â€¢ COMMENT OF THE MONTH: In our April 1974 issue, we announced the inauguration of REASON's "Letter of the Month," a feature designed to encourage our readers to write letters to the editors of newspapers, magazines and journals. Each month, in the past two years, we have selected the most notable published letter for republication. We have been impressed by the quantity and quality of the letters submitted to us. Now we are pleased to announce an expansion of our "Letter of the Month" feature: we would like to invite our readers to also send us all replies to TV and radio editorials which have been broadcast within the preceding month.
Editorial replies have regularly been broadcast on radio and TV in Los Angeles on behalf of the Libertarian Party, the Libertarian Alternative and the Libertarian Law Council, which has led many people in the Los Angeles area to become familiar with libertarian ideas. We would like to encourage this type of activity, which is one of the most cost-effective means of bringing new ideas to the public. We have, accordingly, renamed our feature "Comment of the Month," and will be pleased to honor our subscriber whose commentâ€"either a published letter or a broadcasted editorial replyâ€"is selected each month as the most notable by REASON's editors. Each month's winning comment will be republished in REASON and the author will receive a free six-month extension of his or her REASON subscription.
â€¢ ERRATUM: We wish to apologize to book reviewer James Chesher, whose name was inadvertently misspelled in last month's issue. Mr. Chesher reviewed Robert Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.
â€¢ PAYING FOR CONSERVATION: The California Senate recently passed landmark legislation which would require the state to pay damages whenever it sets aside coastline or other property for environmental protection. Reimbursing landowners if they are prevented from developing their property makes sense, although we think the payment should come from those who impose the restrictions on development, and not from those who oppose such restrictions on property rights. Such an approach would effectively deal with the objection raised by environmentalists that the substantial costs of reimbursements "would bankrupt the state," and might make some people hesitate before they tell someone else how their property is to be used. Noting that not a single environmental group had supported the bill (which faces an uphill fight in the Assembly), Sen. Peter Behr, a leading environmentalist spokesman, said "This would literally torpedo progress as we have come to know it."
â€¢ CIRCULATION FIGURES: We've always read with interest the compilation published by National Review of the paidcirculation figures for various periodicals, taken from the statement required by the U.S. Postal Service to be filed every fall by each publication. Rounded off in thousands, here are some comparisons from last fall's figures: Atlantic, 331,000; Barron's, 227,000; Commentary, 55,000; Harper's, 334,000; Human Events, 66,000; Inflation Survival Letter, 45,000; National Review, 94,000; The New Guard, 7,000; The New Republic, 85,000; The New York Review of Books, 91,000; REASON (coming on strong), 14,000; Ripon Forum, 2,000; Washington Monthly, 28,000. Although magazines such as National Review and New Republic have been declining in circulation, REASON has continued to increase each year, and we expect to be well over 15,000 by this fall.
â€¢ DEFINING RELIGION: Because the Internal Revenue Service has no definition of "religion," disputes occasionally arise as to whether a religious group is entitled to federal tax exemption. The IRS has stated that it is working on the problem of definitions. Meanwhile, the Rev. Dean Kelley, the National Council of Church's executive concerned with issues of religious and civil liberty, has proposed a "test of time" approach, under which a new movement claiming to be a church would qualify for tax exemption purposes only if the "church" or "religion" has survived for a period between 20 and 50 years, or more. It's probably just a coincidence that the NCC is composed of groups over 20 years' old, but in any event, we don't see any merit in Kelley's suggestion. We certainly don't object to giving tax exempt status to churches, whether they're 20 years' old or 20 days' old. But what we'd really like to see is true tax reform, which would give all private individuals tax exempt statusâ€"so that all citizens could voluntarily decide for themselves how they'd like to spend their own moneyâ€"rather than letting politicians get in on the act. Now, wouldn't that be a miracle!