Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Italy's Second Deadly Earthquake

Todays Italian earthquake  (Photo: The Associated Press)

     According to the Reuters news service, another earthquake, this one of 5.8 magnitude hit Italy, in the vicinity of Modena today. It was felt far and wide within Italy, and outside Italy as well.  This one is said to have turned many buildings to rubble.  It is also known to have killed eighteen people, thus far.  More are suspected to be buried in rubble.  Please say a prayer for the people impacted by this disaster.  There is known to be widespread disruption of train and transportation service to the region, and cell phone communication disruption.
           This quake will also adversely impact Italy's economy.  The area damaged is broadly agricultural. It produces parmigiano reggiano cheese,  and has damaged some of the country's best agricultural lands as well.  This quake is about 30 km. from the epicenter of the one we preciously reported on here.   An earlier earthquake this week in Bulgaria, did not result in any injuries.

This is Mirandola, in Northern Italy.  (Photo: AP Photo/Marco Vasini)

Update:  As of May 30, 2012, there have been fifty aftershocks in the area of Northern Italy.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

For Those Beginning in Preparedness

(Picture: dmreligious.org)

   Close friends and I have been active in preparedness circles now for twenty five years.  Most of the people who log on Rational Preparedness, are already active, if not pretty expert,  in some respect of preparedness, be it medical, general civil defense, CERT,  Latter Day Saints pantry activities, Salvation Army, church disaster rescue activities, etc.  Most of the people who log on here, do so as a reference, or to see how someone else is tackling an issue that has challenged them.  You may not find all your answers here, but post by post, you will find a perspective as to how I or a friend of mine has tackled an issue or a concern.  My friend Kymber, of Framboise Manor fame,  has encouraged me perhaps to do a series for beginning preppers.  I was thinking about this today and thinking about how I would approach this, and I realized that my other friends have done this, in a variety of ways.  So today, I will provide a variety of references specifically for those beginning in preparedness.  Don't be overwhelmed.  Pick an aspect of preparedness you would like to read about, and each day, read something. Then take time to digest and think about it.  Be careful not to try to compete with others.  I don't need a 50,000 square foot underground bunker from the Cold War Era for my family, and you might not either.  Rather than focusing on what others may have done for their families, think about what is reasonably required by your own.   You need water.  You need food.  You need a safe shelter.  You need a reasonable medical care kit, and a general tool kit.  You need a way of keeping family documents safe.  That may be, all you need to think about for now.   When you have processed this, this about how you would evacuate from your home with your family and pets, if that became necessary in forest fire, flood or other unforeseen circumstance.


These are my dear friends:                                     These are articles on survival and preparedness:

http://survivalweekly.com/about/                               http://survivalweekly.com/downloadable-files/

This is my friend Jim:     He has organized a week by week set of activities of things to do and/or think about:   In this, he lists a 23 week plan to organizing for preparedness.


With the advent of Facebook, many people have forgotten that Yahoo Groups have had varietal preparedness groups for information and support for fifteen years.

These are some of the groups.   Find ones that you like, but don't linger at the ones which do not interest you. The plan is to get information and ask questions of the people where you are most comfortable.

This is a partial listing of preparedness oriented Yahoo groups:

To subscribe, join Yahoo, and go to the following groups:    These are the links with which you may subscribe:

Micellaneous Survivalism:

Budget Homemaking:

Women Survivalists:

Prepared Survivalists Unite:

LDS Food Storage:

Preparation Jr.

Always Ready:

This if course, in meant in jest.  (Graphic: theonion.com )


  Of course, written and released after this post is my book:

Rational Preparedness: A Primer to Preparedness

which is designed to prepare families quickly and simply for varietal issues.

The book can also be purchased on  Amazon.com   at:


On Being Overwhelmed

(Image by Stephen Poff.       usmansheikh.com)

    I cannot tell you how many people who are interested in preparedness have told me that they are totally overwhelmed lately.  They cite many reasons for this.   Many are financially challenged.  They know they need to prepare for inflation and for natural disasters, but they lack the funds to prepare as they might wish.  Others speak of being overwhelmed by the barrage of concerning financial news on television and radio.  I am afraid I may not have helped much, in that regard, with an entire blog series examining the possibility of an American financial collapse. Others complain about being stressed over having inadequate storage to store supplies they know they need for their children and extended families.  Others are sick and tired of rotating stock.

        Sadly, the shorter of money you are, the more important it is to prepare adequately for natural disasters and for inflation. Imagine how much better things in New Orleans post Katrina would have been if families who were short of money stocked even a few dollars worth of bottled water and six packs of ginger ale, from The Dollar Tree ?   Wal-Mart Pharmacies also have a section with peroxide, alcohol, sanitary napkins, and other supplies in a section for eighty-eight cents each   It takes some planning but those on fixed incomes, can also put together first forty eight hour kits, then 72 hours kits, and then longer term emergency supplies.   Sometimes the people who are financially challenged and thought out their preparedness needs better than the rest of us.  Also, a lot of preparedness is about preparedness education.  It is not always necessary to actually buy the books on our look listing, or on anyone elses.  Sometimes, borrowing them from the library and reading them and returning them is the best strategy, and costs little or nothing.   If after reading them in the library you find a few that you would like to own, you can go to www.half.com   or www.abebooks.com and pay a fraction of the price you might pay elsewhere.
         I will be honest about being concerned myself regarding the possibilities for inflation or even collapse of the American government following the actions of the Federal Reserve with regard to "quantitative easing".  However, we have no choice but to set aside concerns about the machine of which you and I have no control, and direct our attentions and our preparations to the things in which we do. Our own preparations are one of the things of which we do have control.   Some time ago, I decided that I would use three certain foreign news groups for information, and that I would limit my dose of the news to a certain period of time daily.  I found that the barrage of bad news 24/7 was coloring how I looked at the world, and that this was not positive.

Emergency Supply Cabinet   http://www.globalindustrial.com/c/storage/cabinets/storage   I have one of these, but it's not orange. It's a lockable office cabinet I bought from a discount office supplier.  Mine is tan.

