About 6 years ago we started traveling the world nearly full time.
“How can you afford this?” they asked. “Where does the money come from?”
It was so easy to say we “retired early” and that we were “financially independent.” It seemed so credible, and it was safer and easier than admitting the truth… even my own wife believed it.
But it has been a heavy burden to carry. Recent calls for more transparency in the Financially Independent / Retire Early community, my own conscious, and perhaps the future of our country require that I come clean.
When I was working in technology I spent a lot of time on the dark web, the Mos Eisley Cantina of the Internet where smugglers, drug dealers, and modern pirates do their dastardly deeds. It was there I first met a person who went by the hacker alias George.
At first we just talked about things that were hard to discuss in public… concerns about the increasing overreach of governments, the erosion of democracy, how to promote freedom, equality, and justice… how the financial system is rigged in favor of the rich and connected… a few times I talked about my own interest in getting ahead financially.
A few months later I received an anonymous letter at my home offering hacker work for hire. How did they find out who I really was and where I lived?
At first the requests were simple innocuous things like canceling parking tickets for the poor. Once it was erasing the database at an overzealous debt collector. Over time, the responsibility (and dollars) grew. We were guilty of virtually every computer crime we have a law for. Most of what I know about taxes I learned through efforts to hack the IRS D-Base.
Travel opportunities arose… I would get paid flights and hotels for hacking jobs around the globe, often to promote some aspect of social justice. I was good at it, and it felt good to help people. Eventually, I was invited to the Meadows, a secret country mansion, to speak in person with a group known as the Pentaverate. I saw how they run everything in the world, including the newspapers.
Everybody in attendance was wearing masks and block shoes, so to this day I have no idea what anybody looks like or even how tall they are. But it was there that I met George in person, and he offered an opportunity that was perhaps too good to be true: full time paid world travel.
I flew into new countries and helped to organize the disenfranchised and overburdened. We helped shutter unsatisfactory publishing houses, and funneled cash into those who were supportive. We fought the rise of totalitarianism in Turkey, Poland, and the United States; we couldn’t help in China, they were too far gone.
We were doing positive things for the world, but over time the organization started looking more and more like those we were fighting. We couldn’t risk the IRS questioning my income source, for example, so there was a false paper trail through front organizations. The Pentaverate were plugged into everything, so the checks were never signed by George but instead bore the symbol of a mysterious organization called Vanguard. How ironic…
There were forces at play where chaos was the goal. Volatility meant money. Fear meant power. We pushed back. But it seemed like the organization profited no matter which side won.
But now there are cracks in the resistance. Suspicions have been aroused, and pieces of the truth are floating out there that undermine the very people we seek to help. There is even a T-shirt. Most of these stories are wrong, of course, but the best lies always resemble the truth. Kinda like April Fool’s posts. ;)
I’ve now come to realize that this work can’t be successful from the shadows; we need to step into the light. Transparency and honesty are the only anesthetic for propaganda and intentional fake news.
I risk having our income stream cut off, but the world needs to know. George Soros pays our bills.