Saturday, November 24, 2012

"Retreat" Areas may be Hit by automatic US Budget Cuts‏


1) I was just looking at a map showing which USA counties receive the most federal spending dollars per person --in a news article re which areas will be heavily impacted if the US government has automatic tax increases/spending cuts in the event the Democrats and Republicans don't reach a compromise budget with 2 months.
2) One thing that was striking is that many of the survival retreat areas recommended by James Wesley Rawles are strongly dependent upon the US federal government spending.

Rawles' "American Redoubt" recommended areas are here:

3) The impact on those areas will be amplified because of what economists call the "multiplier" -- every dollar coming into an area from outside gets passed around 4 or 5 times and hence supports roughly 4 times its weight in economic activity. A federal worker spends his paycheck at  the grocery store, the grocery store worker spends part of the money received from the federal worker at Walmart, the Walmart employee spends his resulting wage buying gas at the local service station,etc.

4) But if the spigot from outside shuts off, the crowbar works the other way --and the local economy shrinks more rapidly than just the amount of reduction in outside money. It seem risky to be in an area dependent upon a government that is $16+ Trillion in debt -- especially since inland areas like Montana don't have any ocean ports giving them access to trading routes with other countries and they don't have  diversified economies/ resources.   I.e, there are reasons why they have low populations.
 5) Did you know if any areas in Argentina saw this effect after the 2001 crisis?
 -Don Williams

Hi Don,
At times certain areas have been recommended by certain people because they would gladly contact you with retreat brokers that will land them a certain handsome fee for their troubles. Even on small shares per buyer, you’re talking about some serious money being made in what would otherwise be hard to sell, unattractive property. 

Then there’s the issue of lack of objectivity. People in general, we all tend to look at things through our own perspective, and the greater the ego, the harder it is to put yourself in the other guy’s shoes. If you happen to suffer a narcissistic disorder, this exercise which involves an amount of empathy is simply impossible to perform.  A person that is independently wealthy, not exactly because of the money he saves by heating with wood or growing his own food, mind you, can afford to pick the place they live in with much greater freedom than someone that has to work for a living and actually needs to find a job or provide clients and customers for himself. For some people homeschooling just isn’t possible because both parents work or because, like myself, believe that an excellent school will provide a better education while we take care of the raising them part at home. In either case, good schools in the area are of great importance. An elder couple that needs constant medical care, like the nice lady that lives across my street, they wouldn’t last a month without constant medical assistance. For people like them, living far from cities where good medical care is available is a bad idea. And guess what, we will ALL be in that position sooner or later. 

Then you have this popular idea among survivalists that everyone living in a suburb or city is a complete useless fool while everyone that lives out in the country is a super human of some sort, healthy, fit, educated, good natured and 100% self-sufficient. People living out of government handouts, drunkards, lazy bums that have their homes falling apart with yards full of rat infested junk? Drug abusers, meth labs, you’ll never find none of those out in the sticks. Truth is that there’s that kind of people in cities, suburbs and country, and the same goes for good people we would all love to have as neighbors. 

Did you know if any areas in Argentina saw this effect after the 2001 crisis?

People that live in the inner Argentine provinces have a saying, “God is everywhere, but his office is in Buenos Aires”. That is why half the population lives there. Finding work, getting more complicated paperwork done or going to a good university, you have to go to the big city. Argentina may be an extreme case of that, but there’s still a lesson there. With thousands of acres of beautiful and affordable land, why do people still choose to bunch up in nasty Buenos Aires? Because it’s the only place in a 3rdf world country where you can get anything done, its where all the money ends up. The rest of the country is always in a far 2nd place in terms of priority. The power grid needs fixing, water supply, roads, Buenos Aires gets the money first. Its not surprise that you find some of the worse poverty in the more distant provinces.
Don, the problem isn’t just that these places are strongly dependent upon the US federal government spending. The problem is that given their relevance, these will be the first places where that spending is significantly cut.

I’ve explained this behavior before, comparing it to a living organism. When there’s not enough food, a living organism will keep its core alive while sacrificing other non-vital parts. Same thing happens with a country and its government, it will keep its core alive, and same thing will happen in a state level, the capital getting most of the attention so as to keep it going while the smaller the community, the less help it will get.


Tin Man said...

Thanks for a well reasoned response to Mr. Rawles "American Redoubt." Narcicism hits it just about right.