               I may be first to coin the terms preparedness stress and preparedness burn out.   Preparedness stress would be experiencing stress, fear or being overwhelmed at the prospects of all you believe you must do in order to properly prepare for the potentials in your area or living environment.  Preparedness burn out would be when this stress reaches a sufficient pitch that you set preparing aside for awhile, out of frustration and being unclear as to how to prepare next. There is plenty we can do in order to cope with these issues.   First, realize that preparation is a careful lifestyle, and that there is no specific date where we reach a point where we say......."There !  We are done" and we never look at it again.   It is a purposeful way to live and to protect one's family.   It is also a very broad topic.   One month you might be gathering some water, another you might be gathering medical records and medication listings. One month you might be getting HAM radio certification, and another you might be getting CPR certification. If you are moving in three months, amassing more supplies might be unwise, and so you might use spare time for educational pursuits in preparedness, rather than the gathering of "stuff". Preparedness asks us to be flexible, and work toward being prepared for the unanticipated, even if what we are planning for, does not transpire for years. I was certified in CPR originally in 1978. I did not use it for the first time, until 1980. I did not do infant CPR on one of my children, for near miss SIDS, until 1990.   Preppers plan for things which may not happen for many years, or may never happen at all.  We must prepare without pressuring ourselves unduly. As with life, the journey is important here, not necessarily the destination.

           So, very simply, when you are out of money with which to prep, either organize your supplies, or read a book on emergency medical care.  When you anticipate money to spend on preps, consider in advance the best use of your money, and list and compare possibilities and prices.  When all you have for preps is ten dollars, visit a garage sale.  A friend of mine saw a very reasonable Bell motorcycle helmet which could be useful in their area, for their child, come tornado season.  When you are out of money, check out discarded items.  Although "dumpster diving" can be illegal in some municipalities, in some places very good quality things are tossed out.  In the name of recycling, you should rescue them.   When you need to, simply take a break and spend time with the people you wish to protect.  Find ways to recharge your own batteries.  Remember the way of life you wish to protect.  I promise you, that continuing to prep properly over many years, can be done.


  Of course, written and released after this particular post is my book:

Rational Preparedness: A Primer to Preparedness

which is designed to prepare families quickly and simply for varietal issues.    It is calmly and directly written and designed to help break down preparedness tasks in a reasonable manageable fashion.

The book can also be purchased on  Amazon.com   at:


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Is it Canine Dementia ?

Angus and Ro in their indoor kennel room  Note the plastic easily cleaned kennels even inside, for extra cool in summer, and extra heat in winter. The door to the outside exercise area can be closed.

    As you know, our dogs who live in our kennel and who rotate out to different areas of the farm to "work" are a passion of mine.  Most of them are rescues from pounds, some near and some far. Some of them are likely full blooded (purebred), and some of them are mixed.   I personally try to choose mixed breeds for their "mongrel resiliency", but truthfully, a dog in need that we can help, when the kennel is not full, gets the slot.  Most of them adapt very quickly and enjoy whatever their work is.  Some are used as watchdogs. Some are trained to watch over livestock.  One proved his worth as a "seizure dog", notifying us when another dog of similar breed had seizures.  They are all very dear to us.
          One of the sad things in this life is that most dogs live ten to fourteen years or so, and humans live seventy or eighty or more. The years of a dogs life pass quickly, and then, once again, you are looking at the impending passing of a dear friend.  Of all our dogs over the years, we have been very lucky.  Most have lived long lifespans, and have passed easily.
          Some years ago, on the last farm, a small tri-colored beagle appeared, and would hide from us.  We saw him occasionally, and he would cower.  We tried to feed him and give him water, but for a year, he would hide from us.  This was very concerning because rabies is quite a problem in the forests of our county.  A feral dog could become rabid and endanger our family, spread rabies to other wild animals, or attack our own pets or livestock.  We worked to catch him if just to take him for a rabies shot.  It took more than a year, but we eventually caught the dog. He was glad to have a family and steady food and water, but then frightened at intervals from relatively mild stimuli.  The vet believed him to have been a hunting dog who was abused because each time we tried to pat him gently, he would shrink as if he were sure someone were going to beat him. The vet believed him to be very old, even then. We named him Angus.

Angus just last winter, going for a walk in the snow.
Rosheen, during her walk in the snow.

            He adapted well when we developed this particular farm, and has really enjoyed the safety of the kennel, particularly at night.  Late last autumn when he had his annual physical with the vet, she told me she thought that he could be older than twenty. She told us that tri-colored beagles can live a very long time. We actually had an appreciation for this, as we adopted a former hunting dog from a construction site in the 1980s, and he was eventually euthanized by the vet for lung cancer. He was also exceedingly old.
           Lately however, we have a new concern with Angus.  Angus shares his large kennel area with a spayed Jack Russell Terrier named Rosheen  (although I think on her records, it has the traditional Gaelic spelling of Roisin. She is Ro for short.)   Lately, Ro has been looking a little jumpy, and the items in their kennel have been thrown around overnight.  I also have occasional found Angus in the outdoor run area of the kennel in a dog house, facing backwards and barking voraciously.  Sometimes, he seems to bark at things that aren't there.  We are able to calm him and he does know us, but it appears that Angus has developed something called Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome.  Sometimes, as dogs age, they develop brain lesions, and they have difficulty regulating their brain chemicals.

These are some of the general symptoms of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction or Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome:

    Stares into space
    May become lost in places that are ordinarily familiar, either in the house or in the yard.
    Is easily startled.
    Loses the ability to keep himself clean.  Has lost the skill of being housebroken.
    Interacts with his human and canine family less. Plays less.
    Sleeps more during the day,  may be disoriented and agitated at night.
    (At lot like the "Sundowner's Syndrome" we see with some human dementias.)
    Shakes or trembles, even when it's not cold.
    Is hesitant to eat or drink or accept a treat.
    No longer enjoys favorite toys. May fear them.
    Some CCDS dogs vocalize excessively
    Some may seem a bit more aggressive.

 It can be hard to tell these symptoms from normal aging, or as simple complications of failing hearing or sight,

Of course, not every dog with some of these symptoms has Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome, and not every dog who does has ALL of these symptoms.  Angus seems to have the "Sundowner's Syndrome" pretty consistently, and I am sure life for Ro is less relaxed than it used to be.

      If you have a dog with these issues, it is probably not necessary to euthanize him.  Most vets would prefer to see a pet who has developed a sudden dementia, because there are drugs specifically for this disorder. First, they like to rule out medical causes for changes in behavior. If it IS CCDS, then a drug called L-selegelene has been used, and the more common registered name for it is Anipryl. Apparently, many vets are of the opinion that this is more a brain chemical issue than it is a lesion based syndrome.  Although it may be expensive,  it can be treated, often successfully for a period of time. The dogs dementia process usually slows and may reverse, although eventually, the dog either passes or the dementia moves on.

