Jackson on Limited Government – Today’s Quote

We are beginning a new era in our government. I cannot too strongly urge the necessity of a rigid economy and an inflexible determination not to enlarge the income beyond the real necessities of the government.

President Andrew Jackson

Your Share is $51,349.21

As you can see from the Gross National Debt Counter to the left of this post (just under the Tags) the U.S. is rapidly approaching $16 Trillion in debt.  That’s $16,000,000,000,000!  If we take the National Debt and divide it by the population of the U.S. (311,591,917) then we have debt per capita of $51,349.21.  That’s over a quarter million dollars owed for a family of five.

Incidentally, with a Gross Domestic Product of just over $15 Trillion (2011) so we now owe more than every man, woman and child (allowed to work on the family farm once again) produces in a year.

200 Guinea Pigs on my Lawn

Andrew’s Note:  Today we present an article by guest writer, Jay (Just Jay).  Jay is a combat veteran, a knowledge manager by day and serial inventor by night.  He’s had a number of interesting jobs through the years including collecting war trophies (like armored personnel carriers) in Iraq and a stint as a confidence course manager at a facility that used physical activity to build confidence in welfare recipients… to encourage them to work their way out of poverty.  Yeah, that worked. Enjoy.

An amusing article was posted recently over at Movoto Blog [link] discussing the merits of various animals as lawn mowers.  Once you get past the (really cool) calculator to determine how many of the animal of choice you’d need to tend your yard, there’s actually some interesting insights that could help not only your landscaping, but aid your self-reliance efforts and potential survivability.

According to the calculator, I would have to release an army of more than 200 guinea pigs to maintain my yard.   Not sure what Homeland Security alarms will be sounded by ordering 200 guinea pigs from my local pet store, but might be worth it for the comic value alone.

The article gives a fun description of the merits of cows, goats, sheep, chickens, and yes, guinea pigs.  It further describes the pros and cons of each.  While livestock may not be a solution in all cases, it might be worth considering in the self-reliance quest beyond mere landscaping. (more…)

Top 10 Free Steps to Preparedness

Preparedness discussions often seem to devolve into what another preparedness writer describes as “beans, bullets & bandaids”…the ‘stuff’ of preparedness.  However, your most important preparedness resources are the knowledge, skills, readiness and the confidence you develop as you become more self-reliant.  You can enhance and develop these traits without spending any money if you are a little creative and put your mind to it.

The Top 10 Free Steps to Preparedness are:

  1. Leverage training you receive or can volunteer for at work.  For example: as a soldier I’m fortunate enough to receive regular training in first aid; my father attended Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) training as a Naval Aviator; Abigail (daughter #2) received Cardiopulmonary Respiration (CPR) training as part of her training for an after school job at a daycare; Sparky (daughter #3) received trained in food safety by her summer job at a restaurant; and a good friend received training from his police department in order to assist homeowners with improving household security.  Not only is this training that’s free (to you), but it may make you more valuable to your employer.
  2. Leverage training you receive through your volunteer activities.  For example: a friend from church received training in how to respond to active shooter situations; a ham (amateur radio operator) friend participated in a disaster preparedness exercise supplying emergency communication;  a number of friends and relatives have become volunteer firemen and received training in first aid (including EMT training), equipment operation, extractions, and of course…firefighting.  Seek ways to give back to your community and connect with like-minded people while developing your knowledge and skills.
  3. Couponing.  Using coupons to build your preparedness supplies isn’t just free…it pays you in the money you saved (assuming you were going to prepare anyway).  For those of you who don’t think this is a skill…trust me…when Rachel (my better half) gets into her couponing groove she can reduce the cost of a cart of groceries by 30%-50%…and I’ve seen her walk out of Walgreen and CVS stores with sacks of goods and money in her pocket.  A note of couponing food…it’s almost always for heavily processed foodstuffs…not the healthy stuff but it keeps.
  4. Exercise.  You don’t have to join a gym or buy fancy home workout gear.  Start with going for a walk, doing that yard work yourself instead of paying someone to do it (see more money in your pocket) or helping a friend move.  At one of my old military units the junior officers were all into CrossfitCrossfit replicates a lot of the types of exercise human beings used to do as a part of daily living like chopping wood…or you could just go chop wood.  A side benefit of regular exercise is that it enables you to deal more effectively with stressful events.
  5. Rediscover a preparedness related hobby.  I used to enjoy fishing but haven’t done it in years.  I already have all the gear and plenty of places to fish…all I’ve got to do is get started again.  Yes, you may need…a fishing license (maybe not if you’re military or a senior citizen) or bait if you don’t use flies and lures… but you can recover that in the fish you put on the dinner table.  There are other benefits of hobbies as well…they’ll connect you with like-minded folks if you put a little effort into it.  Think about what you used to enjoy and make time for it again. (more…)

