Three Day Food Supply or Just In Time Marketing

Consider this statement:

 It’s the public’s trust that’s been broken “and since almost all food safety at retail is faith-based, the faith has been violated.” – USA Today

It’s true, isn’t it?  At least for many people.  There are many products I won’t buy in a “regular” grocery store.  Lettuce is one of them.  Actually, quite a bit of fresh produce.  Sometimes I worry about the meats, and with good reason.  Have you ever seen what passes inspection by the U.S.D.A.?  And the fact that the meat industry asked for an increase in the allowed level of nasties in the meats doesn’t help.   For those of us who live in areas where we can produce our own food, that’s what we do.

Then consider this statement about fear:

 The enemy here is fear, not the food system. In my book, anyone shouting “Run to the stores and buy as much food as you can!” deserves a special place in hell. – Toby Hemenway

Hemenway goes on to talk about how people are basically too stupid to understand the “just-in-time” method of business.  Ok, he didn’t say that.  He said:

 To accept this forecast uncritically, though, means ignoring how complex systems work. We can scare ourselves by selectively focusing on a small piece of a larger picture and behaving as if that tiny bit were the whole story. It’s a natural tendency: Any organism interested in surviving needs to focus on what’s going wrong much more than what’s going right. But in this case, believing the tale of empty shelves may distract us from more urgent problems.

Once you get through the insults of his article, you get to the history part.  He writes about famines that happened prior to 1800.  Seriously?  Doesn’t he know that droughts caused famines and that prior to the “green revolution” all people struggled to produce enough food?  While we still have droughts, we have learned many methods of farming that provide a more reliable source of food to our society and the world.  Sure, droughts can cause prices to rise, but the supply of food did not disappear in the 2012 drought.

Hemenway does recognize the human characteristic of doing what ever is required to survive and says what the prepper choir has been saying all along.

And, more urgently, during a food panic, how many pounds of grain being handed to you by the state would make you calm down? Five? Ten? That’s only a couple of day’s supply for a small family.

Most people would submit that if you have a year or two of foods stored you wouldn’t be worried about the complex system crashing for a couple of weeks or even a few months.  Unlike the those people who thumbed their noses at us and called us crazy.  Those people will be among those panicking and holding out their hands for the government family allotment of food.

In one respect he is right.  Most people might not understand how the complex system of supplies is delivered to the local grocery store.   He says if people understood this system, they would calm and trust the system to deliver food to our stores.  Then he goes on to talk about how to prepare if you still don’t trust the complex system of our food suppliers.  Hemenway wrote:

If you are worried about food shortages, get your own stash and store as much as makes you comfortable. In designing a solution to a problem, it’s critical to intervene at the proper level, and here, the household is a far more effective level than the state.

It seems he is saying not to be afraid, that we can trust the food delivery system.  But on the other hand, he says if you don’t trust it then be prepared for it.  Preparing at home is your best chance of survival if something goes wrong because the government stored goods will quickly run out.

Through out the article he discusses the problems and indeed he says they are real.  Still, in the end, he says people are wrong to worry about the day we wake up and the grocery stores are bare.  Even so, the article is worth the read because it does impart some important information.


Hemenway, the author of the article, and the book Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture, surprised me with his thoughts on the food supply given the nature of the book.  The book is great!  Take a peak.

Reference:  “Fear and the Three-Day Food Supply.” Pattern Literacy by Toby Hemenway. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Mar. 2013.

Power of the Purse and Sequestering

Obama wants sequestering to hurt.Obama intends to make U. S. Citizens as miserable as possible during the sequestering.  But will he go so far as to affect the food supply?  He understands how effective the power of the purse is when it comes to forcing people to do what you want them to do.  So does all levels of government.    That is why punishments of all kinds almost always include some form of financial punishment to be paid to the punishing entity.  As a matter of fact, the framers of the constitution knew the power of money.  They wrote the constitution carefully to be sure not one entity had enough power to control the money.

