Archives: July 2022
Excerpts from Reason's vaults
15 years ago
"Evangelicals and Aquarians were more alike than they knew. Both sought firsthand spiritual experience; both believed that such experience could set them free and change their lives; both favored emotional intensity over intellectual rigor; both saw their spiritual lives as a refuge from a corrupt and corrupting world. That last point, of course, was subject to radically different interpretations. Aquarians rejected the establishment because of its supposedly suffocating restrictions, while the evangelicals condemned its licentious, decadent anarchy. Between them, they left the social peace of the '50s in ruins."
"The Aquarians and the Evangelicals"
25 years ago
"Today, of course, racial information is used for 'enlightened' purposes—tracking minority employment and school enrollments, granting government contracts, ensuring voting rights, and the like—that are supposed to end the necessity for such information in the first place. But because racial classifications are predicated upon the notion of a fixed, immutable identity, they necessarily perpetuate divisive racial categories, regardless of how they are used."
30 years ago
"Although obsessive materialism and crass commercialism are undeniably a part of modern capitalism, they do not constitute its whole. To condemn commercial society as nothing but an empty rush for things is to engage in caricature and distortion. There is much more to capitalism than things: Capitalism is also about creativity, ingenuity, dedication, and perseverance; it is about teamwork and competition; it is about the fulfillment gained from working hard to do a job well; it is about pursuing your dreams, however humble or grand. Commercial life, at its best, generates spiritual as well as material abundance."
35 years ago
"The great danger is that in an age of permanent emergency—the age we live in, the age we are likely to go on living in—the Crisis Constitution will simply swallow up the Normal Constitution, depriving us at all times of the very rights the original Constitution was created to protect at all times. The outlook can only dishearten those who believe that the fundamental purpose of the Constitution is to protect individuals' rights to life, liberty, and property."
"In the Name of Emergency"
"In a section entitled 'From Poorhouse to Flophouse,' [Michael] Katz recalls the 'wretched' conditions in which men lived in close quarters that did not smell very nice. Today, flophouses have fallen victim to local regulations and the federal bulldozer—with the result that vagrants and derelicts have nowhere to sleep and city officials frantically search them out on bitter cold nights to prevent death from freezing. So we might ask who benefited from the elimination of flophouses—vagrants or the middle-class elite whose sensibilities were offended?"
"The Poor, Poor Welfare State"
40 years ago
"A free market functions only by means of voluntary exchange, which requires the free, independent judgment of every buyer and seller. But if value is intrinsic, divorced from the evaluations of those involved in a transaction, a free market is impossible. There could not be any trade, only dictated value and coerced payment. The worth not only of 'women's work' but of all jobs would have to be fixed by government. The bureaucrats would be charged with the task of divining the answers to questions like: Are basketball players inherently more worthy than cancer researchers? Should network anchormen be paid more than used-car salesmen? Don't ditch-diggers display more 'skill, effort, and responsibility' than punk-rock singers? The law would have to create a hierarchy of jobs—and of prices, too: Is it fair that women's shoes cost more than men's? Isn't it sexual discrimination to have to pay more for Chanel No. 5 than for English Leather?"
45 years ago
"Why think that foreign policy should do anything more in the world than insulate a nation's citizens from harm and avoid the waste of their resources? We ought to challenge the very foreign-ness of foreign policy. Its ultimate test is how well it serves domestic policy. One might almost call foreign policy an extension, or a limiting case, of domestic policy. It certainly is not autonomous, and it certainly does not have a unique, or a primary, claim on the energies and sacrifices of citizens."
"Non-Intervention: A Libertarian Approach to Defense"