Anonymous said...

One thing a lot of people who buy into the conventional prepper wisdom of bugging out of the city to go the the sticks are forgetting is that the vast majority of the land in the world that is sparsely populated is that way for a good reason.

Sparsely populated land tends to be sparsely populated because it is lacking in one or more things necessary to support a large population, whether it's adequate farmland, a long-enough growing season, good water, access to the rest of the world (historically via navigable rivers and oceans and more recently via rail and highway transport), defensibility, or something else. The populations of many of these areas, especially in the US, are far beyond their native carrying capacity and are dependent on outside imports for their support (e.g., the American southwest).

In the event of a true catastrophic breakdown, there would be tremendous casualties as the population reverts to what the land can actually support.

I will stick with living somewhere with all the requirements necessary for supporting me which is in reasonable proximity to other people.

Greek Caste System said...

Here in Greece, because of the widesperad tax evasion, government increased greatly property taxes. You can hide your income but you cannot hide your home. Unemployed people have to pay taxes (!) just because they inherited a house. They can't sell it either because house prices are in a free fall. Have you ever though of this? Building a house in an depressing economy and every year its price to be 10-20% less and less.They now plan to tax uninhabited lots! At least for a Greek's ears buying a big "retreat" house deep in the woods is a crap. You are an easy and obvious target not only for criminals but for tax authorities too...not to mention heating expences. My former boss - a rich person- lives in the rent.
Civil Engineer

Greek Caste System said...

Here in Greece, because of the widesperad tax evasion, government increased greatly property taxes. You can hide your income but you cannot hide your home. Unemployed people have to pay taxes (!) just because they inherited a house. They can't sell it either because house prices are in a free fall. Have you ever though of this? Building a house in an depressing economy and every year its price to be 10-20% less and less.They now plan to tax uninhabited lots! At least for a Greek's ears buying a big "retreat" house deep in the woods is a crap. You are an easy and obvious target not only for criminals but for tax authorities too...not to mention heating expences. My former boss - a rich person- lives in the rent.
Civil Engineer

FerFAL said...

Hey GCS, couldnt agree with you more.

Anonymous said...

I hate to break the urban dwelling kumbaya, but has anyone stopped to think why those apparently remote waste lands in the Redoubt get so much government dole? Do you really think they would lose it it hit the fan? The reason Rawles picked that area is probably the same reason why the government dumps so much money into it.

Just saying...

Jose Garcia

Anonymous said...

6Well, I don't think much of Rawles, but this map does not show what some of you people seem to think it shows.

The number one reason rural areas tend to get more federal dollars per person is that they tend to have older populations. This means that more of them get Social Security among other things. Elderly are not anymore vulnerable to getting their checks cut then ones in the city.

The second reason is a lot of defense spending takes place in rural areas as well as a lot of military retirees settling in rural areas. These are all counted as federal dollars. These places may get hit to save money. But most likely the hits will be focused on new kit (which is made in the cities) rather than closing bases.

And lastly, the map also reflects the fact that rural areas wields disproportional political power in congress. That is not likely to change soon.

Anonymous said...

Ferfal, slightly off base....
Quoting from the Rawles site

"I noticed that (our spin-off site, operated by my #1 Son) has continued to grow rapidly. There are now more than 125 listings. It has become the premier site for buying and selling retreat properties. Full-length listings there are just $30 per month, with no sales commissions charged. Take a look."

Anonymous said...

Crime in rural US is spiking (probably due to the Meth epidemic)...I know a pretty good "redoubt" area that my buddy's dad has in Green county in SW PA was robbed of equipment(the idiots hit every house in a row and he knew he was next...he put out some 'game cams' and with those pictures the cops caught them).

So, that's something to consider - when you need your preps the most they might not be there when you show up if they're far away and unattended.


TampaMark said...

The reason those remote areas get so much money is that it buys votes. I saw an article about this once during the Clinton years regarding the ending of income tax by repealing the 16th Amendment and replace it with VAT or National Sales Tax. The survey found that it wouldn't pass due to 16 or so states that got more money from the Fed than other states, hence they would never vote for the Amendment. And most of those states show up in the map posted here.

Don Williams said...

1) I don't know where all the government money goes to in Montana, Wyoming, etc.

