L. Neil Smith's
I enjoyed reading Patrick Martin's piece "Why Anarchy Won't Work." He makes lots of good points, most of which I can't refute individually. His basic point is that people in general are such clods that an anarchist society will fail. Well, maybe he's right, and it's worth mentioning that an industrial anarchist society has never even been tried.
But here's some thoughts. Couldn't one make exactly the same argument against any advancement of human freedom. "You can't free the slaves...they're illiterate clods." "You can't teach people to read...they'll get dangerous ideas into their heads." "You can't educate the poor...they'll go on a rampage." "You can't legalize liquor/drugs/sex...people will go crazy." I could go on but you get the idea. Since The State is nothing but institutional violence, isn't "anarchy" the next step toward human freedom?
Granted it will have bumps, granted that war will not suddenly end with the extinguishment of government, granted there may be civil wars, and granted the society may fail and devolve into some version of statism. In fact, that's exactly what happened to the United States of America. Does that mean that we shouldn't have tried freedom?
If the 20th century (and now the start of the 21st) proves anything, it's that The State is the most dangerous social institution ever invented. I'm sure I don't have to go into detail here. When we look at the state of the world, we have to ask the question: could anarchism be worse? And what the hell, we might be pleasantly surprised and find that we anarchists could create some really good and stable pockets of freedom in such a world. It might even feel like utopia, though I'm not guaranteeing anything.
Here's another thought: Look at all the parts of the world which make you feel optimistic, safe, secure and positive about yourself and the world. I'll bet they are all non-coercive (i.e. anarchist) in nature. Now look at all the things that make you feel dirtied, scared and angry. I'll bet they have a statist or authoritarian nature. If that's so, doesn't it make sense to push society in the direction of maximum freedom? And once we're pushing that way, why stop when we run up against "limited government". Just keep going.
John Bottoms [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Patrick K Martin writes:
"The point is that in ten or fifteen years from now, we the people could be armed to the teeth with weapons as obsolete as flintlocks (or even more-so, as a flintlock is still capable of killing today as it was in the American revolution). We may face a time when, like the days of Knights in armor, an armed elite, invulnerable to the weapons of the peasants, does with us as they see fit."
Does anyone think the government would be more successful at "body armor control" than they've been at gun control (or that they would be able to keep whatever gun they develop to penetrate body armor, even if an inferior design to what a free citizen might have produced, out of civilian hands)? Advanced body armor technology could also mean that the next Vicki Weaver lives to tell her side of the story.
The fact is, governments have had the power to charge through civilian gunfire at will since the first tank was developed (the ATF didn't bring tanks to Waco, the FBI did) coming up on a century ago. Should it hypothetically become necessary in some hypothetical country where a hypothetical government hypothetically gets out of control, would this body armor stop, say, a glass bottle full of gasoline with a lit rag hanging out of it? Wouldn't hypothetical JBTs take off the body armor eventually or would they mow their yards and do their grocery shopping in it? Hypothetically speaking, of course.
Scott Cattanach [email@example.com]
Just a quick note with regard to:
Medical Care for Free Individuals, by William Stone, III
The section in the article that caught my eye had to do with medical
costs in the past and present.
I'm a consulting programmer working in the healthcare industry. One of
the most amazing things I've learned in my job is that most hospitals
spend 51% of their income on insurance information processing - almost
all of it on handling Medicare/Medicaid payments.
They hire clerks, typists, researchers, data clearing houses. They buy
larger computer systems, expensive "Insurance Grouper" software,
special Medicare/Medicaid report formating software. Then they pay for
people like me to make it work.
That 51% figure isn't carved in stone... some hospitals ar 47%, some
55%. But "over half" is the average.
That's over half of the bill you pay going to do the paperwork for the
Why does this happen?
One: the Government requires the data be delivered in a certain way,
and "cost is no object." The hospital doesn't have a choice - if they
want to be able to treat people who have Medicare/Medicaid, and they
want to get paid for it, then they do as their told.
Two: in many hospitals, 70%-87% of the revenues come from
Medicare/Medicaid. For the hospital to remain in business, they have
no choice but to take those payments.
I would dearly like to see a "compromise Libertarian" plan enacted. I
know it's not true Libertarian, but it would be a foot in the door,
and could be set up under existing laws. Once we're in a little bit,
we could slowly change the system. (This idea is like gun control
laws, in reverse.)
