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Eighth Issue 21 October 2004
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Ninth Issue 28 October 2004
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Buy this essay and others in Jim's new book Being Sovereign.

The Indomitus Report

4 November 2004

Being Sovereign

    "Four more years!"
    - Mindless Democrat Drone, 1996;
    - Mindless Republican Drone, 2004

Four more years. It's true. Of course, there's always four more years until the next election, whoever wins.

Look for four more years of war, with some significant events on this continent. Look for four more years of deficit spending, with the distinct possibility of hyperinflation. Look for four more years of not much change from neo-conservatives who believe in nothing new and for whom conserving the constitution or anything else is unimportant.

Peter Jennings asked ABC's political opinion specialist whether exit polls reveal confidence in the system. Some 9% of voters actually indicated that they aren't confident that the votes will be counted properly in their state. What's amazing here is the staggering audacity of the question.

Is the non-voter being queried? Of course not. Non-voters are unpersons to the likes of ABC News. No, only those who have chosen to spend their time at the polls casting votes are asked whether they have confidence in the system. Of course most of those who choose to use their time in this unhealthy way do so because they feel their vote would be counted. If one doesn't feel one's vote would be counted, the logical course of action is not to vote. The fact that 9% of voters don't think their votes will be counted accurately is a comment on the cleverness of the voting public. Maybe they had nothing better to do with their time.

By some early morning estimates (3 a.m. West coast time) the total electorate was around 113 million voters. Not all overseas military ballots have been counted. This figure suggests that fully ten million Americans showed up at the polls doubtful about their votes being counted. If their fears prove well grounded, that is more than three times the margin of victory in the popular vote.

We believe their fears are well grounded. The victory in Florida was manufactured with new voting machines which may have "worked" well but were not secure in any way, shape or form from numerous identifiable methods of vote fraud. We suspect victories elsewhere were also manufactured. Most troubling is the fact that during the Ohio vote count, it was explained that votes from overseas military personnel, now fighting and some dying in Iraq or Afghanistan, won't have their votes counted prior to the concession speeches, but up to ten days after the election.

With the new election laws now upheld by the Supreme Court, the chances of incumbents being overturned is increasingly scarce. Something over 90% of Congress gets re-elected. The two-party system may not be the extreme of one-party dictatorship or one-party fascism found in Soviet Russia or Nazi Germany, but it is rigidly opposed to change. If you've sent a letter to a Congresscritter, you'll know that there is not much chance of petitioning the government leading to any redress of grievances.

All of which is dandy just so long as most people have the appearance of prosperity and hope for the future to which to cling. Unfortunately, as the current war for control and power in distant lands heats up, and as the financial wizardry needed to keep the collapsing stock market from plunging becomes more arcane, the likelihood of prosperity in the next few decades is diminished.

Do your part. Charity begins at home and you should tend to your garden. Move your money away from those who want to use it to bomb civilians in other countries. Move yourself away as the opportunity arises. Go on strike, in the style and for the reasons that Ayn Rand wrote of in Atlas Shrugged. You probably cannot save the world, you certainly cannot save the country, but you very likely will save yourself and your family a great amount of grief, anguish, and pain.

Free Market Money

We like "The Baroque Cycle" by Neal Stephenson. But, let's face it, he goes for the story and leaves out many details. While he seems to be avoiding the sort of six-volume Life of Marlborough epic (commenting on his writing that if people find him long winded they should weigh the Churchill tomes), the missing essentials are remarkable. So, though Neal seems to have skipped past them, we wish to dwell a bit.

It is the story of a thoroughly corrupt king named Charles II who was brought to England to take up where Cromwell's son left off. The restoration of the monarchy was accompanied with considerable fanfare, but much of the power of government had already been absorbed by Parliament. Charles II was quite capable of spending all the money in the kingdom. He held lavish feasts, he had numerous mistresses - many of whom he created duchesses - and he was an enthusiastic alchemist, among his other vices.

The short version we're told by a knight: "The King having borrowed the greatest part of the ready coin of the nation [from] the goldsmiths, shut up the Exchequer, which caused the most considerable of them to break, and an infinite of people whose money those [goldsmiths] had borrowed at interest to be undone." Memoirs of Sir John Reresby for 1672. The closing of the Exchequer was originally for one year, but was extended to several years, and then indefinitely. The "infinite of people" by some estimates (Fekete, Antal E., 2002, "Gold Eagle University") was as many as 10,000 depositors.

