The principle that man should neither sacrifice himself to others nor others to himself, provides the guide to rational libertarian conduct. It is a natural law principle founded on the nature of man and reality. The man who would sacrifice himself to others is willing to submit to being a slave. The man who sacrifices his fellows is a tyrant.
Those who willingly work for the State or who receive money from the same, are sacrificing their taxpaying neighbors. These latter are robbed to pay for the living of the parasitical class. The fact that the market doesn't voluntarily support them, means that they are nonproductive even if they do exert their energies in some manner not freely sought by those who foot the bill. Some are not only nonproductive but also antiproductive, if I may coin a term. These are the many bureaucrats, legislators and executives who make it continually harder for those who do produce in the marketplace. Examples are much too numerous to detail here.
Approximately one out of every five Americans "works" for the government as a willing employee. Scores more receive from the till in the form of some kind of welfare payment. Those of us working in the market and consuming in that market, pay dearly to maintain this leviathan monster. The head of this creature is a ruling class composed of persons such as the Rockefellers and the Kennedys. The tail is those such as are living on social security and other extracted stolen crumbs as well as those getting a small income as a lowly lackey employee of any agency of government.
Libertarians who believe they can advocate liberty but don't have to live it, are betraying the same. We may be coerced at the point of a gun but we do not have to volunteer or sanction a step in the direction of our enemies. Too many do this, making tyranny possible. When enough of us decide to live the doctrine of liberty without compromise, then we shall surely prevail and win liberty in our time.
Michael A. Nash
Libertarians now have an unusual opportunity to secure a state governorship and a major presidential candidate. Governor James Longley of Maine was elected as an independent on a platform of cutting the costs of government. He appears to be ripe for conversion to libertarianism.
I would suggest that the Libertarian Party invite Longley to join the party and seek its presidential nomination. Libertarians around the country can assist by writing to Longley in support of the move. Even if it does not succeed, the campaign will get some national publicity for libertarian principles.
I have to agree with many of Randy Erickson's comments ["Letters," May]. Not having read Beyond Freedom and Dignity, I won't comment on Skinner's views in detail, but the idea of freedom—free will—strikes me as a thoroughgoing error. In the first place, if human actions are determined (not in the sense that they are human actions and therefore expressions of human nature, but in the sense that they are occurrences in the physical world and necessitated by antecedent conditions) and we subscribe to free will, we will never gain knowledge of how human actions are determined—free will simply amounts to placing a sign "Here you shall not investigate" over certain aspects of human action.
In the second place, as I believe Skinner argues, "free will" serves as a blinder that prevents people from understanding the actual origins and motives of those choices (typically moral commitments) which they have made, and thus serves powerfully as an aid to authoritarianism—just as a Christian's insisting that God's Voice dictates his morality covers up the much more mundane origins of that morality.
In the third place, belief in free will is an outright invitation to psychological self-deception. All of this, as Erickson pointed out, can be found in Nietzsche. Further, accurate knowledge of the actual causes of events—while it is value-neutral and can be used as a tool of enslavement—is also the most powerful of all possible weapons in the effort of self-liberation. I certainly don't agree with Skinner's positivism, phenomenalism, and reduction of science to statistical correlation functions—in fact, I think they rest on the very assumption of consciousness-as-nonphysical-process which he claims to reject, and which Wittgenstein and Ryle showed to be invalid—but his intellectual intentions, at least, are the right ones, however badly he carries them out and however repugnant his social views may be. Personally, I would consider scientific knowledge of conditioning processes a valuable tool of liberation—a few gifted people have been using an intuitive talent for this for centuries, against which the less gifted manipulators may now finally be able to defend themselves.