One big defense facility they have is the Minuteman missile fields -- located (in spread out areas) in Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming. Those missiles have been cut in half in the past 15 years because of arms control agreements with the Russians. While they are looking to reduce some more, obviously a minimum capability will always be kept.

2) I think they were originally installed in those areas because they were most distant locations from the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans --giving time to launch our missiles in the event the Soviet Union tried a sneak first strike with submarine launched missiles.

3) However, I doubt the installations themselves bring in a major percentage of the federal spending --the missiles are built elsewhere and the government has tried to reduce the number of personnel needed to man them. And the defense budget is slated to take a major cut in the coming decade -- although probably not as much as during the Clinton years in the 1990s.

Plus those missile fields make the area high risk for a survival retreat -- if the US and Russia ever went to war, not even the cockroaches would survive in that area:

4) One thing in the design of the US government that partially reduces the priority spending that Ferfal mentioned is the US Senate. A sparsely populated state like Montana (998,000) gets as many Senators (two) as states like California (37.7 Million) and Texas (25.7 Million) that have huge populations.

But that power will be significantly reduced if the Senate Rules are changed in January to destroy or greatly weaken the filibuster.

Greek Caste System said...

I want to add, I am not against a SMALL house in the suburbs of a city. Houses, albeit a little more expensive in maintenance, they are much safer than appartments where only a door keeps you from the "outer world". Also, your car is parked next to you, very important in cases of riots, protests, strikes etc. During the last strike of the rubbish collectors, city dwellers really suffered.

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Anonymous said...

Most of those areas are heavily supported by the federal government because of the Indian population. The feds pay for their schools, their hospitals and clinics, their homes in many cases, welfare, and outright cash payments, etc. The non-Indian citizens in these areas don't get that federal largesse and won't miss it when it's gone.

Jason Reinhardt said...

This is a very good blog entry, because it hits to the core reality of

the MAJORITY of people in the United States, Argentina, and in nearly

every other part of the world.

In the USA, 82%+ people live in urban areas! Less than 18% in rural

areas. How Jim Rawles (and the mainstream survivalist community) has

managed to dominate with the concept of the "rural retreat" is beyond

me. Don't get me wrong, Rawles books are worth having as reference.

However, people need to realize that the "BugOut" concept is insane. I

explain why in my own book on "urban survival." I also cover

"spiritual" (biblical) aspects of survival as well, which is more

critical than "urban" survival alone.

I've written a 5 star review of FerFAL's book here on Amazon, and

posted a copy of it on my own blog:


I also wrote about Jim Rawles book also giving him a 5 star rating,

but mentioning the fact that his "rural retreat" concept is only for a

very small percentage of people.

Never in my imagination do I see myself living in Montana or a

similiar place! I have no idea how I would make a living there!

For those who want a book strictly on "urban survival" get FerFAL's

book, which covers nearly every topic I can think of that is of

importance to "physical survival" preparation.

In my own book (see link on my blog page), I cover SOME of the topics

FerFAL covers (some in less detail), but I also cover "personal

privacy" in an urban environment, and how to keep a low profile...both

physically and logically (i.e. computer security). That too is of

critical importance.

And lastly, I cover "spiritual" aspects, because once you die, you

then have to be concerned with whether your soul will live beyond the

point of "this life" only. What could be more important than that?

God bless!


Anonymous said...

"Then you have this popular idea among survivalists that everyone living in a suburb or city is a complete useless fool while everyone that lives out in the country is a super human of some sort, healthy, fit, educated, good natured and 100% self-sufficient."

You said it. This mindset is extremely tiresome. I'm quite weary of hearing how everyone on either coast of the US is an effete mooch waiting for "the government" to "save" them from something or other. Some of us CAN'T or don't want to live in Montana eating rabbits next to our waterwheel.

Don Williams said...

1) Re Anon's comment at Nov 24, 7:05 PM, the real money lies in $100 per hour consulting fees, not in real estate ads. heh

2) One of the "survival retreat" real estate ads is amusing -- the one for the farmhouse in Berryville, VA.

3) That is a lovely rural area located about 50 miles northwest of Washington, DC. A number of wealthy people have large estates in the area.

4) However, it also has a huge bullseye painted on it by Russian nuclear ICBM targeteers. Because one of the major US government "continuity of government" bunkers was secretly built there early in the Cold War. Mount Weather. Ranks right up there with the Pentagon, Raven Rock and the Minuteman missle silos in priority.

hsu said...

