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    UNEMPLOYMENT (CONT.)


    March 15th, 2010

    Comments (11)
    Read by 30 people

    Some questions were raised by my article on unemployment of last week and so I want to continue the same subject.

    Unemployment has become the central issue of our day and perfectly illustrates the genius of Ayn Rand in putting the spotlight on altruism as the central concept which is destroying our society. Today (but not when Rand wrote) the conservatives have adopted the left-wing’s ideas on economics. They are screaming that Obama has failed because, after little over a year in office the unemployment rate is 10%.

    The conservatives are doing well in the polls and are looking forward to a big victory in November. Hopefully, Obama will keep talking about health care because every time he opens his mouth about that subject he digs both his own grave and the graves of his fellow Democrats. But if the attention of the American public ever shifts to economics, the conservatives are dead meat.

    Last week I touched on cyclical unemployment. This is the kind that makes the headlines and stirs people up politically. For example, from early 2007 to late 2009 unemployment in this country rose from 5% to 10%. From 2000 to 2003, it rose from 4% to 6%. From 1989 to 1991, it rose from 5% to 8%. All of these increases were caused by previous Federal Reserve increases in the rate of interest: e.g., the Fed tightening of 2004-06, the Fed tightening of 1993-2000 and the Fed tightening of 1986-89.

    Whenever the Fed changes the interest rate, the effect is to influence interest-sensitive areas of the economy. For example, I have data on the U.S. economy going back to the 1940s. Every time the Fed eases, housing (which is a very interest rate sensitive area) booms. The number of housing starts then goes from approximately 1 million per year to 2 million per year. The same thing happens in all other interest-sensitive areas. The total effect is to significantly reduce unemployment. Then the political left brags that they have reduced unemployment.

    Of course, the money that the Fed has to print to promote all this employment then threatens to cause “inflation.” To head off this threat, the Fed then allows interest rates to come back up toward their free market level. Then the interest-sensitive industries suffer a loss of sales, and they lay off workers. In short, the workers are initially drawn into jobs which are fundamentally unstable, and when these jobs disappear, they are thrown out of work again. With regard to housing, I have proof that this has been going on since the 1940s, and chances are that it has been going on for a lot longer than that. Ludwig von Mises coined the term malinvestment to indicate how the central bank is distorting the economy. By analogy, we can speak of malemployment. False employment is created for a few years. It draws workers into jobs which will ultimately disappear. And then, through no fault of their own, they are back on the unemployment rolls.

    Who is to blame for this recurrent cycle of unemployment? It is the New Deal version of the Democratic Party, which poses as the party of the working man. Now applying this theory to today, what do we find? We find that interest rates last peaked in 2006 and have made an incredible fall between 2007 and today. This fall in rates will have the same effect it has had every other time. It will stimulate the interest-sensitive areas of the economy. These areas will boom, and they will start to hire unemployed workers. The exact timing on this is hard to predict because it depends on exactly how fast the private banks lend out the money which the Fed is pumping into them. But it is a good bet that we have already seen the peak in unemployment (at the 10% level) and that the official unemployment rate will be down for the remainder of this year.

    In short, by drawing the public’s attention to unemployment and saying that Obama has failed to lower it, the Republicans are shooting themselves in the foot. They are also giving credence to the Democratic argument that unemployment is a measure of the economy. It is things like this that give me the impression that everyone is crazy.

    Haven’t the conservatives of 2010 heard of a country called the Soviet Union? This was a country that was based on the principle of full employment. The Soviet Union had full employment. However, it did not have (hardly) any wealth. The purpose of an economy is to create wealth. An economy where no wealth is created but there is full employment is a good definition of a prison camp (and this is also a good description of the Soviet Union). Notice that the Soviet Union began to break down its prison camp aspect at the same time that it began to abandon its Marxist (full employment) economic system.

    As I noted last week, the free economy of 19 th century America had so little unemployment that the language did not even have a word for it until the 1870s. It also produced more wealth than any other society through the entire course of human history. Even this understates the case. Britain and the Commonwealth countries also had a (largely) free economy differing only in having a central bank. And if one compares the English speaking world of that period with the rest of mankind, the wealth gap is absolutely amazing. The English speaking people not only beat the rest of the world. They ran away with the prize.

