Frontlines correspondent Robert Poole, Jr. reports:
From June 15th through 18th some 200 people attended a unique monetary conference in Los Angeles. Called "The Economy in Crisis," the gathering brought together a number of ex-government administrators, economists, writers, and investment advisors to agonize over the causes of our current economic predicament, project what lies ahead, and offer advice on what can be done—both to change things and to protect oneself in the meantime. Monex International, Ltd. (formerly Pacific Coast Coin Exchange) sponsored the event, which was held at the plush Beverly Wilshire Hotel.
The first day and a half explored the role of government in causing the economic crisis, via inflation, costly regulations, the growth of the welfare state, etc. Featured speakers included Roy Ash, former director, and Fred Malek, former assistant director of the Office of Management and Budget; Rep. Philip Crane; economists Hans Sennholz, Norbert Einstein, Arthur Laffer, Wesley Hillendahl, William Niskanen, and Murray Weidenbaum; Mining Engineering editor Eugene Guccione; and former FPC commissioner Rush Moody. The next day's session on economists and the press featured Leonard Silk of the New York Times, Irving Kristol of The Public Interest, and M. Stanton Evans of the American Conservative Union. The final sessions focused on investment strategies and included such leading lights as Eliot Janeway, John McFalls, John van Eck, Donald Hoppe, James Sinclair, James McKeever, Nicholas Deak, and Otto Roethenmund.
One of the highlights of the conference was to have been a speech by Nobel prizewinning economist F.A. Hayek. Unfortunately, Hayek was unable to appear, but his paper on inflation and unemployment was read by Monex's director of research, Dr. Patrick Boarman. Hayek attacked the Keynesian formulas for inflation-induced prosperity, identifying Keynes' popularity with the fact that he supplied politicians with the kind of economics that allowed them to be re-elected. In Hayek's view, inflation eventually leads to unemployment by distorting investment and production; inflation is therefore self-defeating as a "cure" for unemployment, despite its apparent short-term job-creating effects.
Hans Sennholz considers today's inflation the second stage in a long-term process of wealth redistribution. The first phase was aimed at the rich, via income taxes, while the second is aimed squarely at the middle class, via inflation. Sennholz sees little prospect of changing things, and recommends keeping one's savings solely in nonmonetary form (precious metals and land). Economists Wes Hillendahl of the Bank of Hawaii and Bill Niskanen of Ford Motor Co. called for strict separation of government and the economy, with Niskanen urging consideration of a new constitution that would restrict government to its proper, limited role. Weidenbaum and Guccione blasted government regulation, citing extensive examples of its escalating cost to business and consumers, while former FPC commissioner Moody opined that only a modern-day equivalent of the Boston Tea Party could halt the onrushing expansion of government regulation. (Moody, incidentally, predicted that unless energy regulations are removed at once, energy rationing is a sure thing within the next two years.) Former OMB director Ash explained the recent expansion of the welfare state, and showed that if present spending trends continue, by the year 2000 some 57 percent of the GNP will go to government, and "the producers of this country will have become slaves."
These brief highlights only begin to give the general tenor of the conference, which was far more openly anti-State than most such events. Whether this heightened awareness of the problem will lead to any meaningful change, however, remains to be seen.
San Francisco was the scene of a victimless crimes conference held by C.O.Y.O.T.E. (Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics) on Saturday, June 21. COYOTE is an organization started by both prostitutes and others dedicated to the decriminalization of prostitution. The convention was held on the same day as the one-day prostitutes' strike held in San Francisco, which was in support of the massive prostitutes' strike in France.
A luncheon was held which included such speakers as Dr. Jennifer James, an anthropologist who talked about the victimless crime aspect of prostitution, and Dr. George Hilton, free-market economist from U.C.L.A., who talked about prostitution as a restricted market, and the problems of restricted markets in general. Later in the afternoon, workshops were held on such subjects as "Social and Political Issues of Prostitution" and "Prostitution as Emotional Therapy."
