Alerting the Public Congratulations on publishing "Love Canal: The Truth Seeps Out" (Feb.). I come from the Buffalo area and have been aware of the real scandal—the refusal of the EPA, state, local, and federal government to do anything for the stricken residents of the Love Canal neighborhood in favor of filing a spurious suit against Hooker Chemical—for some time now. Nearly everyone who has bothered to look at the public record is aware of the efforts made by Hooker to head off the tragedy and of the timely and strenuous warnings Hooker made. Nor are residents of the area unaware of the negligence of the Niagara School Board in this matter. Like the author, I was enraged by the spate of books, articles, and public comment in the media and by public officials which misrepresented the circumstances under which this dismal affair occurred. Like the author, I sought to alert the public with a number of letters to major newspapers and magazines; I, however, was unable to get a single one of them into print.
St. Louis, MO
Some Thoughts for Machan Thank you for publishing "Some Thoughts for the New President" by Tibor R. Machan (Mar.). I always enjoy his writing. I often feel frustrated because I cannot express my position on some issue or other with the clarity and conciseness that I would like. When Mr. Machan writes on the issue, my frustration is gone because as soon as I read his words, I realize "That's it, that's the way I want to put it." Thanks again.
John G. Tietz
Our Mistake… We noted in your Coming Attractions in the April REASON that you listed an article on DMSO written by "science writers Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw." We would like to correct this designation which could easily be misunderstood. We are both research scientists. The science writing that we do is strictly secondary to and derived from our research work. Calling us science writers is like calling Carl Sagan a television performer, rather than an astronomer. We do not want to be described as science writers (most of whom are not scientists), but rather as research scientists.
Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw
Palos Verdes Estates, CA
Immigration Proposal To me the unique and powerfully attractive attribute of libertarian thought is its consistent application of the ideal of individual freedom; indeed it is this that so sharply distinguishes it from mere free-market conservatism, on the one hand, and mere pot-smoking liberalism, on the other. It was therefore disappointing to read David Rees's article on immigration (Mar.). His initially attractive idea of a free market in passports seems to me a nonsolution to a nonproblem. The real injustice is not simply that immigrant visas are costly or difficult to acquire, but that they have to be acquired at all; that human beings are being prevented, by border police paid out of funds confiscated from other human beings, from living and working wheresoever they wish. The real problem is a radical denial of personal freedom, and Rees's scheme does nothing to solve it.
If I understand it right his rationale is that the US immigrant acquires certain assets (roads, drains, social systems) he did nothing to earn. But neither did a baby born 50 yards north of the Mexican border; yet one born the same day 100 yards further south will later be turned back from these assets by a well-armed goon squad.
I suggest a more truly libertarian approach would: 1) correctly identify the problem as another instance of oppression of the individual by the State; 2) solve it immediately by scrapping all controls on immigration and by abolishing the INS; 3) repeal all laws concerning wages; and, 4) abolish all government welfare for the unemployed. The resulting initial flood of foreigners will rapidly run dry when word from them gets back that the demand for workers with no skill and little English yields under $1 an hour, which buys no more than their income prior to emigration; and that there is no government unemployment welfare; and that the best that can be obtained from the many private charities is a bus ticket to the nearest border crossing. The few who do stay will enrich this free country by their hard work and determination to make good as much then as they did a century ago.
Political Passports David J. Rees's article (Mar.) attempts to present a solution to the immigration problem but fails because Rees never defines the real problem. The real problem with immigration is the desire of the State to control individuals. Unless this is addressed and challenged all solutions will only be reforms and sanctions of existing bad systems. Rees's failure to acknowledge the rights of individuals results in a notion that the State bestows rights, privileges, and social assets (!) upon its subjects, and it does this by awarding small booklets known as passports. If Rees had defined immigration in an individual rights context he would recognize that passports are really nothing but useless political paraphernalia used by the State to intimidate its subjects.
Rees's scheme fails not only as a moral solution, it fails as a practical solution. It promises us a whole new bureaucracy to handle this nonsolution. We would now have to endure time daters and more tax collectors! As a result, the political society we are already saddled with would grow larger.
If Rees truly desires a caring and thoughtful solution to the immigration problem, he should ensure that individual rights are central to the solution and that the State is always challenged over its "right" to control the mobility of individuals. The only innovative solution to the immigration problem is to call for open borders internationally.
Santa Ana, CA
Saccharin Surprise I naturally was attracted to the article "Supreme Court Overturns Saccharin Ban" (Mar.); I had not heard of this ban. My first reaction was to call a number of my clients to make them aware of this decision. Though I was puzzled by the dates and the people mentioned, they were completely overshadowed in my mind by the spectacular, surprising news of the ban.
