Infrastructure

Chicago Tribune Letter: ‘Chicago, And Its Surrounding Areas, Have Become Hell on Earth’

This morning I headed over to the Chicago Tribune website to see what’s cooking locally. On their homepage was a “story” link with the following headline:

“Letter: I’m leaving Chicago and I’m never coming back”

Figuring this should make some “entertaining” reading while I finished my coffee, I checked out the proclamation. The author sure didn’t pull any punches. Here’s a snippet:

I’ve come to understand that Chicago, and its surrounding areas, have become Hell on Earth for any thinking person with a modicum of self-respect.

The caustic combination of corrupt politicians with nothing but contempt for the public; a police force so broken down in spirit it visibly resents interaction with even law-abiding citizens; a criminal underclass empowered by the incessant drone of liberal rhetoric wandering the streets posing clear and present danger to everyone around them; and the enablers, who are everywhere, to say nothing of the ugly, decaying infrastructure, poor economy and joyless entertainment and leisure opportunities – it is for these reasons I have made the decision to disconnect forever…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

As regular readers of Survival And Prosperity know, I am one of those who left Chicago (Northwest Side) only three-and-a-half years ago due to concerns over increasing government mismanagement, crime, and costs of living- in no particular order. Besides, even though I really liked the neighborhood I had lived in for eight years, it was time for a new pad and home prices were just too damn high!

My girlfriend and I did what was right for us at the time and in advance of what we suspect lies ahead. But Chicago is still a great city with fantastic people (minus the criminal element), so much so not only do I understand why one might still choose to reside there, but even I won’t go so far as to proclaim “I’m never coming back.”

I remain optimistic about the long-term prospects for the “Windy City.” That being said, I do believe conditions in the city will erode before improving again. For those dead set on remaining in town, please do yourself a favor and take a good, hard look at your financial and personal safety capabilities for successfully navigating any “storm” that may lie ahead. For example, how do your finances look with the real prospect of future tax hits down the road?

More later. And to read that entire letter sent to the Chicago Tribune, head on over to their website here.

By 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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Jim Rickards: ‘We’re Going To Go Into A Recession Or The Stock Market Is Going To Have A Very Severe Correction’

Marc Faber isn’t the only “crash prophet” who realizes the financial environment U.S. President-elect Donald Trump could inherit is significantly different than what Ronald Reagan encountered in 1981. Back on December 5 I blogged about James (Jim) Rickards, an American lawyer, economist, investment banker, and best-selling author, who was on RTÉ Radio 1 (Ireland) the prior week informing listeners of the following:

Less regulation, lower taxes, and a lot more infrastructure spending. This was Ronald Reagan’s playbook. This is what Ronald Reagan did in 1981 with a lot of success. But there are big differences, reasons to believe Trump will not be as successful. Namely because when Reagan came in, the U.S. debt-to-GDP ratio- the amount of debt relative to our economy- was 35 percent. Today it’s almost 105 percent. Reagan had inflation of 20 percent. Trump has it close to zero. In other words, Reagan had a lot of tailwinds– inflation had to come down, interest rates had to come down, he had fiscal space to run up the debt. Trump has headwinds

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Last Tuesday, Rickards appeared on CNBC TV’s Squawk Box (Asia) and made this prediction about Trump’s first term in the Oval Office:

I definitely see a stock market correction, perhaps a disorderly one Martin. I’m not sure the Fed is ready to cut rates yet. But I expect it will raise rates in March. I think that’s on track. But beyond that, we’re going to go into a recession or the stock market is going to have a very severe correction. Either one of those will cause the Fed to back-pedal.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

CNBC anchor Martin Soong asked his guest, “What is it going to take to cause these two outcomes- what’s the trigger going to be?” Rickards replied:

