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November 12, 1972 - Image 4

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1972-11-12

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Tom Gottlieb




r text


Number 67 Page Four

Sunday, November 12, 1972


The cc
SIX MONTHS ago, Alan Harris was
in many respects not unlike the ster-
eotyped University of Michigan student.
He wore blue jeans and wire rims, op-
posed drug laws and the draft, and pro-
bably argued with his father over the
length of his hair.
Harris maintained, however, that in
at least one respect - politically - he
was far different from the majority on
campus and even from the person he
himself was five years earlier. He called
himself a libertarian and a laissez faire
capitalist and espoused a philosophy
which could be considered rightist by al-
most anyone's standards.
Now, Harris' hair seems a bit shorter,
vords more carefully chosen, and his
Ances on some issues clearly more "es-
tablishment" than before. But all of
this is understandable in view of the fact
that he was a candidate for state repre-
sentative from the 53rd district running
on the Conservative Party ticket.
Harris explained his conversion to ul-
tra-conservatism. "Through my junior
year in high school, I was a liberal like
everyone else. Then I began reading
libertarian Ayn Rand as well as some
conservative economists and did s o m e
rethinking. The result was a complete
political transformation."
By his senior year in high school, he
was "an entirely different person" and
anxious to change society in accordance
with his new philosophy.
In 1968 he campaigned for Richard
Nixon, whom he has since repudiated.
At the University, Harris became active
in College Republicans and was elected
campus chairman at the end of his
freshman year. He has since served as
state treasurer and campus summer
chairman and is currently state vice-
chairman. He has also been a member
of the conservative Responsible Alterna-
tive Party, a University student group.
This fall, Harris was contacted by of-
ficers of the two-year-old Conservative
Party and asked to' run in the 53rd dis-
"The party itself was organized by ex-
Republicans led by former State Sen.
Robert Huber who had become convinced
that the Republican Party was not open
to conservatives and who felt the neces-
sity of working within a structure of
their own.
"Since it is a new party, the leaders
decided it would be unwise to run a
huge slate of candidates. So they picked
a few key areas on which to concentrate
and this was one of them," Harris ex-
"We took a look at the three candi-
dates already in the race (Democrat
Perry Bullard, Human Rights P a r t y
member Steve Burghardt, and Republi.
can Mike Renner) and decided that none
of them were very appealing to conserva-
Harris, who is attempting to take posi-
tions to the right of Renner, contended
that there was substantial conservative
support in his district and that he had a
real chance of winning. .In Washtenaw
County he received 297 votes out of
41,638 votes cast.











DESPITE HIS current commitment to
the Conservative Party, Harris said
he has by no means abandoned College
Republicans, which he described as a
good lobbying force for conservative in-
He maintained that most CR members
join to further a common philosophy,
"not to do footwork for any candidate
who claims to be, a Republican." He
observed, however, that the majority, un-
like himself, come from Republican or
conservative backgrounds.
Harris described his parents in Oak
Park as "liberal Democratic" and
"somewhat disturbed" by the political
position he has adopted.
"They can't accept it because it's con-
trary to what most people believe," he
said. "I've argued some of the issues
with my father, but he doesn't defend his
side very well. The main objection is
that I spend too much time on political
activities and neglect other things, like
my courses, which is true."
Harris, whose family is .Jewish, said
he is an atheist. His major is philosophy,
"which I've been attracted to' for a long
time," he explained, "though there are
very few philosophers I really like."
Now a senior, he plans to attend grad-
uate school in philosophy or law school.
In explaining his economic and politi-
cal philosophies of laissez faire capital-
ism and libertarianism, Harris said he
advocates "minimal government existing
only to protect individual rights." His
support for arcapitalist system is sym-
bolized by a ring he wears which bears
the dollar sign and a sticker which once
appeared on his door: "I'm fighting
poverty. I work for a living."
His concept of minimal government in-
cludes opposition to taxation, the draft,
the Federal Communications Commis-
sion, and laws concerning consumer pro-
tection, minimum wage, anti-trust and
civil rights.
Harris feels that "taxation is theft."
He explained that "in a libertarian so-
ciety, government functions would be
so limited that the money needed would
be nowhere near that needed today."
He argued that taxes could be volun-

tary. "People buy insurance to protect
themselves. Surely they would be willing
to pay for police, courts and the mili-
tary, all that a free society requires."

At that time Harris also
eral alternate means of
venue, including lotteries
government services suchK
cation of contracts which

proposed sev-
obtaining re-
and fees for
as the certifi-
are now free.

