Transportation

Expensive SHTF Preps New Status Symbol In New York City?

Last night’s post about rich Americans charging full-steam ahead with their prepping reminded me of an article I read on the New York Post website at the start of this month. The January 1 piece focused on afluent New Yorkers shelling out big bucks on preparedness these days. Dana Schuster reported in “These families have elaborate escape plans if terror hits NYC”:

It seems that the new status symbol in NYC is safety. City dwellers are splashing out serious dough for everything from five-figure air infiltration systems to swanky survivalist kits. Luxe retailer Moda Operandi has jumped on the bandwagon, hawking a $4,995, monogrammed “go bag,” with essentials such as night-vision scopes, a GPS satellite communicator and a caviar serving set and Mast Brothers chocolate…

But New York preppers aren’t your run-of-the-mill doomsayers. Tom Gaffney, CEO of Gaffco Ballistics, a safety design firm in NYC, said he’s seen requests for dirty-bomb protection double in 2016.

“If I did 30 town houses in Manhattan last year, 25 of them got infiltration units,” said Gaffney, who says the systems cost between $20,000 and $30,000 and are typically incorporated into the safe rooms of his A-list clients, including Fortune 500 CEOs, hedge-funders and music-industry honchos.

For some, an air-purified bunker isn’t enough. It’s more about escaping New York

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Schuster brought up Chris Dowhie and Plan B Marine private evacuation services, which maintains a small fleet of emergency evacuation boats docked in Brooklyn and Manhattan “as an alternative to chaos in the event the unthinkable happens. We provide peace of mind and the fastest possible way off the island under catastrophic circumstances.”


“PlanBmarine”
YouTube Video

Another interesting look at how well-heeled Americans are prepping, which you can find here on the New York Post site.

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

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Friday, January 27th, 2017 Emergencies, Gear, Man-Made Disasters, Natural Disasters, Preparedness, Terrorism, Transportation, Wealth Comments Off on Expensive SHTF Preps New Status Symbol In New York City?

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel To ‘Kneel Before Zod’- Donald J. Trump?

The editorial board at Crain’s Chicago Business published the following about Chicago’s impending loss of clout in Washington, D.C., on the Crain’s website this past Saturday:

Chicago residents, regardless of their personal politics, are going to miss having one of their own in the White House.

As President Barack Obama moves on to his post-presidential life, he takes with him the last vestiges of our once-formidable clout in the nation’s capital. Chicagoans have become accustomed to the idea that, with the right connections, they can be just a phone call away from the highest levels of power. With the incoming Trump administration, that’s about to change

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Regular readers of Survival And Prosperity may recall what I blogged back on December 7:

If readers still don’t think there will be repercussions to Chicago from a Trump administration despite its unabashed support for Hillary Clinton on Election Day (the Democrat received 83.63% of the city’s votes on Election Day), its official policy of providing “sanctuary” to illegal aliens, and political grandstanding (Trump’s honorary street signs downtown were removed this past weekend, courtesy of the City Council), then consider what was published on the Bloomberg website yesterday:

“Chicago Faces Political Power Outage as Trump Succeeds Obama”

Chicago is racing the clock.

Nowhere will political power evaporate more dramatically at noon on Jan. 20 than in the third-largest U.S. city, a bastion of Democratic power that’s enjoyed special access to Washington during President Barack Obama’s eight years in the White House.

When Donald Trump becomes the 45th president, Chicago will trade a first family and top advisers with deep ties to the city for a chief executive who has repeatedly called it a violent mess embodying the failed policies of his predecessor and the Democratic Party…

Not since the era of Abraham Lincoln have Chicago and Illinois enjoyed such strong ties to the White House and Washington. Obama’s exit will bring an end to that

I wrote back on November 11 in a post entitled “Chicago Could Lose Billions In Federal Funding Under Trump Administration”:

Drip. Drip. Drip.