A typical case would be Alderman Edward Blackwell who is frequently mentioned by Samuel Pepys in his Diary. Blackwell was a goldsmith and "banker" or money goldsmith. He was ruined by the closing of the Exchequer by Charles II in 1672. The crown then owed him £295,994, sixteen shilling, sixpence. In lieu of paying such a debt, the King granted him an annuity of £17,759, thirteen shilling, eight pence. Blackwell retired to Holland and died there in 1679. The annuity had paid little more than a third of the debt by the time of his death. Some of the bankruptcies were immediate, others were to suffer well into the 1680s, trying to get their claims paid.

And in what peculiar form those claims were found! Not papers, as you might imagine, sealed with great wax hunks and the imprint of the king's seal. No, rather bundles of twigs or sticks represented the debts. These were the all-important tally sticks.

The basic idea was nothing new. Some of the oldest artifacts known are lengths of bone on which marks have been made. Some archaeologists suggest that the bone was chosen from a specific animal and the marks represented the herd of that animal being tracked or accounted for. These early artifacts would then seem to indicate a natural or genetic predisposition to counting, property ownership, and the accumulation of capital.

Aurignacian period artifacts show tally marks on bones from about 30,000 years ago. Roughly at the time Cro-Magnon man appears in Europe, he is marking bones with notches. A Czech discovery of 1937 was a bone from 20,000 or more years ago with fifty-five notches in groups of five, using the tally system as we are familiar with it: four vertical notches connected by one diagonal. Also of interest is a bone from about 25,000 years ago which bears notches representing prime numbers 11, 13, 17, and 19. This last item suggests the existence of a significant civilization presumably now lost as melting ice raised the sea level and inundated the old coast line. (Even today most of mankind lives within a few tens of miles from the sea.)

The tally stick itself is a simple device. It makes use of the fact that when a stick is split lengthwise, the grain of the wood creates a unique pattern. The two pieces of wood can only be matched to each other. So, information which is inscribed across the place where the break will be made should be carried on both halves.

The use of tally sticks derives from an earlier tradition of making contracts. The Vikings seem to have been first on the scene with this idea. The contract would be written down in Nordic runes on a stick. The stick would be split lengthwise. The fulfillment of the contract would be accompanied by matching the two pieces of wood to review the terms. Neither party could change the terms, since the markings wouldn't match up. Nor could one party create wholly new terms on another piece of wood, because the corresponding half would not be in the possession of the other party.

This tradition from the Vikings was brought to England with the Norman invasion. William the Conqueror probably didn't have time for it, but his son Henry seems to have done. England was divided into shires and each shire was the responsibility of a sheriff. Taxes were assessed for each shire. The accounting of the tax assessment was cut into a stick in a series of notches. The stick was then split, so both sheriff and king would have a record. The sheriff would then go and pummel the locals until he had farmed up as much taxes as he wanted, killing any peasants who resisted and generally seizing anything of value. When it was time to pay the king his share, the sheriff would appear with the loot and his tally stick. The sticks would be compared, the tally known, and the loot would change hands.

The system evolved, as systems do. Taxes were collected twice a year, at Easter and at Michaelmas. The amount of taxes to be paid at Michaelmas would be recorded on the tally stick system. By the time of Henry II, a further evolution was widespread. Since tally sticks were representations of taxes due to the king, the king would sell his half of the sticks at a small discount. The buyer would then receive the tax payments when they came due.

The system was vaguely reminiscent of government bonds. Since the tally stick represented value due to the king, or to the buyer of the king's half of the tally stick, it was possible to transfer value by moving the king's half of the stick rather than commodities or specie. According to some sources (Davies, Glyn, 1995, A History of Money; 1911 Encyclopedia Brittanica) the Exchequer facilitated the smooth operation of this market. In fact, the officers of the Exchequer included a tallier or "teller" whose role was to count up the tallies or tally up the funds. Bank tellers perform a comparable function today.

Since the tally sticks came to represent taxes due, the king could borrow funds and pay out in tally sticks. Later, the tally sticks were acceptable for taxes. Some of these tally sticks represented considerable value owed by the king.

Naturally, the rapacious tendencies of the kings would shine through. They would borrow as much as they could. Then they would borrow more.

It was this borrowing that eventually brought down Charles II and the Stuart dynasty. Stephenson portrays the events as though a confiscation took place. More likely, what happened was the goldsmiths accepted tally sticks as representations of the king's obligations, then presented them for payment and were rebuked with the closing of the Exchequer. So, rather than finding an empty vault, as portrayed in Quicksilver, the auditors of the Ham goldsmith vault probably would have found a bunch of hazel twigs split lengthwise and marked with tallies. Whether Neal wrote such a scene and it was edited for length, we don't know.

