Publisher felt government too intrusive

By Don McAlavy

Raymond Cyrus Hoiles was a crusty old newspaper publisher who did not believe in taxes. Nor did he believe in compulsory public support of schools, the postal system, fire departments or police forces.

His views are carried into hundreds of thousands of homes every day. His journalistic empire includes papers in California, Colorado, Florida, Texas, Ohio, North Carolina, Arizona, Illinois, Missouri and eastern New Mexico.

He was worth millions and was always generous in helping those aligned with his philosophy.

He belonged to no organizations, he said, “except the Elks and the country club.”

He thought of himself as a newspaper publisher first and a political philosopher second.

“What I want to do mainly,” he once said, “is to get people to think.”

Hoiles started his life as an Ohio farm boy. He was sometimes characterized a crabby, bitter old man with an irrational detestation of government schools, government libraries and other conventional features of contemporary society.

In his 80s, he was slight of build, hawk-nosed, toothy and bespectacled, with a fringe of still dark hair around his otherwise bald head. As he talked — dropping into occasional ruralisms such as “Floridy” and “Canady” — his eyes crinkled with humor, his teeth flashed in half-grins, and he ended every other sentence with a half-quizzical “huh?” or “hah!”

His favorite expletive, to underscore things he considered particularly preposterous, was “Judas priest.”

“I’m a voluntaryist,” he said when asked to classify his political philosophy. “I’m for keeping the government out of as many things as possible. Government should exist only to try to protect the rights of every individual — not to redistribute the property, manipulate the economy or establish a pattern of society. Person, groups and governments ought not to threaten to initiate force or use it to obtain their ends.

“It’s been shown time and time again that the postal service would be operated better and cheaper in private hands,” he said. “The telephone company is run that way, isn’t it — hah! Fire departments logically should be a function of insurance companies — huh?

Hoiles was sometimes accused of racial prejudice, but he contended his philosophy transcended and would resolve any racial conflict. “Civil rights is a misnomer,” he said. “If they’re going to have overnment schools, they ought to let everybody in. But when you own property, the government shouldn’t tell you who to sell or rent it to, or who you can serve in your place of business.”

If it is wrong for one person to take from another, Hoiles contended, it was equally wrong for government to do the same thing.

Hoiles studied a variety of political, economic and social philosophy from Plato and the Bible to more modern contemporaries.

He went to Mount Union Methodist College in his native Alliance, Ohio. “I spent 60 years unlearning what I was taught there — and the job isn’t done yet,” he once said.

His newspapers were always bright and he insisted on keeping news presentation objective. But his papers still go all out in promoting the Hoiles philosophy in editorials.

Freedom newspapers — they include the Clovis News Journal, Portales News-Tribune and Quay County Sun — are the best newspapers I read when I’m in New Mexico.

Hoiles was a good man. He died in 1970 at age 91.

Don McAlavy is Curry County’s historian. He can be contacted at:

dmcalavy@telescopelab.com