A friend up north, &c.

Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper


A couple of weeks ago, Stephen Harper spoke at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. Harper, as you know, is the prime minister of Canada, and a Conservative. “I’m encouraged by growth signs I see in the United States,” he said. He values “the differences we have as Canadians,” but

I’m an enormous admirer of this country, and I have enormous faith in the ability of the American people, and particularly the American business community, to always find opportunity, always seize it, and always create a better future. That’s been the history of this country. I think it requires a helluva lot of effort by everybody in Washington to make that not true. And I just don’t think they can sustain that kind of effort indefinitely, so . . .

Perfect. (For a transcript of Harper’s remarks in their entirety, go here.)

Last week, in my Oslo Journal, I mentioned meeting a Danish entrepreneur — successful and sharp guy. I asked him, “Will the U.S. economy recover?” He gave me two words (initially): “Shale oil.” In The Graduate, the guy gave just one word: “Plastics.”

Anyway, a reader sent me a passage from Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand. Her character Ellis Wyatt says,

Oil shale. How many years ago was it that they gave up trying to get oil from shale, because it was too expensive? Well, wait till you see the process I’ve developed. It will be the cheapest oil ever to splash in their faces, and an unlimited supply of it, an untapped supply that will make the biggest oil pool look like a mud puddle. Did I order a pipe line? Hank, you and I will have to build pipe lines in all directions . . .

The federal government is doing everything in its power to stifle the fracking boom. They have been unable to do so in North Dakota. As North Dakotans told me when I visited last year, that’s because the state is largely in private hands, not federal hands. North Dakota was too homely — too unloved — to be colonized by the feds, so to speak.

Anyway, Atlas Shrugged, published in 1957, seems awfully current.

A reader sent me this link, saying, “This stuff drives me crazy.” (I have Bowdlerized a little bit.) The link is to a page describing the PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship. We learn that this tournament is “one of The PGA’s key diversity initiatives.”

I wonder what the organization means by “minority” and “minorities.” Jewish Americans? Korean Americans? I doubt it, somehow.

Would Tiger Woods of Stanford have entered the PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship? He won the NCAA tournament (of course).

Ever since childhood, I have thought about what it must be like to live as a black person in America. (I am not black.) It must be unbearable at times. I understand why some hightailed it to Scandinavia, several decades ago.

Question: If I were a black college golfer, would I enter the PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship? I don’t think I would. I think I would resent such a tournament, be insulted by it. But can I be sure?

Question: Would you accept an orchestra position, just because of your race? In Detroit and other cities, orchestras have dropped the curtain — the curtain that makes an audition blind — in order to hire by race. Would your self-respect and sense of justice allow you to accept a position on that basis?

These are questions to make a person tremble . . .