While Opinion Magazines Die or Transmogrify, Your Donations Keep Reason Libertarian

Every donation makes Reason more resilient, less reliant on the whims of mercurial owners.


We are rounding into the home stretch of Reason's annual Webathon, in which we ask those who enjoy reading, watching, and listening to our libertarian journalism and commentary to consider gifting us with a tax-deductible donation so that we can continue harassing government institutions with Freedom of Information Act requests, making crazy/funny/infuriating videos that you can share with your mom, debunking media myths, defending free speech, answering all (or at least most) of your questions, leading the universe in criminal justice reporting, gleefully participating in one technological advance after another, and so forth.

As the clock approaches midnight, you have already made this the second-most successful Webathon in the decade-plus that Reason has been doing this. Can you fill that orange box to the revised goal of $300,000? Dare you venture even further, and make this the highest grossing annual fundraiser of all time?


Say, do you remember The New Republic? Well, here's what progressivism's century-old flagship magazine is up to lately.

The always-interesting Twitter follow Wesley Yang has some thoughts about that, but I would just amplify Zaid Jilani's original point: Whatever TNR is now bears little resemblance to what it was five years ago, seven years ago, or 10 years ago, let alone the very different visions Marty Peretz had for the thing during his various star-crossed runs as publisher. That's because its ownership model depends on the whims of whatever millionaire has decided to lose money on the thing this year.

Reason's ownership model, on the other hand, depends on you, its most active and dedicated consumers.

Read up on our visionary founding editor Lanny Friedlander, and on the three-headed monster of Robert Poole, Manny Klausner, and the late Tibor Machan who took the baton from Friedlander and made Reason a going concern, and one overriding relationship jumps out: This magazine since its founding in 1968 was a labor of love among its creators, and a facilitator of intense conversation and even life changes among its audience.

As Poole told historian-of-the-libertarian-movement Brian Doherty back in 2008, "until the Reason Foundation started in '78 there was never more than one paid person….We also didn't have a budget. The most we ever paid for an article was $25 in the days before the Reason Foundation, and a lot of times not anything." Can you even wrap your head around that? A magazine goes from 0 to around 30,000 circulation in a decade, with legendary policy pieces, interviews, and covers, and there's basically no employees and no budget. Got it.

Perhaps counterintuitively, these humble beginnings make Reason more resilient than the vast majority of publication competing in our opinion-journalism space. Evolving into a 501(c)3 nonprofit—one that for the past three decades has been doing a ton of important, details-oriented work streamlining, downsizing, and privatizing government operations at all levels—has built a stable floor under the operations, sure. But it's one constructed by literal fans of the magazine that Friedlander created and Poole/Klausner/Machan willed into being. There is no mercurial moneybags standing behind the operation, pulling puppet strings hither and yon, yanking editorial focus in ways that make the archives unrecognizable. There were never any record-scratch breaks between the regimes of Zupan, Postrel, Gillespie, Welch, and Mangu-Ward.

That is why this Webathon is so important. Just the sheer number of donors, at whatever level, makes it easier to weather whatever economic and political storms lie beyond all of our current fields of vision. When there's thousands of y'all, it just will not matter if the one with the biggest monocle thunders, "Pivot to video!" (Though that's also because we were developing that expertise long before it was a Facebook-generated fad.)

The beating heart of this enterprise is the relationship between what we produce and how you consume. Not just in clicks, but in intensity, affiliation, interaction, amusement. Your gifts are a ratification that this magnificent enterprise, in approach and performance, is trending in the right direction and worth egging on. Every single donation makes us more resilient.

Won't you please donate to Reason now?

NEXT: What Do We Owe to People Whose Countries We Have Broken?

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  1. Transmorgify? Transmorgify? Are you kidding me? It’s a transmogrifier – it transmogrifies you big dummy! Get it straight!

    1. I took it as self-referential humor, J.

      *** slaps Matt on back ***

    2. “Your donations might pay for a Grammarly subscription for our staff.”

      1. Everyone on staff get the title of “Editor”. Why would they need Grammarly?

        1. “gets”

          Maybe I need Grammarly. Or a preview button.

  2. “Your Donations Keep Reason Libertarian”

    It is very questionable whether supporting coercive monopolies like state government as @Reason does can be called libertarian when it specifically goes against a free market and freedom of association.

    1. I agree and think they should change the pitch to, “Your Donations Keep Reason More Libertarian than Time Magazine (Sometimes).”

    2. What says free market more loudly than being a tax-deductible creature of the federal government? What happens to Reason when the Libertarians repeal 501(c)3?

      1. They will have to learn to code.

        1. +100

        2. In order to code, you have to be able to write first.

      2. When we finally get around to repealing all tax deductions, tax shelters and loopholes and setting a flat tax rate at 2%, I think they will be able to prosper. Well except with that kind of success, new competitors would enter the market and would probably knock Reason on its ass by just giving their customers an edit button for the comments section.

        1. An edit button is the least of Vok Jr’s problems

          1. *Vox


            1. See: no edit button needed

      3. “Dear Reason,

        You are no longer exempt from the taxes that we are no longer levying.


        The New Libertopian Federal Government”

        Yeah, I’m kinda okay with that.

        1. The biggest problem I have with die-hard libertarianism (I do ascribe to the ideals of Libertarians but reject the total adherence to it’s teachings) is the lack of pragmatism. I dislike federal income taxes, but recognize the government does require some funding sources. Before income tax, these were tariffs, but Reason is opposed to tariffs to. So if not tariffs and no income tax, would they support a consumption tax? That doesn’t appear to be a clear cut yes or no either.
          Taxation is theft, but the question is can we survive without it? Pragmatism would argue it is a necessary evil. Therefore the best option is to reduce it as much as possible and make it as simplistic as possible. A consumption tax would be the best method for this in my opinion. However, I admit governments will screw that up to by exempting everything under the sun.