    On the other hand, the full-employment Soviet Union voluntarily dropped out of the race. In 1959, Nikita Khrushchev (head of the Communist Party of the U.S.S.R.) visited the U.S. He challenged the U.S. to a peaceful competition to see which system could produce more wealth (as opposed to the military competition of the Cold War). He predicted that in 25 years the U.S.S.R. would surpass the U.S. in economic production. This prediction was ignored in the West, but it was taken very seriously in the Soviet Union. They had been trying to catch up with the U.S. ever since 1917, and time and again they had failed (badly). Khrushchev gave them one last hope. The leaders of the U.S.S.R. focused on Khrushchev’s prediction. 25 + 1959 = 1984.

    What happened in 1984 in the Soviet Union? Its top leaders finally gave up hope of besting the U.S. The Soviet Union finally gave up faith in communism. Communism was not defeated in a great military battle (as many conservatives were looking for). It was defeated from within. In 1989, it abolished itself.

    So indeed, we have to ask, why is it that American conservatives are pretty much the only people in the world who are still peddling Marxist economics?

    A reader named Mac at asks the following question:

    “in regards to stocks and the broader commodities – if we see a pullback/crash in these asset classes, my thinking is that capital will shift back into the US dollar, at least in the short term….I am of the view that it is still possible for gold to take a short-term hit in the event of a global market sell off….I am wondering if a panic in global markets will take the form of ‘sell first, ask questions’ later, where even holders of assets like GLD might start unloading en masse while running to US Treasuries.”

    As a theoretical matter, it is important to keep in mind that it is highly unnatural for a stock market to continually go up. In a free market, wealth initially is created by the great producers. Then it passes through to the general public. The stock market is a capital market and, as such, is in competition with all other capital markets. For example for most of the 19 th century, safe (what we today call AAA) bonds yielded 5%, and stocks yielded 8%. The extra 3% was what the market felt was a fair return for the extra risk on stocks. This means that the P:E ratio on stocks was always close to 12:1. And since earnings remained constant, stock prices could not climb. (Different companies on the stock market are always in competition with each other. If Ford makes more money, GM probably makes less. For NYNH&H to make more money, other railroads had to make less.)

    Charles Dow invented the Dow Jones Industrials in 1896. But he had constructed a rail average as early as 1885. This rail average remained flat from 1885 to 1896. And his Dow Jones Industrials, despite a few ups and downs, did not change from 1896 to 1932. In short, for the 47 years in which the U.S. economy was a free market (and for which we have real time stock prices) these prices did not go up. This validated the prediction made by the free market economists of the 19 th century that under a free market (including a gold standard) wealth flows through to the average person and does not remain concentrated in a few hands.

    But of course you know what happened next. The U.S. stock market rose by a factor of 341 times between 1932 and 2007. Over the middle of the 20 th century, the real wages of the average working man slowed their gains. Once the last tie to gold was cut in 1971, real wages went into the worst decline in American history, and that is the condition which obtains today. That is, it was the revolution instituted by the New Deal to rob from the average working man and give this wealth to the rich people who trade in the stock market. This is, of course, the exact opposite of what you have been taught, and the reason is that your education has been a pack of lies. Whenever there has been a redistribution of the wealth, in any society, at any time in history it has robbed from the poor and given to the rich. (Under the New Deal, the graduated income tax was used to hide this fact, but the wealth transferred via taxes could not approach the wealth transferred in the opposite direction via monetary policy.)

    Therefore, the U.S. (and all other) stock market(s) are wildly over priced. If the DJI were to drop to 41 (its 1885-1932 value) or 697 (its 1885-1932 value in real terms), it would be a long overdue correction which would restore the country to economic health. Note the stock bear market of Oct. 2007 to March 2009. It was caused by the Fed tightening of 2004-06. The price structure of the markets is so distorted that even a return to semi-normal interest rates caused a 50% bear market in stocks. What the (U.S. and world) power structure is desperately trying to do is to keep pumping up the markets and prevent such a return to health. However, this gets harder and harder, and we must continually be on the alert for a major stock market decline. This is not imminent and will not occur until Bernanke tightens, but when that happens, it will be beautiful to behold.

    Note that gold stocks are affected both by the price of gold and by the price of stocks. They sort of follow a middle-of-the-road path between gold and stocks. So if (when) the U.S stock market tanks, one should switch one’s precious metals portfolio away from gold stocks and into gold or silver bullion.