My system would be to cripple Medicare/Medicaid, and let the hospitals
opt out and shut down the expense of handling it - provided they pass
the savings on to the customers.
The current payroll deduction for M/M would be changed - 25% would
still go to a general fund to help folks who are retired or whatever,
but 75% would go into a "Medical Savings Account."
When you go to the hospital, you give them your Account number, and
they deduct your bill from the account. If you still owe money, that's
fine - if you're working, it'll slowly get paid off. If not, then the
hospital could raid the general fund.
Yes, I know, ripe for abuse - the hospital could submit false claims.
But I'd rather take 10% of the claims being false, than a 50%
surcharge on every patient.
Jeff Schwartz 
The section in the article that caught my eye had to do with medical costs in the past and present.
I'm a consulting programmer working in the healthcare industry. One of the most amazing things I've learned in my job is that most hospitals spend 51% of their income on insurance information processing - almost all of it on handling Medicare/Medicaid payments.
They hire clerks, typists, researchers, data clearing houses. They buy larger computer systems, expensive "Insurance Grouper" software, special Medicare/Medicaid report formating software. Then they pay for people like me to make it work.
That 51% figure isn't carved in stone... some hospitals ar 47%, some 55%. But "over half" is the average.
That's over half of the bill you pay going to do the paperwork for the insurance.
Why does this happen?
One: the Government requires the data be delivered in a certain way, and "cost is no object." The hospital doesn't have a choice - if they want to be able to treat people who have Medicare/Medicaid, and they want to get paid for it, then they do as their told.
Two: in many hospitals, 70%-87% of the revenues come from Medicare/Medicaid. For the hospital to remain in business, they have no choice but to take those payments.
I would dearly like to see a "compromise Libertarian" plan enacted. I know it's not true Libertarian, but it would be a foot in the door, and could be set up under existing laws. Once we're in a little bit, we could slowly change the system. (This idea is like gun control laws, in reverse.)
My system would be to cripple Medicare/Medicaid, and let the hospitals opt out and shut down the expense of handling it - provided they pass the savings on to the customers.
The current payroll deduction for M/M would be changed - 25% would still go to a general fund to help folks who are retired or whatever, but 75% would go into a "Medical Savings Account."
When you go to the hospital, you give them your Account number, and they deduct your bill from the account. If you still owe money, that's fine - if you're working, it'll slowly get paid off. If not, then the hospital could raid the general fund.
Yes, I know, ripe for abuse - the hospital could submit false claims.
But I'd rather take 10% of the claims being false, than a 50% surcharge on every patient.
Jeff Schwartz 
After reading the links listed by Warren Tilson, I found I had so many points to counter that I couldn't do it in a reasonable length. So I am restricting myself to a few of the more obvious points.
"In addition, as the child gets older the cost to the parents of insuring her will go up."
What if the parents simply decided not to insure the child? As to property damage to others: Remember, the child is in the parents control. It would be laughably easy for the parents to decide to keep the child confined to the house, or their room, for "their own benefit". Note that I am considering a situation where the child is the beneficiary of some type of trust fund, controlled by the parents while they are a minor, yet given to the child by someone else (grandparent? a parent that died?) that is quite large. Think in terms of $10 million and up.
"Why would the child be high risk?"and
"Insurance companies base their decisions on actuarial charts. These would show that owning firearms are not high risk. Any company that tried to manipulate the statistics to such an end would find itself being run out of business."
Insurance companies already use information on actual age at death of grandparents / parents, hereditary factors such as heart disease, diabetes and more recently alcoholism to determine risk for a life insurance policy. Is it so far fetched to think they might apply these to a lifelong liability policy as well? As to firearms, try talking to your insurance agent about getting liability insurance to cover you in case of a shooting outside your home if you carry a firearm. Few will provide such a policy. And any that do put an express limit in the policy that they will not pay ANYTHING if you are found guilty of a crime. Many companies will not even consider it. Some will actually increase your homeowners rates if they even know you own guns. Even in the links you listed, Bob Murphy admits that insurance companies would probably make decisions whether or not to insure someone based on what weapons they might choose to own. In his examples, insurance companies would probably refuse to insure anyone who chose to own a bazooka and would probably only charge higher premiums for the choice to own a handgun.