     I will mention this to our vet, but meanwhile we will try the softer solutions.   We will try to play with him during the day, so he is tired enough to sleep at night. We will be understanding of his gradual failure. We will move slowly around him, and not make changes to his kennel room.  We thought about moving Ro to a neighboring kennel room, but if the dog is not aggressive, and Angus is not, then changing their world is strongly discouraged by veterinarians and animal; behaviorists. The time for discipline or teaching is probably now past.  We will support our dear friend through his aging, and through his eventual passing.

       In the country, we use our dogs to alert us to bears, coyotes, rabid animals, bobcats,  coydogs, feral dogs,  and a rare mountain lion. We depend upon them very heavily for both patrols, notification, animal supervision, and herding depending upon their breed.  However, our lives are very much enriched from their companionship as well.

One of the best and most complete discussions of CCDS can be found at:


Update:   November 26, 2012:      Angus is still with us.  He functions during the day by following whatever his kennel mate Ro is doing.   At night sometimes, especially if there is a change, such as windy weather, he makes a lot of noise and  moves the water and food dishes and bedding in his kennel room.  He does still recognize us, and is comforted by us.  He still eats well and enjoys the dog biscuits we bring.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Sometimes Hard Work Pays Off


     I mentioned in a prior post that our daughter, in her twenties, has been looking for a house.  As those of you who are also seeking a rural property also know, this can be a difficult undertaking.  Before one takes on a mortgage, we need to be assured of a number of things.  One of them is that the structure is solid and safe, and two, that the price you are paying constitutes a reasonable long term investment. With the US and world situation as it is, this is more challenging that it ,at first, might seem.  Owing a mortgage is a leap of faith within itself, and requires some level of speculation. You are betting that you won't lose your job, and that if you do, you will be able to pay the mortgage somehow anyway.  A lot of people speculated and lost that bet in the last few years.  Our daughter decided that in our area, rentals were hard to come by, and that for the cost similar to a rental that she could buy, and this has fuelled her search over a fairly long period of time.  She has been saving money at her job, watching interest rates, and then she qualified at a mortgage bank which has an association with her realtor. She provided them with 1040s, and W2s, and they ran her credit report with her fledgling credit rating.  Then, the looking began.  Because some weeks she spends almost sixty hours a week at her job, I have been helping in terms of setting up househunting.  Our rule is that although we do not think it is constructive to help her monetarily with this, and that this must be HER investment and her home, that we will help her in terms of offering aid and our experience.  We receive e-mails of new listings and photos of new houses which have come to market. I immediately run out to do an exterior drive by.  Many can be ruled out almost immediately.  If it seems ok, I arrange an appointment with our daughter and the realtor, and then, we all take a look.  Our eldest son, the sculptor, is also a great set of extra eyes.  Many of the homes we looked at were damaged in the August earthquake to this region.  Many are foreclosures, and many in her price range are ,quite frankly, trashed.  We looked at a few with mold damage, or other issues which made the most reasonable thing to do, to bulldoze the structure and simply start again.  Our daughter showed an early leaning toward some of the small older farm homes, but she lacks the income and the time to really restore a house which could become more like a child. When we did find a house that was of interest to her, then there was background work to do. Each time we checked on this or that, or what it would cost to replace this and that, by the time she was ready to enter into a contract for such, someone else already had.  She lost several houses that had been her heart's desire, and over all the process seemed pretty discouraging.   The internet has also changed real estate in a lot of ways. A property which goes up on the market today, is on so many realtors websites and available to people all over the country by the next day.  Competition for the nice homes can be fierce. In addition, the process of entering into a contract or making an offer over the internet, with the aid of your realtor might streamline the process, but it appears to heighten the competition.  Finally, it was her turn.  A house came onto the market, and through automatic e-mail system was sent to me, I drove by within about an hour.  I e-mailed the realtor immediately, setting up an appointment at a time I thought Stephanie could arrive.  Then, we brought everyone to look.   My husband spent time on attic and essential systems.  I looked inside with her.  Our eldest son talked to her about the possibilities of replacing the carpet with oak floors before moving in, making it easier to keep clean.  Her boyfriend spent time looking at the yard and planning a vegetable garden. I rethought my stance of having her do this financially on her own, and thought that a good housewarming gift really would be a riding lawnmower. We really believed that if she wanted this home, that she should offer a contract at once. She was very relieved that she had been pre-approved for a mortgage.  She decided to make a full price offer on the home, so that a second party, who would be looking later in the day, would be more likely to be blocked, and would not "snipe" her, (as is so often the case on Ebay. these days)  The offer was made, and she signed it electronically at home via the internet.   Because the owner of the home is a bank, we waited for an acceptance for a time.  Rather than accepting, they countered asking her to pay to pump out her own septic.  We accepted. We have a contract !  The process to closing can be arduous, but the realtor seems to have a good team assembled, and so she is fairly positive.
          Selecting a home is a big deal. Our daughter understands that she will be locked into, even a reasonable payment, for years. She also understands the process by which to pre-pay such a loan. She plans to be frugal and complete the loan in a shorter time than normal.  Additionally, this home may be her permanent one. In the present financial climate, she is unlikely to move up putting more down on each home every four years or so, as we always did.  Her interest rate is also different.  When I bought my first home, the interest rate was 14 1/2 % and we were happy to get it.  She will have a loan between three and four percent.   It is also important to buy a home where you can stock supplies for hard times, perhaps raise a couple of chickens for eggs, and grow some vegetables and maybe fruit trees.  A large kitchen will be helpful for canning.  What is important is that finding the right house at a good rate, is possible, and it is important to minimize ones risk as much as is possible. I am pleased not just that she found a house she wants and has a contract on it, but that she was patient enough to gather the information, consider her debt carefully, and pick a home where she can realistically maintain it, eat, and live a life.  I could not be more pleased.

