Chapter III — Part III

February 8, 2016

Jim’s first act as President of Taggart Transcontinental was to gain approval of that San Sebastian line that is sucking the lifeblood out of the entire railroad. Many hands went into that, but one man rises above in Dagny’s eyes: Francisco D’Anconia, who inherited a great fortune at 23, as well as a Midas touch of the financial genius that likely made his family among the most noble in Argentina. He’s also apparently a lazy playboy whom Dagny sees as a horrid waste of life – both hers and his.

Jim and his buddies apparently don’t like him either, for different reasons. We are to smirk at the hypocrisy that they were so quick to beg to become the biggest shareholders of the vast swaths of mountains in Mexico that D’Anconia bought and named the San Sebastian Mines. There’s no evidence that there’s anything in those depths, by the way, only speculation based on the mogul’s reputation.

Some objected when Jim proposed running the San Sebastian line down from Texas. The Rio Norte line was already in need of major investment. Dagny fought, but at the time was only an assistant in Operating. Jim got approval and then obtained a contract promising property rights for two hundred years in the People’s State of Mexico, a land that in this story has no such rights. This is the same promise that was extended to D’Anconio.

Supporting Board Members talk of benefiting from the wealth of copper that no one’s seen proof of, and a moral obligation to put people above profits and assist the underprivileged Mexican nation in achieving industrialization. They say that, “the old theory of economic self-sufficiency has been exploded long ago. It is impossible for one country to prosper in the midst of a starving world”

However, this “moral” obligation is not something the system can afford. The railroad is not prospering. Those statements are juxtaposed with Dagny’s reflections on abandoned lines, dangerous maintenance deficiencies – including an abandoned engine wreck — and their failure to adequately serve the paying customer, Wyatt, whom she sees as a source of lifeblood to the economy. Not being selfish here apparently means choosing the Mexican’s interests over a desperate need to invest everything into healing Taggart Transcontinental’s own starving system…which we understand would sensibly include investing in Ellis Wyatt’s much more clearly demonstrable movements to breathe life into the US Midwest.

The Taggart Transcontinental board would rather focus on lauding the Mexican Government for “discipline” and “efficiency” in its complete control of everything, and on its potential as a sharp competitor in the future. Jim speaks in “unfinished sentences” about how his ominously unnamed government friends are encouraging this line as a matter of international diplomacy. We are to understand there’s more that Dagny senses but doesn’t understand, left unsaid.

The company lays out $30 million for the project. All Dagny can think is “Get out…get out…get out”…words she can’t believe she is thinking…”She felt terror, not at the thought but at the question of what had made her think it.”

Again, she stubbornly refuses. Clearly, they now need her more than ever.


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