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Reason Foundation

Reason Alert: Be Afraid of McCain

March 2, 2007

Be Afraid of President McCain
Reason magazine's March cover story on presidential candidate John McCain is now online at Reason.com. Matt Welch, former Reason associate editor and current associate editorial page editor at the Los Angeles Times, dissects "maverick" McCain and concludes that individual liberty and small government won't have much room in a McCain administration. Welch writes that McCain's embrace of the surge strategy in Iraq "was a microcosm of the Arizona senator’s largely unexamined philosophy about the proper role of the U.S. government. Like almost every past McCain crusade, from fining Big Tobacco to drug-testing athletes to restricting political speech in the name of campaign finance reform, the surge involved an increase in the power of the federal government, particularly in the executive branch...He pushed for the huge airline industry bailouts after September 11. He recently proposed legislation requiring every registered sex offender in the country to report all their active email accounts to law enforcement or face prison. He wants to federalize the oversight of professional boxing. He wants yet more vigor in fighting the War on Meth. He has been active in trying to shut down the 'gun show loophole,' which allows private citizens to sell each other guns without conducting background checks. He has lauded Teddy Roosevelt's fight against the 'unrestricted individualism' of the businessman who 'injures the future of all of us for his own temporary and immediate profit.'... For years McCain has warned that a draft will be necessary if we don't boost military pay, and he has long agitated for mandatory national service...If you're beginning to detect a rigid sense of citizenship and a skeptical attitude toward individual choice, you are beginning to understand what kind of president John McCain actually would make, in contrast with the straight-talking maverick that journalists love to quote but rarely examine in depth." Welch's full feature is here.
 » Archives: McCain's Straight Talk Is Cheap
 » John McCain's War on Free Speech

Seismic Shift in Highway Funding
In a column for The Wall Street Journal, Reason's Robert Poole says we are experiencing "a seismic shift in the way roads are financed and managed -- the biggest change since the launch of the Interstate system 50 years ago. In these deals, investor-owned companies pay for the right to design, finance, build, operate, maintain and rebuild an existing or new toll road. In return they get the right to collect tolls on the road for 50 to 99 years. Headlines may scream 'New Jersey Turnpike for Sale!' but highways are not 'sold' under these concessions. The government still owns the roads and the contracts spell out exactly what the company can -- and must -- do. The deals (whether for a new or existing road) typically include limits on allowable toll increases and rates of return, maintenance requirements, etc. Private roads aren't exactly new: In the 19th century, private toll roads provided much of England and America's pre-auto-era highway capacity. Public-private toll road partnerships were rediscovered in France, Spain and Italy during the 1960s and '70s as the main method for building nationwide toll motorway systems. The re-emergence of this model in the U.S. has been driven by a transportation system burdened with pork projects and funded by gas taxes that fail to keep up with construction and maintenance costs, let alone travel demand. From 1980 to 2000 highway travel increased 80% and the number of drivers rose by 30%, but highway capacity grew by just 2%." The full column is here.
 » Reason's Transportation Research and Commentary

Who's Your Nanny?
In his nationally syndicated column, Reason's Jacob Sullum shows the ever-expanding nanny state is a truly bipartisan effort, "Broadly speaking, Democrats want to protect you from the physical threats posed by habits such as smoking, overeating, and crossing the street while listening to an iPod. Republicans are more interested in protecting you from the moral threats posed by temptations such as drugs, gambling, and pornography. Between them, they've got you covered, body and soul."

Girl Scouts Want You to Die
"My local liquor store is selling Girl Scout cookies, and last week I chose Thin Mints over gin, thinking myself quite virtuous. Little did I know…According to MeMe Roth, who is the head (and may be the sole member) of National Action Against Obesity: 'Girl Scouts have an economic, medical and moral imperative to dump junk food as their $700 million fundraising source...Girl Scout Cookies are high-calorie, high-sugar, high in saturated fat and nearly devoid of nutrition. Using young girls as a front to push millions of cookies onto an already bloated population further exacerbates an alarming [obesity] crisis, no matter how cute the uniforms are.' Could it be true that little girls are selling sin door-to-door in exchange for merit badges?" Reason's Katherine Mangu-Ward investigates the push for trans fat bans and finds Girl Scout Cookies make the world a better place.

The FDA vs. Dying Cancer Patients
This week the U.S. Court of Appeals heard a case that would allow terminally ill patients access to drugs not yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Reason Science Correspondent Ronald Bailey writes, "Thousands died waiting for the FDA bureaucracy to let cancer drugs that would have lengthened and perhaps even saved their lives onto the market. Perhaps finding that mentally competent terminal cancer patients do have a fundamental right to access investigational drugs will finally spur the FDA to stop clinging to an outdated mid-20th century cancer clinical trial system and embrace one more suited to the 21st century science. The millions of us who will one day develop cancer had better hope so."

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