Capitalism in America; the History of the Dollar

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), August 17, 2004 | Go to article overview

Capitalism in America; the History of the Dollar


Byline: William H. Peterson, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Partly due to presidential campaign heat, anti-capitalism, which is usually masked, seems in vogue in beer joints and more polite circles.

For example, Michael Moore's movies attacking business are box-office hot. McDonald's, Safeway and Coca-Cola catch flack for the obesity of many Americans. Now the FDA casts obesity as a "disease" (is it catching?), to the delight of tort lawyers. A plank in the Democratic platform sees the poor underpaid and would hike the minimum wage from $5.15 an hour to $7. (Why not $100 an hour, so everyone can be rich?)

CEOs get hit for "outsourcing jobs" and engaging in "globalization." How foul. And so on.

Thank heaven then for economist Tom DiLorenzo, author of "The Real Lincoln," a bestseller among libertarians, in which he bravely challenged many myths surrounding the Great Emancipator. Here our author, a modern-day Adam Smith, sets out to correct current misperceptions about capitalism and does so through the telling vehicle of U.S. history. He dedicates his new work to Ludwig von Mises as "the twentieth century's most dedicated and accomplished champion of free markets, individual liberty, and the free society."

Well, what about the pilgrims? Investors in the Mayflower expedition blundered. They worried that the pilgrims, far beyond any overseeing, would work their own garden plots rather than company land. So the investors required that all goods produced be "common wealth," a system of communal land ownership (or to use a dirty word, communism).

The result: shirking, destitution, disaster. Within months of their arrival on Cape Cod, half of the 100 or so pilgrims perished from cold and starvation.

So - per Governor William Bradford writing in his classic "Of Plymouth Plantation" - it was decided "after much debate of things" that the pilgrims "should set corn every man for his own particular [use] ... and so assigned to every family a parcel of land for present use ... This had very good success, for it made all hands industrious." Thus was Plymouth saved.

What about the "robber barons"? Do John D. Rockefeller, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Andrew Carnegie and other famed entrepreneurs deserve such a put-down?

Mr. DiLorenzo concedes that some did. Leland Stanford, for example, after serving as governor and U. …

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