The Corner

Impromptus

WFB, Cannon, Et Al.

Henry George (1839–97), the author of Progress and Poverty (1879) (Library of Congress)

I have an Impromptus column today, offering politics, foreign affairs, cultural stuff — a typical mélange. I should point out that I wrote this column before the massacres in Texas and Ohio over the weekend. I have a few notes on the first massacre here. And please consult National Review’s editorial.

Here and now, I thought I would provide a memory, for WFB fans in particular.

In my column today, I have an item about University Challenge, the British quiz show. The new season has started — and the first match is here. (A lopsided, not very interesting match, but they can’t all be barnburners.) The answer to one of the earliest questions is Henry George — the American economist and journalist who, in 1879, wrote his hugely important and wildly selling Progress and Poverty.

I was once lamenting the difficulty, and expense, of New York real estate. WFB said, “I’m a closet Georgist.” I didn’t know what he meant. He was referring to Henry George and Georgism. A quick Wikipedia description of Georgism goes like this:

“. . . an economic ideology holding that, while people should own the value they produce themselves, economic value derived from land (often including natural resources and natural opportunities) should belong equally to all members of society.”

In other news, I have a new Q&A, with Lou Cannon, here. Cannon, as you know, is the veteran journalist and book-author. He has written a slew of books on Reagan, beginning in the 1960s. I cited him in my recent piece “Reagan and Race.” That is just the subject of our podcast conversation — the first half of it, at least.

Was Cannon surprised by the newly released tape, which has Reagan in conversation with Nixon (1971)? No. He was shocked, he says. Same as Patti Davis, one of Reagan’s daughters (who wrote about the matter here).

In due course, we talk about other subjects, including the Tea Party (2009–16). Years ago, Lou told me it was the first real grassroots movement he had ever seen, in a half-century or so of covering politics. “The Nixon people used to organize things and call them ‘grassroots.’ But this is the real thing.” Fiscal discipline, fidelity to the Constitution, the Freedom Caucus — what the hell happened?

I think of Emily Litella (“Never mind”).

Discussing our economic liabilities — a trillion-dollar deficit, a $22.5 trillion debt, entitlements unreformed and running away — Lou mentions that he has seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. He himself will not be stuck with the bill. What about them?

We further talk about Trump, the Democratic presidential field, and some other things. If you’re like me, you’ll enjoy listening to, and learning from, a real pro (again, here).

I will leave you with one more WFB tidbit, which I include in my column today. (Some like these tidbits — especially longtime NR devotees, I think — and others knock them. As you go along in life, I think you really write for your appreciators, and sort of let the rest drop. When you’re young, you fantasize about universal approval, or at least widespread approval. Ain’t finna happen.)

One year, when I was leaving for the Salzburg Festival, WFB said, “Say hello to music for me!” Typical — warm, charming, and stylish.

Well, I’m leaving for the Salzburg Festival, to do my annual work, today. Talk to you soon.

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