A Healthy Dose of Anarchy
Neille Ilel nailed the dichotomy between the two kinds of emergency aid groups in New Orleans ("A Healthy Dose of Anarchy," December). It's good there is someone writing about this. I've always wondered how, after the storm, all this hysterical press came out saying, "Be careful who you donate to! There are all these scam groups out there!," thereby leading people to donate their billions of dollars to groups that proved less effective than grassroots organizations like those Ilel describes. Perhaps next time people will recognize that the spontaneity of those who really want to help makes them a better channel for altruism.
New Orleans, LA
The work of the Rainbow Family volunteers was critical to the people in Waveland and Bay St. Louis. Their generosity was among the bright spots of help in the weeks immediately after Katrina, and I can vouch for their contribution. My website covered their work and that of other unique volunteers who were out of the mainstream. In all cases, they managed to do tasks that the major disaster groups were either too slow to do or couldn't do at all.
I want to thank Neille Ilel for her article "A Healthy Dose of Anarchy." I arrived in Waveland, Mississippi, a few short days after Katrina. I attended Rainbow Gatherings in the summers and am a veteran of the free medical clinic of the Gatherings. I set up a first aid station right next to the café, which evolved into a full clinic, with doctors, nurses, and a free pharmacy. I called this the New Waveland Clinic. For three months I slept in the back of my car and worked 12-plus hours a day to simply help and serve my fellow human beings. Being in Waveland, and later St. Bernard Parish, was the most humbling and amazing experience of my life. Ilel's article touched me and brought many tears to my eyes.
Founder and Director
New Waveland Clinic
New Orleans, LA
Shortly after reading "A Healthy Dose of Anarchy," I came across "Decision Making in Very Large Networks," by Peter J. Denning and Rick Hayes-Roth, in the November Communications of the Association for Computing Machinery. It offers an interesting theoretical framework for understanding FEMA's comparative failure and informal relief networks' comparative success in the aftermath of the Katrina disaster.
Turns out it has a lot to do with Friedrich Hayek's insight that central planning of markets is bound to fail because of the inability of any planning body to gather enough information that is current enough and interrelated enough to act intelligently. Since the same kind of chaos-in both the vernacular and mathematical senses-prevails after a natural disaster on the scale of Katrina, it should come as no surprise that predefined, formalized government disaster recovery efforts cannot be expected to accomplish much.
Who Deserves the Libertarian Vote?
"Who Deserves the Libertarian Vote?" (December) provided a good array of opinions. I think it would be best to forget parties altogether. If someone has libertarian positions as a Democrat, don't vote for him because "the Democrats are a better choice for libertarians"; vote for him because he is the better candidate. If there is only a Libertarian Party candidate, vote for him. But if either the Republican or Democrat in a race espouses libertarian ideals and has a chance of winning, you are obligated to give him your support.
Being in knee-jerk opposition to the two major parties is ineffective. We need more libertarian ideas, not necessarily more elected Libertarian Party members.
Butch Otter Rides Again
Rep. Butch Otter ("Butch Otter Rides Again," November) voted against the PATRIOT Act and in favor of prohibiting flag burning. From a purely libertarian perspective, the PATRIOT Act-to address a situation in which lives may be at stake-is actually more justifiable than a ban on flag burning, which puts neither lives nor property at risk.
To Otter, the flag is not your flag or my flag; it is "our brand." But in his attempt to preserve our abstract "property," he has voted to violate our right to actual property and has diminished what our brand represents. The flag that doesn't allow itself to be burned symbolizes prohibition, not freedom. Indeed, if everyone who owned a flag had burned it in protest of this vote, our brand would be stronger, not weaker.
Otter's right to fly his flag is not at stake here. No one on the other side wants to force him to burn it. We expect that same right in return.
Reason is pleased to announce the publication this month of Senior Editor Brian Doherty's new book, Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement (PublicAffairs), described by Publisher's Weekly as an "astute history" that "conveys an insider's understanding in clear, confident prose."
Intern at Reason
Reason is accepting applications for the 2007 Burton C. Gray Memorial Internship. The intern works 10 weeks during the summer in either Washington, D.C., or our Los Angeles office and receives housing, a $2,000 stipend, and up to $400 in travel expenses
The job includes reporting and writing for Reason and Reason Online, helping with research, proofreading, and other tasks. Previous interns have gone on to work at such places as The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and ABC News.
To apply, send your résumé, up to five writing samples (preferably published clips), and a cover letter to:
c/o Brian Doherty
3415 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Ste. 400
Los Angeles, CA 90034
The deadline is March 23, 2007.