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

A real possibility. And a lot of moolah at stake…

Crain’s editorial board brought up the much-publicized planned renovation of Chicago’s Union Station in their piece. They penned:

As City Hall pushes for federal funding to revamp Union Station—a project that will require Trump administration support—Chicago may soon learn the limits of its clout in this new era.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

If the presence of Trump International Hotel & Tower in downtown Chicago isn’t enough to gain the President-elect’s support for the renovation, then I wouldn’t be surprised if Trump requires the city to renounce its “sanctuary city” status and/or other concessions he deems important before federal funds are made available.

Will Mayor Emanuel be forced to “kneel before Zod”?

Stay tuned…


“Kneel before Zod!”
Clip from Superman II (1980)
YouTube Video

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

Source:

Editorial Board. “Chicago’s D.C. clout exits with Obama.” Crain’s Chicago Business. 14 Jan. 2017. (http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20170114/ISSUE07/301149996/chicago-will-miss-president-barack-obama). 17 Jan. 2017.

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Tuesday, January 17th, 2017 Crime, Government, Immigration, Infrastructure, Political Parties, Transportation Comments Off on Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel To ‘Kneel Before Zod’- Donald J. Trump?

2017 Tax Hits To Chicagoans

“Broken record” time.

“New/higher fees, fines, and taxes, and less government services.”

Regular readers of Survival And Prosperity (and older ones from my Boom2Bust days) know I’ve been warning about this for years now (since 2008?) concerning Chicago- as well as Cook County, Illinois, and lots of other places aroud the country.

And it’s pretty much what has transpired from what I’ve seen.

Particularly in the “Windy City”- where the hits keep on coming. Hal Dardick reported on the Chicago Tribune website this morning:

Chicago property owners hoping for a respite from rapidly rising taxes will be disappointed in 2017, when city government and Chicago Public Schools will continue digging deeper into their pocketbooks.

Two more major property tax increases are coming. So is a new tax on water and sewer service. And some city dwellers will face other rising costs: a fee for each store-provided disposable bag and slightly higher Park District fees.

Come mid-year, city and suburban residents will be paying a new sweetened beverage tax effective in all of Cook County, and another round of Metra fare hikes is coming soon. Here’s a look at what to expect…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Dardick did a good job summarizing the dents Chicagoans (and Chicagoland residents) could expect to their finances in the new year. Head on over to the Tribune website here to get the entire story.

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

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Thursday, December 29th, 2016 Education, Fiscal Policy, Government, Taxes, Transportation, Utilities Comments Off on 2017 Tax Hits To Chicagoans

47 Chicago-Area Expressway Shootings Year-To-Date

While I was watching the local news at lunchtime today WGN-TV (Chicago Channel 9) reported that the in-bound Eisenhower Expressway (I-290) was closed due to yet another shooting (people in two vehicles firing at each other- one crashed).

Reporter Sarah Jindra remarked during the live broadcast that she thought this latest incident marked the 46th time in 2016 that a Chicago-area expressway was closed due to gunfire- compared to 38 last year- but that she was also awaiting confirmation from the Illinois State Police on these numbers.

A couple of minutes ago, Jindra reported via Twitter that the Illinois State Police said this was in fact the 47th time Chicagoland expressways have been shut down this year due to shootings, and posted the following numbers for comparison:

Expressway Shootings
2012- 9
2013- 6
2014- 19
2015- 37
2016- 47 (through 12/5)

Once again, the trend is not Chicago’s friend here.

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

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Monday, December 5th, 2016 Crime, Public Safety, Transportation, Travel, Vehicles Comments Off on 47 Chicago-Area Expressway Shootings Year-To-Date

Jim Rogers Identifies China’s Six Most Promising Industries

Today on Survival And Prosperity I’m going to be focusing on investment matters. First up is investor, author, and financial commentator Jim Rogers. He recently spoke at an asset management forum in Shanghai and talked about investment opportunities/activities in China. PEdaily.cn reported the following about the former investing partner of George Soros on September 21 (via a Google Chrome translation):

• Rogers is still bullish on China’s long-term prospects despite their recent stock market woes. I noted this back on September 9.

