Thomas L. Knapp

Tom Knapp is the publisher of Rational Review.

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A bear market for freedom?
by Thomas L. Knapp

Perhaps the best thing that can be said for 2002 is that it's over. The freedom movement took a shellacking in just about every area last year. We're used to that when it comes to elections, of course, but in other areas we had become used to a modicum of success.

Over the last quarter century or so, a new breed of think tanks has garnered attention and respect for our ideas. Issues advocacy groups have advanced the libertarian agenda in some cases and at least held the line in others. The freedom movement came charging out of the chaotic sixties with a fire in its belly, building on the solid foundation of work done before the dark days of Cold War and Vietnam, and offering no quarter.

The sky is not falling, but the post-9/11 bellicosity of the state and Americans' preoccupation with economic recession brought us up short this year. Some libertarian institutions failed entirely. Others cut back operations. Still others found themselves facing political defeats that ended a string of victories on issues like medical marijuana.

This is the milieu into which Rational Review was born one year ago today. And the choice facing me a year later, as its publisher, is whether to abandon lemons or try to make lemonade.

For more than two years, I have worked full-time in the freedom movement, taking home a smaller paycheck than from my previous job as a factory worker. With the demise of Free-Market.Net, which caused my income to drop by about 90%, I've had some tough decisions to make. I'd like to share those decisions with you:

  • In the final month of last year, Rational Review finally became profitable -- in other words, it exceeded its operating costs -- by something in the neighborhood of $20. I can't live on $20 a month, but things are going in the right direction. The upside of my sudden excess of free time is that I can use that time to push it farther and faster in that direction. I intend to do so, offering our readers more and better content and additional features.

  • The first new feature -- Rational Review News Digest -- launched on December 23rd and, as of this writing is already reaching more than 500 email subscribers each weekday morning. If you haven't subscribed yet, I hope you will. Mary Lou Seymour, Steve Trinward and R. Lee Wrights and I are meeting the freedom movement's need for a daily news digest feature.

  • Rational Review Press has published two short e-titles this year: a reprint of Henry David Thoreau's On Civil Disobedience and an e-booklet on Writing the Libertarian Op-Ed. In 2003, three full-length books and a number of smaller publications are planned.

  • In January, we intend to expand and improve our discussion forum -- that feature was provided as part of Rational Review's partnership with the now-defunct Free-Market.Net, so we have to move anyway, but we hope to offer a better product that interfaces with a larger participant pool.

... and that's just the beginning. The first Rational Review Editors' Conference is already in its early planning stages and will hopefully take place somewhere in America's heartland this summer or fall. PressHog is a newborn project to provide inexpensive media services for libertarian clients.

The best time to jump into the market is when stocks are down, right? There may be a bear market for freedom at the moment -- but that's going to change, and I intend for Rational Review to not only be there when it does change, but to help create that change.

And it will -- with your support. If you've enjoyed Rational Review, then tell your friends about it. And, if you can, help us financially, either with a direct donation or by purchasing the goods and services offered by Rational Review or its advertisers.

It's a new year. Let's go kick some ass for freedom.