By S. H.
Part I: “My Police Career”
I was reared by my late mother. From her background as a Los Angeles model & Laguna Beach business owner, in her mid-30’s she “found god,” wanted a child but did not have a husband, so she chose to have me. Before I was a year old, she threw away her jewelry, modern life and bras and we moved to the back hills of Tennessee where she soon found a Mennonite community. I guess one could say that she was “searching” and others might suggest she was a bit of a hippie gypsy.
I attended private schools through 8th grade, often getting myself to school by foot, sometimes my own feet and sometimes those of my horse Blaze, who I would saddle after milking my cow Sweet Pea. We often lived in abandoned homes belonging to friends, many times without electricity or running water. My mother wanted desperately for me to have a “father figure” to help guide me to manhood. Unfortunately, this never happened to a significant degree.
I piddled with correspondence high school classes, but did not follow through properly. Mother believed that the mindsets of many of our associates in Tennessee was lacking, and wanted me to be exposed to people that had traveled, had unique experiences etc. When I was 16 years old, we packed up our old Honda Civic with our belongings and took our life’s savings of $700 and headed out West.
We landed in a wealthy ski town, about 20 miles east of the Idaho state line. I worked as a bus boy and mother as a hotel maid and we had our start! I became interested in law enforcement and was befriended by many of the local cops that dined at my restaurant. They became the mentors I had always wanted, and after many ride-a-longs, I knew that being a cop was right for me! I grabbed a GED, got my Associates Degree, read ATLAS SHRUGGED, which was given to me by a relative’s friend and moved to Southern California, the best place in the world for leading edge training and experience in my chosen career.
I was hired by a large Sheriff’s Department and, after attending a strenuous 6+ month academy, I worked in their jail system (6th largest in the US) as a deputy. I observed human nature and behavior, both in inmates and staff. The toxic environment of the jail indeed validated the Stanford Prison Experiment. I saw brutality, learned through ostracism how horrible it would be for an inmate or deputy to have a “rat jacket.” (be identified as a snitch) I learned that inmates and deputies were simply members of different “gangs” with one being more socially acceptable to the masses than the other. Both used force to achieve their goals, and both “did what they had to do” because it was “their job.”
I attended cop funerals in Southern California, and became emotional when I head taps being played and saw the helicopters overhead fly the “missing man” formation. I attended a filming of the “Tonight Show” in which Jay has as his guest a guy that had been rejected for a police officer job he applied for because he scored too high in the IQ test. George Carlin was also a guest and his spoof on a news report really hit me in a deep way, thus starting my attitude of suspicion of the mainstream media.
After a couple years, I left that department and began working as a street patrol trainee for an affluent beach community police department in Southern California. I learned that if I saw an older 4-door car with shaved headed brown or black people inside, that I needed to stop the vehicle to investigate why they were in the affluent white community I was responsible for protecting. I learned not to waste by time stopping the brown dishwasher types, because they were just good folks doing their jobs. I learned that steroids helped make protectors better able to protect. Oh yeah, and I got to drive fast, point my gun at people, wrestle people into handcuffs, and look really really tough, especially when joined by a large number of my peers walking together toward a rowdy crowd. I learned how to get drug addicts and other homeless people to move on to other surrounding cities, after all, who likes to live in a town where someone pepper sprays your hidden stash of blankets and other personal belongings.
I didn’t learn well enough. After 6 months of training, I was fired, the police chief citing my Midwest Mennonite upbringing, as having made me naïve and not quite aggressive enough. At the time, this was a huge life failure, and after several hours of feeling sorry for myself, I began the process of applying for other cop jobs. I used California welfare (unemployment insurance) to live on, as well as my retirement money until I could get back on my feet.
I landed a job back in my ski town and began work there as a cop at age 24. I discovered that this small town police philosophy was very different than the southern California agencies. I learned that it was NOT ok to violate pat down case law, to be intimidating toward citizens, and that most folks were good people that I was entrusted to protect. In both departments I was never encouraged to write tickets for revenue, rather the mentality was that hundreds of people would speed over my 10-hour shift, and if I didn’t at least stop and warn them then I probably wasn’t working hard enough. I estimate writing fewer than 20 speeding tickets over my 10 year career. I still loved driving fast, wrestling people into cuffs and the feeling of camaraderie. I pursed my mainstream scholastic education through “distance learning” and earned a Bachelor’s degree in social science. I had moved from jack-Christian to agnostic, but didn’t really pay any attention to politics, though I registered to vote as a Republican.
I moonlighted as a freelance executive protection agent, and was fortunate enough to be on the regional SWAT unit, and promoted to Team Leader of the marksman element. I worked a 2-year rotation as a detective, specializing in crimes against children and child forensic interviewing, was on the departments bicycle patrol team and mounted team. I married a Christian conservative entrepreneur and was fortunate to also get two daughters in the deal!