Margo St. James, founder of COYOTE, explained that the emphasis should not be on legalization, as in some areas of Nevada, but on decriminalization, which would eliminate all government control. "Legalization only leads to the government being the pimp, taking away the prostitutes' money through taxation and regulation."
June Genis, former Libertarian candidate for Palo Alto, CA School Board was the Libertarian Party representative at the conference. In conversation with some of the speakers and attendees, Ms. Genis found a number of them acquainted with the L.P. and many more receptive to the literature. She said that she felt that libertarians should put more emphasis on working with COYOTE and other groups organized to fight their own repression by government. "Prostitutes understand better than most people what a restricted market can do to their livelihood, and it is in their best interests to work for a free market," said Ms. Genis.
For more information about COYOTE write to COYOTE, Box 26354, San Francisco, CA 94126, or call (415) 441-8118; or write to the L.P. liaison, June Genis, P.O. Box 11561, Palo Alto, CA 94306.
OKLAHOMA LP MEETS
On June 14, over 60 people attended the 1975 State Convention of the Libertarian Party of Oklahoma in Oklahoma City. Since the business session of the convention had been postponed until July 19-20, all attention was on the featured speakers and workshops. Wichita Collegiate School's Henry Hildebrand's dry wit and bright presentation belied the dismal economic future he sees for the United States; Henry Hohenstein, author of The IRS Conspiracy, detailed some of the many abuses of the Infernal Revenue Service as well as handing out a few tips on how to keep (some of) your money from the Feds; and Susan Love Brown, vice-chairwoman of the LP of California, shared her views on the practicality of the Libertarian Party, with special regard to women and racial and cultural minorities.
Those who attended the banquet following the convention heard remarks by Porter Davis, Convention Director; John Vernon, former independent libertarian candidate for the Oklahoma City City Council; and D. Frank Robinson, founding chairman of the Oklahoma LP, with the keynote address delivered by Hank Hohenstein. The special guest of the evening was Kay Harroff of Ohio, whose presentation of one of her 1974 U.S. Senate campaign addresses and announcement of her candidacy for the Libertarian Party Presidential nomination brought the crowd to its feet in a standing ovation. Ms. Harroff's candidacy was later unanimously endorsed by the convention.
John Aynesworth and Al Fiegel arranged excellent media coverage, with several newspaper stories before and after the convention. In addition, the speakers and the convention received over 10 hours of radio and television time on various talk shows, interview programs, and news spots. Even more coverage was attracted the day before the convention by a press conference in which Porter Davis, as LPO spokesman, blasted Oklahoma Governor David Boren's 36 percent increase in state spending.
More information on the OLP can be obtained by writing to Thomas Laurent, 116 S. 19th St., Guthrie, OK 73044.
NONE OF THE ABOVE INITIATIVE STARTED IN CALIFORNIA
Petitions to put the option "None of the Above is Acceptable" on all election ballots in California has been started by the Libertarian Party of California. The initiative drive, if successful, would put a proposition on the June 1976 primary ballot which would propose the None of the Above option to California voters. In order to place the initiative on the ballot, 315,000 signatures must be obtained before the deadline, sometime in late December of this year.
David Bergland, the chief organizer of the initiative, explained that the initiative, unlike some legislative proposals, would have the effect of leaving the office vacant if None of the Above won a plurality of the votes. A vacancy would then be filled either by special election or appointment, as now provided under state law. Bergland explained that "while it would be unconstitutional to prohibit one of the losing candidates from running in the special election, there is a provision in the initiative which prohibits a losing candidate from being appointed." The None of the Above option would only apply to general elections, and would not apply to primary elections or presidential elector elections.
The idea of placing None of the Above on the ballot has received tremendous acclaim from all around California. If you wish to sign or circulate the petition, contribute money, or help out any other way, write to the Committee for None of the Above, c/o Libertarian Party, P.O. Box 2347, Huntington Beach, CA 92647; P.O. Box 2617, San Francisco, CA 94126; P.O. Box 71383, Los Angeles, CA 90071; or call (213) 345-FREE.