This is an earlier post on her househunting:


Sunday, May 20, 2012

Earthquake in Italy

This is the handiwork of this particular quake. This is in Saint Agostino near Ferrara.  (Picture:  STRINGER/ITALY/REUTERS)

    According to the Reuters news service, a 6.0 earthquake occurred in Northern Italy about six hours ago.  Thus far, there have been determined to be at least seven deaths, and Silvio Belusconi has rescheduled a G8 function, in order to be available to the people near the quake area. This quake occurred overnight, and would no doubt have caused more deaths had it occurred during the day.  The predominance of those who died, were factory workers who were working overnight and who died when the factory collapsed.   There is significant damage to some areas.  A medieval castle was badly damaged. The epicenter of the quake,  was  near Modena in the Emilia-Romagna region of the Po River Valley, and the tremor was felt as far west as Liguria, bordering France, and the Friuli region bordering Slovenia.   In San Felice Sul Panaro, not only was the Estense Castle from the fourteenth century damaged, but numerous churches there were as well.   The quake may have killed and injured more people had it not been at 4 am, their time. Other sources are now saying that at least fifty people have been severely injured. There was a pre-shock, and this region is experiencing aftershocks also.
          Although Italy does experience periodic quakes, they are generally smaller than this.  Magnitude alone does not determine the level of damage from an earthquake. The depth of the epicenter and what is built there often helps to determine the degree of damage, along with what happens to be built in the area of the epicenter itself.   Today our thoughts are with the Italian people, especially those near Modena,  Bologna, and especially those who have lost family in this quake and the quake aftermath. The quake was also felt as far as Tuscany.
         For the rest of us, it is again time to assess our quake plans, and go room to room, making sure that anything which could fall on a vulnerable person particularly a child, is secured.  Remember that bookcases on walls must never be above the head of a bed, for example.

Damage in this quake.  (Photo: BBC)

Reports of people feeling this quake are far and wide, and are marked on this map.  (Map: Lalate News)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Finding Your Own Balance

        I am a feminine woman.  To look at me you might think that I am normal woman, who simply works as a college instructor.  Most people are surprised that I have so many children, and that most of them are grown. Then they are surprised that we and our kids converse, and go places together and sometimes work on projects with one another.  My husband is a dear, but he commutes long and hard from our hidden rural farm to the city to work as an engineer. Once he is there, little time is spent in the office, because job sites always need a review or a site survey, so he does a lot of day trips and covers a lot of ground.  Sometimes, we meet for lunch.  I am afraid though, that the things I buy, and the things I do, are probably not the things most people would expect.  Some women spend time having pedicures.  I have never once had a professional pedicure or manicure. I cannot sit still for that long, and I don't enjoy being messed with unnecessarily.  I also would have concerns as to whether articles being used on me had been properly sterilized. I don't understand why I can't take care of my own toenails.    In lieu of pedicures, I spend time at hardware and plumbing supply stores gathering articles for "Emergency Drain Plugging Kits" as discussed in a recent post.    Some women spend quite a bit of time and money at hairdressers. I wash my hair in the shower, let it air dry, and if it needs curling for some unknown reason, I wrap it in rag curlers one can sleep in, which can be purchased at any Sally Beauty Supply.  With all that time I don't spend being primped, I am out with my sons looking at varietal weapons, taking additional training courses on guns, and practicing their use at a place which looks an awful lot like the picture below.  Men used to be a little taken aback when I went in to gun shops, but after you buy ammo, and some reserve replacement parts for your rifles, and handle a couple of handguns well, they seem relieved and are pretty accepting of women in such a place.  At first glance, I don't look like a person who can manage the use of an AR-15, but believe me, I can and so can my sons.

             I am pretty good about sitting still to make sure all my dental work is done and up to date, but truth be told, I dislike sitting still, and I would rather be doing.   I try to balance days when I have to get dental work done, with days in the city where I can take a look at some of the newer handguns with laser sites. Oddly, the woman who aspired only to own one rifle and one handgun found that weapons are tools and that they each do something, but not everything, well.  For this reason, the collection grew as weaponry was purchased by family members and as we learned more about the broad range of weapons available for so many purposes.   On a farm, a different weapon might be used for poisonous snakes, than would be used on a rabid fox.  I hope I never have to shoot a lovely black bear, but certainly a different weapon and round would be correct for that purpose.  I am fond of the bears and they have never given us any trouble here.
           My mother was an avid shopper.  She would walk all over the place to locate the right scarf or pair of shoes, and I quite honestly, NEVER do this.  I pull out the trusty LL Bean or Land's End catalog, and buy one of the dresses, or slacks or sweaters.  I like casual shoes when I can get them.  I only rarely wear something formal, although I have a couple of nice things. If I have to buy something from a store, I get on the internet, identify a target price, and then make a couple of phone calls. If it's something I need to see, it's usually a question of getting in, locating the item, paying and getting out.
           When I am not doing these things, I am keeping up with continuing education requirements in order to keep my RN license current in quite a few US states.

I love all my animals, whatever variety, whatever breed.

           All I have written, is true about certain aspects of me.  This is how I have evolved at this point in my life, and the way that my own life feels balanced to me. Of course, the healthy organism is the flexible organism, and aspects of what I feel is a balanced day, could and will, change.    In telling you about what is right for me, I am not for a moment criticizing those women who feel pampered and comfortable seeing a hairdresser or a manicurist. It simply isn't right for me.  What is important, and the reason I have written the post, is that in order to come through difficult times, or times where loss of any kind occurs, we are most flexible and most successful in surviving adversity if we know ourselves.  If I know that being primped annoys me, then a trip to a hairdresser for a recharge would not be helpful to me.  We must each find our own comforts and our own bliss.

           I have a close friend who is a very educated and capable professional woman.  She too is very devoted to her adult children and is very proud of them. They go to lunch and talk fairly often.  However, my friend's bliss are her horses.  She spares no expense for them. She communicates well with them, and they are her babies. I am fond of horses but not in the manner in which she is.   Each one of us, as we prepare for the future, whatever comes, need to know ourselves well enough to know what centers us, what comforts us, and what we would really like to read.  Too many of us drink too much during major stressors, or create more drama than is there.  Some of us eat a mountain of calorie concentrated food, and this leaves us feeling empty and guilty as well.   Try to discover now what comforts you, and what you can do which nurtures your spirit. I promise that you will come through the challenges in your life, whatever they are,  better than you would have, had you not taken the time to know yourself. It's time you thought about allocating the time to do the things you really want to do.  Make the time to do the things you really care about doing, whether these are spending time with animals, reading books, or yes, even if your own bliss is having a manicure !

