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).
Should I Join the Unbanking Movement?
Esther E. writes: In one of your articles you spoke about a bank that the IRS does not regulate and good to put money in. Could you please send me that information? I live in Colorado at the moment as I married a Snow Bird.
All banks are now required to collect taxpayer identification (Social Security numbers), report interest paid to the IRS, and report any “suspicious activities.” If you want to hide from the IRS, then you need to stay out of the banking system entirely. That’s not easy to do if you have a job, pay bills, etc. But millions of people manage to go unbanked by relying on pre-paid debit cards, money orders, cash, barter instruments, or alternative electronic payment mechanisms such as Bitcoin.
Does Power Backup Make Sense for Apartment Dwellers?
Thom S. writes: I have been reading your very interesting paper and online newsletters for almost two years now. As a subscriber, I have also received information in the mail about your Power Whisperer which I understand can serve as a reliable power source if there is ever a prolonged blackout.
For over thirty years of my adulthood (and likely for many years ahead), I have always been a renter living in apartments in an urban setting where my power is at the mercy of the management of whatever apartment complex I’ve lived in. Even in my current more upscale rental property, the management told me that there is not a back up generator for our complex…. So here are my two questions to you: Is it true that your Power Whisperer is only effective for houses or town homes on lots? How could this work for the millions of us Americans renting in apartment buildings where we cannot control our power as easily as in lots or individual homes on lots?
Lee responds: Yes, there are fewer places in a city where you can secretly hide your solar recharge panels. However, since my solar panels can be “rolled out,” you can drape them out of a window or balcony to get them into the sunlight without too many people noticing. Remember too that a PowerWhisperer has an advanced built-in trickle charger so it will be fully “topped off” with reserve power if the electricity were to suddenly go out. That makes you ready to weather any short term power outages affecting an apartment complex.
So even if you can’t recharge the unit in the sun, your food can stay cold for another 2-3 days depending on how you manage your power use. The other good news is that PowerWhisperer is compact and silent, and is therefore undetectable to your neighbors as compared to a gas powered generator.
How Will My Prius Fare in an Electromagnetic Pulse?
Vince O. writes: In the event of an EMP how would I re-start my Prius with 5 batteries?
Lee responds: Any vehicles with electronic controls (virtually all vehicles less than 30 years old) would potentially be vulnerable to an electromagnetic pulse. Electric and hybrid cars such as the Prius would have additional vulnerabilities. Replacing the battery pack on a Prius could cost up to $4,000. Ideally, you’ll park your car in a garage that has EMP shielding to reduce the risk of it being damaged.
Readers Sound Off on Fluoride Controversy
Michael M. writes: As a Board Certified Pediatric Dentist for over 32 years, I can say, you don’t know what you’re talking about. I’ve also worked in Public Health in New Mexico where certain parts of the state had very high ‘natural’ occurring fluoride levels. Yes, the children had discolored teeth but I would hardly call it TOXIC.
You shouldn’t try to alarm people with your alarmist views. What’s the alternative? Eliminate fluoride, and have a dramatic increase in cavities along with the increase in dental care costs, pain, infections and suffering. Does that warrant excessive worry over a little excess fluoride?
Natan D. writes: The “Fluoride Deception” chronicles the link to the Manhattan project, fluoride use in processing uranium and aluminum and a dangerous smoke stack byproduct. They dilute in the water supply to get rid of it while saying it is healthy so they avoid legal responsibility. Prozac is largely fluoride, and the dumbing down of the population fits their sinister agenda. Thanks for the expose.
Richard T. writes: It seems that all we need to do is follow the money trail….who is profiting from Fluoridation?
Charles E. Scholler, D.D.S. writes: You have no idea what you are talking about. You dig up some pseudo science “facts” and assume fluoride is a toxin in drinking water. We need fluoridated drinking water now more than ever. There is a sharp rise in tooth decay in recent years particularly with young people. This increase is caused in part, from youths consuming energy drinks, sodas, fruit juices, Gatorade, and bottled water where most do not have fluoride.
