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Buy this essay and others in Jim's new book Being Sovereign.

The Indomitus Report
Volume 2, #17

23 May 2005
Rigidity

Being Sovereign

The term states' rights is a poor choice. In fact, the constitution for the united States of America (as it is itself entitled) identifies rights with individuals generally. The Ninth Amendment of the Bill of Rights is quite clear that rights are held by the people whether enumerated or not. States have powers, as the Tenth Amendment points out, except those specific powers delegated to the national government by the constitution, and except those powers reserved to the people.

State power is the American version of the power of the aristocracy. The reason there is a Magna Carta in England is the diffusion of power among many landed barons. The barons led their armies against the King at Runnymeade, won a great victory, and forced King John to sign the Magna Carta. Thus began the brief English flirtation with a document to guarantee civil liberties.

This tradition was extended to some extent at the time of Charles I. The English again had power centralized with the King's forces and diffused with those of Parliament. Oliver Cromwell helped to design and led a New Model Army which adopted a red uniform because red dye was the cheapest available at the time. Again, Parliament's forces won a great victory and ultimately Charles lost his head. No doubt in this instance, power was then concentrated in Cromwell's hands, abused in Ireland, and ultimately led to a succession problem of his own. The Restoration of Charles II provided a brief episode to demonstrate the magnitude of the potential for decadence and corruption with an absolute monarch, and his dissolute and syphilitic brother James II extended the episode only briefly before the so-called Glorious Revolution of 1688-89 brought in William of Orange as a constitutionally limited monarch. (Unfortunately, the unlimited power of Parliament has, since then, essentially erased any lasting contribution to individual liberty from England.)

It is the opposite tendency, to concentrate power, eliminate multiple sovereignties, and undermine liberty which we seek to consider here. Mr. DiLorenzo quotes Frank Chodorov's masterpiece The Income Tax: Root of All Evil, "The citizen of divided allegiance cannot be reduced to subservience; if he is in the habit of serving two political gods he cannot be dominated by either one....No political authority ever achieved absolutism until the people were deprived of a choice of loyalties." The United States under Lincoln, Germany under Bismarck and Hitler, Russia under Lenin, the Soviet Union under Stalin, Italy under Mussolini, and even Switzerland after 1865 worked to aggregate power at the national level, or to liquidate all competing authorities including the authority of the sovereign states or provinces or cantons within their respective countries.

These examples of successful centralization should not overawe anyone. The trend in this situation is our friend. Globally, the trend is toward the further Balkanization of every region. Great empires have been falling apart for over a century.

We can say very definitely that the Italian empire is gone. It is certainly gone from Ethiopia, from Somalia, from Tunisia. The Dutch empire is almost entirely gone, with only a few overseas possessions such as Curaçao. Portugal and Spain have no great empires any longer. Dozens of countries exist where these powers once had absolute control. The Ottoman empire ended in 1914, and the Austro-Hungarian empire not long thereafter.

The 20th Century saw drastic reductions in the scope and authority of the French empire, the British empire, the Soviet empire, and the USA empire. While the French, British, Russians, and USA still exert power broadly, still have many territorial possessions despite opposition from the subjects of their conquests, and maintain forces for invading and occupying other countries, their overall power is significantly weakened. For example, tiny Vietnam took on the French, USA, and Chinese empires between 1919 and 1979 and ultimately won its independence.

One of the many symptoms that the power of these empires is waning is the evidence that the arbitrary lines drawn on maps by diplomats at various conferences are beginning to break down. Without colonial empires to enforce the arbitrary borders, they are easily penetrated by smugglers and immigrants, and just as often ignored in the formation of new sovereignties.

Centralization is typically a bad idea. It leads to inflexibility, reduces access to information, operates on the fallacy that the few are wiser than the many, and seeks to limit access to power. With centralized power, corruption and abuse are inevitable. And, as Gerard O'Neill pointed out in 1992, when a mechanical system becomes increasingly rigid, it is often a sign of failure. Such a system is most rigid just before it fails, either by seizing up completely or flying apart.

In considering the development of future sovereignties, how might one design things to maximize flexibility and, perhaps, longevity? With a decent system one might have long term stability and prosperity. What might that look like?

