As co-anchor of ABC's 20/20, John Stossel has exposed millions to libertarian ideas through his weekly "Give Me a Break" segments. His provocative hour-long specials have taken on such topics as the drug war, junk science, and the explosive growth of government. But when he began reading about cheap government flood insurance, which protected his pricey beach house, he says "it occurred to me that I was a freeloader too—I had just viewed it as another of life's deals." His article in this issue, "Confessions of a Welfare Queen" (page 22), is excerpted from his new book, Give Me a Break (HarperCollins).
Steven Vincent believes in plunging headfirst into history. Shaped by the Vietnam War as a Berkeley student in the '70s, he spent his honeymoon in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, where he witnessed the Khmer Rouge's attempt to disrupt the 1993 elections. He traveled to Hong Kong for the city's handover to China. And as he watched the Twin Towers collapse from the roof of his Manhattan apartment, he knew he would go to Iraq, which he suspected would be an early front in the War on Terror. He recounts that trip in "Faith, Shame, and Insurgency" (page 30). Vincent is a freelance writer and art critic whose work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Art in America, and Commentary.
Since his student days at Oxford, Richard Epstein has been searching for the Holy Grail of legal scholars and political philosophers, "a theory both simple and flexible enough to explain everything from two-person interactions to large-scale social institutions like taxation." To that end, he's made a "conscious effort to teach everything," from torts and civil procedure to corporate taxation and Roman law. He sketches some of his conclusions in "Coercion vs. Consent" (page 40), adapted from a talk delivered at reason's 35th anniversary celebration in November. Epstein, who teaches law at the University of Chicago, is the author of many books, including Principles for a Free Society, Simple Rules for a Complex World, Takings, and his most recent, Skepticism and Freedom (University of Chicago).