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Derbyshire: Penny for Your Thoughts
Don't miss John Derbyshire's NRO contribution this morning. It's priceless:

A National Review colleague, who in my opinion should jolly well be ashamed of himself, recently suggested we should get rid of the penny. The reasons he gave were... German. I mean, they were to do with efficiency and reason, briskness and social hygiene, clearing away the clutter and lumber of life, sweeping away all that is old and useless. I’m surprised my colleague didn’t write the shameful piece in Esperanto, or one of those “improved” spelling systems favored by Edwardian meliorists like George Bernard Shaw.

Yes, we luv Aybruham Linkun. We luv owr memuriz uv bying kandy with penniz wen we wer childrun. But nun uv that shud be enuf enymor tu inflict thuh penny on adults atempting tu konduct kash tranzakshuns in an effishunt way....

The notion of sweeping away what is old and useless makes me uncomfortable, for personal reasons into which I’d prefer not to go. It ought to make any conservative uncomfortable, though, even an American conservative. I say “even” in deference to British journalists John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge’s The Right Nation, in which, after laying out the six principles of Burkean coservatism thus:


  • a deep suspicion of the power of the state,
  • a preference for liberty over equality,
  • patriotism,
  • a belief in established institutions and hierarchies,
  • skepticism about the idea of progress,
  • elitism,


the authors explain that “the exceptionalism of modern American conservatism lies in its exaggeration of the first three of Burke’s principles and contradiction of the last three.” Since the penny is, to stretch the meaning of words just a little, an “established institution,” belief in it ought to be one of those things we thrusting, forward-looking Americo-cons are willing to jettison...