Are we stuck with public utility monopolies forever? Not necessarily. New forms of technology are making it more feasible for entrepreneurs to compete with such public utilities as the electric company, the phone company, and the cable company. And economists are rethinking the assumptions on which conventional utility regulation has been based.
To explore these trends, the Reason Foundation is holding a national conference, Deregulating Public Utility Monopolies. It will take place November 3rd at Washington's Watergate Hotel. Among the speakers or commentators will be economists Thomas Hazlett and Walter Primeaux, former FCC official Nina Cornell, attorney William Mellor of the Mountain States Legal Foundation, and communications consultants Charles Jackson and Jerome Lucas. The price of the all-day affair, including a luncheon featuring William Niskanen of the President's Council of Economic Advisers, is $150. If you're interested, call our Washington number, 202/546-2705, and make your reservation right away.
We were somewhat amused to read of Interior Secretary James Watt's midsummer letter to the National Audubon Society praising the group for allowing oil and gas drilling at its Rainey wildlife sanctuary in Louisiana. As many REASON readers may recall, we were the first to publicize this fact, in our July 1981 cover story "Saving the Wilderness." And that article's coauthor, economist Richard Stroup, later went to work for Watt, as director of Interior's Office of Policy Analysis. What Rich Stroup pointed out in the article—but what James Watt doesn't seem to comprehend—is that it is private ownership of the Rainey sanctuary that makes harmonious solutions to the resources-vs.-environment controversy so feasible to achieve. What doesn't work is political ownership, whereby every competing interest group thinks it has legitimate claim to determine how best to use the land.
Meanwhile, the REASON article's other coauthor, John Baden, graced the cover of Outside magazine's September issue. The cover story, "Selling America" by Nancy Shute, provided a thorough overview of the free-market, property-rights-oriented New Resource Economics movement spearheaded by Baden and Stroup and popularized by REASON contributors Steve Hanke and William Tucker, all of whom are interviewed in the article. REASON comes in for several mentions, as well. Hanke was also quoted extensively in a July 25 Newsweek article on wilderness policy.
The magazine's masthead sports two new names this month. Joining our staff as advertising and circulation director is Rob McGee. Rob comes to us with a background in both direct-mail marketing and advertising sales, and he's already putting both sets of skills to work. His mandate is to broaden the base of display advertisers in REASON, set up a nationwide single-copy (bookstore and newsstand) sales program, and improve the effectiveness of our direct-mail new-subscriber and renewal promotions. All of this should help make REASON more widely known and better off financially. We're glad to have him on board.
The magazine also has a new art director as of this month. Debra Cardamone, recently transplanted to Santa Barbara from New York City, has worked for advertising agencies and consumer magazines. Debra will be responsible for the graphic elements of each month's issue of REASON, as well as other materials produced by the Reason Foundation. Since all art directors have their own style, you will probably be noticing a different "feel" to the magazine. We hope you enjoy it!
One way you can tell if a new idea—such as privatization—is taking hold is to monitor the word's passage into common usage. That, of course, is what dictionary editors do. So I'm pleased to report on recent correspondence with the editors of Random House Dictionaries. Both Reason Foundation Advisory Board member Steve Hanke and I have inquired about the status of the word privatization. Managing Editor Leonore Hauck tells us that they have accumulated citations dating back to 1979 (the year my book Cutting Back City Hall was written) and plan to enter both privatize and privatization in the next edition of the Random House Dictionary. The Reason Foundation's Local Government Center has become the country's leading source of information on privatization.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Notes".