"I don't advocate immediate abolition
of all tax. That will be the final step
toward a free society," he emphasized.
(In contrast to Republican Renner, who
favored a graduated income tax, Harris
supported school funding through proper-
ty taxes during his campaign.)
14ARRIS SAID that a pressing issue
is a complete and permanent end to
conscription. "The government doesn't
have the right to draft under any circum-
stances, including war," he argued.
"Conscription presupposes that individual
lives belong to the state, which can dis-
pose of them as it wishes."
He contended that without a draft, the
government could pursue only wars the
people support. "There would be no fu-
ture escapades like Vietnam because
most people wouldn't fight in them. If
men won't volunteer in defense of their
country in wartime, the government pro-
bably isn't worth protecting anyway."
Harris said he has always felt that
the Vietnam war was a mistake. "It's
only justification is a vague assump-
tion that it would somehow retard com-
munism. That doesn't take priorities into
account, since Vietnam is thousands of
miles away and Cuba is only 90 miles
from our coast.
"Furthermore, the South Vietnamese
government isn't worth defending. It
isn't much better than that of the North."
Harris said he opposes Vietnamization
because he feels the United States has
no obligation to defend the South or
to prepare it to defend itself, especially
at the expense of American lives and
Despite his opposition to the war, Har-
ris voiced approval of bombing raids,
which, he asserted, strengthen the Amer-
ican bargaining position and increase the
likelihood of prisoner release "by show-
ing Hanoi we are still willing to use
force." He said he does not consider
the bombing escalation, but a response
to North Vietnamese actions. He added,
however, that he opposes bombing which
might involve more troop commitments.
Harris' objection to the war does not
alter his belief that world communism
is a serious threat. "I'm not paranoiac,"
he said, "but those countries which are
potentially most dangerous have com-
munist governments."
Opposing trade as well as cultural
exchange with communist countries, Har-
ris last spring joined a group of College
Republicans and Young Americans for
Freedom in picketing the Chinese ping-
pong exhibition at UM.
Harris also denounced United States
membership in the United Nations, which,
he charged, has "pursued policies of
genocide and massive aggression and
created explosive situations by sending
in 'peace-keeping forces.'
"Let me use an analogy. I don't think
the police should negotiate with the
Mafia. Similarly, I don't think this coun-
try shoull negotiate with the Soviet Un-
ion or other totalitarian countries. No
benefit comes from compromise with
that kind of evil."
DESPITE HIS concern about world
communism, Harris' interests are

"If a man has the money to buy a
station, the government has no right to
force him to air views he disagrees
with. The state must protect everyone's
rights or it protects no one," he said.
"What scares me most is what the
FCC could be used for. The government
could revoke all licenses and impose to-
tal censorship."
Harris also maintained that a govern-
ment which can ban sexually explicit
material "has the power to censor every-
thing else. Besides, it's absurd to claim
that pornography is harmful," he added.
"By and large, it's useful."
Six months ago Harris had expressed
adamant opposition to all legislation at-
tempting to regulate personal morals,
which he said he considered infringe-
ments of individual liberty. This includ-
ed laws prohibiting abortion and drog
"Neither I nor anyone else should be
allowed to force his values, even if they
are right, on others. An individual's life
is his own and he should be permitted
to do with it what he wants. If he
chooses to contradict his own best inter-
est, that's his business."
Last spring Harris said he considered
abortion a woman's prerogative "since
the fetus is not a human being with its
own rights." He has since then reversed
his position.
"Last April I debated abortion reform
with a close friend of mine before the
CR club. He was opposed and I was in
favor. Soon after that - long before I
decided to run for state rep - my friend
convinced me that there was a serious
gap in my position.
"The most important factor is protect-
ion of individual rights, and there is a
great deal of question as to whether
or not the fetus has rights. This is a very
complex matter, and I don't think abor-
tion should be legalized if there is a
possibility that someone's rights may be
violated, especially since there is no
redress after the act has been per-
"I'm very certain on most matters,
but this one is very complicated. In any
case, it was demonstrated to me that be-
ing pro-abortion was being pro-infanti-
Harris' opposition to "hard drug" laws
has also been temepred since the first
interview, at which time he argued,
"My belief that drugs are lousy doesn't
give me the right to stop others from
taking them.,
Healso contended that drug laws fos-
ter crime by forcing trafic underground.
"There's no way the state can eliminate
drug use. Government encroachment can
only worsen matters."
MORE RECENTLY he said, "I've al-
ways maintained that drug laws are


