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David Frum

Columnist for the National Post, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, contributing editor to the Weekly Standard, frequent contributor to the New York Times opinion page and to National Public Radio, author of Dead Right (1994) (a book praised by William F. Buckley Jr. as "the most refreshing ideological experience in a generation"), What's Right (1996), and How We Got Here: Life Since the Seventies for Better or Worse (2000)

Books by David Frum
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Dead Right
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How We Got Here: Life Since the Seventies for Better or for Worse (2000)
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Low Tide
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What's Right (1996)
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Click here for an essay by David Frum
As the Dead Sea Scrolls remind us, the impulse to declare that the End Is Nigh has been driving men to grow beards and retreat into the desert for millennia. One of the strange tendencies of modern life, however, has been the institutionalization of scaremongering, the willingness of the mass media and government to lend plausibility to wild surmises about the future.

Mar. 2000 - from How We Got Here: Life Since the Seventies for Better or Worse, Random House
... Canadians are determined to fray the bonds of nationhood. We are carving racially defined, quasi-sovereign mini-states out of the national territory for the benefit of Indians and Inuit, funded by Canadian taxpayers but not accountable to them. We actively discountenance the notion that there might be such a thing as a distinctly Canadian way of life to which newcomers to the country must adapt. Despite a tradition of fair-mindedness equalled in few countries on earth, we now seem bent on making amends for the prejudices of the past with a program of racial preferences in public- and private-sector employment. ... Of the world's ten largest free-market countries, Canada is the only one whose political stability is seriously in question.

Dec. 1999 - from "Too Many Solitudes", published in Saturday Night magazine
This [Canadian] Liberal government seems to be obsessed by the fear that unless carefully watched, somebody somewhere in Canada might start making money. Even now, after a decade of redistributing ourselves into poverty, this government's policies seem to be premised on the assumption that it is better for all of us to fail together than for any of us to succeed. ... the consequences of confiscation ought by now to be clear to us all: recession, devaluation, falling standards of living, the deterioration of public and private services, backwardness, stagnation and immiseration.

Oct. 21, 2000 - from "No more excuses from the Grits", published in the National Post
Elections are like dictionaries: They're all about definitions. The candidate who succeeds in defining the contest -- and the contestants -- wins; the candidate who gets defined, loses.

May 27, 2000 - from "The race to define defines politics", published in the National Post
Historically, the Democrats have been the party of national particularism. A century and a half ago, Democratic particularism took the form of sectionalism: championing the interests of some states against the interest of the whole country. From the 1930's until the 1970's, the Democratic party flourished by using the power of government to favor some economic classes over others. Today, that same tradition of particularism takes the form of 'diversity': championing the particular interests of single women and favored ethnic groups. The more intensely ethnic groups resent one another, the worse the mistrust between women and men, the better the Democrats do.

Feb. 09, 1997 - from a collection of essays published under the title "On the Future of Conservatism" by Commentary magazine
Right now, the [actuarial] troubles of [the Canada Pension Plan] and the federal retirement system are tedious, abstract subjects. But in about a dozen years, the abstraction will be squeezed flat out of them, as taxes remorselessly rise to honour the easy promises made by glad-handing politicians when the Baby Boomers were young. ... the obligations of present and future taxpayers to the post-2011 retirees have already exceeded any reasonable - and most unreasonable - definitions of the taxpayers' ability to pay.

Aug. 28. 1999 - from "Taxpayers overpaid by $30B", published in the National Post newspaper
[The Canadian constitutional Charter of Rights and Freedoms is] the opposite of a liberty-enhancing document.

Oct. 12, 2000 - from a column in the National Post
Social Programs are all very well, in moderation. But they hardly constitute a national identity. Medicare did not climb the cliffs to the Plains of Abraham in General Wolfe's knapsack. We copied it from Britain three years after we imported the twist...

from What's Right
... conservatives, much more than liberals, are worried about the problem of how do you reconcile democracy, and not just institutional democracy but the real feeling that the mass of the people should rule, with other values that are important. That is a thing that conservatives worry about a lot: How do you reconcile it with liberty and respect for property and respect for traditional religious values?

Oct. 30, 1994 - from an interview on the C-SPAN program Booknotes
There are large and continuing divisions among conservatives. In my view, the gravest and most intractable of them involve issues of nationality, such as immigration, trade, and America's overseas commitments. Compared to those splits, the disagreements between religious or cultural conservatives and economic conservatives loom small.

