Monsters, Ltd.

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I need your

I am writing
a high school textbook in American history. As I research the nation’s
history, I keep coming across bad guys. The trouble is, most of
them are widely regarded as good guys.

It is very
difficult to tell the story of America to teenagers when you have
to point out that most of the men on white horses actually rode
brown horses with whitewash.

I am thinking
of writing a supplemental book on the worst of the bad guys. Murray
Rothbard always called these people monsters. He had a long list
of them.

I want to focus
on the worst ones. Do you have any favorites?

Here is my
methodology. I ask: “How would America be better off today if these
people had sold insurance instead?” This is known as as if
historiography. It is hypothetical.

Sadly, the
legacies that these people left behind are anything but hypothetical.


I decided long
ago who the worst person was. You have no possibility of persuading
me otherwise. My mind is made up. Here are the criteria. The person
must have been the following:

Successful in achieving this agenda
Destructive on an unprecedented scale
Economical: more bang for the buck
Other people’s money
Still revered by liberal intellectuals

Think about
this. Who would your choice be? Don’t be too hasty. Give this some
thought. See if you can find someone worse.

He was a known
murderer who got away with it. He was lauded by the media despite
these murders, mainly because he went on another bloody rampage.
He was presented by the media as a hero.

He was funded
by an intellectual elite: other people’s money.

His agenda
was to start a revolution that would bathe the nation in blood,
which he saw as redemptive.

He pulled it
off, almost (but not quite) singlehandedly.

Liberal intellectuals
still regard this destruction as redemptive, and acknowledge that
he was the prime mover.

Give up?

John Brown,
the hero of Pottawatomie Creek.

I rest my case.


When it comes
to inflicting devastation, a wartime President is always a tough
act to follow. I can think of only one man ever to achieve this
feat: Harry Truman. Not only did he follow a wartime President,
he started another war of his very own. Even more impressive, he
didn’t call it a war, so Congress never voted for it, and now no
President asks Congress to declare war. Also, he never gets much
credit for the fact that the Korean War has not ended. There was
no peace treaty, only a cease-fire, so tens of thousands of American
troops are still stationed there, ready for the next battle. Finally,
he gave us the national security state domestically as a kind of
bonus package. (“Order now, and we’ll send you an extra. . . .”)
Yes, Harry Truman was a tough act to follow.

Abraham Lincoln
was John Brown’s dream come true. They were a team. Without Brown’s
1859 raid, Lincoln might not have been elected, for he seemed to
be a moderate in the North in 1860 and a Jacobin in the South —
the perfect candidate for old Brown.

Then there
are the usual suspects: Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, and
Lyndon Johnson. All of them ran on peace platforms and then took
the country into a war. All of them ran up the national debt, although
FDR put the other two to shame in this regard. All of them centralized
the economy. Johnson, while not heralded as a redeemer by the media,
is still presented as a man who got good things accomplished, all
things considered. Basically, he is praised with faint damns.


Of course,
none of this would have been possible had it not been for the stand-up
team of Madison and Hamilton.

Madison ran
the most successful conspiratorial coup in history, for the heirs
of the victims still do not perceive that it was a coup. I have
written a book on this, Conspiracy in Philadelphia.
In this regard, he is unrivaled. Had it not been for him, America
would still be a confederation of states. Washington D.C. might
still belong to the Gore family. All of Virginia might still be
dominated by the Byrd family, rather than just the western section.

This is not
to say Madison was all bark and no bite. He got us into the War
in 1812. Yet he gets little credit for this from historians, who
regard the War of 1812 as an unnecessary war. It was more of a national
embarrassment than a national catastrophe. So, Madison fails the
media’s “Go and do thou likewise” test. To say that it was an unnecessary
war is not doing it justice. It was quite necessary, given the fact
that Madison had failed in 1811 to get Congress to renew the charter
for the Hamilton-created, privately owned, Federal monopoly known
as the Bank of the United States.

Stephen Girard
of Philadelphia, the richest man in the country, saw what had to
be done. He bought the Bank’s assets and changed its name to the
Bank of Stephen Girard. Then he waited for his next opportunity.
He soon got it: the War of 1812.

The national
debt rose so high so fast that Girard personally funded 95% of the
1814 war loan. The payoff for this was that Madison made Girard’s
lawyer, Alexander Dallas, the Secretary of the Treasury, who then
wrote the charter for the Second Bank of the United States. Madison
sold this project to Congress, along with a big hike in tariffs,
so as to pay off the debt owed to Girard. Both laws passed in the
same month (April, 1816). This made sure that Girard would be repaid
on time and at face value. He then bought controlling interest in
the Bank. In October, Dallas resigned and went back to Philadelphia.
Mission accomplished. But historians are unaware of all this, so
Madison is not praised for any of it. Nice try, Jimmy, but no cigar.

Hamilton is
a very hot commodity these days in the market for books on the Founding
Fathers. Biographies of him abound. Most important, Ron Chernow
wrote one, which makes Hamilton media-worthy. He has also written
books on John D. Rockefeller, Sr., the Warburgs, and the House of

Hamilton lied
repeatedly about the Constitution in The Federalist, downplaying
its centralization potential. He always knew what the new government
could do, and as Secretary of the Treasury, he helped to do it.

He turned the
national government into a banker’s dream come true. First, he consolidated
state debts in order to get political support for a larger central
government. Then he gave us our first central bank. Had it not been
for foul-up Jimmy, who failed to persuade Congress in 1811 to re-charter
it, it would have survived until Jackson’s era, and maybe beyond.

Hamilton had
big plans. He needed a big government to achieve them. This is why
he is so beloved (Rothbard’s beloved word) today.


What would
America be today without John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and the various
Rockefeller foundations? Better off.

Teddy Roosevelt
never got us into a war, although he did his best to humiliate Woodrow
Wilson into taking us into World War I. He surely incarnated the
Progressive movement. He was a poster boy for big government as
no other President had been before him.

Then there
was Horace Mann, who ran the newly created public school system
in Massachusetts in the 1840’s. He set the pattern for all of his
successors: a defender of the redemptive power of tax-funded education.


So many scoundrels.
So little time.

Send me your
suggestions. There’s always room for one more.

26, 2007

North [send him mail] is the
author of Mises
on Money
. Visit
He is also the author of a free 19-volume series, An
Economic Commentary on the Bible

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