Chula Vista, CA
Adrian Day, your British correspondent ["Foreign Correspondent," June], calls Enoch Powell "a man of proven consistency and real understanding of capitalism and the free society, a man who was the first to openly challenge the collectivism and corporatism within the Tory party." In a book recently published by Arlington House, Powell presents a rather different picture of himself. One of his chapters calls for immigration controls strict enough to "encourage" blacks to leave Britain (current laws already limit the immigration of non-Europeans to less than 15,000 a year). Powell bases his argument on a series of anecdotes, such as the story of a racist old lady who ran a boardinghouse in a predominantly black neighborhood somewhere in England. Because she refused to rent to blacks, she could not compete with neighbors who did, and finally applied for welfare. The welfare administrator rejected her application, advising her to accept black tenants instead. Now, a libertarian writer would have used the above story to argue that legislation against racism is superfluous: the forces of the market are enough. Powell, however, has great sympathy for the racist biddy. His solution is to bar blacks from England, since it was their presence which caused the racist's boarding-house to become noncompetitive.
Ownership implies the right to choose one's tenants, but it does not release one from having to live with the economic consequences of one's actions and choices. Ownership also implies the right to rent or sell one's property without regard for the customer's presence on an immigration official's list of government-approved people. When immigration laws forcibly exclude anyone from the market for one's property, property rights are violated. Restrictions on immigration derive from a belief that existing collective privileges of native racists are more important than individual rights, such as the free-trade rights of nonracists and would-be immigrants. Anyone who advocates racial restrictions on immigration is necessarily a collectivist—of the racist variety—and clearly without the vaguest grasp of the concept of individual rights. If Enoch Powell is a consistent advocate of the free society, then I'm the Queen of England.
Adam V. Reed
New York, NY
Mr. Day replies: I was unfortunately unable to trace the text which Her Majesty Adam Reed uses for his argument, but I suspect that he has misunderstood some of Mr. Powell's reasoning. Mr. Powell has called for severe controls on immigration from the New Commonwealth into Britain and he has also suggested repatriation grants as an alternative to aid to developing countries. His motives are quite clear from his numerous speeches on the subject; he wishes to avoid the racial conflict which has already begun in Britain from developing into the dimensions of the conflict in America.
Queen Adam misses the point of the anecdotes which Mr. Powell uses. They are not "the basis of his argument," but rather illustrations of the nature of the feeling among ordinary English people which are used in connection with his central theme. (There was, incidentally, a surplus of almost 90,000 people from the New Commonwealth (Africa, West Indies, India) entering the country over those leaving during 1974—the highest figure for 15 years. Coloured immigration into Britain is not on the decline.)
When the government has distorted the market, then sometimes distortions are necessary to restore the balance. When immigrants from the New Commonwealth can receive welfare payments from the moment they land on Britain's shores, when "free" medical care and housing is similarly available, then it is fair to say that the government has already grossly distorted the pattern of immigration.
So many factors are involved in the discussion of black immigration into Britain that it would be difficult to capsulize all the arguments. Too many factors prevent the immediate application of an "open door" policy without a similar free market approach being applied in other fields. Mr. Powell recognizes the value of the free market in this field. He has written that "the free world has too long denied itself the right to proclaim that the market economy which it opposes to communism is the most effective enemy of discrimination between individuals, classes and races."
For those interested in pursuing this matter further, or indeed savouring some of Mr. Powell's thoughts on other issues, I refer to them to collections of his speeches, especially "Freedom and Reality." —A.D.
I received my first issue of REASON magazine [May] and thoroughly enjoyed it. Thank you.
I would like to comment, however, on a letter in that issue by John Yiamouyiannis which left me rather upset and concerned. Concerned both for the libertarian image and the sufferers from tooth decay. As a dentist and an aspiring libertarian I can agree in principle with the opposition to compulsory fluoridation of the public water supply, for as Dr. Rothbard pointed out there are alternate methods available for persons who so desire. I strongly disagree, however, with the use of falsehoods to further the argument against fluoridation. There is a long and growing list of evidence that attests to the safety and efficacy of fluoridation, including the fact that many areas of our country have naturally occurring fluorides in the water.
