Bunker Blog

The Cost of Efficiency

Cost of Efficiency

Automated Out of Existence

U.S. companies have become far more efficient in the way they operate their businesses. Investments in automation have borne fruit. The S&P 500 hit an all time high this year as the longest bull market in history continues. Products and services are becoming cheaper and it’s easier for consumers to make purchases. Much of the business processes that formerly required human intervention have been replaced with technology. Customer service representatives, for better or worse, are now “chat bots,” engineers work alongside machines on the factory floor, and heavy lifting in fulfillment centers is done by robots. All this automation comes at a steep price: human jobs. Is the cost of efficiency justified?

Wage Stagnation

Market investors and company executives have benefited enormously from business automation. Stratospheric stock prices and generous compensation packages have minted many millionaires this past decade. However, those on the lower rungs of the corporate hierarchy haven’t shared in the spoils. Companies are battling to stay competitive, which is why so much is being invested into automation that, over the long run, will cut the costs of their operations. Unskilled workers, or company employees without the pedigree or experience needed to fill white collar jobs, are suffering as a result of these investments.

Many of these struggles are voiced by workers in the manufacturing and retail fields. Robots are now permanent fixtures on the assembly line. Brick and mortar retail stores are going digital. The shifting industrial landscape prevents these unskilled workers from switching jobs, as they don’t have the right skill sets to do so. Increased automation also decreases employers’ dependence on unskilled labor. Therefore, unskilled workers have poorer bargaining positions and, as a result, receive stagnant wages.

The Threat to Skilled Workers

Workers in financial services, legal, and even medical fields are finding that their skills are growing obsolete. Software is used to review large pools of data that formerly required a paralegal. Diagnoses are now made by technology programs that formerly required a doctor. Financial products are sold to investors online, rather than by a broker over the phone. As more and more jobs are automated, we will see an uptick in unemployment. Critics of this argument state that just as many, if not more, jobs will be created as automation increases. However, most of the jobs created as a result of automation won’t have the skilled workers needed to fill them.

Upskill, Beg, or Revolt?

Workers must take it upon themselves to develop the skills necessary for the jobs of the future. We cannot rely on the government to train the masses about new technology when senators don’t even understand the effect technology has on the population. Online training courses, books, and bootcamps are all worthwhile investments of time and money in better securing your future employability. A more likely alternative that many will take is government welfare. Upskilling is hard compared to filling out a welfare registration form. The easy route may prove treacherous, though, as the increased number of government dependents will shrink the pool of money to dispense. If this pool dries up, you can expect revolts.

Preparing for the Future

Worker displacement poses an enormous threat to the future of our country. It is not too late to act. Companies can invest in training prospective workers on the skills they need to fill job openings. It’s a fair price to pay for the cost of efficiency. Governments can wake up to the fact that this problem will not solve itself. We, as preppers, need to continue to train ourselves the skills necessary to stay employable. I can only hope that the masses take it upon themselves to act. Otherwise, things may very well take a dark turn.

Want to talk more about worker displacement? Leave a comment or contact me.

Cost of EfficiencyCost of efficiency

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The Rise of China and Fall of Democracy

Fall of Democracy

The Latest Attack

Bloomberg Businessweek just published a stunning story detailing the Chinese state-sponsored espionage committed against nearly 30 U.S. companies. In short, the People’s Liberation Army compromised the supply chain of Supermicro, a company that is effectively the “Microsoft” of hardware. Supermicro designs and distributes high performance servers to its list of global clients, which include the likes of Amazon, Apple, and the U.S. Department of Defense. The Chinese spies implanted small, barely detectable microchips in these servers, which created entry points for hackers to view, modify, or delete data. This hack has terrifying implications, as Supermicro exposed U.S. government secrets and U.S. intellectual property to malicious actors.

Escalating Tensions

China has been in the news a lot lately due in large part to the ongoing trade tensions with the U.S. U.S. companies had taken the cheap Chinese labor for granted as they continued to outsource manufacturing operations to the Eastern nation. While this practice increased corporate profits, the increase came at the expense of U.S. jobs. Moreover, China has emerged as a superpower rivaling the U.S. It’s economy rose sharply as a result of voluminous number of exports. The Chinese government invested heavily in technology and has been effective in locking U.S. technology companies from access to its consumers. We will see this rift between nations widen as competition for global supremacy intensifies.