Money is the tool of the government to control the citizens.  It started rather benignly with the first government assistance programs during the depression.  Why?  Because someone looked at the government and said, “Why haven’t you done anything about this?”.  That’s the same thing people in Europe said to the church about the plague.  Both entities tried, without success, to change the prevailing condition.  The church eventually reversed some of the edicts about what to do with sick people, but the government kept pretty much all of the “new programs” created during the depression.

Once a program was created, the next members of congress and presidents were loath to remove them because they didn’t want to anger the people who were depending on those programs, even if the current situation no longer warranted the program’s existence.  Then came the day when the government invented the department of education in order to control schools in every state.  It started out with grants to states’ school districts.  After a while the government started attaching strings to the grants.  Once the states were dependent on the money for the annual budget, the hook was set and now the government can tell states what will be done in their public schools.  And so it went also with the highway department and human assistance programs, just to start.

Which brings us to the food supply.  Meat processing plants all have USDA inspectors present to assure the products are safe for human consumption.  Well, sort of, but that is another story.  If the inspectors are not present, no meat can be processed.  This isn’t a big deal to the prepper who is ready for just such an event.  However, if you are not ready and the USDA does decide to pull inspectors for a week or two, things will be different in the store.  It is our belief that the inspectors won’t be pulled and that the USDA will cut in other areas as necessary.

Disrupting the food supply, if only for a couple of weeks, would be a big deal and a no win situation for Obama and his cabinet.  Congress does not determine where the budget cuts are made during a sequester.  The president does.  Rest assured, the president will attempt to say that the cuts are the fault of the Republicans.  Don’t believe it.  The fault will be with whomever decides what to cut within each agency and at whose instruction.

 

Consider these comments about the sequester and decisions being made:

 It’s the public’s trust that’s been broken “and since almost all food safety at retail is faith-based, the faith has been violated.” – USA Today

 

. . .  in regards to the government’s plans for sequestration and the meat industry. If you aren’t aware of what’s going on, you should be. After all, it could affect all of us. And to us in the industry, it’s a scary thing. – Jennifer Dewey

It is clear that department leaders are concerned about their particular branch of the government.  So are the people who raise, process and sell meat products.  As a society we can go without meat for a couple of weeks.  But, should the citizens be forced to do it because the people on capitol hill can’t play nice?

References:

The Power of the Purse: A History of American Public Finance, 1776-1790 by Ferguson, E. James published by The University of North Carolina Press Paperback, 1961 – 2011.

“Fear and the Three-Day Food Supply.” Pattern Literacy by Toby Hemenway. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Mar. 2013.

“Meat Supply In Danger…?” Chico Locker Sausage Co Inc. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Mar. 2013.

“U.S. Officials: No Horse Meat in Our Beef.” USA Today. Gannett, n.d. Web. 08 Mar. 2013.

“Obama’s Stealth Takeover of Your Burrito or Food Stamps Obama’s Nationalizing the U.S. Food Industry and You Didn’t See It Coming.” Before It’s News. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Mar. 2013.

What’s This Sequestration Stuff: A Two Minute Primer

by Rod R.

1. Summer of 2011 the President and some in Congress wanted to increase the debt limit despite the fact that we are massively, dangerously in debt and federal government spending is out of control.

2. In exchange for the increase, a promise was made to cut spending by 1.2 – 1.5 trillion over ten years. A drop in the proverbial bucket.

3. To ensure that the cuts would actually happen, a penalty was imposed that would be equally onerous to both Democrats and Republicans IF the cuts didn’t happen. That penalty – also called the sequestration – was automatic cuts of 1.2 trillion to defense and domestic budgets over 10 years starting 2013. Remember, those cuts were supposed to be so scary that Congress would surely come up with their own cuts.

4. A committee was appointed to find the cuts. They didn’t.

5. After a year and a half to find and agree on the cuts, the cuts still didn’t happen. Shocker.

6. Now the automatic sequestration cuts are scheduled to begin in March.

7. Rather than dealing with the real problem – spending – the Dems and the GOP are pointing fingers at each other. Yet another shocker.

8. Even IF the cuts were made on time to avoid the sequestration – and they won’t be – they would not be significant enough to even come close to getting us out of a long-term debt crisis that will do irreparable damage to our country.

