The Corner

Begin the Day with a Friendly Voice

Let’s start off the morning with some hopeful signs.

First, the Cato Institute’s Daniel Ikenson makes a persuasive case in a recent paper that any spurt of worldwide protectionism originating from the current economic crisis will be short-lived. The Smoot-Hawley precedent doesn’t apply well to the situation, he argues:

The absence of trade rules in the 1930s meant that there were no proffered courses of action, no sources of adjudication or remediation, and no generally accepted limits to the actions governments could take in response to external economic policies. And there were far fewer domestic constituencies of any political consequence advocating against protectionism in the ‘30s. Consequently, there were no proven stopgaps to prevent the pandemic of spiraling protectionism that erupted and exacerbated the global recession.

Meanwhile, for those of us worried about the fate of American conservatism’s fusion of libertarian, traditionalist, and hawkish strands of public sentiment, my friend Matt Spaulding at the Heritage Foundation offers a reassuring assessment of America’s abiding tradition of constitutional liberty:

A constitutional conservatism unites all conser­vatives through the natural fusion provided by American principles. It reminds economic conser­vatives that morality is essential to limited govern­ment, cultural conservatives that unlimited government is a threat to moral self-government, and national security conservatives that energetic but responsible government is the key to America’s safety at home and prominence in the world.

America’s principles were key to Frank Meyer’s original fusionism of traditionalism and libertarian­ism, as well as Ronald Reagan’s robust conservatism of the 1980s. These principles can be the source of a new fusionism and a new American conservatism if we understand them less as a fusion of opposites and more as inferences from the same source of foundational truth.

Finally, our movement’s indispensable man on transportation issues, Robert Poole of the Reason Foundation, has written an upbeat assessment of the work of a major national study commission on surface transportation. Its analysis and recommendations chart the right course for encouraging new, productive investment in American infrastructure while strengthening market principles and expanding private-sector involvement:

Those of us who favor expanded use of tolling and public-private partnerships should be cheered by what the Finance Commission is proposing, at both a macro and a micro level. At a macro level, the whole thrust of the report reflects one of their six guiding principles: “The funding and finance framework should cause users and direct beneficiaries to bear the full cost of using the transportation system to the greatest extent possible.” That’s a powerful endorsement of continuing and strengthening the user-pays principle even as the country transitions away from petroleum-based fuels and hence to highway funding sources other than fuel taxes.

Most Popular

History

Thanksgiving Is Not a Lie

We live in a time of heedless iconoclasm, and so one of the country’s oldest traditions is under assault. Thanksgiving is increasingly portrayed as, at best, based on falsehoods and, at worst, a whitewash of genocide against Native Americans. The New York Times ran a piece the other day titled, “The ... Read More
History

Thanksgiving Is Not a Lie

We live in a time of heedless iconoclasm, and so one of the country’s oldest traditions is under assault. Thanksgiving is increasingly portrayed as, at best, based on falsehoods and, at worst, a whitewash of genocide against Native Americans. The New York Times ran a piece the other day titled, “The ... Read More
Culture

On Being Grateful

My mother always enjoyed making Thanksgiving dinner. She took a traditional Southern woman’s pride in being a good cook, following her mother’s recipes, and my family made a rare display of kindness by declining to inform her that she was a fairly dreadful cook, one whose kitchen alchemy on the electric range ... Read More
Culture

On Being Grateful

My mother always enjoyed making Thanksgiving dinner. She took a traditional Southern woman’s pride in being a good cook, following her mother’s recipes, and my family made a rare display of kindness by declining to inform her that she was a fairly dreadful cook, one whose kitchen alchemy on the electric range ... Read More
U.S.

Gratitude: What We Owe to Our Country

Editor’s Note: The following essay by National Review founder William F. Buckley comes from the first chapter of his 1990 book, Gratitude: Reflections on What We Owe to Our Country. I have always thought Anatole France’s story of the juggler to be one of enduring moral resonance. This is the arresting and ... Read More
U.S.

Gratitude: What We Owe to Our Country

Editor’s Note: The following essay by National Review founder William F. Buckley comes from the first chapter of his 1990 book, Gratitude: Reflections on What We Owe to Our Country. I have always thought Anatole France’s story of the juggler to be one of enduring moral resonance. This is the arresting and ... Read More

The Imaginary Trump

Like Andrew Jackson, Donald Trump is man who represents the age in which he lived. Whatever you may think of the age. Jackson embodied a generation of men who had risen and made their mark in a young country. He represented their desire for greater representation, even if it had costs for slaves and Indians. He ... Read More

The Imaginary Trump

Like Andrew Jackson, Donald Trump is man who represents the age in which he lived. Whatever you may think of the age. Jackson embodied a generation of men who had risen and made their mark in a young country. He represented their desire for greater representation, even if it had costs for slaves and Indians. He ... Read More