These decisions -- that government, not the free market, shall dictate who runs a private corporation, what that corporation shall make or sell, and what it shall pay its employees -- are unprecedented in an America not fully mobilized for war. Apologists for the Obama administration -- and there are many -- note that previous administrations have done similar things in "difficult economic times." As examples, they cite Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Depression-era agricultural production limits to boost farm prices and Richard Nixon's "temporary" wage and price freeze to cut inflation.
What today's cheerleaders for Draconian interference in capitalism and our private lives fail to mention is that these measures were abandoned because they did not work. FDR's farm production limits produced a thriving black market and eventually succumbed to the need to feed millions of our countrymen suddenly drafted to fight World War II. President Nixon's attempt to dampen inflation with wage and price controls was a monumental failure. When he started the program, the inflation rate was nearly 4 percent. By the time he left office, it was more than 13 percent and climbing. But those ugly precedents aren't going to stop the O-Team from trying again.
Short of war, the unintended consequences of government intervention are often far worse than the problem it was supposed to solve. As the U.S. Senate was voting to spend a billion dollars a year to put a quarter-million civilian "volunteers" on the government payroll, Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., rose to ask his colleagues a salient question that applies as much to the takeover of the auto industry as it does to destroying community volunteerism: "Do you see anything in our history as a federal government that shows that we have the ability to effectively manage something like that?"
He then observed: "Despite the good intentions of this bill, we are creating a huge new government entity that will be unmanageable and violates some of the core principles of our civil society. Every time the government steps in to solve a problem, it creates three new problems in its place."
Let's hope that last sentence will not become the epitaph for the United States of America we knew before Barack.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.
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