Owing to the excessive borrowing of the monarchy, the market for tally stick money - the demand for money in this form if you would - was severely reduced. Adam Smith in his Wealth of Nations book ii, chapter xi says, "in 1696 tallies had been at forty, and fifty and sixty per cent. discount and bank notes at twenty per cent." Of course, by that time, the Glorious Revolution had overthrown James II, placing William and Mary on the throne. Also by then, the Bank of England had been founded in 1694. One tally stick worth £25,000 was paid in by an original stockholder. In other words, these shares were bought in one of the most powerful business enterprises in the history of the world with a split piece of wood.

The discounting of the value of the tallies was not the last of the assaults. Though tallies were used until 1826, they were out of favor very quickly. The mint began to produce sound coinage, the Bank of England preferred its own bank notes, and tally sticks were outmoded. Parliament eventually ordered that the tallies of official government transactions be stored away, not daring to expose these records of events nor wishing to pay out claims against them. So in 1826, the tallies went into storage.

The tally men had their revenge, though. On the night of 16 October 1834 the tallies were finally committed to the flames. By some accounts in furnaces whose flues overheated. By other accounts in an enormous courtyard bonfire. In any event, the old Houses of Parliament were consumed in the flames when the fire got out of control. The horrid Gothic revival pile we see today is the replacement for the old Houses of Parliament, burnt to the ground along with the tally system.

By 1720, the money of England was on a gold standard. Some attribute that development to Sir Isaac Newton, who served as master of the mint. He also invested in the South Sea company, getting out before the collapse only to have misgivings and get back in for a thorough pummeling when the bubble burst. So, his cleverness in things financial was hit or miss. Yet, that gold standard was to last two hundred years, and served Britain in good stead during that time.

Tally sticks proved to be another worthless fiat money scheme. They were only valuable so long as they represented tax payments or value owed by the crown. Ultimately, they were repudiated and consigned to the flames, like ever so many other fiat money samples. They were inflated or discounted depending on the arbitrary spending habits of capricious monarchs.

Tally sticks show that anything may be used as a money substitute. Woe betide those who accept money substitutes and lend out the real thing in exchange. When the substitute goes sour, who would be left holding the true article?

Gold Mining

Here's how the two stocks we still suggest in this area look right now:

Company Symbol C$ US$
Free Gold ITF 0.36 0.31
Newmont Mining NEM N/A 47.00

Freegold Ventures has announced finding gold in one of their drill holes. The announcement was headed "6.79 gm/t gold over 17.5 metres" and is visible on their site here.

Free Market Money

Gold appears to be building a base at $425-427. Its next assault on $432 ought to triumph. We see similar activity in silver around $7.25. Both gold and silver should work their way higher between now and May 2005. The dollar, of course, is working its way lower.

The two stocks we've suggested in this sector are PVH and MCG. No change for either, last we checked. We expect an announcement about PVCSE to a large audience very soon.

Space Frontier

An old friend, Gary Hudson, writes to let us know about some of his current work assignments. You may know of Gary since he's quite a figure in the space business. One of his first projects of which we're aware was the Percheron launch vehicle which he built for David Hannah, Jr.'s Space Services Incorporated of America back in 1981. The vehicle was put together on Matagorda Island on some land owned by Fina oil magnate Toddie Lee Wynne. Another friend, Mark Daniels, went down to the island at the time to work on that project and once showed some snapshots of those early days in commercial space transport. Sadly, the Percheron blew up on the launch pad during a test firing. Something about the humidity and the liquid oxygen propellant, a broken compressor and the unfortunate necessity to leave the propellant in the vehicle overnight.

Space Services survived the ordeal, though most of the money invested in hardware reached an apogee of perhaps 200 feet before falling to Earth in twisted wreckage. Hannah hired former Mercury and Apollo-Soyuz Test Project astronaut Deke Slayton to investigate the wreckage and confirm what Gary had explained about the events. Slayton went on to become the president of Space Services and organized the successful Conestoga I launch from Matagorda which took place in 1982 the day after Toddie Lee Wynne passed away.

