One day, according to lore, the British Labour Party leader Clement Attlee was doing his business at a urinal in a House of Commons bathroom when Winston Churchill walked in. Rather than taking a spot near Atlee, Churchill walked as far down the row of urinals as possible. Atlee said, “Feeling standoffish today, are we Winston?”
Churchill shot back: “That’s right. Every time you see something big, you want to nationalize it.”
Now, I should say there are many, many, different versions of this story, and they’re all probably apocryphal. I kind of like the one, recounted by Dean Acheson, in which Churchill said, “Whenever you see a means of production in good working order you want to nationalize it.” But you get the point.
But the story came to mind when I saw that Sen. Elizabeth Warren is pushing the Federal Trade Commission to go after the sinister forces of Big Sandwich. I don’t mean Dagwoods. You see, a private equity firm, Roark Capital, is trying to buy the sandwich chain Subway. Roark already owns Jimmy John’s, McAlister’s Deli, and Schlotzsky’s. Acquiring Subway, according to Warren, would create a “sandwich shop monopoly.”
Don’t worry, I learned my lesson from my “Toobin Missile Crisis” G-File, which caused some readers to cancel their own damn subscriptions. I’m not going to indulge in endless sophomoric wordplay about prurient matters—even though a tale about the most famous member in Parliament offers so many opportunities. Unlike Churchill, after his midday nap, I will not rise to the occasion.