From the Archives: July 2019
Excerpts from Reason's vaults
15 Years Ago
"We live under a constitution shaped by Morris' smart pen. But in more ways than this, we live in Gouverneur Morris' America. The worldly patron Founder of cities, trade, materialism, wit, pleasure, and style, Morris stood athwart history and waved it in. He saw the pluralistic, commercial form our freedom would take, and he saw that it was good."
"The Fun-Loving Founding Father"
"You could say Spurlock's experience reflects the reality of addiction: It's not something you fall into; you have to work hard at it. As the psychologist Jeffrey Schaler has observed, it takes 'an iron will' to be an addict. But this understanding of addiction—as a choice, not a disease—works against Spurlock's attempt to blame fast food chains for making us fat."
"Big Mac Attack"
25 Years Ago
"So we are back to the old problems of economic regulation, the old reasons the government cannot effectively or fairly set prices or choose industrial winners: A centralized bureaucracy can never match the information flows of a decentralized market. And such a bureaucracy can never permanently resist the temptation to play favorites."
"Suppose a lobby group wants Congress to ban 'death cars.' They are a little fuzzy about what, exactly, 'death cars' are, but the vehicles seem to share certain characteristics, including red paint and speedometers that go above 100 mph. These cars are said to be the favored vehicles of speeders and drunk drivers, and they are supposedly designed to cause accidents that kill as many people as possible. Supporters of the ban cannot back up their claims with mechanical explanations or statistics, but they can provide the gruesome details of crashes."
30 Years Ago
"Their major weakness is an inability to adequately critique opposing views. Most leftist writers respond to conservative and libertarian arguments either by name-calling or dismissal as 'extreme' viewpoints unworthy of further consideration."
Martin Morse Wooster
"Someone once wrote: 'Statistics are like a bikini. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.' The problem is demonstrated by the most recent entry in a long line of scientific research purporting to show a causal link between gun availability and homicide. Funded by the federal government and published last year in the New England Journal of Medicine, the study compared homicide rates in Seattle and Vancouver and suggested that a handgun ban 'may reduce the rate of homicide in a community.'"
James D. Wright
"Guns and Sputter"
"What Apollo did bring to the nation was bureaucracy. After the heady days of the moon landings, NASA's leaders in no way would rest content with launching more weather and communications satellites. They searched vigorously for a new Apollo-style commitment that would keep alive the costly manned-flight capabilities that had come to define their agency. The result of this quest was the space shuttle, which they blatantly oversold as a path to low-cost space flight. Its eventual failure, in 1986, gave America a self-inflicted space setback far more severe than any ever sustained at the hands of the Soviets."
"Why Did We Go to the Moon?"
45 Years Ago
"The lesson seems clear enough: free lunch legislation promising benefits without costs will be accepted by the voters. Special interest groups have learned how to package their social reform measures in psychologically appealing bundles. The attraction of something for nothing apparently dominates any consideration for private property rights. And the California Coastal Initiative is but a harbinger of further control and expropriation. The U.S. Senate has passed legislation establishing a national land use policy that can only grow to a nation-wide system of federal control and expropriation."
M. Bruce Johnson
"Piracy on the California Coast"