• BARRON'S HITS FCC
REASON editor Tibor R. Machan was referred to in the 20 September 1971 issue of BARRON'S. The country's most important financial weekly began its "Editorial Commentary" by noting that "Tibor R. Machan was just four years ahead of his time. In 1967, as he recounted here (BARRON'S, 22 April 1968), the young student of philosophy decided to see how far the so-called Fairness Doctrine, which the Federal Communications Commission had just ruled applicable to cigaret advertising, might go.…One category of TV commercials which fairly cried out for the "fairness" of counter-argument is that of "public service" advertising—on behalf of controversial government programs, ranging from Savings Bonds to the Peace Corps.…'"
BARRON'S editorial went on to point out the incredible confusion which now exists within the legal geography of TV and radio broadcasting. Mr. Bleiberg, signer of the editorial, refers to Edith Efron's latest book, THE NEWS TWISTERS (Nash Publishing Co., 1971), to point out what the Commission has apparently been oblivious to, namely the sustained liberal-leftist bias in network news reporting.
We are glad that BARRON'S remembered editor Machan's prophetic article. Nevertheless, we are disturbed that BARRON'S chooses to chide the FCC for ignoring network news bias, instead of urging the total divorce of broadcasting from governmental regulation—which would then put the matter of whether networks are too commercial or too liberal in the laps of the consuming public, not the government, to be dealt with.
BARRON'S should consider, for instance, the immense power of one of the FCC's "little helpers," namely the Broadcast Bureau staff. This group of well paid lawyers is privileged to sit in on all FCC hearings to interrogate prospective station buyers as to whether the new station will threaten the interests of existing broadcasters. Such outrageous advantage bestowed upon those who already possess economic stability in an industry renders the prospects of competition virtually impossible. No wonder network news bias is so widespread—network legal advantage is equally pervasive.
BARRON'S might also note that one of the ludicrous standards the FCC uses in granting a new license to a broadcaster is that he must not threaten the size of the viewing audience other nearby TV stations already enjoy. Which amounts to saying that there can only be one sort of competition in broadcasting—none!
REASON believes that a sustained attack upon the institution of the FCC is far more valuable than any implicit urgings for more consistent application of the "Fairness Doctrine," even when the area being referred to is suffering from obvious bias. One thing we certainly do not need is governmental control of news-broadcasts. At least now we know that the bias comes from the networks—with the FCC calling all the shots there would not be any credibility to newscasting.
• REASON AUTHORS MAKE NEWS
Two of REASON's authors have recently had articles published in other magazines. Alan Reynolds ("The Purge of the Chicago Economists," REASON, July 1971) had a five-page article on "The Case Against Wage and Price Controls" in the 24 September 1971 issue of NATIONAL REVIEW. Dennis J. Chase, whose "Atlas Shrugged at Me" (also in REASON, July 1971) provoked much comment, had an article published in the September 1971 issue of THE QUILL, published by Sigma Delta Chi, the professional journalistic society. The article, titled "The Aphilosophy of Journalism," discussed the effects of pragmatism and subjectivism in news reporting and included quotations from Nathaniel Branden and THE OBJECTIVIST.
• In the first (and, so far as we know, only) trial for census resistance, Hawaii libertarian William J. Danks and four co-defendants were found guilty of a crime against the State and fined $50 each on 25 August 1971. The defendants argued that a compulsory census violates the 1st, 4th, 5th, 9th, 10th, and 14th Amendments and pointed out the government's arbitrariness in singling out five persons of the several million who refused to answer census questions (San Francisco, a rapidly building city, decreased its population by 10,000 in the 1970 census, compared to 1960. Many people, obviously, did not answer census questionnaires). Both a jury trial and a public defender were denied them.
In his brief to the court, Danks argued, "Far more is involved here than the mere unconstitutionality of a particular Congressional decree. What is involved is the freedom of the people—the freedom to live their lives immune from the arbitrary restrictions of a small group of men who have assumed the power of rulers.…There can be no guilt without a crime. There can be no crime without a victim. Since there was no victim to my alleged 'crime'—I conclude that in fact there was no crime.…Let us hope that America will soon eliminate such 'political' crimes as census resistance. For we cannot long endure if we permit the existence of political crimes and the inevitable political prisoners that always follow."
• NEW GROUPS FORMED
1) Committee to Organize a Libertarian Party—A group of Colorado libertarians headed by David F. Nolan has announced plans to organize a libertarian political party. The purposes of the party are to be as follows:
• to take advantage of the free publicity available to candidates during election years, so as to spread libertarian ideas to the public,
• to learn how many Americans are sympathetic to libertarian ideas and attempt to enlist them in libertarian activities,
• to put pressure on the major parties to take more libertarian stands on key issues, and
• to provide an "organizational home" for politically-inclined libertarians.
The Committee can be reached at 7748 Lowell Blvd., Westminster, Colorado 80030.
2) National Committee to Legalize Gold—Another group of libertarians, headed by James Blanchard and Evan Soule, have formed a group to work for repeal of the government's ban on private ownership of gold. Pointing out gold's role as the individual's protection against governmental inflationary schemes, the Committee advocates the creation of a "parallel" gold standard in the United States. The plan, proposed by Professor Hans Sennholz, contemplates a gradual phase-in of gold alongside existing paper money. Thus, the gold would provide a legal alternative and thereby serve as a check on government irresponsibility.
As a first step, the Committee urges support for two bills to legalize ownership and monetary use of gold: HR 1258 introduced by Representative Phillip Crane, and HR 6790 introduced by Representative John Schmitz. These bills will come before Representative Wright Patman's Committee on Banking and Currency in late November.
For further information on the gold campaign, write to the National Committee to Legalize Gold, 143 Wren Street, New Orleans, Louisiana 70124.