The main flaw I see in the idea is that it comes from a faulty comparison with auto liability insurance. Auto insurance, contrary to the assumption that the articles you listed made, does NOT assume all liability for you in a car accident. It has a limited pay out. Typical amounts are $20,000 per person / $40,000 per accident. If the settlement exceeds that (such as in the case where someone dies) you get to pay out of your own pocket. And if the accident was intentional, and you are convicted of a criminal charge (such as intentionally running someone down) the insurance may not have to pay at all.
My arguments tone may mirror that of statists as you said. However, the thoughts and intent behind it is to bring to light what I think are real, legitimate problems with placing insurance companies in a position with more potential power than the government currently has.
Jeff Colonnesi [firstname.lastname@example.org]
[...] if I might pass along a message to all contributors. Will you folks please run your submissions through a spelling checker before submission.
It's embarrassing to import an article into Microsoft Word and notice all the spelling errors that pop up.
I realize that most of the submissions to TLE come from rank amateurs such as myself, but we can do better than this! Even the contributions from professional writers contain spelling errors.
We'll be taken more seriously if we at least appear to be literate.
James J Odle [email@example.com]
[See Odle's article, "I Dare Call It Corruption! Part I" - ed.]
Reading the back and forth about how to arrive at a consensus about age of consent, I was increasingly irritated. Then it hit me.
Most of the people writing are libertarians. I have read articles and letters from some of them for years. Here they are, arguing about how to determine age of consent, a universal method.
Guys, we are libertarians. The whole idea is to minimize, if not avoid stuff like that.
Before there were laws about what minimum age was for things, kids did it when they wanted or when their parents said they could. Neighbors might sniff, and there were definitely abuses - but the abuses were corrected by invoking the power of the state - and we know how that goes. Also, in case any of you did not grow up in rural areas, all the child labor laws are non applicable to home agriculture. An 8 year old can run a tractor or a combine (and get mangled by it) but he cannot run a newspaper stand (unless his parents own it and even then, there are hour limitations).
As for age of consent for drinking, when I was kid, a lot of the Catholic kids drank wine with their meals and on one thought a thing of it. (Oddly if they drank anything alcoholic with their friends, their mothers would hid them - unless they were drinking wine with dinner at their Catholic friends house.....)
In Baltimore, in the last three years, a girl who was 13 and four months pregnant married her 29 year old boyfriend - and it was legal as her parents gave their consent.
In a libertarian society, there would be no set standard or age, and while there would be abuse, the point is not to build a perfect society, just one that is looser and enshrines fewer faults. Which is better (OK, neither, however...) our system where kids do get abused and killed by parents and step parents, or they get abused, removed to foster homes and abused or saved or someone who doesn't like you turns you in and you lose your kids even though you are innocent?
No society will get this all correct. In a libertarian one, the abuses of all types should be less - and any one who wants to know why can write and list the reasons.
The point is there is NO SET STANDARD.
Mostly, an adult would be someone who says so and makes it stick.
As it has been in history and is now.
Daniel Safford [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Bill Walker wrote:
"David Friedman has described the anarchy of Iceland's early colony in his books and articles."
This is described in Law's Order, Chapter 17, "Other Paths", which may be read online at a www.daviddfriedman.com/laws_order/index.shtml.
David Friedman www.daviddfriedman.com is Professor of Law at the University of Santa Clara, where he teaches Law and Economics.
Since David Friedman does not mention that he is the son of Milton Friedman in his web page, one might image that he would prefer not to be so identified.
Bill Bunn [email@example.com]
In TLE#165, Julian Morrison asks, "why would I want to insure myself to drive, if the government didn't force me? I wouldn't go on the road if I didn't trust myself to drive straight."
The same reason that I carry insurance on my house, even though the government does not require me to, because a storm may blow my tree over into my neighbors yard and cause damage. Or, vice versa, I expect my neighbor to pay to repair my shed and the fence.
And on the road, I want to know I can pay off the damages I very well may cause if I make a mistake at 75mph with a 4,000lbs guided missile. No matter how much I may trust my own skills, the sad fact is that the Universe Is Not Fair. Shit Happens.
The most skilled driver can still hit a patch of sand in a blind corner, and through absolutely no fault of their own cause great damage. Carrying liability with "uninsured" coverage is social self defense. I would no more stop carrying liability when doing something dangerous than I would give up my guns.
Curt Howland [Howland@Priss.com]
Patrick K Martin's article was interesting. I just read where the USArmy is going to tungsten (rather than lead) cored ammo.