Autocracy as an Alternative

Xi Jinping, the President of China, has won the support of China’s National People’s Congress to remove term limits from the Chinese presidency. He now has a lifetime tenure to advance his vision for the country he controls unchecked. To better ensure dissent among the population is muted, China has implemented a sophisticated means of censorship throughout its internet, technology applications, and news outlets. The U.S. has struggled to penetrate the Chinese market, as applications like WhatsApp, Facebook, and Google have been banned in favor of the Chinese sponsored WeChat, Tencent, and Baidu. The Chinese government’s control over the more than one billion inhabitants provides it with invaluable streams of data. These data points can be used to tighten the country’s grip on its people and further power its hypergrowth.

Metastasis

China has demonstrated that democracy is not the only form of government that propels an emerging market to a global superpower. We are now seeing other countries install charismatic strongmen as their heads of state. Russia, Turkey, and Venezuela all resemble China in their autocratic rule of their populations. These countries continue to further insulate themselves from democratic nations, resulting in sanctions, cyber warfare, and sharpened rhetoric. Unfortunately, with a viable alternative to democracy, it’s unlikely that these tensions between nations will subside. In fact, we can expect more countries to shift further away from democracy. The peace between superpowers we have witnessed following the end of World War II is ebbing away. Centralization of power, state censorship, and a strengthening economy had been three of the main factors that led to the German population’s acceptance of war. We can only hope that we don’t need to prepare for another one.

If you want to discuss China’s rise further, leave a comment in the comment section or contact me.
Daisy Luther Prepper Interview

One Second After Book Review

One Second After Book Review

When Life as You Know It Ends

William Forstchen’s One Second After follows the life of John Matherson after an EMP strike rids Black Mountain, North Carolina of electricity. Matherson, a former Army Colonel and well respected college professor, recognizes the extent of the crisis early. Having learned about them during wartime, he informs the town’s leaders about EMPs:

“We finally figured out that when you set off a nuke in space, that’s when the EMP effect really kicks in, as the energy burst hits the upper atmosphere. It becomes like a pebble triggering an avalanche, the electrical disturbances magnifying… It’s called the ‘Compton effect.'” (63-64)

The EMP rendered most cars useless, led to a run on banks, and made communication at a distance impossible. Planes, including Air Force 1, fell out of the sky. The nation’s inhabitants had grown so accustomed to the luxuries of modern living that chaos ultimately replaced the former comforts.

Prepping for the Long Haul

Matherson knew that power was not coming back anytime soon, so he took immediate steps to prepare. The father of a diabetic daughter, Matherson collected as much insulin as he could from the pharmacy. He stocked up on cigarettes to both sustain his nicotine addiction and potentially use them as currency. Lastly, Matherson wanted his family close. His father in law was located in a nursing home, which was very poorly equipped to handle an EMP. Technology meant to help the elderly survive shut down, resulting in the unfortunate demise of many in the facility. Matherson saves his father in law from this same fate by bringing him home to be cared for by those who love him.

Matherson appreciated how desperate many of the town’s inhabitants would get when left without food. He pulled out his guns, coached his daughters how to use them, and had a plan in place to ensure everyone knew what to do in the event of a break in. Matherson’s prescience kept his family protected and secure.

Collaboration and Cannibalism

Matherson and the rest of Black Mountain’s leaders need to find allies as law begins to erode. They work to develop an alliance with the neighboring Asheville, only to disappointingly come away without a mutually beneficial agreement. The Black Mountain leaders therefore need to rely more heavily on themselves. They build a militia of college students to protect against outside threats, which rumors suggest grow nearer with each passing day. A townsperson bore witness to a cult-like collection of people called “The Posse” slaughtering and feasting on other humans. The people of Black Mountain will not let the town fall without a fight, so they ready for battle.

Primeval Nature

War breaks out in Black Mountain, which takes both a physical and mental toll on the survivors. I won’t spoil the outcome, but I’ll instead touch upon the psychological effects of disaster Forstchen so beautifully illustrates. In times of bitter distress, people devolve into their most primitive states. Food, water, family, and shelter are all that are valued, and people will kill for each. At the community level, horrific decisions about who lives and who dies need to be made. I argue that in circumstances like in the aftermath of an EMP, we can become increasingly more inhuman. Forstchen’s narrative is an incredibly gripping description of such circumstances that we can both learn from and enjoy.

If you’d like to chat further about the book, feel free to contact me or leave a comment in the comment section. You can read my review of Forstchen’s sequel, One Year After, right here. You can also find other Forstchen books in the Bunker Basics Store.

