Over the last thirty years of practicing law, I have worked successfully with small and Fortune 100 firms in diverse industries such as commercial real estate, telecommunications, healthcare, education, retail and non-profits. Most recently, I worked in-house with a Fortune 100 company.
In 2008, my clients were exclusively involved in real estate development, investment and leasing. After the 2008 market crash, they either declared bankruptcy or stopped doing business. Before 2008, I was happy assisting developers building new shopping and medical centers and buying apartment and office buildings. After the 2008 market crash, there was little or nothing to do for months and months, then for years and years.
I was always grateful my experience meant I had some employment, but it was minimal—not at all what I had expected in what were to be my “peak earning years.” Not only did I lose the opportunity to practice my profession full time, but my retirement fund investments declined by roughly 50% in 2008-2009. Consequently, I didn’t trust that the stock market, which had hammered me so badly, was a place I could understand well enough to entrust my life savings.
When I met with my investment advisor in summer of 2008 to review the carnage, he waived my portfolio at me and said, “This was all your fault.” I sat in stunned silence for 10 minutes, then said, “I cannot listen to anything else,” walked out of the room and went shopping. Looking back I can see how transformative that moment was. I had entrusted my life savings to people and a system I did not understand. As a result (and having nothing better to do with all my free time) I became curious about the source of the economic crisis. Consequently, I read extensively over the next several years about finance and the economy. Reading in economics led me to realize that there were economists that had predicted the crash, that there was an explanation that was comprehensible, one that I could grasp and one that was definitely not “my fault,” but one that would come roaring back at me and all Americans unless we woke to who is running our financial system and for whose benefit it is being run.
The events from 2008 on transformed my thinking. I found the writings of Peter Schiff, then the speeches of Ron Paul and later the books, podcasts, speeches, Liberty Classroom, etc. of Tom Woods. I discovered I was a Classical Liberal, a Libertarian.
I saw how the regulatory state protected the people and industries it was to regulate. I saw how quantitative easing enriched the wealthy while creating debt for American citizens. I saw how information was obfuscated so that crony-capitalism could continue unfettered and wreak financial havoc on Americans.
After Obama’s election (yes, I voted for him the first time), I lost any vestige of confidence in the national political process. I saw Obama’s expansion of the surveillance state and of the US foreign wars, that Progressives who had called for Dick Cheney to be tried (rightly, I think) as a war criminal, said nothing about drone attacks and endless foreign wars when a Democrat was president. I saw that nothing the American people said, did or voted for made any difference in the national policies pursued by the federal bureaucracy, that the US Supreme Court is unconstrained by the Constitution, that it uses words in a way that is antithetical to their meanings.
In short, I saw that American democracy was dead and most Americans hadn’t even noticed. This seems to me to be an important awareness to awaken to.