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Reflections on Preparedness

A small cemetery

    I was looking forward to a normal day today following a labor intensive weekend.  One of the errands I needed to run today was out to a hardware store.  This farm has a small family cemetery complete with headstones.  The gentleman who owned this farm prior to us, has aunts and uncles buried there, and he visits periodically.  He was a dear friend even prior to selling this part of it to us.   I promised, when we bought the farm, to make sure this area received reasonable care.   Periodically, the small area needs weed eating, some flowers trimmed or planted, a tree branch removed, or the leaves raked from the area of the graves and the stones. Our eldest son does most of the really tough work there, and the area looks very good.  We have been meaning to enclose the area with fencing, and place a heavy bench facing the headstones.   Finding the right heavy bench took some time, but we finally found the right one.  When the purchase was complete, we continued talking to the gentleman working in the hardware store.   He was talking about his own farm which is in a county neighboring our own.  He was very quick to volunteer that he and his friends have set up a survival camp for about forty people, because he fully expects a US financial collapse.  He and is friends are stocking supplies as if such a collapse is an absolute certainty.  He said that they were stocking American made tools, and lots of food.  He said they had some guns for hunting. Their focus has been several hand pumps so that they can get water easily.   We told him only that we were doing our best to put a little food away, but that we hoped that our government would make the necessary changes to prevent a collapse.  There is no point in telling someone you don't know, what and generally where, your supplies are.  It made me wonder if we should look into additional wells here.

Many places can have a hand pumped well.  Not every well can have a hand pump attached because a hand pump cannot pump water below a certain depth, so it depends upon the location of your water table.


A handpump well, operable without electricity.

            As we left and loaded our purchases in the sticky humidity into my sons truck, I thought about how much life has changed since 2008.  In 2008, my father passed expectedly, and a month later, our youngest son, passed unexpectedly. Nothing has been quite the same since.  Barack Hussein Obama was elected and one executive order after another took out nation farther from where I believe it should be.  Congress, with a very few exceptions, has been surprizingly non-courageous in setting limits.  It's almost as if we have been living a bad episode of Sliders, the X-Files, or Fringe, or a combination of all three programs since that time. There is the strange feeling that anything can happen now, and this can be unsettling. Despite the fact that the government says we have no inflation, the fuel, animal feed, and general food costs have risen sharply.  Our insurance costs to the farm are up 70% since 2008, because they say they have paid out more claims since then, than in any other period. My quest to find a new insurer did not find anyone who would insure a farm of this size for any less.  We used to be able to prepare for emergencies in a bubble. It did not leak into our errands, or time with friends.  Now, each day, someone talks to us about a collapse of some kind in the United States.  Somewhere along the road since 2008, prepping became mainstream.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Emergency Plugging of Sewer Backflow

         I had promised, after a series of six posts which consider a US financial collapse to post something else here.  This is an important, though not a pleasant subject.    In an emergency, a flood or a failure of an urban or suburban municipal water and sewer systems backflow of sewage will occur into a home through toilets, sink or shower drains.    This method will also stop backflow from a malfunctioning septic tank system, also in an emergency.    In some emergencies, most often floods, the contents of the local sewer can backflow into a house, and the result can be disastrous. Homes can be rendered too unsanitary in which to live, or the water and other contents themselves can actually destroy drywall, wood floors, or basements and the things stored there.  There are two potential nightmares here.  One is called backflowing where sewer liquids are actively flowing up into your home from the sewer.  The other is called backed up.  In backed up, nothing is flowing down the drains from your house, and as a result, the sewage from your house is then backflowing through the lowest drain in your house.  (I have seen this in the 80s at a house with a failed septic, which turned out not to really exist, at all.)  THERE IS NO VALVE THAT SIMPLY TURNS OFF A SEWER.  So, you must prepare for this possibility in advance.


This is what the test plug looks like  (Photo: Petersons)

You need:

1.    An inflatable sewer line test plug which matches the size of the sewer line.  I am told that in most applications in the US, this is 4 inches.  This may be found in the plumbing section of your hardware store, or at a plumbing supply house.  Please get one now, before everyone you know gets one, they are all sold out, and they are back-ordered for a year !
    If you must order one via mail or internet, you need a single diameter model without a bypass port.  While you are getting one, get TWO. ***

2. . A hand operated pump to inflate the device   (like a bicycle pump)

3. A large wrench or pliers to remove the clean out cap, as marked in the picture below in red.

Assemble your kit now, and put it in a conspicuous place.

(This photograph and markings is the work product of: http://www.disaster-survival-guide.com/plug-sewer.html, and we are extremely grateful for this photograph)

Procedure to plug your sewer or septic:

1. Locate the Main Cleanout at your house.  It looks like the picture above.  These are often in basements, some homes with septic tanks have them located out of doors, and hidden.  It's good to look for this, draw this out, and know about it in advance.  Check to see that there are no drains afterward, because if there are, these must be plugged too.  (Some homes need an additional 1.5 inch drain plug also.)  The test plug should be located below the blue line above.
2. Next, make alternate arrangements for where people will use the toilet. Inform everyone that nothing can be flushed down the toilet until furthur notice.
3. Make sure that water supplies to all sinks and toilets are turned off  Do this at the Primary Water Valve of your house.
4. Remove the clean out cap using a large wrench or pliers if you don't have a wrench that large.  It is circled above in red.
5. Tie a rope to the sewer plug you purchased. (So that it can come out when you eventually need it to.)
6. Insert the plug beyond the blue line above in the direction in which the drainage would normally flow.
7. Inflate the plug as per directions using a hand bicycle pump.  Repeat procedure for any other drains below the main drain, as there can be some variation in plumbing set ups.
8. Use an alternative toilet until the problem is resolved.
9. Making tape shut the lids on your toilets to remind children and others who might forget that there is nowhere for urine and feces to drain at the moment.

Although the above process is most often used for a city or municipal water sewer system, it can also be employed for a normal septic tank, which do occasionally back up.  You can plug a conventional septic in the same manner until it is repaired.


I cannot stress how important it is to find all of these items in your home in advance of such an emergency.
You may wish to print this out and keep it in a safe place.