It so happens that Space Services has risen from...the become the survivor in interest of the old Celestis corporate assets. Celestis was the first customer of Space Services back in 1984 (after the big boyz made sure Space America didn't win the LANDSAT privatization contract). Celestis was founded by a Florida funeral home operator who thought some people might like to have their ashes flown in space. NASA wouldn't touch the idea of flying what quickly became known as "ashtronauts" on the shuttle, so at last there was a commercial payload for Space Services and their commercial Conestoga vehicle. Naturally, regulatory nonsense was thrown into the path of the new companies, with the Florida funeral home commission insisting that every funeral home had to have a two-lane paved road to their burial location. Celestis itself never launched any ashes until it was resurrected in the late 1990s by Charlie Chafer (Hannah's first employee at Space Services) and Chan Tysor who managed to convince Orbital Sciences Corporation to fly some ashes as a secondary payload on some Pegasus flights. Although such luminaries as Timothy Leary were "passengers" the company didn't make money as Celestis, and our bet is it won't make money performing memorial services under the name Space Services, either.

But we digress. Gary left Space Services and a few years later was heard from as the owner/operator of Pacific American Launch Systems. Gary was an early advocate of single stage to orbit, fully reusable launch systems. Although Pacific American never put anything in orbit, Gary parlayed his experiences and entrepreneurship into a new company, HMX or "Hudson-McKinney Experimental" with former American Rocket Company engineer Bevin McKinney. HMX developed the Rotary Rocket company in the early 1990s with funding from numerous investors. Some of our other friends found their way out to Mojave at that time to work on Rotary Rocket until it was crushed by NASA.

HMX did some work and provided some good advice to Scaled Composites regarding the development of SpaceShip One including the key recommendation to use hybrid propulsion. Yes, and our suggested stock in this sector, SpaceDev, provides the propulsion system.

We hope and suppose that many of our friends who were working for Rotary at the time of its sad demise were able to find work on the Mojave Aerospace Team or elsewhere in the space sector. Naturally, we wondered what Gary was up to. He mentioned some weird DARPA project and a company called Air Launch LLC about which we found nothing - not even the web site Gary mentioned seems to exist. He is also working with t/space on pseudo-commercial lunar missions for NASA and their "concept exploratoin and evaluation BAA."

You can read the background page on as easily as we. The opening slide informs us that Scaled Composites, HMX, AirLaunch, Space Vector, Len Cormier's Universal Space Lines, the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute, and some others we aren't as familiar with have been roped into working on this "competition-based open architecture" for "sustainable lunar exploration." The advisory working group includes Elon Musk's SpaceX, Virgin, Kistler, and the infamous National Space Society.

Now, we expect the nationalist socialists of the National Space Society to be enthusiastic about whatever NASA tells them to enthuse about. We had more respect for Scaled, HMX, Virgin, Gary, Burt, and Len than we do after reading these pages. On the one hand, the strategies proposed and the results anticipated are mismatched, and bear essentially no relationship to a free market. On the other hand, NASA is not the sort of entity to implement such strategies, so it is mostly a paper exercise in futility. NASA has about as much enthusiasm for private sector competition as they do for replacing the shuttle or purchasing launch services in the private sector.

Remember we've been down this road before. We were involved with Space Services when that company won seven launch contracts from the University of Alabama Huntsville's center for the commercial development of space. We watched NASA's political machine close the office of commercial space development. We watched the FAA mainstream its office of commercial space transportation into just another facet of its licensing idiocy. We've seen NASA return the shuttle fleet to flight after giving lip service to the warnings of the Challenger Commission, and massacre another seven astronauts aboard Columbia. No telling how many in east Texas will succumb to various bizarre ailments as a result of inhaling or touching hazardous materials related to the Columbia disaster.

We saw NASA kill off the Delta Clipper project at SDIO/BMDO. We've seen NASA kill off other nascent launch technologies, as far back as the NERVA rockets of 1969 and Arthur Kantrowitz's laser launch design concepts of that era. We know these jerks. NASA is not about to adopt strategies to encourage private sector involvement in space activities. NASA was designed by Werner von Braun, about as committed a Nazi as Germany ever had, and his buddies to be as much like the Mettalwerken concentration camp at Peenemunde as possible. The NASA mentality sees free enterprise as a threat to the nationalist socialist manifest destiny in space - conquering space for leibensraum.

So, it is a bit sad to see pretty images and fanciful discussion coming from people who ought to know better. NASA ought to be destroyed. To the extent that it exists, it has to be circumvented, if commercial space projects are to succeed. It cannot be reformed. It cannot be reformed because it is operating as it was designed. So, it isn't broken. Fixing it makes no sense. We were involved in NASA reform efforts from 1977 to 1990, and we've watched others hit their heads against that wall ever since. You cannot fix something that isn't broken. The best you might achieve is to get NASA to stop functioning. However, that is not in the political cards.