• He identified China’s six most promising industries are agriculture followed by tourism, “environmental protection industry, the financial industry, the pharmaceutical industry and the railway industry”

• The Singapore-based investor bought shares in the Chinese tourism sector around three weeks ago

On that second bullet point, back in November 2013 China announced economic and social reforms from which Rogers took away the following. I blogged on November 26, 2013:

Earlier today, Rogers appeared on CNBC-TV18 and told viewers:

Well, I’m excited by what happened. As the Chinese had an exciting announcement in 1978 and in 1993, they say this announcement is to be as significant and as exciting as what happened previously in those two years. So far what I have seen that’s correct- some sectors of the Chinese economy are going to benefit enormously. And as you all know if you can find a government that is going to spend a lot of money or give a lot of incentives to a sector, you should put your money into that sector too. So the Chinese are clear that they are going to do something about railroads, about healthcare, agriculture, pollution. They have made it pretty clear they are going to do something, so I would suggest that people read what they said and then try to find some stocks in those areas…

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)

Source:

“Wall Street predators Rogers: promising Chinese economy is continuing to buy Chinese stocks.” PEdaily.cn. 21 Sep. 2015. (http://www.profitconfidential.com/chinese-economy/jim-rogers-why-the-investor-is-bullish-on-china/). 29 Sep. 2015.

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Tuesday, September 29th, 2015 Agriculture, Asia, Crash Prophets, Environment, Government, Health, Investing, Tourism, Transportation Comments Off on Jim Rogers Identifies China’s Six Most Promising Industries

Chicago’s Financial Reckoning Day Has Arrived

Chicago readers of Survival And Prosperity were warned that the City of Chicago’s poor financial health would result in a sustained hunt for much more revenue (new and higher fees/fines/taxes) for the foreseeable future.

The warnings were constant, and issued over the last couple of years.

So the following headlines on the websites of the two major local papers should not have come as a surprise to the courageous Chicagoans who’ve continued to read this blog on a regular basis despite the steady barrage of depressing news coming out of the “Windy City” lately.

“Emanuel to seek $500 million property tax hike”
Chicago Sun-Times website, September 2, 2015

“Emanuel set to call for largest property tax hike in modern Chicago history”
Chicago Tribune website, September 3, 2015

By the looks of things, Chicago’s financial reckoning day has arrived.

Time to pay the taxman.

Hal Dardick and Bill Ruthhart reported on the Tribune website this morning:

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is set to call for the largest property tax increase in modern Chicago history to raise enough money to make a major pension payment for police and firefighters next year, the mayor’s City Council floor leader and a City Hall source told the Chicago Tribune late Wednesday.

The mayor also plans to push a new garbage collection tax, a new per-ride fee on taxis and ride-hailing services such as Uber and a new tax on electronic cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

The Chicago Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman broke all this down brilliantly last night. The City Hall Reporter wrote:

Sources said the 2016 budget that Emanuel will present to the City Council on Sept. 22 will include a $450 million property tax increase for police and fire pensions the mayor once hoped to shore up with revenues from an elusive Chicago casino.

In addition, Emanuel will ask aldermen to adopt a separate levy of $50 million to bankroll school construction and pay off old projects…

Emanuel has offered to raise property taxes by an additional $170 million for the schools, but only if teachers accept the equivalent of a 7 percent pay cut and the state reimburses CPS for “normal” pension costs…

Together, the increases for both the city and CPS have the potential to raise the annual property tax bill for the owner of a home valued at $250,000 by nearly $700.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

“Home valued at $250,000 by nearly $700.”

Holy crap. That’s some pretty serious coin.


