15 Years Ago March 2004
"Why does Uncle Sam offer me cheap insurance? 'It saves federal dollars,' replied James Lee Witt, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), when I did a 20/20 report on this boondoggle. 'If this insurance wasn't here,' he said, 'then people would be building in those areas anyway. Then it would cost the American taxpayers more [in relief funds] if a disaster hit.' That's government logic: Since we always mindlessly use taxpayer money to bail out every idiot who takes an expensive risk, let's get some money up front by selling them insurance first."
"Confessions of a Welfare Queen"
"Exacerbating the pain of many Iraqis is a keen awareness of the world's record of apathy toward their plight. 'Where were the U.N. and our "fellow Arabs" when we were suffering?' Hasan asked. 'Where were the peace activists and leftists? How can they all accept the crimes of a dictator for so many years, then rise up in protest when a war begins to remove that dictator?'"
"Faith, Shame, and Insurgency"
"I do not think that [law professor Richard A.] Epstein has ever seriously addressed the alternative ways of solving these problems that have developed historically on the market, and which libertarians propose be extended to address the problem of so-called 'public goods.' 'Public goods' are more a construct than an artifact of the world. It is often only a lack of imagination by academic economists that prevents them from seeing a solution. Indeed, one of the functions of entrepreneurs, as opposed to academics, is to figure out how to make a public good into an excludable private good."
"Coercion vs. Consent"
35 Years Ago March 1984
"Part of the argument for content regulation arises from the fact that radiowaves are ubiquitous—they literally fall on your doorstep. The argument goes that you should have some control over what enters your house, and since you can't shut out the radiowaves, what goes over them should be regulated. But this argument falls flat when the programming is scrambled and you must pay to see it. Why should it be regulated any more than is a book or a newspaper that you must buy in order to read?"
Joseph P. Martino
"Signal Victory for the First Amendment?"
45 Years Ago March 1974
"Freedom of the press is highly prized in America. Yet increasingly in our semi-controlled economy, people are losing sight of what being 'free' really means. What would you think of a would-be publisher who complained to you that he was poor but worthy and that, therefore, in order to be 'free' to publish, he was going to force you and your friends to contribute money to support his business? You would properly conclude that such a person hadn't the foggiest notion of what freedom is all about."
Robert W. Poole Jr.
"The Free Press and the Postal System"
"Since the prevailing intellectual consensus on the college and secondary level is not sympathetic to libertarianism, publishers are quite likely to reject manuscripts which espouse that point of view. When publishers do publish libertarian books, they have to be much more outstanding in their content and presentation than books which reflect the consensus point of view. This is why one sees a plethora of consensus oriented books being published and only a few libertarian ones."
"How to Get a College Text Published"
50 Years Ago March 1969
"The constant criticism that the contemporary university is 'a tool of decadent capitalist culture's military-industrial complex' is more than a protest against napalm and nuclear weapon producers. By remaining in the service of dominant social institutions (which according to New Leftists are industry and the military), universities train intellectuals to become a part of those very institutions. Instead of producing critical intellectuals who will oppose and hence change society, universities produce people who can take the jobs required for the maintenance of that society. (The more one hears of this, the more it sounds like the New Left's version of the Bircher's conspiracy theory.)"
Cheri Kent Litzenberger
"The Uses of a 'Critical University'"