Letter Re: Investing in Tangibles Through an IRA

Hello James,
Given the abundant information about the state of the economy, what would you recommend we, (the consumer and fellow American) do when making a decision about Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) come April 15th? I am concerned about putting money away and into “paper currency” when maybe it would be better to just pay down debt. What would you advise to someone in my situation? I am not necessarily looking for information about the tax benefits, simply your view about what would be a wise move. -The Wanderer

JWR Replies: This is a bit repetitious to my previous recommendation, but I suppose it bears repeating: I recommend rolling over your existing IRA and/or 401(k) into a gold deposit IRA, through Swiss America.  I did so six years ago, and I’m glad that I did, since gold has nearly doubled since then.  The IRAs is in the form of U.S. Mint Gold Eagle bullion coins, held in vault storage by American Church Trust, in Texas. In a perfect world, we would be allowed to hold the coins in our personal possession and yet still have them qualify as an IRA–but sadly we live in world managed by bureaucrats and bean counters. The next best thing is a gold deposit IRA, through Swiss America.

Letter Re: Artesian Well Property in Wisconsin

Dear Jim:
I spotted this very usual property – http://www.wislakesguide.com/ click on feature of the month.

25 acres with ponds, but the real value is the five six inch artesian wells are licensed for 100,000 gallons a day. This could be a profitable survival business, that I am already somewhat familiar with from a prior job. The asking price is $2.2 million. Certainly with that water production potential (bottled water), not to mention fish farm and the acreage, that price seems within reason actually with that kind of capacity.

If you know someone interested have then email me. – Rourke (e-mail: rourke4m@yahoo.com)

Letter Re: Reader Recommendation for Mountain House Freeze Dried, Via Safecastle

As I know it’s important for you to have and increase your advertisers ads in order to support survivalblog and as a Survivalblog reader it’s also important to be able to trust your advertisers. I just wanted to drop you a message about Vic and SafeCastle LLC.
I placed a large order with Vic a couple of weeks back for some Mountain House cases and I should add that I’m always leery about spending what I consider a substantial investment with someone I’ve never done business with before. Vic responded to my original questions about the order nearly real time via email and was the type of person you enjoy dealing with for transactions. Today the freight truck dropped off my order on schedule and on time just as Vic had informed me they would. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND doing business with SafeCastle!

JWR Replies:  Thanks for yet another confirmation that SafeCastle is legitimate and trustworthy. (I’ve received similar e-mail from several other readers. Yours is one is just the latest.) OBTW, I just heard that SafeCastle’s current very low price special on Mountain House freeze dried foods in one gallon cans includes free shipping anywhere in the U.S.–even Alaska and Hawaii. (Wow!) The sale end in eight days, so don’t hesitate.

Odds ‘n Sods:

What the anti-gun mass media has wrought: http://www.thepittsburghchannel.com/news/8188403/detail.html   As recently as the early 1950s, it was not unusual for residents of the large cities in the eastern U.S. to carry uncased rifles to or from shooting matches on public transportation. But now, the sight of a man with an air rifle causes a panicked evacuation? Ay, ay, ay…

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Walter J. Williams (of www.shadowstats.com) warns of the possibility of a “hyperinflationary depression.” Gee, this sounds like the storyline from a novel I read once.For an interview with Williams, see:

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Schools Told To Prep For Bird Flu Outbreaks:

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Cold War cache found inside the Brooklyn Bridge:

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U.S. chemical plants are still vulnerable to terrorists. See:
According to a recent report (http://www.hlswatch.com/2006/02/27/gao-issues-report-on-chemical-security/), security has not improved substantially since the Salon story was written, three years ago.

Note from JWR:

You’ve all probably heard about the Category 5 cyclone that recently struck Australia:
Perhaps one of our readers in Australia could let us know where to send donations. The folks in the affected region are in our prayers.

We are still in need of more advertisers so that we will be able to make ends meet when SurvivalBlog becomes my primary source of income, starting in April. If you know of any potential advertisers, please call or send them an e-mail, and encourage them to get a banner ad. These ads start at just $55 per month. That is dirt cheap advertising.