PSA from Alderman Al Czervik, Chicago City Council
YouTube Video

Keep in mind this hit to Chicago property owners doesn’t account for that other recent property tax hike I wrote about on August 27:

There are so many new and increased fees, fines, and taxes being proposed and implemented around the Chicagoland area these days, it’s hard to keep track of all of them. But here’s one Chicago tax hike that’s just been approved that’s making local headlines. Juan Perez, Jr., reported on the Chicago Tribune website last night:

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s school board on Wednesday unanimously approved a budget that relies heavily on borrowed money and the hope of a nearly $500 million bailout from a stalemated Springfield, with the specter of disruptive cuts in January if that help fails to materialize.

The $5.7 billion spending plan contains another property tax hike — an estimated $19-a-year increase for the owner of a $250,000 home — as well as teacher and staff layoffs. The Chicago Board of Education also prepared to go to Wall Street to issue $1 billion in bonds and agreed to spend $475,000 so an accounting firm can monitor a cash flow problem so acute that Chicago Public Schools mulled skipping a massive teacher pension payment at the end of June…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

So there it is. And if Chicagoans think this major tax increase is some sort of one-off, well, I know of a certain bridge for sale out east. Like I’ve been warning all along, emphasizing it as recent as August 21:

New/higher fees, fines, and taxes, coupled with reduced government services

I also added in that post:

Chicago readers of this blog- what are you planning to do about the crisis? Or, what are you already doing? Maybe you don’t think a crisis exists? Please share your thoughts or experiences in the “Comments” section of this post, as I’d really like to talk more about this going forward.

Not much of a response was received (save for Mihail- thanks buddy). Anyone care to chime in now? Vent a little perhaps? Keep it civil, of course.

One more thing. With the cat out of the bag concerning the property tax hike and renewed attention on Chicago’s fiscal issues, I wonder what the impact will be on Chicago’s housing market (which had some positive momentum) going forward?

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

Sources:

Dardick, Hal and Ruthhart, Bill. “Emanuel set to call for largest property tax hike in modern Chicago history.” Chicago Tribune. 3 Sep. 2015. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/politics/ct-rahm-emanuel-property-tax-hike-met-0903-20150902-story.html). 3 Sep. 2015.

Spielman, Fran. “Emanuel to seek $500 million property tax hike.” Chicago Sun-Times. 2 Sep. 2015. (http://chicago.suntimes.com/news/7/71/928338/emanuel-seek-500-million-property-tax-hike). 3 Sep. 2015.

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Thursday, September 3rd, 2015 Debt Crisis, Education, Entitlements, Fiscal Policy, Government, Housing, Public Safety, Taxes, Transportation Comments Off on Chicago’s Financial Reckoning Day Has Arrived

Chicago Taxpayers To Be Hit With Property Tax Hike, Garbage Collection Fee?

Chicagoans- think all the recent talk of new/higher fees, fines, and taxes is garbage?

You’re right, in a way.

I just finished reading some material from Chicago Sun-Times City Hall reporter Fran Spielman over on that paper’s website.

Chicago taxpayers had better be prepared for their pocketbooks to take a hit in the coming months.

Spielman talked Sunday afternoon about the City’s need for $754 million in new revenue, and the options submitted by City Council to Mayor Rahm Emanuel to help “generate” it. That included:

• Property tax hike
• Garbage collection fee
• Ride-hailing companies (Uber) surcharge
• Congestion fee
• Bicycle license
• Gas tax hike
• Sales tax hike
• City income tax

Which ones stand a good chance of being put into play by City Hall? Spielman wrote:

Ald. Carrie Austin, outspoken chairman of the City Council’s Budget Committee, put Emanuel on the spot during the mayoral campaign when she called a post-election property tax hike inevitable. But she was right — especially now that a Circuit Court judge has overturned Emanuel’s plan to save two of four city employee pension funds.

The only question is, how much will property taxes be going up?

