Ask Lee Now: Answering Readers’ Questions

We love to hear from readers! Please email your question or comment to Independent Living editor Lee Bellinger ([email protected]). Please include your name and home state. You may also reach us via postal mail (P.O. Box 1240; Clover, SC 29710-4240).

Advanced Bartering Tools

Paul T. writes: Thank you for all your guidance, information and all around good advice. Speaking of advice, what is your advice on saving copper pennies and nickels as a use for bartering? God bless you.

Lee responds: You are very welcome. It’s not a bad idea to accumulate some copper pennies for bartering and wealth protection. Copper pennies minted in 1982 or earlier are currently worth nearly double face value (about 1.9 cents each) in terms of metal content. They can be purchased in bulk from coin dealers. Some dealers also offer one-ounce pure copper pieces. They may be prettier than pennies, but they also tend to have steeper mark-ups.

As for nickels, I’d avoid accumulating them in any significant quantities at this time. The reason being that a dollar worth of nickels only has a melt value of 83 cents at current nickel and copper prices. Therefore, nickels have 83% intrinsic value and 17% fiat. Base metal prices will need to appreciate by 20% before nickels are intrinsically worth 5 cents each in terms of metal content. Until then, copper pennies are the better buy (or find when they show up in the change you get back from cashiers).

EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) Protection Strategies

A. Robertson writes: Does a Faraday cage need to be grounded?

Lee responds: A Faraday cage (a metal container that shields electronic devices against electromagnetic pulses) does not need to be grounded in order to provide protection. As we noted in last month’s Independent Living, Faraday boxes can be improvised in a variety of shapes and sizes and from a variety of sources, including a metal trash can (with a strong lid seal). The important thing is that your Faraday cage is lined with Styrofoam, plastic, or other insulating material inside. The items you put in must not come into direct contact with the metal of the container.

When the Government Orders Your Kids to Eat Garbage

Robert G. writes: I am concerned about the dietary advice that this administration is providing to schools. Do these guidelines apply at the university cafeterias and private schools? My grandson refuses to eat at his school dining hall due to the quality, selection and tastes of food on the menu. Please assist me with your thoughts and knowledge on this program. Thank you.

Lee Responds: The new federal school lunch guidelines are mandatory for any grade school that accepts federal funds. So they have been adopted by almost all public schools. Private schools and universities may opt out of them. It’s unfortunate that these heavy-handed and rigidly imposed guidelines are souring your grandson and millions of other schoolchildren on healthy eating. The upshot is that you can make your grandkids a healthy lunch that they’ll enjoy eating. You just have to work with their particular tastes. You can find ways of sneaking at least some vegetables and whole grains into foods that they already like.

Don’t make eating vegetables seem like an unpleasant duty the way the government has. Make it fun! And remind your grandkids of the benefits they’ll get from a healthy diet – stronger bones and muscles, more energy, better grades, etc.

PowerWhisperer’s Multiple Recharge Options

Johnny S. writes: Can you have multiple solar panels and batteries on a single [Power Whisperer] unit? Is the 2000 watt unit the only unit that is made? I do not know if I missed it in watching the videos or not but are there multiple ways to charge the unit? Thank you for your time and information.

Deanna Harris responds: Thank you for your email and for your interest in our Power Whisperer M-Type solar generator. I will be happy to assist you.

Yes, you can connect a total of 3 solar panels and 3 batteries to the unit. We are currently working on the Auxiliary Units, however they are not yet available. The 2000 watt unit is the only unit available.

You can charge the Power Whisperer M-Type three ways. First with the solar panels, second with the trickle charger by plugging it into a wall outlet (this is generally used for maintaining the battery after it is fully charged), and third with the car charger which can be plugged into your car’s cigarette lighter.

I hope this information is helpful. If you have additional questions, please contact our Customer Service Department at 1-877-371-1807. They can also set you up with an appointment to talk with a technician.