It seems clear that the error of the Founding Fathers was to concentrate too much power in the national government. The list of enumerated powers and the sundry elastic clauses (taxing power for general welfare; interstate commerce clause; treaty power) were too many powers, with far too much opportunity for abuse. However, that error was only partly mitigated by the concentration of power at the state level in an attempt to balance the centralizing tendency. Within less than 90 years, that tendency of centralization was able to overwhelm the states and bring them to heel.

It seems likely that the only alternative is individual sovereignty and power to balance against any regional, state, or national power. Delegating power from individual sovereigns to any collective entity may be viewed as a mistake. The self-organizing principles of the free market provide for business enterprises to undertake any of the specific powers previously reserved to national or state governments, so it seems unlikely that any central government is needed.

The evidence has accumulated and accumulated. Every effort at limited delegation of powers has failed. Every attempt to centralize only a few powers has been undermined and the limitations stripped away. From Egypt's lying priest surveyors to Rome's fraudulent coinage to China's mulberry bark money to the horrifying excesses of Ataturk's Turkey, Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Russia, Mao's China, FDR's USA, Tojo's Japan, Pol Pot's Cambodia, or Bush's Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, the result is the same. As Acton noted, power corrupts, and centralized absolute power corrupts in the worst ways.

Those who are not willing or prove unable to establish and maintain their own personal sovereignty should be extremely careful not to delegate all their powers. Any decision to aggregate power, even to trusted associates, should be regarded carefully and avoided if possible. Whatever other powers are delegated, the power to defend oneself with useful tools such as battle rifles, kevlar, handguns, and rocket propelled grenades should never be delegated nor given up. Being disarmed always brings much harm.

Free Market Money

Gold and silver are good ways to hold cash. In fact, for the last six calendar years, you would have been much better off holding your cash in gold or silver rather than in a passbook savings account. Similarly, you would have done better investing in gold or silver than in a stock portfolio modeling the Dow Jones Industrial average.

Gold and silver have both appreciated in value. In both cases, their appreciation has been greater than the consumer price index (CPI) as reported by the USA government. Naturally, here at The Indomitus Report we are exceedingly skeptical of any information reported by any externally imposed, coercive government authority. (Liars, thieves, and bureau-rats seem to compose the majority of the population of most governmental agencies, which factor lends little credence to their words.)

Of course, gold and silver have a notable seasonality, with the Summer being a period of doldrums for the price of each commodity. As we enter that time of limited appreciation, it is well to take a somewhat longer view. No doubt, whatever period we choose, we'd get different results. There's no guarantee that future results are going to model past results. In fact, there's some reason to expect both gold and silver to appreciate dramatically in the coming period of hyperinflation, should that materialize. For this calculation, we arbitrarily chose 22 May 2005 and looked at the values on that day or the closest business day for which we could find figures going back to 1999 - again arbitrarily chosen.

Let's take a look at the calculations. First, with respect to the Dow Jones Industrials, the figure we have for 21 May 1999 is 10829.28. The figure for 20 May 2005 is 10471.91. The loss for this period is about 3.3%. In other words, if you invested $1000 in a stock portfolio which subsequently modeled the performance of the Dow Jones Industrials, that thousand dollars would now be worth $967. These figures are given exclusive of any commissions or fees involved. (For those who dislike our selection of dates, we suggest you try 22 May 2000 or 22 May 2001 for comparable and much worse results, respectively.)

For gold, the calculation and several intervening prices are shown below. The gold price on 21 May 1999 was $272.50. The price per ounce troy on 22 May 2005 was $417.30. So, an investment of $1000 on the first date would have brought in 3.67 ounces of gold. This amount of gold was worth $1,531.49 on 22 May 2005. You'd have more value holding the same amount of gold, by over 53%. (Again, without regard to any fees or commissions you'd pay to acquire or to sell the gold.)

In the case of silver, the price per ounce was $5.19 on 21 May 1999 and grew to $6.95 on 22 May 2005. One thousand dollars would have bought 192.68 ounces troy of silver, which was worth $1,339.13 on 22 May 2005. A nice 33.9% improvement.