*** To order a sewer or septic plug of single diameter model without a bypass port:


In Canada or other nations:

I am unsure of the size (and for that matter the location) of the main clean out to our place in Canada.  Make sure you verify the size of the one you would need there.  Although it is often 4 inches in the US, this may not always be the case.
If you are in another nation, the UK, or others for example, take the time to find out how your system works, how it should be plugged, and what size plug you would need and where to get one.  A plumber would likely be your best source, although a savvy homeowner might also know.

References and additional information:




Sunday, May 13, 2012

What Can We Do ?

Poor Uncle Sam               (Photo: presstv.ir)

 This is the final post for awhile on the subject of a potential impending financial collapse in the United States.

  Over five posts, I have examined the reasons the United States may be headed for a financial crash.  I have skipped the post on how many people with an entitlement mentality are driving the national debt upwards, as we all already know this.  Houston, we have a problem, along with Denver, New York, Miami, Detroit, Los Angeles, Seattle, Atlanta, Austin, Fargo, Taos and everywhere in between.  We touched on mis-structuring in our housing and banking sectors and in the attitudes of Americans which fuelled a housing market collapse which hasn't ended yet.  I did not mention a similar issue in commercial building, with defaults coming, although that would also be true.  We touched on runaway taxation as a phenomenon which has made it difficult for many to pay their own bills. It has also begun to socialize some to the idea that "the government has my money, and will therefore have to take care of my needs".   Then, I mentioned the serious issues of unemployment which have plagued our nation, most acutely from 2008 and forward.  I believe the unemployment situation to be inadequately reflected in governmental figures, and therefore inaccurately reported to us. Then, without getting into the complete stupidity of "Quantittative Easing" by the Federal Reserve, I tried to impart that the very bank entrusted with trying to keep the economy from crashing, may be part of the problems we are facing as a nation. (See below)   The printing of money, unbacked by anything, can only fuel inflation. (More paper money chasing the same amount of goods and services.)  The only reason inflation isn't a larger problem than it is, is that the banks are reluctant to lend money, thus holding back runaway inflation.  In the last post. I touched on our nations crushing debt, and how a default is a possibility.


      As individual families there is not much we can do to impact the changes which need to be made in our government.  The game continues to be played in much the same way a compulsive gambler plays, unable to stop and sure that next time, he will get his losses back.   We can be politically informed, registered to vote, and do our best to know what is going on. We can seek people of like minds for ideas and for support.  We can be active supporters and thorns in the side of our Congressmen. Both Democrats and Republicans in my state know my family and I well. We make our ideas known to them on a regular basis, with I am afraid, limited impact. We can make sure we vote, and ensure that every family member we have is informed, and votes also.
      Then, we need to get down to serious brass tacks.  How likely is a financial collapse in the US in the next one to two years or even before that ?  Each of our families must take a serious look at choices we make.  If your primary income or a substantial part of it ended, what would your plan be ?   If your adjustable credit, or credit cards went from a 9% to a 27% rate, what would you do ?   What is your financial disaster back up plan ?  Where would you live, and where would you go ?   It isn't necessary to tell me, but it is necessary that you, your spouse and your children have some idea what that "worst case scenario plan" is for your family.  The absolute worst case scenario rarely happens, but some version of it often does.  If your income ceased next month, how would you eat ?  Do you have long term food stored for major emergencies ?   Do you have medications set aside should your employer collapse ?   I know that few of us had the funds to set up a perfect and adequate retreat, but plans of any kind made now, may do a great deal to minimize the misery of an economic disaster the likes of which cannot be fully anticipated.
       I have personally and seriously looked at leaving the United States.  I don't know that in my research I found anywhere I thought would be insulated from civil unrest, financial collapse, or governmental problems. It may be that for most of us, where we are, is where we are, and we will need to survive somehow, exactly where we are. I do know that once a cascading failure of our domestic systems begins that it will be too late to leave. The point is that nations and governmental systems are so interdependent and interlocked that a failure in one location will appreciably ripple in another.   A financial crash in the US adversely impacts England.  A great loss of wealth in the US trips a recession in Russia. Australia could see a crash in visitors and in tourism if the European Union collapses. A financial collapse in the US may well lock the borders down to Canada.
        I have no advance warming of what might occur.  I know that those who manage our finances in the great machine that is the US economy, don't seem to understand it.  I know that the US economy is a resilient entity generally as many of the things done in the past would have destroyed a less tenacious machine.  However, there is a point of no return.  There is a point at which the machinations and failures will destroy the "Middle Class" and turn many into paupers.    I have no idea whether a natural disaster coupled with a terrorist act will beget a financial collapse and whether the US will experience a perfect storm.  I know only that it might be desirable for everyone to fashion a family emergency financial back-up plan.  Decide what you can pay off, what you should keep, and what you could part with should things become difficult.

On Runaway Spending and the US Debt

Perhaps Elmo should be put in charge of the national debt. He seems to have a better grasp of what we and our children owe as individuals, and seems more concerned about it.            (Chart:   http://acrossthestreetnet.wordpress.com/2010/09/24/understanding-the-national-debt-sesame-street-edition/)

 This is the fifth  post in a series in which I examine the potential for a United States Financial Collapse.

     I don't much like writing about finance and discussing what serious shape our beloved country is in.  However, to understand why I think we are in really serious shape here, I have to at least examine some of the reasons I think the US painted itself into a corner. I am nor an economist, and I don't even play one, on television or on the radio. I don't even like economics when things are going well. When I was in college, and I took an economics course, I wrote a detailed paper on why I thought economics was a pseudo science. Economics attempts to explain and predict what is largely human behavior interspersed with some actual scientific principles. Like sociology, it attempts to explain what the masses do. Oddly, I got an "A" on the paper, not because the professor agreed with me, but because I must have argued my perspective well.  I don't feel the need to dazzle anyone with my knowledge of financial principles.  It has been my experience in life that any complex system can be brought down to an understandable model through the use of analogy.  I still believe that a governments finances can still be compared to the finances of a very large household, except that our government has something I don't have, a guaranteed income ensured with taxes.........yes, money from you and I, and everything we do.
            Looking at federal government revenue since 1902, the income of the federal government has risen sharply through taxes. In 1902 the total tax revenue of the federal government was only 7% of the GDP (gross domestic product) and now comprises 35% of the GDP.  Income is apparently not the problem.   The Federal debt was set up initially by Alexander Hamilton, an experienced banker.  A federal debt allows the government to do things it needs to do, immediately and worry about funding and paying back this loan, later.  This is indeed useful especially when funding wars.  Until recently, the federal debt only rose during wars, and then was gradually paid off afterward.  During the Great Depression, President Roosevelt decided to spend his way out of it.  Federal and State governments borrowed until the total US dept totalled 70% of the GDP.   After the Depression, it slowly came down.  Again in World War II, the GDP rose again, this time to 122% of the GDP by 1946.  Then, with the baby boomer generation, a steady process of paying down our national debt began.  In recent history, President Reagan brought the national debt to 50% of the GDP in order to win the Cold War. President Bush continued, in order to win the "War on Terror".  President Obama is increasing our debt in order to revive the economy, but also it appears to make fundamental changes in America which may not be good ones, and all of this costs money.  As of March, 2012, we have total debts as a nation which total about 100% of our GDP.  Obamacare and other changes made during the Obama administration put us on a course in which the federal debt is slated to sharply rise in the years to come, in large part due to social programs.
            The risk from a nation's high debtload, such as this, is that just like a family, we make payments to service the debt which are interest payments. They do not pay down the debt itself, just service the interest, like a massive set of credit cards.  Simply put, the US sent for a Discover card from China, and asked for other credit cards from many other nations, and has just been making the minimum interest payments, and not attacking the principle.  Most economists believe that when interest payments to service a nations debt, come to 12% of their GDP, that this is the tipping point for a government, and that they risk default on their debt.

