Thursday, March 04, 2010

Bring Back the Robber Barons: The Market Entrepreneurs Though, NOT Political Entrepreneurs

"According to Hillsdale College historian Burton W. Folsom in his book "The Myth of the Robber Barons: A New Look at the Rise of Big Business in America," market entrepreneurs like Rockefeller, Vanderbilt and Hill built businesses on product and price. Hill was the railroad magnate who finished his transcontinental line without a public land grant. Rockefeller took on and beat the world's dominant oil power at the time, Russia. Rockefeller innovated his way to energy primacy for the U.S.

Political entrepreneurs, by contrast, made money back then by gaming the political system. Steamship builder Robert Fulton acquired a 30-year monopoly on Hudson River steamship traffic from, no surprise, the New York legislature. Cornelius Vanderbilt, with the slogan "New Jersey must be free," broke Fulton's government-granted monopoly.

If the Obama model takes hold, we will enter the Golden Age of the Political Entrepreneur. The green jobs industry that sits at the center of the Obama master plan for the American future depends on public subsidies for wind and solar technologies plus taxes on carbon to suppress it as a competitor. Politically connected entrepreneurs will spend their energies running a mad labyrinth of bureaucracies, congressional committees and Beltway door openers. Our best market entrepreneurs, instead of exhausting themselves on their new ideas, will run to ground gaming Barack Obama's ideas.

If the goal is job growth, we need to admit one fact: Political entrepreneurs create fewer jobs than do market entrepreneurs. We need new mass markets, really big markets of the sort Ford, Rockefeller and Carnegie created. Great employment markets are discoverable only by people who create opportunities or see them in the cracks of what already exists—a Federal Express or Wal-Mart. Either you believe that the philosopher kings of the Obama administration can figure out this sort of thing, or you don't. I don't."

~
Danniel Henninger in today's WSJ

23 Comments:

At 3/04/2010 7:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's start with restoring the constitution and the true intent of the commerce clause to provide for regular commerce not to regulate it. Establish a level playing field and the USA will flourish.

 
At 3/04/2010 7:28 PM, Blogger sethstorm said...

No thanks, but let's keep the Robber Baron idea where it is now, dead.

The only thing that they did to the market was manipulate it. They presumed that they were The Almighty and that no government or man should be beyond their influence.

Mr. Folsom thinks that revisionism will help him in cleaning the image that was deserving of Robber Barons. It won't.

 
At 3/04/2010 7:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's fun to watch the deranged reaction leftists have to men like Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, Hill and Carnegie. Men who actually built something and created immense wealth for themselves and everyone else. It's like the collision of matter and anti-matter. Leftists leach and grasp, destroying everything they touch leaving everyone poorer, except themselves. Men like Carnegie and Rockefeller build. They create wealth and nations. Just one of them is worth a million leftist parasites.

 
At 3/04/2010 8:04 PM, Blogger sethstorm said...

Anonymous said at 7:38 PM...
You act as if they were saintly and beyond question. You don't question what kinds of influence peddling they did.

Those folks made it a point to buy the US Government and just run it like it was a division of their corporation.

Any good parts of them were unintentional side-effects or vote-buying measures.

 
At 3/04/2010 8:52 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"Those folks made it a point to buy the US Government and just run it like it was a division of their corporation"...

Hmmm, and YOUR leftist-socialist cadre aren't?

 
At 3/04/2010 9:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree! Everyone should know what it's like to work for Andrew Carnegie: 12-hour shifts in dirty, dangerous steel mills without a break, seven days a week. Oh, and I forgot - the lovely, bi-weekly event called the turn shift. Twenty-four hours of pure hell locked up in a steel mill (yes, this actually happened; the owners used it as a way to switch workers between day and night shifts that went for weekly stretches).

 
At 3/04/2010 10:07 PM, Blogger sethstorm said...

Hmmm, and that leftist-socialist cadre isn't?
They don't speak for me and I don't speak for them. Just that it seems that not only are you attacking a dead horse(labor unions), you don't care if it's starting to injure the living.

As for the side you wish to speak in support of, they can stop using offshore labor to break the back of certain undesirable US citizens. It's not the 1980s anymore - the cheap political points from that are starting to harm all US citizens. Now that political (and economic) tactic is wearing thin now that it's hit those who first encouraged the use of overseas work.

Bringing back robber barons would only make it worse.

 
At 3/05/2010 1:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everyone should know what it's like to work for Andrew Carnegie: 12-hour shifts in dirty, dangerous steel mills without a break, seven days a week.

Thanks to leftist union bosses you no longer have to worry about getting your hands dirty at those steel mills and foundries. Soon, you won't have to worry about working at those terrible auto plants either. In fact, the unions have been doing a great job of keeping your nails clean. Why is it that leftists are always complaining about the jobs others provide for them? Why don't you get off your lazy commie asses a create a few? Oh, and make sure they pay top dollar, with bullet proof benefits and pensions. Come on slacker show us how it's done.

 
At 3/05/2010 3:18 AM, Blogger sethstorm said...

