CEILINGS OR FLOORS
During World War II, the first OPA price regulation was slapped on used and rebuilt machine tools.
Prior to its effective date, March 1, 1941, there was a scarcity of machine tools brought on by demand for European war munitions. This situation was particularly aggravated by the desperate demands of the British for all critical machines. At open bid auction sales many machine tools brought more than the price of the equivalent new tool.
There was only one answer, everyone agreed, and that was governmental regulation and control.
Like most price control regulations, however, the ceilings backfired. All the way down the line in every industry—users, dealers and speculators upped their prices to meet the ceilings.
Previously, the machinery dealer had based his price primarily upon his costs—what he had to pay at auction or at private purchase. The minute price regulations were established, however, the price book of OPA became the only criterion for both buyer and seller.
The present price control hysteria has been activated mainly by the continued increase in retail prices and the fear of shortages in general. The bugaboo of rationing and price control has caused increases in inventories of commodities which were in short supply during the last war.
Our productive capacity has increased enormously since 1939, but still we are confronted with the spectre of phony shortages brought on by hoarding. And as the war program demands are increased, Congress will be under more and more pressure from the loud mouths who are working overtime for more regulations, more controls, more government paternalism, and in short, more Socialism. These controlled-economy pinkos have been waiting for just such an opportunity to push the country deeper into the morass of New (or Fair) Dealism.
Recently a number of prominent business leaders spoke over the radio under the auspices of the Industrial. Mobilization Committee of the National Association of Manufacturers. Every one of these men expressed confidence in the ability of industry to meet present civilian needs as well as the present war demand without resorting to controls.
We are still great believers in the old law of supply and demand. It is one of the fundamentals which has made this Nation the greatest of all time, and if left alone it will punish the hoarders, the profiteers and the opportunists.
Let’s not be overcome by regulatory propaganda dished out under the guise of patriotism.