Within Your Means – Today’s Quote

There is no dignity quite so impressive, and no one independence quite so important, as living within your means.

President Calvin Coolidge

Can We Really Spend our Way out of Poverty?

For most of American history, government was tiny. But since Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society and the promise that government would cure poverty, spending has gone up nonstop. This is not sustainable.

 Progressives say: If you’re so worried about the deficit, raise taxes! But it’s a fantasy to imagine that taxing the rich will solve our deficit problem. If the IRS grabbed 100 percent of income over $1 million, the take would be just $616 billion. That’s only a third of this year’s deficit.

 It’s the spending, stupid.

 Even if you could balance the budget by taxing the rich, it wouldn’t be right. Progressives say it’s wrong for the rich to be “given” more money. But money earned belongs to those who earn it, not to government. Lower taxes are not a handout.

 That’s the moral side of the matter. There’s a practical side, too. Taxes discourage wealth creation.

 Even if you think — despite all evidence — that government spends money more usefully than people in the private sector, there is a limit to how much government can tax before people work less or flee.

Progressives claim a small increase in tax rates won’t stop the wealthy from producing. But some would stop. When the top marginal rate was 90 percent, actor Ronald Reagan worked just half the year. He said that woke him up to the damage that high taxes impose.

Higher taxes give rich people and politicians more reasons to collude. The rich make contributions, and politicians pay the rich back by giving them tax loopholes.

That’s a big loss to America. That money and creative energy spent on figuring out taxes might have gone to build new products, make music, cure cancer or … who knows what?

via Budget Insanity by John Stossel on Creators.com – A Syndicate Of Talent.

There’s an economics principle I learned in college called ‘Opportunity Cost.’  Simply put the opportunity cost of an economic activity is the next best use you would have put that money to if you had not spent your money on that activity.  For example, if you spend $100 fixing your car that you would have rather spend going to a baseball game than the opportunity cost of fixing your car was going to the game.

Whenever I hear politicians talking about increasing taxes I think of the opportunity cost of all that money.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind paying my fair share but the more our government spending has gone out of control in relation to our tax and fee income the more I resent calls for more taxes…on anybody.  That money spent on taxes to fund increased government spending could have been spent on education (improving someone’s ability to create, build, teach or earn), consumer products or vacations (improving our economy), invested (funding further growth) or convinced an older worker that she had enough saved to retire (opening up a job for someone currently out of work).  The true cost of taxes can only be measured in the opportunity cost of lost benefits that tax money would have been spent on as John Stossel describes in the last sentence of the quote above.

In my small business the recent and proposed tax increases have kept me from hiring additional full time workers that we desperately need to cover the workload and I hear the same story over and over from my friends who are entrepreneurs.

In the article I quoted above Stossel added:

Amazingly, we could grow our way out of debt if Congress simply froze spending at today’s levels. That would balance the budget by 2017. If spending growth were limited to just 2 percent per year, the budget would balance by 2020!

Not a bad start…but how about we actually pass a budget, freeze spending for the remainder of this year and begin reducing the budget by 5% per year (5% of government spending not GDP) until we go from spending 49% of our GDP on the federal, state & local government down to a more manageable 20%.  Can you imagine what our economy would be capable of  if only 20% was siphoned off for essential (arguably) but non-productive government services…before we knew it our economy would grow to the extent that our 20% in real dollar terms would be as big or bigger than our economy stifling 49% of GDP spending is now.  I know…it’s an election year and the devil’s in the details…but if we don’t start taking dramatic steps we’re going to have a federal government going the way of Stockton, CA or Detroit, MI…broke.

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