@Don Williams,
There is no way Russia will bomb us. They may not like us, but they no longer hate us that much anymore.

The only countries that hate us enough to bomb us are Iran and North Korea, and neither of those countries have ICBMs, which means we are pretty safe from any sort of nuclear attack.

Aka, the cold war is over, and so are any military targets or strategies based upon cold war theories.

The USA will see either a currency default or rampant inflation well before we see a nuclear attack.

Don Williams said...

1) re Hsu

Part of what you say is true --Soviet nuclear forces are roughly 17% of what they were during the height of the Cold War -- and US forces have been reduced as well per arms control agreements.

However, Both Russia and China have enough nukes to destroy many of our largest cities and roughly 70% of our population.

In fact, China's nuclear force seems designed to attack our cities --they never went in for the hugely expensive counterforce strategy that the USA and Russia pursued (with cities held in reserve as hostages.)

2) I mention nuclear war because it -- and an asteroid strike --are the only events that could weaken the hold of the US government over the US population enough for the Rawlesian Mad Max theories to be plausible. But the only scenario in which Rawles's "Mountain Redoubt" makes sense would also result in the Mountain Redoubt glowing in the dark from extremely high levels of radiation.

In the event of the more likely disasters occurring -- hyperinflation, avian flu etc -- the President's control over the population and Congress would greatly increase, not lessen.

And the rural countryside would have no defense against government confiscation of resources to feed the cities/keep the major economic centers functioning.

Look at Stalin's Holodomor in the Ukraine as an extreme example.

Anonymous said...

If I could politely disagree with your comments about homeschool.....
I have discovered that many public schools do poorly due to their own bureaucracy.

For example: We have many decelerated programs because teaching said child to read is based on methods than have never even been proven to work.
Some teachers try throwing in a few "phonics" techniques to supplement.
This was discovered in the 70s.
If the school bureaucrats actually had curriculum based on solid data, kids could READ. And if kids can read words like "dyslexia" can go away forever.

Our national average at reading is horrendous.
Two working parents can successfully homeschool their kids.
The amount of time it takes is clearly assumed by the writer.
Do you know how long a day a home schooled child requires?
A-hah- this is where I leave you to find the answer!
I find the problems in the public school system all in perfect order, and the solutions too simple but then I digress...................
Also, many things taught at school need to be unlearned at home. Try erasing the word "douche bag" from your 5 year old's steel trap mind!
Thanks public school.

russell1200 said...


You are forgetting one of your all time great posts- the one on the Ghost Towns that were created when rail service was shut down to them.

I agree with other commentors who not that the Federal spending maps are a little misleading. Most of the redoubt areas have very iffy economic opportunities in any case. I think the reality is that most people are going to either have it as a second home, or are able to bring their income stream with them.

Don Williams said...

PS to hsu
1) To clarify, many nuclear strikes would be done as air bursts -- the radius of blast/fire damage is much greater than that of ground level bursts. However, air bursts create little to no radioactive fallout.

2) However, both underground Minuteman missile silos and the Mount Weather bunker would have to be attacked with ground bursts -- which would throw up enormous amounts of highly radioactive fallout in the surrounding area. In the case of Montana, the clouds would be enormous because of the many missile silos (+100). Montana and Berryville are probably the worse possible places to be if Russia ever decided to hit us.

Look at history -- the Cold War is not over. It will never be over -
competitor nations are simply saying "Nice Doggy" to us while looking for a big rock.

hsu said...

@Don Williams
China attacking the USA?

China exports $400 billion a year to the USA. That's 4x more than their military budget (yes, China only spends about $100 billion on their military, or 2% of their GDP, compared to the USA which spends about $700 billion or 5% of their GDP on the military).

In addition, of the USA allies, China exports another $400 billion to the EU, $150 billion to Japan, $100 billion to South Korea, $50 billion to India, $40 billion to Taiwan.

That's about $1.2 trillion dollars in exports that China does per year to countries with USA security treaties.

While certainly anything is possible, you aren't going to see a Chinese war with the USA while their population is living fat and happy off their export proceeds. That is, no reason to start a war when they are effectively winning already.

Don Williams said...


1) At the moment, the US government, China and Russia have a gentlemen's agreement to live and let live.

