Born in the suburban foothills of Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1972, I was raised by my mom and grandparents. I took advanced placement courses in private and government schools and ended up at the University of New Mexico, as expected by my family. Tuition was handed to me on a silver platter, but I did not enjoy “book-learning style” education and wanted to experience the world instead of graduate with a piece of paper on the wall. “There has to be more,” I thought, so, instead, I went to nursing school at age 25, paying my own tuition after saving the money to go. Although it was difficult financially, raising two babies, and having a husband in and out of town in the military, it was fundamentally satisfying to have earned my way!
A year after my family moved to Jackson Hole, WY, in 1998, my husband and I divorced, and I got involved in buying foreclosed properties. I bought my first house in Jackson Hole on the steps of the courthouse in a bidding/foreclosure war. A couple in my church trusted my integrity, and loaned the money to me until the redemption period after the foreclosure had passed. I repaid them via a bank loan once the four months was complete. I was a nurse at the time at a hospital, and dated several carpenters and woodworkers who also taught me how to fix up my fixer-upper. In the early 2000’s, Jackson Hole was booming, home prices skyrocketed, and banks were fighting over each other with home equity loan offers for me. I took a few of them up on the offer and began buying properties to fix up and flip. I even took Chase Manhattan Bank up on some full mortgage offers for a few rental properties.
On THE September 11th, 2001, I was fixed up on a date with a cop who eventually became my husband. We married in 2003. By the time of Ron Paul’s second presidential bid in 2007, in his off-hours, my husband was busy putting up Ron Paul signs, working behind the scenes as the local Republican party treasurer, and getting to know the big wigs in Rotary Club, etc. Who was this Ron Paul presidential candidate, anyway? With a long family history of conservative political views, I was still a registered Republican voter at the time and I couldn’t figure Ron Paul out. I didn’t perceive that his high-pitched voice was ‘presidential’ in the least (how could he possibly command the free world while squeaking like a mouse?), and he wouldn’t just answer a question directly (with the same words candidates on the other sides were repeating). He kind of drove me crazy! Why was my husband putting up yard signs, and trying to gain political clout to ‘change the system from within’? Why in the world was my 88 year-old grandmother so enthralled that she would throw away a lifetime of “our” conservative values and vote for the guy? I couldn’t believe how many of my professional business friends had Ron Paul yards signs – they were better than that, right? I’d known them for years – how could they turn on me and our cherished hopes for ‘our’ Country? With the opportunity to again evaluate the information and rabbit holes, I eventually recognized that Ron Paul wouldn’t answer a question the way I thought he should (based on the answers I’d always heard) but would instead try to cause me to think about the answer for myself. I saw people coming together rather than feeling divided. I saw that people have individual and collective purposes in sharing refreshingly new concepts, most of which seemed fundamentally on the side of freedom. I hadn’t ever truly considered that people could actually challenge the ruling authorities. I couldn’t even see the wisdom of doing so. Ron Paul’s voice became one of instigating other people to think for themselves, not one of weakness, as I had mistakenly believed.
It was around this time that I read ATLAS SHRUGGED and started understanding the government’s shenanigans. I started getting more interested in understanding the economic and political world around me and was getting angrier and angrier. My husband was growing frustrated with the people he was working beside in the Republican party, and we both were already frustrated with the Democratic party economic philosophy. I had been calling myself fiscally conservative and socially liberal, but now we started calling ourselves libertarians. I still thought voting was a good thing, even if just to keep the worst guy out.
We started learning more about Austrian economics, and thankfully started to reallocate some money from the stock market to safer accounts, but we were upside down within 6 months after the official June 2008 crash. We had seven properties in Jackson Hole, six of which we were renting out (all of which then garnered less rent per month than the amount of the mortgage payment!). We had two home equity lines of credit open on our personal home (one for a million dollars plus a fourplex, and one for a business franchise I had purchased); our vacant land investments around the country yielded no income; and we dipped in our savings every month for over 2 years to pay the discrepancies in the mortgage balances. With so much new housing supply (since so many other home-owners had already folded and moved from Jackson Hole) and no demand (why buy when you could rent for almost half as expensively as one could 6 months prior AND no bank was lending to middle class anymore by then anyway), we could only sell one of the properties for enough to pay off the mortgage, which we did. We went from 2+ million net worth on paper to having less that $40K liquid in actual cash, and our out-of pocket housing costs were over $16K per month. UGH!! With literally less than 3 months-worth of money to keep a roof over our head, that’s when we investigated bankruptcy.