NASA generates far too much pork for Congress to ever assail it. NASA has friends in high places, all over Washington DC, the land of the scum. NASA can reach down from on high to thwart any innovative commercial space project. NASA has repeatedly thrust its disgusting nose into the efforts of entrepreneurs to raise private investor capital. NASA is about as filthy and disgusting an agency as exists. NASA delenda est. Until then, to quote the film "Independence Day," you've got to "get as far away from these things as you can."

Here's how things stand for the stock we suggested in this sector:

SpaceDev is at $1.76. It is up 17.33% since we first suggested it. Annualized, that is a 90% rate of increase. Naturally, there's no reason to suppose that the stock would continue upward at this pace for an entire year. You might want to think about placing a stop loss order.

A stop loss is a technique for saving yourself from a large loss if the price is going down while you aren't paying attention. You place a stop loss order with whatever brokerage firm sold you the stock in the first place. You indicate a price at which to sell. If the price drops to that level, let's say $1.65 in the case of SpaceDev, you still have a $0.15 per share profit. Depending on how many shares you have, you could put in a stop loss order to sell half your shares at $1.65 and the rest at $1.51 (still eking out a penny profit per share) or whatever you need to cover the cost of commissions.

You might also want to take some profits on the way up. Let's say SpaceDev gets up to $2 while you aren't watching. You could have an order in place to sell half your shares, or a quarter of them. Be sure to realize some profits on the way up and stop losses on the way down. The same advice applies to stocks such as NEM and ITF. (You can place sell orders on for MCG, PVH, or the other stocks there, although there is no effective way to provide for a stop loss order since there are no stockbrokers. If you place an order to sell at a price higher than the last sale, your order is executed after all cheaper sales are completed, but if you place an order to sell at a lower price, your order is executed first and becomes the new price very quickly.)

Launch Technology

At the end of 2000, the USA government lifted a quota originally imposed in 1993 on the number of Proton rocket launches International Launch Systems (ILS) may sell in the USA. Evidently, the purpose of the quota was to ensure that the "Proton entered the marketplace in line with best commercial practices. That objective has been met...." according to ILS president Mark J. Albrecht.

So, if you were wondering whatever happened to cheap Russian launch services, it seems clear they have been co-opted by the military industrial complex. Of course the Proton quota was really intended to prevent Proton launch services from undercutting the market. Now that Protons are marketed by Lockheed Martin, we can expect they do not undercut prices by very much.

A Futron Corporation paper we found in Google cached as HTML from 2002 indicates the Ariane 44L provide 10,562 pounds (4,790 kg) to geosynchronous transfer orbit for $112.5 million. (Adjust upwards for euro-dollar exchange rate fluctuations since then, so add about 25%.) A Chinese Long March 3B with a capability of 11,466 pounds (5200 kg) to approximately the same orbit was priced at $60 million. The Proton, with a capability of 10,209 pounds (4,630 kg) to about the same orbit was priced at $85 million. The Atlas 2AS with a capacity of 8,200 pounds (3,719 kg) to the same orbit was priced at $97.5 million. So, per pound the Proton is $8,326; the Atlas $11,314; the Ariane $5,007; the Long March $5,233.

Somehow, the Russians, with the most experience in building and launching rockets, the best safety and the longest track record, among the lowest cost for production and operations, the most robust technology, somehow ...we don't know how... manage to have the worst pricing among comparable vehicles worldwide on a per pound basis with the notable exception of home-grown Lockheed Martin's Atlas. Gee.

We're still investigating vehicles such as the Zenit and Soyuz which are launched by different companies.

In other news, we received a message from Brian Feeney of the da Vinci project up in Canada. They are building a new nitrous tank and have plans to launch by the end of this year. The insurance coverage has been extended, and their government approval as well.

New Country Developments

One answer to the concerns Dennis expresses is to organize a settlement elsewhere and along different principles. Where "specialization, economies of scale, standardization, and proceduralization" are undesirable, Dennis suggests a sustainable settlement with generalization, individual economies, de-standardization and peculiar choices by individuals, and most of all, a lack of coercive, externally imposed procedures.

