Growing up in Ann Arbor, Michigan I was a proud American as a kid. The auto industry down the road in Detroit was the envy of the world, our country’s president and first lady were young, bright and photogenic, and America was racing to become the first nation to put a man on the moon.
In 1963 JFK was assassinated and the mood seemed to forever shift I was six years old at the time. The television in our home stayed on continuously the next three days. I idolized Kennedy. My parents wept, I was in shock. “How could someone kill the president” I would wonder. That day I learned a new word, assassination. Two days later when Oswald was killed I would ask my father how we would come to know the truth of what had happened if the killer was dead. Even to a six year old it smelled fishy - the events unfolding on the television were seemingly no different than our make-believe backyard spy games. I was dumbfounded when Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King were taken down in the next few years, the good guys were all disappearing. War waged in Vietnam. Hippies protested and did drugs in the streets. I questioned events in America beginning at a young age.
In 1971 Richard Nixon took the country off the gold standard. Sam Hamburger, my grandfather and successful business man in Detroit, was outraged. One night after dinner at his house he explained to my two uncles how, without gold, there was nothing to keep the U.S. government honest. He described how the Federal Reserve Bank would come to print money freely, how debt would skyrocket, and how inflation would come to rob the American People blind in the decades ahead - predicting his $100,000 home would one day cost more than $1 million and a $3,000 Chevrolet would cost $30,000, or more. He warned of how we would not be immune to our politicians’ actions and that gold would be the best/only insurance policy. He was resolute in his conviction: gold would go to the moon. Though I was only 13 I grasped all that I could.
At the age of 17 I learned the truth of how my grandfather had come to make his fortune - by assisting the United States government import steel from Japan during World War II. The steel was being brought into the Port of Detroit via dummy corporations controlled by the Office of Strategic Services (predecessor to the CIA). After taking ammunitions to the troops in the Far East the American ships would rendezvous with Japanese ships before retuning to the United States with the “black market” steel onboard. My grandfather’s company, Production Steel, would purchase the steel from these corporations and then turn around and sell it to the automakers who were running their factories around the clock to keep up with the war demand. While Americans were busy selling war bonds trade barriers with Japan began to come down in 1942 while nobody was looking. Years later we buy goods from the Pacific Rim without giving it a second thought.
Hearing of my grandfather’s stories would forever alter the framework of the political and philosophical ideologies that would shape my adult life. Learning of my grandfather’s business dealings would lead me to question nearly all of my government’s dealings from that point forward. I don’t believe we know the truth about Kennedy, Iran-Contra, 9-11 or Russian election interference. Official stories and illusions often cross step.
Many of my grandfather's prophesies have true. Ersatz monetary policies have turned our economy into a house of cards with excesses, imbalances, deficits and debt spiraling out of control. Our elected leaders are bankrupting us and the illusion of American prosperity is beginning to show serious cracks. There will be a reckoning/unraveling and I believe it is coming sooner rather than later.
The politicians will not save us. They are part of the problem. It's up to us, individually and collectively, to find better ways. Only when the people lead will the leaders follow.
To transform American society will be a mighty task. Still, I am holding out for America finding her way and that is why I am making my stand.