Letter from Michael Williamson Re: Accumulating Silver and Gold Bullion

Jim, I’ve been lucky on bullion recently and found some good info and a source.
I found local coin dealers at a gun show, who were selling “junk silver” coins at barely over spot price. The price was about the same as from the best mass dealer I could find, but in per coin price, not in $1,000 face bags with 715 troy ounces. I’ll be hitting them as funds and silver price permit. NWTBullion does offer the best price I’ve seen, and will deal in bags as small as $100 face value–72 troy ounces, and in small coin quantities. Each purchase is in a large cointube (sold for this purpose and similar to a medicine bottle) with date, silver weight (not counting the base metal alloy), and price paid per ounce. I can build up a good stock cheaply without trying to draw capital on a loan or credit card (Which would cost more than I’d earn in any reasonable scenario) and without the hassle.

Currently, the best bet for gold bullion on a budget seems to be British Sovereigns–10 coins at just under .25 oz comes to less than $1,400. This is far cheaper than the 5 coin or more minimum of 1 oz coins (Eagles, Maple Leaves, Krugerrands), which weighs in at over $2,900. Also, the markup on them is quite moderate. By judicious selling of silver and buying of gold, one can build a gold portfolio piecemeal for about what it would cost to buy a minimum chunk from a refining company up front. I plan to keep silver on hand because it’s easier to move and has greater volatility, but above the minimum level, it can be used as a resource for gold, antique firearms or other long-term investments.

While it’s not a huge market yet, old copper pennies (1981 or earlier) are still worth more than face value and will continue to climb. Copper isn’t getting any more common, and it’s in high demand. Canadian pennies were copper until 1996. JWR Adds: The spot price of copper just hit an all-time high.

Canadian “silver” coins were 80/20 silver/copper, unlike US 90/10, but still had mostly silver content until 1967. They became 50/50 for 1967 and 1968 (quarters and dimes only), and were then .99 nickel until 1999. Nickel is also an in-demand industrial metal, and these coins are readily available. It’s well worth pulling them from change, and they’ll always have face price, though the reason they’re now plated steel is because the nickel is going to be more valuable than face. – Mike

Letter Re: Suburban Emergency Management Project Website

Mr. Rawles,
Please let me commend to your attention the website of the Suburban Emergency Management Project: http://www.semp.us/
This is an excellent website with material written by professionals but useful to laymen. There’s more info on this site than I can assimilate in a week. Their “Biots” are short papers on a whole panoply of emergency preparedness topics. There are 340 of them, as of today. Some of my favorites are:

#334: “Please Remain in Your Seat”: The Federal Government’s Role in Quarantine (26 February, 2006)

#332: What Is “Earthquake Baroque” Architecture? (21 February 2006)

#259: Revisiting Looting Behavior during Disasters (6 September 2005)

#216: Lessons Learned from a Hospital Evacuation During Tropical Storm Allison (21 May 2005)

#179: A Palimpsest of Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Plans (25 February 2005)

#23 Who Was in Charge of the Massive Evacuation of Lower Manhattan? (26 September 2002)

Keep up the great work! – TFA303

Letter Re: Source for Shelf Stable Bread or Crackers?

Hello, Jim!

I was reviewing my storage of food supplies when a thought came to me: I don’t have anything to put all that peanut butter on! I looked through all of the food suppliers you advertise looking for crackers, no results. Have any ideas of something that would store well?  – Gerry C.

JWR Replies: The individually-wrapped “shelf stable” bread mini-loafs intended to supplement MRE and Tray-Pack (“T-Pack“) squad rations have been available off and on for about ten years. This bread is quite bulky to store. I personally don’t like the taste of it (too salty for me), but some people love it. As for crackers, long ago, C-Rations came with round crackers packed in the same can with the round “John Wayne” chocolate bars. (Remember those? Hmmmm… I can still taste them.) The only other storage “crackers” that I’ve tried were the circa 1980 Neo-Life canned “Sheepherder’s Bread.”  They were bland biscuit-cum-crackers. Not very appealing. Perhaps some other SurvivalBlog readers have suggestions on more palatable varieties and sources that are now on the market.

Odds ‘n Sods:

Navy SEALs to Get Modified M14 Rifles: http://www.janes.com/defence/news/jdw/jdw060317_1_n.shtml

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Asian Avian Flu Raises Hackles in Israel:  LINK

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The folks at The Claire Files are organizing a postal rifle match. See: http://www.tcftalk.com/clairefiles/index.php?topic=9031.0

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A bill before the Tennessee legislature would reject NAIS: http://nonais.org/index.php/2006/03/21/tn-bill-refuses-nais/  Let’s hope this is the beginning of a groundswell.


