Government: The Unguided Guidelines

Having done nothing to help end the New York City transit strike, President Johnson was on doubtful ground when he denounced the settlement as a violation of the Government's supposedly voluntary wage-price guidelines. Even more questionable was Labor Secretary Willard Wirtz's after-the-settlement attempt to blame beleaguered Republican Mayor John Lindsay for the guideline violation. The N.Y. Times described the remarks of Democrats Johnson and Wirtz as "blatantly political"—which of course they were. Yet even such editorial cavils served only to obscure some more basic questions—relating to the rather remarkable history of the guidelines and their validity, past and present.

The...