There is much food for thought in the reasons Dennis cites for forming a new settlement at this time. No doubt, some of our views on free markets, sustainable interdependency, distinctive competence, and high technology are not perfectly aligned with all of Dennis's ideas. However, those are discussions for next week's "Being Sovereign" essay rather than this week's new country developments essay.

Let's talk about where Dennis is asking people to go, since location is critical to all real estate choices. Dennis writes:

    One of the criteria in locating the Settlement is the desirability of the land, so that sufficient settlers would be attracted to join. It is located in the southern hills of the Cayo district of Belize, an English-speaking country and former colony of Britain. Belize is about the size of Vermont, is south of the Mexican Yucatan peninsula and east of northern Guatemala.

    [Editor's Note: Belize is geographically and archaeologically part of the Yucatan. It has numerous Mayan cultural sites. The British who founded it were often pirates and loggers, so it was not fully embraced by the British government in its earliest days.]

    The seat of Cayo, the west-central district, is San Ignacio, about 70 miles west of Belize City. The Settlement land is in the cooler hills of Pine Ridge, about 6.5 miles south of Georgeville, which is along the Western Highway. It is located to the west of Mountain Pine Ridge (Chiquibul) Road. This land is hilly and includes hilltops suitable for homes. Some have a magnificent view of the surroundings. Coordinates for the Settlement are approximately: N 17 6.7', W 88 57.9', ELEV 875 feet. Because of the elevation, this is one of the cooler places in Belize to live.

    [Editor's Note: The latitude is not terrible for those seeking good launch sites. It is still far enough north that some tropical storms and the occasional hurricane may be significant; Panama, which Dennis is also investigating, has a much lower latitude and therefore less Coriolis force affecting wind patterns. Meaning fewer hurricanes.]

    The Settlement land is owned by ex-Iowa farmer and electronics instructor, Ben Butenschoen, a Pine Ridge resident of 30 years, whose lifelong vision was to establish a Settlement here. In the 1970s, Ben headed for Belize with a busload of prospective settlers (mainly hippies), only three of whom made it to Belize and none of whom remained, leaving Ben the lone colonist. In 2003, to initiate the Settlement, I bought 10 acres from Ben along the road and proceeded to homestead, not knowing that Ben shared a similar vision. Adjacent to the homestead are about 640 additional acres owned by Ben and intended to be a Settlement with a large eco-reserve park within it.

    This land is presently for sale by Ben. (See It is divided into two large tracts of about 300 acres each and some smaller plots near or along the main (Pine Ridge) road. Because of the quality of this land (in location, weather, soil fertility, forest, water springs, and views), Ben is asking about $1000 US per acre for the 300-acre tracts. A five-acre plot on the western 300 acres would therefore cost about $5000 US.

    This will not be the first settlement in the region. Spanish Lookout is a Mennonite colony of about 1600, located 12 miles north of the Settlement. It is an inspiration to settlement-builders. With an average education of seventh grade, the hard work, united efforts, and persistence have resulted in an attractive community on about 40 square miles. Spanish Lookout is a source of supplies, pre-built cottages, examples, and ideas.

    Another advantage to the Settlement location is that it is adjacent to yet another Settlement, Maya Ranch (, 1.5 miles north of the Cayo Sustainable Settlement. It is a non-profit organization that trains Belizeans in various skills, does sustainable-living research, provides alternative work for German military objectors, and has graduate educational opportunities for thesis work. A conference in Germany brought together the original settlers, who are educated and go about their Settlement-building in a methodical and systematic way.

    [Editor's Note: One might even say, "in a German way." <smile>]

    Maya Ranch has provided automotive and generator engine repair and servicing, has a restaurant and bakery, and is expanding its offerings to those outside the Settlement. The 1000 hectares (2500 acres) of the Maya Ranch are also inspiring to Settlement-builders and are attractively landscaped.

    Mennonite communities in Upper and Lower Barton Creek, along the next (Barton Creek) road east, are also nearby. With precedents in settlement-building at Spanish Lookout, Maya Ranch, and Barton Creek, the Settlement will benefit from their experience. Though all different in nature, these existing settlements are intentional communities.

    The Settlement is also in a central location, 12 miles from both Spanish Lookout and San Ignacio, and 25 miles from the capital city of Belmopan, to the east. Settlement access to the main highway running across Belize, the Western Highway, is 6.5 miles north on Pine Ridge Road, which is presently being paved. Pine Ridge Road continues southward to the giant Mayan ruins at Caracol, an emerging major tourist attraction, passes a three-star resort, Blancaneux Lodge, as well as Ben's Slate Creek Eco-Preserve and Resort, and others.

