Quickies

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If Lying to the Media Works I Say Tell A Lie Dept: "Legislation to promote the continued development of nuclear power plants in Sweden was announced today by the coalition government of Prime Minister Thorbjorn Palldin, who had vowed before the election of September 19 to kill the nuclear program." (The New York Times, December 4, 1976)

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The Population Bomb may turn out to be a dud, according to a new study from the Worldwatch Institute. The world's population was growing by 1.9 percent per year in 1970, but the rate fell to 1.64 percent in 1975, and will probably fall below one percent by 1985. That celebrated prediction of 12 billion people by 2050 will evidently not come to pass—and some sources believe that the world population will never even reach 8 billion. But food production is still increasing at 2.5 percent or better, and the world's reserve stockpiles of grain may top 150 million tons this year, according to the Agriculture Department. Rumor has it that the Club of Rome has adjusted its exponential curves to predict disaster by 2050—when humanity will surely perish under mountains of uneaten foodstuffs.

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Krugerrandroids, relax. An advertisement for The Dines Letter assures us that "Despite vicious anti-gold propaganda by the Washington Economic Establishment, the price of gold has had a completely normal Major Correction after the huge advance from $35 up to $197." Major Correction, indeed! Do you suppose it was Mr. Dines who coined the term "rolling readjustment" for a depression?

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In this secular age, it is heartening to see the true piety of Israel's United Torah Front. This group forced a vote of no confidence in the Israeli parliament when Prime Minister Rabin "desecrated" the Sabbath by taking delivery of three American-supplied F-15 jets in a ceremony that continued past sunset on a Friday. Apparently Jewish law forbids accepting government handouts on the Sabbath—a 14 percent libertarian position, if true. Rabin's coalition won the vote (even though it broke under the strain) but the problem remains. Israel is looking for $1.5 billion in military aid from the United States this year, and if successful, we could expect that (on a pro rata basis) some $214 million would arrive on the Lord's Day. Clearly, all God-fearing Congressmen have no choice but to protect the Sabbath by barring the Jewish state from the public trough, at least for 14 percent of the requested aid.

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Apropos of Senator Humphrey's call for a Marshall Plan for the cities, Fortune points out that we already have one. The first Marshall Plan provided Western Europe with $12 billion over four years, or the equivalent of $7 billion a year today. But the Feds already grant about $20 billion a year to local governments, or three times as much as the Hump presumably wants. And says Fortune, "there's another difference between the original Marshall Plan and the present heavy spending on the cities. The original Marshall Plan worked."

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Some "Austrian" economists claim that the libertarianism of the "Chicago" school is "impure," and that the Chicago economists' talk of "free riders" and "public goods" reveals their essential statism. Or does it? For here is the notorious Chicagoite Dr. Alan Reynolds, writing in the National Review on "Competition in Welfare" (December 10). Reynolds does argue that a free market in poor relief might allow "free riders" to enjoy benefits (e.g.: freedom from the unpleasant sight of starving children) without paying for them—but he denies that this is a sufficient excuse for socialized welfare. "Voting to send someone else's money to a worthy cause," says Reynolds, "is surely as much a free ride as could possibly exist in purely private welfare." He proposes a tax credit (better than a tax deduction) for money contributed to welfare organizations—public or private—as a replacement for tax-supported welfare. Competition would then provide more efficient welfare services, and the system would allow an easy transition to completely private welfare; just phase out the tax credit (and taxation). Here, too, is the Dark Lord of the Chicagoites himself, the "statist" Milton Friedman, telling the readers of Newsweek (December 27) "How to Denationalize." Selling government-owned enterprises might be politically unpalatable, he says, and besides "the proceeds would simply provide government with still more funds to pour down the drain" (a strange breed of "statism," no?). So—give them away; turn Amtrak, TVA, the Post Office (the Pentagon?!) etc., into private corporations, and distribute the stock to the people. More subtly, several enterprises could be combined into conglomerates, or mutual funds, to make the distribution easier. Once this is achieved, and the subsidies withdrawn, lo! we arrive at the libertarian utopia—or at least within a few miles of it. So it would seem that Chicagoites can be as "pure" in their libertarianism as anybody, and perhaps more effective in turning then-theory into workable proposals. Take it from there, Dr. Rothbard.

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How much "fat" can be cut from the military budget? Well, out of the current 100 gigabuck budget, $20 billion goes to defend Asia (and the impoverished Japanese), $40 billion—and nine of the U.S. Army's 16 divisions—is earmarked for Europe, $18 billion is for strategic nuclear forces, and about $12 billion is left for the rest of the world—including the Panama Canal and these Benighted States themselves. As Gene McCarthy said "It's not the fat that worries me. It's the lean that's causing all the trouble."

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"Deregulation," Carter Style; Rep. Brock Adams (D., Wash.), Carter's choice for Secretary of Transportation, "supported legislation that would give airlines freedom to raise and lower fares while basically insuring that then-route systems remained protected," (AP, December 16, 1976)

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The Interior Minister of Thailand has announced that the Vietnamese are scheduled to invade his country on February 15. Please remind Hanoi not to miss its appointment, as the Minister is very busy and can't afford to waste the time. Thank you.

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