In 1964, Barry Goldwater declared: “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice,” and lost badly to Lyndon B. Johnson in the presidential election. In 1980, the United States elected Ronald Reagan President, and he declared in his inauguration that “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”
Reagan brought a small-government agenda out of the political wilderness and into government. What has happened to that agenda? Unfortunately, as William Voegeli observes in our cover story, the best conservatives can claim to have done in the past 26 years is to have fought big government to a draw. Why, asks Voegeli, has that happened, and what should conservatives do about it?
Another constant over the decades is that the media like stories about other people’s misfortunes—an attitude that often leads to bad reporting of economics stories. We read about economic losers—and occasionally economic winners. We also get lots of opinions about whether certain economic policies are good or bad. Shouldn’t the media give us the big picture based on facts? Terry Miller thinks so, and says so in his article on why free trade is really a good thing—opinion polls notwithstanding. Don Boudreaux, meanwhile, has been a roving ombudsman at-large, calling out the bad economic reporting that shows up every day in newspapers across the country. We offer here a selection of some of his best letters to the editor over the past year. In a slightly different manner, the Show-Me Institute has also reached out to the fourth estate. As Eric Dixon reports, Show-Me recently had great success sponsoring a Computer- Aided Research and Reporting boot camp for Missouri reporters.
Also in this issue, Frederick Hess and Thomas Gift review some of the promising entrepreneurial efforts in education, and Ann Fitzgerald offers advice on how to start a direct mail fundraising program.