Emanuel has already offered to raise property taxes by $225 million for the Chicago Public Schools, provided teachers accept the equivalent of a 7 percent pay cut and the state reimburses CPS for “normal” pension costs…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

In a separate Sun-Times piece from last night, Spielman added:

Ald. Pat O’Connor (40th), Emanuel’s City Council floor leader, said it’s no longer an issue of whether Chicago will have a garbage-collection fee. The question is, how much?

“That’s where the real discussion will take place. It will be around the cost, rather than the enablement. We need to see the numbers that show how much we’ll save and how much it would generate,” he said…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Property tax hike. Check. Garbage collection fee. Check.

Waiting to see what actually transpires. In the mean time, Chicago taxpayers might want to check out those Spielman articles to get a better idea of what might be in store for them shortly.

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

Sources:

Spielman, Fran. “Property tax hike, garbage fee, congestion tax all on the table.” Chicago Sun-Times. 16 Aug. 2015. (http://chicago.suntimes.com/news/7/71/876236/chicago-budget-revenue-tax-ideas). 20 Aug. 2015.

Spielman, Fran. “Chicago homeowners likely to pay for garbage pickup soon.” Chicago Sun-Times. 19 Aug. 2015. (http://chicago.suntimes.com/news/7/71/891070/garbage-collection-fee-looks-likely-chicago-homeowners). 20 Aug. 2015.

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Thursday, August 20th, 2015 Debt Crisis, Education, Entitlements, Fiscal Policy, Government, Income, Taxes, Transportation, Vehicles Comments Off on Chicago Taxpayers To Be Hit With Property Tax Hike, Garbage Collection Fee?

Chicago-Area Expressway Shootings Jump

I thought there was an uptick in the number of local expressway shootings lately. Frank Main reported on the Chicago Sun-Times website yesterday:

Expressway shootings have become a major problem. They not only threaten the lives of motorists, but they have also caused frequent traffic jams as police shut down the expressways to investigate them.

In 2010, there were six shootings on Chicago-area expressways.

Last year, there were 18.

And so far this year, there have been 25

In the past two years, one person was killed and 23 people were wounded in the shootings, according to the Illinois State Police.

Most of the shootings don’t appear to stem from road rage, said Sgt. Clare Pfotenhauer, a spokeswoman for the state police. Usually, they involve gang conflicts, she said.

A law enforcement source said gang members follow their targets onto the Dan Ryan and Eisenhower expressways because they believe it’s easier to get away from police on the expressways than on neighborhood streets…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

I’ve logged a lot of hours on the Eisenhower over the years. Back in the late nineties, I was heading east on I-290 into the city when I noticed my girlfriend at the time was staring out the front passenger window at other vehicles. Just then what appeared to be a car full of gangbangers pulled up alongside of us. By the look on their faces, they weren’t too happy being stared at by some far west suburban white girl. Nothing came of the incident. However, living off the West Side at this time, I knew better than to stare at other vehicles and their occupants on certain stretches of Chicagoland roadway lest they consider “popping a cap in my ass” (a couple of years earlier while driving on I-43 in downtown Milwaukee I already had a handgun flashed at me), and gladly shared such concerns with this young lady later that day.

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

Source:

Main, Frank. “As Chicago expressway shootings soar, state police crack down.” Chicago Sun-Times. 9 Aug. 2015. (http://chicago.suntimes.com/lynn-sweet-politics/7/71/864981/trumps-blood-feud-deviants-think-hes-wrong). 10 Aug. 2015.

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Monday, August 10th, 2015 Crime, Public Safety, Transportation, Vehicles Comments Off on Chicago-Area Expressway Shootings Jump

Jim Rogers Still Bullish On Russian Stocks

Despite the near-constant stream of bad news coming from the mainstream financial media about Russia these days, well-known investor, author, and financial commentator Jim Rogers appears to still be bullish on Russian stocks. Yelena Orekhova and Olga Popova reported on the Reuters website Monday:

Now may be the time to invest in Russian shares because oil prices have hit bottom and the Russian stock market is rising, veteran U.S. financier Jim Rogers said on Monday.

