Magazine | October 17, 2011, Issue


The Light Bulb Goes On

Your October 3 issue includes a special section on innovation, with nine pages of text. All of it is vigorous, trenchant, and thought-provoking, but also unnecessary, because the accompanying photograph in the table of contents really says it all. The image shows a light bulb — the old-fashioned kind that is actually bulb-shaped, which today’s infants will never know because, thanks to our friends in Congress and the Bush administration, they are all being replaced with absurd twisty things.

Instead of a reliable device that had served us well for well over a century, we now have forced on us a new technology that is expensive and much less durable than advertised, imposes an infuriating delay before it goes on, leaves users one fumble away from a hazmat citation, gives everyone in the room a ghostly pallor like Lon Chaney in The Phantom of the Opera, and is just plain dorky-looking.

The image in the table of contents shows what American innovation used to be — and by contrast, what’s wrong with American innovation today: People are inventing to satisfy government edicts instead of consumer needs.

Alan Greschke

Erie, Pa.



The Chicago Way

I was surprised by Hans A. von Spakovsky’s statement in his piece on Voter IDs (“Not a Race Card,” August 29) that drive-in voters were being paid $10 per polling place. That’s not even keeping up with inflation. 

In Chicago — that paragon of fair elections — in the late 1940s, Bill would run errands for my dad any day but Election Day. He always voted and voted and voted.

It was in the days before there were homeless people. Bill was a wino. On Election Day sometime after 10 a.m. — that’s when the political parties began to get an idea of how the turnout and vote were going, precinct by precinct — the winos would be collected at the city’s numerous flophouses and bused from precinct to precinct.

He would be given the name of a voter in the precinct and a pre-marked ballot. It was his job to collect a new ballot, put the pre-marked one in the box, and come out with a clean ballot to be given to another wino.

For that he was paid $1 per vote.

But even through his muscatel haze, Bill was a believer in the one-man, one-vote concept. Before putting that pre-marked ballot in the box, he always voted for the other guy in order to spoil the ballot.

It has been many years since I lived in Chicago, but on Election Day, I always remember Bill and wonder if my vote is still being cast in the Windy City.

Larry Levy

Tulsa, Okla.

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

In This Issue


Politics & Policy

Pothole Pragmatism

Richmond, Va. —  Elsewhere, in swing states such as Wisconsin and Ohio, Republican governors are under siege. Union heavies have swarmed capitol rotundas, schoolteachers are marching in the streets, and ...
Politics & Policy

A Comedian Rises

Newport News, Va. — Something interesting happened this morning, says Felonious Munk. Don Imus mentioned him on television. Munk’s father heard about it, and he said to his son, “You’re ...


Books, Arts & Manners

Politics & Policy

Reluctant Dragon

Over the past few decades, an increasing number of scholars have come to interpret Western history less as a linear progression and more as a periodic cycle punctuated by crises, ...
Politics & Policy

Lawyers without Borders

In the early 1950s, serious conservatives warned of an impending world government. In proposed U.N. human-rights treaties, they saw a device for supplanting the American Constitution and gradually imposing socialism ...
City Desk

Take Care

You can write about hospitals all the time, since they will take us all in the end. Hospitals are institutions, with their own history and demography. The ground floors of the ...


Happy Warrior

Lethal Leisure

In 1853 or thereabouts, Czar Nicholas I described Turkey as the sick man of Europe. A century and a half later, Turkey is increasingly the strong man of the Middle ...
Politics & Policy


The Light Bulb Goes On Your October 3 issue includes a special section on innovation, with nine pages of text. All of it is vigorous, trenchant, and thought-provoking, but also unnecessary, ...
Politics & Policy

The Week

‐  The good news: At long last, Saudi women can vote. The bad news: They’ll have to show a valid driver’s license. ‐ Gov. Rick Perry is falling in the polls ...
The Long View

Stimulus II

In anticipation of the Obama administration’s plan for a second stimulus package, some ideas to restore and rebuild our nation’s crumbling and outdated infrastructure. Please add your own in the space ...

Mad Cow Disuse

Britain’s main export now consists of stories about a people cowed by dunderheaded bureaucrats or political correctness: A shopkeeper’s fined for selling a Miss Piggy doll within three miles of ...
Politics & Policy


ADVERTISEMENT Time is not worn, O lady with the Rolex on your wrist. It wears us from the time we’re born And when we’re gone its tickings still exist. Your show of wealth But shows how ...

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California’s Pro-Nuclear Renegade

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