When I reached the end of the article, I read, in very small print, the fact that it was fictional and I became aware that it was a "spoof." Your article would have had a constructive effect had you stated in the beginning that it was fictional. As it appeared I am sure there must be others like myself who were extremely annoyed.
Arthur E. Meyerhoff
Rancho Santa Fe, CA
The editors reply: We expected that the Dec. 10, 1981, date and the names of the fictional Chief Justices (i.e., James Madison, J.F. Kennedy, T. Roosevelt), both on the first page of the article, would be enough to tip off the unsuspecting reader.
What Mises Really Said about State Subsidies By implying in the pages of REASON that the late Ludwig von Mises advocated State subsidies for the Vienna Opera, Arthur Shenfield seriously misinterprets his position (Mar.). The canard that Mises so loved the Vienna Opera that he favored subsidizing it originated many years ago at the Foundation for Economic Education's coffee table. Mises joined in a staff discussion, sparked perhaps by Leonard Read's criticism of city-financed golf courses. Apparently Mises commented somewhat as follows: "If the people know the costs of such a government program and still want to vote for it, they should be free to do so. Of course, everyone will then be asking government to help his or her own pet project. In that case, if the government is going to finance such luxury projects, I would prefer that it subsidize the opera. I'm no golfer, but I do enjoy opera!" From this, the rumor spread that Mises favored government-financed opera. Whenever the tale surfaced, I tried to scotch it. Then one day I confronted Mises with it and asked him point blank, "Do you advocate government-subsidized opera?" His answer? An unequivocal "No!"
Mises's personal love of opera did not blind him to the deadening effect of government subsidies on any activity. His preference would have been that the opera be allowed to develop in a free enterprise climate. It was his view that thought leaders and economists should explain to the people the full costs of any government subsidy. It was also his view that a prerequisite of a peaceful society is that the people be free to choose, and to change, their government through the ballot box.
Printing this letter in REASON should help to give this rumor a decent, and permanent, burial.
Bettina Bien Greaves
An Objection to Econometrics I was pleased to see the "Milestone" (Mar.) about J.D. Hausman's econometric model showing a correlation between the progressive income tax and the reduction in work effort by married men. Even the noneconometric opinions of economists would agree that taxes discourage work effort. It may be a milestone that an MIT research report has drawn this conclusion, especially since it makes an apparent argument that the progressive income tax should be replaced with a proportional one; but the Hausman model doesn't actually prove anything.
I think it is important to keep a clear distinction between economic analysis and economic model-building for use in data analysis. The belief that costs and values are objective and measurable is the principal error in econometric work. Those who want to understand the kinds of policy problems that this error leads to should read Prof. James Buchanan's short book, Cost and Choice. Even under methodology recommended by Milton Friedman, you should not say that Hausman has "proven" anything: what hypothesis did he falsify with his data?—that progressive taxes stimulate married men to work harder? I must say that the Mises-Hayek approach of methodological individualism seems a more valid way to "prove" the issue than econometrics could ever hope to be.
Sagan Sell-out? I have been a student, graduate, and professional of astronomy since 1967, and I wish you wouldn't fall into the same gutter as the National Enquirer and start promoting Carl Sagan as you did in your February issue. Carl Sagan sold out his almost naturally libertarian fellow astronomers for a weird sort of "conservative science for the democratic masses." He is now ignored by those who truly wish to do iconoclastic astronomy. Sagan, once an individualist, now praises government handouts (and controls) for science. Formerly a person on his way to great achievements in astronomy, he sold it all out in order to be Johnny Carson's "chic" astronomer for the masses. Think about it, what has he ever accomplished without a billion dollars of stolen tax money government help?
Astronomers have the sense to realize that the Nobel Prize, like the title of "Astronomer Royal," is received as the result of a popularity contest. But not only did Sagan win no recognition in Sweden, he lost the small recognition he had among his fellow astronomers. Those libertarians who have studied graduate astrophysics should stop and think: did the name Sagan ever appear in reference to any scientific discovery, or was it always merely a name attached to a government project that any random astronomer could have "officially directed"? I might disagree with Velikovsky and Von Hayek but at least they weren't the toadies of "chic" government funded science.
Please help me stop people like Sagan before they kidnap (?) my entire profession and hand it over to the government. The government already runs most of astronomy and it's next to impossible for a libertarian to find work without corrupting himself.