9. Assuming Washington allows the sequestration cuts to begin in March, there is no reason to believe that actual net cuts to spending will take place over ten years or that the deficit will shrink significantly or that the debt as a % of GDP will ever stop growing. That’s a very bad thing. The results will not be pretty.

10. Lest we cast all the blame on Washington “leadership” let’s remember who put them there – We The People. And unless We The People decide to put fiscally responsible leaders in Washington we will continue to whistle our way through the graveyard and eventually bury ourselves.

**This editorial was written by a guest writer, Rod R.  referring to events detailed in This is Why We Prepare.**

This is Why We Prepare

When you have a family member in the military, there is an ombudsman for the command who represents the family members of the active duty member.  They send regular emails about various sorts of things relating to military life and also forward information from the ship’s captain to the family members.  These particular emails give serious cause for concern.  I removed the contact information of the ombudsman and the captain.

First this email  is sent by a U. S. Navy ship’s ombudsman:

“It has been confirmed that all of the ship’s future underway commitments have been canceled until further notice.”

Then three days later this email is sent by the same ombudsman on behalf of the Captain of the the ship:

Here is some information that may help explain the Navy’s Financial Situation.
This information was provided to us to share by Captain *******.
  I am sure that most have seen the news recently about the many decisions the Navy
has had to make to adjust to significant shortfalls in our accounts.  Here is the background,
and what the Navy is doing to prepare for the consequences of having to operate without a
spending bill this year, as well as the looming threat of sequestration.First the spending bill …
 
    Without an appropriations bill for this year, our Navy is funded under a continuing resolution
(CR) that Congress passed back in October.  It’s set to expire in late March, but it could go
much longer.  The Navy is planning for the potential that it could last the rest of the fiscal year.    Living under a long-term CR is a big problem for us.  First, it’s based on last year’s spending levels
that do not fully cover the programs and priorities the Navy submitted to Congress this year. Specifically,
the CR under funds our operation and maintenance accounts (OMN) by $3.2 billion.     Second, the Navy has experienced $1.4 billion of growth since last year’s budget was enacted: unplanned
expenses for increased naval operations in the Middle East , increased fuel costs, as well as unexpected repairs
to USS Miami (SSN 755), USS Porter (DDG 78), USS Montpelier (SSN 765), USS San Jacinto (CG 56),
and USS Nimitz (CVN 68).     And third, the CR limits our flexibility to react because it does not allow Navy to transfer funds to OMN from
other accounts, such as procurement and research, to cover these shortfalls.    In total, Navy’s OMN account will come up $4.6 billion short under a yearlong CR.  This will impact funds
for fuel, parts, ship and aircraft repairs, base operations, salaries for government employees and contractors,
and maintenance for buildings, roads and runways.  If we don’t start slowing the “burn rate” of those dollars now,
we will not have enough funds to operate the Navy through the end of the year.  So, with a focus on preserving
first and foremost the readiness of our forward-deployed forces, the Navy is: * Preparing to cancel all surface ship maintenance availabilities scheduled at private shipyards from April to September.
This will affect 30 of our 187 surface ships. These maintenance periods cannot be replaced once cancelled, causing
the condition of these ships to degrade.* Preparing to cancel all aircraft depot maintenance from April to September, affecting up to 327 aircraft and rendering
them unavailable for use.* Cutting spending by about half on base operating support. We may even cancel repair and modernization of nearly
all piers, runways, buildings and other facilities through September 2013.* Freezing the hiring of civilians and terminating temporary employees not supporting OEF mission-critical capabilities.
This will reduce our shipyard workforce by more than 3,000 – almost 10 percent of the workforce.* Reducing overhead costs by cutting IT support, cancelling conferences, and severely limiting travel. We’re even going to
cut 30 facilities demolition programs, which would have provided another $62 million in contracted support and labor.    As you may have heard, the Navy even asked the Defense Department for permission to remain at the current
carrier presence level in the Central Command region.  In other words, we will not be trying to maintain more than
one carrier there at any given time.  This permission allowed for the delayed deployment of the
USS Harry S. Truman  (CVN 75) and the cruiser USS Gettysburg (CG 64).    None of these decisions were easy to make, but I’m sure you can understand why Navy leadership needed to make
them.  Navy simply must find a way to live within spending limits in order to have enough money to make it through
the year, given the heavy demand overseas for naval forces.  Again, the focus is squarely on preserving the readiness of
Navy’s forward-deployed forces.    Navy will continue these measures – and may have to execute others, like reducing underway training for ships and
aircraft not deployed – until a spending bill is passed or we receive authority to move money to the OMN account.
And although it is the prudent thing to do, but Navy leadership knows it comes at a cost.  These cuts will affect our
long-term readiness, as well as the economies of the communities that help support and maintain our naval forces.
The Secretary and the CNO have been very public about the specific costs to local communities and shipyards all
over the country, and my expectation is that they will continue to make people aware of the very real implications to
our Navy and to the people who support us.
Second … Sequestration.