I think if you aim for the head and hit it, Mr. Martin's concerns about armored JackBooted Thugs sweeping aside the peasants is improbable.
Cheers - ex-USN pistol and rifle "expert"
J. Harold Rutabaga [rutabagaDOTnymATxganonATcom]
In TLE 165, Mr.William Stone III makes a case for how government intervention has ruined what was once the epitome of medical systems. Though Mr. Stone is right about the state of medicine, he is painting an incomplete picture. The current state of medicine, in general as bad or worse than he displays, is caused not only by government interference, but the combination of that interference, unchecked liability lawsuits, the problems of insurance, and the cost of becoming a medical practitioner.
First, some background. As Mr. Stone states, in the days of his grandparents, medicine was a contract business situation between the patient and physician. It remained this way until the mid twentieth century, when government began attempting to nationalize health care in a variety of ways. One was through the social security system, and it's socialized medicine program Medicare. Along with Medicare came the welfare socialized medicine system, Medicaid. Both of these systems mandated that physicians accept a level of payment for their services below market value. Next laws were instituted requiring hospital emergency rooms to accept any and all patients presenting, regardless of the patient's ability to pay, or the type of insurance that patient had. Physicians treating these emergency room patients were required to also accept these patients and their insurances, or lack thereof. This is only a small part of the government interference that forces medical providers to increase the flow of patients, and to pass the cost of care on to other patients, in order to compensate for the below cost care they are required to give.
Next we have the insurance companies. Insurance influences the practice of medicine in many ways. One, in any other business, would be called volume discounts. An insurance company will approach, or be approached by, a physician wanting to have access to patients enrolled in the company plan. The plan will routinely tell the physician what they pay for services, take it or leave it, and we'll pay when we want. And don't forget, if you give another company a cheaper price, you have to give us that price, too. This clause is often jokingly referred to as the Most Favored Nation, or MFN clause. Most insurance contracts have a clause forbidding the physician from billing more than the "allowed" amount. Using my own medical insurance as an example, I visited an Internist in March 2001. Last week I received the statement he had been paid. He billed $125. He was allowed $77.74. $15 of that was my co-pay, paid at the time of service. For a year, he had to carry the unpaid balance on his books. My wife had surgery in December. The hospital billed $6350. The insurance paid $4420. Some people will say the hospitals and medical providers take this into consideration. This may be true in some areas, but there are enough medical practices in many areas where competition will hold market prices down. Again, we have an influence forcing the practitioner to push through more patients to compensate for relatively low fees. By low, I mean in relation to overhead. This, in some areas, including cost of staff, but not the physician salary, may be as much as $90 per patient coming into the office. See more patients, lower your per patient overhead.
Another insurance problem is one of, "what the market will bear." The cost of liability insurance for physicians is routinely raised on a yearly basis. Many physicians routinely pay the equivalent of a year's salary for a less skilled occupation. In some specialties in some areas this will be $50,000 per year if not more. The cost of insurance is, of course based on payouts. The problem is payouts having no real relation to negligence on the part of the practitioner. In the time of Mr. Stone's grandparents, medicine was recognized as part science, part art. Today, not much has changed, it is still part science, part art. We have been led to believe, by the legal profession, that if there is a bad outcome, medically, then someone is at fault and must pay. I personally know of a lawsuit, by the family of a diabetic patient, who did not follow the prescribed regimen of treatment and died. In this particular instance, the patient probably bears as much fault for her own death as the providers of care. Yet the suit has been filed and a payout will probably be made. Another cost, requiring more patients pushed through the system.
Medical school is not cheap. Suffice to say $100,000 debts on graduation are not unusual. If you can't raise your price, then you must increase your volume. And to help us increase our volume, and cope with regulations, and insurance concerns, and liability concerns, many hospitals and large practices hire administrators. These are the people who will tell you how to cut costs, and still provide a level of service that "meets standards of care". Not the best care, but minimum standards. Administrators have to be paid, too.
This places medical practitioners in a dilemma. Many of us started practice at a time when there was more freedom in medicine. When we didn't have to push a patient through the office in 10-15 minutes, to meet some administrator's "productivity goal". When, if a patient needed a house call, we could do it without loosing half a day's income and taking a loss for the day. If we try to practice the "best" medicine, we will price ourselves out of the market. Many of us, especially those in the group over age 45 who should be in the prime of their career, are looking for ways to get out. We want to help our patients, and we are not happy with the way medicine has gone, but we have already lost control. Until a free market system truly goes into effect, I only see medical care in this country deteriorating. The system is about ready to implode, and when it does, government will step in with completely socialized care. If you want to see what that will be like, take a good hard look at care provided by VA hospitals. Classic examples of promises not kept by the government.
