I was disappointed REASON chose to interview Louis "Woody" Jenkins [December]. If REASON is intended to further the libertarian cause, why glorify the activities of a man who consistently supports anti-libertarian causes.
Perhaps interviewer Machan simply did not have time to properly prepare for the interview. That he was not prepared is evidenced by these few examples:
• Jenkins tells us third parties are ineffectual and that it's "very difficult for a [new] party to emerge." Why didn't Machan ask Woody what he was doing working for populist right-winger Richard Viguerie as floor manager in the latter's ill-fated attempt to take over the kooky American Independent Party at its national convention in 1976?
• Jenkins believes the Libertarian Party "draws off so many people who could be effective in the mainstream of political activity." Why didn't Machan ask Woody why he supported that "mainstream" populist-racist George Wallace for President in 1976?
• Jenkins tells us that reactionary Meldrim Thompson's Conservative Caucus has "a prominent libertarian element." Why didn't Machan ask Woody to name just one libertarian in the entire organization?
• Jenkins proudly points out how he has fought to eliminate the "fat" in his state budget. Why didn't Machan ask Woody why he is in favor of increasing the size of the bloated federal defense budget?
• Jenkins wants to create a government that will not "violate people's rights." Why didn't Machan ask Woody why he favors the CIA using covert activities to disrupt the internal affairs of federally selected foreign nations?
The libertarian movement will grow only if people continue to conscientiously, explicitly, and consistently identify with it. Simply because some power-lusting politician is willing to use the word libertarian is no cause to deify him. Jenkins' "libertarianism" is compromising at best. His sense of strategy would be suicidal to the movement.
Edward H. Crane III
San Francisco, CA
Rep. Jenkins replies: One of the main differences between Ed Crane and me is that I believe we can promote the cause of liberty by working within movements and institutions not already controlled by libertarians. For this, I offer no apology. On the contrary, I do not understand how we can grow and gain influence for the cause of liberty so long as we confine our activities to a single political party, a handful of publications and an occasional quixotic political campaign conducted to "educate" the public.
Another difference between us is that I do not huff and puff or engage in name-calling when my philosophical allies choose to pursue a different strategy from that I have adopted. That is why I applaud, rather than condemn, the efforts of Ed Crane and others to build the Libertarian Party. Although their strategy is not my own, I recognize that it serves a valuable purpose.
With regard to Ed Crane's specific charges, it is true that I supported Gov. George Wallace in the Democratic primary in Louisiana in 1976. Since I have chosen to work within the Democratic Party, I was given the choice of Jimmy Carter, Jerry Brown, and George Wallace in our state's primary. Gov. Wallace openly embraced many of the principles I espoused and asked for my support. He also asked that I serve as a member of the Democratic Platform Committee, which I did, and, interestingly enough, his only request was that, as a member of the committee, I express my views—not his. This gave me an excellent national forum to express libertarian views.
I did work with Richard Viguerie, publisher of Conservative Digest, in his efforts to influence the American Independent Party at its national convention in 1976. I chose to do this on a professional basis when Richard Viguerie hired my public relations firm for that purpose. He and I are close personal friends and agree on 90 percent of the issues. However, I must admit that our experience with the AIP convinced both Richard and me of the difficulties of working within a small, third party effort.
Ed Crane asked that I name just one libertarian in the Conservative Caucus. That is an absurd request since the group is stacked with libertarians, but I will name a few anyway. Some of the libertarians (and fellow travelers) include the following members of the Caucus' "shadow" cabinet: Congressman Ron Paul, secretary of labor; Sam H. Husbands, outgoing secretary of transportation; Dr. Henry Hazlitt, chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisors; Professor Hans Sennholz, secretary of the treasury; Congressman Steve Symms, secretary of agriculture; John McClaughry, secretary of housing and urban development; Dr. Tibor Machan, assistant secretary of state for human rights, and me. May I also say that Ed Crane was requested to submit the names of libertarians to serve in the "shadow" cabinet but he refused to do so.
As to the suggestion by Ed Crane that I favor an increase in the size of the federal defense budget, that is false. As to the suggestion that I favor the CIA using covert activities to disrupt "the internal affairs of federally-selected foreign countries," I don't really understand what he is referring to.
