It has been awhile since I have done a roundup of various matters so I thought I would clear away the mess on my desk and give you an update on a few things that have tickled my fancy bone.
Backdoor Survival meets Urban Survival
What happens when SurvivalWoman joins the Urban Survival guru George Ure out in the blogosphere? Meet Strategic Living, a new, weekly blog that marries practical, common sense lifestyle tips with prepping the homestead for an uncertain future. We are still working on the site plan but you can watch for our launch in about mid-September. Now how cool is that?
Recommended eBook: How to Survive the Coming Food Shortage
What will happen when a natural, civil or economic disaster prevents us from growing, transporting and importing food? Food prices are going to rise and supermarket shelves will be empty. For those that are not prepared, there will be no food left in the pantry and things will get ugly.
Survival Joe has a free eBook: Food Bubble: How to Survive the Coming Food Shortage. I consider this required reading. Jump on over to his site, sign up for his newsletter (you can always opt out later) and get your hands on a copy of this book.
Warning: you are going to think about storing food with a completely new perspective after reading this little 30 page book.
Speaking of which . . .
Free Food – Well Almost
About a year ago I became interested in learning about food establishments that were muddling through the crappy economy by offering meals on a donation basis. What this meant is that a hungry diner could pop on in and pay what they felt the meal was worth, or, in a more likely scenario, what they could afford. Many of the restaurants I read about were able to keep their staff employed by doing this and were able to eek out a modest living as well.
For the most part, the businesses embracing this model were small, independents commonly referred to as “moms and pops”. So imagine my surprise and delight when I read about a national chain getting involved in offering restaurant meals on the “what you can afford” basis.
Hat tip to Panera Bread! You can read about it here: Amid Weak Economy, ‘Robin Hood Restaurants’ Grow in Popularity.
A Response from my Congressman
You might recall that a while back I wrote my congressman about the Baby Boomer Squeeze and the lack of meaningful action on the part of our representatives in Washington (that was being polite). Well today I received a response which I am reproducing here. If you can ignore the obvious political posturing, I think you will find this a pretty decent layman’s description of the emergency bill that has being passed to raise the debt ceiling. Time will tell how all this plays out.
The important thing for now is that the citizens of this country that are dependent upon their social security checks, Medicare, and veteran’s benefits, will continue to receive the payments they have earned during their working years and/or service to our country.
Thank you for contacting me about the efforts to avoid a default crisis. Let me start by saying how frustrated I am that Congress’ inability to agree brought us to this precipice. The debate over the debt ceiling should never have come to this, and it was irresponsible of us to allow it to happen. Our inability to find a middle ground has harmed us in the eyes of the world. As one Member of Congress, I will continue to find ways to work in a bipartisan manner, and I hope that other Members will do the same. But, more immediately, on August 1 I voted to avoid default. It passed the House by a vote of 269-161 and has been sent to the Senate for consideration. I appreciate hearing your input and welcome the opportunity to explain my view of this package.
THIS PACKAGE ALLOWS US TO AVOID DEFAULT
Congress must do the most important thing first: avoid a default. Default would negatively impact the lower and middle class, seniors and those in need more than any of the cuts included in this package. The deep economic impact default would have on the economy through higher interest rates on school, home and small business loans would be felt for years. This package does not budge on this point one inch. America avoids default and lets the world know we pay our bills.
But compromise is never perfect. I had several areas of concern and constituents raised several others regarding this package that I took a long look at before deciding how to cast my vote.
THIS PACKAGE PROTECTS SOCIAL SECURITY
Constituents told me to protect Social Security and assistance programs for the poor. I listened and I agree. I am pleased to report that this package protects Social Security, Medicaid, veterans’ benefits, food stamps and other critical programs from the draconian cuts some Members of Congress wanted to see. You may have heard, and you may hear, alarmist reports that say otherwise. These reports are wrong.
THIS PACKAGE PROTECTS ACCESS TO COLLEGE
This package protects important investments in education like the Pell Grant program. The Pell Grant program has a profound impact on students, universities, and on the economic vitality of our country. In the midst of cuts by universities and colleges to vital student services and unstable increases in tuition, many students in my district are finding themselves unable to prioritize their educational experiences or continue their education at all. I strongly support the Pell Grant program and am pleased that this package will not impact access to higher education.
THIS PACKAGE PRESENTS A MIXED BAG ON MEDICARE
Medicare will not be a voucher program as recent budget proposals envisioned, which sought to end Medicare as we know it. I have said that I would not support anything that ended the guaranteed benefit of Medicare, and I stand by that. This package maintains Medicare as a guaranteed benefit, although there is the potential that Medicare providers will take an overall two percent cut in reimbursement. I will watch this carefully to see that it does not adversely impact improvements to the Medicare system for which I have worked, like moving from a reimbursement system based on volume and quantity to a common sense reimbursement system based on value and quality.