Note from JWR:

There are just 10 days left to submit your entries for Round 3 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best contest entry will win a four day “gray” transferable Front Sight course certificate. The deadline for entries for Round 3 is March 31, 2006. The first piece posted today is another fine contest entry:

Seasons of the Sun, by Tim P.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 says: “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” When people read this, or read about seasons in general, I would imagine that most immediately think of the changes of seasons associated with our climate. Most do not think of the sun, except in that it seems to be much more visible here during the warm months! However, the sun has seasons, or cycles, just like we do here on earth and these can have a large effect on us. One cycle that is most readily observed is that of sunspots. These spots are regions of lower temperature and highly intense magnetic activity that move around on the surface of the sun – sometimes there are more, sometimes less of them. They can be much larger than the diameter of the earth. The spots sometimes erupt into solar flares, or coronal mass ejections, both of which can have effects on our highly delicate modern technology – particularly satellites of all kinds and our power grid – because they cause intense magnetic fields to form around the earth. These fields also cause the aurora borealis or northern lights. Periods of high sunspot activity coincide with periods of the northern lights being much more active and visible in a much greater region than their normal haunts in the Polar Regions. During high solar spot activity the northern lights have been seen as far south as Mexico!

Galileo was the first European to observe sunspots in 1610. After observing the spots for a number of years it was determined that they have a cycle of approximately 11 years where the spot activity increases and then decreases so that about every 11 years there is a peak in this activity. The year 2001 was a particularly high peak. However, the next peak – which should occur around 2012 – is showing signs of being even more severe. We have just reached the solar minimum with a serious reduction in the number of sunspots – from here on out their numbers should increase. In fact, some scientists are predicting that the next peak could be 30% – 50% stronger than the previous cycle! During that peak – in 1958 – the Northern lights were frequently visible in Mexico.

Why should anyone care? During the last peak of 2001 the Northern Lights were substantially more active and there were actually power interruptions in some places in Canada due to the magnetic fields that cause the northern lights. The fields induced eddy currents on the power lines which overloaded some of the lines and caused them to shut down. These same magnetic fields also induced currents into other long metallic objects causing damage. One example is the Alaska oil pipeline. The currents set up a galvanic reaction which caused corrosion to take place at much higher than normal rates. During solar-induced magnetic storms, the energy associated with the display of the northern lights is on the order of 100 million megawatts. That’s quite a light bulb!
Also, we are in only in the middle of the extended solar cycle and in 2012 we may reach or exceed the same level of peak sunspot activity that existed in 1958 and occurred at the end of that extended cycle. Think of all the things developed since then – satellites, cell phones, beepers, computer networks and a computer controlled power grid – electronics in general. What effects will such strong planet-wide magnetic and electrical fields have on these things? We could be in for a wild ride over the next few years.
There are other effects as well. The level of sunspot activity has an effect on the weather here on earth. During the period from about 1650 through about 1710 – and for decades following that period – the weather around the world was exceptionally cold. During that 60 year period there were only about 50 sunspots observed. With today’s conditions one would expect to observe about forty five thousand in the same period. That is certainly a significant difference!
The essentially sunspot free period from 1650 through 1710 is now known of as The Little Ice Age. This was a time where rivers that now remain ice-free froze over regularly – rivers such as the Thames in England and the Delaware in the US. Additionally, the canals in Holland froze solid regularly, the glaciers in the European Alps advanced considerably and by 1695 there was no open water anywhere around Iceland – the Atlantic Ocean around the island was frozen! Since that time the earth has warmed considerably.
Let’s look back a bit further too – at Greenland. Today it is a fairly inhospitable place. However during the period from around 982 through to about 1430 Greenland was inhabited and farmed. This is also when it acquired its name – Greenland. Some early maps call it Gruntland or Ground Land. Not nearly as appealing! It is said that when Eric the Red was exiled to the place for murder, he named it Greenland in what surely was an early marketing ploy by Mr. The Red (ha!) bent on selling people on living there. However, the fact remains that people lived there and raised sheep and some crops for close to 450 years. Yet, the weather changed and the European inhabitants left or died out. Modern archeology says those who stayed died from malnutrition – probably brought on by the weather turning colder and crops and animals dying off. If we look back even further it is now known that there was a Paleo-Eskimo culture that lived on Greenland which disappeared around 200 AD. I have no true idea of what the area was like in between. However, could it be that Greenland becomes more or less inhabitable based upon the cycles of the sun? It is an interesting thought.
In any case, you can see by looking at the following figure that sunspot activity has been increasing steadily since the time of The Little Ice Age. In fact, it appears to follow a “long” – or extended – cycle of about 80 or 85 years where there is a low and then a climb to a maximum in sunspot activity and then a drop off again. However, if you look at the graph closely it appears that the steepness of the line from minimum to maximum of each cycle is becoming slightly more steep with each passing “long” cycle. Also, note that the minimum of each of these long cycles is becoming more active. In fact, the minimum in 1970 is much higher than any of the previous minimums and also higher than all but 2 or 3 of the peaks in the previous “long” cycles! As I said above, we could be in for interesting times indeed during the next peaks which should occur around 2012, 2023, 2034 and 2045 before dropping back down to the solar minimum again.

