Those In The FDR Administration Who Understood

There were a few men who worked in the Roosevelt Administration that not only understood the power of the free market but were also amazed by what it could achieve.

Take, for instance, Donald Nelson, vice president of Sears, Roebuck. He was appointed to head the War Production Board, WPB, in 1942.[1]  Mr. Nelson, and even FDR, much to FDR’s chagrin, eased up on the centralized power of industry as they needed to perform at a rapid and high level.

“Nelson marveled at what America’s major corporations were able to make by working together,” writes Hillsdale College Historian Burt Folsom, in regards to the extreme sharing of methods, materials, and secrets of direct industrial competitors. They were seen as vital in order to thrust America to victory in the war.

Nelson observed that “No central authority in Washington, however stable and firm, could have integrated the various divisions of industry, large and small, simple and complex, as effectively as these free Americans did of their own volition.   Voluntarily – in opposition to the policy of coercion which had made our enemies strong – voluntarily, they consolidated their skills and their energies in the interest of the commonweal, and in the end they won, hands down.”[2]

The most powerful efforts are made by free people participating in free markets to their mutual benefit and prosperity.  The American free market economy has proven this time and time again.  Can we stay the course?

[1] Burton W. Folsom, Jr., and Anita Folsom, 2011, FDR Goes to War:  How Expanded Executive Power, Spiraling National Debt, and Restricted Civil Liberties Shaped Wartime America, (New York, NY: Threshold Editions), see chapter 8, pages 169 to 188.

[2] Burton W. Folsom, Jr., and Anita Folsom, 2011, FDR Goes to War:  How Expanded Executive Power, Spiraling National Debt, and Restricted Civil Liberties Shaped Wartime America, (New York, NY: Threshold Editions), p. 174.

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