The American Henry George (1839-1897) once commented on this dismal state of affairs. "What protection teaches us," he wrote, "is to do to ourselves in time of peace what enemies seek to do to us in time of war."
Let's explore some examples of how this works.
The Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC), created in 1887; the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890; the Elkins Act (1903); the Hepburn Act (1906); the Mann-Elkins Act (1910); the Panama Canal Act of 1912; and the Valuation Act (1913) worked together and at cross purposes to ensure that the nation's railroads could neither compete, cooperate, nor coordinate with each other. Routes, lading, and rates were all heavily regulated. The result was that even before the country entered World War I, its railroads were grinding to a halt, incapable of transporting steadily increasing amounts of war materiel to the nation's seaports. As Marc Scribner explains: