Magazine | February 24, 2014, Issue


Peace and Prosperity

The last time I wrote a letter to an editor was in 1969. Two items in the January 27 issue have now moved me to write again.

While fulfilling my duty to my country, I served as an unarmed combat medic (in the status of a conscientious objector) at the Berlin Wall, and I wrote an editor to defend the right of a war protester to speak his mind freely. Thank you for Victor Lee Austin’s review, “Peace and Principle.” It captured many of my struggles over the use of force and the power of forgiveness and the practical application of love. My pacifist leanings were forever challenged and changed by the father of Angela Merkel (yes, that Angela Merkel), who said I should look at the Wall and decide if there were some evils that required forceful action — not hate but a kind of principled resolve that this new book (In Defense of War, by Nigel Biggar) seems to support.     

Kevin D. Williamson’s “The Hard-Working Rich” caught my attention as well. I drive one of those F-150s and fit your description and feel the need to affirm what was said. First, I must say that I have been blessed and gifted beyond anything I could have dreamed. I do not feel I did all this by myself, and I do not feel I deserve all I have. However, I turned 70 last year, and that is generally the number of hours I still work every week. Much younger men around me find time for retirement and recreation of all types, and with some deference to my presence complain about the rich — frequently, I am paying these men for various kinds of work. So, thank you, Mr. Williamson, for putting into such well-chosen words a truth about the value of work. I believe the saying that goes something like “Good fortune happens to those who work hard.”

Ronald Burgess

Via e-mail

A Doubt of the Benefit

This reader hopes he is not alone in calling attention to one clearly indefensible statement from the January 27 edition of The Week. In discussing the extension of federal unemployment benefits, you argue that, because the current number of job seekers dwarfs the number of available jobs, “extended benefits are probably doing much more good than harm.” This assessment ignores the basic economic fact that paying people not to work incentivizes them not to look for work. Extending these benefits increases the likelihood that they will have a harder time reentering the work force. The notion that such benefits are “much more” helpful than harmful does not follow from sound economic theory.

Mitch Kokai

Raleigh, N.C.

The Editors respond: Mr. Kokai accuses us of ignoring something we acknowledged: Unemployment benefits decrease the incentive to take a new job even as they help some people in distress. The terms of that trade-off will be different at different times, and reasonable people will defensibly disagree about them.

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

In This Issue


Politics & Policy

Europe’s Green Collapse

Remember when the spin from environmentalists and the Obama administration was that renewable “green”-energy mandates and subsidies would help the economy create millions of “green jobs”? President Obama still trumpets, ...
Politics & Policy

Pre-K Decay

The evidence seemed overwhelming. When Rutgers professor Steven Barnett gave a congressional briefing on preschool last spring, he touted higher test scores, improved graduation rates, reduced crime, less welfare use, ...


Books, Arts & Manners

Politics & Policy

At the Summit

Robert Gates served as secretary of defense during the pivotal war years of 2006 through mid 2011. His powerful memoir is insightful, tendentious, angry, elucidating, contradictory, and honest. Gates saw ...
Politics & Policy

Failing Upward

This may not have been the best time for Bloomberg View columnist Megan McArdle to write a book squarely in the tradition of Malcolm Gladwell. For whatever reason, Gladwell’s mesmerizing essays, ...
Politics & Policy

Loss Leaders

To movie obsessives, the Oscars are fascinating, frustrating, riveting, infuriating — a spectacle we love to hate and love to love. To normal people, though, they’re something much more basic: ...


Politics & Policy


Peace and Prosperity The last time I wrote a letter to an editor was in 1969. Two items in the January 27 issue have now moved me to write again. While fulfilling ...
Politics & Policy

The Week

‐ We feared the ACA would make companies not want to hire. Good news! It just makes employees not want to work. ‐ The latest from the Chris Christie Super Bowl: ...
Politics & Policy


GREEN Time was there was no smog in city parks. The poisons started only at the sidewalks, A sick fog heading to its source: high tiers, The lofty realm of chiefs and financiers. The public ...
Happy Warrior

Deny This

Handing out his awards for “sustainability” at Buckingham Palace the other day, the Prince of Wales made a few remarks about “climate change” and attacked “powerful groups of deniers” as ...

Most Popular


How to Bend the News

This, from ABC, is a nice example of a news organization deliberately bending the truth in order to advance a narrative that it wishes were true but is not: Venerable gun manufacturer Colt says it will stop producing the AR-15, among other rifles, for the consumer market in the wake of many recent mass ... Read More

Trump’s Total Culture War

 Donald Trump is waging a nonstop, all-encompassing war against progressive culture, in magnitude analogous to what 19th-century Germans once called a Kulturkampf. As a result, not even former president George W. Bush has incurred the degree of hatred from the left that is now directed at Trump. For most of ... Read More

George Packer Gets Mugged by Reality

Few journalists are as respected by, and respectable to, liberals as The Atlantic’s George Packer. The author of The Assassin's Gate (2005), The Unwinding (2013), and a recently published biography of Richard Holbrooke, Our Man, Packer has written for bastions of liberal thought from the New York Times Magazine ... Read More

Iran’s Act of War

Last weekend’s drone raid on the Saudi oil fields, along with the Israeli elections, opens a new chapter in Middle Eastern relations. Whether the attack on Saudi oil production, which has temporarily stopped more than half of it, was launched by Iranian-sponsored Yemeni Houthis or by the Iranians themselves is ... Read More