This is still not a complete picture, but it gives a little better explanation of how medicine has "gone to hell in a handbasket," to quote my aunt. Take it for what it's worth. Add a buck and it'll get you a cup of coffee.
DW (address comments to [firstname.lastname@example.org])
I was surprised to read in TLE#165's article by Patrick Martin that
"... the only weapons expressly protected by the Amendment are military ones,...".
Things change so quickly as I grow older I just can't keep up with everything. Perhaps someone could forward me a copy of this new constitution which has the word "military" between the words "bear arms" in the second amendment.
Toby W. Nichols [email@example.com]
William Stone III's article on his recent experience in health "care" was right on the money. I've done relief work as a pharmacist in 37 hospitals, and currently work in a 200-bed hospital in the semi-rural Midwest. Everywhere I've been the same problems exist, albeit to varying degrees. There are good people in medicine, but we get burned out and drop out as fast as we can.
In general, I have noticed that there is much more callousness and downright cruelty exhibited by the staffs in County and Federal hospitals than in private hospitals. I do the best I can to treat the patients with consideration, and I think what sets me apart from many of my colleagues is that I do know how the patients feel. My mother was hospitalized in a psych ward several times before she died (I wasn't quite 9, so I'm not sure how many times it was). The first time I saw the words 'Thorazine,' 'Miltown,' and 'Valium' was reading her medical records. Unfortunately, the more you care, the more hospital work tears you up.
My job often involves correcting doctors' prescribing errors. A number of them are gracious and thankful, but many do have the "I'm God" attitude. They take pride in their semi-literate illegible scrawls, their blood-stained clothing, and their license plates sporting such medical arcana as no code, tibia, and sputum. If I had a dollar for every hour I've spent tracking down these dickhead doctors to ask them what they wrote, I'd be independently wealthy. The major exceptions include some personal friends as well as those stalwarts in the AAPS, the American Association of Physicians & Surgeons, who are pushing elephants uphill in an attempt to reverse these insane socialist trends.
Just as the War on Some Drugs created crack, Fed 'compassion' has created County patients, the worst of whom engage in all the childish, irresponsible behaviors that government says we would all do if they didn't watch over us so closely. These are the people other countries criticize us for, saying that if only we would give our 'poorest members' all the medicine they need, they would become whole again. It's not true. It's illegal for us not to treat them. We give them millions of dollars of free health care, and they never seem to get better. They are why the common cold is one of the top ten reasons for ER visits all across America. We're so busy treating them, we don't have enough time to treat paying customers as well as they deserve. This is equivalent to the cop spending so much time writing speeding tickets and busting pot smokers, his department has a severely depleted payroll for the violent crimes division.
No amount of failure seems to change the wishful, wrong-headed, socialist 'thinking' of the hospital bureaucracies. The one where I am currently employed complains about how much revenue has been taken away from them by the new Doc-in-the-Box surgicenter across the street. The hospital is going in the red, so every department must cut hours for their employees. The hospital has seven vice presidents. Do any of them have to cut their hours or, heaven forfend, look for real work elsewhere? Oh, no -- and we shouldn't complain, because we're down from the nine vice-presidents we had a year ago.
When you go down the wrong road, any proposed exit is still the wrong way. We have to turn around and go back -- back to the libertarian system we once had. I hope the economics of retiring Boomers will eventually convince the Brainless Bureaucracy that free choice in health care is also the pragmatic one.
Fran Van Cleave [Fran@FranVanCleave.com]
I've been writing for publication since I was about 10 years old, and writing novels for 25 years. In all that time, I've refrained from responding to book critics.
In the first place, there didn't seem to be much dignity in it. Also, I've always figured a bad review coming from the right critic could only enhance my sales. Mostly, because critics as a class (I've known some) are failed subcreatures who can only make a mark in the world by attacking the achievements of others, I reasoned that the most painful wound I could inflict on them was to ignore them -- and let it be widely known that I never look at anything they write.
