This is the first issue produced under reason’s new editor in chief, Matt Welch. A native of Southern California, Welch was weaned on Robert Heinlein and the Los Angeles Angels. He decamped to Central Europe just after the collapse of communism, where he “witnessed and documented first-hand the profound economic, moral, social, cultural, and environmental disasters of totalitarian central planning.” From Budapest he moved to Cuba “with the intention of covering the collapse of communism before it happened, but it turns out living under communism was even worse than I expected.” More recently, he served as assistant editorial page editor of the Los Angeles Times and wrote the book McCain: The Myth of a Maverick (Palgrave Macmillan).
Former Reasoner Bill Kauffman established the magazine’s first beachhead in D.C. shortly after joining the staff in 1985. “I owe reason my domestic bliss,” says Kauffman, who first met his wife-to-be Lucine after speaking to her on the phone every day for four months; she was the office manager at the magazine’s Santa Monica headquarters. On page 46, he interviews Carl Oglesby, former president of Students for a Democratic Society. Kauffman, a longtime “epistolary acquaintance” of Oglesby, says he was struck by the “humanity” of this “libertarian voice on the New Left.” Kauffman’s seventh book, “a digressive history of Middle American opposition to war” called Ain’t My America (Henry Holt/Metropolitan), will be out in April.
In “The ‘White Slavery’ Panic” (page 58), the Massachusetts-based writer Joanne McNeil casts a critical eye on the long history of treating all prostitutes as victims. Sex work, she says, “is as viable an option for women today as it was back then,” something she learned from a former roommate in Chicago. Through her, McNeil met “a lot of women in the industry who were very intelligent and college educated.” One revelation: “It really is a job for them. They have boyfriends. They have normal lives. It’s what they happen to do to make money.”