James Wesley Rawles, creator of SurvivalBlog.com has written a new book, Expatriates: A Novel of the Coming Global Collapse and was in the news recently for his discussion about the recent failures of the EBT (food stamp) system and what it would mean if there was a long term outage.
Rawles touts himself a survivalist author and lecturer. He’s also a former U.S. Army intelligence officer, and now works as a full-time blogger and freelance writer. Rawles grew up in the Bomb Shelter era, and says that mindset just never wore off.
In addition to his well-known blog, he has authored several bestselling nonfiction and fiction survivalists books with an expertise in retreat security, food storage, firearms, communications, first aid, and off-grid power systems. He has a B.A. degree from San Jose State University with minor degrees in military science, history, and military history. He served as a U.S. Army Intelligence Corps officer and has held a Top Secret security clearance with SCI access. In addition, James also attended the Army NBC defense officer’s course, as well as Northern Warfare School at Fort Greeley, Alaska. Before resigning his commission as a Captain, he worked numerous live intelligence gathering and analysis missions overseas the tactical and strategic levels.
SurvivalBlog has more than 300,000 readers per week, and it is considered the Internet’s premier source of information on family preparedness and survival topics. Rawles credits his study of Austrian Economics and his Conservative/Constitutionalist-Libertarian political views with shaping his perspective on preparedness.
Narrator: Welcome to the Holistic Survival Show with Jason Hartman. The economic storm brewing around the world is set to spill into all aspects of our lives. Are you prepared? Where are you going to turn for the critical life skills necessary for you to survive and prosper? The Holistic Survival Show is your family’s insurance for a better life. Jason will teach you to think independently, to understand threats and how to create the ultimate action plan. Sudden change or worst case scenario, you’ll be ready. Welcome to Holistic Survival, your key resource for protecting the people, places and profits you care about in uncertain times. Ladies and gentlemen, your host, Jason Hartman.
Jason Hartman: Welcome to the Holistic Survival Show. This is your host Jason Hartman, where we talk about protecting the people, places, and profits you care about in these uncertain times. We have a great interview for you today. And we will be back with that in less than 60 seconds on the Holistic Survival Show. And by the way, be sure to visit our website at HolisticSurvival.com. You can subscribe to our blog, which is totally free, has loads of great information, and there’s just a lot of good content for you on the site, so make sure you take advantage of that at HolisticSurvival.com. We’ll be right back.
Start of Interview with James Wesley Rawles
Jason Hartman: My pleasure to welcome James Wesley Rawles back to the show. His new book is entitled Ex-Patriots. And he’s been in the news recently talking about the EBT problem. Just what we need, a bunch of people who are dependent on government not getting their handout and causing riots and problems and civil unrest. So, we’re gonna talk about several things and we’re gonna talk about something we don’t cover too much on this show which is a little bit on emergency medicine, too. So, let’s just dive into it. James, welcome, how are you?
James Wesley Rawles: Just fine. Thanks for having me on, Jason.
Jason Hartman: Yeah, it’s good to have you back. What do you want to talk about? Tell us a little bit about your new book maybe first?
James Wesley Rawles: Sure. It’s another novel in my Patriot series. It’s a novel about a socio-economic collapse in the near future. It’s set contemporaneously with my previous novel, so there’s no need to have read them first. This one focuses on America’s ex-patriots living in the Philippines and Australia. There’s also another storyline that takes place in central Florida, not too far from Disney World.
And I wanted to, in this book, cover the whole ex-patriot mindset and illustrate how tenuous things might be for people living overseas if there is an economic collapse. If nothing else, just the uncertainty of being out of contact with their relatives in The United States.
Jason Hartman: Well, tell us about that and if you have any best, most and least favorite countries too is always interesting.
James Wesley Rawles: I generally don’t recommend expatriation except for someone who has deep contacts in a host country. The reason being is that if there are economic problems or a natural disaster, you don’t want to be seen as the expendable new guy[00:03:11]. Unless you’ve married into a family or have very deep roots in a country, your prospects for survival may not be very good. So my recommendation is don’t ex-patriate unless you have those roots.
Jason Hartman: That’s sensible.
James Wesley Rawles: Yeah. For people who do have deep roots overseas, some of the countries that I like would be the Philippines for one and Panama in particular. Of all the Central American countries, I like Panama the best because of its low crime rate and the very large number of people that speak English and of course there’s considerable trade in American dollars.
Jason Hartman: And how about the Philippines?