For passbook savings accounts, our first instinct was to model the interest rates we were able to find for the years 1999 to 2005 using an annual compounding. To more closely model the "compounded monthly" offer of most bank savings accounts, we used the rates indicated for each year divided by twelve to model the monthly increase. These calculations are shown in the third table below. Either way, the performance of gold is about 8 times better than a passbook savings account.

Indeed, since savings account rates are typically much less than the rate of inflation the real or inflation-adjusted value of such an investment is almost always negative. For this calculation, we researched available web sites for passbook savings interest rates for the indicated years. Since interest rates are adjusted several times a year, a more accurate calculation would be possible if we had access to detailed historical savings rates. Rates for interest bearing checking accounts and money market accounts would be different, but the difference is not great enough to suggest either would be better than gold or silver.

Is it always this way? No, of course not. The period beginning in January 1980 and ending in 1986 would not have produced the same result. To the contrary, gold would have been a poor way to hold cash in that period.

As a general rule, when stocks are increasing dramatically, gold and silver don't perform as well. When stocks are performing poorly, as in the period of our example here, gold and silver perform very well. There are a number of techniques for evaluating the timing of such investments. One approach that we find particularly useful is the Fear Index devised by James Turk and discussed in the commentary section of his GoldMoney.com site as well as in his Free Market Gold and Money Report.

The above paragraphs now appear on a page we link from our home page. The actual tables are on that page, and are not included here.

Gold Mining

Here's how the stocks we presently suggest in this area look right now (close Friday 27 May 2005):

Company Symbol C$ US$
D
Exploring
Almaden AMM.TO 1.67 -
-C$0.07
Free Gold ITF.TO 0.14 0.11
- C$0.14
Luzon LZN.V 0.18 -
-C$0.11
Western WNP.V 3.10 -
C$1.36
Holding
Lumina LCC 7.99
-
Regalito Copper RLO - 4.90
-
Northern Peru Copper NOC.to 1.90
-
Lumina Resources LUR.to 0.75
-
Silver Standard SSRI - 10.46
-2.32
Vista VGZ.TO 4.00 -
- C$1.00
Mining
Newmont Mining NEM - 37.59
-5.71
Northgate NXG - 1.08
- 0.57
Tan Range TRE 1.12 0.90
C$0.12

Good news: Lumina Copper's distribution of shares in four new companies has taken place. One of these remains private and isn't listed, so we've not included it in our table above. The other three stocks have been added, above, and Lumina Copper itself continues on our list. It appears that the LCC listing on the American Stock Exchange has become RLO (Regalito) and therefore LCC.to is now the only listing for Lumina Copper. Therefore our earlier tracking of LCC as a suggestion from December 2004 is invalid.

Note that when we left off the price for LCC was US$6.28. The value of all the listed stocks that arise from this split (using an exchange rate of C$1.2564 = US$1.00) is US$13.37. This value is nearly $9 more than when we first suggested you buy Lumina. Those of you who bought Lumina at the time have seen your money more than triple. Those who missed this boat, or sold before seeing the split should consider the possibility that some of our other suggestions are more than mere trifles of the hour. The stocks we've suggested which are down are even better values than before and do not, in our view, represent any greater risk because the market continues to undervalue them.

Please note that the web sites for Lumina Resources, Regalito Copper, and Northern Peru Copper provided as links above are under construction at present.

Free Market Money

Gold popped nicely on Friday just before noon in New York. It closed at $419.30.

Silver is at $7.27/ounce.

Copper is $1.470/pound. Earlier this month, copper fell off a cliff from nearly $1.53 to $1.43 - breaking down through an uptrend line (lower channel marker) visible since June 2004. While it has recovered some from its low earlier this month, it is unclear whether any new highs are going to be seen soon. In fact, we may have finally seen the eight-year cycle re-assert itself here in the ninth year since the previous peak. In any event, another pennant formation seems more likely than any dramatic new highs - unless hyperinflation hits. We like the charts at Kitcometals.com for copper, by the way.

U3O8 is unchanged at $29.00. We anticipate an updated price on Wednesday 1 June 2005, and shall endeavor to include it in our next report.

