• TAXPAYER POWER: A Connecticut city recently came close to bankruptcy after a magnificent display of "taxpayer power." Residents of Willimantic, CT twice voted down the city's proposed budget in December, in a protest against tax increases, and refused to authorize the city to borrow money for operating expenses—causing the city to completely run out of cash. The city's mayor said the budget rejections were the work of a minority led by a taxpayers group, and asked the city's 160 employees to continue working without pay until an emergency loan could be approved to keep the municipality from shutting down. On January 15, Willimantic residents approved a significantly reduced budget, thus saving the city from bankruptcy.
In view of the difficult situation presently confronting the financially-troubled countries of Italy and England, as well as various governmental units in the United States, it is interesting to consider what might happen if any unit of government became unable to meet its payroll and pay other expenses as they became due. REASON has published, and will continue to publish, articles concerning voluntary financing of essential services, without the use of taxation. If taxpayers increasingly join together in opposition to the imposition of taxes for inefficient or unnecessary governmental services (how many can you think of in one minute?), perhaps we can begin to look forward to the day when being identified as a taxpayer will become as repugnant as being called a slave.
• NEW CENTER PROSPERS: Among several recent grants to the University of Miami's Center for Studies in Law and Economics (directed by Henry G. Manne, author of this issue's lead article) is a $100,000 grant from the Olin Foundation. The grant will support a new kind of fellowship program, in which trained economists will earn law degrees. Their first year of study will be similar to conventional law school curricula, but the second and third years will be geared to making use of the students' economic skills, working with the Law and Economics staff members. The initial grant covers the first year of what will be, at a minimum, a five-year program.
• NEW PUBLICATION: The first issue of The Libertarian Scholar has recently appeared. A bibliographical quarterly, the Scholar's express purpose is "to provide information about the scholarship produced both by libertarians and by others whose work is, or should be, of interest and value to libertarians." Edited by Paul Varnell and Robert H. Meier, the Scholar holds promise to become a valuable research tool for students and to be an excellent means for the general reader to keep abreast of current published material. Copies of the inaugural issue are available at $1.00 each from P.O. Box 394, DeKalb, IL 60015.
• NATIONAL TAXPAYERS UNION: In an attempt to spread the libertarian critique of governmental problems, the Washington-based National Taxpayers Union (NTU) wants to contact scholars whose forthcoming or recently completed research examines areas damaged by state intervention.
The NTU, headed by libertarian Jim Davidson and A. Ernest Fitzgerald, the Pentagon cost analyst who blew the whistle on the $2 billion C-5a cost overrun, will pay $25 to the author of each study selected. The reports can deal with subjects as varied as regulatory agencies, macro-economic distortions of the economy, or infringement of privacy.
"Ralph Nader has been using the research of young graduate students for years to pressure for different governmental policies," says Davidson. "There's no reason why the research of young libertarians can't be put to use opposing the growth of government." The studies will be released to the press and the public as they come in.
The NTU has recently published a rating of Senators and Congressmen, which scored members of the Second Session of the 93rd Congress on 20 key votes involving fiscal restraint. Five points were awarded by NTU for each vote that would have reduced federal spending. The only perfect rating was achieved by Congressman H.R. Gross (R-Iowa), who has now retired after a long and valiant career. Only five other members of Congress scored over 75 percent, and more than 180 members finished with a rating of 25 percent or less, thus earning the title of "Big Spenders."
For further information on obtaining a copy of NTU's Congressional rating or submitting research reports, write the National Taxpayers Union, 325 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, Washington, D.C. 20003, or call Jim Davidson at 202/546-2040.