FEMINISTS TO MEET
The Association of Libertarian Feminists (ALF) will hold their first national conference the week of the national Libertarian Party Convention, August 25 through 31, in New York City. Those interested in participating or wishing more information should contact Tonie Nathan, P.O. Box 10152, Eugene, OR 97401. Temporary officers are: Tonie Nathan, president; Sharon Presley, vice-president; Kay Harroff, secretary; Patricia Artz, treasurer. A national newsletter is projected for distribution beginning August, 1975 and contributions on anything having to do with feminism are welcome.
Meanwhile, a coalition of feminists who petitioned for a "women's rights" council to be funded by the City of Eugene, Oregon, received unexpected opposition when ALP President pro-tem Tonie Nathan denounced them as "just another special interest group seeking political favoritism." Ms. Nathan said ALF would like to see more justice in the treatment of women by both public and private agencies, but not at the expense of the taxpayer. The statement received statewide media attention.
TEXAS LP CONVENTION
The Libertarian Party of Texas held its annual convention June 27-29 in Austin, with approximately 50 people attending the convention workshops, general sessions, and banquet. Many new platform planks were added and the constitution and bylaws were rewritten. The high point of the convention came when Kay Harroff, candidate for the LP nomination for President, and Jim Trotter, candidate for the LP nomination for Vice-President, spoke on Saturday evening (for more information on Harroff and Trotter, see "Frontlines," August 1975): Trotter, a former New-Leftist turned libertarian, talked about the need for libertarians to appeal to the leftist element of society. Harroff, former libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate from Ohio, talked about the need for libertarians to start relating to nonlibertarians in general, and she gave an example of one of her campaign speeches aimed at nonlibertarians, which received a standing ovation. Both Harroff and Trotter obtained the endorsement of virtually the entire Texas delegation to the national convention (the second largest delegation in the country).
On Sunday, election of new officers took place. New TLP officers include Lonnie Brantley, chairperson; Bill Howell, vice-chairperson; and Harry Robinson, secretary. More information on the TLP can be obtained by writing to 1023 E. Shaw, Pasadena, TX 77506, or calling (713) 477-8325.
Continuing our listing of small libertarian periodicals which Frontlines readers might find of interest [see "Frontlines," July 1975 for earlier list]:
LIMIT!, national newsletter of the Libertarian Republican Alliance; Joseph Gentili, editor; monthly at $2.50 a year; Limit, 1811 E. 34th St., Brooklyn, NY 11234.
Southern Libertarian Review, Eric Scott Royce, editor; monthly newsletter of commentary on national politics and the libertarian movement; $6.00 a year; E.S. Royce, 3830 S. 6th St., Arlington, VA 22204.
Colorado Libertarian, monthly newsletter of the Colorado LP; $3.00 a year; John James, editor; 411 Cook St., Denver, CO 80206.
Arizona Liberty; investment advisor Rene Baxter, editor; monthly newsletter of the Arizona LP; $3.00 a year; P.O. Box 501, Phoenix, AZ 85001.
NEWS AND NOTES
A list of Some Hard-to-Locate Sources of Information has been compiled by Jim Corbett. The list, in its fifth edition, includes periodicals, organizations, and book traders, mostly of the conservative or libertarian persuasions. Copies may be obtained from Jim Corbett, 762 Ave. "N", S.E., Winter Haven, FL 33880, for $1 apiece…The California Libertarian Alliance has recently opened in the Los Angeles area the "Dawn of Liberty" bookstore and reading room, with books and periodicals from extreme left, extreme right, and libertarian viewpoints. It is located at 1333 W. Washington Bl., Free Venice, CA (Mailing address P.O. Box 1202, Free Venice, CA 90291)…Missouri Young Americans for Freedom, is a conservative group that welcomes libertarians as well as traditionalists. They are working on a number of projects of interest to Missouri Libertarians, including: a Zero Government Growth campaign, working against bond issues and tax increases, sponsoring a "Discover Capitalism" week on the campuses this fall, and working for the end to mandatory fee financing of PIRGs. For more information write Missouri YAF, 8015 Forsyth, Room 107-B, Clayton, MO 63105, or phone (314) 862-7296.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Frontlines".