First of all, it’s already happening. There’s basically a head-long collision coming between perception and reality. So what’s the perception? The market’s rising on the Trump reflation trade. So, Trump wants to cut taxes. Steve Bannon’s talking to his advisors about a trillion dollars of infrastructure spending, cutting regulations. So all these things are viewed to be highly stimulative. So that’s why the market’s going up… But with the Fed, they’re thinking of two things. Number one, they believe in the Phillips Curve… With unemployment at 4.6 percent and that kind of stimulus coming, they know monetary policy acts with a lag- they want to get out ahead of inflation. So they’re on track to raise rates. By the way, they want to raise them anyway independent of this because they’ve got to raise them so they can cut them in the next recession. So the Fed’s on track to raise. The market expects stimulus. But here’s the point. The stimulus is not going to come. Congress has already said tax cuts have to be revenue neutral- that’s going to take away the stimulative effect. They’re going to balk at more spending. We have $20 trillion of debt. A 104 percent debt-to-GDP ratio. So we’re not going to get this trillion dollars of spending. And we’re in the eighth year of an expansion Martin. Keynesian stimulus- if it works at all, it works at the beginning of an expansion or in a recession. Not after 8 years. You don’t get much bang for the buck.


“Fed to reverse course by year-end: Expert”
CNBC Video

By 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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Jim Rickards: Donald Trump Has Ronald Reagan’s Financial Playbook, But Faces ‘Headwinds’

Marc Faber. Peter Schiff. Now Jim Rickards. Three “crash prophets” who aren’t convinced U.S. President-elect Donald Trump can magically solve America’s economic ills. Rickards, an American lawyer, economist, investment banker, and best-selling author, was on the RTÉ Radio 1 (Ireland) show Today with Sean O’Rourke last Wednesday talking about his new book when he informed listeners of the following:

Less regulation, lower taxes, and a lot more infrastructure spending. This was Ronald Reagan’s playbook. This is what Ronald Reagan did in 1981 with a lot of success. But there are big differences, reasons to believe Trump will not be as successful. Namely because when Reagan came in, the U.S. debt-to-GDP ratio- the amount of debt relative to our economy- was 35 percent. Today it’s almost 105 percent. Reagan had inflation of 20 percent. Trump has it close to zero. In other words, Reagan had a lot of tailwinds– inflation had to come down, interest rates had to come down, he had fiscal space to run up the debt. Trump has headwinds

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

The editor of the financial newsletter Jim Rickards’ Strategic Intelligence believes the next economic crisis (2018?) will be worse than the 2008 edition. When asked by O’Rourke what people with a “smaller or medium-size financial nest-egg” might do to prepare for it, Rickards advised:

For savers and investors at any level, modest or wealthier, put 10 percent of your investible assets in physical gold or silver. For smaller amounts, silver might do well…

He added some cash is good too.

You can listen to the entire interview (a little over 13 minutes) on the RTÉ Radio 1 (Ireland) website here.

By 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.)

Rickards’ new book…

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Chicago Could Lose Billions In Federal Funding Under Trump Administration

It’s a real possibility that the city of Chicago will lose out on billions of dollars of federal funds in the coming years due to its unabashed opposition of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, its official policy of providing “sanctuary” to illegal aliens, and political grandstanding at a time when serious problems plague America’s third-largest city.

At the same time, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel doesn’t sound too concerned. Byrne reported on the Chicago Tribune website Wednesday:

Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday predicted that President-elect Donald Trump would work with Chicago rather than penalize a city where many officials and voters opposed his candidacy.

Emanuel, who worked in the Clinton White House, was outspoken in his support for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton during the campaign. Yet the mayor said he doesn’t think the incoming president will seek retribution, perhaps by cutting Chicago out of federal funding for infrastructure and other big-ticket projects.

“I’m not worried about Donald Trump trying to somehow penalize Chicago,” Emanuel said at a City Hall news conference minutes after Clinton gave her concession speech.

Still, Emanuel noted that he won’t exactly have the Republican president’s ear…

I’m not sure President-elect Trump will listen to me, but I would say that you’re president for all of America, and that includes your third-largest city in the country,” said Emanuel, who was Obama’s first White House chief of staff…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

I’m not sure President-elect Trump will listen to Rahm either.

