REASONFor those of us who grew up during the Cold War, the TV series “The Americans” is a blast. The main characters are Soviet “illegals”—a married couple who pose as travel agents, but engage in espionage and murder on behalf of the Russians in their spare time. I’m not sure it’s realistic, but the back stories (Afghan war, Nicaraguan Contras) certainly are. The series, which I started watching recently, brings back memories from that era.

Another recent matter has brought back old thoughts of Yuri Andropov and Leonid Brezhnev, as well. Oddly enough, it came in a statement sent by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s office touting legislation to crack down on “California’s growing underground economy.” What really grabbed my attention was its quotation from Senate Bill 1272’s author, Sen. Cathleen Galgiani, D-Stockton. She praised a pilot program for cracking down on “economic crimes.”

That’s an arcane term one doesn’t hear much in the United States, given our longstanding love of enterprise. It echoes terms from the Communist world. In those totalitarian societies, virtually every form of private economic activity was forbidden. Soviet, Bulgarian or Cuban citizens were not allowed to own property, start businesses, or buy and sell things in the black market, which is just another term for the “underground economy,” writes Steven Greenhut.

Read the whole thing.