Okay libertarian movement, everybody get pessimistic. Murray N. Rothbard says so (Viewpoint, Mar.). I haven't witnessed such audacity since Ayn Rand anointed Nathaniel Branden her "intellectual heir."
Many of us who have been and remain optimistic about the prospects for the libertarian movement have always felt that the brand of optimism which Murray "founded" was a bit detached from reality. The true case for optimism is grounded in the obvious fact that the libertarian movement is growing, steadily and remarkably rapidly. Optimism à la Rothbard—the idea that with but one more regulation from Washington the masses were going to throw off the yoke of the State forever—was always naive and a disservice to the movement.…
Public awareness of libertarianism has jumped by an order of magnitude. The organizations, magazines, institutions, and political activities that comprise the movement are larger and better than ever before. There are now literally thousands of committed, quietly confident libertarian activists working throughout the country.
As a political strategist and analyst Rothbard makes a fine economist. His pie-in-the-sky optimism was wrong. So is his pessimism.
Edward H. Crane III
San Francisco, CA
I must reluctantly disagree with the views expressed by Murray N. Rothbard in his recent column in REASON (Mar.). Rothbard expressed the opinion that the movement toward a free market suffered an important setback in the recent elections. Although the Libertarian Party fared poorly in the recent elections, the libertarian position did fairly well. Though Ronald Reagan will probably not make important reductions in the size and power of government, he was elected precisely because he was perceived as so. If Reagan gives America the rhetoric of free enterprise while pursuing business as usual, the failures that would inevitably follow might then be blamed on the outmoded policies of laissez-faire by our good friends, the Democrats. As the writer of the authoritative book on the Great Depression, Rothbard should know all about that.
What the advocates of laissez-faire must do in the event Reagan does not meaningfully reduce the size of government is to expose the errors in the explanation that we all know will be given by the Democrats. If we fail in this regard, the libertarian position will suffer a real setback. If we succeed, we are back in business.
I think it is too early, however, to say that Reagan will give us business as usual. Although the indications so far are that he will, remember the immortal words of Yogi Berra: "It isn't all over until it's all over."
I want to congratulate you on the February REASON; the article on the Love Canal Affair is one of the most interesting blockbusters I have ever read. I tip my hat.
Federal Way, WA
Facts vs. Fantasies
Eric Zuesse's article on the Love Canal (Feb.) is an outstanding piece of investigative journalism. I hope that you have sent copies of it to news and current affairs magazines (both general and ideological) in the hopes (however faint) that some of them will be willing to look at the facts instead of popular fantasies.
New York, NY
Love that Journalism
I have just finished Eric Zuesse's article, "Love Canal: The Truth Seeps Out" and would like to take this opportunity to say that it is one of the best pieces of journalism that I have ever read. I only hope that copies of this article have been sent to the people who are responsible for the nominations of Pulitzer prizes.
Wayne Morgan Caverly
Bully for Lance Lamberton's nailing (Feb.) of Donald Lambro's ignoring the really giant government giveaways in Don's otherwise fine book, Fat City. The big fat is not the penny ante stuff of VIP lodges and National Science Foundation's underwriting studies of Peruvian brothels. Instead, it's federal transfer payments, which I estimate in the first quarter of 1981 to come to $400 billion at an annual rate, exclusive of interest on the national debt. Unfortunately, most of this $400 billion lies in those seven areas set aside by President Reagan as untouchable for cost-cutting by OMB and the Congress.
William H. Peterson
University of Tennessee
How Do You Spell Relief?
I am delighted with your new column, Health & Welfare. For one thing, it is a welcome relief from politics—a necessary concern, but depressing. Keep up the uplift.
Michael A. Wilson
A Quaffing Matter
I am writing to congratulate REASON magazine. I have been a subscriber and avid fan of REASON since its inception. I have very much enjoyed keeping in touch with the intellectual forefront of the libertarian movement through REASON. I have recently been impressed with our magazine's quality. Especially REASON's increasing visibility in the press. Keep up the good work—there are a lot of minds still thirsting for REASON.
Henry T. Thrasher
Virginia Beach, VA
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Letters".