Where will this next peak take us? I do not know. However, as we are all aware, there is certainly much talk about global warming and it being caused by man. While I do believe that the earth is warming I am not so certain of our complicity in this event. Somehow I do not think pollution here on earth is having any effect on the cycles of the sun! While we certainly do our share of polluting, etc. there are forces at work that we do not – as yet – fully understand which are MUCH larger than any that our civilization could create. Maybe the end of the current “long cycle” will bring a drop off similar to the one between 1650 and 1710 and we will all be happy to eat sauerkraut, turnips and potatoes instead of wheat and corn. Maybe someday we’ll understand it all, but only God knows what is in store for us tomorrow.

Letter Re: Threading a Rifle Muzzle for Flash Hider and Muzzle Brake

Mr. Rawles,
My compliments on your informative blog site, and best wishes for continued success. I read your thought-provoking and informative novel, Patriots, and enjoyed it very much. A few days ago you wrote, “IMHO, ‘tacticalizing’ your bolt action rifles (by threading their muzzles) is a must.” You mentioned sending a Browning A-bolt [to Holland’s of Oregon] to have the muzzle threaded. In the Survival Guns section of your website, you write, “
It is important to note that scopes are more prone to failure than any other part of a rifle. Therefore, it is wise to select a rifle with good quality iron sights, whether or not you intend to mount a scope.” You also mention that your Winchester Model 70s (which sound like they are set up very nicely) have threaded muzzles. I’ve got a great rifle with iron sights and a scope. How is there room in front of the iron sights to cut threads for a flash hider? [JWR Replies: Many brands of rifles have sufficient “beef”” forward of the front sight to allow threading. For those that don’t, either remounting a front sight or shortening a front sight base are simple tasks for any qualified gunsmith.] Also, if you have to drill out the back of a Vortex flash hider made for 5.56mm bullet clearance, could you instead use the Vortex that is made for a .30 cal instead, and not have to drill it? [JWR Replies: I recommend using the compact .223 Vortex and drilling it out, because it has standard 1/2″x28 threads, which are the same used on AR-15s and many other rifles. The threads for the .308 Vortexes are not nearly as common.]

A side note for your readers who may want a centerfire revolver that doesn’t require a FFL to purchase: R & D Drop-In Conversion Cylinders allow a shooter to convert several makes and models of black powder revolvers to a similar caliber metallic centerfire cartridge. They probably shouldn’t shoot full power loads, but they are readily available from Midway USA. Though expensive, they may fill the requirement for a new centerfire revolver you can order directly from a catalog. I’ve never used one, but a review I read on one was very positive. Thanks for your reply, and may God bless the Rawles household as you encourage your readers to live by the Boy Scout motto: “Be Prepared.” Thank you also for your bold witness for God both in your novel and on your website. A fellow patriot, – GlobalScout

Odds ‘n Sods:

U.S. Interior Secretary Gale Norton said on Monday said that it was “increasingly likely” that bird flu would be detected in the United States as early as this year.See: this page

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Category 5 Cyclone Slams Australia: CBS World News

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Hurricane Katrina: What Went Right?: http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/archives/12030

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Kevin Sites, a journalist in Afghanistan: http://hotzone.yahoo.com/

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Big caliber safari rifles: http://bigfivehq.com/

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Some interesting economic and investing commentary: http://www.safehaven.com/archives.cfm

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Silver is bouncing along at around $10.30 per ounce. That is a 16.85% gain for the year!