    We will not see another replay of late 2008 where everything went down. That was a very unusual event where the New York Times hit the panic button, scared the blazes out of the entire country and almost caused their own bankruptcy. Their fight with the Boston Globe unions was one for the history books and violated all of the left-wing labor relations principles that they have been preaching to the country for much of the past century. For the most part, gold (and other commodities) can ignore a rise in interest rates for a much longer time than stocks. For example, the Fed tightened in 1973. Over the next two years, the stock market fell almost in half, and the price of gold went from about $65/oz. to almost $200. The Fed next tightened in 1978. From ’78 to ’82, the stock market went sideways, and from ’78 to early ‘80 the price of gold went from $350/oz. to over $800.

    A stock market decline will have to be preceded by a Fed tightening, and this tightening will almost certainly be triggered by an outbreak of rising prices (itself caused by the commodity pendulum). When the Fed does tighten, the best strategy will be to be in gold because the lag between the Fed tightening and stocks declining is much shorter than the lag between the Fed tightening and gold declining. You should be in gold, but watching stocks out of the corner of your eye because stock bear markets are easy to predict. They start off slow and build momentum. After a certain point, all signals are lower, and you can safely go short (especially if the play looks to last until October as many stock bear markets end with an October crash).

    These, however, are general considerations. For specific plays and near term analysis, I invite you to subscribe to my newsletter, the One-handed Economist. OHE is published fortnightly (every two weeks) at a price of $300/year. Cash customers (via the US mail) get a $10 discount. Write to: The One-handed Economist, 614 Nashua St. #122, Milford, N.H. 03055. Computer people can visit my website, www.thegoldspeculator.com, and press the Paypal button. We do not take credit cards. Regular issues of OHE are written every other Friday and are usually in the mail by Saturday. Normally, issues are sent out via e-mail, but you have the right to request a regular mail copy at no extra cost. From time to time, if the market moves suddenly, I may put out a short special bulletin between issues to clarify the situation.

    This world in which we live evokes the old Chinese expression, “May you live in interesting times. Thank you for your interest.

    # # #

    Related Reading: Unemployment (Part 1) by Howard Katz

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    11 Comments...

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    1. zukadu says:

      The data I have seen indicates inflation must now average 6-7% per year to get unemployment down to 6%. If inflation gets to that level I don’t think they can control it, except with Volcker type interest rates. Imagine what THAT will do to your credit card rate!  

      The SWEATSHIRT INDEX indicates that some prices have already gone up 20%. The horse is already out of the barn.

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    2. Tony says:

      Nobody should be anywhere near the stock market, unless you want to lose everything.  Physical gold and silver is the only investment option in this market and the one that is coming.

      We have to remember that we had the “big crash” in 1929. This lead to four major things. 1. The Federal Reserve went bankrupt. 2. The Great Depression. 3. Institution of Social Security 4. World War 2

      Social Security was instituted in the 1930′s not to help the working class like everyone believes, but to actually help replenish the bankrupted Federal Reserve.

      We were in so serious trouble that the last option was ww2. When the United States entered world war 2, the greatest manufacturing boom in our countrys history began. It was this manufacturing boom that pulled the United States (FED) out of bankruptcy.

      Today we are in worse shape than we ever were in the 1930′s. Our debts are actually unpayable! The moral decline along with the huge amounts of corruption only make this situation that much worse. The scary thing is that there will be no manufacturing boom to pull us out of this. There will be no catalyst to pull us out of this. This is the end game. This is when history repeats itself.

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    3. Jonny V says:

      Yer on to something Tony!  It used to be that in American business, it was OK to be making a good profit, and having happy workers.  This is where our middle class really came from.  We had business owners who made nice profits, and workers who made decent wages.  This formula worked until the 1980′s rolled around.  Somewhere in there, along about 1980 or 1981, we adopted what I’ll call the “Donald Trump” business model (for lack of a better term).  Under the Trump plan, every quarter MUST see profits higher than the last quarter, and if not, then hundreds (or even thousands) of people, “will be fired”.  This enormous pressure to create ever increasing profits, no matter what the cost, is what has doomed America.  The sheer greed on display any day of the week on Wall Street would embarrass Ramses II.  You can see a smaller version of this same greed for yourself just by going down to your local Costco before opening, and watching everyone “rubbing fenders” to get in there and buy something first.

