We love time travel: The Technicolor Time Machine, Dr Who, and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure to name a few. Time travel can be silly and profound at the same time. So when we saw Kevin D. Williamson writing “This Month In American Decadence” on NRO that discussed an article at his former employer’s we were intrigued. Kevin starts:
On the back page of The Atlantic is a feature called “The Big Question.” For November, the question is: “If you could go back in time and change one thing, what would it be?”
We think there should be one more parameter: How are you going to do it? The professor that wants to stop agriculture is going to have a hard time doing it because tribes are going to try it in many different places. The idea that Kevin likes, putting the ixnay on the Interstate Highway System, would be another challenge to implement. Who do you need to convince to stop it?
Then there are the expected and unexpected consequences of changing the time line. If there were no Interstates how would we get to go 120 MPH as a teenager? Our first thought was to avoid WWII. Knowing our Churchill and having just read VDH’s The Second World Wars, we know that there is a good chance that WWII can be avoided by confronting Hitler when Germany was weak. Our solution would be to visit VDH and convince him to pick a time for us to visit the British and, perhaps, French. Ah, but there is a rub. No WWII almost surely means no Lady de Gloves. We are not willing to give that up. There is, as Marco fails to appreciate, a real difficulty in determining the common good. We could conclude that taking down Hitler might embolden Stalin and lead to an even worse situation.
Instead we are taking a different mission. We will pick up Milton Friedman and go back to convince Calvin Coolidge to run for president in 1928. It doesn’t matter that Milton is currently dead because we have a time machine. We think he would win and it would mean no Hoover presidency (at least not 1929-’33), no Great Depression, and no, or a very different, FDR. Even if Milton doesn’t come it should still have a very positive impact. It sounds like a great novel or screenplay but we don’t have time to write it. You are welcome to it.