Archives: November 2022

Excerpts from Reason's vaults


15 years ago

November 2007

"Confronted with such statistics, policy makers usually call for greater oversight—that is, finding a governmental body to watch over forensics and make sure everyone does his or her job right. In the current climate, that certainly would help. But the core problem with modern forensics isn't an absence of oversight. It's monopoly. Once evidence goes to a given lab or facility, it is unlikely to be examined by any other lab or facility. That increases the chances that a mistake will slip through undetected."
Roger Koppl
"Breaking Up the Forensics Monopoly"

20 years ago

November 2002

"The illusion that the English government had protected its citizens by disarming them seemed credible because few realized the country had an astonishingly low level of armed crime even before guns were restricted. A government study for the years 1890–92, for example, found only three handgun homicides, an average of one a year, in a population of 30 million. In 1904 there were only four armed robberies in London, then the largest city in the world. A hundred years and many gun laws later, the BBC reported that England's firearms restrictions 'seem to have had little impact in the criminal underworld.' Guns are virtually outlawed, and, as the old slogan predicted, only outlaws have guns. Worse, they are increasingly ready to use them."
Joyce Malcolm
"Gun Control's Twisted Outcome"

25 years ago

November 1997

"Such hand wringing is as unimaginative as it is unequivocal. Instead of draconian cutbacks in greenhouse-gas emissions, there may very well be fairly simple ways—even easy ones—to fix our dilemma. But the discussion of global warming never makes this clear; it seems designed to preclude any hint that we might remedy the situation except through great sacrifice, discomfort, and cost. Indeed, it seemingly assumes a direct relationship between the level of sacrifice, discomfort, and cost demanded by any proposed solution and its scientific efficacy."
Gregory Benford
"Climate Controls"

30 years ago

November 1992

"Rather, the failure is inevitable. No matter how progress is defined, it will never be sufficient, because the government's avowed goal—'a drug-free America'—is impossible to reach. The war on drugs is a civil war between Americans who consider certain substances to be inherently evil and Americans who like to use those substances. It will therefore continue, in one form or another, as long as people have chemical prejudices and the power to impose them on others."
Jacob Sullum
"Just Say Mo' Money"

40 years ago

November 1982

"The fundamental problem is that our political system is inherently biased toward spending—taking money from everyone to reward favored constituencies. Those interests may be narrow and special—nuclear power, farmers, builders—or they may be broad-based—retired people, for example. Most of the 'cuts' thus far have been in the 20 percent of the budget that affects narrow domestic interest groups. Nearly untouched has been the 48 percent accounted for by 'entitlement' programs (including Social Security), while defense spending (at 25 percent) has, of course, been going up."
Robert Poole Jr.
"Sacred Cows—or Us"

50 years ago

November 1972

"The myth that the government could go on indefinitely creating give-away programs financed from 'somewhere' has finally run its course. Historically, Congress generally managed to keep things under control by keying the expansion of subsidies and other government programs to the growth of the economy. Thus, the parasitical effects were limited, due to the continued growth of the host (the productive businesses and taxpayers). In the 1960s, however, the federal budget suddenly grew twice as fast as the rest of the economy, amounting today to a staggering 13% of the gross national product. $50 billion worth of new or expanded domestic programs were added during the past decade."
"The Death of Santa Claus"