Wisconsin

Amended Illinois Tax Hike Plan To Hit Taxpayers, Businesses, And Employment?

Back on January 16 I published a post on Survival And Prosperity entitled “Illinois ‘Grand Bargain’ Legislation Includes 32 Percent Personal Income Tax Hike.” I started the piece with:

Illinois taxpayers may get hit with a significant income tax hike pretty soon…

Yesterday morning, I learned the potential “hit” could be a “combination of punches” directred at taxpayers, businesses, and employment.

From the Greg Hinz On Politics blog on the website of Crain’s Chicago Business:

There’s still no word on when lawmakers are going to vote on it, but an amended tax-hike plan has been introduced in the state capital.

It’s a doozy, with an even higher income tax, a limited service tax and a sort of minimum tax on business. But the soda pop levy is gone, as are a couple of those corporate loophole closings that business groups didn’t like…

The highlights:

The Individual income tax would go to 4.99 percent from the current 3.75 percent, and the corporate income tax to 7 percent from 5.25 percent. Combined, that would pull in about an additional $5 billion a year.

A new “business opportunity tax” ranging from a fee of $225 to $15,000 a year would be imposed, based on payroll. The intent is to make sure that all companies pay something, whether they are profitable or not. The state’s net on this is an estimated $750 million a year.

However, the research and development tax credit would be made permanent and the manufacturers purchase and graphics arts credits would be combined, as some businesses wanted.

A service tax—extension of the sales tax—would be imposed on certain items including repair and maintenance of personal property, use of amusement services including gyms, landscaping, laundry and dry-cleaning, and storage of personal goods such as cars and property. This would pull in a projected $400 million a year.

The telecom excise tax would be extended to cable and satellite services.

Both Radogno and Cullerton are said to have negotiated and support the above, pending action on the rest of the package…

Hinz does a good job summarizing the proposed expanded revenue grab. At this point, I want to go back to that bit about a new “business opportunity tax.” From the actual legislation for the so-called “Business Opportunity Tax Act”:

Section 1-10. Tax imposed.
(a) Beginning on July 1, 2017, a tax is hereby imposed upon each qualified business for the privilege of doing business in the State.
(b) The tax under subsection (a) shall be imposed in the following amounts:
(1) if the taxpayer’s total Illinois payroll for the taxable year is less than $100,000, then then annual tax is $225;
(2) if the taxpayer’s total Illinois payroll for the taxable year is $100,000 or more but less than $250,000, then the annual tax is $750;
(3) if the taxpayer’s total Illinois payroll for the taxable year is $250,000 or more but less than $500,000, then the annual tax is $3,750;
(4) if the taxpayer’s total Illinois payroll for the taxable year is $500,000 or more but less than $1,500,000, then the annual tax is $7,500; and
(5) if the taxpayer’s total Illinois payroll for the taxable year is $1,500,000 or more, then the annual tax is $15,000…

I can see a number of existing and prospective Illinois business owners having concerns with the proposed “Business Opportunity Tax Act.”

First, Illinois already has poor business reputation. For example, early last year Chief Executive magazine asked 513 CEOs to rank states they are familiar with on the friendliness of their tax and regulatory regime, workforce quality, and living environment. The “Land of Lincoln” came in as the 48th worst state in this annual survey, beaten only by New York and California in that order. The “Business Opportunity Tax Act” has the real potential of increasing the perception that Illinois is business-unfriendly.

Second, if my understanding of the legislation is correct, the larger the payroll an Illinois business has, the more taxes they will pay. Consider the following. If I’m an Illinois business owner with a payroll just shy of $250K who would like to bring on more staff, I may be dissuaded from doing so to avoid forking over an additional $3,000 to the state (unless I’m convinced the hiring would offset the $3K hit). And how might employee raises be impacted once payrolls start approaching a higher tax bracket? The proposed “Business Opportunity Tax Act” may not be too terrific for Illinois employment.

Third, readers of this blog may know that I am in the process of rolling out a research business focusing on specialized asset protection. It’s been my intention to launch in the Chicago area. Lately, however, I’ve been thninking of opening up shop in southeast Wisconsin (where my family has a residence) due to the direction Illinois looks to be heading with taxes and its treatment of the business community. The passage of the “Business Opportunity Tax Act” could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. I wonder how many other prospective Illinois business owners might be in the same boat?

Stay tuned…

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

Source:

Hinz, Greg. “New, wider tax plan rolls out in Springfield.” Greg Hinz On Politics. 24 Jan. 2017. (http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20170124/BLOGS02/170129931/springfield-lawmakers-roll-out-new-wider-tax-hike-plan). 26 Jan. 2017.

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More Wisconsin Welfare Reform Coming?

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is pushing for additional welfare reform in the state. Reid Wilson reported Monday afternoon on The Hill website:

Twenty years after a Republican governor of Wisconsin spearheaded an ambitious welfare reform package, the current governor is trying to build momentum for a new round of reforms.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) on Monday said he would ask the state’s Republican-led legislature to undertake one of the most aggressive welfare reform packages since a wave of new measures passed in the mid-1990s.

