Monday, February 10, 2014

Some Recommendations for Jeff Bezos

The American Spectator's Jeremy Lott writes the following:
As promised, the Amazon exec [Jeff Bezos] is putting more resources into the paper, to hire reporters, overhaul the Post website, and, surprisingly, to expand the Sunday magazine. All of this is the stuff of recent press releases.

What’s less noted is the way Bezos is changing the Post’s opinion section. Here the tea leaf readers had a point. Multiple observers noted that he was probably something of a libertarian, though not a particularly strident one.

Bezos had given money to the Reason Foundation, which publishes the libertarian flagship magazine Reason but does a lot of boutique policy research as well; donated to a group opposing an income tax in Washington state; and wrote a large check to help pass gay marriage here.

According to the liberal, gay Facebook billionaire-owned New Republic, Bezos’s politics were not “visibly objectionable.”

That assessment may change as Bezos’s changes to the Post opinion mix sinks in:

• Ezra Klein is a popular young progressive who ran the Post’s Wonkblog. He wanted to do something larger at the Post. The Post, and therefore Bezos, said no. Off he went.

• Eugene Volokh is a libertarian law professor from UCLA. He has published the lawblog the Volokh Conspiracy with a cast of friends and relatives since 2002. The Post added the blog to its website in January.

• Catherine Rampell started the Economix blog for the New York Times. She’s been hired as a new opinion columnist and blogger for the Post, starting February. Judging from her writing on a wide range of economic issues, she looks to be a moderate liberal with a data-driven libertarian streak.

• Radley Balko is a popular writer on criminal justice issues. He worked for both Reason and the Cato Institute (full disclosure: we were colleagues, though he refused to talk with me for this article, the bastard). The Post hired him away from the Huffington Post in December.

These additions have not made great waves because the Washington Post already had a more diverse opinion portfolio than the homogenous Times. The Post has been home to several conservative columnists and bloggers for some time: George Will, Charles Krauthammer, Jennifer Rubin, et al.

What the Post did not have was a lot of time for libertarians. With Bezos’s ownership, this has changed. Because the Post doesn’t expect its opinion writers to hold to the same girly Marquis of Queensberry rules that Times columnists observe, the new opinion mix is a recipe for delicious conflict.

Bezos appears happy to change by adding, not subtracting. That means it will take a while for the editorial board members who write the paper’s editorials to move along.

But the general direction of where he’s taking steering the paper’s opinion pages is clear enough. The Post’s new owner wants more real, lively debate. He’s decided to send in the libertarians to make that happen.
A few comments on  Lott's report. Gay marriage is not a libertarian issue beyond the position that government should not be involved with any marriages. From a libertarian perspective, government should have nothing to do with heterosexual marriage or homosexual marriage---or polygamy, for that matter. Reason Foundation promotes diluted libertarianism. I rarely read Volokh, Rampell or Balko. This is mostly because their writing has never stood out to me, rather than my not being aware of their work. Although, Balko has written some good things on the militarization in the US of  local police, work which I consider important. There was even an attempt by me to publish an interview with Balko on the militarization of local police for the Robert Wenzel Show, but the gremlins got to it.

That said, I have no problem with Bezos publishing these people. As I have written before, I am even in favor of Bezos keeping Jennifer "The Crazy Lady" Rubin on as a columnist. For a publication like WaPo, the greater the spectrum of writers, in my view, the greater the paper will be. BUT, this greatness will only occur if Bezos also publishes hardocre libertarians who will throw no holds barred column attacks at even the tiniest of interventionist proposals by other columnists.

I thus suggest to Mr. Bezos that he consider publishing some or all of the following hardcore libertarians, who bring passion, clear thinking and powerful analysis to all of their writings (In alphabetical order):

Dom Armentano

Walter E. Block

Thomas DiLorenzo

Richard Ebeling

David Gordon

Robert Higgs

Hans-Hermann Hoppe

Peter Klein

Daniel McAdams

Gary North

James Ostrowski

Ron Paul

Ralph Raico

Justin Raimondo

Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.

Michael S. Rozeff

Murray Sabrin

Joseph Salerno

Bretigne Shaffer

Mark Thornton

Laurence M. Vance

Tom Woods


  1. No Murphy? Zing! =)

    1. Double Zing! No Peter Schiff.

    2. I'm fairly new here. I've gathered Bob hates it when Murphy debates inside a Keynesian framework, but I'm not sure of any other reason why Bob wouldn't include Murphy. Can longer time readers help me out here? Is that the most likely reason, or is there something else?

      Schiff might still be in the doghouse for his minimum wage comments.

      Maybe they're too busy with their day jobs?

  2. Oh, please, Bob. You forgot yourself.

    I have never heard of Volokh until I read something in Breitbart. Having Breitbart be all excited about Volokh can only tell you how the blog is: 1. Crappy writing & 2. Keep the anti-military/anti-war on the DL

    Breitbart was, also, excited about Ezra Klein being turned down.

  3. Radley Balko is great.

    His work shows how even the minarchist justification for government police is too much. You simply cannot have a police force with a monopoly and not get power hungry fascoids flocking to that profession like a bear to honey.

  4. Sure, let's complain about the imperfect, rather than a positive change in what people are being exposed to. I really appreciate Balko's writing, and I think he helps expose a lot of the corruption and hypocrisy in the government, particularly the "justice side. You do understand change occurs slowly, not all at once?

    On another note, why the running joke, with Jerry Wolfgang? He contributes nothing to the forum and just annoys people. If he engaged in any debate it would be different. I'm also not convinced that he isn't put there by you for laughs.

  5. Also James Bovard, Sheldon Richman, Jacob Hornberger, Doug Bandow