G.H. writes: There is something missing in your fluoride story: Fluorides affect the production of thyroid hormone, making people tired and dull.
Lee responds: Wow, lots of feedback on last month’s fluoride article (“’Shocking’ New Study Blows Government’s Fluoride Guidelines Out of the Water”)! Most of it positive, but some critical.
None of the critics pointed me to any studies that refute the studies we cited. Let me stress that it’s not my opinion as a non-expert in this area that matters. What matters is the findings of credible, independent academic researchers. They have found that fluoridated drinking water lowers IQ in children and contributes little to nothing to reducing tooth decay.
That’s not to say that fluoride, when added to toothpaste and mouth rinses, doesn’t improve tooth resistance against cavities. But centrally pumping it into the drinking water seems to be far less beneficial while posing far more of a health hazard. The burden of proof should be on the forced fluoridation proponents to show not just that fluoridated water can have some benefits, but that it is both safe and necessary from a public health standpoint. I don’t believe they have met that burden.
What You Need to Know About the USA “Exit Tax”
Charles U. writes: I have a question unrelated to Fluoride (a toxic substance that doesn’t belong in our drinking water), namely a new wrinkle I suspect the State Dept. has invented called the “EXIT TAX”. My limited understanding of this usury, is that it is applied to U.S. Passport holders leaving the U.S. permanently. How would this affect one boarding an international flight with a one-way ticket?
Any information you are kind enough to provide to enlighten me on this, no doubt, “Obamatax”, would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your contribution to my “Independent Living”.
Lee responds: The “Exit Tax” was devised by Congress in 2008 to prevent millionaires from leaving the country and taking their wealth with them. The IRS calls it the “Expatriation Tax.” Democrat Senator Charles Schumer and top Obama administration officials want to further clamp down on expats with new taxes and restrictions.
For now, the IRS gets to impose an Exit Tax on you if you are a “covered expatriate.” The IRS will consider you to be a “covered” expat if just one of the following applies:
• Your net worth is $2 million or more on the date of your expatriation or termination of residency.
• Your average annual net income tax for the 5 years ending before the date of expatriation or termination of residency is more than a specified amount that is adjusted for inflation ($157,000 for 2014).
• You fail to certify on Form 8854 that you have complied with all U.S. federal tax obligations for the 5 years preceding the date of your expatriation or termination of residency.
What to Do About Maturing Bonds
Maria D. writes: I have bonds due to mature the latter part of 2016. With the uncertainty in the financial market, should I redeem them now and take the interest loss–or wait?
Lee responds: There will always be uncertainty in financial markets, so you need to be ready for anything. No one knows what will happen to stocks, precious metals, bonds, or interest rates over the course of the next year.
The way to safely navigate an uncertain investing environment is to be well-diversified. If you don’t own any gold, then now might be a good time to dump your bonds and buy some Krugerrands. If you already have sufficient exposure to precious metals, then maybe you just sit tight with your bonds and wait for them to mature. Then you can consider rolling the proceeds into new bonds or potentially higher-yielding assets that may be available in late 2016.
Wedding Proposal Takes the Edge Off Brewing Global War
Jim N. writes: Well, Lee, after reading all those pages about China and the potential conflagration with the U.S., all of which I believe unfortunately are about to pass in the very near future, I was happy to see the piece about your wedding proposal at the movies.
Of course I had to watch it. That was indeed very cool, and made me feel good for a while after watching it. Nicely done, man! Congratulations and best wishes for a long, happy married life together!
Lee responds: Thank you!
“Ask Lee Now” is presented for general educational purposes only. Because we don’t know enough about readers’ personal situations, the opinions expressed here should not be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell any financial instrument at any time. We will not be responsible for financial decisions that readers make, and they should be made in consultation with their own advisers.