“I’m very optimistic about the future of Russia,” he told a conference in Moscow arranged by investment firm BCS. “Certainly one of the most attractive stock markets in the world these days for me is Russia.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Orekhova and Popova added:

Russia could now be “the right place at the right time” for investors, he said. His own portfolio consists largely of Russian shares, he said, among them fertiliser company Phosagro , airline Aeroflot and the Moscow Exchange.

The country’s economic downturn may make it an unlikely investment prospect, he said, but he was optimistic the stock market was going to rise more

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Regular readers of Survival And Prosperity might recall the former investing partner of George Soros having been bullish on the aforementioned Russian equities for some time. I noted back on November 25, 2014:

Izabella Kaminska reported on the Financial Times (UK) daily news and commentary blog today:

Russian investments now include stakes in fertiliser maker Phosagro, airliner Aeroflot, a Russia ETF and the Russian stock exchange, but he said was looking to expand into different sectors as well…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

According to that Reuters piece:

He also recommended buying short-term Russian treasury bills for investors with a one-year horizon.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

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

(Editor’s note: 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)

Source:

Orekhova, Yelena and Popova, Olga. “US financier Rogers says now may be time to invest in Russia.” Reuters.com. 6 Apr. 2015. (http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/04/06/russia-crisis-stocks-idUSL6N0X311W20150406). 6 Apr. 2015.

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Tuesday, April 7th, 2015 Agriculture, Crash Prophets, Europe, Exchange-Traded Funds, Investing, Stocks, Transportation Comments Off on Jim Rogers Still Bullish On Russian Stocks

Chicago Tribune: ‘As Many As 40 Oil Trains Come Through Chicago And The Suburbs Each Week’

My girlfriend likes the popular getaway destination of Galena, Illinois (never been there myself). So she was concerned last week when breaking news appeared on the TV screen about a BNSF Railway train carrying 103 tank cars laden with crude oil derailing and exploding in that northwest part of the state.

Luckily, the incident occurred in a sparsely-populated area (no injuries reported).

But it’s been revealed that the tank cars that burst into flames had already been retrofitted with protective shields to meet a higher safety standard than federal law requires.

Richard Wronski reported in my Sunday paper (the Chicago Tribune) yesterday:

The fiery train derailment Thursday near Galena should serve as a wake-up call for the state and the Chicago area to be better prepared in the event of a similar incident in the metropolitan area, officials said…

Had the incident occurred in the city or suburbs, it would have forced the evacuation of thousands of people and caused enormous damage, officials said…

Documents filed with the state and obtained by the Tribune last year show that as many as 40 oil trains come through Chicago and the suburbs each week

Few Chicago-area fire departments have enough firefighting foam and equipment to respond effectively to the kind of roaring infernos that have resulted from tank car derailments, the Tribune reported last year…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Well that’s disturbing to read (hat tip Wronski and the Tribune for digging this info up).

As regular readers may remember, my girlfriend and I moved out of the city a year-and-a-half ago to one of the northwest suburbs, where a set of railroad tracks (frequently used by freight) is located about a half-mile away.

This event has indeed been a “wake-up call.” I really need to investigate if a potential hazardous materials incident exists with that rail line. And plan accordingly.

Chicago-area readers might want to do the same if they haven’t already.

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

Source:

Wronksi, Richard. “Galena derailment should put Chicago on alert, officials say.” Chicago Tribune. 8 Mar. 2015. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-crude-oil-train-derailment-met-20150306-story.html). 8 Mar. 2015

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Monday, March 9th, 2015 Commodities, Emergencies, Essential Reading, Fire, Man-Made Disasters, Preparedness, Public Safety, Transportation Comments Off on Chicago Tribune: ‘As Many As 40 Oil Trains Come Through Chicago And The Suburbs Each Week’
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