Walt Karwicki II
Cryptology Correction Thank you for printing my letter (Apr.) on your January cryptology article, but you made a significant typo: it is the "RSA"—not "NSA"—public-key cryptosystem (paragraph two). RSA stands for Rivest-Shamir-Adleman, the inventors.
Simi Valley, CA
The Trouble with Tritium Although as a new subscriber I missed the tritium article in your March 1980 issue, I was greatly amused by your Editor's Note on the grounding of the German Panavia Tornado fighter for removal of tritium readout devices from the cockpits (Mar.).
The FAA requires all American transports to have self-luminous exit signs in the passenger compartment. Most of those that I have seen are tritium signs made by US Radium Co. A few years ago the company for which I was director of engineering was the marketing agent for the full-size (six-inch letter) US Radium signs for building use. Since many of these required special mounting brackets, I normally had one or two of these signs in my desk drawer without compunction. These signs were constructed with a suspension of the phosphor in a liquid containing tritium in glass tubes which were mounted in acrylic enclosures. None of the beta radiation was detectable outside the sign, and one problem with attaining luminance from the signs was attenuation of the radiation by the liquid from which it was emitted. Even were a tube broken, the radiation would not travel more than a few inches through free air. These signs have AEC/DOE approval and are listed by Underwriters' Laboratories. Although the light from these signs is quite dim, it has excellent smoke-penetrating properties.
The first thing the Germans should have done was to have actually measured the beta radiation actually escaping from the readouts. It was probably zero, so the requirements of the law would have been met.
Progressive? For the record, Derek Shearer's claim that he coined the term "economic democracy" is not correct (Apr.). Ludwig von Mises devoted a chapter to "Economic Democracy" in his Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis, first published in English in 1936. Mr. Ciotti's article clearly shows that "progressive" thought has not yet caught up with von Mises's logic.
A Hawk Is a Hawk Is a Hawk In Geoffrey Nathan's review of Geoffrey Sampson's Liberty and Language (Mar.), he brings up the old idea…that foreign intervention is justified to bring "liberty" to the people of other nations. What this philosophy so blithely ignores is the fact that, rationally or not, the great mass of people will hate with all their heart, soul, and mind, any government or philosophy imposed upon them by people of a different ethnic or cultural group.
Thus, even if one were to consider "libertarian" imperialism otherwise moral, the fact that its "successes" could only be tactical, never strategic, forces one to abandon consideration of this policy. Will the "hawks" in our country and even in the Libertarian Party ever learn this lesson?
J. Lanning Myers
Reviewing the Male/Female Debate I should like to suggest a new canon of journalistic ethics: only men may review pro-woman books, and only women may review pro-man books. Reality willing, I would start with Sharon Presley's review of Women: Psychology's Puzzle (Feb.).
Rohrbaugh, Presley maintains, "demonstrates the lack of scientific evidence to support Freud's misogynist views about penis envy and the Oepidus complex" (emphasis added). Balderdash! Not only is there no lack of evidence, there is a plethora of evidence to support Freud. Fisher and Greenberg (The Scientific Credibility of Freud's Theories and Therapy) cite over 150 studies on the subject, the majority providing fairly clear evidence for the validity of the theory. No theory, when first enunciated, is without subsequent modification. So too with Freud. But on balance his elucidation of the Oepidus complex and of penis envy is ably supported by the research studies.
What then of the standard "societalist's" response that all of the studies are invalid because they are not culture-free: they demand that researchers make studies of an animal that lives in a social group while removing the factor of the social group else everything observed is only a result of the social group. Aside from the logical fallacy of this argument (i.e., begging the question), it is not supported by the research. Nearly all, if not all, studies of higher animals show a different pattern of behavior dependent upon gender. This is independent of whether the animal was raised with its litter mates or in isolation. Hormone injection studies in utero show that the very brain structure of male and female animals is different and can be reversed by appropriate hormone injection in utero. Male and female human babies at birth (I hope that qualifies as being prior to social learning) respond differently to conditioning studies. Epidemologic studies show distinct differences in psychopathology between males and females, even when a concerted effort is made to prove that the perceived results are not real (e.g., the studies on the prevalence of hysteria and sociopathology). Split brain research shows that males and females lateralize at different ages and to different degrees, women tending to be bilateral, and men tending to be left-dominant.…
As for which is superior and which inferior, which dominant and which subservient, I care not a whit; but as to the Rohrbaugh/Presley argument that there is no difference aside from aggression, it is, well: balderdash.
Reichian Therapy Center
Los Angeles, CA
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Letters".