The three stocks we've suggested in this sector are PVH, GBH, and MCG.

Company Symbol gAu
D
Gold Barter Holdings GBH 0.10

- 0.9

MicroCasino MCG 0.60

+ 0.087

Pecunix Venture Holdings PVH 0.034

- 0.016

Gold Barter Holdings confirmed our suspicions about the Cambist.net business unit. An announcement last week reported that the Cambist.net unit was sold in October 2004. Presumably, the proceeds from this sale account for at least some of the dividends being distributed in recent months. No official word on the identity of the new owners.

Pecunix Venture Holdings is up quite a bit from our last report. It seems likely to be making a general recovery, now that information on the company's progress is once again being reported.

Space Frontier

The Federal Aviation Administration is one of those agencies that was organized at the height of socialism's triumph over the constitutional limits of the USA government. Like the FDA and FCC, the FAA has no evidence to support its contention that its work is necessary or useful. In fact, the FAA is one of many agencies that limit the operations of the free market, thereby preventing safety, innovation, and cost reductions that would be directly beneficial to the flying public.

The next time you get wand raped at an airport, think of the FAA. It was their incompetence that provided ample opportunity for hijackers - several of whom were selected for wand screening - to fly three airplanes into buildings on 11 September 2001 and a fourth into the ground. The FAA was directly responsible for those four planes being stolen, so it goes without saying that their budget was increased in the wake of those events.

And, of course, in spite of their alleged willingness to sacrifice "public safety" to the nascent space tourism industry, the actual effects of their behavior are chilling in the extreme. It was about a year ago that the Scaled Composites and Mojave Aerospace team first flew SpaceShip One out of the atmosphere. In October, the team won the Ansari X Prize. And now, after all this time, the FAA has finally gotten around to issuing: interim rules. Note that it is political risk more than anything else which has chilled the space industry over the years, making it nearly impossible to predict from one month to the next what to expect from government. And the FAA has the unmitigated audacity to issue interim rules rather than permanent rules and claim that it is helping space tourism companies to get going.

Since 23 December 2004, the FAA has had authority under the commercial space launch act amendments signed into law by Bush to issue experimental permits for developmental reusable suborbital launch systems. However, they are still only dawdling with interim rules and plans to unveil this permit class. With guidelines only, actual permits would be issued by the FAA on a "case-by-case basis," meaning if, when, and as the FAA pleases. It is precisely this sort of uncertainty which makes it difficult for businesses to get investor capital.

The FAA's guidelines for experimental permits for reusable suborbital rockets provide for launch and reentry permission for conducting research, development, new design concept testing, new operating technique testing, showing compliance with other licensing garbage, and crew training prior to begging the FAA for a license. Prior to permitting anything, the FAA wishes to pretend the applicant is capable of launching and reentering without jeopardizing public health and safety, property, national security, or foreign policy interests of the USA - which latter two are certainly carte blanche for "you can't fly because we don't wanna let ya."

It is possible, though it seems unlikely, for the FAA to issue a permit for an unlimited number of launches with a particular design. In any event, the permit expires after one year and must be applied for again and again, every year, so the FAA can always change their minds and thwart the free market. The FAA could also conceivably issue one permit to operate multiple vehicles of a particular vehicle type, as they do with aircraft certification. Given Burt Rutan's previously expressed skepticism about the FAA not having anyone who has the first clue how to evaluate any of these systems, let alone certify them.

It is just another one of those "we've always done it this way" things. The government cannot conceive of allowing individuals to do with their private property as they see fit because, for about 100 years, they haven't allowed individuals to do as they please with their own property. So, the system perpetuates itself and grows a few more legions of bureau-rats who should be expected to show up, watch the clock, and pretend to care about space tourism. Ultimately, the FAA's behavior in this area should be expected to continue to favor the consolidation of the aircraft manufacturing industry (now Boeing, some military jet makers, and a handful of "general aviation" aircraft makers), the continuation of the revolving door between industry and the agency, and all the usual corruption and abuse of power.

