Ask Lee Now: Answering Reader’s Questions September 2014

Ammo Woes Concern Many Readers

Bert P. writes: I am told that Ammo today only has a 2 year shelf life and that it is impossible to buy .22 Ammo. True or False?

It’s true that .22 caliber ammunition was in short supply earlier this year. And it was being produced at record levels. All to meet strong public demand as well as government agencies. .22’s are an old, popular, relatively low-cost caliber ammo. It won’t become impossible to buy anytime soon. But it could again become temporarily unavailable on store shelves. Especially if heavy buying among the public or a government agency buying spree overwhelms the supply system.

Buy in bulk. Get more than you think you need! Ammo prices are going up and staying there. It’s better to be oversupplied with tradable ammo than to run out. Consider buying a good ammo reload kit before the regulators forbid banks from doing business with reload kit makers.

Ammunition is perishable. Gunpowder degrades over time. And that can cause declines in firepower and accuracy. You can get more than two years out of your ammo if you keep it away from heat and moisture. If you live in a humid area, consider putting silica gel packets inside the containers that hold your rounds. That will help keep them dry and corrosion-free.

This Off-the-Shelf Supplement Really Works

Marianne M. writes: You might like to consider this well known treatment for viruses. My husband, an Osteopathic physician, used it to treat two encephalitis patients during an epidemic in the ‘70s. He used 75,000 mg of vitamin C in an IV around the clock and the comatose patients quickly recovered and were released from the hospital within a few days. It works.

Yes, vitamin C remains one of the most effective supplements you can take to help energize the immune system and fight off infections. Antibiotics and most prescription drugs do nothing to combat viral infections.

You can take a vitamin C supplement daily to help promote immunity. You can also take super-doses of up to 2,000 mg of vitamin C three times daily. It helps if you have a cold or other infection. Along with plenty of fluids. I can find no literature on vitamin C for doses as massive as 75,000 mg. I wouldn’t suggest trying that unless administered by a physician.

The herb Echinacea often works well with vitamin C supplementation to boost immunity. Both belong in your wellness cabinet. (Let’s not call it a “medicine cabinet”!)

Water Infrastructure Crisis Continues to Mount

Donald D. writes: We have looming [water] “usage” problems existing in California. What are they going to do about usage laws when the next big forest fire comes along?

Water shortages are emerging (and likely to worsen) in California and the Southwest because water isn’t allowed to be priced and traded freely in the market. Other countries with scarcely few sources of freshwater have managed to avert water crises and forced rationing. In arid parts of the world including Australia and Dubai, desalination plants produce fresh water from the ocean. It’s an expensive process, but California has no shortage of accessible ocean water. It just has a shortage of capital investment at the moment.

Imposing fines on Californians who wash their cars or water their yards won’t bring the state any new sources of water. Bureaucrats don’t think in terms of improving incentives for supplying markets. Maybe the crazies who govern the state will fine volunteer firefighters who use too much water when putting out forest fires!

Storing Water in Plastic Bottles Has Time Limits

Lino G. writes: Does bottled water keep? If not how to preserve?

Water itself (H2O) can last nearly forever if sealed up away from sunlight and prevented from evaporating. However, water stored in plastic bottles deteriorates over time ue to the absorption of chemicals from the plastic. Water will begin to acquire a stale or chemical taste if held in plastic bottles over long periods. Exposure to sunlight will hasten this process.

If it doesn’t taste right, then it probably isn’t. You may have even noticed that water that comes in the soft-plastic 1-gallon jugs never tastes right.

Don’t store more than a few months’ worth of drinking water in plastic bottles or drums. Longer/larger water storage needs should be handled by metal tanks or cisterns or even underground corrosion-free concrete tanks.

If you have access to reliable tap water, then a good quality water filter – along with a few jugs of water as emergency reserves rotated out and replaced every few weeks to maintain freshness – may be the best investment you can make for your personal water security.

Dispensing With Precious Metals Stashes

G.P. writes: I’m not signing this because I don’t want the IRS, FBI, or Pres. Obama checking on me. I would appreciate an answer to this in your newsletter.

I have both silver coins and silver bars that I hope to cash in someday. If I try to use my silver to buy something, that organization or individual now knows I have silver. How can I spend my silver in such a way it won’t draw attention to me or give anyone any ideas about trying to get what I have?

Silver holdings can become invisible by putting them in a secret storage location and never bringing them out. And never telling anyone about them. That would mean never spending them or bequeathing them in a will. And that would make having silver practically pointless! Complete and total financial privacy means you have to cut yourself off from society. This is not a good option for most people. Including you too, I am sure.

Physical precious metals do allow you to lower your profile and avoid generating electronic records in the banking system that can be traced by government agencies. As you note, when you spend silver directly as money/barter in public, you make all the counterparties to your transactions (and those who observe them) aware that you own silver.

