All Commentary
Wednesday, April 1, 1981

The Past as Prologue

The people of the United States last November clearly voiced dissatisfaction with the results of the massive political intervention of recent years. But a strong vote of protest does not necessarily signify an understanding of a better alternative.

Since 1946, FEE has been exploring the market alternative to coercive political management of our lives.

Names and places may change-the political leaders, the warring factions, the specific victims of intervention. But the patterns and principles and consequences are much the same. This is the sense in which the past is prologue.

Therefore, it seems appropriate at the beginning of a new political administration to carefully reconsider what some of the outstanding spokesmen for liberty have said earlier about these perennial problems.

The prolonged negotiations for return of the hostages from Iran and other current events in the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and elsewhere call to mind what Dr. Hans Sennholz said in 1957 about “Welfare States at War.” So, what better advice may we find today with regard to our foreign policy? If we would be at peace among nations, let us act at home in ways that do not provoke violence.

Much that same question was asked in 1957 by Professor Sylvester Petro, “Do Antitrust Laws Preserve Competition?” And he, too, concluded then, as we must today, that not more laws and controls but more freedom of choice is the appropriate solution.

And once again, at the approach of the April 15 tax deadline, it is appropriate to review the background information shared twenty years ago by John Chamberlain. The statistics cited then concerning the impact of “The Progressive Income Tax” need to be modified by the subsequent decades of aggravated inflation. But, again, the message is clear: unlimited government and unlimited taxation are not the terms and conditions of a humane society.

  • Paul L. Poirot was a long-time member of the staff of the Foundation for Economic Education and editor of its journal, The Freeman, from 1956 to 1987.