YOUR AFTER AMERICA LETTER OF THE DAY: FAIR AND BALANCED
Thank you for the best piece of literature I've read in a long, long time. After America should be required reading in our "government" school system, but I doubt the administrators would allow it. I've passed the along to a friend and plan to buy some others as Christmas gifts. Thank you for your hard work.
On the vicious side, you talk funny.
North Augusta, South Carolina
IN KEYNES WE TRUSTED
I'm up to the final chapter of your new book, Mark. It's just brutal. I'm left simultaneously laughing and crying and nodding and shaking my head (in agreement and in horror). Brilliant stuff.
I do, however, take issue with one minor point: patron saint of "stimulus" he may be, but I think you do John Maynard Keynes a disservice. When he wrote "in the long run we are all dead", he wasn't advocating a live-for-the-now party-till-you-drop lifestyle as you state (blast), rather, more dryly, he was talking about the inadequate predictive power of economists— in this instance the view that a doubling of the money supply would simply result in a doubling of prices and nothing more, ignoring the complexities of this process and the in-between effects (for example, the not-so-rosy effects on the chumps who've lent out money or on those on a fixed income). The full quote makes this clear:
Now 'in the long run' this [assumption that a doubling of the money supply doubles the price level] is probably true... But this long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead. Economists set themselves too easy, too useless a task if in tempestuous seasons they can only tell us that when the storm is long past the ocean is flat again... – A Tract on Monetary Reform, 1924
Adelaide, South Australia
IT'S A SMALL ECONOMIC FREEDOM HIT PARADE AFTER ALL
Re "Economic Freedom Hit Parade":
One thing noticeable about the top ten countries is that five of them are very small. I don't think this is an accident. In a small country, protectionism isn't even a fantasy of the demented. Second, severe income redistribution is also much more difficult as operations can more easily be moved elsewhere. (Singapore and Hong Kong were created by people coming from somewhere else; they can just as easily move again.) The US is the big anomaly; a fitting testament to how different and exceptional we were and are. (Will be?)
It is no accident that those most opposed to economic freedom are also those most supportive of transnational governing bodies. Voting with your feet has always bugged liberals.
AND THE BAND PLAYED ON
Mark, I just read your re-print of your column about the Queen having the guards play "The Star-Spangled Banner". It reminded me of the days immediately after 9/11. I happened to be working in Worchester, Massachusetts at the time. On the weekend after "The Star-Spangled Banner" was played at the changing of the guard, I was in Concord. (For those of you who suffered from the California public schools, that's the one in Massachusetts, not the one outside San Francisco.)
There was a fife and drum band that had been scheduled to march in a parade in Boston. The parade was cancelled, and the band played at the bridge in Concord instead. Since they had practiced European military airs, they played on the side of the bridge the British fought from. At the end of their concert, they announced that "The Star-Spangled Banner" had been played at the changing of the guard, and they were going to reciprocate the gesture. We all stood up for "God Save the Queen". I thought it was a very classy gesture, and I still remember it ten years later.
OH! WHAT AN OVERSIGHT, STEYN
Re John Mills:
"I would have liked to have seen him in a film musical, but..." So you missed Oh! What A Lovely War?
And re "Autumn Leaves":
How could you not cite Duke Ellington's 1958 recording on the album Indigos? Duke's piano supports Ray Nance's own virtuoso violin accompaniment to Ozzie Bailey's vocals— first in French, then the Johnny Mercer version. Nance normally played lead trumpet for the Duke, so his was an unusual appearance.
Is your connoisseurship slipping, Mark? (No. All gold stars intact. The quotidian application of culture in your work far surpasses this wee wannabes.)
Port Saint Lucie, Florida
Mark, allow me to add my voice to the Luddite chorus clamoring for the old layout. The old layout… What can be said? It was one of those constants in the universe, that old insulated flannel shirt I wear during cold months when any potentially dirty/smelly (but necessary) work needs doing around the place. A homely but beloved old uncle… A loyal dog that lost one leg in an unfortunate farm machinery incident...
You get the picture.
Thank you for your kind (and unkind) letters from America, Canada, Britain, Australia and around the world. Mark reads all mail, but especially enjoys the vicious ones. Each day Monday to Friday we pick six of the best for our Daily Delivery. So drop a line to Mark's Mailbox, and on Friday if you're chosen to be the one and only Letter of the Week you'll join our roll of winners from four Continents and receive a copy of Mark Steyn From Head To Toe. It would help if you could indicate your city or town, or, at any rate, your state, province or country. If not, at least let us know what planet you're on.