And considering opponent Hillary Clinton received 83.63 percent (865,075 votes) of the votes in Chicago (source: DNAinfo) in Tuesday’s contest, I don’t believe Mr. Trump thinks he owes the “Windy City” any special favors.

In addition to being full of Clintonistas, Chicago is a well-known “Sanctuary City” for illegal aliens. As Dorothy Tucker noted on the CBS 2 Chicago website yesterday:

President elect Donald Trump… threatened to cancel federal funding to sanctuary cities.

In Chicago, that’s an anticipated $1.33 billion for 2017- money that is used for everything from building bridges to feeding students. It’s money Trump supporters don’t want the city to lose just to protect illegal immigrants…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Tucker added this:

Mayor Emanuel has indicated he’s committed to Chicago remaining a sanctuary city…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Drip. Drip. Drip.

That’s the sound of federal funds to the “City By The Lake” drying up.

Finally, there’s this little bit of political grandstanding more characteristic of the ruler(s) of some “Banana Republic.” Fran Spielman reported on the Chicago Sun-Times website back on November 1:

Chicago may well have earned Donald Trump’s unflattering ‘war zone’ label after piling up 17 homicides last weekend and 633 already this year.

But don’t tell that to a City Council filled with Democrats.

On Tuesday, the Council followed through on its promise to strip the Republican presidential nominee of an ego tribute he covets: the honorary ‘Trump Plaza’ designation outside the 96-story Trump International Hotel & Tower on the Chicago River that bears his name in huge, white letters

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

If rabid opposition and Sanctuary City-status didn’t already motivate U.S. President-elect Donald Trump to steer federal funds to other areas of the country, it’s a pretty good bet this stunt was the icing on the cake.

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

Sources:

Byrne, John. “Emanuel ‘not worried’ about Trump retribution, but some aldermen are.” Chicago Tribune. 9 Nov. 2016. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/politics/ct-rahm-emanuel-donald-trump-react-met-20161109-story.html). 11 Nov. 2016.

Ali, Tanveer. “How Every Chicago Neighborhood Voted In The 2016 Presidential Election.” DNAinfo. 9 Nov. 2016. (https://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/numbers/president-vice-president-every-neighborhood-map-election-results-voting-general-primary-illinois). 11 Nov. 2016.

Tucker, Dorothy. “‘Sanctuary City’ Status May Hurt Chicago With Trump Administration.” CBS 2 Chicago. 10 Nov. 2016. (http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2016/11/10/chicagos-sanctuary-city-status-could-be-a-problem-with-trump-administration/). 11 Nov. 2016.

Spielman, Fran. “Council votes to remove Trump Plaza designation.” Chicago Sun-Times. 1 Nov. 2016. (http://chicago.suntimes.com/politics/council-votes-to-remove-trump-plaza-designation/). 11 Nov. 2016.

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Signs Of The Time, Part 112

Regular readers of Survival And Prosperity know that I’ve been covering “prepping” on this blog for some years now.

And recently, I’ve been curious about the specific activities “preppers” have been carrying out in the run-up to Election Day.

Apparently (and not surprisingly), acquiring (more) emergency food has been a priority for these forward-looking individuals.

Ben Popken reported on the NBC News website this past weekend:

In case of an election night Doomsday, preppers are running up sales of emergency survival food.

While sales for “long term food” typically see an increase around natural disasters and elections, “this is more intense than what we saw in 2012,” said Keith Bansemer, VP of marketing for My Patriot Supply, a manufacturer and seller of survival food. During the previous election his company saw sales double. This time it’s triple.

“We have everyone we can on the phones,” he said. “We are overwhelmed.”

Purchases at other long term food supply companies are up as well. Emergency preparedness online store TheEpicenter reports a 6 percent uptick in year over year sales.

