On January 19th I spoke with Congressman Steve Symms [Ed.—See this month's REASON PROFILE] about the chances for gold legalization. Steve seemed optimistic and indicated that Senator McClure believed gold would be legalized by the end of 1973. As you may realize, the first Bill introduced by Congressman Symms on January 3rd was one to legalize gold—H.R. 1232. Congressman Crane introduced his Gold Bill H.R. 435 (sponsored jointly by Congressmen Crane, Ashbrook, Rousselot, Goodling, Scherle, Archer, and Blackburn); Senator McClure introduced Gold Bill S. 359; and Senator Dominick introduced Gold Bill S. 395 (sponsored jointly by Senators Dominick, Curtis, Goldwater, Mansfield, and Stevens). The House Bills were referred to the Committee on Banking and Currency; the Senate Bills to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. It is essential that lobbying pressure via letters be placed on both these Committees, insisting that hearings be held on the above Bills. Letters should also be sent to President Nixon demanding rescission of Executive Order No. 6260 and all subsequent gold regulations.
On Inauguration Day, January 20th, the National Committee to Legalize Gold hired an Aero-Associates c. 1926 Steerman bi-plane to circle above the Washington D.C. skies and write a) LEGALIZE GOLD in smoke if the weather permitted, or b) fly a LEGALIZE GOLD banner from 11AM-1 PM with undesirable weather. As it turned out, the windy weather only permitted the use of a large banner flown behind the bi-plane.
Perhaps the banner was better since the smoke would have gone unnoticed after 3-5 minutes. As it was, NCLG received national publicity on CBS and NBC: during reviewing ceremonies at the White House, Walter Cronkite remarked to Roger Mudd concerning the strange bi-plane flying dangerously close to the forbidden area—P-56. Walter said the bi-plane was flying a banner reading LEGALIZE GOLD and Roger added that the plane was hired by a group calling itself the National Committee to Legalize Gold. When Walter asked why gold wasn't legal, Roger replied by briefly describing the intentions of NCLG—to permit private ownership of gold by American citizens.
The Capitol Bldg. area itself was patrolled as an armed fortress: apr. 1500 national guardsmen spaced every four feet surrounding the Capitol, with an additional 800-900 special Washington D.C. police forming an outer circle and 5-7 helicopters circling continuously above; all underground tunnels had several ranks of guards at every entrance—not to mention scores of secret servicemen placed on the roofs of adjoining buildings. I could not distribute Press Releases of the bi-plane activity before 11 A.M. for fear that the FAA would get wind of our plans and attempt to ground the bi-plane. As it was, I was later told by a member of Aero-Associates that the Steerman bi-plane constantly worried the helicopters and control tower: the helicopters constantly radioed the tower, shouting that the bi-plane had violated the P-56—the one-mile area surrounding the Capitol where unauthorized planes were not permitted. Although the bi-plane never violated P-56 as verified by control tower radar, the pilot was experienced enough to fly within several yards of the boundary. Crossing the boundary would have meant immediate revocation of the pilot's flying license.
The following Sunday, January 21st, the local CBS affiliate in New Orleans contacted NCLG Director Jim Blanchard and requested a news interview which was aired twice Sunday night. Since then, Jim and I have been working with the CBS affiliate station to produce a local special on the gold issue. Hopefully, this local program will be a prelude to additional national coverage of the issue.
Evan R. Soule', Jr.
National Committee to Legalize Gold
New Orleans, LA
ALLEVIATE FUTURE SHOCK
I applaud Ron Merrill's article, "The NEW Anti-Science Movement" (REASON, January 1973), but wish to raise a few points that are of particular relevance to his thesis.
Mr. Merrill refers to Ayn Rand's essay, "The Anti-Industrial Revolution", as containing the basic explanation of the motives—the "why"—which underly the anti-science movement. Essentially, this motive reduces to an insensate fear and (because of that fear) hatred of rationality and earthly happiness—which views technology as the main evidence of these "evil" aspects of humanity. Indeed, the more virulent strains of anti-technologism may be driven by such a hatred, but such an explanation overlooks a powerful psychological phenomenon that would motivate even the most benevolent person to decry technological progress: future shock. The detailed exposition of the sources and nature of this phenomenon are to be found in Alvin Toffler's excellent book, but the basic thesis runs as follows: a changing physical and social environment impels one to continuously adapt one's concepts and habits to accommodate new data or new values which one must use in the execution of new choices. One's mental efficacy is contingent upon possessing a rapid adaptation reflex. Occasion may arise where one's environment is evolving at a rate faster than one's ability to adjust. The psychological breakdown experienced at this juncture is called future shock—and, in our rapidly developing technological society, it is a force to contend with on the cultural level. I am suggesting, of course, that the anti-science movement may find deeper roots in this simply psychological crisis mechanism than in generalized hatred of man's happiness. Not only should libertarians advocate the property-rights analysis of pollution, the principle of caveat emptor (providing there is no fraud), and the de-politicization of science—they should also engage in active research into ways in which future shock may be alleviated, for it will be a continuing obstacle to the creation of any culturally dynamic society.
Furthermore, in the wake of the future shock effect, the advancement of technology may compel a fundamental transformation in the dominating image-of-man held in a society. Consider: when mankind comes to have abilities previously attributed to religious godheads (e.g., creation of life from inanimate matter, indefinite longevity via clonal substitution/transplantation, dirigible energy resources of thermonuclear origin, and mechano-electronic conveniences that verge on Arthur C. Clarke's definition of "magic"), there will be little reason to prohibit mankind from assuming the mantle of godhood. Whether this will result in hubris or an immense "breaking free" is dependent upon the ability of such a society to assimilate a self-image that corresponds to its developed abilities.
