ZONING ASSAULT COMMENDED
It is gratifying to read the interview with Bernard Siegan in REASON, April 1973 ["The New Approach to Planning: Nonzoning"]. As a young practicing planner, I am overjoyed to see someone of Siegan's stature mounting an empirically-backed assault on zoning. I only wish that such an attack had come within the planning profession.
REASON is to be commended for its excellent treatment of the land use problem. For several years now, REASON has presented innovative, market-oriented approaches to land use planning, transportation, and public services. I hope to see more in the future.
ABOLISH SOCIAL SECURITY
I was surprised to read in the April 1973 REASON (p. 38) a letter to the effect that I said that if elected president I would not discontinue taxation for such programs as Social Security. As usual, I was misreported. The truth is, as I have said many times, that I would do just what any other libertarian would do: get rid of all such programs at once.
The problem I was concerned with (and which the author of the letter never mentioned) was, what should one do about people who have already paid for many years into the program? If they get repaid, must it be out of taxation? If they don't get repaid, what do you do, simply call them suckers and say "Better trust somebody else next time"? After all, these people have been forced by government to put part of their earnings into social security, and the government has meanwhile spent their money; these people are victims, and do not deserve to be victimized a second time. Accordingly, my solution is: sell the government roads, sell the government post offices, sell the government schools, and all other government paraphernalia that it should never have had in the first place, to pay off those who have been the victims of this government coercion.
If the reader had heard even one of my speeches during the 1972 campaign, she would have known that this was my answer. She could also have found it on pages 388-391 of my book LIBERTARIANISM. But that would be too much trouble, wouldn't it?
"Perhaps," writes the author of the letter, "Hospers has forgotten already that the basic libertarian ethic is non-coercion." Well, which is more likely—that the person who wrote the Statement of Principles of the Libertarian Party at its national convention in June 1972 has already completely forgotten the contents of what he wrote, or that somebody is misreporting something?
L.P. Candidate for President, 1972
Los Angeles, CA
INTERVENTION OR ISOLATION?
Dr. Rothbard's premise in his REASON interview (February 1973), entitled "The New Isolationism," is that government is inherently evil and ought to be powerless. He deduces that isolation, therefore, is the proper function of government and the best foreign policy is NO foreign policy.
I submit that totalitarianism is inherently evil and that it is the proper function of government to provide for a national defense establishment commensurate with the military threat to our national security.
Dr. Rothbard finds collective security rhetoric to be a mask for an "Imperial interventionistic policy on the part of the American government…" Yet, there is no evidence of America initiating force in international relations or exploiting others as a result of a 20th century conflict.
The principle of collective security as a foreign policy is more rational than isolationism, given the modus operandi of the totalitarian powers. The U.S. cannot concern itself with defending only itself and leaving the world at the mercy of totalitarian thugs.
If Washington were to have taken Dr. Rothbard's advice, say since 1940, we would not have intervened in Europe against Nazi Germany or Asia against imperialistic Japan. We would not have helped to prevent certain Communist domination in Iran, Turkey, Greece, West Berlin, Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, and Southeast Asia.
If Washington were to take Dr. Rothbard's advice today, we would unilaterally withdraw our military from all foreign bases. We would institute universal diplomatic recognition and "coexist" with dictators the world over (provided they chose to coexist with us).
Relevant to his ideas in the REASON interview, Dr. Rothbard's ideas expressed in his monograph MYTHS OF THE COLD WAR advocate taking the Communists at their word, accepting their "peace initiatives," ignoring their continual infiltration and aggression into foreign countries, and ultimately ignoring the distinction between initiating force and retaliation.
Dr. Rothbard is a brilliant and highly respected economist, but his arguments about international relations are specious. His hatred of government action of any kind and his disdain for collective security arrangements draws him into an alliance with those who would have the U.S. unilaterally disarm and ignore aggression in foreign countries by Atillas and Caesars.
Given a world devoid of totalitarian powers, America can return to the luxury of isolation. But as long as world domination remains the objective of a few powers, the U.S. must sustain the wherewithal to meet that threat to its security with forthrightness and arms, if necessary.
E. Raymond Pastor
DR. ROTHBARD replies: Mr. Pastor has bought the totally fallacious Wilsonian line that dictatorial governments are inherently more aggressive in foreign affairs than democratic ones. This is simply not true, in the 20th century or at any other time. His remarkable statement that "there is no evidence of America initiating force in international relations" is of course directly contradicted by his litany of American interventions in the last thirty years.
It is Mr. Pastor who blurs the vital line between initiation of force and retaliation by speaking of "continual infiltration and aggression". Where in the world is the "continual aggression"? In international affairs, the Communist countries have been remarkably pacific; none of the Communist countries of Eastern Europe has aggressed against any nation; neither has Cuba or China; and Soviet Russia's "aggression" into Eastern Europe was purely the result of its rolling back the tide of aggression that Hitler and his East European allies launched against Russia in June 1941. The only thing "continual" that we have is "infiltration," which is the Cold War mythology for the rise of domestic Communist and allied revolutionary movements within various countries. The mythology stems from the fact that Cold Warriors are always loath to concede the rise of Communist resistance movements within a country: hence the absurd search for outside puppet-masters.
I suggest that Mr. Pastor pause to consider his litany of alleged threats, and ponder this: would we have had to worry about the Russian "threat" if we had not intervened against Germany and Japan in 1941? There is scarcely an historian left who seriously worries about any Japanese "threat" in 1941, and as for the Nazis, I would commend to Mr. Pastor the excellent and concise new book by Bruce M. Russett, NO CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER, for the spuriousness of that excuse for our global crusade.
ABORTION: FURTHER COMMENT
Rights, including the right to life, are qualities properly belonging to human beings. It is not enough to simply assert that an unborn being is not a human being.
If and when it can be clearly demonstrated that a fetus possesses that faculty which is the source of rights, volitional consciousness, it will then be appropriate to consider the question of the rights of the fetus.
In the meantime, this organization, and those, such as myself, who are authorized to speak for it, will continue to support the inarguable right of the adult, volitionally conscious, human female to dispose of her life and the products of her life as she wishes, without interference from any agency, be it government, fetus, or well-meaning pseudo-libertarian paternalists who have forgotten the origin of human rights and would sacrifice the interests of a human being to those of an unthinking blob of protoplasm.
Fr. L. Neil Smith,
Rational Libertarian Church
Fort Collins, Colorado
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Letters".