At a recent campaign stop in Chicago, Illinois (financed, of course, by American taxpayers), President Obama celebrated the state as “the land of Lincoln” and offered a word of advice to his Republican opponents by hoping that a bit of the 16th president would “rub off on them.”
“Lincoln, the first Republican president … understood that we are a people that take great pride in our self-reliance and our independence but that we are also one nation and one people, and that we rise or fall together.”What’s self-reliance when the nanny state permeating out of Washington by legislative decree forces you to buy health insurance, fund insolvent entitlement programs, fondles you up at the airport for your own safety, and standardizes public school lunches?
Fallacious notions of collectivism aside, Obama’s statement is revealing of the legacy Abraham Lincoln still holds on American policy, both domestic and foreign. During its stint at the White House, the Lincoln administration embodied the tenants of European mercantilism during the 17th and 18th centuries. According to economist Thomas DiLorenzo, perhaps the most eminent revisionist historian on Abraham Lincoln, the former railroad lawyer was “a faithful adherent to [Henry] Clay’s American system of protectionist tariffs, corporate welfare, and a nationalization of the money supply.”
Even from the get-go of his political career in the Illinois legislature, Lincoln went about lobbying for $12 million in subsidies for corporations engaged in building railroads and canals. The trend continued into his presidency as Lincoln pressed for the establishment of the Union Pacific Railroad financed by tax dollars. The UP eventually fell, like many other government subsidized pet projects, into bankruptcy.
If you are looking for a modern day Union Pacific boondoggle, look no further than Obama’s fetish for green energy which has culminated in the bankruptcy of White House favored solar power company Solyndra or the failure of the tax-subsidized Chevy Volt brought to us by Government Motors. Democrats aren’t alone in this style of cronyism as Republicans have a colorful history of bailing out special interests and looking out for preferred industries. Even the supposed patron saint of the free market, Ronald Reagan, imposed tariffs on the Japanese for producing superior electronics to their American counterparts. Obama’s suggestion of the GOP taking a page from the Lincoln playbook is redundant as Washington is already firmly in the grasp of an elite class of bankers and businessmen posing as rugged capitalists.
The most construed aspect of Lincoln’s legacy most assuredly comes down to the aura surrounding the Civil War. While public schools implant children with the notion that the War for Southern Independence (as Murray Rothbard refers to it) was a necessity for abolishing the cruel and unproductive institution of slavery, the real impetus for the conflict is routinely ignored. The common narrative holds that Lincoln and the North fought for the freedom of slaves who were forced into labor by their heartless southern counterparts. While slavery is indeed an evil institution (enforced by government nonetheless), putting an end to it was the least of Lincoln’s concerns. In a letter to newspaper editor Horace Greeley dated August of 1862, Lincoln wrote:
“My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and it is not either to save or destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it”Even more damming was Lincoln’s true regard for the black race, as demonstrated in a debate with his competition for the U.S. Senate Stephen Douglas:
I, as well as Judge Douglas, am in favor of the race to which I belong having the superior position…Free them [slaves] and make them politically and socially our equals? My own feelings will not admit of this. We cannot, then, make them equals.”The real justification for the Civil War fell on Lincoln’s allegiance to the industrialized North which was looking to use the still agrarian based South as its own slave through which to extort wealth from under the veil of taxation and import quotas. When the Morrill Tariff passed on the eve of Lincoln’s inauguration, the newly elected president was expected to enforce the measure since the protectionists from the North were vital backers of his campaign and election. The tariff rate on imports was raised to an average of 36% from about 17%. Lincoln would subsequently sign into law another tariff increase which raised the average to almost 50%. This blatant favoritism was due to be severely impoverishing on southern states; hence their desire to secede to ensure they would not serve as a piggy bank up for pilfering by northern industrial interests. Contrary to the myth spun in modern textbooks, the Union was not, and still isn’t, some divine creation by enlightened men but a voluntary compact by the separate, independent (according to the Constitution and Declaration of Independence) states. Succession was a legitimate tool to prevent the encroachment of federal authority. Lincoln’s success with waging the bloodiest war in America’s history forever changed the relationship the federal government has with the states. Though slavery thankfully came to an end by peaceful means in every other developed nation; Lincoln stopped it with guns and violence.
All of which brings us to today and the growing vilification of Iran’s not-confirmed pursuance of nuclear weapons. The Republican presidential primary contest has been filled with enough warmongering rhetoric to drive speculation on the future supply of oil. Meanwhile, the Obama administration is covertly waging an economic war by imposing harsh sanctions and colluding with the European Union in cutting off all global financial transactions with Iranian banks. From Reuters:
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Belgium-based SWIFT, which facilitates the bulk of global cross-border payments, will on Saturday cut off Iranian banks blacklisted by the European Union over Tehran’s nuclear program after an EU order and pressure from the United States.
SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) said in a statement on Thursday it would disconnect Iranian financial institutions affected by the sanctions from its messaging system on Saturday at 1600 GMTThe pressure is on as the West, and not just the United States, is pushing Iran into dropping its nuclear program. Department of Defense head Leon Panetta has already admitted that a military strike is on the table. Not only would a war with Iran please the cash-laden Israeli lobby but also the military industrial complex always looking for a boost in defense spending. And just as Randolph Bourne famously declared “war is the health of the state,” another military foray in the Middle East would bring all the justification Leviathan needs to satisfy its never-ending lust for more power and authority. President Obama recently passed ”National Defense Resources Preparedness” executive order under the auspices of preparing Washington for a “national emergency.” The order has met little to no media coverage despite its grave implications of giving the federal government free reign over the country’s resources, both public and private, in the case of a crisis.
Think a war with Iran and following oil shock would constitute a “national emergency?”
With a war on the country’s financing already taking place, Iran is being pushed further and further to the edge. War is sadly almost inevitable at this point. President Obama may have nothing but praise for Abraham Lincoln but that isn’t surprising as their policies and record of governing hardly differ. With the exception of Congressman Ron Paul, the other Republican candidates may as well be resurrections of Lincoln. Mitt Romney had the individual mandate and insurance industry bailout known as Romneycare; Rick Santorum has his love of manufacturing, and Newt Gingrich has space fantasies about building colonies on the moon. All three want to throw more money into the coffers of the Pentagon.
It would appear that Lincoln is rubbing off on all them just fine.