After about 8 years with the department, with several internal affairs investigations (IA’s) suggesting that I was a bit too aggressive, I faced another IA. This time it was for an incident in which I believed myself to be in the moral right, but perhaps not within policy. Because my body-guarding options looked good, I decided not to fight the IA and simply resigned from “public service.”
Part II: “How I Became A Voluntaryist”
Over the next years, my wife and I purchased and started several businesses. Some failed and some did well. In 2007 I expressed interest in a “meetup group” interested in objectivism, which was my only conscious exposure to the philosophy of liberty. Free markets sounded “right” but of course government was necessary for basics, because without it, who would build the.? I had never heard of anarcho-capitalism, minarchism, anarchism, statism, Marxism or the other ism’s. I was contacted by a man who introduced me to the Ron Paul Revolution. I became active in my local Republican Party, and was appointed to the county board of directors, then served as an alternate delegate at the state convention. I was strongly libertarian-leaning, but was certainly a minarchist.
I learned that among Republicans, some had a better grasp on economics than most Democrats, but that this was simply a shallow idea to them and that they did not really comprehend or appreciate libertarian economic thought. I learned that in order to progress in the party, I would have to sell my soul. I began learning about the Austrian School and I ran for a county office and failed. I didn’t care, after all, we were millionaires and had a great life as entrepreneurs and popular members of our community.
The same man, now a friend, that introduced me to the Ron Paul revolution, also gave me a business idea in the firearms industry, which I ran with and remain heavily involved. My wife and I own several businesses in this industry and make it our full-time (80+ hour weeks) livelihood. This same man, who discovered I was interested in capitalist anarchism sent me a great quote he saw on Earnest Hancock’s website, “What is the difference between a libertarian and an anarcho-capitalist? About 3 years, on if you are slow like me; seven years.”
This comment really made sense to me and I delved deeper. I listened to many hours of philosophy, mostly from Mises Institute and Free Domain Radio. I read books including ECONOMICS IN ONE LESSON and I MUST SPEAK OUT. I listened to Larken Rose, G. Edward Griffin and Doug Casey. By 2009 I was quite convinced that all honest intellectual paths led to voluntaryism. Others that were involved in the Ron Paul movement continued their journey along other paths including political action or becoming conspiracy theory enthusiasts. I went to the county elections office and had my name removed.
Part III: “My Continuing Challenges”
I continue to believe that voluntaryism best describes my philosophic understandings, however am open to other logical arguments. I am an atheist. I continue to face intellectual challenges. Some of these include intellectual property rights issues, of which logic leads me to believe don’t exist but I still have concerns.
Another challenge is guilt, after all, it costs about $100,000 per year to put a cop on the road. That means I accepted over a million dollars in stolen money. It would seem that to make things right, I owe tax victims a million bucks plus interest in recompense. I don’t have that money anymore, and, if I did, to whom should I return it, and in what manner? What about all of my neighbors who were traveling from one place to another peacefully, but because they “ran a stop sign” I used the threat of violence to pull them over and sometimes demanded they “pay off” the government by issuing them a ticket? What about the people I arrested for crimes in which there was no victim: don’t I owe them something? What about my shiny badge-heavy aggressiveness? How do I make amends for that?
Here is one thing I have done to “make things right.” In April 2014, I wrote a facebook message to a man I had pulled over ten years ago for a broken taillight. He and I both had bad attitudes and treated each other poorly, things escalated, and resulted in him going to jail for the night rather than continuing to the hospital to see his father, who had begged for his presence as he lay on his deathbed. My message was a simple and sincere apology, and he wrote back thanking me. However, he was snarky, just as he had been many years ago. He and I have different life views and memories that are not worth “getting into a pissing match” over. Unlike the incident many years ago, I did not “engage” him and argue MY perspective, rather I did not respond. He wrote back with several messages over the next few days. The last one was a very nice acceptance of my apology. That felt good. I have a few more specific incidents in which I will make apologies and I hope they will meet with acceptance.
Other challenges include my refusal to “go all in” and publicly declare my convictions to the public, as it would surely lead to an end of our family business and the diminution of the assets we somehow managed to retain after the 2008 real estate bubble burst. We are trapped in debt we unwisely agreed to take on, and must make a healthy income to fulfill our commitments to banks, which we voluntarily entered into. If I stopped paying taxes, loose most of my clients and speak out against what I believe is not good; we would surely be broke and have judgments precluding us from “getting back on our feet.” Some like Larken Rose & Karl Hess have made this brave leap, but I am too cowardly to do so … yet.
Gregarious Gunner’s book recommendation? Murray Rothbard’s For a New Liberty