In late June 2006, none of these experimental permits would be available. The FAA intends to taunt industry participants by allowing these permits for about a year, then taking them off the table to be replaced with something else. And who knows what for 2007.

Meanwhile, in spite of not being able to see the design he's paid for, nor have input into making it a Virgin-style experience, Richard Branson has more than 7,000 requests for initial researvations and 1,500 down payments on the $200,000 per seat price tag, according to Space.com's Leonard David. Patricia Grace Smith, the Associate Administrator for the office of commercial space transportation, and thus an FAA know-nothing said at last week's 24th International Space Development conference in Arlington, Virginia that the suborbital space tourism business has the potential to handle only 15,000 passengers and generate only $700 million in revenues by 2021. Even at half the price Virgin Galactic is charging, those 15,000 passengers should provide $1.5 billion in revenues. If her figures are meant to be interpreted as per year figures for 2021, then she's asserting a price of $47K or so per passenger. With any luck, we can look forward to these idiots regulating prices, too.

Virgin Galactic's Will Whitehorn, meanwhile, at the same event, described the process Virgin Galactic plans to use for training batches of space tourists. Part of the fun will be riding the carrier aircraft, "Eve," named after Branson's mother, to watch the earlier batch of space tourists make their flight. Of course, that may be particularly unpleasant if one of the SpaceShip Two vehicles fails in flight, but such are risks.

SpaceDev is at $1.69. It is up $0.19 since we first suggested it.

Launch Technology

Who is Chirinjeev Kathuria? He's an entrepreneur from Chicago, of subcontinental Indian-American heritage. Like Walt Anderson, he made tens of millions for himself in telecommunications. (Kathuria founded XTreme, a free ISP in Britain; one of his ventures was a cell phone service in India.) With Anderson, he formed MirCorp several years ago which was to send Dennis Tito to Mir - right up until the Russian government was pressured to destroy Mir. (Tito later flew to the Internationalist Socialist Space Station on a Russian rocket arranged by Space Adventures.)

Now Kathuria has done something brilliant (brill...yant!). Given the ITAR difficulties now being faced by Richard Branson and the team at Virgin Galactic, anyone choosing to work with an American technology company on space tourism has to be nuts. Kathuria has chosen the technical team of Canadian Arrow, headed by Geoffrey Sheerin.

You may recall our review of Canadian Arrow way back in August 2004 when we ran through the contestants for the Ansari X Prize. The Canadian Arrow team has built a two-stage rocket system based in part on the V2 rocket design from the 1940s. The first stage burns alcohol and liquid oxygen in one large engine. The second stage uses four engines burning a solid fuel.

Obviously, the technical challenges of reaching suborbital space are significant, but they are nothing compared to the red tape challenges of navigating the American bureaucracies (FAA, DoD, NASA, and others) dedicated to stop all innovation in its tracks. Kathuria has sliced through this Gordian knot of red tape with one swift motion. He's gone "over the border," to Canada.

It is sort of humorous that in our 9 May issue we mentioned a 33,000 pound thrust rocket engine, the largest in Britain. It turns out that the 45,000 pound thrust V2 engine rebuilt by Canadian Arrow and tested at that performance is the largest liquid-propellant rocket engine ever built ... in Canada. Canadian Arrow's Sheerin says, "most countries cannot build an engine of that thrust," which may have something to do with the fact that only three dozen or so countries have any significant rocketry programs at all.

Kathuria notes, "Space is now the only untapped frontier. The Wright Brothers pioneered air travel barely a hundred years ago, and its very real that space travel is going to be the norm very quickly. When I was graduating from business school 10 years ago, we hardly used the Internet and now we ... have Blackberries."

So, there are two key points here. As we've mentioned before, "rich guys love space!" And, at least one rich guy has caught a clue, and is using non-USA tech to push his dreams of space tourism.

New Country Developments

One of our friends on GoldMoney's DGC-chat discussion list is Craig Spencer. He reports frequently about the news in Bolivia, where he has many contacts. Recently, he pointed out that some five million Bolivians want to leave the country, preferably for the United States. He wondered if there might be some libertarian and objectivist Americans ready to make the reverse journey.

