To illustrate socialism’s glaring threat to our freedoms, George Will (column, 9-19) reported on an incident from the time of the Roosevelt-era National Recovery Act.
This was the story of tailor Jakob Maged, who in 1934 was jailed and fined for noncompliance with official NRA price levels; he was pressing suits at 35 cents instead of the NRA price standard of 40 cents.
According to Will, this Polish immigrant had had only vague awareness of the NRA price codes, and was totally shocked by his arraignment and trial. Two days later, the judge commuted the sentence and rescinded the fine.
Seventy-six years later, the Maged case lives on Will’s mind as a dangerous march toward socialism. But the story changes a bit when some details are filled in:
In fact, Maged told the press after his trial that he knew about the price regulations but thought they were designed to help the “little fellow.” More pointedly, Maged told questioners that the case against him was retaliation for price-cutting charges he himself had made 10 weeks earlier.
It is interesting that when national debate came up over whether to continue the NRA price standards, it was business interests that argued for their continuation, fearing the chaos of cutthroat price wars that were the original reason for the law.
As a baseball lover, Will wants to bat for the underdog. However, in an era of official torture, costly wars of aggression, detainment without trial, can’t Sluggo find another campaign issue?