      This is the same greed that led our largest manufacturing companies to move their operations to third world nations.  This allows them to pay people only a couple of dollars A DAY to produce all manner of machinery (including cars), footwear (all the highest priced brands), clothing, housewares, appliances, tools, FOOD, consumer electronics, and everything else that you buy, right down to the light bulb you have on right now.

      REPUBLICAN BUSINESS OWNERS WERE SO ANGRY AT THE IDEA OF UNIONIZED WORKERS MOVING INTO THE MIDDLE CLASS, THAT THEY DESTROYED THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA TO STOP IT FROM HAPPENING.

      Not intentionally of course, but the fact is that the “road to hell is paved with good intentions”.  The hard thing now is that there are no more “good intentions”.  Way back in the 1980′s, business owners figured out that it was a lot more profitable to buy companies, tear them down, and sell off the parts, than it was to put people to work.  The whole idea of “trickle down economics” (reaganonmics) is that if you give rich people an incentive (lots of money) they’ll just start up some company with lots of employees making lots of money.  The problem is that they learned that making money DOES NOT INVOLVE HIRING EMPLOYEES.  This is why we’re screwed.  Our “leaders”  keep trying the same old tactics, but the game has changed.

      In short, there will be no manufacturing boom to pull us out of this.  The United States isn’t capable of manufacturing anything on that scale anymore.  We are in a “death spiral”.  The plane is shot full of holes, on fire, and we are going down.  Moral values don’t mean a damn thing at this point.

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    4. zukadu says:

      Jonny V:   Don’t Blame Trump. “REAGANOMICS” was the catalyst for reducing everything to dollars and cents beginning in the 80′s whe he fired all of the unionized air traffic controllers across the country. 

      And don’t blame the Unions either. As a veteran back from Nam in the 70′s, I went to work in the steel mills outside of Chicago before going to college. This was in the era when Americans made things other than credit and debt, and manufacturing across the country made American blue collar workers middle class. In those days the head of the house could support his family, pay the mortgage, car payment, and send his kids to college with just one job.

      REAGANOMICS changed all of that by pushing Globalism, allowing illegals to come and work in the US destroying worker rights and wages, and thus signaling the beginning of the transfer of American technology, wealth, and manufacturing offshore.

      REAGANOMICS was unfettered capitalism. Once it destroyed the Soviet Union, it was unleashed on an unsuspecting American people, destroying family values and the American way of life. It was initiated by a Republican no less, who claim to support “family values”.

      The Liberals andProgressives expanded Globalism under Clinton. That was his first “Global Initiative” : accelerating the transfer of  American jobs, wealth, and technology offshore; primarily to China, and stripping the heartland of America of virutally all manufacturing. With REAGAN he turned it into a “Rust Belt”.

      But don’t get me wrong. Although I recognize the plight of the working class, I also see the unwillingness of the vast majority of these people to make the effort and sacrifices that are necessary to rise above the station of life that they were born into. Of course millions do, and I am one of them, but tens and tens and tens of millions have been too busy spending to save and invest; too busy having a good time to take the time to educate themselves; and too busy making kids to make a family, or to make a difference. So it is no surprise to me that we have the result that we have today.

      The only surprise it that it has been our duly elected leaders that have sold us out. That have sold out America to the highest bidder. We still shoot traitors don’t we? Or do we tar and feather them first before we hang them? Arrest the bastards for malfeasance  !!!!!!!!!!

      ERADICATE THE G-FLU!   ( R1D1)    They are vermin, masquerading as patriots: but serving themselves, their party, and their lobbyists at the expense of America!

      Shakespeare said it best: “Kill all the lawyers!”

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    5. Jonny V says:

      Trump only gets his name on it because even the lowest educated among us will recognize his name, and he does personify everything we’re talking about here.
      You’re right about Reagan and Clinton being the two most primarily responsible for this disaster, but the de-regulation that allowed this to happen started way back under Jimmy Carter.  This was a case of “if a little is good, more must be better, and too much must be just right”.
      Things have changed since you worked in the unions.  I work in the construction unions now, as a foreman.  There is no way my salary could make the mortgage and pay all the bills.  Two incomes are mandatory nowadays.  The problem is that we now are in a spot where most households actually need three incomes.  I don’t know how to get around this problem.  Maybe if polygamy were legal (everyone in the bible had multiple wives, I don’t see what the problem is).  I think the real reality is that “communal living” is right around the corner for lots of folks, not because they want to, but because they HAVE TO.  Our government and business leaders have sold us straight down the river.

