Two days running the Chancellor of the Exchequer sounds off about how tough he is going to be with public sector pay, while a fuel crisis threatens to bring part of British industry to a standstill.
Memories of Ted Heath's three-day week in early 1974 are fading, but this week's events jog those that remain. The differences are a welcome reminder of how the world has changed since 1974.
To re-cap, the Heath Government went head to head with the unions in an effort to contain inflation with an elaborate prices and incomes policy. The miners countered with a mid-winter overtime ban. Within a month coal stocks were running low. Heath decreed that from January 1, 1974, that nobody - except "essential services" --should work more than three days a week and then only for their standard hours.
It looked like a catastrophe. Within a week 320,000 Midlanders had registered themselves as temporarily unemployed. Across the country the number peaked at 1.5 million.
Yet there was no avalanche of bankruptcies. After a little, the reality dawned. Companies that previously courted publicity, refused to see journalists on any pretext on any day of the week. It was not because they were closed, but because they were working.
The mega-industries that still dominated manufacturing had to do as they were told, but many Black Country foundries and engineering shops just got on with things without drawing attention to themselves.
Today really is another world. If energy intensive industries are slowing down it is because the spike in the spot price for gas has wrecked the economics of their operations. Some blame the Government for encouraging them to rely on spot-price contracts. But the world where Ministers could order companies not to work on this day or that, and ordain limits for pay and dividend increases has vanished - along with nearly all our coal industry.
What we do have is a Labour Chancellor sounding off about public sector pay to unions who are still his party's prime paymasters, while the cost of energy threatens its inflation policy, now delegated to the Bank of England.
The critical difference is that in most of the private sector global competition is such that few companies can buy themselves a quiet life with an inflationary pay increase.