own interest in accepting or refusing a
Harris also criticized government-re-
quired safety devices on cars. "People
are already complaining abt)ut rising
prices. If there were a big public demand
for these devices, manufacturers would
provide them. If the government has to
require the mechanisms, it's obvious peo-
ple don't want them," he maintained.
I-arris conceded that some consumer
complaints are legitimate but argued
that "people are looking to the wrong
source," and blamed labor unions for the
decrease in product quality. When com-
panies are forced to raise wages, cost
rises while quality declines, he contend-
ed. "When plastic is substituted for me-
tal, unions are responsible."
"Consumer fraud is a very popular is-
sue," Harris said, "but the biggest
fraud is that perpetuated by the govern-
ment, which is misrepresenting itself in

"A person has the right to spend his money only for
services another person is willing to provide him. A res-
taurant owner's rights are abridged if he is forced to serve
those he doesn't want to..

"Only the state can refuse to recognize
an individual's rights. Since blacks have-
n't been accorded full rights, people as-
sume they're inferior."
Harris said he views as justified gov-
ernment intervention to desegregate state
institutions but not private ones. "No
matter how despicable and immoral rac-
ism is, no one has the right to tell an
individual how to use or dispose of his
property or who to hire or how to run
his business, as long as he doesn't in-
fringe 'upon other people's rights."
Asked is he feels blacks should have
the right to spend their money where
they choose, he responded, "Any finan-
cial transaction involves a mutual vol-
untary agreement. If not, , someone's
rights are denied.
"Money doesn't give a person the priv-
ilege of trying to violate someone else's
rights. A person has the right to spend
his money only for services another per-
son is willing to provide him. A restaur-
ant owner's rights are abridged if he
is forced to serve those he doesn't want
to. Something can only be called a right
if it doesn't infringe upon other people's
"Property rights are crucial," Har-
ris emphasized. "If you don't have these,
you don't have any. Personally, I can't
understand why a black would want to
patronize a racist establishment any-
JIARRIS SAID he thinks there has been
a recent increase in racism, which he
defined as cases in which skin color in
any way influences beliefs or behav-
ior. This includes the black awareness
movement, he noted.
"I refuse to treat people as anything
but individuals, and that's the only way
to solve the problem, on an individual
basis. If people are racist, civil rights
laws aren't going to change attitudes,
only increase resentment and deny
rights. People must recognize that race is
an absolutely meaningless concept and
that will be accomplished only grad-
ually, not by force or decree."
Harris seemed less concerned than
most ultra-conservatives about an alleg-
ed communist element within black and
student groups. "Communist strength in
this country is great, and moderates and
liberals are making the U.S. more com-
munistic. But infiltration in the move-
ments, doesn't make much difference.
*The protesters and black power peo-
ple were there to begin with. The com-
munists just attached themselves. With
the obvious exception of Angela Davis,
I don't think they're running things. I


wrong. But the problem must be viewed
contextually. We must consider priori-
ties, the most important being individual
property rights.
"It's almost certainly true that some
drugs may make the user more prone to
violate the propertyrights of others and
this can't be permitted. That's why it's
unwise at this time to legalize all drugs.
This isn't the case with marijuana, of
ATTACKING numerous types of con-
sumer protection legislation, he voic-
ed opposition to required health warn-
ings on cigarette wrappers. Harris, who
chain-smoked during the interview, said,
"The American Cancer Society has ade-
quately cautioned the public. An individ-
ual is responsible for his own body and
may put into it whatever he chooses."
Harris said consumer protection laws
damage the reputations of ethical firms
and discourage competition. "If the gov-
ernment sets minimum standards, there
is no incentive to provide higher quality.
Without controls, excellence of merchan-
dise would become a prime market val-

He denounced wage and price controls
as both totalitarian and ineffectual, treat-
ing the result rather than the cause
of inflation. "To claim that high wages
and prices are at fault is nonsensical.
The government causes inflation by print-
ing more money. Nixon knows his plan
can't work, but he is deliberately perpe-
trating fraud."
HARRIS ALSO argued that a bogus is-
sue has been built around ecology
and that the environment has improved
since the turn of the century.
"The air over New York City is in-
comparably cleaner now because of the
enormous decrease in coal use. And
fish now contain half as much mercury
as in the twenties. I don't think we have
the problem ecology people claim."
Though there are some who are sin-
cerely concerned, he admitted, he called
the ecology movement "a manifestation
of anti-technological, anti-capitalist atti-
tudes." He blamed government interfer-
ence as the prime cause of whatever
problem exists, maintaining that proper-
ty rights laws could control emissions




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