A necessary item to introduce, by way of placing anti-technologism in its proper perspective, is that our nation is already into the opening rounds of an energy crisis. Simply put, our entire economy is desperately hurting for exploitable energy reserves. This crisis is well understood and acknowledged by those engaged in the power, petrochemical, auto, and aerospace industries. (Jet fuel prices went up 30% over the past year!) The significance is that the battle for technology is no idle academic contest; it could mean the difference between reading by electric light or by sunlight only, ten years from now.
Other issues could be touched upon (such as the evidence that the AEC may have actually thwarted the economic exploitation of nuclear fission), but they are too involved. The main point, as Mr. Merrill states, is for libertarians to acquire an investment in understanding and advancing a technological society.
Michael J. Dunn
Aeronautics & Astronautics
University of Washington
TAXATION IS THEFT
According to the December 1972 REASON, John Hospers stated that even if he were elected President, he wouldn't discontinue taxation for programs such as Social Security, where people paid taxes "in good faith" expecting a return. John Hospers claims to be a libertarian. What is libertarian about the government stealing funds from one group of people to pay its obligations to another group of people? Perhaps John Hospers has forgotten already that the basic libertarian ethic is non-coercion. A compromise of such a gross magnitude that permits a "limited" amount of governmental coercion is not compatible with the stated aim of the "Libertarian" Party to educate the public about libertarianism. Taxation is theft (coercion). An advocate of taxation is not a libertarian.
Co-Publisher, Libertarian Connection
Los Angeles, CA
ABORTION: A DISSENT
The abortion issue continues to generate heat, and it is good that the pages of REASON provide a forum where readers may ventilate their opinions.
Mere opinion moves into the area of expert testimony whenever a writer speaks from within the field of his professional competence. Such is the case in the third paragraph of the letter from Dr. William R. Havender (REASON, January 1973). Writing as a geneticist he says that the pro-abortion position he defends "considers a fetus at all times to be human…just like any other human." This is a generous appraisal, for it is now as common to deny the fetus's humanity as it once was to deny women, children, Blacks, Indians, heathens, their full measure of humanness. The fetus is only a part of the woman's body, one hears it said, and of course a woman has a right to do as she pleases with her own body. As if the fetus were merely an unwanted growth! But the living thing in the womb is what it is; calling it nonhuman does not make it so. If you call stones plums, said Samuel Johnson, you can make a plum pudding out of stones, and if you call the fetus a tumor you beg the question as to abortion. To abort is to take a human life.
What is the nature of the crime for which the fetus is to be executed? This little human being is utterly dependent on the woman whose womb he inhabits, the mother-to-be. He did not choose to entrust his life to this particular woman; she chose to have intercourse knowing that pregnancy is one possible consequence of the sexual act. If fault is to be assigned in this situation—woman with fetus in womb—no blame can possibly possibly be attached to the fetus. He is not guilty of anything; he just wills to go on living.
There is the closest of bonds between the fetus and his mother-to-be. If these ties are to be severed it is she who must initiate the action, and the action in this instance means killing another human being. Under what circumstances is the act of killing justified? A person may kill in self-defense, we say; his right to do so is almost universally acknowledged. How does this axiom apply to abortion? Is the fetus guilty of "initiating force" against the person with whom his fate is linked? No. Has the fetus taken aggressive action? Clearly not. Is the woman who decides to abort acting in self-defense, in the sense that "it was either my life or his?" Medical advances make such an either/or situation exceedingly rare.
Let's say that a pregnant woman decides that she no longer cares to play host to the parasite in her womb, so she has an abortion. The analogy used to justify the act runs something like this: A, who has been supporting B as an act of charity, decides to stop. B protests, as if he had some sort of right to continued support from A. He has no such right; and A has every right to voluntary association and voluntary dissociation. But what if the dissociation requires the deliberate killing of a defenseless human being who is innocent of everything except the will to go on living? The right to live, on the side of the fetus, versus the desire, on the part of the pregnant woman, to cease supporting the fetus, on the ground that in mundane associations there is a right to dissociate.
All rights are not on the same plane; there is an order of priorities. When the right of the fetus to live conflicts with the right of the woman to dissociate, is there any question as to which right should take precedence?
Edmund A. Opitz
Foundation for Economic Education
DECLARATION OF DEPENDENCE
The top news story of 1983, according to a poll of Unterzee readers, was the report of the successful rescue of a news reporter who had been held in jail for a decade for refusing to reveal a news source.
To quote big Brother Media, 'It is not true that a notorious and contemptuous reporter has been removed from jail. Any false rumors that the Most Honorable Judge had been imprisoned in his place are not true, as are rumors that the steel bars became hardened so they could not be cut. The wall did not have to be removed brick by brick to get the Most Honorable Judge out. There was not a fast and fabulous ship off the coast, it was an illusion caused by freak atmospheric conditions. Any one spreading such untruths will be severely dealt with.' End quote.
Full details have not been released, but, a Libertarian paper reported a small star shaped gold pin with the words "I am" inlaid in silver had been found near the cell and the words "Big Brother, you asked for it" had been painted in large orange letters on the wall. In an interview the reporter said, "As usual, when attempting to defy reality or ignore the laws of identity and/or causality, the result was not quite what had been expected. Forgetting Nemesis, as well as the true source of rights, people felt government could give or protect rights and soon found that what government gives it can even more swiftly take away. Legislatures had rushed to pass laws guaranteeing freedom of the press, except----and the exceptions list grew longer each year. That had merely served to legitimize government intervention, a sort of foot in the door for licenses and prohibitions against publications under 100 pages, and so on. Lovers of the old Constitution had seen another section stamped 'void where prohibited by law'." end quote.
That constitution was entirely replaced by the 'Declaration of Dependence' seven years ago.
Happy 1984 everyone!
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Letters".