Dennis continues with some discussion of getting started, making an exploratory visit, and homesteading. These ideas are well conceived and indicate just how cost effective his settlement would be for an average family. So, feel free to ask Dennis for a copy of his report. (Hint: his e-mail is given in the link from his name at the top of this section.)

Finally, Dennis goes over some information about Belize as a place to live:

    The Web has much material on what it is "really like" in Belize. Read some of it. It is much like small-town America in the 1950s. Websites of expatriates in Belize, such as can be helpful.

    Expected characteristics of Settlers, such as neatness of property, punctuality, and planning, will not be shared fully by many Belizeans. Exceptions are the Mennonites, most educated Belizeans, and expatriates from Upper America, the Mideast, and Western Europe.

    Expatriates are sometimes viewed as a source of money by some Belizeans, and confidence schemes are not uncommon, ranging from simple hard-luck stories to elaborate, fraudulent ruses. Give no stranger, except a government official in a government building for a government purpose (obtain receipt), money or you will not see it again. Never loan your car to someone who is not a well-established friend or you will never see it again. The friendly demeanor of the natives can fool you at first, and some are expert at playing upon the ready sympathies of Americans for the disadvantaged. If you want to avoid "paying your dues", learn how to say, "I don't have any money to give out" to anyone who goes down that route with you. Then walk away or change the subject. Do not be too friendly to strangers or you might have a hard time saying no when money comes up - unless at the mention of money, you can let a deadpan-serious look come over your face and let silence finish the message. There are no loans in Belize, only welfare gifts.

    [Editor's Note: No doubt the advice Dennis gives is applicable to many of the poorer neighborhoods of the USA, and most of the rest of the world, as well. There are truly needy people, and you should have no difficulty finding them and providing relief if that's your desire. At the same time, a minister Ayn Rand was fond of quoting pointed out that the best way to help the poor is not be poor yourself. Encouraging scammers by giving away money or lending things they intend to steal is no way to avoid poverty.]

    For the most part, most Belizeans are honest and pleasant people. This is a young culture (as is all of Central America), and children are prevalent as are young (sometimes very young) mothers. Abortion is essentially unheard of. Belizeans are innovative in finding solutions to problems that Americans depend upon expensive tools to solve. The smarter ones would make good engineers and inventors if they were apprenticed and educated. This is an opportunity for projects in the expansion phase of the Settlement: new native technology-oriented businesses and training.

    Expect also the level of commercial activity in a country of only 250,000 to be much below what is taken for granted in Upper America. The closest Wal-Marts, for instance, are 200 miles away, in either Cancun or Guatemala City. There are no large stores here (though every family Chinese shop is [self-styled] a "superstore"). Do not expect to find specialized parts in-country. They will have to be ordered from the developed world (N. America, mainly) and paid for in that state's currency. Keeping a N. American credit card, or at least one in U.S. dollars, is a good idea. Some businesses will bring in requested products subject to recurrent purchase.

    Settlers should not expect to export an American lifestyle to Belize. That does not mean one must live a deprived life, but it does involve adaptation and optimization in a different environment. Pringle's potato chips can be purchased here, but expect to pay over twice as much for them. However, plantain chips are cheap.

    [Editor's Note: The plantain is a fruit shaped like a banana which tastes very different. It may be an excellent source of dietary fiber, but the plantain chip's features in common with the Pringle's potato chip are nominal at best. That is, they are both named "chip."]

    So is citrus fruit, bananas, and much that is locally produced. Some vegetables, however, tend to be more expensive in the local produce market in San Ignacio (or Belmopan) than in the States. This is probably due to the low volume of production.

    The essentials are available and are often cheaper than in N. America. Gasoline is not cheap, however ($3.75 US/gallon), but everything is relatively close in a small country. Diesel engines are preferred, and some convert gas engines to run on butane for a 60 % savings in fuel. Settlement infrastructure costs more than typical N. American utilities, but when amortized over a long time, can be cheaper. The initial expense of water and electric systems is mitigated by the lack of monthly utility bills (though diesel fuel and butane are variable expenses).

Belize is a fairly new country. You may recall a time when it was called "British Honduras." The British government granted complete internal self-government to the colony in 1964, and independence in 1981. Although Guatemala has long claimed the territory of Belize and threatened war in 1981, it seems to have accommodated itself to the existence of Belize. (Perhaps the Falklands conflict, with the British crossing thousands of miles to defend a tiny scrap of British territory at considerable loss of lives and treasure was part of the motivation in Guatemala's choice.)

