Foreign Aid Is Moral Aid Two comments on the February issue: First, while the entire staff is to be congratulated on the beautiful job they did laying out the cover story, it was a sharp disappointment to see the cover story renamed by the editors (without consulting me) from "The KPNLF in Cambodia" to the meaningless "The Khmer in Cambodia." This is like changing the story on the Contras (in the June–July 1984 issue) to "The Nicaraguans in Nicaragua"; and worse, it may confuse the KPNLF (Khmer People's National Liberation Front) with the Khmer Rouge in readers' minds. Further, Sihanouk's followers are not "monarch loyalists," as stated in the story's intro. Sihanouk abandoned his kingship 30 years ago.
Second, in response to those critics whom Bob Poole mentioned in the Notes section, I think it is a perfectly justifiable and moral use of US taxpayers' money to materially and diplomatically support anti-Soviet liberation movements. True, we cannot depend on the government to adequately provide that support. The State Department remains intransigently hostile to, for example, RENAMO in Mozambique and won't actively help UNITA in Angola. The CIA is almost hopelessly inept, wasting, for instance, scores of millions of tax dollars on (not in) Afghanistan, as I reported in the September 1984 issue. Congress is refusing to fund the Contras. In an upcoming issue, I will detail how support for anti-Soviet guerrillas might be "privatized."
Nonetheless, private citizens cannot provide Redeye portable heat-seeking missiles to the Mujaheddin. Neither can private citizens conduct foreign policy. The weaker the Soviet Union is, the safer America is. Providing that safety is the primary and most legitimate function of the federal government. Substantial material assistance (involving no American advisors or combat forces) and firm diplomatic support for armed anti-Soviet insurgencies is the most cost-effective means available to the US government to weaken Soviet power and influence in the world. Only through the diminution of Soviet strength can significant reductions in the defense budget be viably achieved. Assistance to democratic freedom fighters is, for taxpayers' money, an exceptionally worthwhile investment.
"War on Drugs," War on People I discovered your magazine in the spring of 1983, when I was a college freshman. I have found it to be one of the few publications that dares to question the common assumptions that government today operates under.
Without a doubt, economic freedom is of great importance in building a sane, peaceful, and free society. Still, I would ask why other issues of freedom don't get as much attention. I will admit that there isn't a great deal of public debate on such issues as drugs, prostitution, and gambling. Yet, one example of a violation of such freedom is Reagan's "drug war," which we, if we are honest with ourselves, will admit is really a war on people.
There are both practical and philosophical reasons to oppose this militant attempt at drug prohibition. Besides the near-impossibility of halting drug trafficking, we should realize the perspective on the other side of the coin—the farmers! Imagine yourself as a desperately poor South American peasant. Wouldn't you grow marijuana or coca plants that you knew Yanquis were willing to pay well for? The armed goons doing Reagan's bidding can only be seen as instruments of oppression by the poor farmers and their hungry children as they watch their livelihood destroyed.
True, Ronald Reagan pays lip service to laissez-faire government, but he is a statist, and in more than one way.
Who'll Own the Rain? It was a pleasant surprise to find encouragement for the concept of establishing property rights in aquifers and surface waters to protect them from pollution ("How to Clean Up Superfund," Feb., p. 20). But this seems somewhat at odds with your recent items downplaying the harmful significance of acid rain and other types of air pollution, thus not recognizing any need for similar property-rights protection in this area. Is there a fundamental difference in protection concepts for flowing water versus flowing gases or rain?
Protectionism Down on the Farm Your January Trends item "Home-Grown Protectionism" moved me to let readers in on another ridiculous interference with trade. Here in the Empire State, we have county by county milk-licensing laws, which have created cartels that the laws continue to protect. The buyer of the milk from our farm is situated in New jersey, for example, and is restricted from selling the milk in the New York City market. The dairy industry in New York state supports, for the most part, this stupid law, which restricts competition, creates artificially high prices, and drives consumption down. What we in the dairy industry need more than anything else is less regulation and more competition. A free market could solve all problems in the industry in a short time.
Kiddo's Kudos I may be only 12 years old, but I think what you are doing is great. My dad gets REASON, and I always look forward to getting your magazine. The articles are so interesting. When I grow up I will continue my father's and other people's fight for a freer society. And may REASON live for a long time.
Ballston Spa, NY