by Ryan Meehan
Joshua Swain is a producer at Reason.tv, which is the online incarnation of the libertarian magazine Reason. He regularly produces videos for the channel alone, and with current Reason staff members and “Red Eye” guests Kennedy and Nick Gillespie. His work gives life to a culture that is desperate need of an alternative to the current political landscape, and he’s our guest today in 5 Questions.
RM: For those who might not be familiar with Reason Magazine, could you tell us a little bit about what it is and what your role is when it comes to getting the publication’s message across?
JS: Reason is a libertarian monthly magazine based on the ideas of “free minds and free markets” and has been covering a changing American political and cultural landscape for 45 years. I work as a producer for Reason TV, the video journalist and documentary wing of Reason.
RM: How much of our constitutional rights being violated as Americans can be directly attributed to our lack of knowledge regarding those rights? How much of the same rights being violated has to do with what we assume that the government agencies and the police can get away with?
JS: That’s exactly right. Rights are expressed in the actions the public and the government take between each other. Government agencies from federal to local have been able to curtail (legally and illegally) many lawful restraints on their power by using the public’s ignorance about them. But you couldn’t really blame the public. The time it would take for a person with no background in law to learn all the minuet details and legal frameworks of our law is too great of a cost compared to the benefits because most people don’t feel their rights are being violated. Besides, one could know everything about the law and it not help when in a confrontation with police. But how much of our rights have we lost? I’ll individualized my answer by saying it simply depends on the person. An airline traveler has lost personal privacy to the TSA but LGBT people have been gaining rights over the past few decades.
RM: This may seem like kind of a loaded question, but here it goes: Based on what you’ve seen in your lifetime – If nothing changes with regards to the way the business of politics is handled, what will this country look like in fifty years?
JS: It’s always tough to say. America is pretty politically unique compared to the rest of the world. But in 50 years I could see America in a similar shape as Japan is now. Since the market crash of late 1980’s, the Japanese government props up failing banks and businesses, protects their established domestic market, and manipulates their currency’s value. Sound familiar? These policies have failed to recover the economic boom. That being said, Japan still enjoys a high standard of living and remains competitive in the international economy. America too will most likely be haunted by political malaise, near net-zero economic change, and stagnation.
RM: Hypothetical scenario: Let’s say for the sake of this question you are a school teacher, and the media in this country was a student in your class. That student hands you an essay test whose text is basically comprised of the product that they have been shoving down our throats for the past fifteen years. On a scale of one to a hundred, what percent grade do you give them, but more importantly what do you write on that test as far as suggesting what improvements need to be made?
JS: As a teacher I would immediately demand tenure since I’d be terrible at teaching. I wouldn’t want to necessarily lecture about how stories should be covered or complain about an ideological bias. If I was the head of a major news outlet however, I’d focus more on illegal drone strikes and less on Hollywood gossip, though, I understand the media is still at the throes of popular demands in the market. I would however praise the ‘Internet’ student. We have so many choices today thanks to the Internet that people can find and consume sources they trust. Reason TV and First Order Historians are examples of how the Internet has democratized, pluralized, and individualized media for the better.
RM: What’s the biggest problem America faces as a society today? In other words, is there a greater problem that some of our other issues can be attributed to which might be the root of some of the smaller ones?
JS: A complacent government with an apathetic majority.
RM: What’s up next for Reason and you personally in the remainder of 2013? Is there anything that you’re working on that we should be looking for?
JS: Currently I am producing a piece on a violinist who has teamed up with the ACLU to strike down a noise ordinance at a public beach. I am also helping a fellow producer, Amanda Winkler, on a short documentary about the trending popularity of polyamory and how people live in polyamorous and non-monogamous relationships.
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