(REASON this month inaugurates a new regular feature—a digest of encouraging developments in the intellectual community. Libertarian ideas are increasingly being "discovered" by non-libertarians in diverse fields, as the irrationality and contradictions of the prevailing coercive ideologies become more obvious. Readers are invited to send in material for this column.)
A Poverty Solution: Free-Market Urban Transportation
A detailed study of the transportation needs of ghetto residents has been carried out by a UCLA political scientist. The study observed that neither public bus and subway lines nor government-regulated taxis provide transportation of the kind which could be critically important to poor people. The solution? De-control the monopolistic taxi industry by repealing the laws restricting entry to the market and regulating service features (routes, fares, number of riders, etc.). The author cites the vast diversity of service and degree of entrepreneurship of free-market taxi/jitney operations in Washington, D.C., compared with the decaying service in controlled-market cities. A free market would lead to more jobs for ghetto residents, increased entrepreneurship, transportation to presently-inaccessible job locations for many residents, and generally increased mobility.
For details, see: "Taxis, Jitneys, and Poverty", by Sandi Rosenbloom, TransAction, Vol. 7, No. 4, Feb. 1970, pp. 47-54 (published at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, N.J. 08903).
A Fresh Look at the Urban Crisis
Professor Edward C. Banfield of Harvard has been noted for his hard-headed rationality, in the face of emotionally popular issues. His 1963 essay "American Foreign Aid Doctrines" was one of that program's most thorough debunkings. Now, in a book published this April, Professor Banfield examines the urban crisis which the bureaucrats are valiantly trying to solve. Banfield does not deny the reality of the problems faced by the ghetto poor—racial prejudice, low skills, poor education. But, by citing statistics and case studies, he demonstrates the destructive effects of many of the programs imposed on the ghetto by white middle and upper-class altruists. Although libertarians will not agree with many of Banfield's recommendations, two are extremely significant, coming from a bonafide member of the Establishment: abolish the minimum wage and permit children to leave school at age 14 and go to work.
For details, see: The Unheavenly City, Edward C. Banfield, Little, Brown, & Co., 1970, 308 pp. $6.95.
Deregulating Interstate Commerce
Nader's Raiders have just released their 1200-page report on the Interstate Commerce Commission, and their findings should be no surprise to any libertarian. The ICC, according to the report, operates a vast cartel on behalf of the 17,000 railroads, trucking, and shipping companies it is supposedly regulating. Its regulatory powers have led to the creation of thousands of local transport monopolies, protected from competition by force of law. What does the report recommend? Surprisingly, not "reform" of the ICC but its abolition, along with the Civil Aeronautics Board and the Federal Maritime Commission. The report does recommend a single new agency to replace them, but states that it should rely less on regulation and more on the free market to set rates.
Source: Time, March 30, 1970, p. 88.
Notes (by Tibor Machan)
1.The Journal of Human Relations, published at Central State University, Wilberprice, Ohio, & edited by Don Werkheiser, is explicitly libertarian and very good. It is the only "scholarly" journal of this sort.
2. T.R.M. will have an article in The New Guard on the Santa Barbara oil spill in April, 1970.
3. The New Yorker had very fine "Notes and Comments" piece on the press in February 28, 1970 issue.
4. Institute for Humane Studies is holding second annual conference on Individual Liberty and Property Rights from June 7 to 17 at Rockford College, Rockford, Ill.
5. Left/Right Festival in L.A. showed that Left and the libertarian Right are far apart. Major division: the criterion of justifying violent revolution as a general policy. Karl Hess did not show enough respect for the participants' sincere attempt to understand the details of his views, especially where they concerned the inevitability of revolution, its precise character, the alternatives open to libertarians in lieu of a revolution, etc.
6. The Peter Michelson essay on Ayn Rand's The Romantic Manifesto in the February 24th issue of The New Republic, recommended by The Libertarian Forum (editor: M.N. Rothbard) is nothing but verbal acrobatics; it reveals no understanding of the philosophy of art and of Ayn Rand. Why did Rothbard recommend it?
7. Students of Objectivism: read September '69 issue of The Review of Metaphysics essays by Pailthorp, Jordan, & Madden. All very good. Also, don't believe everything people say about Ludwig Wittenstein—not even Miss Rand. Read Stanley Covell's book Must We Mean What We Say? It will really surprise you if you read carefully.