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    6. Chris C. says:

      This is getting interesting as more and more economists are lining up for the inflation now and deflation later scenario. Katz is the second person I have read make an argument for higher food and energy prices this year, leading to the FED raising interest rates which results in a stock market crash, aka the MOTHER of all deflationary death spirals sometime in late 2011/early-mid 2012 as there is a 18-24 month lapse between tightening and equity crashes. Bob Chapman also advocates inflation for the next 18-24 months followed by hyper deflationary collapse. Pastor Lindsey Williams claims TPTB told him to expect much higher food/energy prices through this year, and more on the way for 2011. Coincidence?

      As a side note, I don’t really believe in the mysticism surrounding 2012 (as far as collapse goes), but is it possible that it could be a self-fulfilling prophecy? Seems to me TPTB would want to engineer the collapse to happen at this time just to spook the masses and make them fear the wrath of God. After all, a fearful person is one who is more easily controlled.

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    7. zukadu says:

      Jonny V:   Agreed, they have sold us down the river. As for multiple wives, the Muslims can have up to four.  The only problem with that, is now you have four mother-inilaws! :-)

      Chris C: Higher food and energy prices are already here if you look real close. Check with the Foundation For The Study Of Cycles for timing.

      As for the Wrath of God, you either believe in God or you don’t. In either case, it might be wise to consider that the Bible Codes predict the BIG ONE for LA in 2010, and the Pole Shift in 2015.  So we will all know soon enough whether God is real or not.

      Cayce predicted (more than seventy years ago) that the South Pole would be located in the South Atlantic after the CHANGES. Scientists have already identified a massive anomoly there, and the North Pole has already moved significantly towards Russia.

      Reach back, grab your ass, and hang on tight. Its gonna be a wild ride!

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    8. Chris C. says:

      Thanks for the info zukadu. When I said higher food/energy prices I should have said “much higher food/energy prices.”

      As for the wrath of God comment, it was an expression for dramatic effect. I almost always steer away from religion as it often incites animosity and steals attention away from the topic at hand.

      I am not familiar with Cayce, nor this massive scientific anomaly in the South Atlantic. Funny thing is when I read that I immediately thought of the Bermuda Triangle, but that’s more central-northern Atlantic.

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    9. zukadu says:

      Chris C:   The “Wrath of God” may be a valid expression for those that have read the Bible and understand how he deals with individuals, Nations, and Kings (leaders).

      Scientists have reported that the length of the day has been “shortened” by the 8.8 quake in Chile recently. When I read that, a verse in the Bible came immediately to my mind. With respect to the Last Days, and the Wrath of God, the Bible says and I paraphase here:

      “Except those days be shortened, no flesh shall be saved.” My italics.

      Just a co-incidence I’m sure. :-)

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    10. Jonny V says:

      So muslims can only have four huh?  Well, what about mormons?  I mean, they’re already dialed in on the whole food stockpiling thing.  Actually, I looked at a couple of their sites after seeing it mentioned here, and I gotta tell ya, I’m not to keen on having 600 pounds of wheat in my garage.  I’m into natural foods, and I spend extra to buy organic, but I’d prefer the finished product over the raw ingredient.  I guess the mormons are out, especially with the “no alcohol” rule.  Are you fucking insane??????

      About the 2012 thing, that year will be one of the years when the sun goes into a period of very high solar flare activity.  That means EMP’s.  Some of them will be big enough to wipe out all the electronic gear on whatever side of the planet is exposed to the sun.  All that matters is if the solar flare is aimed our way or not.  Also, the Chile quake shortened our days by about 1/4 of one second.

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    11. zukadu says:

      Jonny V:   The Bible Codes do not predict a CME (corona mass event), but they do predict “solar flares” for 2012. That they are mentioned at all for that year, when they happen all the time, suggests to me that we will in fact be looking at a CME.

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