James Wesley Rawles: The Philippines, of all of the Pacific Island nations, I like it the best because it has the best chance for self-sufficiency. People there, outside of Manila, primarily live a simple agrarian life either farming or fishing, people raise a lot of pigs and poi. And if things fall apart, I think they will have the opportunity best to revert to a 19th century level of technology.
Jason Hartman: Interesting. How about within he US? Any particular goods and bads in the US? I know stay away from Southern California, that’s for sure. That’s gonna be a disaster in a disaster, pardon the pun.
James Wesley Rawles: The region that I like in The United States is the area that I call the American rigout which consists of Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and the eastern half of Oregon and the eastern half of Washington State. And I like that inner mountain region because of its light population density, because of its distance to major population centers, it’s quite remote, and it’s got a lot going for it in terms of plentiful firewood, there’s potential for micro-hydro power and all the grid power that’s there is fished by hydro-electric power. And if there’s any place in
The United States where grid power will be reestablished quickly, it’s gotta be the northwest because we export a huge amount of electricity from this region and a lot of the utilities are actually set out to immediately island themselves from the rest of the power grid if the national grids go down.
Islanding is a technology that’s not very well known outside of the power industry and most people don’t even stop to think about where their local electricity comes from. And if you’re lucky enough to live in a place like the Pacific Northwest or perhaps the 4 corners region where New Mexico and Arizona and Colorado come together, those are power exporting areas and those are areas where the power utilities and the power co-ops are already set up for authoring and that can be done in less than a minute they can have power reestablished.
Jason Hartman: Now, that will help us in a case where the power goes down for any other reason that’s not EMT related, whether it be solar flare or nuclear, but if we fry the electronics we fry the electronics. We fry the transformers, they’re gone.
James Wesley Rawles: That would be nationwide. But there’s just as much potential for the power grid to go down due to lack of supply or inattention as there is solar flares. If we have an economic collapse and rioting in major cities, public utility employees are not gonna feel safe to leave their homes to go to work. And in the case of the nuclear power industry, they are required by law to shut down, to scram the piles on those nuclear power plants if they don’t have a certain level of staffing for their power plant.
Jason Hartman: Jim, there’s been two schools of thought about this. The major school in the survival camp is be in a bug out area, a rural location, be more than one tank of gas from a major population center that could be problematic, and be somewhere with natural resources and so forth. That goes without saying – it makes a lot of sense. However, I have certainly heard and read about stories of people who in various places around the world and various times who were living in the countryside, minding their own business. There’s a big disaster elsewhere, the urban areas are affected of course negatively.
And these marauding gangs eventually get to these places that are deserted because they’re looking for resources and relief and so forth and they just wreak havoc because there’s nobody around to help these people who were basically stranded in the middle of nowhere which they thought would be isolated. And these gangs will torture them, kill them, take advantage of them, whatever. Sometimes maybe it’s better to have people around, it’s better to have a sense of community. I don’t know.
James Wesley Rawles: Jason, I’ve never advocated having a completely isolated retreat because just one family is not able to handle everything on their own. Even with a large family, you wouldn’t have the manpower you need for 24/7 security. Or if you had just barely enough manpower for 24/7 security, you could quietly starve because you wouldn’t have the extra manpower to do large scale gardening and take care of livestock. So, the best situation, I think, is to be in at least a Hamlet situation where you have a cluster of homes and you can provide mutual security and you would have hopefully the advantage of a balanced skillset where you have a butcher or candlestick maker and a doctor hopefully.
Jason Hartman: Talk to us about the EBT problem. You’ve recently been in the news media talking about this. Give us your take on it.
James Wesley Rawles: Well, I think the EBT failure was symptomatic of a much larger problem and that is an overall dependence upon technology. Ten years ago, that would not have been an issue because everyone was issued food stamps and the supply channel for those could conceivably carry on until they ran out of printing resources. But wherever technology has been applied, we get into situations where we become dependent on that technology. The same thing has happened with just in time inventory control systems for major retailers. Now, what you see on the shelves at the supermarket is all they have. There is no longer a back room with extra magical supplies that they can restock with. They’re used to restocking every night using an automated inventory control system. It’s something that was developed in Japan – they call it Kanban and they’ve adopted it here in the states.
Over and over again, we see examples of where technology’s gonna come back and bite us because it doesn’t take major disruptions to have everything fall apart. And if you look at what happened with Hurricane Katrina and super storm Sandy, in some cases supplies completely ran out and in others they were razor thin and a whole tier of communities around Sandy were cleaned out by people emerging from the affected area of the storm and cleaning out all the gasoline, cleaning out all the supermarket shelves and so on. If we have a nationwide problem, all bets are off. It all depends on whether or not the power grids stay up. There’s actually 3 grids in The United States. There’s an eastern grid, a western grid, and a Texas grid.
