News out that Henri Bendel, that most elegant, nose-in-the-air store on 5th Avenue in Manhattan will, following the lead of its dowdier but still elegant sister, Lord & Taylor, be shutting its doors this week. These venerable palaces of consumption have been on walkers for awhile — though in my last trip to Manhattan Lord & Taylor was still playing the Star-Spangled Banner as it has each morning since the 1980 hostage crisis, before letting the kitten-heeled and Lululemon-clad hordes maraud through its aisles. All things must come to an end, but this has been a particularly slow and mannerly demise. I mourned the death of the department store over ten years ago in these pages:

More… “Bidding Farewell to Henri Bendel”

Paula Marantz Cohen is Dean of the Pennoni Honors College and a Distinguished Professor of English at Drexel University. She is the host of  The Drexel InterView, a unit of the Pennoni Honors College. The Drexel InterView features a half-hour conversation with a nationally known or emerging talent in the arts, culture, science, or business. She is author of five nonfiction books and six bestselling novels, including Jane Austen in Boca and Jane Austen in Scarsdale or Love, Death, and the SATs. Her essays and stories have appeared in The Yale ReviewThe American Scholar, The Times Literary Supplement, and other publications. Her latest novels are Suzanne Davis Gets a Life and her YA novel, Beatrice Bunson’s Guide to Romeo and Juliet.


Can capitalism be defended from the libertarian right?

The hostility of libertarians to the modern state is well known. Less well known are the objections that many libertarians have to modern capitalism.

The modern capitalist economy rests largely on two major government-created privileges bestowed on private firms and individuals: limited liability and intellectual property rights, like patents and copyrights. Limited liability, a legal privilege bestowed by the government, means that the owners of a government-chartered corporation are liable to creditors or plaintiffs in lawsuits only up to the amount that they have invested in the enterprise. In contrast, sole proprietors and partners in general partnerships traditionally have unlimited liability for all of the debts of the enterprise. By ensuring that investors in corporations do not risk personal ruin, governments in the 19th and 20th century enabled the rise of large, efficient industrial corporations that can access huge pools of private capital by means of flourishing stock markets.
More… “Taking Liberties”

Michael Lind is a contributing writer of The Smart Set, a fellow at New America in Washington, D.C., and author of Land of Promise: An Economic History of the United States.


I collect thumb toys. Few people know thumb toys by name, but most everybody has seen one. Thumb toys are those small figures that stand atop a little pedestal that fits in the palm of your hand. Push a button under the pedestal and tension is released from strings within the figure; it falls. Let go and the figure rights itself.


I currently own 152 thumb toys. The breadth of the thumb toy world is impressive. The figures in my collection include robots, ghosts, elephants, turtles, dancing ants, circus strongmen, Curious George, a British cop, a bride and groom, a signing frog who swings on a cattail, Frankenstein, and the Fernsehturm television tower in Berlin.

I offer this as background to why I only started to personally click with the 108th Annual American International Toy… More…