Walker’s plan, “Wisconsin Works for Everyone,” would impose new work requirements on both able-bodied adults with school-age children who receive state food assistance and those who receive housing assistance. Both work plans, which would be tested on a pilot basis, would require recipients to be employed for at least 80 hours per month, or to be enrolled in job training programs. Those who do not meet work requirements would see part of their benefits cut…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Food stamp work requirements for abled-bodied adults without dependents have existed in Wisconsin since April 2015.

As for it’s neighbor to the south, critics contend the food stamp program in Illinois is ripe for abuse. A work requirement does not exist for even abled-bodied adults without dependents. According to the Illinois Department of Human Services:

“We expect people who can work to try and do so.”

Hmm.

Head on over to The Hill website here to read the entire piece.

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

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Tuesday, January 24th, 2017 Employment, Government, Housing, Political Parties No Comments

Mexican Paper Reports ‘Migrants Flee To Chicago Before Trump Becomes President’

In a post yesterday about Chicago, I offered up the following to residents who look to remain in the city through what I suspect will be increasingly tough times:

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…

Here’s one more thing these Chicagoans might want to consider:

Learn to speak Spanish, if you don’t already.

Back in high school, I informed one of my Spanish teachers that I wanted to learn the language because I envisioned a future where being able to speak it might come in handy around Chicagoland and in other parts of the country.

It has. Immensely.

Almost a decade ago, I mentioned to my girlfriend that Chicagoans had better get used to a growing Hispanic influence in the city, based on the demographic trends I was observing.

Perhaps even more so now, after reading an article on the website of Mexican financial newspaper EL FINANCIERO. In the piece entitled “Migrants flee to Chicago before Trump becomes president,” Anabel Clemente reported Tuesday:

Before Donald Trump is acting president, on January 20, Mexico’s consul in Chicago, Carlos Martín Jiménez, reported that there is already a displacement of migrants to that city, as a point considered a sanctuary .

During the 28th Meeting of Ambassadors and Consuls, he said that undocumented people, living in localities near Chicago, began moving to that city, where their mayor, Rahm Emanuel, has implemented support measures , such as establishing a Special office called New Citizens , and has put a free phone for those who do not have documentation.

“We have Indiana, which is quite anti-immigrant, almost half the state, and we have a lot of people in Wisconsin . Although there is a new consulate, people are already very accustomed to the Chicago consulate and then they are migrating to Chicago, precisely because of the sanctuary issue, “he said…

(Editor’s notes: Bold added for emphasis; Translation exactly as provided by the Google Translate website.)

You can read the entire article here in English via Google Translate or here in Spanish on the EL FINANCIERO website.

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

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Quote For The Week

“This is nothing more than an attempt to intimidate the Trump administration and to intimidate the Trump supporters. This is a slap in the face to the voters. In our democracy, the voters decide who will lead these institutions of government. And numbers came out, enough to make Donald Trump the President-elect of the United States. It’s going to take them some time, but they’ll get over it. But in the meantime, you put up with them like a petulant two-year-old. You let them dance and have their tantrum. And then at some point you take them by the arm and you look them in the eye and you go, ‘That’s enough.’

-Milwaukee County (Wisconsin) Sheriff David Clarke, Jr., speaking on the Fox News TV show Hannity on November 10 about anti-Trump protests/riots

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

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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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Follow-Up: Martin Armstrong’s Quote For The Week

Before I really get going for the week on Survival And Prosperity, after I published the “Quote For The Week” Monday- the one from economist Martin Armstrong about a “lack of recent reports of UFO sightings or abduction” in this goofy election year- I couldn’t help but remember my 1992-93 winter break from college where I invited a bunch of buddies up to my family’s cabin in Wisconsin. As the host, I got to pick the VHS movies to watch, with one of them being the 1988 John Carpenter sci-fi film They Live starring the late “Rowdy” Roddy Piper of pro wrestling fame. From Melissa Portell on the IMDB website:

Nada, a down-on-his-luck construction worker, discovers a pair of special sunglasses. Wearing them, he is able to see the world as it really is: people being bombarded by media and government with messages like “Stay Asleep”, “No Imagination”, “Submit to Authority”. Even scarier is that he is able to see that some usually normal-looking people are in fact ugly aliens in charge of the massive campaign to keep humans subdued.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

My friends had never heard of the flick. But I had already seen it. And the one part of the movie that really stood out for me (and which I thought my buddies would appreciate) was the fight scene where Piper (Nada) tries to get actor Keith David to wear the “special” sunglasses:


“They Live (2/4) They Live Fight Scene – FULL (Explicit Language) (1988)”
YouTube Video

In my opinion, one of the best fight sequences ever to grace the “Silver Screen.” And my guests wholeheartedly agreed as well.

In 1992, the message that movie conveyed was somewhat lost on us meathead college boys (the beer certainly didn’t help either).

Some twenty-three years later, sans the alien bit, I can’t help but be a little creeped out by the resemblance between America of 2016 and Carpenter’s nightmarish setting:

The world as it really is: people being bombarded by media and government with messages like “Stay Asleep”, “No Imagination”, “Submit to Authority”…


“Newscasters Agree: A Christmas Present Or Two Or Ten Edition”
YouTube Video

Funny?

I don’t know about you, but that segment really started getting disturbing for me around the minute mark.

Live long and prosper… if you can.

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

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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

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

Successor to Boom2Bust.com
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