Magazine December 20, 2010, Issue

Letters

One Grain at a Time

Ronald Radosh’s review of Stanley Kurtz’s Radical-in-Chief (“The Obama Vision,” November 15), particularly his description of the incrementalist tactics of stealth socialists such as André Gorz, brings to mind Eubulides’ heap.

Eubulides, a Greek philosopher of the 4th century b.c., noted that if he began with a large heap of sand and removed a single grain, it would still be a heap. If he removed another grain, it would still be a heap, and so on. Eventually only a few grains of sand would be left, or even just one, but based on the previous logic — that a heap remains a heap even though a grain of sand is removed — we would have to conclude that it is still a heap. So when does it stop being a heap? It’s hard to say, particularly when in the thick of the sand-removal process.

Likewise, as the incrementalists chip away at our free-market system, it is hard to say exactly when it is no longer a free-market system. More to the point, one will be made to sound like an alarmist for raising an objection to the loss of a single grain of liberty, even if that particular loss was preceded by the loss of a thousand other forgotten grains. Great tactic, tough to fight.

A little more exposure to the ideas of our classical forebears might help today’s defenders of liberty see what the opposition is up to.

Jerry Seelen

Hingham, Mass.

Time for a Pay Cut

The November 29 issue is one of your best ever. But one worthy idea is missing from all of the suggestions for the incoming Congress.

The federal government should not merely freeze its employees’ pay — as suggested by Brian Riedl in “What to Cut” — it should cut pay (with the exception of the military) by 10 percent for at least one year. And the cut should include Congress and the Senate and their staff.

Many businesses have done that and more. Why should a bloated federal bureaucracy be exempt from sacrifice in these times? Also, this would send a strong symbolic message that the new Congress is serious about reducing the deficit and reining in the abuse of power.

Canton O’Donnell

Via e-mail

Members of the National Review editorial and operational teams are included under the umbrella “NR Staff.”

In This Issue

Articles

Politics & Policy

The Whip Dude

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Features

Books, Arts & Manners

Politics & Policy

A New Paul Revere

After observing a Fourth of July celebration in Yellowstone National Park in 1889, a young (and benignly amused) Rudyard Kipling wrote that he was “amazed” at how proud Americans were ...
Politics & Policy

Broken Dreams

Sixteen years after the end of apartheid and just months after successfully hosting Africa’s first-ever World Cup, how is the “Rainbow Nation” really faring? As South African historian and journalist ...
The Straggler

Hats Checked

The other day I stepped into an elevator while wearing a hat. Seeing ladies in the elevator, I removed my hat. One of the ladies, who was of a certain ...

Sections

Politics & Policy

The Week

‐ The entrant from Alaska was poorly qualified and awkward, she kept taking wrong steps, and the experts gave her low marks, yet she attracted plenty of votes because of ...
Politics & Policy

Poetry

AFTER READING THE JOURNALS OF GEORGE FOX They told me, “We’re quite busy here.” I told him, “Stay away from me.” I lay awake. I watched the wind Unwind the branches of a tree. I ...
Athwart

Trust but Terrify

As a lucky guest on the recent NR cruise, I had two options for keeping up on events: pay for Internet, which at sea often seems to be handed down ...
Politics & Policy

Letters

One Grain at a Time Ronald Radosh’s review of Stanley Kurtz’s Radical-in-Chief (“The Obama Vision,” November 15), particularly his description of the incrementalist tactics of stealth socialists such as André Gorz, ...

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