By some accounts, Belize is home to enormous citrus fields owned by the Minute Maid division of the Coca-Cola company. Thus, Belize has certain exports to the USA and, no doubt, Coke has influence sufficient to generate a certain amount of USA government involvement in the region for good or ill.


    "A man has a property in his opinions and the free communication of them. He has an equal property in the free use of his faculties, and free choice of the objects on which to employ them. In a word, as a man is said to have a right to his property, he may be equally siad to have a property in his rights. Where an excess of power prevails, property of no sort is duly respected. No man is safe in his opinions, his person, his faculties, or his possessions...Government is instituted to protect property of every sort; as well that which lies in the various rights of individuals. This being the end of government, that alone is a just government which impartially secures to every man whatever is his own."
    - James Madison, National Gazette 26 March 1792

As the police state revs up, we find ourselves under increasing attack on a number of fronts. One of the latest is reported in the September 2004 issue of Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw's Life Extension News which, for whatever reason, appears within the pages of the November 2004 issue of Life Enhancement magazine. You can probably read it at

Durk and Sandy detail their tribulations with the "administrative remedies" available to those who have been accused by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of some wrongdoing. The process is time consuming and expensive, and appears to violate individual liberty on several important scores such as effectively considering the accused guilty unless he is able to prove his innocence, denying any jury trial, and preventing discovery of exculpatory evidence.

The final rule for public comments on the brutal FDA's new dietary supplement "Good Manufacturing Practices" is set for October 2004 (which fact being published in the September 2004 issue of Life Extension News certainly makes sense, but the fact that this issue doesn't reach us until the November 2004 issue of Life Enhancement is a bit of a drag. The FDA intends to claim that the dietary supplement industry comes under the administrative law regime of the FDA, with all its attendant foulness, viciousness, arbitrariness, capriciousness, and deliberate nastiness.

We suspect that the effects will be radical and unpleasant. The FDA will ban various supplements on the pretext of regulating their "good manufacturing." It will attack manufacturers who have resisted FDA oversight in the past. It will be particularly vicious toward those who have, as Durk and Sandy, forced the FDA to understand Supreme Court rulings favorable to commercial speech.

You can help. Contact the Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw FDA Litigation Fund courtesy Emord & Associates, 1800 Alexander Bell Drive, Suite 200, Reston, VA 20191. Comments from Durk and Sandy on the FDA's proposed "good manufacturing practices" may be seen at which we suppose must be the web site of the law firm defending them.

As you may suppose, whatever happens next should be thought of as a rear-guard action. The FDA has been chasing after the food supplement companies for a long time. The FDA is a vicious, nasty, brutal agency which was established by the short-sighted and belligerent Teddy Roosevelt to attempt to cartelize the food industry and the drug preparation industry. It is socialist progressivism nonsense at its worst. So long as the neo-conservatives are in power, nothing about the constitution may be expected to be conserved.

Keep in mind that Ronald Reagan, as a truly conservative Republican, placed a moratorium on all new regulations. GW Bush's father, George HW Bush, lifted that moratorium when he was inaugurated in 1989. New regulations became commonplace. Neither Clinton nor GW have shown any interest in reducing or freezing regulations.

You should prepare to get your food supplements elsewhere. You should prepare for higher prices and lower quality. You should prepare for fewer participants in the industry. You should anticipate the show trials of fine individuals like Durk and Sandy.

Look again at the fine words of James Madison. Madison is espousing an essentially propertarian philosophy. He says that a man owns himself, his property, and his freedoms. If government is not defending his property, then government is tyranny. Resistance to tyranny is certainly obedience to God. But it is a long, terrible ordeal. It ends badly for most who start down that road.

One day, perhaps, we will be free of these monsters who seek to oppress our fundamental liberty to place within our bodies those things as to us shall seem most likely to promote our happiness. To reach that day, we need to live a long, long time. As well, we'll need every conceivable asset and financial advantage.

Live long and prosper; you'll need both to have either.

Publication note: Next week we'll be at the New Orleans Investment Conference. There won't be an issue released that week. As our schedule was originally 50 issues per year, we always intended to take the week of the New Orleans Investment conference and the week of Christmas as non-publishing weeks. We should be able to prepare our report on the conference by 18 November, and hope to start the publication cycle from there. As always, subscribers who have paid for 50 issues will get 50 issues, however long it takes!


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