â€¢ FOCUS ON LIBERTARIANS: We noted in this column in October the increasing amount of media coverage devoted to libertarians and libertarian ideas. Although the movement has a long way to go before libertarian ideas become generally known and accepted, much progress has been made. The Libertarian Party has been particularly effective in spreading the freedom message, and their recent political campaignsâ€"even if they didn't score as many votes as we'd like (see "Frontlines" in this issue)â€"have resulted in two significant articles about libertarianism. The November 11 issue of Newsweek contains a full-page article, "Every Man for Himself," which describes the libertarian movement in a generally favorable and upbeat commentary.
Featuring an eye-catching photo of a blonde in a body stocking riding Godiva- like along New York's Central Park on a white horse named "Taxpayer," a campaign stunt effectively put on by Jerry Tuccille's campaign for Governor of New York, Newsweek's article appeared just after the November 5 elections (too late to help the LP's candidates), but has already brought in a number of new readers to REASON. We are delighted to welcome our new readers to the world of REASON!
The second article resulting from the LP campaign was Nicholas von Hoffman's nationally syndicated column which appeared in the October 25 issue of the Washington Post. An astute political commentator, von Hoffman says such nice things about libertarianism that you might think you were reading his column in REASON instead of your local paper. Indeed, it was so good that even Newsweek quoted von Hoffman's concluding observation, "'For the overtaxed, overregulated, overburdened and underpowered millions of the American middle class,'â€¦the Libertarians are 'the only people worth voting for.'"
Copies of the Newsweek and von Hoffman articles may be obtained from the Libertarian Party, 550 Kearny Street, San Francisco, CA 94108.
â€¢ NEW COLUMN: REASON contributing editor Mark Frazier has just launched a syndicated column. Called "Town Counsel," it is a weekly feature that shows how cities are saving taxpayers money and improving municipal productivity through such methods as privatization and performance contracting.
"I'm interested in proven successesâ€"such as Scottsdale Arizona's fire department, or the clause in a California city's police contract which gives bonuses to policemen when the crime rate falls," says Frazier, who graduated magna cum laude from Harvard last June and has already an impressive listing of journalism credits. "The emphasis is on breakthroughs which can be easily applied in communities across the country."
Although the column's libertarian thrust is not explicit, the basic concern is to hold down the rising cost of government at the local level. The column costs less than $3 a week, and is limited to newspapers with paid circulations of less than 50,000. For information and sample copies, write: Town Counsel, 6200 Westchester Park Drive, #1614, College Park, Maryland 20740.
â€¢ BOOK REVIEWER NAMED: REASON contributor Jeff Riggenbach was recently named Book Reviewer for KFWB All News Radio, a major Los Angeles station. Riggenbach reviews both fiction and nonfiction books from all leading publishers, and frequently selects books of special interest to libertarians. An anchorman for two years on KFWB, Riggenbach is a regular contributor of book reviews and essays to REASON, and was co-editor (with Wendy McElroy) of an excellent literary magazine, The Castalian.
â€¢ DANISH TAX RESISTER ON TRIAL: Mogens Glistrup, leader of Denmark's libertarian-oriented Progress Party, went on trial in Copenhagen on October 7, charged with about 3,000 counts of tax evasion and fraud. Glistrup's two-year-old party is now Denmark's second biggest party and is continuing to increase its support. A successful tax lawyer, Glistrup has said that the trialâ€"which is expected to continue for yearsâ€"is a political conspiracy against him and his party for its campaign to abolish the income tax.
â€¢ OBSCENE GESTURE ALLOWED: The Maine Supreme Court ruled in September that "obscene" gestures sometimes fall under protected freedom of expression. In upholding the trial court's dismissal of charges of disturbing the peace against a Maine resident for his allegedly obscene gesture "to the annoyance" of a state trooper, the court stated that "Even crudity of expression may be constitutionally protected." Police officers spend so much time harassing citizens these days (if they're not stopping people from gambling or smoking marijuana, they're out enforcing the "energy-conserving" 55 m.p.h. speed limit), that it's nice to see the Maine Supreme Court's willingness to protect the long-suffering citizen. We wonder what the court would have done if an IRS agent had been involved instead of a policeman. If anyone's interested in getting involved in a test case, we advise you to have your case come up in mid-April.
â€¢ SAFETY AGENCY WITHDRAWS PIN: The U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission disclosed on November 15, that it was recalling 80,000 of its own lapel buttons promoting toy safety. The yellow buttons picture a toy brown bear and black lettering proclaiming, "Think Toy Safety." The Commission indicated that the buttons had sharp edges, paint with too much lead content, and clips that could be broken off and swallowed by children. Now, if the Commission could only do something to recall those "WIN" buttonsâ€¦