Writing for the Guardian, Isabella Weber suggests price controls to beat down rising inflation:
“To prevent inflation after World War II, America’s leading economists recommended strategic price controls. Is there a case for doing so today, too?”
That’s true. They continued managing the peacetime economy as they had the wartime economy. Bosses are going to the boss. What are they going to do? Just stop bossing just because the war’s over? Why would they give up that power?
And why wouldn’t this class of men find that they are just the men to do the job of continuing to manage the economy and direct such vast swaths of capital and humanity?
Some might view this as a sensible and scientific, even liberal policy, a socialist bureaucracy managing an entire industry or multiple industries. However, it creates a more steeply stratified hierarchy among people, of very material power over such a vast substance, rather than a flatter, more egalitarian hierarchy of power and influence, the direction and enjoyment of so much, so it seems to be an illiberal and reactionary policy, not a liberal one.
“We need a serious discussion on strategic price controls, just as the government could target specific prices that drove inflation after the war, rather than shifting to austerity, which risks a recession.”
After WW2, everybody in the world’s stuff was all blown to smithereens, except America’s. So America’s government could hold its prices down, and producers could still crank out so much stuff to export to the rest of the world that the Americans born in that generation would grow up to become the richest ever to walk the face of the planet.
Suppose the U.S. government were to hold prices down today, with all of America’s strategic rivals around the globe capable of getting higher profits from sales. In that case, capital could flow out to foreign businesses chasing after their relatively higher profits, leaving American businesses with less capital investment than they otherwise would have had.
And besides all that, it’s unconstitutional for the government to tell anyone what prices to charge in the USA.