I wish to point out to libertarians that the energy shortage is a superb vehicle for bringing to the public the case against government intervention in the economy. The energy shortage commands the interest of many people, since energy use pervades every detail of our lives. Over the next decade, energy problems will give us many opportunities, as individuals, to articulate the case for a free market. We would do well to prepare ourselves by becoming experts on energy—its sources, its forms, the uses for the different forms, the costs of extracting, processing and delivering it, the number and size of the suppliers, the profit margins, the history of the industry, and the history, present status and consequences of regulation.
I am quite convinced that government intervention will end only when a majority, or at least a substantial minority, of Americans have concluded that intervention is harmful. A long, slow process of persuasion is therefore in order. If we can engage in that process well equipped with information and insight, our results may be out of proportion to our small number.
Regarding Gabriel Kolko's letter to REASON publisher and editor Manuel Klausner concerning his [proposed] inclusion in REASON's Faculty Registry (p. 33, January 1974): As a historian I long have been amused at the infatuation some libertarians have for the writings of Gabriel Kolko. I did not have to read his works to know that "There has never been such a system [capitalism] in historical reality." (Quoted from his letter.) But for Kolko to join this remark with "my works are attacks on that system," which he admits never has existed in "historical reality," is to admit that his position, not "'free market' economics," is a "quaint irrelevancy." You may tilt at windmills, but it is foolish to tilt at wind. Libertarians might read PIERRE S. duPONT AND THE MAKING OF THE MODERN CORPORATION, Alfred D. Chandler, Jr. and Stephen Salsbury, Harper and Row, 1971. This is business and economic history at its best.
Dr. James Allen Scott
In your letters section, November issue, Mr. Alan Reynolds criticizes Mr. Ziegler's "Pay-What-You-Want Tax Plan" [August 1973] on the issue of "free-riders," those noxious individuals who would pay nothing for public services while still making use of them.
His reasoning apparently is that if everyone has the choice, to pay or not to pay, some would choose not to pay, while collecting the benefits of those who do pay. I would answer Mr. Reynolds, "So what?" If there are too many such free-riders, taxpayers could (in the immortal words of Mr. Ziegler) "choose to use their rebates to shop for free market alternatives."
I submit that to criticize Ziegler's voluntary tax plan on the issue of "free-riding"—while the current Pay-What-The-Government-Wants Tax Plan guarantees free riding—is not to be merely illogical: it is to border on the verge of the obscene.
Los Angeles, CA
Dr. Welch's article "'Containing Communism': The Art of Getting Along" [January] makes its own point well enough, but misses the main one—namely, that "getting along" is what diplomacy is for. The end result of a breakdown in diplomacy is usually war. The Soviet attitude has throughout made this eventuality all too likely, and such a war would be nuclear. Therefore the American government has been quite correct in principle (though seldom in practice) when it has tried to use resistance, pressures, and inducements to bring about an honest desire for negotiation and compromise in the Kremlin.
And that is as far as its aims should go, too. Have a couple of world wars and their aftermaths not taught us the lunacy of crusading on behalf of any ideology, even an ideology of freedom? Let us put our own house in order, and we will soon have a host of emulators.
Even a completely libertarian America would still need diplomats who could deal realistically on behalf of us all with foreign governments. Even a completely libertarian world would still need brokers, negotiators, and arbitrators—which is what diplomats have traditionally been supposed to be. Without them, we'd be worse off than we are.
A little question for your readers. If they had their wish, and the government were done away with, what would they do about the Mafia?
ASSOCIATING WITH CONSERVATIVES
A recent issue [January] carried letters decrying REASON's "association" with "conservatives" and other "non-libertarians." I, for one, think such condemnations are nothing more than exercises in pure idiocy.…Libertarians should be the first to recognize that, just because a person professes to be a "socialist" or whatever, it does not follow that all of his opinions are wrong.
I hope that REASON will continue to publish those articles which, in the opinion of the editors, further the cause of freedom and understanding, both as to our past mistakes and our future course, regardless of who happens to pen them. Yes, this includes Gabriel Kolko and Mark Rudd.
Robert B. Crim
PROJECT PRINCIPLES, NOT IMAGES
Bruce Ramsey, in his letter condemning bridge-building with conservatives (REASON, Jan. 1974), states, "Conservatives have a certain image in the public eye: a group of socially uptight and pious nationalists, church-going bigots, cantankerous Middle Americans, etc." Mr. Ramsey advocates that libertarians "project a clearly different image.…"
The issue of fellow travelers aside, I question Ramsey's apparent preoccupation with the public eye and the projecting of images. What of our position favoring abolition of all laws regulating drugs, prostitution, gambling and obscenity, our advocacy of total laissez faire, our approval of isolationism and our disbelief in theism? Does Mr. Ramsey indeed believe that this "image" presented to the "public eye" will immediately find approval among the majority of our fellow citizens, those who overwhelmingly favor wage and price controls, gas rationing and supported for many years our involvement in Indo-China.
I suggest we proudly present our principles and programs to all who search for a better way and leave the concern for the public eye and the projection of images to the Nixon Administrators and their Democratic counterparts. We have nothing to hide.
Nolte's calendar ["New Year's Revolution," January] is stupendous! I've already started using it—with some minor variations. The irrationality of Grzyczislaw's calendar is indeed preposterous, but hardly as arbitrary as the 24-hour day, which was maliciously introduced by Mrqtraeml Pythagoras (who also dabbled in triangles).
It seems only appropriate that in rejecting Grzycaislaw's calendar, we ought also to decimate Mrqtraeml's day! Therefore, I propose the 10-hour day! Each hour would have 100 minutes, and each minute 100 seconds. The merits of adopting this system are ponderous. Watches could be done away with, since everyone could count the hours on their fingers (or toes); "15-minute coffee breaks" would be twice as long and the "8-hour" workday would finally be obsolete (imagine working only 3 hours, 33 minutes and 33 seconds a day!).
No doubt this system will be adopted shortly by the congress as one way of dealing with the gas shortage. After all, who would even consider driving 168 miles-per-hour on a common freeway! It would also allow U.S. to claim every speed record in existence: men would walk at 7.2 MPH, the "4-minute" mile would be run at 36 mph, and common automobiles would be capable of 288 MPH!
Of course every system has its faults. A "one minute" commercial on radio or TV would be 15% longer and 11th-hour strategies would have to be abandoned. These are minor irritations in the grand scheme of the Westmiller Clock.…
The new dawn of the Nolte-Westmiller system will leave us free to reconsider other horrendously arbitrary and irrational systems. Who says there should be 360 degrees in a circle? . . .
Among various letters commenting on Ned Node's proposed new calendar, reader John W. deGroot III of Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA, also wrote REASON proposing a new time system to augment the Node Calendar.—Ed.
FREE ENTERPRISE T.V.
There is a T.V. station in Raleigh NC with a free enterprise oriented editorial policy.…Perhaps you can look into it and inform the readers of REASON about WRAL-TV, Channel 5, Raleigh, NC.