My Turn: An Economic Police State

Wriston, Walter B.




Manifest failures must be explained. Argument will then be made that people in charge of our price and wage controls did not really believe in them, or that those in charge of Prohibition were alcoholics. The remedy of course is to get zealous teetotalers to explain that booze is bad, and Fabians to enforce arbitrary price and wage controls. The poverty of the concepts will be corrected by the strength of administration. It follows that public support must be generated by every means at hand. Doubts that "the plan" may not work must be suppressed and the official mythology, which inevitably grows up, must be sold. Long ago in the United Kingdom, Prof. Edward Carr put it this way: "It is significant that the nationalization of thought has proceeded everywhere pari passu with the nationalization of industry." The founders of our country were distrustful of the concentration of power. An attempt to end-run this principle under the guise of national economic planning would succeed in destroying both our personal liberty and our productive power. We need to preserve both or we may find ourselves with neither.