   This is the National Debt Clock:


      Because we owe so much, and are in a fragile financial situation as a nation, our treasury bills can only pay .14%, the lowest treasury rate in 70 years.  What happens when our nation can no longer afford to continue to service our debt, and our "card doesn't work" and we are "overdrawn as a nation ?"  Will this cause a financial collapse ?  As Americans make less money, and fewer of us work, more of us age, less cash is being sent to our Federal Government.  With each moment that passes, our National Debt rises. There ARE things that can be done to begin to address our debt, but they are not being done.  We are heading for a cliff in a runaway coal fired train going very fast, and the engineers on the train aren't looking for the break, they are still stoking the coal !     The runaway spending with a blank check has got to stop.


Read more about this at:







Saturday, May 12, 2012

About That Federal Reserve

This is the fourth entry on the subject of finance and the discussion of an American Depression.

The Federal Reserve in the United States was born in 1913.  An incredible amount of wrangling and discussion took place, and in Congress and the Senate, the final bill was a compromise between many who had different ideas of what it should be.  Originally, it was to be a back-up lender of last resort, in order to soften the blows of periodic contractions of the economy, where commercial banks might not be comfortable in lending during a period of economic contraction.  It was created to be, "the lender of last resort".  The function of this bank has grown since then to include the following activities in order to soften the negative effects of expected national economic contractions:

1. The setting of the discount rate by which banks borrow.
2. The changing of reserve requirements.
3. Open market operations.

     In short, our Federal Reserve has found ways of stretching and thinning the money supply in order to soften the blow of economic slowdowns which occur periodically anyway.  Most Americans don't understand the Fed, its history and why it was created, and how it functions now, largely because they don't want to. They can make adjustments with impunity without criticism from the American people, because we are so largely ignorant of what they do, and its short term and long term effects.

This is probably the best explanation I have found:

A Depression Commencing 2008 and Forward ?

So many offices stand empty now, that it's no wonder that so many have been set up at home.  (home.officesnapshots.com )

      This is the third post in a series which concerns worries about a financial collapse in the US, and wherever this leads afterward.

        According to the US Department of Labor Statistics, unemployment in the United States is at 8.1% as of May 4, 2012.     (technical data may be found here: http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/empsit.pdf )   However, some economists and a lot of Americans believe that the true unemployment rate is a good deal higher than this figure suggests.   The BLS calculation I mentioned above is calculated in the following way.

 The BLS samples 60,000 US households and this gives them information on 110,000 workers.
 60,000 of these people are employed full time, either in their own business or working for others.
 10,000 of the unemployed say they are looking for work.
 40,000 are not included in the statistic because they are considered by the BLS to be either in school, disabled, or not presently seeking employment.

 Given these statistics, the unemployment rate might really be 14.3 %

netrightdaily.com )

 This is an extremely flawed way of calculating the true unemployment rate in the US.

1. First of all, how are the sample of 60,000 selected each quarter ?   Do we choose cities where things are going well, or cities where there are not a lot of people working, like Detroit ?   How did they establish a mean ?
2. This figure does not account for the many, many new college graduates or those with new Master's degrees or Phds who cannot find work, and incidentally, are worried sick about their inability to begin to pay the crushing debt of student loans.
3. This method of sampling counts as working those who work part time, or those who could not possibly support themselves with the number of hours or salary they receive.
4. This method excludes high school students who in a better economy might be working to pay car insurance or save for college.  They are simply excluded from these figures.
5. Some years ago, I resigned from a job, and they did not want me to leave, so in the hope that I would return, they placed me on "an extended leave".  (Gosh I hope they are continuing to put away retirement for me, "she says jokingly") Using the methods of the BLS, I would be considered employed, despite the fact that I have not drawn a paycheck from that particular employer in 10 years.

Many new graduates are very frustrated in that they have been unable to find employment in ANY field following graduation from universities. They cannot go on with their lives or begin to pay their student debtloads without jobs.

        If one adjusts for their odd methodology, then the unemployment rate in the US could actually be 30% or more, higher.  Yes, we could actually have a US unemployment rate of 40%, higher in some places, and lower in others.

          The Depression of the 1930s occurred with a much lower population than we have now.  According to the BLS itself,  these were the unemployment rates in the US for the years listed:

Year Unemployment rate

   Seeing these makes us wonder whether we have a second "Great Depression" and that no one wishes to tell us about it until it is clearly ending. What happens when or if a large contingent of people in the US begin to believe that we are in a Depression, and that our government is either not interested in solving these issues, or addressing our problems.  Would rioting result ?  Would posse commitatus be set aside, along with our eroding US Constitution, and would military and police place people in work camps "for their own protection" or so they "can be fed, and receive medical care ?"    I used to think this was a ridiculous scenario, but I am now, not so sure.

Read more about this:




Friday, May 11, 2012

About Taxation

This certainly seems the way the federal government and many local municipalties spend money, like toilet paper.(Picture: dqydj.net)

 This is a second post in a series which concerns factors which discusses different aspects of what may be an impending financial collapse.

