In the "Trends" column (REASON February 1972), you quote part of an editorial by Gene Pulliam, publisher of our local piece of high quality toilet paper (his afternoon paper, The Phoenix Gazette, is of much lower quality—it scratches.)
Lest you think that Mr. Pulliam is something even resembling a libertarian, please read his usual editorials.
He pleads for freedom in the editorial you quoted, yet manages to sanction Nixon's price-wage freeze in others. He calls for freedom and then advocates increased government control of just about everything.
In short, the newspapers here in Phoenix (both owned by Pulliam) daily advocate the very things that Pulliam rightfully complained about in the editorial you cite.
What makes this so funny is that an editorial recently appeared which noted that we are losing our freedom by default. That's true, but "de fault" lies with conservatives who never understand that principles must be followed consistently and not merely when the whim strikes them.
Mr. Pulliam and his newspapers deal with words, perhaps someday they will learn what a concept is.
Richard Balog, a vice president of the Independent Postal System of America (IPSA), was interviewed on WFLD's What's Happening show in Chicago.
During the television discussion (unfortunately aired at 11:45 P.M. on February 7th) it was noted that IPSA now operates in 24 states and is turning a good profit while the Post Office Department lost $10 billion over the last decade.
Balog stated that the Post Office, now a "semi-private" corporation, must by law show a profit in 1980 and is permitted to raise its first-class rates 20% per year over the next five years. Conceivably, a letter may eventually cost twice as much to be delivered as it does now. IPSA is now seeking court action to break the first-class monopoly.
Another interesting point: only Balog and the host, Jerry G. Bishop, were present at the interview. Federal and City postal officials were invited to attend but all failed to show up because of "various reasons."
David J. Kramer
LE FEVRE'S "JUSTICE" CHALLENGED
Simply from its presence in your magazine I assume that Robert LeFevre's article "Justice on Trial" (REASON, February 1972) was to be taken seriously as libertarian thought. By libertarianism I mean the doctrine of laissez-faire capitalism. Presently, the usage of the word is so vague that any ideological freebooter can exploit it.
LeFevre has merely substituted anarchism (decentralized collectivism) with his own remedy (camouflaged anarchism), presented in perverted libertarian language. Accepting the anarchist premise, LeFevre opposed the idea of making retribution a marketable service on the valid ground that it would lead to gang warfare. He proposed instead that services of this type be limited only to protection where pseudo-constabulary firms, weapons producers, etc. compete with each other to provide defense services to consumers on a "free market" basis. Personal defense, according to LeFevre, should be the total responsibility of individuals. He also stated that in the first place the very idea of retribution was derived from religious dogmas and supported this point with irrelevant religious descriptions of extinct societies.
Is LeFevre's model any different from actual anarchism? How shall we be sure that the "protection agencies" do nothing more than protect? Shall we depend on everyone's voluntary cooperation based on their moral integrity, as LeFevre seems to propose but which he obviously cannot guarantee, or their moral duty, likewise unreliable, which he rightfully condemns as a "Pandora's box," or a government based on objective law which he is opposed to in the first place though it is the only rational solution? Can productive men function in a society where the only risk a thug encounters is the resistance of his victims? Is aggression to be viewed as someone's failure to defend himself? Mr. LeFevre, who denounced internecine warfare would say to an elderly woman who was beaten on the streets and had her groceries stolen, "Tough luck! The market rewards people according to their efficiency so that's what you get for not hiring armed body guards." If the woman asked for justice, LeFevre would tell her that she was deluded by an ancient mystic notion and that the wrong couldn't be erased anyway.
Justice is neither a science of retroactive correctional metaphysics nor a religious anachronism. It is the means by which men live together while still preserving their rights as individuals. LeFevre rendered justice meaningless by denying its only important tool: retaliation. Since nonretributional retaliation is a contradiction in terms, when there is no retaliation there is no justice, and when justice disappears freedom disintegrates.
Some vague semblance of justice is maintained even in a totalitarian state which, at best, LeFevre offers in the form of feudalism. At worst he offers a dark, primitive Darwinian battleground. LeFevre, rationalizing anarchy in capitalist language, offers the same toxic remedies as his fellow collectivists and is an insult to libertarianism.
This "objectivist" and "libertarian" dementia disturbs me more than the most hideous utterances of contemporary Leftist intellectuals simply because you grant it a rational respectability by printing it in your magazine. Let REASON magazine be a medium of reason. Do not permit it to become a collectivist vehicle. They have enough outlets elsewhere.
Bob LeFevre's recent article on justice ("Justice on Trial," REASON, February 1972) contains an interesting analogy regarding the Ajax and Titan protection agencies which reminded me of a true to life (almost) incident which happened to my wife and I several months back.
While driving home from work one day, my wife was sideswiped by a motorist who was in a hurry to return home after work. After taking her car to the garage for an estimate, she notified the insurance company (Nationwide) that it would cost some $112 to repair the minor damages. It was then that we realized to our horror that the other driver was insured by Allstate insurance—a rival firm. Demanding that our rights be protected, we pleaded for action. Nationwide dispatched a squadron of crack troops to the home of the guilty driver. He, true to form, certainly did not permit rival agents to enter his home as he distrusted Nationwide. He was able to hold the Nationwide units at bay for the several hours that it took for Allstate troops to arrive. Now the two rival firms faced each other across a battleline. In the conflict which followed, seven were killed and twelve wounded—but Nationwide carried the day. Out of the charred ruins of his home the $112 was recovered and we were repayed.
Actually the matter was settled in an interagency negotiation; I received the $112, fixed the dent myself, and split the profit with my wife. I hope the point is made.…
I have read Robert LeFevre's article "Justice on Trial". May I ask if Mr. LeFevre is completely unhinged?
Does he think that societies, from the time of Hammurabi to the present, punish wrongdoers for retaliation? The whole idea, as anybody knows, is to frighten people so they do not do wrongs.
Let me quote Henrik Ibsen (PEER GYNT): "When the premises are most wrong, the conclusions are most original."
Jan V. Garwick
Manhattan Beach, Calif.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Letters".