The American Pageant (12th Edition)

Chapter 24 – Page 529

Our Critique

529 “Noisy criticism, especially in later years, was leveled at the ‘giveaway’ of so valuable a birthright to greedy corporations.”

Much of Bailey’s gripe against so-called “greedy corporations” is that they responded to incentives. Yes, the operators of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific Railroads were dreadful people, but the federal “giveaway” was a mistaken belief that central planners in government could make decisions with other people’s money that would benefit the nation. The result was failure. Bailey, because he likes the growth of government, seems to defend the subsidy decision in the rest of this paragraph. But the advantages he cites (mail delivery, military traffic, and so on) were later done as well or better on the unsubsidized Great Northern Railroad.