HERE is an excellent piece by George Will, a speech he made lauding The Cato Institute. I picked the following paragraphs out because I thought it was so important to consider them as a cautionary tale, but I highly recommend reading the whole thing; it’s not long. The following information is so basic, such a big part of how I think most of us feel, that free competition is so important, etc.:
“I want you to come back with me to a crime scene. I want to tell you about
something that happened in this country that you didn’t learn when you studied
the New Deal. The crime occurred in April 1934, the beginning of the second
year of the New Deal. It occurred at 138 Griffith Street in Jersey City, New Jersey.
I recently visited this neighborhood—now, as then, it’s a neighborhood of
immigrants. Now there are Asians and Latin Americans; then, they were from
Eastern Europe. Today 138 Griffith Street is a barber shop; then, it was a man’s
tailoring and pressing shop run by Jacob Maged, a 49-year-old immigrant from
Poland, father of two daughters.
The crime he committed was putting in his shop window a sign saying he
would press a man’s suit for 35 cents. Now, how did that become a crime in the land of the free and the home of the brave? The New Deal was in power, the New Deal
knew everything, and the New Deal had a theory. The theory was, when you have
a depression, prices go down; therefore—a historic non sequitur—we’ll have a recovery
if we can force prices to rise. Therefore, we must outlaw competition, because
competition drives down prices. Therefore, they had the National Industrial
Recovery Act, and the first National Recovery Administration (NRA), which
wrote 500 different codes of noncompetition, cartelizing American industry.
Some of you may remember that the symbol of the NRA was a blue eagle—
you were encouraged to fly the Blue Eagle flag over your factory or put a Blue
Eagle poster in your shop window. The government had decided that 40 cents
was the proper price for pressing a man’s suit. For his nickel crime, Mr. Maged was arrested, fined $100 (doesn’t sound like much, but the median family income that year was $1,500), and sentenced to 30 days in jail. The judge thought this was a teachable moment, so he canceled the fine, pardoned him from his sentence, and hauled him back into court where—and this is from the New York
Times—he “gave him a little lecture on the importance of cooperation as opposed to individualism.” Maged left the court with the New York Times trailing him.
Duly chastened, he went back to his shop and took out the offending sign promising
a 35-cent job and put in its place the Blue Eagle. The next morning the New
York Times reported that Maged, “if not quite so ruggedly individualistic as formerly, was a free man once more.”
A free man—if you define freedom as embracing a government propaganda
symbol under the threat of fine and imprisonment. I don’t.”
Z; Interesting tale, isn’t it…too bad it’s true, too bad so many people actually bought into it. How do you think our economy would be doing if we honored and supported FREE MEN in business, free for competition, free for innovation, free to succeed on their own? It made us GREAT… Can we get that back?