It seems that we keep being told that the policy is temporary, and is far short of nationalization, only for Congress to turn around after the legislation has passed and “convert” loans into stock: to turn a bailout into a nationalization.

This has now happened with AIG, the car companies, and today we learn, with the banks too. It is no longer a metaphor that we are on the road to socialism; we have taken some significant steps along that road by nationalizing the “commanding heights” of the economy.

How is it that we have let this happen? The economic crisis, though itself caused by government meddling, was seized by politicians and used to justify “short-term” measures. Then each of these measures was in turn used to justify taking further steps. While we’re not looking, government is taking the money from our pockets, and the control from our lives.

Brian Doherty describes the strategy well in an article in today’s American Conservative:

No call for liberty and constitutional principle seems convincing when Obama is arguing that those relying on government giveaways should have to follow government-set rules. That is, once you’ve allowed them to go ahead with the handouts, the political game is almost over. Under the guise of “managing the taxpayers’ money,” Obama and his crew are rewriting mortgages, deciding executive compensation, tossing out CEO’s. And note carefully that his plans for where taxpayers’ money should go continue to swell, from healthcare to the environment to energy policy to expanded “national service” programs. When taxpayers’ money is everywhere—and Obama is doing his best to make sure it is—then Obama’s control is everywhere.

If government owns much of industry, and all of the power to lend and invest, the economy is a market economy in name only. A socialist economy in the guise of capitalism is a well known sort of economic system: and we are on this Road to Serfdom. There is still time to stop this flood of nationalization, and reverse the trend. However, the public must show outrage, and refuse to be fooled by empty promises.