Ed Crane suggested that I am "power-lusting." How he can in good conscience make such a statement is for him to decide. However, 1 submit my public record, embracing more than 5,000 record votes on substantive issues before the Louisiana Legislature and the Louisiana Constitutional Convention. If Ed Crane or anyone else can find any one of those votes to indicate that I am "power-lusting," he will have accomplished something no one else has been able to do.
In summary, I believe that if we hold true to our principles—individual rights, non-initiation of force, limited government, free enterprise, and fiscal responsibility—we need have no regrets or make any apologies.
Ms. Zupan replies: I am surprised that in this enlightened age Mr. Crane chose to ignore that I, also, was one of the interviewers. But, not only did I share in the interview, I also had the most say in its final content, since I do the editing for REASON and my judgment is generally trusted.
As Crane must know (being involved himself in the production of various publications), space considerations often, even if lamentably, are crucial. As a matter of fact, several of the specific issues Crane raised in his letter were probed in the interview but had to be cut. Thus, for example, a several-page discussion of national defense—whether or not it's necessary, its proper proportions, its proper financing, etc.—was left out. So also, we had to cut a quite accurate characterization of the people making up the Citizen's Cabinet—Jenkins by no means maintains that it's a libertarian organization. And so on.
What is perhaps more at issue is that we concentrated on topics we (Dr. Machan and I, not REASON or the libertarian movement) were interested in rather than those Crane is interested in. Well, that's interviewing. In the upcoming interview of Robert Nozick in Libertarian Review, how many questions are not asked that would have been asked by other people—Rothbard, Hospers, Machan, Childs, Crane? And many would not consider Nozick a true-blue libertarian; after all, he wants a government. Should Libertarian Review therefore not interview him?
In justification of what was talked about and then included in the published Jenkins interview: Lots of people have lots of things to say on lots of issues, some of which we would judge to be of interest to REASON's readers. And Jenkins' comments on defense, e.g., were interesting. But we couldn't include everything and decided to focus on what is unique about him. He sits in a state legislature; he's been elected to office and is in a position to do certain things to further the prospects of liberty. Among the small enough minority even professing an interest in that end, he has had unique experiences and evidently can have influence on some things—Louisiana's licensing laws, for example, but not national defense. So we elected to spend the most time on issues more than less related to his present major endeavors.
I was very interested in your "Interview with Woody Jenkins" [December].
Certainly on many issues Representative Jenkins is worthy of support, but this does not mean he can be considered as a libertarian. For example, could a libertarian have endorsed Jimmy Carter for President? Jenkins did. Would a libertarian have introduced a resolution (during the Vietnam war) "To express the support of the Louisiana House and Senate for President Nixon's renewed bombing of North Vietnam"? Jenkins did.
On economic issues Jenkins is very solid, indeed he is a leader of the drive against increased taxation and control. When other issues come up, e.g., in the last session of the legislature, the reduction of the penalty for possession of marijuana, Jenkins is suddenly very quiet.
Does he worry about the Libertarian Party drawing off people from his campaigns? Hell, he's seduced a number away from us. In fact, to this day we don't have an effective organization in Baton Rouge, principally because as soon as a person gets interested in freedom, Jenkins gets them, and then they seem to drift out of politics.
Speaking generally, he is a strong conservative, with many important libertarian leanings. But across the state, he is seen by the media people, and by most people who know of him, as an arch-conservative. Since he will be running for the Senate in 1978, the big problem we libertarians will be facing, especially if he tries to pin the libertarian label on himself, is to convince the people of Louisiana that libertarianism and conservatism are very different things.
Dr. Jerry Millett
Libertarian Party of Louisiana
Rep. Jenkins replies: First, I have never "endorsed" Jimmy Carter as such and think his presidency is a disaster.
Second, with respect to the marijuana issue, not everyone agrees that I have been silent. For example, Gris Gris, the underground newspaper in Baton Rouge, said recently, "[Jenkins'] libertarian philosophy gives him tremendous flexibility on social issues—he doesn't flinch about his support for decriminalization of marijuana."
