“I’d rather be in the U.S., where you can enjoy the fruit of your labor, rather than a country like Norway, where your hard work is confiscated by the government,” says Curtis Dubay, senior tax policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation, a Washington, D.C. think tank that advocates for lower taxes.

These are important moral issues, but, in America, they are often the only ones we are willing to consider. We have, as Holte suggests, become religious about economic policy. We are unable or unwilling to make the kind of cool-headed calculations about costs and benefits that I saw in Norway.


Our collective inability to have a rational conversation about taxes will have consequences.


Don’t miss the accompanying map of the combat zone. Very little of the map covers Afghanistan, the country in which we are officially and overtly at war. Our country is fighting a covert war in Pakistan, commanded by clandestine operatives. The Pakistanis know this. We know this. The people of indeterminate nationality who are being blown up by drones know this. From whom is the war a secret, that it has to be fought by secret agents? 

My only real claim to fame in all of my years there was the time when one of those editors was “top-editing” a story I had already dealt with through multiple iterations. He was always affecting in his editorial queries the kind of tough-guy, green-eye-shade, staccato newsman’s prose he thought made him sound like he knew what he was doing — all the more comical as it was the complete antithesis of his actual character — and he would pepper the stories he edited with comments of the ilk “WHO HE?” “WHAT MEAN?” and so on.

On this occasion he had typed in a “WHAT MEAN?” following one perfectly plain and patently clear sentence in the piece, and when I got the story back —  having by now absolutely had it with the whole business — I typed in, in reply:


My one contribution to the rich, and now vanished, newsroom lore of U.S. News.