Feb. 09, 1997 - from a collection of essays published under the title "On the Future of Conservatism" by Commentary magazine
[Guaranteed annual income] ... is just about the worst idea that this [Liberal] government has had -- one that will accelerate Canada's trend toward a U.S.-style underclass all our own. We have always had poor people in Canada. But underclass poverty is different from the poverty of farm and fishing village. Underclass poverty is a poverty that separates people from the life of their society in an entrenched, permanent, helpless dependency, characterized by substance abuse, crime and suicide.

Dec. 16, 2000 - from "Chrétien's plan for a Canadian underclass", published in the National Post
... as government grows, the ambit for real community shrinks...

1996 - from What's Right
Thanks to the Quebec Model [that Quebec Premier Lucien] Bouchard so noisily champions, Quebec's gross domestic product per capita lags 20% behind Ontario's and hovers only barely ahead of Spain's. If the growth rates for the past two decades were to continue, Quebec will be overtaken by South Korea before the first of the baby boomers retires, and will be overtaken by Malaysia before today's newborns turn 30.

Nov. 30, 1998 - The National Post
If one proves one's patriotism by suffering for one's country, then Canadian medicare patients are among the most patriotic people in the world. Thousands of them every year endure unnecessary pain and danger because of our dilapidated national health-care monopoly.

Sep. 7, 1999 - from his column in the National Post
Economic conservatives of a certain sort get all twitchy when social conservatives nag them about the break-up of the family. Sophisticated people want to talk about capital formation and the deficit; they imagine that it is only the Savonarolas who would fret about divorce, illegitimacy, and the dwindling vitality of marriage and family in America. In fact, however, the cultural changes that worry social conservatives are likely to make it much more difficult for economic conservatives to win elections in the years ahead. What constituency can there be for Social Security reform and reductions in the welfare functions of government in a society where an ever-rising proportion of the female electorate -- which is 52 percent of the total electorate -- has come to depend on Social Security and welfare?

Feb. 09, 1997 - from a collection of essays published under the title "On the Future of Conservatism" by Commentary magazine
Natives in Canada have profited from a ... disinclination on the part of non-natives to pay attention to the dreary details of treaty rights, negotiations and reserve administration. In this vacuum of attention, the courts and the Ottawa bureaucracy have been able to commit thousands of square miles of Canadian land and tens of billions of dollars in taxpayer funds to the control of a few hundred band-leaders exempt from any serious scrutiny or accountability.

Jan. 01, 2000 - from "Global warming, No; land claims, Yes", published in the National Post newspaper
Bernard Landry's claim that English-Canadians ought to welcome [Quebec premier] Lucien Bouchard's ... re-election because of Mr. Bouchard's record of superior economic management is obviously laughable. [Quebec has] North America's highest taxes, Louis XIV-style dirigisme, and the constant threat of political upheaval: It's not exactly a formula for prosperity.

Nov. 30, 1998 - The National Post
Canada devalued its dollar from 89˘ to 66˘ in the 1990s because this forced reduction in labour costs was the only way our over-taxed economy could remain competitive with the surging American dynamo. We might have used the prosperous years since 1996 to re-engineer our economy in ways that would have encouraged young techies to stay home and that would have stimulated capital investment. Instead, the Chretien government has persisted in treating the tax issue as a selfish concern of the well-to-do.

Jan. 01, 2000 - from "Global warming, No; land claims, Yes", published in the National Post newspaper
Canada's problems are often said to be far from unique: the nation-state is allegedly fading everwhere and Canada's unhappy binationality is even supposed to confer some advantage upon us, by introducing us early to difficulties that the United States, France, Germany, Britain, and other once-solid polities will sooner or later have to reckon with as well. Perhaps that is true, perhaps not. But whatever may lie ahead for those other countries, for the moment at least they can all show a strong sense of national identity and common citizenship. Canada cannot. And this, our greatest national failure, is what we endlessly insist ought to be our legacy to the rest of the world!

Dec. 1999 - from "Too Many Solitudes", published in Saturday Night magazine
The crisis in medicare is creating something that Canada seemed to have lost decades ago: a constituency for freedom.

Sep. 7, 1999 - from his column in the National Post
... it is social liberals, not social conservatives, who nowadays fine, blacklist, and even threaten to jail businessmen, broadcasters and mayors who dissent from their dogmas...

May 27, 2000 - from "The race to define defines politics", published in the National Post