Editor's Note: Virtual Community, Real Debate


One of the aims of reason is to act as a virtual community for libertarians, to provide a place where people interested in "Free Minds and Free Markets" can come together not just for news and analysis but also to hash out differences of opinion. So we're especially excited to bring you this month's cover story, a debate dedicated to "Rethinking the Social Responsibility of Business" featuring Nobel laureate Milton Friedman and CEOs John Mackey of Whole Foods Markets and T.J. Rodgers of Cypress Semiconductor (see page 28).

Mackey, whose stores have transformed grocery shopping from a grim, necessary evil into a multisensory delight, takes issue with Friedman's famous dictum that business has "one and only one social responsibility": "to increase its profits." Mackey argues that "both capitalism and corporations are misunderstood, mistrusted, and disliked around the world because of statements like Friedman's on social responsibility."

In place of an exclusive focus on profits and shareholders, he sketches a new vision of the social responsibility of business, one that includes customers, employees, and other stakeholders. Friedman and Rodgers–who became a hero to all Catholic school alumni a few years back when he publicly took on a grandstanding, poorly informed nun who questioned his firm's hiring practices–respond in spirited and pointed prose. The result is an exchange as rich and filling as the surprisingly good vegan chocolate cake sold at Whole Foods.

The rest of this issue serves up other tasty morsels. Associate Editor Matt Welch explains the weird liberal love affair with eminent domain (page 18); in "The Second Romanian Revolution Will Be Televised" (page 38), he reveals how the old TV show Dallas helped bring down the Ceausescu regime and how gangsta rap has helped usher in a new age of reform. Contributing Editor Cathy Young calls out conservative Justice Antonin Scalia as a judicial activist (page 22), and former heroin addict Maia Szalavitz contributes a stirring "defense of happy pills" such as Prozac and Zoloft (page 48).

Assistant Editor Kerry Howley tells the story of a truly strange businessman–Robert Graham, the conservative optometrist behind the "Nobel Prize Sperm Bank"–whose interest in eugenics led not to super-genius babies but to one-click fertility shopping and increased individual choice (page 61). Astrophysicist Sallie Baliunas delivers an update on the state of global warming–and takes the temperature of overwrought climate alarmists in "Full of Hot Air" (page 64). In this issue, we cover the waterfront–and then some.

Shortly before going to press, we learned that reason contributor Steven Vincent, the author of the impressive and moving In the Red Zone: A Journey Into the Soul of Iraq (Spence Publishing), had been kidnapped and killed by insurgents in Basra. His journalism was exemplary in its attention to detail and emphasis on human hope. Our deepest condolences to his family and friends. Reason's obituary for him is online at reason.com/links/links080405.shtml.