Magazine | December 20, 2010, Issue


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

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

In This Issue


Politics & Policy

The Whip Dude

Washington, D.C. — On Election Night, as dusk settled upon the city, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, as ever, was relaxed. His thick salt-and-pepper hair was brushed back; the sleeves of his ...


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 ...


Politics & Policy


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, ...
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


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 ...

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 ...

Most Popular


Let Alfie Evans Go to Rome

Alfie Evans, 23 months old, is hospitalized with a rare neurodegenerative disorder. Against his parents’ wishes, his doctors at Alder Hey Hospital in Liverpool removed him from life support on Monday evening, maintaining that further treatment would be futile. Bambino Gesù Pediatric Hospital in Rome has ... Read More

Is Journalism School Worth It?

Clarence Darrow dropped out of law school after just a year, figuring that he would learn what he needed to know about legal practice faster if he were actually doing it than sitting in classrooms. (Today, that wouldn't be possible, thanks to licensing requirements.) The same thing is true in other fields -- ... Read More

Wednesday Links

Today is ANZAC Day, the anniversary of the Battle of Gallipoli: Here's some history, a documentary, and a Lego re-enactment. How DNA Can Lead to Wrongful Convictions: Labs today can identify people with DNA from just a handful of cells, but a handful of cells can easily migrate. The 19th-century art of ... Read More

Microscopic Dots. Let’s Look at Them.

Stuart E. Eizenstat has written a big book on the Carter presidency. (Eizenstat was Carter’s chief domestic-policy adviser. He also had a substantial hand in foreign affairs.) I have reviewed the book for the forthcoming NR. Eizenstat tells the story of a meeting between President Carter and Andrei Gromyko, the ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Alfie and Haleigh and Charlie and Jahi

When British hospital officials tried to pull the plug on 23-month-old toddler Alfie Evans on Monday night in arrogant defiance of his parents' wishes, many Americans took to Twitter to count their blessings that they live in a country that would not allow such tyranny. "Stories like Alfie Evans make me ... Read More