Another company, Legacy Foods, predicts they’ll see a 1-2 week spike in sales after the election — if Hillary Clinton wins, said owner Phil Cox…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Popken pointed out what’s spurring preppers to purchase “long-term” food:

Survivalist consumers say they’re preparing for post-election unrest that could involve everything from massive riots, to power grid outages, to the total collapse of the financial system where a can of food becomes currency

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

“Post-election unrest”

Talk of such an event has increased in the months leading up to today, so much so that the Oath Keepers, “a non-partisan association of current and formerly serving military, police, and first responders, who pledge to fulfill the oath all military and police take to ‘defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic,'” (first blogged about here back on August 12, 2011) just conducted a webinar “that went over strategies for avoiding and surviving social unrest in the streets including rioting and police reaction to that possible unrest. We talked about family preparedness plans if there were God forbid be a terrorist attack on our soil. These included communications, bug out bags, medical considerations, recognition of tactics that various terrorist organizations may use in that scenario and many more topics spoken on by several expert speakers.”


“Civil Unrest Post Election Scenarios & Preparation”
YouTube Video

Popken’s article was an insightful read- and not a “hit piece” either- which you can view in its entirety over on the NBC News site here.

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

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DHS, FBI Launches Nationwide Program Warning Electric Companies About Cyber Attacks

While most of Main Street might not have a clue about the threat to the nation’s power grid from cyber attacks, it sounds like the Feds may be starting to take it seriously. Bill Gertz reported over on The Washington Free Beacon website last Friday:

Three months after a Department of Homeland Security intelligence report downplayed the threat of a cyber attack against the U.S. electrical grid, DHS and the FBI began a nationwide program warning of the dangers faced by U.S. utilities from damaging cyber attacks like the recent hacking against Ukraine’s power grid.

The nationwide campaign by DHS and the FBI began March 31 and includes 12 briefings and online webinars for electrical power infrastructure companies and others involved in security, with sessions in eight U.S. cities, including a session next week in Washington.

The unclassified briefings are titled “Ukraine Cyber Attack: Implications for U.S. Stakeholders,” and are based on work with the Ukrainian government in the aftermath of the Dec. 23 cyber attack against the Ukrainian power infrastructure…

The briefings will outline the details of the attacks, the techniques used by the hackers, and strategies to be used to limit risks and improve cyber security for grid organizations…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Those who have been sounding the alarm over the cyber attack threat for some time now have found a high-profile ally in American broadcast journalist Ted Koppel. Graham Vyse reported on the website of InsideSources, a non-partisan news organization, back on March 19:

On Monday, ABC News legend Ted Koppel sat down at a conference table at the National Press Foundation in Washington, accepted the mug of coffee he was offered and proceeded to describe a national security threat greater than 9/11.

The longtime “Nightline” anchor told reporters about the danger of a cyber attack on the United States power grid — an unprecedented event that could mean months of blackouts affecting tens of millions.

Koppel sees this scenario as a likelihood, not just a possibility, for which the country is woefully unprepared. He worries it would reduce America to a kind of Hobbesian state of nature, with conflicts over food, water and other dwindling necessities. It’s all the subject of his latest book, “Lights Out.”

“What happened on 9/11 is nothing compared to what a cyber attack on the power grid would do,” Koppel said…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Vyse added:

Koppel doesn’t think America can actually prevent a cyber attack, so he argues the focus should be on minimizing damage. The trouble is, he’s doubtful Congress would respond well to a request for $100 billion to buy enough freeze-dried meals to avoid food riots

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

“The trouble is, he’s doubtful Congress would respond well to a request for $100 billion to buy enough freeze-dried meals to avoid food riots”

Yikes.

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

Sources:

Gertz, Bill. “FBI Warns of Cyber Threat to Electric Grid.” The Washington Free Beacon. 8 Apr. 2016. (http://freebeacon.com/issues/fbi-warns-cyber-threat-electric-grid/). 12 Apr. 2016.

