In the late summer of 1944, the Allied armies liberated Northern France and began to push deeper into Europe. No one was more effective in his advance than General George S. Patton and the Third Army. After serving his “time-out” for slapping a couple of soldiers who were taking it easy in a med tent, Patton hit the ground running in France and seemed ready to cut his way through to Berlin, rusty bayonet clenched in his teeth. Unfortunately, that never happened. On August 31st, Patton and the Third Army ran out of fuel near Metz, France. He had burned through his supply, keeping the German forces on their heels; and replenishment was not coming.
There are a number of theories as to why Patton’s army was left high and dry, languishing without the fuel to continue. The official rationale was that Eisenhower wanted to present a unified, measured front and was wary of any units that might overextend themselves and compromise the front line. It is clear he prioritized Montgomery’s Market Garden operation over Patton’s demands. Providentially for Ike, the Zone of Communications happened to pick that time to move their HQ back to Paris, tucked safely behind the Allied lines. And that required a lot of trucks, trucks that could have been refueling the Third Army.
Unofficially, it’s said that Eisenhower wanted to avoid embarrassing our military allies. Patton was making everyone else look like weak sisters, and so the most effective weapon in the Allied arsenal (General Patton’s mind) was deliberately shuttered. He was forced to fight in place and suffered heavy casualties in subsequent engagements near Metz. After blitzing through 60 miles of German-occupied France in 2 weeks during the month of August, the Third Army covered only 40 miles total in November and December that same year.
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It seems nearly inconceivable that Eisenhower would do such a thing; yet the deliberate crippling of a beneficial advantage is precisely what has been done to free-market capitalism in America and in the economies of her Western allies. No one with any intellectual honesty can deny the effectiveness of Patton or of the free market. Patton won battles and earned the respect of his enemies. Capitalism is the much-maligned champion of freedom around the globe and is directly responsible for the prosperity and privilege we enjoy as a part of Western civilization. There has never been a more effective engine of wealth creation and economic mobility than free-market capitalism. Yet, like Patton, the free market economy is forcibly stalled, chained down by those who should be its staunchest guardians.
In America, this is accomplished in a few ways. Legislative support is diverted to efforts on the periphery, which are usually outside the purview of a federal government. For example, Congress passes Obamacare under the guise of offering a “fundamental human right” to all Americans, oblivious to the fact that bureaucratic edicts increase the price of a commodity and will inflict more economic pain on Americans than relief provided. When government agencies command private businesses to provide services, those businesses pass the expense of compliance onto their customers, who are likewise commanded to purchase the now-pricier product. If allowed to operate freely, market forces would increase the quality of product while lowering the price. Those forces are seen every day in products like cellular phones, which have increased in quality and decreased in price over the past 30 years, going from $4,000 for the Motorola Dynatac 8000x in 1973 to $0 for the Motorola Droid X in 2014. In economics, a “rising tide lifts all boats”; but the pencil-pushers in Washington prefer (or force) winners and losers by diverting support to pet projects and ideological cronies.
Just as Ike prioritized the pride of our allies over the success of our troops, we seek to assuage the feelings of those who have benefited from the success of our greatest achievers while denigrating said achievers. Instead of worrying about the pride of our British and French allies, both of whom were saved by the intervention of the U.S. Military, Ike should have thrown full support behind Patton, who had the German generals soiling their lederhosen. We spend so much time and effort agonizing over the feelings of the misfortunate in this country instead of throwing our full support behind those who are creating wealth, jobs, and prosperity for all Americans, all of which ultimately benefit the misfortunate. A rising tide will never lift all boats if our nanny-state government continues to erect levees to keep the tide out! Prosperity is not a bad word in a truly capitalist economy. When the prosperous become targets, and success is deemed worth punishment, your economy has been infected by corporatists and socialists. Redistribution of wealth is sure to follow.
If legislation and shame don’t effectively smother the flames of capitalist achievement in this country, the Executive Branch seems more than happy to step in. The checks and balance built into our tri-partite system by the Founders are broken. The checks have bounced, and the balance has drastically shifted to the Executive branch, leaving an emasculated Legislature and a timorous Judiciary. Time and again, the Obama administration has acted unilaterally, outside the bounds of law, to achieve their will via regulation and selective enforcement of law. As egregious as the offenses of this President have been, he is not alone. His predecessors set the table for this environment. Obama simply ate the food, shredded the table cloth, and is in the process of breaking off the table legs for a bonfire.
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Progressives in both parties are determined to restrain the successful among us. If shame and ridicule don’t work, they will simply cut off the fuel via government regulation and legislation. As our Founding Fathers knew, it is only by forcibly restraining the power a centralized government can wield that the soil of liberty can remain fertile.
Photo credit: Tollie Schmidt (Flickr)
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