The Association of Libertarian Feminists was well represented at the International Women's Year Convention in Houston, TX, Nov. 16-20. Tonie Nathan was appointed as a national delegate-at-large at the last minute, largely through the lobbying efforts of Libertarian Party National Director, Chris Hocker in Washington. Nicole Bergland and Linda Rader of California and Sue Bjornseth of Houston organized the libertarian effort at the convention.
The libertarians shared a display booth in the exhibition hall with Majority Report, a feminist magazine, and were able to hand out literature to those who stopped to talk. There were 2,000 delegates at the convention—and about 1,800 news reporters and other media representatives. A news conference and a talk show appearance were arranged by the Houston libertarians, who had just completed Allen Vogel's campaign for mayor and had made a number of media contacts.
According to Tonie Nathan, the organizers of the convention maintained a tight control on the agenda and the microphones. No new business was allowed to be introduced, and the only defeat suffered by the organizers was the proposal for a Cabinet-level Department of Women in the federal government. This proposal was viewed as a job-creation deal for Bella Abzug and voted down.
The Oregon Delegation proposed the decriminalization of prostitution, which is one of about 50 proposals which will be considered by the IWY Commission for presentation to Congress early next year as part of the "women's agenda." Tonie Nathan's proposal for the repeal of postal regulations forbidding the mailing of contraceptive information and repeal of the National Association of Broadcasters' code restricting the advertisement of contraceptive materials was also included in this list.
Among other contacts at the convention, Oklahoma State Senator Mary Helm discovered the libertarian feminists and enthusiastically joined them. Helen Blackburn, co-chair of the Iowa delegation, had just joined the Libertarian Party in Iowa, although she disagreed with the L.P.'s position on the United Nations. Others interested in ALF should write to Suite 1428, 41 Union Square West, New York, NY 10003 for more information.
The Institute on Money and Inflation, Suite B-1, 314 East Capitol Street, Washington, DC 20002, has recently been formed "to make sound money a respectable topic of discussion on Capitol Hill." As a tax-exempt policy study group, the I.M.I. plans to bridge the intellectual chasm between the significant body of economic literature on inflation, money, and unemployment and the hundreds of members of Congress who fail to understand any of it. In the October newsletter, I.M.I. quotes the Wall Street Journal in an interview with a Treasury official who commented that Carter doesn't understand why there is high inflation and high unemployment at the same time. Treasury Secretary Michael Blumenthal answered a question from Senator Jack Schmitt on inflation by saying, "we really don't understand it.…" Indeed, the depth of economic illiteracy among the nation's lawmakers is astounding. But, of course, government makes a profit several different ways from expanding federal credit and promoting deficit finance. The ignorance may stem from a deeply ingrained habit for dissembling.
The newsletter of the I.M.I. is available on request, along with reprints from the Congressional Record on the recent action by the House and Senate legalizing the use of gold clause contracts by American citizens.
Back in 1973, at the Libertarian Party convention in Cleveland, Howard Katz remarked that one of the biggest problems with inflation was the tendency of people to think in terms of "rising prices" instead of "shrinking money." The frame of reference most people use to think about value is the unit, one dollar, and in that perspective inflation looks like the work of evil businessmen. If the process were viewed as depreciation of the dollar instead of rising prices, shifting the focus to the actions of government instead of the actions of producers and sellers, 90 percent of the political battle would be won.
Katz's Committee to Establish the Gold Standard, 85 Fourth Ave., New York, NY 10003, and Jim Blanchard's National Committee for Monetary Reform, in New Orleans, are planning to sponsor a nationwide advertising campaign to highlight this difference in perceptions. Anyone interested in this campaign, which includes professionally prepared ad copy, cartoons, etc. should contact Jim Blanchard at 1524 Hillary Street, New Orleans, LA 70118. The Committees are presently raising money to insert the ads in major national media. Inflation continues to top the chart of issues which worry the general public the most, exceeding the unemployment issue by a substantial margin.
Howard Katz has long advocated a grass-roots, blue-collar approach to the gold standard struggle. Fifty years ago the labor movement well understood the way in which workers are screwed by government monetary policies. Ludwig von Mises once wrote that during the 19th century, millions of people knew nothing about the classical liberals except that they supported the gold standard—and that was enough to win elections. With the upsurge of inflation expected in 1978, and the specter of wage and price controls by 1980, now is the time to push the hard money issue as far as possible.
Former Chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisors, Herbert Stein, has written a book entitled On the Brink, published by Simon and Schuster, based on the scenario of hyper-inflation in 1983, with a return to gold money as the final solution. Now that Senator Jesse Helms' bill to legalize private contracts in gold, as well as foreign currencies, has passed it may be time to mount a major initiative against the popular conception of money as a necessary government monopoly.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Frontlines".