Vyse, Graham. “Ted Koppel: Homeland Security Chief ‘Ignorant’ on Threat to Grid.” InsideSources. 19 Mar. 2016. (http://www.insidesources.com/koppel-homeland/). 12 Apr. 2016.

Ted Koppel’s power grid cyber attack book…

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Project Prepper, Part 44: Backup Heating For House Update

Back on February 25, I started discussing backup heating for the house my girlfriend and I purchased in 2013. I blogged:

Last Friday, incredibly strong winds (max gust speed 62 mph) pummeled the Chicagoland area. Not surprisingly, we lost power for a few hours- along with the heat. As I lay in bed recovering from the flu and buried under the covers, I thought to myself, “It’s a good thing it isn’t that cold outside today considering its February in Chicago.”

Later on I started thinking about what my girlfriend and I would do if the electricity had been out for a longer stretch of time while the outside temperatures were more “seasonal.”

I decided to look into a backup heat source for the house once I was up and about again…

I initially thought a vent-free natural gas heater, installed on a basement wall adjacent to the utility room, was the solution. But as I wrote in my last “Project Prepper” entry:

I’m starting to like the idea of a natural gas-powered stationary (standby) generator above and beyond the vent-free heater. The standby generator would allow us to keep using the furnace to heat the house and run other essentials in the event of a power outage…

Now, our HVAC guy did come out to the house to discuss a new heating, ventilating, and air conditioning system for the structure- which my girlfriend and I subsequently agreed to purchase. But not before I confirmed the setup could be tied into a natural gas-powered stationary (standby) generator down the road. When asked if he knew someone qualified to install such a generator, he informed me his brother-in-law does such work. Nice.

In the meantime, while the Chicagoland winter was pretty tame this year (especially when compared to the last two), I’d still like to bridge the gap with some temporary backup heating setup until we can afford to buy a stationary generator. I’m leaning towards picking up a Big Buddy Portable Heater by Mr. Heater after reading a number of decent reviews about the product. From its “Description” page on the Mr. Heater website:

The Most Popular Portable Propane Heater in North America. This patented radiant 4,000-18,000 BTU Liquid Propane heater connects directly to two 1 lb. cylinders and is the perfect solution for heating enclosed spaces like cabins up to 400 sq. ft. An integrated fan increases the heating capacity of this unit, blending radiant and convection style heat to give you the best of both worlds. Two swivel regulators give you the ability to adapt usage from disposable cylinders to a remote gas supply with the purchase of a single hose and filter. To light the unit, simply push and rotate the knob. The built in Piezo sparking mechanism will take care of the rest. With the Oxygen Depletion Sensor (ODS) and accidental tip-over safety shut-off, you can be sure that you will enjoy years of comfortable indoor safe heat.

• 4,000, 9,000, or 18,000 BTU per hour
• For use with propane gas
• Heats up to 400 sq. ft.
• Single control start knob
• Hi-Med-Low heat settings
• Swivel regulators
• Automatic low oxygen shut-off system (ODS)
• Accidental tip-over safety shut-off
• Connects to two 1 lb. cylinders
• Connects to a 20 lb. cylinder with optional hose
• Fan operates on 4 – D batteries or AC adapter, both sold separately


“Big Buddy- Operation and Accessories”
YouTube Video

I like the fact that the device can be used for emergency home heating. From its product page on Amazon.com:

The Big Buddy Propane Heater by Mr. Heater is the latest evolution in portable heat-with the capacity to heat up to 400 square feet. It combines radiant heat comfort with fan-powered convection heat for maximum heating efficiency, providing safe, reliable heat anytime. Use it for emergency situations, workshops, garages, storage buildings, construction trailers, barns, tents, patios, porches, cabins, fishing shanties, truck caps, barns — anywhere you want to stay warm. May also be used inside your home in case of a power outage

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Some more research is required on my end. Still, it’s nice knowing there might be a temporary backup heating option available for the house until a stationary generator can be put into play.

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

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