Jason Hartman: So, no advantage to being in Texas where they have their own grid?
James Wesley Rawles: Well, there are some advantages. They actually do produce nearly all of their own power there, but they actually do buy some power from the other grids. For example, they have power coming through what they call the western interconnect all the way from Bonneville Down in Washington State. So, they don’t quite produce enough power to provide all of their own needs in Texas. I guess the exception might be Hawaii – they have their own little grid on the big island. Each island has their own power utility. But there they are dependent upon liquefied natural gas and ships arriving once every couple of months, very big pressure vessels of LNG. Once that stops arriving, they are gonna be out of luck.
Jason Hartman: Yeah, I’m not too keen about ideology in Hawaii, though, either. I think that’s another thing you have to look at is just the ideology of the people in a given area. Are they slackers who are feeding off the government with a liberal mentality or are they resourceful, rugged individual types?
James Wesley Rawles: Well, it’s kind of a mixed bag. On every island except the big island, there really is too much population density. Oahu would be an absolute lost cause. That would be practically a cannibalism scenario there if they get cut out from outside supply because there’s a tremendous population density. And the tropical fruit will last about two days.
Jason Hartman: Yeah, not good. Are there any other thoughts? Say, for example, someone can’t move to like that inner mountain west area that you mentioned or they don’t want to do something that far, are there any other areas that are sort of like your second tier favorites?
James Wesley Rawles: One other area that I really recommend is the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee that actually straddles the Tennessee/Kentucky line. In fact, I set part of one of my novels in that region in a little town called Muddy Pond which is a predominantly Mennonite community. There are some areas like that where you have advantageous terrain. The Cumberland Plateau sits 1500 feet higher than all of the surrounding area. If you ever wanted to isolate yourself, the folks living there would certainly have the opportunity. All they would have to do is blockade 3 or 4 major roads and they could pretty well isolate themselves.
There’s a few other areas – there’s parts of Maine that I think would be quite good. There’s areas in the Ozarks, for example, that might be decent. But generally, I don’t recommend anywhere east of the Missouri River unless people absolutely have to stay there just because the population density is so much higher. If you look at a night time satellite photo of The United States, it is dramatically apparent the population density difference between the eastern United States and the western states.
Jason Hartman: Hey, looking at those satellite photos at night, we all know North Korea isn’t very lit up – just joking. It’s unbelievable, what a mess. Talk to us a little bit about some general preparedness, anything that maybe other people aren’t saying, non-mainstream ideas. I want to touch on the medical stuff – we haven’t done much on that before the show.
James Wesley Rawles: Well, I think it’s important that people train to the very best of their ability. I strongly encourage people to get involved with volunteer fire departments and local paramedic organizations. And there you can get training for free or almost free and the opportunity to work with some really great people and pick up some great skills.
I also recommend something kind of unusual and that is I do recommend that people buy all of the equipment they would need for minor surgery even if they are not yet qualified to do that because we may end up with a situation, if there is a disaster, where doctors may end up fleeing their homes, they may end up as refugees but without the tools they’ll need where they arrived. So, if you have a chance to pick up some inexpensive Pakistani-made stainless steel instruments, by all means buy a set.
Jason Hartman: Is there a certain kit that you recommend on your website, on Amazon.com?
James Wesley Rawles: No, not in particular, but if you look around on the internet, just look for surgery kits and also dental kits. For the same reason you be set up with a full set of dental instruments, extractors in particular because everyone will default to extraction – it’s got a 19th century style but you have a rotten tooth – you don’t want to try to pull it out with plyers. Odds are you’re going to break and shatter the tooth and cause all sorts of problems including abscesses. So, dental extractors and lifters are particularly important.
And, again, I do recommend the Pakistani made instruments a lot. They’re so inexpensive that a lot of hospitals actually buy those in sterile form pre-wrapped and then they use them as disposable instruments.
Jason Hartman: Wow. I’ll give you an example. As you were talking, Jim, I just looked up on Amazon you’ve got a US Military style field meta kit for $9.99. And it’s got 4 and a half stars. It’s like your books. 56 reviews, so a lot of reviews and good star rating, so that’s pretty good.