In this case, I have no choice. It seems Publisher's Weekly and Book List don't care for my new novel The American Zone (for what it's worth, Library Journal differs with them), and that someone who agrees with them has posted their reviews on Amazon.com, so they'll be the first evaluation anyone sees.
Understand, I don't care how Publisher's Weekly and Book List feel about my work. I knew from the start of my career that socialists who call themselves "liberals" were going to hate every word I write, and resigned myself to nothing but bad notices. I'm surprised now and then by a good review, but in some ways those are more dangerous than bad ones, and I've never taken them seriously, one way or another.
But I must take these reviews seriously, because this is not just an instance of someone not liking what I've written. It's an attempt to make what I've written go away because -- even before the terrible events of September 11 proved me right beyond question and discredited them for all time -- it casts doubt on their fondly cherished and hysterically held misconceptions.
Publisher's Weekly says, " ... lines like 'an armed playground is a polite playground' may put off those who don't share Smith's views. This preachy book sends a message that rings hollow in the world post-September 11." Mind you, an armed playground would have prevented the Columbine massacre and similar acts perpetrated in America's self-defense-free zones. Publisher's Weekly doesn't care.
Book List says, "Nobody connected with the book is to blame for its release at just this moment in history, but ... the yarn's high body count, terrorist incidents, and such scenes as ... an 11-year-old girl buying weapons and drugs may raise hackles outside Smith's hard-core libertarian fandom." Would this reviewer really rather see a little girl raped in an alley and strangled with her own panties, than see her with a gun in her hand? You tell me.
They like to play dirty. They grudgingly admit I couldn't have thought this book up and rushed it into print after September 11, but it would never have occurred to anyone to wonder if they hadn't mentioned it. They wish you to believe that's what I did. I can't recall when I began creating the characters and story that would become The American Zone, but in 1995, six years before the attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center, I read a synopsis of it to a convention audience. I have the videotape to prove it.
Over the course of my career, like many another science fiction writer, I've managed to successfully predict thing like the digital watch, the laptop computer, the Internet as we know it, the collapse of the Soviet Union, that the Y2K "crisis" would come to nothing, and that individuals carrying personal weapons would trigger a precipitous reduction in the rate of violent crime.
I'd never claim I predicted September 11 in The American Zone. (The calamity at the beginning more closely resembles what happened to Oklahoma City's Murrah Building, fresh in my mind at the time.) What I did predict -- the very reason I wrote the book -- was that an event like September 11 would be ruthlessly exploited by evil politicians to enhance their power, at the expense of everyone else's freedom.
This, of course, is just what's happening today. September 11 -- an historic equivalent to the Reichstag Fire that gave Hitler an excuse to turn Germany into a fascist dictatorship -- has given the current regime an excuse to Nazify America.
Ironically -- at the risk of spoiling one of my novel's surprises -- it's just been announced that a group is being formed to harass and intimidate anyone who opposes this Nazification process. The man behind that effort is none other than former drug "czar" William Bennett -- who's also the "philosopher-thug" villain of The American Zone. Another accurate prediction from the keyboard of yours truly.
In almost the same words Publisher's Weekly and Book List try to dismiss a major point made by The American Zone. A point brutally confirmed by the unavoidable realities of September 11. A point they don't want to be forced to think about. A point they don't want you to think about, either.
The point? That September 11 couldn't have happened in a culture where anyone who takes personal charge of his own physical security may not be interfered with. If a passenger or two aboard each of those hijacked aircraft had been carrying a gun, the hijackings would never have happened. It would never have occurred to anyone to hijack them. Terrorists might have acted someplace else, in some other way, but not the way they did on September 11.
The inescapable conclusion is that advocates of gun control (what I've learned more accurately to call "victim disarmament") must accept moral responsibility for 3000 excruciatingly unnecessary deaths. That blood is on the hands of everyone -- including reviewers at Publisher's Weekly and Book List -- who supports today's victim disarmament laws.
No wonder they hate my book and don't want you to see it. But The American Zone is something people need to read if we're to prevent more terrorism, and at the same time preserve everything that makes America worthwhile. Otherwise, I wouldn't have bothered to write it.
From now on, when I begin to read their opinions of other people's work, I'll automatically wonder to what extent the political agenda of Publisher's Weekly and Book List colors their judgment. I suggest they stick with what's expected of them -- literary criticism -- and leave politics to those of us who actually know something about it.
L. Neil Smith
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