Short Notes and Honorable Mentions In Medford, Oregon, last February, a libertarian business consultant, Robert O. Baures, organized a "Businessmen's Self-Defense Seminar." The program consisted of a full day of short sessions discussing and illustrating the antibusiness mentality, developing a self-esteem program for pro-business activism, and generally marshaling the audience to begin to resist. For information about future seminars, contact Baures, 33 N. Central, Medford, OR 97501.
The idea of organizing stockholders to vote at annual corporation meetings against trade with Communist countries was mentioned in this column a few months ago. The originator of that idea, Carl Olson, 4623 San Feliciano Drive, Woodland Hills, CA 91364, has added a second tactic to his program. The new initiative is called "Stockholders Against the Government Burden," and the idea is to require the annual report of the corporation to include a detailed accounting of taxes paid, including taxes on employees as a condition of employment and by customers as excise and sales levies, government loans, various price-fixing and subsidy arrangements, and the expense of regulatory red-tape and other paperwork costs. Olson is convinced that it is lack of information on the part of the bulk of the public as to the extent of the drag on the economy which prevents stockholders from rising up in anger. Two corporations, Cyprus Mines and Lockheed Aircraft, are scheduled to vote on these issues in their next annual meetings. All it takes to get a question like this included in the agenda is a small minority stockholder's interest and some maneuvering through the corporation's bylaws.
The National Right to Work Committee, which was established to propose legislation to fight previously legislated privileges, is adding a new tune to its program. The Right to Work Committee, 8316 Arlington Blvd., Fairfax, VA 22038, is one of the most successful conservative (yet quasi-libertarian) political action committees around—and is solidly antisocialist. Its central concept, "freedom of choice," is pure libertarianism but its strategy heretofore has not been. The new campaign is directed against the concept of an "exclusive bargaining agent" in labor relations—that is, if some employees don't want to join a union, they should have the right to bargain independently of the organization (rather than being forced to join it or pay its "agency" fees). The Right to Work Committee recently won a 9-0 Supreme Court decision regarding a Wisconsin schoolteacher who spoke out at a public meeting of the school board against the union's "agency shop" contract. The union sued, under its exclusive-representative guarantee, and the teacher appealed the case all the way to the Supreme Court as a freedom of speech issue, with Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation assistance. A Minnesota case and a Detroit case are also before the Supreme Court. The Right to Work Committee argues that, in these cases, it is just following the logic of the union leadership: those who don't want to pay for the union shouldn't receive its services.
The MENSA society, which excludes from its membership persons who cannot demonstrate intelligence test scores in the top 2 percent of the population, encourages the formation of Special Interest Groups, for discussion of topics and adoption of positions. The society as a whole takes no positions. Chairman of the S.I.G. for Libertarianism is Bob Steiner, 24 Prospect St., Westfield, NJ 07090, and the group's newsletter is available for $3.00 per year. The Mensans who seem to favor libertarianism are growing in numbers rapidly and regional conferences and gatherings are being held all over the United States. Since we know that there ain't no such thing as a dumb libertarian, we encourage REASON readers to contact Steiner and investigate MENSA.
The Committee to Establish the Gold Standard is organizing Congressional District committees to focus lobbying efforts on individual members of Congress. According to The Gold Bug, newsletter of the Committee available from Howard Katz, 85 Fourth Ave., New York, NY 10003, the Committee has been rapidly increasing its membership in the past few months. Katz has long advocated a left-wing appeal in favor of the gold standard, since inflation and paper money tend to hurt the poorest and weakest members of society the most. Considering the make-up of Congress, this tactic might just be optimal at this time. Senator Jesse Helms, hardly a left-winger, has reintroduced his bill to legalize gold-clause contracts between persons who don't want to use "dollars." This bill almost passed last year, with Secretary of the Treasury William Simon's active support. It died in committee, but except for some institutionalist opposition, the ideological opposition to the legalization of private contracting standards seems to be weak. It is not clear exactly what would happen to the dollar credit system if some sort of association of banks which are not members of the Federal Reserve System (and this is a majority of the smaller banks in the country) should line up an electronic funds transfer system and clear checks against deposits denominated in gold grams. There are no laws against doing this in silver today, and Sen. Helms' bill would clear the way for a gold transfer system. Government monetary systems may be a thing of the past sooner than anyone dares think.
An active organization with a strongly libertarian program is the Americans United for Separation of Church and State, 8120 Fenton St., Silver Spring, MD 20910. The focus of AUSCS is to prevent tax monies from being spent in subsidy of churches or church-related schools. A recent letter to prospective members signed by Andrew Leigh Gunn, Executive Director, was clearly libertarian in its advocacy—unlike some of the writings of Madalyn Murray O'Hair who has advocated taxing the churches.
Speaking of church and state, on the other side of the barricades, the Citizens for Decency Through Law, 450 Leader Bldg., Cleveland, OH 44114, recently held a dinner in celebration of their victory over Larry Flynt of Hustler magazine. One of their featured speakers was Dr. Ernest Van Den Haag, who was recently interviewed in the newsletter of the World Research, Inc., which produced the excellent and successful Incredible Bread Machine film. Interviewer Karl Keating captured the essential content of Van Den Haag's advocacy of capital punishment, but somehow missed the central element of authoritarianism in his position. For the serious student of psychology and sociology who might be inclined to mistake someone like Van Den Haag, who writes frequently for conservative journals, as a friend of human liberty, we would recommend a comparison of his writings with those of Thomas Szasz or Peter Breggin.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Frontlines".