James Wesley Rawles: Okay. Yeah, that’s just one example. And I do recommend that people stock up on of course all the medicines they’ll need, especially for any chronic health conditions, large quantity of vitamins and food supplements that they might need. I’m also a big believer in sprouting. Sprouts are tremendous. Not only are they very compact but they have long shelf life and the nutrient value that they generate is fantastic. I’m not sure if you’d had anybody on your show about that. . .
Jason Hartman: No. Tell us about that. What kind of sprouts?
James Wesley Rawles: All sorts. I like bean sprouts, wheat grass sprouts, alfalfa sprouts. You can get an assortment. There’s a number of vendors – for example, at my blog site, several of my advertisers sell sprouting kits. And you don’t need a really sophisticated sprouter. All you need is a screen lid for a mason jar and away you go. And you can even make your own. So, I do recommend sprouting. I think that it gives you the most bang for your buck. It’s incredibly nutritious. And as a fringe benefit they’re also very compact, so if you were in a bug out situation, you could have the equivalent of 200 heads of lettuce sitting there in just one handful of sprout seeds.
Jason Hartman: How likely do you think the need for all of this stuff is? I’m sure you’re gonna say very likely but I guess maybe, Jim, my major question is what do you think the biggest likelihood of a problem is? Because that determines to some extent how we react and prepare, you know?
James Wesley Rawles: I would say right now the biggest threat is economic. We’re right on the cusp of another global credit crisis and that could very well morph into a dollar crisis. We’re just on the precipice. We have a government that has spending completely out of control.
Jason Hartman: Obviously, yeah.
James Wesley Rawles: And the only reason that they’re able to maintain their current level of debt is because they’ve also instituted ZIRP which is the zero interest rate policy. If interest rates were ever to spike 2 or 3 percent, our government would be unable to service its debt, period.
Jason Hartman: Well, it can just print more fake money.
James Wesley Rawles: online casino We’re that close to economic collapse.
Jason Hartman: But the government can just print more money.
James Wesley Rawles: Well, that’s the problem. Their escape hatch for that would be hyperinflation. Right now they’re creating $92 billion a month by quantitated using – who’s to say it couldn’t be $900 billion a month? And if our foreign creditors ever stopped rolling over their treasury paper or if they started demanding 10 or 15 percent interest on their treasury paper, the party is going to be over.
Jason Hartman: We talk about this stuff every single day on the various shows that I publish, and mathematically, Jim, you are absolutely right. I mean, this is nonsensical what is going on. $17 trillion in debt, somewhere between $60 and $200 trillion in unfunded entitlement obligations over the next 2 decades, it’s complete absurdity. However, The US has the largest military, it has so many advantages. I mean, people around the world still want to come here. We’ve still got, as silly as it is and as bad as our education system has become, we’ve still got a lot of innovation taking place here. There’s new stuff every day coming out of the tech world that’s fascinating. We’ve got the reserve currency8 for as long as we can keep it and we can use our military.
What I was saying about the military, my point was we can use our military to bully people around to make sure we keep it. I mean, we’ve got this completely overextended empire – I’m the first to agree with that. However, we can’t have hyperinflation until our foreign creditors say screw you, we’re not buying your debt anymore unless you pay us an extremely high interest rate, but I don’t know that they get to do that ever. They can kick this can down the road a long time I think.
James Wesley Rawles: Well, conceivably. There’s one other possibility, Jason, and that is there can be an economic crisis in Europe a year or 2 in advance of where we might have ours, and if that happens, The United States might actually be seen as a relative safe haven and a lot of European capital could flow into The United States. You talk about kicking the can down the road, that could go on for several years conceivably. But I do think that there is going to be a financial reckoning day sometime between now and 2020.
Jason Hartman: What’s that gonna look like?
James Wesley Rawles: When it does happen, it’s gonna be pretty ugly because anyone on a fixed income is gonna be wiped out by mass inflation. The interest rates are going to skyrocket, the unemployment rates are going to skyrocket. Simultaneously, the stock markets will crash. It’s going to be a very ugly situation. We’ll probably be [00:21:56] initially with deflation and then mass inflation in rapid secession. And that’s something that very few people are going to be ab le to get through unscathed. That’s why I recommend hedging into tangibles as much as possible. And the tangibles I like are not so much precious metals as productive farmland, guns, ammunition, common caliber ammunition, high capacity magazines for firearms, tools, and reference books. That’s where I put my money. And I think that it’s wise to do so.