Anonymous:
Perhaps this might put you back in your place:

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601039&sid=aBYcD9Ah3O5w
Wrecking U.S. Economy Didn’t Start With Labor: Harry J. Holzer

Consider that the attacks stated in the article had (and have) an impact on the non-union side of things.

 
At 3/05/2010 10:00 AM, Anonymous rvturnage said...

The employees of these "Robber Barons" volunteered for their jobs. Harsh labor conditions were part and parcell of the emerging industry, just as it is/was all across the world, and is now in developing countries. And then, just as now, those workers apparently felt those jobs were better than the 12-18 hours a day, seven days a week of hard work they had been doing on farms for less pay.

Under those "robber barons", the costs of goods and services to the public WENT DOWN, unlike under centralized government control. The public benefited from their ingenuity and entrepreneurship.

 
At 3/05/2010 10:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Harry J. Holzer is a leftist moron who has worked for Soros funded think tanks. Got any editorials written by Michael Moore?

Now, get back to your place - the unemployment line.

 
At 3/05/2010 10:06 AM, Blogger sethstorm said...


The employees of these "Robber Barons" volunteered for their jobs

...in more ways than you intended.


Harsh labor conditions were part and parcell of the emerging industry, just as it is/was all across the world, and is now in developing countries. And then, just as now, those workers apparently felt those jobs were better than the 12-18 hours a day, seven days a week of hard work they had been doing on farms for less pay.

That doesn't excuse the practice. It only says what happens when you have such robber barons around.


Under those "robber barons", the costs of goods and services to the public WENT DOWN, unlike under centralized government control. The public benefited from their ingenuity and entrepreneurship.

...and their rent-seeking? They weren't at all saintly, and such cannot be separated from their business activities.

 
At 3/05/2010 10:09 AM, Blogger sethstorm said...

...naturally, the anonymous writer copy-pastes an accusation before considering the rest of it.

 
At 3/05/2010 10:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What "sethstorm" doesn't get is that most of what the labor movement calls progress was only possible because of the wealth created by men like Rockefeller, Vanderbilt and Hill. Without men who build industries there are no jobs, difficult or otherwise. Deep down, people like "sethstorm" know that they just don't have what it takes and that they owe everything they have to the men who built the nations industries and fought it's wars. In order to deal with their shortcomings, leftists have had to replace their feelings of inadequacy with a claim of entitlement. They're experts at how it should be done, and who owes who, but they build nothing.

 
At 3/05/2010 1:40 PM, Anonymous DrTorch said...

The travesty is trying to lump Rockefeller in w/ people like Carnegie.

They were very different men. Very different in their approach.

 
At 3/05/2010 3:19 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

> You don't question what kinds of influence peddling they did.

Whereas you don't KNOW what kinds of influence peddling they did.

As usual Seth, you do a wonderful job sounding like you know what you're talking about, but that's mainly because you're confidently parroting old platitudes and canards while knowing and understanding nothing.

That's not to say there's NOTHING in what you say, that's saying you don't know where the BS stops and the actual facts stand. As a result, your opinion (and that's a generously positive reference for your blatherings) isn't of much utility in figuring anything out.


But you still Know The Answers, and so pooh-pooh any re-examination of "what everyone already knows" that is a part of rational, mature behavior.

 
At 3/05/2010 3:26 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

> they can stop using offshore labor to break the back of certain undesirable US citizens. It's not the 1980s anymore - the cheap political points from that are starting to harm all US citizens.

Case in point. The genius thinks it's still the 1950s, and manufacturing is king.

All future substantial wealth in this nation will come from knowledge work, seth. Not from the manufacturing sector, which is well on the way to going where it ought to be, which is 2-5% of the population -- just as we've already seen in agriculture a century ago. Roboticization is to manufacturing what mechanization is to agriculture.

And frankly, if a machine can do it, then there's got to be a *much* better thing out there for a human mind to apply itself to.

It is singularly unfortunate that our educational social systems are geared towards producing ideal factory workers and not ideal knowledge workers -- dull witted sheeple rather than thoughtful, critical-thinking and independently minded individualists.

Not sure how we go about changing that -- it may well require a full social collapse -- but "maintaining the status quo" is not an option.

 
At 3/05/2010 3:31 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

> Everyone should know what it's like to work for Andrew Carnegie: 12-hour shifts in dirty, dangerous steel mills without a break, seven days a week.

As opposed to 14 hour shifts in dirty, dangerous fields without a break, seven days a week.

There's a reason, despite the awful conditions, that life expectancy went UP as workers shifted from field work to factory work. It's no party, but it was a major step up from working in the fields doing stoop labor.

But that kind of thoughtful consideration -- life expectancy as a measure of how onerous the work was -- is too much to expect from a genius who can't even be bothered to actually think up a name.

 
At 3/05/2010 3:41 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

> Harsh labor conditions were part and parcel of the emerging industry

"Harsh labor conditions" were a part and parcel of life.

