Saturday, November 03, 2007

Your reading assignment for this week

A comment was left here which indicates that there is a misunderstanding of the role which the great 19th and early 20th century entrapenures played in the establishment of the United States as a free and prosperous nation.

To correct this ignorance I instruct you to obtain a copy of Burton W Folsom's book The Myth of the Robber Barons . Here are quotes from some of the reviews on Amazon:

Folsom's book is accessible, eye-opening, and compelling. It is, I believe, the very best short work that punctures the prevailing myth of the robber barons. As Folsom shows, many of the most reviled "robber barons" were incredible benefactors of humankind - J. D. Rockefeller included. -- Donald J. Boudreaux

A central purpose of this book is to distinguish between 19th century political entreprenuers, who gained monopolies by co-opting the legislature and judicial apparatus of the state, and market entrepreneurs, who built railroads with private money or who developed a competitive presence in, for example, the early 19th century steamship business. The book discusses how J.D. Rockefeller reduced the cost of kerosene for millions of American consumers, which allowed them to light their homes without using whale oil. The book discusses the 30 year oil price war with the Russians in Baku (1885-1915), which drove Rockefeller to relentlessly reduce prices in order to compete in international markets; all the while thousands of American jobs hung in the balance. There are seven different chapters on different American economic events which unfortunately aren't given thorough enough coverage in the history departments of our universities. But, that does not diminish the importance of these events in the development of America and the stage they set for the continuing increase in living standards for the common man. By changing the debate from "big business is bad and workers are good" to a dialogue that puts the collusion of big business, big labor, and big government in sharper perspective, Folsom does the reader an important service. A terrific book. -- Eugene A Jewett

The entrepreneurs vs. the state. Folson cuts away the myths and tells the true story of these remarkable risk takers: Vanderbilts's steamships, Hill's Railroads, Scranton's Iron Rails, Schwab and the steel industry, Rockefeller's oil, and Mellon's tax cuts. He also hits upon the missed data and half truths in the textbooks that contributes to rewriting history. -- Scott Walker

Excellent book about the greatness of the entrepeneurs who didn't have to rely on gov't subsidies to succeed! Finally, a chance to hear the other side of the story. Gov't subsidies have always resulted in failure and this finally shows who the great industrialists of the 20th century were and that true laissez faire capitalism can work! Enjoy! -- Kathleen R. Conn

Get your copy and read it. Then let's hear no more talk of "robber barons".