In my daily practice I see the tremendous benefits derived from dietary supplements of fluoride, and from the application of fluorides to the teeth. For libertarians to use misinformation and "scare" techniques to turn people from the use of fluorides is not only a gross disservice to individuals who might otherwise benefit, but tends to negate the argument against compulsory fluoridation on the basis of principle. People are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of fluoridation, and if libertarians ignore this fact when they espouse their anti-compulsory fluoridation views they will discredit themselves and the libertarian movement. The use of false and misleading information will certainly be recognized and serve only to equate libertarians with other vocal, unprincipled crackpots.
The libertarian movement is important to all of us, but it is libertarian principles that are of fundamental importance. Our arguments therefore must be grounded on libertarian principles, and not on "fluoride is poisonous." If the libertarian movement is to survive and grow it must be synonymous with honesty and integrity. Our arguments and persuasions must be based upon truth.
So let's be opposed to compulsory fluoridation on the principles of individual liberty as we understand them, but let truth, honesty and integrity be our guides lest we throw out the (libertarian) baby with the (fluoridated) bathwater.
Donald E. Gerhardt
I found William Marina's article "Surviving in the Interstices" in the June issue very interesting and requiring some comment.
Marina says that "in the final analysis, there are only three bases upon which to construct values and thus a system of legitimacy: supernatural law, natural law, and statist, positive law. While pockets of believers in supernatural law exist, it is unlikely they will ever form a majority capable of challenging the existence of statist, positivist law. We are, therefore, left with natural law as a possible source for a new legitimacy."
This observation is interesting for two reasons: first, it leads Marina into gross error when he says that "Christianity came to dominate, before its own unfortunate cooptation by the State, because it developed a superior ethic based upon natural law…" Are the Ten Commandments natural law? Is the Sermon on the Mount natural law? Are the commandments contained in the New Testament Epistles natural law? Hardly. Christian law is supernatural to the core; suicide was not rejected by the Christians because it was "unnatural" as Marina says, but because God had said "Thou shalt do no murder," and "Do you [Christians] not know you [Christians] are the temple of God, and the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God (which you are) is holy." According to Christianity, it is natural for men to sin; nature is not normative; human nature is depraved and physical nature is cursed. It is revealing that Marina should choose an example of the success of "pockets of believers in supernatural law" to illustrate the unlikelihood of the success of supernatural law and the "necessity" for adherence to natural law. Had he been present during the collapse of Rome he would have been among those Romans who were trying to patch up the fatal defects of the empire by appeals to natural law.
Second, Marina rejects supernatural law not on logical grounds, but on pragmatic grounds. I can just hear the old Roman saying that "those crazy Christians will never succeed because the Roman people are too sophisticated to believe in this childish nonsense called Christianity. Therefore, we are left with natural law as the only possible source for a new legitimacy." Because he is concerned with his subjective judgment of what is likely to happen, Marina pays no attention to the logical impossibility of deriving the "ought" from the "is." Natural law is logical nonsense. Ayn Rand is one of the more recent writers who has tried to derive logically the "ought" from the "is," but I have demonstrated her failure in my book Answer To Ayn Rand. My criticisms of her argument apply to all efforts to deduce normative statements from existential propositions.
Unfortunately, the adherents of natural law are notoriously weak in logic, and they pursue their efforts to derive natural law from a nature red in tooth and claw oblivious to the futility of their undertaking.
Christianity succeeded because it was supernatural, not natural. Nothing less will succeed today.
John W. Robbins
According to REASON's IBM (or SCR or Honeywell) printout, I'm about to have my subscription lapse. I received a previous notice—to which I didn't respond—and I'd like to give you a little bit of the subjective background behind my reasoning: perhaps it'll give a slight boost to all the people involved with REASON.
Over the past year, I was impressed with some articles, bored by others, and kinda "so-so" to some. As a "dyed-in-the-wool" Randian, I responded with less-than-enthusiasm to some of the political writings of various contributors. To be frank, I was "bored-to-tears" by some of the internecine, adolescent, infighting.
