PHILOSOPHY OF THE COLUMNIST
It was very frustrating to realize, upon accepting this monthly column, that my deadline is a full month before you receive this issue, and that this issue is dated for next month (to facilitate newsstand sales). There is no hope, therefore, of being "timely" in a news way. We will not report news in this column. We will, periodically, give the address and price of the best libertarian newsletters—but we don't intend to compete with them.
We will use news items to discuss why various events, organizations, or people are important or significant. We want (and need) readers to send us their newsletters, meeting announcements, and press releases. Please send these to Box 1776, Chicago, IL 60690. These will be used to inform me. I will probably telephone you.
ON BEING SCREWED OFF THE BALLOT
The people who make their living by running successful electoral campaigns are taking notice of the various Libertarian Party efforts for ballot status. A place on the ballot, of course, is the principal difference between a discussion group and a political group with issues. David Long in Boston, whose campaign looked really promising in August, is a recent victim of "invalid signatures." The difference between a valid signature and an invalid signature is the difference between having friends on the state or local election commission and having enemies there. Many incumbents regularly submit nominating petitions which precinct captains compile by the "round table" method—that is, by sitting four or five loyalists around a table and quickly forging a few hundred signatures. Of course, nobody challenges these petitions (correction: a few of Chicago Mayor Daley's precinct captains were convicted last year for this deed, but they were so stupid as to have one person sign the entire petition in the same handwriting, and even to use a "Donald Duck" or two). For libertarians there is only one way to do it: get real people to sign their own names, make sure they are registered to vote before you have them sign, make sure they sign it the same way they are registered, and even then you can't trust the authorities—because if the signature is declared "invalid" you will have to get the signer to swear out an affidavit, and perhaps appear in court to back up the signature. The solution: get three to four or more signatures for every one you really need.
In Poughkeepsie, New York, the Cohen and Davis campaigns were screwed in a different way. Running in the Democratic primary, Ellen Davis was leading in the polls one week before the primary election so the party regulars took out expensive newspaper ads to tell the voters the difference between a Dedicated Democrat and a "Libertarian"? Democrat (their punctuation). The party organization turned out its hard-core vote and defeated Ellen Davis two-to-one. What happened? The traditional strength in a party primary is based on the ability of precinct workers to get their relatives and neighbors to come to the polls in the first place. Party primary elections have the smallest turnout of any elections, so the relative power of those who do vote is magnified. Sandy Cohen is brash and bright, and the Poughkeepsie libertarian organization knows how to get public attention. They aroused the sleeping bear, and it ate them. Carole Cohen achieved a tie vote in the Conservative Party primary, and upon a recount she lost. It seems that certain votes were disqualified because the voter both checked the box and underlined her name. Shame on the voter! Rumor has it that even the Congressman, Ham Fish—who started sounding amazingly conservative when Sandy Cohen challenged him in 1974—passed the word to screw the libertarians. The significance is that the Big Two are starting to notice, and they are defending their jobs. We are lucky they aren't using guns and bombs—yet. To help cover the campaign deficit, send money to Candidates for Liberty, Box 1776, Poughkeepsie, NY 12601.
LUNCH AT THE CAPITOL
There is a theory which says that Congressmen and Senators don't think, but they employ staff members who do. The source of the theory is the observation that the social skills which are needed to get elected (a big smile, influential supporters, money) are different from the skills which are needed to develop new ideas (academic training, esoteric reading, weird friends). To the extent that this theory is true, the Free Market Luncheon Group in Washington, DC, are very well situated to plant seeds of revolution. In October their scheduled speakers included Murray Rothbard. The Congressional staffs have expanded several hundred percent in the past ten years or so, and most of these new people are young activists. Most of them are leftists, of course; but this should be an opportunity for libertarians on Capitol Hill—if they can separate themselves from the Conservatives. What makes a young person a leftist is the appeal of utopian solutions to social problems, according to F.A. Hayek. The Free Market Luncheon Group is in a position to inject some libertarian idealism and analysis into the gene pool of ideas right at the point where new legislation is fertilized, gestates, and is born. For more information about current and future scheduling, contact Scootch Tankonin, c/o Congressman Steve Symms, 1410 Longworth Office Bldg., Washington, DC 20515.
OUT OF THE CLOSET, INTO THE PARTY
The radical libertarians who were offended in New York at the L.P. convention by seeming discrimination are organizing for increased visibility. The victimless crimes plank of the Libertarian Party platform was strengthened, and the gay caucus has announced the formation of Libertarians for Gay Rights, c/o John Vernon, 1206 N.W. 40th Street, Oklahoma City, OK 73118. As Robert Nozick pointed out in New York, it is important that the Libertarian Party set a principled example as well as argue for its principles; and as Roy Childs pointed out, a gay candidate might be an ideal choice, since an estimated 10 percent of the public is gay. So far, gay activist groups have been either non-ideological or have been led by Marxists. It should be obvious that the libertarian philosophy is more in tune with the social problems and political goals of any minority group, and this is even more likely to have an impact among the homosexual community. A disproportionate number of intellectuals and artistically sensitive people are gay. Anyone who thinks that Spiro Agnew was right in his criticism of the broadcast media should appreciate the importance of making positive and favorable inroads among the "verbalist elite," to use a populist demon-phrase. One theory as to why the libertarians are receiving favorable notice in the press, whereas the conservatives almost never have, is the open, tolerant attitude of libertarians towards the very things conservatives view as "the work of the devil." Devilishly clever, these libertarians are.
ECONOMICS AND POLICY
Following the award of a Nobel Prize to Prof. F.A. Hayek, and the recognition of the bankruptcy of Keynesian theory, an increasing amount of interest is being shown in the Austrian approach to macroeconomic analysis. At the University of Virginia, October 17-18, a conference was held featuring Laurence S. Moss, D.T. Armentano, Gerald P. O'Driscoll, Roger W. Garrison, Mario Rizzo, James Buchanan, Murray N. Rothbard, Israel Kirzner, and Ludwig Lachmann. We trust the papers from this conference will be available shortly—before the unemployment rate hits 20 percent and the inflation rate doubles again. In the Midwest, the Economic Education & Research Forum, 407 South Dearborn, Suite 660, Chicago, IL 60605 has been organized to supply the financial community with information and analysis from a non-Keynesian perspective. The E.E.R.F. is featuring a luncheon with Robert Bleiberg, Editor of Barron's on November 18 as their initial event in Chicago. In the field of land use and environmental control, the Association for Rational Environmental Alternatives, c/o Dick Bjornseth, 5915 Fondren #235, Houston, TX 77036 has been organized as the first professional organization in the field with a distinctive viewpoint opposed to the customary statist approach associated with the Federal E.P.A. and H.U.D. bureaucracies. These new associations are a welcome sign that libertarians can work to establish communication networks and quasi-political action coalitions among professionals to counterbalance existing groups which typically support increased government control as the only solution to social problems. This column will attempt to report on more professional organizations in the future, provided that we are kept informed by our readers.