In the Louisiana Libertarian Party's only rating of the state legislature back in 1973, Dr. Millett chose 26 key votes and assigned each legislator a "rating." The rating assigned to me was 100 percent, the highest given. The second highest rating, 68 percent, was awarded Rep. Charles Lancaster. As Dr. Millett said in the state party newsletter at the time, the fact that only seven of the 105 state representatives scored even 50 percent on the survey demonstrated "the sad condition of Louisiana politics" at that time.
On the other hand, the condition of Louisiana politics has improved considerably since 1973, but I remember seeing Dr. Millett around the legislature, trying to change things, only once since then. That was when he came to Baton Rouge to protest a bill proposed by the governor to raise the petition requirements for presidential candidates from 1,000 signatures to 10,000 signatures. I took up the cause when no one else would and killed the governor's proposal. I also succeeded in passing a change in the state's election law to allow Libertarians and others to register to vote under their party name, something they were unable to do until then.
Dr. Millett's implication that I am soft on social issues is indicative of his failure to keep up with what's going on in the legislature. He should have been there when I succeeded in passing legislation to do such diverse things as 1) legalize the possession, sale, and use of laetrile in Louisiana, 2) legalize the possession, sale, and use of saccharin, 3) legalize the practice of chiropractic, 4) prohibit the involuntary sterilization of welfare recipients and others, 5) repeal the mandatory use of helmets by motorcycle riders, 6) repeal the compulsory immunization of public school children, 7) provide constitutional safeguards for the right to privacy, 8) provide constitutional safeguards against torture and "excessive" criminal penalties, 9) guarantee the restoration of all political rights to persons who have completed their criminal sentences, 10) provide a "bill of rights" for mental patients and restrict involuntary commitment, 11) provide due process safeguards for the so-called "criminally" insane, 12) protect the privacy of persons' medical records, 13) provide for the privacy of their bank records from government inspection and so on. And he should have been there when I helped kill legislation to do such things as 1) require persons to list their Social Security numbers on all traffic tickets, property transfers, and court suits, 2) strengthen the compulsory school attendance law, 3) prohibit the possession of so-called Saturday Night Specials, 4) prohibit the possession of hypodermic syringes without a doctor's prescription, 5) strengthen so-called anti-obscenity legislation, 6) enact new campaign finance "reform" legislation which attempted to set dollar limits on the amount of speech in a campaign and many, many others.
Dr. Millett should have been there because he would have enjoyed these events as much as I did.
I really appreciate the biting wit and satire of Alan Reynolds in his October Viewpoint, "The War on Energy." Am I imagining things, or is there a smirk on the face of Mr. Reynolds' picture? Keep up the good work.
Paul Thiel, A.P.M.
Seeking the Truth
Here is my unequivocal Bravo! and appreciation for Edith Efron's "Viewpoint" [November] on secular fundamentalists among libertarians. Those of us who have devoted so many years overcoming our ignorance in order that we may make some small effort toward the revitalization of liberty in our society have long since lost patience with the cultist mentality we encounter among libertarians—anarchists and objectivists alike.
I find that not only are these people so blinded by their reductionism that they can't recognize allies who are not schooled in the gospels of Rand and/or Rothbard, but that they sorely lack any comprehension of what their position is all about. Too often their belligerent disrespect for certain individuals of opposing ideas cloaks a disrespect for ideas, period.
To hear them tell it: they're right and everybody else is wrong—always and about everything. But the truth can be found in many places and recognizing this fact does not make one eclectic, but frees him to understand the challenge that the discovery of truth entails. To find the truth about things one must be intellectually adventurous, have some notion of the nature and characteristics of truth and be ever on guard against the Great Lie that truth stands isolated. Neither life nor human nature is that simple. All of truth about reality and man's appropriate place in it is not found in Atlas Shrugged, Man, Economy & State, or Human Action.
The movement can use more intellectual kicks in the backside by thinkers like Miss Efron. I welcome her appearance in REASON and say again: Bravo!
Virtue and Freedom
In discussing David Norton's Personal Destinies [November], Marty Zupan states that "it is a very important book for all those concerned with defending individual liberty as right and good for people." After noting the importance of building the case for ethical individualism "cannot be overemphasized," she then asks: "For if there is no virtue in individuals' pursuing their own lives, how can it be politically right to let them do so?"