THIS PACKAGE REDUCES WASTEFUL DEFENSE SPENDING
According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the package immediately implements $917 billion in spending cuts over ten years. The CBO estimates that this total includes cutting approximately $350 billion from defense spending over the next ten years, a consistent message that I have heard from constituents. While this package does not specifically address spending in Iraq and Afghanistan, the next step in budget cutting will force Congress to either get out of Afghanistan or raise revenue. I support an accelerated draw down in Afghanistan, which the CBO has estimated could reduce spending by $1.1 trillion over the next ten years.
NO NEW REVENUE, BUT…
I am extremely disappointed that the package does not include revenue raises to contribute to deficit reduction at this time. Specifically, I am frustrated that it does not eliminate the Bush tax cuts for the top two percent of earners or close tax loopholes for large corporations. A truly balanced approach to balancing the budget over the next ten years requires increased revenue. However, this package does not exclude the opportunity to explore increasing revenues in the future as some feared. I will continue to work with my colleagues to eliminate tax breaks and close tax loopholes for corporations and the top income earners. To balance the budget we must end the Bush tax cuts and make large corporations pay their fair share.
THIS PACKAGE CREATES A NEW CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEE
A new bipartisan congressional committee, made up of six Members of the House and six Members of the Senate, will be tasked to identify at least $1.2 trillion of deficit reduction over the next ten years and present their proposal to both full bodies of Congress for an up-or-down vote by Thanksgiving. I am relieved that Social Security, Medicaid, veterans’ benefits and other critical social programs are exempt from cuts, and I believe that the committee must take this opportunity to consider serious changes to the revenue side. Again, you may hear alarmist reports that this committee could unilaterally eliminate Social Security, Medicare, or other vital social programs. These reports are wrong.
If the committee does not bring a deficit reduction package to Congress by Thanksgiving, it would trigger an across-the-board cut of $1.2 trillion split evenly between defense and security spending and domestic spending. Many constituents have raised concerns that these cuts could potentially slash programs like Social Security and Medicare. Please know that if across-the-board cuts are triggered, Social Security, Medicaid, veterans’ benefits and pensions, payments to federal retirement funds, civil and military pay, child nutrition, Supplement Security Income, and the Women, Infant and Children program are exempt from cuts. While Medicare savings would not be totally exempt, any cut to Medicare would be capped at two percent and limited to providers only, not directly impacting beneficiaries. Let me be clear: any reports that these cuts would eliminate or significantly impact Social Security, Medicare, or other important earned benefits are wrong.
JOB CREATION IS MY NUMBER ONE PRIORITY
Ultimately, we need to start creating jobs. To the President’s credit he is protecting investments like college loans, research and development and other efforts that will help America maintain a cutting edge economy. These investments will help America stay ahead of the competition and set the foundation for future economic growth. We need to be encouraging growth in a green economy to make the clean energy industry a primary engine of jobs and economic strength in the 21st century, and we need to be supporting innovation in the private sector to help our manufacturers be more globally competitive.
Job creation is my number one priority. I am working with small manufacturers in the district to export their products – not their jobs – overseas and am fighting for a robust six-year transportation reauthorization bill that will put people to work immediately. I am also working on ensuring that businesses have a pipeline of highly skilled workers, a critical component of their success, by supporting Pell Grants and Work Study programs.
Again, thank you for contacting me. I encourage you to contact me in the future about this or any other issue of importance to you.
United States Representative
Washington State, 2nd District
Have a Food Storage Tip
Announcing the first ever Backdoor Survival contest. I am looking for the very best in long term food storage tips. Have something to share? Send your favorite food storage tips to firstname.lastname@example.org. At the end of August, the submitter of the best tip will win a copy of Jan’s Fabulous Food Storage Recipes.
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
In the News: In case you missed it: Seven startling things most people still don’t know about the national debt, banking and the money supply.
Backdoor Survival Tip of the Day: Today I have another tip for using bits of charcoal briquettes. Try putting a bit of charcoal in the water when your are rooting plant cuttings. The charcoal will keep the water fresh and prevent the cuttings from rot and mold. What? Not taking cuttings? More about that in a future article.
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From the Bargain Bin: SurvivalWoman picks for today:
- Lodge 12-Inch Pre-Seasoned Skillet: The basic standby for all types of cooking, inside or out.
- Lodge Set of 2 Pan Scrapers: A must have to go with that skillet.
- Sudoku Easy: Warning – this is addictive. I keep a Sudoku book next to the bed, in my magazine rack, and yes, in my bug out bag. Make sure you have a good sized eraser – you are going to need it.
- Volcano II Collapsible Stove: My new Volcano Stove is all set up and ready to be used. So far I am impressed with how sturdy it is and also now easy it is to both set up and stow away in the included bag.
- 20 Gallon Size Mylar Bags: I found a different source on Amazon for only $8.25 for 20 bags. This qualifies as a screaming deal. Shipping is free, of course.
- Black Ultra Fine Sharpies: I think Sharpies were invented by a Prepper. I happen to favor the ultra fine version since the point stays nice and crisp, even as it gets older. You can not do much better than $5.88 for a box of 12.