When I received my first notice about renewal, I ignored it: I told my wife, "THEY haven't said anything that Rand hasn't already said!!!" O.K., firm decision, ignore the pleas.
Then I received the June 1975 issue of REASON. Mr. David P. Bergland, ("Low Profile Tax Resistance") just saved us about $2000 a year—for the foreseeable future—in Federal and state income taxes.
"The secret is to spend the money on something that you want to spend it on anyway, but to have the expenditure labeled 'tax deductible.'" (p. 35)
Eureka! All of a sudden, our ideas about organic gardening, homesteading, self-sufficiency and tax-avoidance fell into place. As we're in the $30,000-plus bracket, we need all the aid we can obtain: Bergland's article did it for us. Consequently, I'm enclosing a check for $27 for a three-year renewal to REASON: if the articles like Bergland's continue, it will be the most productive investment I've ever made.
Dr. John B. Fosse
I wish to call your attention to an obvious error in Alexander Paris' "An Investor's Timetable for the Coming Credit Collapse" in the June issue of REASON.
The last sentence on p. 16 states: "In spite of the huge amount of short-term debt that has been funded, cash & equivalents/current liabilities (the best measure of liquidity) has declined from a peak exceeding $1 to a weak 18¢ at present."
As you, of course, know, the ratio is usually expressed as 2 to 1, 2.5 to 1, 3 to 1, etc. and may be expressed as a percentage, but cannot possibly be expressed as $1 or 18¢, etc.
I don't see how this could be a typographical error, yet cannot understand such an error from a man of Mr. Paris' background.
Horace P. Sragow
New York, NY
In the June 1975 REASON Mr. John Exter says (p. 89), "I think it can be more important at times to watch the turnover of that money [note and demand deposits] rather than to watch the supply itself." To which I would add "all times."
In the two year period, February 1973 through February 1975, as a result of the monetization of $12.4 billion of Federal government and agency obligations, currency outstanding increased $12.4 billion. In the same period, demand deposits increased $6.7 billion.
To the respectively dated money supply figures let us apply the applicable monthly turnover figures: (in billions)
Unless the money supply is used it is sterile. The volume of transactions is therefore of the utmost significance because it is through it that both taxes and savings are generated.
During the two year period time deposits increased $63.2 billion and C/D's issued by the commercial banks $40.8 billion, a total of $104 billion, which provided all but $3 billion of the funds used to expand loans by $107 billion.
In view of the source of lendable funds, a sharp distinction should be made between the import of the 6½ percent increase in the money supply (due almost entirely to the conversion of the bank's reserves with the Fed) and that of the credit supply which increased 32.1 percent, a ratio of five to one.
Time deposits (and in this analysis, borrowings) in the commercial banking system are of course only one source of lendable funds resulting from savings in other institutions which are generated by the turnover of the money supply.
Mr. Exter is quite right in his contention that it is the continual expansion of credit, evidenced by a concomitant increase in debt, which is the vital factor in the disorder in our monetary system.
Ellerton A. Lodge
Lake Forest, IL
I have read Charles Curley's article entitled, "A New U.S. Gold Coinage" in your June 1975 issue, and I would like to suggest that the U.S. Treasury should just issue restrike double eagles, dated 1976 for the bicentennial, and sell them at the current market price of the original double eagles. This would be a way to use up some of the junk gold coin melt in Fort Knox and help to finance the federal budget deficit. Or perhaps the proceeds could be used to buy .995+ gold on the open market, to replace the "barbaric relic" for the Fort Knox depository. (In a similar way, the British government makes a bundle by minting the Elizabeth II sovereigns.)
Rev. Bernard Benischeck
Thanks to Mike Dunn for his letter in the June issue on Kaufmann's Without Guilt and Justice. Freedom is such a truly awesome concept that I think we have seen as yet only its dim outlines.
"That region is not safe for strangers, and having wit doubles the dangers."
—The Gay Science.
Nevertheless we move onward.
Robert W. Franson
San Diego, CA
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Letters".