One Second After Book Review

What to do WROL

Returning to Our Basest Instincts

There are thousands of potential scenarios that could leave our society without rule of law (WROL). I’ve spent time covering Events that could do such a thing (EMP, tech), but I haven’t yet explored what society WROL looks like. Without the many luxuries we’ve grown to take for granted, our primal natures begin to overtake our sense of community. If food stocks begin to deplete and available water runs short, paranoia will sweep through the population. Unfortunately, paranoia tends to breed chaos and fracture our societal structures. The police force, government, and firemen we’re used to will no longer command the authority or respect they once did. You must be ready to adapt to a society that degenerates into every man for himself. This is what to do WROL:

 1. Prepare for the Long Term

When your community looks as if it will be WROL, you must first accumulate enough food, water, and medical supplies as possible. If you or a family member has a chronic illness, it’s important that you prioritize getting as much medication as possible. Chronic illnesses don’t just afflict a single person in the community, so it’s critical to be quick and efficient in ensuring your own survival. While this may sound cruel, we will see that far crueler acts are performed WROL. Once you have what you need to survive, you must protect it at all costs. Your shelter should be secure and you should have the necessary arms to defend what’s yours. I recommend reading William Forstchen’s One Second After to learn the power of quick thinking when society is WROL.

2. Never Go Out Alone

WROL, the police force is no longer around to maintain order. You should have someone with you to offer you protection if you leave your secure location. The above mentioned food, water, and medical supplies you’re in pursuit of are valuable to others as well. Have a partner or team with you to protect your goods. Moreover, you need to protect one another. We don’t need to dive too far into history books before reading about the gruesome acts men have committed against other men and women in war time. Prepare for violent outbursts when you’re exposed to those you don’t know or trust.

3. Set the Example

Societies are only temporarily WROL. Ultimately, order reemerges and the community rebuilds. That said, it should be the responsibility of the level-headed preppers to help instill the right values in those on the new governing body. Germany’s leadership following its defeat in WWI led to the atrocities committed during WWII. However, after its defeat in WWII, Germany ultimately became a leader and promoter of European democracy. Communities, let alone nations, aren’t necessarily set on the right course after societal breakdown. It’s up to us to create the model for the future.

Reemerging Stronger

Those of you who have read some of my other posts may think I’m a pessimist. However, I think that there are enough rationally minded and kind-hearted people out there to get society back on track if we are ever to be WROL. Communities can emerge more tightly knit and with shared values after experiencing a period of suffering. New York City became more resilient than ever following 9/11 due to the heroism and selfless acts performed by local, national, and international citizens. Doom and gloom doesn’t need to linger; in fact, times of crisis can bring us closer together and cause us to become stronger than ever.

If you have any suggestions or would like to discuss society WROL further, please contact me or leave a comment.

What do to WROL

Daisy Luther Prepper Interview

Daisy Luther Prepper Interview

Introducing Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther has been a godsend to the prepper community.

She manages multiple preppiDaisy Luther Prepper Interviewng websites like The Organic Prepper, Preppers Daily News, and Preppers Market and has authored The Prepper’s Canning GuideThe Prepper’s Water Survival Guide, and The Pantry Primer. She has published thousands of articles about prepping and also shares alternative news on her websites. I had the pleasure of interviewing Daisy Luther and I’m eager to share the transcript with you:

Daisy’s Story and Motivation

Bob: Many people experience hardship in their lives that draw them towards prepping. I understand that you faced your own hardship that ultimately led you to what’s become a successful and enjoyable career. Can you share your story with our readers?

Daisy: Well, after my father passed away, I was left very unhappy

with my current situation. I was living in the city, working about 60 hours a week, and utterly miserable. I had some serious financial problems, including the loss of my home and car. Then my children’s father died suddenly (we had been divorced for many years but it was still a terrible blow for our family) and I rethought everything I was doing. I took a payout to leave the company where I worked and decided it was “now or never” if I wanted to write for a living. My eldest went off to college and my youngest and I moved out to the boondocks, which is where we lived when I began my blog.

Bob: You’re a prolific producer of content consumed by the prepper community. What motivated you to start writing about your prepping practices?

Daisy: Well, they say to write about what you know, and what I opted to write about was the things I was doing at that time as well as my observations about what was going on in the world. I figured I was learning stuff and other people might also like to learn the same things. One thing I always hated about prepping blogs was how “perfect” the writers always were. I vowed to write about the good, bad, and ugly – so successes AND failures – and luckily, other people were interested in what I was writing.

Bob: You’re undoubtedly busy writing books and managing your websites, but I imagine you have some free time. What are your hobbies?

Daisy: I’m not really good at just sitting around. I read a lot, and in the evenings with family, I usually work on some kind of project while we watch Netflix. Right now, it’s crocheting some Christmas gifts. We also travel as often as possible. I know that shocks a lot of people in the preparedness world, but I think it’s important not to just hunker down in your home if you enjoy doing other things. Life is meant to be lived. I focus strongly on skills and hope this is enough should something terrible happen when we’re away from our home base.

