Sam Cohen, the author of this month's provocative cover story, is also one of the contributors to the new Reason Foundation book, Defending a Free Society. That book, the result of nearly two years of work by a nine-member project team, will have appeared in print by the time you read these words. The book develops a framework of principles for assessing government's role in providing national defense, then applies these principles to current US defense problems. It has already received accolades from a number of thoughtful people who read the manuscript, including former White House policy adviser Martin Anderson, columnist John Chamberlain, Gen. Daniel O. Graham of the High Frontier project, and Rep. Ron Paul. Over the next few months the contributors and I will be writing op-ed pieces and doing radio interviews to promote the book. Thus far, I've done a two-hour stint on ABC Radio's Ray Briem program at the end of December and an hour on KGO Radio in San Francisco in January, and I also presented an overview of the book at the Free Marin Supper Club in Marin County, California.
Recent weeks have been big ones for media appearances by other REASON contributors, as well. January cover story author John McClaughry told radio audiences about his findings on Vermont's education vouchers, on both WCKY in Cincinnati and WXYZ in Detroit. Assistant Editor Paul Gordon was interviewed by Mark Pentrack on Pittsburgh's WTKN on his December USA Today op-ed piece on movie ratings. Senior Editor Tibor Machan spent an enjoyable evening on the David Brudnoy show on Boston's WRKO Radio, discussing his new book (coedited with M. Bruce Johnson), Rights and Regulation. And I did another interview on privatization of local public services, this one on KXL Radio in Portland, Oregon.
Privatization recently received further exposure through the November edition of the Coopers & Lybrand Executive Alert, which contained a two-and-a-half-page article titled "Privatization: Less Government, Better Services?" Among the possibilities discussed were selling remote-sensing and weather satellites, privately run airport control towers, and private provision of such local services as garbage collection, fire protection, and hospitals. (The article read like a summary of a number of REASON articles over the past several years.) The article ended with an interesting quote from Hudson Institute economist Irving Levenson: "The private sector has shown itself far better than the public sector in responding to new conditions, in placing emphasis on efficiency without politicization and in keeping up with new technologies."
Many people uncomfortable with US government intervention in Central America strongly oppose the spread of communism there. Recently I met the founder of a private organization that shares that concern. The Caribbean Commission, headed by Dr. Alton Ochsner, Jr., promotes free enterprise and free trade in the Caribbean and Latin America. But its major current project is to aid the families of the anti-Sandinista freedom fighters living in refugee camps in Honduras. I've seen Dr. Ochsner's slides from his midsummer visit, and I think this is a worthwhile effort. You can get more information from the Caribbean Commission, 501 Exposition Blvd., New Orleans, LA 70118.
Some debate among REASON's editors preceded the decision to publish this month's cover story by Sam Cohen. Would people find the proposed strategy too drastic? Would the Israelis find objectionable a scheme that would allow their government to keep invaders out and citizens in. But the Middle East muddle has been so intractable, and the stakes so high, and this is the context in which Cohen's proposal must be weighed.
Since October 1973, when REASON's Viewpoint column came "on line," it has rotated among three authors, although the make-up of the group of three has changed along the way. But we recently decided to try something different—opening the slot to a wider group of REASON contributors who may from time to time have an opinion for our readers to put in their pipes and smoke. So we thank Tom Bethell, Jim Davidson, and Murray Rothbard for their columns over the last few years and welcome the appearance of more Viewpoints, beginning, this month, with Larry Beilenson.