Editor's Notes


– WHO ARE YOU? Several months ago we sent out a questionnaire to a random sample of our subscribers. Like all magazine editors, we like to keep in touch with all of you readers "out there." Knowing what you like and dislike, and having up-to-date demographic data on who you are, we can do a better job of keeping REASON responsive to your interests. The results are now in and have been run through the computer. Here are the highlights of what we learned.

Surprisingly, 93 percent of you are male (or at least the household member answering the survey was a male). Some 79 percent of you have completed college, and 41 percent have gone on to one or more advanced degrees. Occupationally, 75 percent of you are in the professional or business management category, with the largest single group being engineers (14 percent), followed by business owners (11 percent) and educators (8 percent). Some 44 percent of you use a computer at work, and an amazing 22 percent use one at home.

You tend to be well-off, with an average household income of $37,000. Sixty-five percent of you own your own homes, and 34 percent have invested in other real estate. But the most popular investments are stocks and bonds (57 percent) and gold and silver (52 percent). Some 86 percent of you purchase books regularly, averaging 9.8 hardbacks and 17.5 paperbacks a year. You tend to purchase political, how-to, and science fiction books, in that order. Within the past 12 months, 33 percent of you have purchased an electronic gadget by mail.

Politically, 67 percent of you call yourselves libertarian, compared with 21 percent conservative, the next-largest category.

How about your evaluation of REASON? To begin with, 64 percent of you spend two hours or more reading each issue, and the average is 1.8 hours'"unusually high for magazines. Generally, you're pretty pleased with the magazine, especially liking the Editorials, Trends, Brickbats, and the articles. (Every department, however, rated more than 40 percent in the "usually good" category.) Most popular among a selection of recent articles were "American Gestapo" (Apr. 1980), "Who's Bankrolling the UFW?" (Nov. 1979), "SALT-Free Defense," and "Radiation Fantasies" (Mar. 1980).

We were especially interested in what people want more or less of. Generally,you want more examples of free-enterprise solutions to problems, more investigative reporting, and more theoretical discussions of human rights, economics, etc. Wanted less in REASON are fiction and reviews of art, music, and theater. Our book and movie reviews were among the less-popular and less-read features, too. Nonetheless, there was strong support for continuing an annual book issue (as well as the annual financial issue).

We don't expect to make radical changes as a result of these findings. But they do give us important clues about where to put our emphasis in the months ahead. Our thanks to the several hundred people who took the time to respond.

– BOOSTING PRIVATE ENTERPRISE. Contributing editor Mark Frazier has made significant headway in advancing the concept of free-trade zones. Shortly after the Stanford Business School completed a study of his proposal for harnessing free-trade zones to international technology development, he was off to Egypt on a Coopers & Lybrand study of ways to improve the performance of that country's free-trade zones. Meanwhile, his Sabre Foundation research project on enterprise zones for cities received a major boost when New York law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore approved pro bono legal research into tax exemptions for inner cities, as part of the project. Frazier's article on privatizing city services appeared in the Spring 1980 Policy Review. He also coedited More for Less, a 400-page manual on cost cutting for cities, published this summer by the Taxpayers' Foundation.

– VIKING AID. In July we reported on the Viking Fund, a private effort to provide funds to ensure processing of data from the Viking Mars spacecraft. Although the remaining Viking orbiter ceased transmitting this summer, one of the two landers is expected to continue sending data through 1994. NASA's first reaction was to deny that it needs the money and to claim that it could only accept it for the agency's general fund, rather than earmarking it for Viking. But cooler heads have prevailed. In August, NASA announced that the Viking Fund could purchase downlink transmission time, at $9,000 per session, thereby freeing other NASA funds for Viking data analysis. The fund has raised over $50,000 thus far.