          1. I actually think that the most ethical tax from a libertarian perspective should be a land property tax. Government actually provides a fundamental service to land owners by securing our borders and protecting the country from outside invasion. Also, a land property tax provides a positive economic incentive in helping valuable properties find their way into fruitful hands (as opposed to just stifling economic activity the way that income or consumption taxes do).

  3. Oh….Reason is Libertarian? LOL, ok.

  4. They playing the irony card?

  5. Bit late at this point to “keep” Reason Libertarian. Do you have a plan for making it Libertarian again?

    1. MRLA? Not catchy.

      1. MARLA, Make American Reason Libertarian Again. Trump just might not appreciate a MARLA chant at his rallies.

        1. How about chanting Mar-A-Lago: Make American Reason Again Libertarian And Good Overall

        2. You get all the points for this one.

      2. But is it a mouthful?

        Buttsex priorities and all.

    2. Maybe the bad orange man can make that his campaign slogan, “Make Reason Libertarian Again”. Unfortunate that MRLA does not roll off the tongue like MAGA.

      1. Too close to an ex wife.

  6. While Opinion Magazines Die or Transmorgify, Your Donations Keep Reason Libertarian

    reason is NOT Libertarian anymore.

    Now if donations got staff fired, so new Libertarians could be hired. That would be a different story.

    1. Now if donations got staff fired, so new Libertarians could be hired. That would be a different story.

      Donate now or we swear to God we’ll only hire people Shikha recommends!

  7. Every donation makes Reason more resilient, less reliant on the whims of mercurial owners.


    “Thanks to your $20 we are totally independent of the one man who contributed over 90% of our funding every year since the mid 1970s through his personal donations and political dark money groups.”

    Who the fuck do you think is fooled by this retarded shit?

      1. Awwwwww are you sad Welchie?

        1. Are you the new James Cameron / Jeff Gordon / Sienna Miller sockpuppet?

          1. I am that I am

    1. No one.

      But they have to pretend.

  8. Reason is libertarian like Madonna is a virgin.

  9. Given the “I’m more libertarian than you” and “You’re not really a libertarian” comments here, I think that maybe Reason should change its name to No True Scotsman Magazine.

    I don’t really consider myself a libertarian, but I’ve been interested in classical liberal and libertarian ideas for a long time, as part of my broader interest in American intellectual and political history. It’s only in the past few years that I’ve taken the time to dive into current political debates on libertarianism in the United States, and one of the things that has really amazed me is how holier-than-thou so many self-proclaimed libertarians are. In this respect, they’re absolutely no better than tribalist Democrats and Republicans. And now, proving that I can play that game too, what’s perhaps even more interesting is the number of reactionary conservatives who call themselves libertarians around here.

    But maybe the most depressing thing is the number of people who apparently just can’t seem to do anything but throw insults and slurs and shit at those they disagree with. When I’ve spent time with people of a libertarian bent, they’ve generally been interested in ideas and rational discussion (Hint: that’s one of the reasons it’s called Reason), and have been able to disagree in good faith on important issues, but that apparently doesn’t apply to the comments section around here, which seems to be filled with trolls and troglodytes and other forms of standard internet comments-section detritus. The comments on the Volokh articles are better, but the comments on most regular Reason articles just aren’t even worth getting involved with.

    1. I’m guessing you’re a leftist clown, as it seems to be the case that leftist clowns feel compelled to white knight for Reason’s “integrity” and “objectivity” while decrying “right wing” opinions.
      Regardless, understand that your entire sanctimonious post is a demonstration of the very behavior it decries – holier-than-thou, reactionary, tribalist, and throwing slurs and insults.
      Not a good debut for you

      1. And maybe you can point to where the “libertarians” working for Reason display any difference of opinion or nuance among themselves…

        1. Heh. Thanks for providing me with a perfect example. I’m not going to bother refuting your assertions or correcting your misapprehensions and bad guesses. And the purpose of my post was not to white knight for Reason—I have plenty of disagreements with what’s posted here, and I have no illusion that its editors and writers are “objective”—but simply to make an observation about the standard of discourse in the comments section. If my post is an example of what it is criticizing, then I’m willing to live with the irony, because I wouldn’t have needed to post it if the comments section weren’t already irreversibly polluted, and because I probably won’t bother wading into this shitpool very often if the types of posts that you have made here constitute the standard.

          1. So your purpose was not to do exactly what you did…
            Enjoy your erroneous self-conceit

          2. I know you are but what am I would be quicker and more succinct then your word salad.

          3. ” I’m not going to bother….”

            Boy, I’ll bet nobody saw that coming.


          4. “muh mural preening”


      Why can’t libertarians just behave exactly like far left progressives like me?


    3. your father smelt of elderberries.

      1. If he comes back, will we taunt him a second time?

        1. taunting is lifeblood.

        2. I’m sorry I missed this. So I hope he does.

    4. (Hint: that’s one of the reasons it’s called Reason)

      Is this close enough? I say it’s close enough! I’m gonna drink!

  10. when i have more money.

  11. I just wanted to say how much I admire you for adopting the same financing model and justification thereof as the “Guardian”. Much better than the drivel that spouts from presses owned by “private enterprise”.

    See, we’ll make libertarians of you yet.

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