You can minimize the number of people who know about your silver by selling it to a local coin dealer who will pay in cash. You can then use the cash to make actual purchases of things you want. You can sell incrementally over time so that you don’t risk having too much of your wealth in U.S. dollars. Of course, it’s possible that a dealer may keep records on you and then share them. It’s rare that private sales of physical metals are reported to the government by a dealer, but under certain circumstances it can happen.

In our May edition, Seth Van Brocklin wrote an article about one friend’s experience with selling his metals privately. Send a note to with Metals Disposal in the Subject Line and I will shoot you the article.

More Protection from Gold Confiscation

Russ M. writes: If the U.S. government seizes or bans investments in gold and silver in the near future, would an investment in CEF [Central Fund of Canada] be exempt??

Seth Van Brocklin responds: The Central Fund of Canada (a foreign corporation whose assets consist of stockpiles of gold and silver) would seem to offer more protection from the threat of confiscation than U.S.-based gold and silver exchange-traded funds. However, U.S. regulators could potentially get CEF delisted from the American Stock Exchange, where it currently trades as an American Depository Receipt. Or the Canadian government (which is hardly a great champion of private property rights) could decide to shut down the investment vehicle for some unanticipated reason. These are low-probability scenarios, at least for the moment.

Of course, the most secure, most private way to invest in precious metals is to have them in your actual possession. Maybe I’m just an eternal optimist, but I don’t foresee the government shutting down all coin shops and raiding safe-deposit boxes and private homes for precious metals in this day and age. Back in 1933, when President Roosevelt banned private gold hoarding, there were no ETFs. Today politicians who want to get their hands on our gold could simply focus their confiscatory efforts on the largest U.S. gold ETF (GLD) and in one fell swoop get 25 million ounces worth. Again, foreign-domiciled instruments such as CEF would be better insulated from a potential U.S. government asset seizure.

Right now the Central Fund of Canada is trading at a discount to GLD and other bullion instruments. As a closed-end fund, CEF can become overvalued or undervalued relative to the actual assets it holds. It traded at a discount through most of 2000-2001. It sold at a premium of as much as 27% in February 2003. As of this writing, it trades at a discount of more than 5%.

Unusual trading activity on any given day can cause premium/discount anomalies. That’s why it’s important that you do your homework before placing an order to buy CEF or any type of closed-end fund. Here it can pay to go through a broker who will actually work for his commission and get you in at a fair price rather than merely submitting a “market” (sucker’s) order to get filled at the market-makers’ ask price.

Illegal Laundry Detergent!

Victor H. writes: I recently read, in Independent Living [July 2014], about using TSP for washing clothes. Today I went to the store and asked if they had TSP in powdered form. The clerk informed me that pure TSP cannot be sold in Michigan. He said the product that they sell, which is called TSP, is sodium meta-silicate. Will this work as well as TSP or would I be wasting my money if I buy this product?

This “TSP”-branded product isn’t the real thing. TSP stands for tri-sodium phosphate. Without the phosphate, the product won’t work effectively. You might consider obtaining real TSP from a neighboring state or over the Internet, but first check into any legal risks you’d be subjecting yourself to by possessing detergent contraband in the state of Michigan.

Elite Planning Vacation You’ll Want to Take With Me

Scott writes: Lee, tell me more about Doug Casey’s freedom project in Argentina.

It’s called Doug Casey’s Estancia Experience, and I will be there too. The private gathering is at La Estancia de Cafayate being held this November 7 through 12. In addition to your weeklong immersion into the incredible lifestyle at La Estancia, Doug and I are holding a halfday conference joined by experts on topics related to foreign investing and expatriation. They can help you with critical guidelines and specific actions you can take.

About the La Estancia facility itself, here is something Doug said about it in a recent interview: “For me it’s the personal freedom. Of course, with my middle-class values, I appreciate the really low-cost living in Argentina, but what I really love is that nobody bothers me. There is a very limited and non-threatening police presence, and outside the bad parts (which every big city has) of Buenos Aires, a very peaceful country. On a more personal level, I love that I can get up in the morning in Cafayate and work out in the Athletic Club for an hour, followed by an hour-long massage for $25, then maybe ride my horse for awhile before for doing some business on the Internet.

In the evening, I might decide to wander over to the Grace Hotel for a drink and to smoke a cigar in the cigar bar there. Then maybe play a game of poker with some of the gang.

So the lifestyle there is perfect. And I speak as somebody who spends a lot of time in Aspen, which is supposed to have the best lifestyle in the world. But I find Cafayate a huge improvement. Several of my friends from Aspen have actually made the move.”

For a complete itinerary and more information, email me at [email protected] I’m told that space is very limited so be sure to act right away. The program includes access to experts on internationalization and you can get the inside skinny on medical tourism. In my view it’s a must attend gathering. I hope you can join Doug Casey and myself there.