My Meeting with David Theroux

On a Monday morning in August 2011, I was suddenly summoned to a conference call. A fellow employee said my services were no longer required. I was then handed a packet, and in the style of William Holden in Network, told to vacate the premises by 1:30 p.m. 

Several colleagues were also sent packing that day, and this had been cast as a “downsizing.” This meant there would be no individual severance packages, like the generous deals for previous staff members who departed the Bay Area think tank under a cloud. 

In my 13-year stint as editorial director, I had gladly recommended others for jobs. But as I learned, the boss had forbidden staff from writing letters of recommendation for those now cut loose. As Huey Lewis said, sometimes bad is bad, but these were only the beginning of sorrows. 

As my walking papers explained, I had a month left on my health plan, with the option of keeping it at an inflated monthly rate. In time I found a different plan that worked for me before Obamacare nearly doubled the rate. 

I was a year short of eligibility for Social Security, which at that time penalized any extra income above about $16,000 at 50 percent. So at some point, I was going to need a job. 

At that point, I couldn’t exactly swing off into modern interpretive dance. I still had my construction tools, but not much building was going on.

I had served as a correspondent for the Spectator (London) and written for the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, and many other publications. Even so, journalism jobs were hard to come by. Obscure publications in remote cities wanted someone to write the stories, lay out the paper, and clean up the place for some $15 an hour. 

A former colleague recommended me for a post that would have required no move. The boss was favorable but then the former colleague took the very position he allegedly wanted me to have. About that time, when it seemed things couldn’t get much worse, I got a call from David Theroux of the Independent Institute. For that kindness, I will be forever thankful. 

David was familiar with my work and valued certified production over academic credentials. 

He wanted to pay me to write about government waste, fraud, and abuse. I gladly took it on and was soon producing columns for the Daily Caller and other outlets. David tipped me off on many stories, including Naomi Wolf’s newfound opposition to white coat supremacy. 

More recently, David added my American Greatness columns to those of Victor Davis Hanson and the late Angelo Codevilla. As Angelo warned, a predatory ruling class is out to grab our liberty. 

In the fight to preserve and expand our freedom, David was taking a “big tent” approach. I believe that should continue moving forward. Rest in peace, brave warrior, as we take up the quarrel with the foe. 

K. Lloyd Billingsley is a Policy Fellow at the Independent Institute and a columnist at American Greatness.
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