March 2007

Walter Olson is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and the editor of the popular legal blog In “Dangerous When in Power” (page 32), he looks at the crusades against asbestos, cigarettes, and cheap firearms, asking how the government would fare if held to the same standards as the private sector. Olson doesn’t think we’ll be returning to a more balanced approach anytime soon. “There really had been a period of 10 or 20 years where people had begun to recognize that things were more complicated,” he says. “But now you’re beginning to hear again that it if weren’t for the government we’d all be dying young.”

• It was the late Milton Friedman who inspired the title of Senior Editor Brian Doherty’s new book, Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement. “Friedman would often describe himself as a radical, in the same sense that Adam Smith was a radical in his time,” Doherty points out. “He was not trying to preserve anything. My goal for the book was to sell libertarianism for what it is: a truly radical philosophy that has very little to do with standard conceptions of conservatism or the right wing.” Doherty discusses how Friedman fits that story in “The Life and Times of Milton Friedman” (page 40).

• While reviewing a biography of Dean Reed, an American musician who defected to the east and became a rock star behind the Iron Curtain (“Red Elvis,” page 58), Michael C. Moynihan listened to the music of the October Club, a band assembled by authorities in the defunct German Democratic Republic. “They’re actually quote good,” he says. “There are all these drippy sentimental songs about collectivizing grain.” Moynihan, a fellow at the Swedish think tank Timbro, says he has “no political litmus test” for music: “Hell, I listen to Billy Bragg. You don’t get more commie than that. He played music festivals in East Berlin. He was quite a hands-on Soviet lover.” Nonetheless, he would like Reason readers to know that Reed’s music was, and is, “vile.”

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