What luck for the rulers, that men do not think.

– Adolf Hitler

NORMANDY, FRANCE – “Liberté… Liberté… Liberté…”

We heard the chants long before we saw the crowd. They were orderly, coming up from the Boulevard Raspail. No window breakers… no buffalo horns… no hoods… young, old, black, white…

…and not a mask among them!

They were protesting France’s new “health pass” law. NPR reports: 

France’s parliament approved a law early Monday requiring special virus passes for all restaurants and domestic travel… It [the law] requires a “health pass” to enter all restaurants, trains, planes and some other public venues. It initially applies to all adults, but will apply to everyone 12 and older starting Sept. 30.

To get the pass, people must have proof they are fully vaccinated, recently tested negative or recently recovered from the virus.

Brave New World

We were just passing through Paris on Saturday. But we were just in time to get a better glimpse of the brave new world waiting for us.

We sat at a table in front of the Lutetia Hotel. This was where Charles de Gaulle spent his honeymoon. And it was one of the hotels used by the Nazis for their headquarters in Paris.

At the close of WWII, French workers who had been sent to Germany, along with prisoners of war, refugees, and other displaced persons, streamed back to France.

What to do with them? De Gaulle remembered his pleasant stay at the Lutetia and requisitioned the hotel to welcome them back.

It quickly became a place where people came to find friends and relatives who had been deported during the war. A whole wall was devoted to notes from those seeking to find each other.

On Saturday, people huddled there, sitting at their tables and discussing politics, business, their affaires du coeur… as they have for more than a century.

But the most important subject was one that has come up only once before in the last 100 years.

Would they be allowed to go to the movies? Could they buy a coffee without a pass? Who would make sure their “papers were in order”? And what would happen if they weren’t?

No, they wouldn’t be deported or killed.

But they may be locked out – unable to sit in a café… send their children to school (though the government has proposed to ban homeschooling)… to get a job… or participate in normal life.

Echoes From the 1940s

The echoes from the 1940s spread beyond Paris. 

Here in Normandy, on page three of the local paper this morning, is a photo of five women who protested in their little town. 

Each is wearing a yellow star, comparing their situation to the Jews forced to identify themselves in the German occupied zones of France in 1941.

Reminding us that the coronavirus is extremely unlikely to harm her children, one of the women told a reporter:

“I’m supposed to let my children get vaccinated with something that is essentially unproven?” asked one. “What kind of mother would I be?”

“For me, this star is symbolic. Macron, with his health pass, is doing the same thing as Vichy [the French government that famously collaborated with the Nazis].”

The comparison is outrageous. A “health pass” is not the same as a yellow star. The former may cause problems. But it does not, at least for now, lead to Auschwitz.

But we are trying to connect the dots here at the Diary… So let’s draw out the lines and see what we get.

Mission Economy

“The rules change so fast,” said the waiter at the Lutetia. “I can’t keep up with them. And I hope they don’t ask me to check health documents. I don’t have time for it. And it will surely drive customers away.”

Emmanuel Macron, le president, is a man with a mission. He… and European Central Bank president Christine Lagarde… have been very clear.

They aim to “transform” the economy from one that serves the interests of individual citizens to one that serves their mission.

A headline in Le Figaro:

“Macron to go ahead with health pass despite resistance.”

Yes, the all-knowing, all-controlling, all-improving elite has a solution for the coronavirus problem: make everyone get a vaccine.

But the stakes are larger, the reach is farther, and the consequences far grimmer than just protecting the public’s health.

An Italian economist at University College, London, Mariana Mazzucato, wrote a book whose title explains everything. From the book, called Mission Economy

Markets aren’t the result of individual decisions, but of the manner in which they are governed, and they include the government itself. Markets are cemented by rules, norms, and contracts that touch on the behavior of each one, their interactions, and the way their institutions function.

Therefore, the government must not limit itself to repairing market problems, but must aim to create markets that produce the desired results. It must, and it can, organize markets in a way so to attain our goals.

An honest, free economy has no goal… no mission… and nobody to tell it what to do. It serves the needs of individuals. Families. Businesses. Each with its own goals.

One wants a new car. Another wants to spend time with friends. Still another is creating a new enterprise.

Each has his own idea of progress. Each has his own wants and desires. And each fulfills them as best he can.

Aggregating all the billions of transactions that arise from them, we see an “economy.” But it has no mind or mission of its own.

This was not good enough for Adolf Hitler. He wanted to put the whole economy, top to bottom, to work… to achieve his goal – a “bold and proud mission.”

Tune in tomorrow for more on the “mission economy”… the Great Crusades to come… and more!




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