Meanwhile, the dialog on the protests in La Paz has begun to sound pretty funny. Apparently one of the phone companies is paying for protestors to run around demanding the nationalization of the oil and natural gas resources various major international production companies have been finding and pumping. One does have to wonder what this phone company would do faced with rioters demanding the nationalization of all phone company resources.

Meanwhile, Francisco Navajo, president of the civic committee of Tarija, Bolivia has declared that the region "lives in an inalienable spirit to decide its own destiny, choose its own authorities, and administer its own resources." He spoke out against centralization, isolationism, and poverty.

A peek at the atlas shows Tarija is in the very South of Bolivia, at the intersection of a road from Paraguay and a main road into Argentina. It is somewhat mountainous.

In December 2004, an article in El Deber mentioned that the 9 staffers for customs in Tarija are "insufficient" and have no effective support from the government. A related article in the same issue reported this bafflement:

    "It is difficult to understand. All these people care about is contraband and easy money. Security is forgotten and they do what they want," said a customs officer in Puerto Suarez who prefered not to be identified for fear of reprisals.

Yes, that has always been a tough one, understanding why people like easy money. I seem to recall a rock song on the topic, "Smuggler's Blues," with the lyric, "It's the lure of easy money, it's got a very strong appeal."

Jim Rogers likes Bolivia and the surrounding region, which he likens to Denver in the 1870s. Certainly, Denver at that time was host to a few rowdy individuals who enjoyed easy living. Some of them might even have done a bit of smuggling, from time to time. Bolivia seems like a wide open place, full of opportunity, and no doubt fraught with many dangers.

Craig also reports that Apex Silver is putting six hundred million dollars into a zinc/silver/lead mine in Bolivia. From my brief look, Apex is a solid opportunity with about $160/share value including cash, minus debt, plus the proven and probable lead, zinc, and silver with huge allowances for production costs on top of the $600M mine. Look for our suggestion on this stock next issue, or just snap up some shares at $12.55 now!

In our last issue, we used the term "Montagnard" to describe certain Vietnamese refugees. It has come to our attention that a more appropriate term is "Hmong" which is the way these people identify themselves. Anyone on a mountain could be a "montagnard," and one is cognizant that the French colonial period in Indochina was not noteworthy for being pleasant for the occupied peoples of the region. We regret the error.

Longevity

Presumably, at some point, we should get back to reviewing things that are actually going to help you live a longer, healthier, happier life. Meanwhile, once again, we have to warn you about the vicious bureau-rats at the FDA and their latest plans to hatefully thwart your freedom to buy food supplements.

Given the very large numbers of deaths associated with the Vioxx scandal, Celebrex, and other drugs of recent note, it would not be very difficult to justify any retaliatory or defensive force needed to stop the FDA agents and bureau-rats involved in these shenanigans. But, of course, the Bush Administration neo-conservative jingos would simply assert that anarchists had made martyrs of good true-blue 'merican gummint heroes.

So, on a more practical note, the UN has this Codex Alimentarius Commission which plans to pyramid itself atop the NAFTA, CAFTA (Central American Free Trade Agreement) and FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas) to deny you access to food, food supplements, or medicines without the approval of whatever bureau-rat or statist-licensed doctor they deem necessary. The FDA plans to circumvent individual and national sovereignty and recommend the harshest possible regime to the UN.

It isn't even clear that Bolton would be able (or inclined) to stop this nonsense. With a restrictive global trade standard, important supplements we've suggested such as Wobenzym (made in Germany) may become much harder to acquire, if they are even possible to get.

Meanwhile in the category of "It serves the British right," the UK government adopted the "mindlessly restrictive" European Union Food Supplement Directive, according to the above captioned Life Extension Foundation article. A million Brits signed petitions gathered in health food stores opposing this harmonization. "The UK government told consumers 'we don't care how many signatures you get on your petition, the UK is a member of the EU and we're harmonizing to EU law, whether you like it or not!" (Emphasis in the original made lowercase.)

Elan Corp, PLC, was at $7.91 when we looked in on it Friday 27 May 2005.


Publication Note: I very much regret the lengthy delay on this issue, but the press of other writing obligations is enormous.


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