Monday, April 05, 2010

Misleading comment on

There is a misleading comment at saying that:
Abraham Lincoln moved an entire mountain range with the stroke of his pen!

When the Central Pacific railroad was being constructed, the owners (Stanford, Crocker, Huntington, and Hopkins) realized that they could extort more money out of the government by claiming that a bigger fraction of the route was in the Sierra Nevada mountains. They got the state Geologist, Josiah Whitney (he of eponymous mountain fame), to file a report that moved the range closer to Sacramento. Abraham Lincoln approved Whitney's report and some wag remarked that Abe Lincoln could move mountains with the stroke of a pen.

All it took for the "Big Four" robber barons was faith. Faith in the incompetence of government bureaucracies.

Very misleading because the railroad was only taking out a loan at the encouragement of Congress to accomplish the government's purpose which money they were required to and did fully repay with interest – Just as you are not extorting the bank when you take out a home mortgage, or even when you get more money with a second mortgage. Congress intended to increase the amount of funding to the railroad (they amended the law to increase the money) because the first try didn't provide enough incentive to get private investors interested in building the railroad that the government wanted built.