My Turn: An Economic Police State

Wriston, Walter B.


An Economic Police State


Historically the American people have been both proud of their institutions and optimistic about the future. Nevertheless, when times are hard our mood is sometimes depressed to the extent that we feel that further progress is unlikely. A few years before we had to fight for our national existence in World War II, President Roosevelt declared: "Our industrial plant is built." The problem, he thought was administering resources through national planning. Under leadership that forgot that freedom is indivisible, we set up centralized economic planning under the National Recovery Administration—a flat abandonment of free markets. From that folly we were rescued by the despised "nine old men" of the Supreme Court who remembered tyrannies of the past and would not let them be revived.

Like most attacks on individual freedom, the current proposals for economic planning—even though they are wrapped up in a package labeled "progress"—attract people who should know better. A new self-appointed group called the Initiative Committee for National Economic Planning is now pressing for a program designed to destroy the free-market system and with it our personal liberty.