Now, if sequestration happens, it’s a whole different ballgame. Navy would then face an additional $4 billion-$5 billion
cut for this year alone, further reducing training and readiness.  And because sequestration would be triggered in
March – nearly half-way through the fiscal year – the Navy must absorb the additional cut in only a few months, requiring
even more severe reductions to the operating account.     Leadership has only recently been given permission to plan for sequestration, but the early forecasts show that it
would be virtually impossible for us to deploy follow-on forces on anything resembling a predictable schedule.
Without Congressional permission to move money from other accounts to OMN, Navy would be forced to:* Stop all deployments to the Caribbean and South America , thereby cancelling all regional exercises.* Limit European deployments to only those supporting ballistic missile defense missions.* Cut the number of ships and aircraft deployed to the Pacific by half … and cut by 25 percent days at sea and flying

 hours for all Pacific forces.* Stop stateside training and other operations for ships and aircraft preparing to deploy.From a practical perspective, this means our aviators, their aircrews, our surface Sailors and submariners will not be
properly qualified in advanced warfare techniques.  Training essentially stops.   Leadership anticipates that the delay to
Harry S. Truman’s deployment and the reduced presence in the Gulf may buy back some of the training that would have
otherwise been lost, but we don’t know exactly what that is yet.    It also means that, once training could resume, it would take us up to 12 months to deploy naval forces again.
In short, it means most of the fleet will not be ready to go anywhere by 2014.     One way to avoid this level of unpreparedness is to get Congressional approval to move unspent money from other
accounts. But even that provides only temporary relief.   If we move money from investment accounts – like ship and aircraft
construction – into OMN, we will be forced to buy fewer ships, aircraft and weapons. That will likely have a dramatic affect
on things like LCS and the Joint Strike Fighter. And breaking or renegotiating existing contracts will undoubtedly cause layoffs
and severely injure an already fragile industrial base.     Either choice – dramatically reducing OMN spending or moving unspent investment account money – results only in a
short-term gain and mortgages our future.  And the uncertainty and inability to plan will likely ripple into the FY-14 or FY-15
budgets because there will simply not be a reliable basis upon which to plan, and no certitude of funding upon which to
allocate resources.    The threat of an extended period of CR, plus the cuts required by sequestration, would fundamentally alter the Navy’s
ability to fight, train, and maintain our ships, aircraft, and other critical equipment. It makes us less able, if not incapable, in
the near-term of doing that which the nation expects of us.  And in the long run, this “perfect storm” may affect our ability to
retain the very talent we will need to function in an increasingly austere fiscal environment.     One thing is certain, however.  Your pay and benefits will remain intact. You may have seen a recent decision by Secretary Panetta
to limit your pay raise next year at one percent, but it is still a pay raise.  And we have been getting pay raises each year for more
than 10 years.  And even with all of  this budget churn, that is the only impact to your compensation package.    Navy leadership knows this uncertainty is difficult.  But they are committed to keeping you informed and to trying to
preserve our readiness as much as possible … as am I.  We will do our very best to ensure that you are updated regularly
with the latest information and forecasted impacts

As this applies to the U. S. Navy, it also applies to the rest of the armed forces.  What is your opinion?