Fresh off his argument that Abraham Lincoln solidified a “mercantilist” government/business cabal that still pollutes American capitalism (The Real Lincoln, 2002), DiLorenzo (Economics/Loyola College) now dilates on that perspective.
Pure capitalism, readers are told and retold, is the most efficient economic engine any country could want, notwithstanding the fact that it has rarely existed anywhere, including the US. Culling examples from our country’s history to prove it, the author asserts that if propertied men, not indentured servants, had populated the original (“lost”) Virginia colonies, they would have had the incentive not to starve to death. The author faults generations of US presidents for failing to understand that laissez-faire (the only French that neoconservatives will brook these days) is the only reasonable response to economic crises, not meddlesome regulation. His insistence that both federal spending and borrowing be immediately cut in such situations is not, for some reason, rendered in context of the current administration. And while DiLorenzo chides Harding and Coolidge for pushing bank credit in the 1920s into explosive inflation that presented fellow Republican Hoover with a recipe for the Great Depression, he fails to mention four successive years of Coolidge tax cuts as contributing to the mountain of debt that precipitated the catastrophe. Hoover is then identified as the craven progenitor of a market-manipulation package later used by Roosevelt in the New Deal, which, in the author’s view, did not end the Depression but prolonged it until after WWII. One well-made point begs readers considering classic robber barons to distinguish between real capitalist good guys (e.g., Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, Hill) and rivals who merely chased government deals and subsidies. About the only flaw in capitalism the author concedes, perhaps unwittingly, is that it “always breeds malcontents,” including the “intellectuals” who conspire to give it a bad name.
Quite readable, for doctrinaire chapter and verse.