 negative) and the Illinois Supreme Court. The analysis indicates that, despite significantly increasing its contributions to its pension plans, Chicago’s unfunded pension liabilities could grow, at a minimum, for another ten years.

“Chicago’s statutory pension contributions will remain insufficient to arrest growth in unfunded pension liabilities for many years under each scenario,” Moody’s AVP-Analyst Matthew Butler says in the new report, “Chicago’s Pension Roadmap: A Scenario Analysis.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for empashis)

You can read the entire press release on Moody’s website here.

National

U.S. Adults Over 30 Are Less Happy Than Their Predecessors

I spotted the following yesterday on the MarketWatch website. Catey Hill reported Monday night:

It all goes downhill after 30 — at least when it comes to happiness.

“Adults over 30 are less happy than their predecessors,” concludes a study published online Thursday in the journal Social Psychology and Personality Science, which examined happiness data from more than 50,000 adults, gleaned from the General Social Survey, carried out by NORC at the University of Chicago, a nonpartisan, independent research organization, which has collected information about American adults since 1972.

From 2010 to 2014, adults over 30 had an average happiness score of just 2.18, compared with 2.24 a decade ago. That’s significant considering happiness scores were measured on a tiny scale from just 1 to 3, with 1 being “not too happy” and 3 being “very happy.” (The data used five-year cohort periods so that single year fluctuations were smoothed out.)

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

A graph within the article depicted happiness scores by age over time. Something stood out right away for me looking at the measure for the “30 or older” crowd. Happiness scores rose from around 1993 until 2001- then plummeted ever since. In 1993, I remember older classmates of mine at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign saying the job market was pretty rough (but better than recent years where graduate school was a popular option). Lots of bad economic news as well back in 2001. Hill added later:

What’s perhaps even more interesting is that, for the first time ever, adults ages 18 to 29 were happier than adults over 30

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

The authors weren’t sure why “younger adults are happier than older ones for the first time in at least 40 years.” I’d like to offer up one possible explanation for some in that demographic:


“Cartman sends his mother to the store”
YouTube Video

In all seriousness, I come across a lot of miserable stuff on a daily basis while conducting research for this blog and other projects. I try to keep upbeat by remembering:

1. While I still see a financial crash in store for us, I don’t envision the end of the world taking place. Although it could be the end of the world as we know it (TEOTWAWKI).
2. Life ain’t fair. Nobody’s perfect. Just do the best you can.
3. God’s got my back. And I’ll try to be the best Christian I can.

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

Source:

Hill, Catey. “Americans over 30 are more miserable than they’ve ever been.” MarketWatch. 9 Nov. 2015. (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/americans-over-30-are-more-miserable-than-theyve-ever-been-2015-11-09). 11 Nov. 2015.

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Survival And Prosperity
Est. 2010, Chicagoland, USA
Christopher E. Hill, Editor

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