          For those of you who live in other nations, or for those of you who live in a state which is administered differently than mine, I would like to talk a little bit about taxation.   When I, and my husband receive a paycheck, certain amounts are withheld from it.   Federal tax, state tax, social security tax are all withheld. In some places, there are additional local taxes withheld.  If we are incredibly lucky, the following year, we have our taxes done, and we get some of these withheld funds back.  More often than not, we owe more, and need to write an additional check, as I did for our home state, this year.  You would think then, that our taxes are paid, but that would not be true.  Next, I have to put aside funds to pay our Property Taxes on our home which is also a farm.  Many people pay property taxes in tandem with their mortgage, but we do not.  We save money monthly in order to pay our property taxes twice yearly.   Our state also has something called "Personal Property Tax" on cars, boats, recreational vehicles. This is such an expense for people now , that the once annually tax, has now been split into two payments, like the property tax, so fewer people are delinquent on the taxes on their cars, trucks, recreational vehicles, etc. If one does not pay one's personal property tax to our state, then you will find yourself unable to renew your registration at the Department of Motor Vehicles.     On a farm, we have a number of vehicles for different purposes. We pay personal property tax on each.    When I go to buy food in a grocers or grocery store, in this state,  I also pay tax on the food that we eat.  We no longer pay taxes on prescription or non-prescription medication.   On the rare occasion that we go out to eat, we pay an additional  "Meals Tax" at many of the small towns or cities in our state.  We also pay additional tax for each gallon of fuel we buy. (Whether gasoline or diesel)   Whenever I buy a car, an item to repair it or anything else, I pay Sales Tax.        When I purchase a secondary home, have it repaired, redecorated, and re-landscaped, and then sell it, I pay Capital Gains Tax on the profit. (If there is any.)  If I inherit something, over a certain value, I pay tax on that also, and it can be a chunk !
            The other things that we pay occasionally, which in point really are taxes, are annual licensing fees for our dogs. I approve of this particular "tax" because in our our local community, the licensure money goes to the care and support of homeless animals. Rabies immunization monitoring is done in other ways, through our vets here.  Professional licensure, which although expensive for me, is a necessity.
           A county near Richmond has started ticketing not to ensure the safety of citizens, but in order to generate funds, as tax revenues have fallen so rapidly.  I try not to visit there.

               I have been thinking about taxes a fair bit lately, as we are part timers in Canada.  In Canada, we pay property tax, and harmonized sales tax  (HST)  on our purchases.  On larger purchases, this can add up to a lot of money.   The taxes in Canada are certainly the results of our own choices to be there, but there is very little we could do in order to pay fewer taxes here in the US.  Most of us, as we drive have seen the bumper sticker, "My Take Home Pay Won't Take Me Home".  In Nova Scotia, for example, this is the official word on HST:

  " Effective July 1, 2010, the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) rate in Nova Scotia will increase from 13 to 15 percent, 5 percent of which is the federal portion and 10 percent of which is the provincial portion."

Goods Exempted from the Provincial Portion of the Nova Scotia HST

The province of Nova Scotia has expanded its list of goods that will be eligible for a point-of-sale rebate of the provincial portion (10 percent) of the HST. The list now includes:
  • children’s diapers;
  • children’s clothing;
  • children’s footwear; 
  • feminine hygiene products; and
  • books.

The complexity in our taxes is so great now, that I must pay someone to file our taxes. Either this, or take a chance on a costly and stressful audit.

   This is a PARTIAL listing of some of the other taxes which Americans pay:

Accounts Receivable Tax

Building Permit Tax

Capital Gains Tax

CDL license Tax

Cigarette Tax

Corporate Income Tax

Court Fines (indirect taxes)

Dog License Tax

Federal Income Tax

Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA)

Fishing License Tax

Food License Tax

Fuel permit tax

Gasoline Tax (42 cents per gallon)

Hunting License Tax

Inheritance Tax Interest expense (tax on the money)

Inventory tax IRS Interest Charges (tax on top of tax)

IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax)

Liquor Tax

Local Income Tax

Luxury Taxes

Marriage License Tax

Medicare Tax

Property Tax

Real Estate Tax

Septic Permit Tax

Service Charge Taxes

Social Security Tax

Road Usage Taxes (Truckers)

Sales Taxes

Recreational Vehicle Tax

Road Toll Booth Taxes

General Road Tax

School Tax

State Income Tax

State Unemployment Tax (SUTA)

Telephone federal excise tax
Telephone federal universal service fee tax
Telephone federal, state and local surcharge taxes
Telephone minimum usage surcharge tax
Telephone recurring and non-recurring charges tax
Telephone state and local tax
Telephone usage charge tax

Toll Bridge Taxes

Toll Tunnel Taxes

Traffic Fines (indirect taxation)

Trailer registration tax

Utility Taxes

Vehicle License Registration Tax

Vehicle Sales Tax

Watercraft registration Tax

Well Permit Tax and in some places, Septic Tank Taxes
Water Tax (mostly in some suburban and urban settings)

Workers Compensation Tax

(The taxes listed above, were all instituted within the last 100 years)

and I haven't even touched on the taxes Mr. Obama's plan collects, long before anyone gets health care through his program.

            My point is that the money we receive in our paychecks has been taxed, and then when we do anything else, it is also taxed. We are therefore being taxed multiple times on the same money. No wonder our salaries as Americans are badly eroded.

            I realize that other nations pay higher taxes, and have additional taxes. I am thinking about Britain's television tax, for example.  Layered and generous taxation is one of the factors which make it difficult for us to save for an adequate retirement.  It is also one of the things which makes it difficult for young families to feed their children.  Excessive taxation makes it hard for people to save, invest, start new small businesses, and avoid asking their governments for money for needs which could probably be best met by the families themselves, once the government gets its hand out of their wallets.    Perhaps a dial down on some of the interventions and wanton spending on the part of the politicians, and allowing the people who earned the money to determine how it is spent, would be beneficial in terms of the general direction of the nation overall.  Perhaps the nation should stack the deck in favor of its citizens, rather than against them.  Excessive taxation from all sides may reach a point where larger amounts of citizens decide that they do not consider their local government to be a lawful entity and they do not intend to pay their taxes.  Does anyone know where the tipping point is ?  Perhaps refusal to pay taxes, or an inability to do so, will be a factor in an impending financial crash, in the US, or even elsewhere.