That's what these pansy-ass bedwetting simps like seth and "the stupid anonymous" Just Don't Get.

They think that the reason things are as they are is because of the unions and so forth, which is totally false.

The reasons the unions could get the concessions they DID get is because of the fact that the country got wealthy as shit from what the businessmen and their employees were doing, and could sacrifice a percentage of what they were making to the benefit of the employee (and yes, if the unions hadn't demanded it, they might not have gotten it in many cases... but not all. Anyone who knows about the history of FMC knows Ford himself paid some of the best wages and benefits in all of industry without union input of any kind).

In many cases, though, the employers knew that a prosperous middle class was just plain good for business. If people had money to spend, then they'd spend it on things the factories were making.

Again -- unlike seth's incompetent mental image, capital owners are no better or worse than any individual. They have good actors and bad actors across the entire spectrum.

 
At 3/05/2010 3:42 PM, Anonymous rvturnage said...

...in more ways than you intended.
Really? So wages and consumer spending fell during and subsequent to the industrialization of America?

That doesn't excuse the practice. It only says what happens when you have such robber barons around.hardly. It only says what happens when industry is beginning and efficiency is low. Hard work and long hours. Still better than the alternatives, else they wouldn't have taken (or kept) the job. Even Paul Krugman, back when he was a bit more sane, recognized the issue in developing nations. Working in a "sweat shop" for 12-18 hours for a few dollars is far better than scrounging for scraps in a dump for a few pennies for the same length of time.

...and their rent-seeking? They weren't at all saintly, and such cannot be separated from their business activities. No one has said they were saintly. But you act like corruption is something isolated to successful businessmen. Government has far more power than businessmen, and they wield far more corruption. Only government can take money from one and give to another without their consent. It seems to me far more harm was done to consumers by government "monopoly" lawsuits against the likes of Rockefeller, who was driving down the cost for consumers.

The fact of the matter. Their business activities drove down the cost of goods and services for consumers, drove up wages for employees from where they were before, and set the stage for the progress we've seen ever since. As Schumpeter said: "Electric lighting is no great boon to anyone who has money enough to buy a sufficient number of candles and to pay servants to attend them. It is the cheap cloth, the cheap cotton and rayon fabric, boots, motorcars and so on that are the typical achievements of capitalist production, and not as a rule improve-ments that would mean much to a rich man. Queen Elizabeth owned silk stockings. The capitalist achievement does not typically consist in providing more silk stockings for queens but in bringing them within the reach of factory girls in return for steadily decreasing amounts of effort. "

Government can't do that, and it can't plan it, it can only inhibit it.

 
At 3/05/2010 3:52 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

P.S., I strongly recommend for anyone who hasn't seen it, the light comedy "Other Peoples' Money".

It's basically the flip side of "Wall Street", in that the hero is a less caricatured and much more honestly depicted guy who buys overvalued corporations and tears them apart for the assets.

Exactly the sort of "evil being" seth would be railing against.

Mild SPOILER BELOW ---

.
.

The climax comes at a stockholders' meeting in which Gregory Peck, the factory owner, gets up and gives this wonderfully impassioned speech about manufacturing and community and all the wonderful things the factory represents.

He sits down and you're fully cognizant of the fact that there is NO WAY Danny Devito's "Gecko" is going to top that -- he's going to pull some gimmick out of his hat at the last minute...

So Devito gets up and gives his *own* impassioned speech that carpet bombs Gregory Peck to smithereens.

It's totally unexpected, but the speech is a spot-on, utterly correct and honest defense of what Devito's character does and why.

I highly recommend the movie as the "Anti-Wall Street".

All the characters are engaging, earnest, and I think far more accurate depictions of real people and their motivations than what you realize afterwards are Stone's ultimately cheap caricatures.

"Well, for someone who has nothing nice to say about lawyers, you certainly have enough of them around."
"They're like nuclear warheads. They have theirs, so I have mine. Once you use 'em, they fuck up everything."
- "Other People's Money" -

 
At 3/05/2010 5:36 PM, Blogger dan said...

So Vanderbilt just paid market price for all the railroad property he needed? And Rockafeller was such a pal to other business, you would not mind him taking yours away

 
At 3/07/2010 11:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"As opposed to 14 hour shifts in dirty, dangerous fields without a break, seven days a week.

There's a reason, despite the awful conditions, that life expectancy went UP as workers shifted from field work to factory work. It's no party, but it was a major step up from working in the fields doing stoop labor.

But that kind of thoughtful consideration -- life expectancy as a measure of how onerous the work was -- is too much to expect from a genius who can't even be bothered to actually think up a name."

I forgot - Andrew Carnegie couldn't afford to give his workers a break, could he? That's why he had to hire the Pinkertons, the guns-for-hire mercenaries who fought (and lost) a bloody confrontation during the Homestead Strike. It makes you wanna ask: how fucked up does a situation have to be if men are willing to fight - and die - to improve the lot of their lives?

I know one thing: putting you around a blast furnace for a 24-hour turn shift will raise your IQ a few points.

 

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