Prepping for The Event

Bob: I’d argue that every prepper has at least one potential cause of their advanced preparation. What potential “Events” keep you up at night?

Daisy: Currently, the escalation of the current unrest in our country. Neighbor turning against neighbor. It isn’t as dramatic as an EMP taking down the grid but I think it’s a lot more likely.

Bob: What would you say is the number one prepper skill that would differentiate you from other survivors in a post-apocalyptic world?

Daisy: That’s a hard question. I would have to say it’s my adaptability. That may not sound like much of a skill, but I’ve lived in a lot of different places – I’m kind of a nomad – and at each place, I have picked up potentially life-saving information. From dealing with – 48-degree temperatures in the forests of Canada to landslides and droughts in California, I’ve been fortunate to pick up knowledge about things like heating off-grid, handling natural disasters, predicting the flow of events in an emergency, water conservation, animal husbandry, and gardening.

I think there’s a lot to be said for the whole “Jack of all trades, master of none.” And what I mean by that is that it doesn’t have to be a negative. I may not be a trained physician but due to my variety of experiences, I’ve picked up bits of knowledge that could one day be lifesaving. I was never trained in how to raise a baby deer, but because I knew their physiology was similar to goats, I was able to keep a rescued fawn alive and well for several weeks until an organization could pick her up.

My knowledge of the history of collapses and disasters means that I usually have a good idea of what is likely to happen next. You can apply this across a huge variety of situations. Not everyone is a homesteader or a wilderness survival guru, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t still survive. They just might survive differently.

The Prepping Community

Bob: When I began prepping I was amazed by the size of and the engagement within the prepping community. Which preppers do you look up to, collaborate with, or stay up to date with?

Daisy: A couple of the guys who write for my website have taught me a lot. There’s Jose, a gentleman who survived the collapse of Venezuela and escaped with his family. Then there’s my good friend Selco, who survived the Balkan Wars in Bosnia.

Bob: Unfortunately, there are those who are outright hostile towards preppers. I can appreciate healthy skepticism, but I myself have experienced a share of internet abuse due to my beliefs. How do you handle the “trolls” and others who spew vitriol in the comment sections of your websites?

Daisy: I usually just let them spew. Most of the time, a reader will say something to them in my defense. I don’t want to get down on the ground with them. It’s just not worthwhile, and it’s unnecessary stress.

Sometimes they have good points, although hostilely expressed. When that’s the case, I try to turn the conversation into a positive one.

Bob: Some people stereotype preppers as “tinfoil hat crazies.” You’ve been blogging for over half a decade. Who are your readers, where are they from, and would you consider them to be practical?

Daisy: I have such a wide array of readers. Because I am neither a conservative nor a liberal, I have readers from all points on the political spectrum. I try hard to be respectful of their opinions for the most part. I have learned from this that what the mainstream focuses on is the extremes and most people are just not extremists.

I have people with a big variety of living situations – city folks, people who live in suburbia, and homesteaders out in the country. I love the variety and it adds a lot to the comments section.

Most preppers are very practical – it’s what led them to prepping.

Homeschooling

Bob: Your youngest daughter is homeschooled and has excelled academically as a result. What do you believe to be the benefits of homeschooling relative to “traditional” schooling (aside from its compatibility with prepping)?

Daisy: First things first, it really depends on the kid. My oldest daughter would have been completely miserable if she had been homeschooled. She thrived in a classroom. I think it’s very important to not make a blanket statement because it is not right for every child.

The best thing about homeschooling was the freedom it offered. We did a great deal of traveling and the cool thing about that is how it brings the lessons to life. If you are learning about how the United States was settled and then you go to Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown, that is a lesson that truly sinks in. If you are navigating through the United States using a paper atlas, you’re going to remember that geography. As well, when we had a small homestead, there were loads of lessons on the farm – anatomy on butchering day, botany while hiking – you get the idea.

Following Daisy

Bob: How can people stay in touch with you on social media?

Daisy: On Facebook, my page is The Organic Prepper, but the real way to interact is to join my group, Prep Club. (https://www.facebook.com/groups/op.prepclub/) We have great discussions there. I’m on Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram as @DaisyLuther

I know that social media isn’t for everyone, so you can also find me on my website. Definitely subscribe to my daily newsletter – there’s information in there sometimes that isn’t published elsewhere.

Bob: Thanks so much for your time. I really enjoyed our conversation.

Daisy: You’re very welcome! It was lovely talking with you!

Have any more questions, or want to see other interviews? Contact me.

Daisy Luther Prepper Interview