With bills and fears mounting, we contacted an attorney to get more information. Yes, it turns out that we could have turned in our car, house, assets and more, and that the government would in turn “let us keep $1500 in equipment to run our business.” With a business which makes money only with the utilization of our assets (equipment, gear, reservation and communications software, etc), this would have stripped us of our very way to MAKE money to dig ourselves the rest of the way out of the hole and then to start rebuilding for a future not reliant of the government again! WHAT!? This conversation with an attorney was enlightening, not only to confirm the series of wrong choices I had made along the way but to open my eyes to the role of the bank in bank-ruptcy. Researching the role of the government in the banking system then led me down a road of questioning everything about the government. Who did they actually support, and why? Were there patterns in their preferred partners? How did this affect me, on every level of choice and purchase in my life? Ultimately, did they want me to fail and become dependent on them? I had choices along every step, and I engaged in partnerships with individuals, banks, investment companies, families, lenders, leaders and more – and I ended up almost losing everything we had worked for over 20 years! We had earned the money in the first place, and I had assumed the risk which nearly resulted in our losing almost all of it with my overzealous and optimistic eagerness in a growth mindset. Fortunately, with lots of hard work, we were able to start afresh, keep our family home and start a new business, and have a bit of fun along the way. I learned more in that loss than I ever could have in college, that’s for sure. Finally, the hard way, I came to understand the role of banks and government in exerting financial controls over us.
Now, in my fourth decade of life, I realized that I had been fed propaganda and misinformation for my entire life that I rarely questioned. While rather embarrassing to disclose, I typically readily accepted what had been fed to me by ‘news’, family views and government schools. Information was given to me by authorities, those I had been taught to obey.
Who was I to question those my senior, with more education and knowledge about worldly concerns? It actually HAD to be me, I surmised. I couldn’t reject this new knowledge about myself – once you ‘see’ or understand certain truths, you cannot ‘un-see’ them. I could not ‘un-see’ that there was not only no such thing as ‘fair share’, but that when my labor, belongings or money is stolen from me, I have no say in its ultimate destination for ‘use’. Then I saw more on the news: people were mad that the government was forcing them to fund officials’ personally extravagant lifestyles, and about revamped city signage with stolen tax money to simply be more visually pleasing not any more effective, and yes, they were forced, by people enforcing ‘laws’ against their neighbors to make it happen! I heard more in my neighborhood gatherings: people were questioning what they knew about government – and its reach.
Concerned that I would lose family, friends and clients, unfortunately I sort of hid until more people started speaking out. My inner dialogue intensified, and my questions just kept coming. Would the government really send someone to arrest me if I didn’t pay my taxes? What did the act of “being taxed” actually mean? Why were the percentages higher for some than others? What happens when I vote for a law and it goes into effect? What happens to my neighbor when her money is stolen for a cause she doesn’t support? What happens to her if she doesn’t ‘obey’? Why was I “forced” to pay the salaries of those who will enforce these laws against me if I don’t pay for the thing they want but I don’t?
I learned about the non-aggression principle (the N.A.P.), and I went from being a supporter of constitutional/limited government to free market anarchism. I first heard the word ‘voluntaryist’ at a conference called Anarchapulco in 2016. For the first few years, the conference primarily focused on philosophy as a way to spur thinking for one’s self without herd-mentality, and on economics as a way to provide for one’s self without reliance on the ‘government’ in any way. I felt what was perhaps an odd sense of camaraderie when sharing self-centered, self-reliant thoughts, and these conversations spurred my vision for a future funded entirely by individuals who care deeply for each other, were not reliant on a group of people who would steal from me to give to another, against my will, because someone who voted for them liked that person, or cause, or thing more than ‘letting’ me keep the fruits of my labor if I liked certain people, causes, values and things better. … The conference has since changed, but I am forever changed by these ‘formative’ years in my adult life!
To me, voluntaryism means that every relationship in my life is voluntary – no one forces anyone else to give them money or time, no one protects or helps me unless they freely want to do so. I can support people with my time, talents, and within my value system – and I’d have more money to do these things when a government doesn’t take a third of what I earn! It’s just so simple now; I ask “is this right? Am I hurting anyone? Does everyone involved want to be involved?”
I am thankful that my husband lit the way for others to come out of the dark and continues to work behind the scenes to promote movers and shakers within the voluntaryist movement. Carl Watner is my lighthouse in stormy seas, and gently guides me, with few words needed, when I have questions which include “Well, what if I could change the system from within?” (“Let’s look at this story, or this parable, Lynn; what do YOU think now?” he asks, instead of telling me what to think.)
Larken Rose’s book, THE MOST DANGEROUS SUPERSTITION, more clearly defined WHY I was so hurt, frustrated, angry all those years in turmoil – being degraded, beaten down for my “crazy” thoughts that I could fend for myself, should not have my earnings stolen, and that I should be able to give to causes within MY value system freely, etc. Jeffrey Tucker is not only a great dancer but also a thought-provoking conversationalist, G. Edward Griffin inspires, Paul Rosenberg paints a history including radicals wanting to live their own life, too (go figure!), and David Rodriguez just might be revolutionizing the government indoctrination camps of modern “schooling.” I am thankful for my personal relationships with these influential thinkers, among many others, and am honored to now be able to share seeds for thought with other people newly exploring alternative ways to the status quo. Yes, I believe there is a better way forward, and I see its path outlined by voluntaryism.