Safe Harbors for Your Money

M. Halsey writes: I’m still trying to find safe investments that will withstand the demise of the dollar. Is the Safe Harbor Portfolio which you talked about in your May 2014 issue still applicable? It said it was for inflationary times. How about deflationary times which I understand we have presently?

Seth Van Brocklin responds: Official price inflation has been running very low (below the Federal Reserve’s stated target) over the past couple years. But we have not gone into full-fledged deflation at
this point. In a true deflation, money supply and credit contract and equity markets plummet.

The premise behind the Model Safe Harbor Portfolio is that broad diversification into uncorrelated asset classes will allow you to weather just about any financial storm, including inflation. Our alternative Model Portfolio for Inflationary Times is specifically geared toward profiting from inflation. It’s more aggressive and will fare poorly during deflationary times, when the premier assets to hold would be cash, the highest-quality bonds, and possibly gold.

Here’s how the two model portfolios are constructed:

Safe Harbor Portfolio
• 35% Vanguard Total World Stock Index (VT)
• 2 5% Physical Precious Metals à 12.5% gold; 12.5% silver
• 20% iShares Lehman Aggregate Bond (AGG)
• 5% Vanguard Total International Bond (BNDX)
• 5% iShares Barclays TIPS (TIP)
• 5% SPDR Global Real Estate (RWO)
• 5% Treasury Bills or Cash Equivalents
Portfolio for Inflationary Times
• 40% Physical Precious Metals à 15% gold; 15% silver; 5% platinum; 5% palladium
• 10% Vanguard Total World Stock Index (VT)
• 10% Vanguard Emerging Markets (VWO)
• 10% Market Vectors RVE Hard Assets Producers (HAP)
• 10% SPDR Global Real Estate (RWO)
• 5% iShares Barclays TIPS (TIP)
• 5% SPDR International Inflation-Protected Bond (WIP)
• 5% Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX)
• 5% Merk Hard Currency Fund (MERKX)

My Public Speaking Schedule

Eddie M. writes: Lee, do you ever speak at public events? If so, where can we see a list of them in our area?

Lee responds: Thanks so much for your interest in this. These days I decline most requests I get to give speeches. At present I prefer to focus 100% on producing content for my subscribers. That includes occasional video and audio productions I announce via email and Facebook and make available on our web site ( Based on positive feedback, I will definitely consider doing more multimedia presentations in the future.

Protecting Critical Car Parts from an EMP

Charles R. writes: I have not seen it mentioned anywhere that folks can obtain the critical microprocessor components, alternators, starters, and other sensitive parts for cars, trucks, generators, etc. as spares that can be stashed in a Faraday enclosure (garbage can?). Maybe out of junkyards? They can resurrect an engine that might get hit by an EMP event that wipes out the critical electronics. Cheap insurance to have on hand.

Lee responds: Thanks for the suggestion. And good thinking – that’s what I call getting ready for anything! It’s not clear how extensively a modern car’s electronics would be damaged by an EMP event. Or how easily an auto mechanic could get it back up and running after an EMP. But it certainly won’t hurt to have some spare components like you mentioned, especially if you can obtain them from junked cars on the cheap.

Forget the Geneva Convention

Fred U. writes: Has your Publication taken note that in going-on 15 years of warfare with the Muslims, they do not hold any American POWs? They have systematically murdered every US combatant they have captured and nobody Gives a Damn. Why not? Why no outcry from our Government for this blatant violation of the International Rules of Land Warfare?

Lee responds: We are dealing with lots of terrorist freelancers in ISIS. They don’t recognize the Geneva Convention. They can’t be reasoned with or incentivized or deterred in the way that regimes can. Since 9/11, our government has made many strategic blunders as a result of not understanding the nature of radical Islamist insurgencies and the regimes in the Muslim world that successfully kept them at bay.

Commander in Chief Obama can’t even bring himself to identify “radical Islam” as the animating ideology of ISIS. Meanwhile, his State Department is busily importing tens of thousands of high-risk Muslim asylum seekers into our cities. The Obama administration’s animating ideology is cultural Marxism.