That question shocks me because it sounds like this: "For if we can't convince the warden that there is virtue in freedom, how can it be right for him to release us?" The question also implies that individualism is wrong until proven right.
I, for one, take the opposite tack and rephrase Marty's question as follows: "For if there is virtue in individuals' pursuing their own lives, how can it be politically right not to let them do so?" Not much difference, but it makes all the difference.
Guy W. Riggs
Ms. Zupan replies: A question is, of course, a rhetorical device and not an argument.
But consider the following conditional argument:
1. If each person should pursue his or her own life, then it is politically right to abstain from interfering with people's lives.
2. Each person should pursue his or her own life.
3. Therefore, it is politically right to abstain…
My question relies on this argument, but it does not imply that if (2) is denied, (3) is not true. (That would be a logical fallacy.) Rather, it asks: How can we arrive at (3)—the conclusion that political liberty is right—if not by this argument? And if by this argument, then establishing that each person should pursue his or her own life is paramount. Framing the question as I do, I imply that, compared to alternative arguments concluding with political liberty, this one is the best we have going for us—providing that (2) is shown to be a true premise. And this is why David Norton's defense of ethical individualism is to be welcomed.
Just for the record, convincing the warden is immaterial to the point. "Wardens," ruling elites, and their ilk can ignore good arguments, refuse to act in accord with sound conclusions, in short remain unconvinced—which changes the truth not a whit. On the other hand, precisely because people are such that they can and ought to pay attention to good arguments, having a sound argument for liberty is vital to instantiating it in a way that does not undercut the very principle at issue.
Your editorial on "Legislating Unemployment" [December] should be duplicated and sent to the editor of every black newspaper in the nation. They can break the almost unanimous votes for Democratic politicians once they realize how badly they are being had.
You are much too nice. There should be another magazine parallel to yours that calls names. I realize you take the intellectual approach, but most of the voters are moved by emotion, and you are cold.
When the President votes to make a million jobs, knowing that the Treasury has to borrow as much money out of the reach of private business to do it, so there cannot be a job added to the system his way, he is a liar, a brutal, perjured, morally contemptible bandit. That kind of approach will reach headlines whereas your nice, though fundamentally horrified writing, does not.
Thomas S. Booz
Tax Credits and Liberty
I was surprised to see your article on Education Tax Credits [Trends, December]. I think of myself as a libertarian, and I am opposed to bill S.2142 which would provide up to $500 a year to parents sending a child to private school.
Your article said nothing about the fact that most of the private schools are owned by churches. The First Amendment prohibits the kind of help this bill would provide and has been so declared by the US Supreme Court several times in recent years. This bill would wreck religious liberty—which includes, among other things, freedom from religion.
The public schools are not what I would like them to be in all respects, but the answer is not to forsake them. They are one of the things that have put America foremost among the nations of the world.
One of the problems is government interference. I can help direct the public schools by electing school board members, and otherwise keeping myself informed of what is going on there. But when I run into a directive from Washington and start writing congressmen the chances of getting something changed are very slim. I can have absolutely no influence on a private school. But the government can, and many people are concerned that such legislation as bill S.2142 would result in government control of the private schools including those that are church related.
The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 is responsible for most of the controversy over aid to private and parochial schools. It will probably be declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in the near future.
The public should not be asked to support any activity of a church. Whatever would be gained by such a system, religious liberty would be lost. And this strikes at the heart of all our liberties.
Ms. Jean Arenz
Mr. Poole replies: Ms. Arenz appears to misunderstand what a tax credit is all about. It is not a grant of government funds to a school or to a taxpayer; rather, it is a grant of permission for the taxpayer to keep, for himself, a portion of what would otherwise be taken from him by force to support the activities of the federal government. As such, a tax credit cannot possibly be construed as government aid to religious schools. It is merely a reduction of government coercion of those who choose not to use government-provided schools. Ms. Arenz should also reexamine her own premises regarding private vs. public entities. "I can have absolutely no influence on a private school," she complains. But why should she, unless she is a customer? That's like my saying "I can have absolutely no influence on the New York Yankees"—which is true, since I am not a sports fan. And therefore what the Yankees do is none of my business.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Letters".