"We can have both guaranteed jobs and freedom of choice"
A favorite cliche of those who have faith in the welfare state is this: In a democracy, we can have both guaranteed jobs and freedom of choice.
Those people are aware that in a dictatorship it doesn't work out that way. But millions of sincere Americans honestly believe that it can be different in a democracy. Well, it can't - as was illustrated beyond any shadow of a doubt in Great Britain when the leaders of the labor unions were running the government there from 1945 to 1950.
In peacetime, in the oldest democracy in the world, once-free men were driven underground to mine coal when they did not wish to do so. They were fined and imprisoned by their own democratically elected leaders because they imagined their government could guarantee them jobs without compelling them to work at specific jobs. Here is a factual report of a small segment of that sorry experiment under a democratic government:
In February 1946, Sir Stafford Cripps [Chancellor of the Exchequer in Britain's government] said: "No country in the world, as far as I know, has yet succeeded in carrying through a planned economy without the direction of labor. Our objective is to carry through a planned economy without the direction of labor... "
On the 10th of March 1949 the Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Labor announced that between October 1947 and December 1948 "374 directions were issued to men who were in the mining industry compelling them to remain in that industry, and 132 directions were issued to men in agriculture keeping them in agriculture... " In fairness to thegovernment it should be said that no member of it is in favor of the direction of labor. Despite their good intentions they have failed, not because they will tyranny, far from it, but because, ignoring the experience of every other country, they are wedded to the theory of the Planned State...
Today Sir Stafford can repeat his first speech: "No country in the world, as far as I know, has yet succeeded in carrying through a planned economy without the direction of labor."1
Fortunately, the British people were able to turn back the clock toward freedom before total disaster engulfed them. But the union leaders and the other welfare staters never give up. They will return with their planned economy when those of a new generation again accept the belief that their government is obligated to provide a job for every man who is unemployed through no specific fault of his own.
1 R. Hopkin Morris, Member of Parliament, from his booklet Dare or Despair, published by International Liberal Exchange, London, 1949.