Magazine | May 6, 2019, Issue


A librarian places a book by author Lee Child onto a shelf at Widnes Library in Widnes, England, September 12, 2018. (Phil Noble/Reuters)

People at the Market

Regarding “Neither Idol Nor Tool” (February 11): Here’s what, I think, Tucker Carlson meant in his critique of markets. Rather than bowing to GDP and the free market by offshoring factories, jobs, and supply chains to lower-cost locales, national leaders and policymakers should have tempered their fealty to the god of commerce with consideration for the national good. Carlson argues that the health of the family is a good proxy for the national good. In those terms, what you call “restrictions on trade” may prove salubrious. Retaining factories and jobs would certainly have proven to be “a great economic boon for Americans in [now] distressed communities.”

A similar framework can be used regarding Trump’s proposed changes to our current immigration processes, including asylum and border security. Has it been useful to our existing citizens, especially those at the lower wage rungs, to have millions of unvetted, low-educated workers competing in an increasingly slack labor market? Our national leaders and policymakers should have, rather, implemented policies supportive of our existing citizens and their dreams of starting and supporting families by responsibly limiting the waves of illegal migrants these past years.

Blamoh Holmes
Blue Ash, Ohio

Ramesh Ponnuru responds: While I am sympathetic to much of this commentary, I would caution that before imposing restrictions on trade to benefit American workers, we should make sure they actually will benefit American workers. Tariffs on steel in the past have injured many more Americans than they have helped, by inflicting harm on steel-using industries that employ more people than the steel industry does. Too often proposals on trade ignore these pitfalls.


Beliefs Can Go Bad

My very liberal aunt, chairwoman of the English department at UC Davis, gave me a subscription to NR in the late 1950s. I have been a subscriber ever since. Lately I have become disappointed in much of NR’s editorial slant.

An example is your paragraph (April 8) on the New Zealand massacre. I think you need to explain why you take it as a given that white nationalism is a creature of the Right. Perhaps you should carefully define exactly what it is that NR believes constitutes “the Right” that harbors white nationalism.

James Bridges
Lafayette, Calif.

The editors respond: Conservatism expresses, among other things, a reverence for community and custom. White nationalism is a demonic parody of this disposition.


In Search of Reading Time

Your symposium on personal libraries (April 8) transported me, Proust-like, to an early weekend morning when, at age seven, I discovered, while waiting for my parents to awaken, a small bookcase in the home in England where we stayed for a few months in the mid ’60s. A musty book about pirates captured me and gave me a lifelong hunger for the adventures that bookshelves hold.

When I asked my mother-in-law whether she had read all the books in her collection, she coyly answered, “I have read some of them twice.” Like me, she appreciated the intrinsic value of merely owning a good book, even if one never had quite gotten it off the “to read” list. Thanks for this wonderful excursion through the book-lined memories of others and for another madeleine moment of the kind that books so often carry.

Jeffrey C. Briggs, Esq.
Hollywood, Calif.

NR Editors includes members of the editorial staff of the National Review magazine and website.

In This Issue



Books, Arts & Manners


Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Yes, They Are Coming for Your Guns

At the Democratic-primary debate in Houston last night, Beto O’Rourke formally killed off one of the gun-control movement’s favorite taunts: The famous “Nobody is coming for your guns, wingnut.” Asked bluntly whether he was proposing confiscation, O’Rourke abandoned the disingenuous euphemisms that have ... Read More
White House

Politico Doubles Down on Fake Turnberry Scandal

It's tough to be an investigative reporter. Everybody who feeds you a tip has an axe to grind. Or, alternatively, you find yourself going, "I wonder if . . . ?" You put in your research, you talk to lots of people, you accumulate a huge pile of information, but you still haven't proved your hypothesis. A wise ... Read More

Four Cheers for Incandescent Light Bulbs

It brought me much -- indeed, too much -- joy to hear of the Trump administration's rollback of restrictions on incandescent light bulbs, even if the ban will remain in place. The LED bulbs are terrible. They give off a pitiable, dim, and altogether underwhelming "glow," one that never matched the raw (if ... Read More