Russia and China should ask the ghosts of Tecumseh, Sitting Bull, Geronimo, Chief Joseph and the Cherokee how that works out in the long run. As you noted, the USA spends much on the military -- more than the next 15 major powers combined.

2) Hopefully, the ties of trade will preserve the peace. But one thing that would provoke a nuclear war would be for China or Russia to discover that the US government has a secret program to conquer the world -- to permanently subjugate everyone else with a surprise attack.

And we, of course, would preemptively respond in a similar manner if we discovered that China or Russia had such a program.

For example, In theory, the Space Treaty bans deployment of nuclear bombs in space. If someone was discovered to violating that treaty , it would be a serious manner -- there would be little defense against such.

Anonymous said...

The map is very misleading. It does not go into what the federal dollars are for in each area. It could be farm subsidies, conservation, roadwork, and the like. It is not just welfare, schools and healthcare.

Anonymous said...

Rural or urban both have their benefits/weaknesses. Fernando has long discussed the benfits of urban areas. But that is for an economic collapse. What if the SHTF scenario is a high altitude burst. One small (by today's standards) nuclear blast at altitude over Kansas could essentially throw the entire U.S. into the 1800s. A large SCUD fired from a freighter in LA or the Great Lakes could easily accomplish this. In this situation, a rural spot may be best as they usually have water access and have room for disposing of biological waste. Sanitation issue type deseases will be rampant in population centers in an EMP event. Water sources will also be hard to come by and will be extremely dangerous (prime hunting grounds). If you are urban, be able to be completely holed up for at least a year. That said, I still prefer urban.

Don Williams said...

1) Here in the USA we just celebrated the holiday of Thanksgiving -- which I always thought was rich in irony.

The holiday was created by the early settlers of New England -- when they celebrated their survival for their first year in the New World -- a feat that was possible only because of the help and food provided by the native American Indians:

2) So how did that act of generosity and charity work out for the Indians?

Anonymous said...

I think you are all making "descent" points as to why there are huge areas of red on the map, but are missing a really big one, agricultural subsidies. Those areas on the map have small populations of mostly farmers who receive, per capita, huge amounts of federal farm subsidies to grow crops. They don't necessarily want the money, but if they didn't take it they would go broke. Without it, the free market would have to bid the price of food much higher which would cause social unrest. The subsidies are a sneeky way for the gov't to keep food prices "seemingly" artificially low, even though you are paying for the rest of the cost of production through high taxes.

Don Williams said...

Re Anon @ Nov 26, 10:43 PM

1) The US wheat harvest for 2011/12 was 1999 million bushels, down 208 million bushels from 2011 due to the drought in the Midwest.

Of those 1999 million bushels, about 1000 are sold abroad. So what the US tax subsidy is buying is peace for Middle Eastern regimes
-- look at what happened about 4 years ago when food prices spiked.

2) Corn (maize) production is projected to fall to 285 million metric tons, down from 330
million tons in 2010/2011. Of those, only 32 million tons are exported --much goes to feed our livestock or as base ingredient in prepared foods. Meat prices in the USA are projected to soar in 2013 (bad grain harvests take about a year to flow
through the food chain to the supermarket.) And our exports of maize is important to many poor countries.

3) Our stockpiles, however, are alarmingly low--18 million tons. Our politicans might want
to check their history books and see how the Roman mob reacted when the Egyptian grain ships didn't arrive on time.


4) The above USDA report also shows the major importance of Argentina as a world grain supplier.

Anonymous said...

Rural areas are nice for any 'civil unrest' scenario.

In those type of SHTF scenarios you'd rather be 50 miles away from the city in the country rather than 5 miles away in the suburbs.

But most people can't earn the style of living they prefer out in the sticks.

hsu said...

Just another way you get the shaft when living in a rural area:

In brief, phone calls to rural communities get frequently dropped, no matter if you are on a landline or a cellphone.

The reason? Rural telecoms, which own the copper (which both cell towers and landlines connect to) charge a higher rate to complete calls. They have to, because servicing rural communities is more expensive.

But what happens is that someone like Verizon or AT&T, when routing a call to a rural number, realizes that they will lose money on the call, so they just drop the call, rather than complete the call. All illegal of course, but they still do it.

Which means that you have completely unreliable telephone service, landline or wireless, when living in a rural area.

If you read the article, this all happened within the past 5 years, in rural Vermont, USA.