Libertarian Party Politics and Issues

An introduction


REASON this month has expanded its format to bring our readers an insight into the new Libertarian Party and various issues of topical political significance. The national news and opinion media has all but ignored the birth and development of the Libertarian Party. Therefore, although our publishing schedule is ordinarily set months in advance of the issue date, we made a special effort to bring out this Special Issue to provide our readers with a comprehensive view of political developments and issues of interest to libertarians.

We lead off this Special Issue with Dr. John Hosper's speech delivered on the founding of the California Libertarian Party in May 1972. In June, Dr. Hospers attended the Libertarian Party Convention in Denver, where he was selected as the Libertarian Party's candidate for President of the United States. Hospers is professor of philosophy and director of the School of Philosophy at the University of Southern California. He has authored many books, including LIBERTARIANISM: A POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY FOR TOMORROW, the most significant work on the libertarian philosophy, and published his "Impressions of Soviet Russia, 1971" in the January 1972 issue of REASON.

Following Dr. Hosper's remarks, we present articles analyzing issues from medical care to national service to nonvictim crimes. Dr. Robert M. Sade's article focuses on the fallacy of the widely accepted assumption—glossed over by most of those debating the question of various health insurance plans now before Congress—that people have a guaranteed right to medical care. Dr. Sade's article originally appeared in the respected NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE, and touched off a heated controversy in the JOURNAL's pages.

These days, it has become so out of fashion to attack the notion of medical care as a right, that even the American Medical Association asserts that "health care is the right of everyone." The JOURNAL's editor, Dr. Franz J. Ingelfinder, a nationally known medical researcher and educator, has stated that he disagrees completely with Dr. Sade's argument and has dismissed Sade's views as extremist, but published the article in the interest of free speech. Dr. Ingelfinder was astonished to find that Sade's article brought more requests for reprints than is known to have been received for any previous JOURNAL article in the JOURNAL's 160-year history. Also of surprise to Ingelfinder was the volume of favorable letters generated by Sade's article. By giving further exposure to Sade's well-articulated analysis, REASON hopes that the issue whether the public has a "right" to medical care can become a part of the national debate on governmental health care plans.

Rounding out this issue's presentation of libertarian positions on current political issues are Professor Gil Geis' low-keyed discussion of victimless crimes, and Fred Etcheverry's article on the concept of national service, an issue which is likely to become more widely discussed as military conscription becomes less relied on as a tool for the American government's self-appointed role of international policeman. Howard Sampson's discussion of abusive and erroneous treatments of the laissez faire concept is particularly germane at this time, when the Libertarian Party is expressly espousing laissez-faire capitalism in its statement of principles. Finally, before getting to REASON's back of the issue features, we think our readers will enjoy sharing Paul Lepanto's reaction to the opening of a libertarian bookstore in New York City, entitled "An Adventure in East Village."