Of course, once [00:22:37] beans, bullets and Band-Aids squared away, then yes, it might be a good time to buy some silver as well. I’m a big believer in tangible silver in your personal possession, not in a safe deposit box, not in some ETF. It’s gotta be physical silver that you have in your hand that you can barter with.
Jason Hartman: Hey, you know what economic crisis I’m predicting besides inflation, and that is the Comex and the ZTFs, these are just built on BS. I don’t think there’s enough metal there behind them. I think this is a Ponzi scheme. And when that Ponzi is exposed and people lose faith in those markets, wow, there’s going to be hell to pay. That’s going to be really ugly.
James Wesley Rawles: Yeah, the other situation that’s not very well understood by most people is the forward leasing of precious metals, particularly gold.
Jason Hartman: Tell us about that.
James Wesley Rawles: There’s a tremendous amount of forward leasing that’s going on by both governments and private institutions and that’s essentially all synthetic or paper both. That may all go poof one day.
Jason Hartman: Wow. How did we ever get ourselves into this mess, Jim? Isn’t this crazy? We live in this economy built on smoke and mirrors. It’s just this house of cards – it’s ridiculous.
James Wesley Rawles: We have a mountain of debt that’s been accumulated over generations. And unfortunately we’ve had a political class that is only concerned with the next election. And they’ve been very opportunistic in recognizing that as long as things hold together while they’re in office and they can pass along problems to the next generation, they can make themselves smell like a rose. And that’s been going on basically since the FDR administration. So, at some point, though, the debts are going to become so huge and the value of the dollar is going to be so well eradicated that we’re going to see a complete toppling of all the major institutions of our country – politically, economically, socially, you name it. It’s going to be a tremendous reckoning day and I certainly wouldn’t want to be living in a big city when it happens.
Jason Hartman: Yep, it’s hard for me to disagree with that. The problem is the cities are such attractive places obviously in so many ways with the ability to walk to things, entertainment, cultural activities. It’s just amazing to me to picture this kind of an America. All of us have this picture in our mind of what we expect from our society, and I really wonder if it can be reversed so quickly, if people will tolerate it, if everything will just collapse that way.
James Wesley Rawles: I think we’re more likely to see a slow slide. And I think in 10 or 15 years we won’t just have one Detroit – we’ll probably have 20 or 30 of them. All of the major cities will resemble Detroit – that’s my personal prediction. But regardless, I do feel more comfortable in the country. Yes, it’s inconvenient having to drive over an hour to the nearest Walmart, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. We live surrounded by natural forests. We’ve got a nice river running through the back end of our property. We have hot and cold running elk, although recently we’ve also had hot and cold running mountain lions.
Jason Hartman: Watch out for those.
James Wesley Rawles: Yeah, you’ve got to be careful with that. But I think the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. We really enjoy home schooling our kids, we enjoy the fresh air, the pure water. There’s no crime, no smog, no traffic. The stress level is very low and we have neighbors that we know we can trust.
Jason Hartman: Well, that is good to hear. Any other things you want to cover before you go? Any other topics, ideas, advice?
James Wesley Rawles: Well, I would like to make one recommendation, and that is even for your listeners who have no interest in reading novels, please take full advantage of my website. It’s Survival Blog – it’s been published almost daily for the last 8 years. If you were to print out everything at the Survival Blog site, it would be over 9000 pages.
We have incredibly deep and rich archives. They’re all available free and they’re fully searchable. I highly recommend that your listeners take full advantage of that resource and for any particularly important articles that deal with survival, I would recommend that people do print out some hard copies and make themselves a reference binder.
Jason Hartman: The hard copy idea is a good one definitely. And you’ve got tons of resources here. So, let me just give out that domain name again because it got cut off a little bit with the connection. It’s SurvivalBlog.com. And an interesting thing you do is you put your IP address right on your website so people can jot it down in case that domain name ever goes away for whatever reason, whether by government or some hacker attack, right?
James Wesley Rawles: That’s right.
Jason Hartman: Yeah, very interesting idea. Well, over 300,000 visitors per month. . .
James Wesley Rawles: Per week.
Jason Hartman: Per week, thank you. I stand corrected – per week. And you’ve just got some fantastic resources here. So great to have you back on again and we welcome you back anytime and, folks, get a copy of Jim’s novels. They’re very interesting and very thorough and very true to life.
James Wesley Rawles, thank you so much for joining us again.
James Wesley Rawles: Thanks for having me on, Jason. God bless you and your listeners.
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Transcribed by Ralph
The Holistic Survival Team
Guest: James Wesley Rawles
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