Saturday, December 20, 2008

Nineteenth Century Pantloads

Ah, the "free market"-worshiping chickenhawk. From Zinn's People's History:

During the Civil War [J.P. Morgan] bought five thousand rifles for $3.50 each from an army arsenal, and sold them to a general in the field for $22 each. The rifles were defective and would shoot off the thumbs of the soldiers using them. A congressional committee noted this in the small print of an obscure report, but a federal judge upheld the deal as the fulfillment of a valid legal contract.

Morgan had escaped military service in the Civil War by paying $300 to a substitute. So did John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, Philip Armour, Jay Gould, and James Mellon. Mellon's father had written to him that "a man may be a patriot without risking his own life or sacrificing his health. There are plenty of lives less valuable."

Of course these wicked men are modern libertarians' Gods, captains of industry, Randian "achievers" who "generated" (not "accumulated" and never "stole") "wealth;" they made America great before the menace of progressivism, labor unions, and the Pure Food & Drug Act ruined everything. Robber barons? Well, as the typical libertarian/Reason reader David Nieporent wrote, "'robber barons' are a myth created by liberal schoolteachers." So there.

[No doubt digamma will show up to protest, decrying my supposed "strawman." Yet for every digamma in the libertarian fold there are eleventy hundred Nieporents; for every Jim Henley there are eleventy hundred Glenn Reynoldses. Rather as in Catholicism there are eleventy hundred Kathryn Jean Lopezes and William F. Buckleys to every one Dorothy Day or JC in DC.]