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From an incredible biography about one of the people I genuinely admire and call a hero:

On May 6, 1942, a new Federal agency opened for business. The War Manpower Commission had to balance the competing labor needs of agriculture, industry and the armed forces. It was a tricky business because all were vital, all had priority and all needed manpower. Borlaug was among the first it classified as “Essential to the War Effort?”

What may sound like an honor was more like hostage taking. The Feds now ran his life, freezing his salary and forcing him to stay affixed to his desk until otherwise instructed. His plight was far from unique; during those years Washington determined what millions did with their days. It was an un-American age … national survival was at stake.

Eighteen months later the competition for labor was lessening, and in May 1944 the War Manpower Commission officially freed anyone 30 years and older from employment restrictions.


One Response to “To Be Free, Be Useless”

  1. jb says:

    I suppose that is also how Milton Friedman wound up working for the Division of War Research working on weapons design and metallurgy.

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