How the Myth of the ‘Robber Barons’ Began—and Why It Persists

Fee – The widely-accepted “history” of America’s Gilded Age was grossly inaccurate, but it told a compelling story that many fell for hook, line, and sinker.

The widely-accepted “history” of America’s Gilded Age was grossly inaccurate, but it told a compelling story that many fell for hook, line, and sinker.

Culture Gilded Age Robber Barons History Marxism Myths

Note from the President: Burton W. Folsom is more than just my favorite historian. He’s also one of my very best friends. So I admit to some personal bias when I endorse his classic book, The Myth of the Robber Barons, as I’ve done on dozens of occasions. But even if I didn’t know him or didn’t like him, I would still say that it’s one of the best, most insightful books on American business and political history of the last century. The distinction he draws out between “market entrepreneurs” and “political entrepreneurs” has permanently altered historical interpretations of a crucial era in our past—for the better and with increasing effect as the years have gone by since the book’s first edition in 1991.

Now, a new edition—the eighth—makes its appearance with a new final chapter, excerpted here. What you’ll read below is about a third of that chapter, but it’s an excellent sample. Here, Dr. Folsom explores the question of how and why so many historians get the “robber baron” era precisely wrong, with a special focus on the deleterious impact of Matthew Josephson and his error-filled but influential book from the 1930s.

— Lawrence W. Reed, President, Foundation for Economic Education

Capitalism Worked, but We Were Told It Didn’t

We study history to learn from it. If we can discover what worked and what didn’t work, we can use this knowledge wisely to create a better future. Studying the triumph of American industry, for example, is important because it is the story of how the United States became the world’s leading economic power. “Free markets worked well; government intervention usually failed.

The years when this happened, from 1865 to the early 1900s, saw the U.S. encourage entrepreneurs indirectly by limiting government. Slavery was abolished and so was the income tax. Federal spending was slashed and federal budgets had surpluses almost every year in the late 1800s. In other words, the federal government created more freedom and a stable marketplace in which entrepreneurs could operate.

To some extent, during the late 1800s—a period historians call the “Gilded Age”—American politicians learned from the past. They had dabbled in federal subsidies from steamships to transcontinental railroads, and those experiments dismally failed. Politicians then turned to free markets as a better strategy for economic development. The world-dominating achievements of Cornelius Vanderbilt, James J. Hill, John D. Rockefeller, and Charles Schwab validated America’s unprecedented limited government. And when politicians sometimes veered off course later with government interventions for tariffs, high income taxes, anti-trust laws, and an effort to run a steel plant to make armor for war—the results again often hindered American economic progress. Free markets worked well; government intervention usually failed.

Why is it, then, that for so many years, most historians have been teaching the opposite lesson? They have made no distinction between political entrepreneurs, who tried to succeed through federal aid, and market entrepreneurs, who avoided subsidies and sought to create better products at lower prices. Instead, most historians have preached that many, if not all, entrepreneurs were “robber barons.” They did not enrich the U.S. with their investments; instead, they bilked the public and corrupted political and economic life in America. Therefore, government intervention in the economy was needed to save the country from these greedy businessmen. To read more click here.

Elizabeth Warren’s ‘New Deal’ Is Closer to National Socialism than Democratic Socialism

FEE – Senator Warren is proposing “the wholesale expropriation of private enterprise in the United States, and nothing less.”
Wednesday, August 22, 2018
Barry Brownstein

In an episode of the HBO comedy series Crashing, libertarian Penn Jillette offered this provocative opinion:

The most important revolution in human history, more important than agriculture, more important than writing, is the scientific revolution. The scientific revolution came down to these three words: I don’t know.

Jillette added, “No institution, no church, no king, no power structure had ever said in history, I don’t know.”

The Greek historian Thucydides put it this way: “Ignorance is bold, knowledge reserved.”

It’s hard to find a politician willing to say, “I don’t know.” Senator Elizabeth Warren is no exception. Her ignorance is bold. Recently she proposed The Accountable Capitalism Act. Under her proposed law, Warren and others in government will pretend to know much about that which they know nothing—running every large business in America.
The Accountable Capitalism Act

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Senator Warren urges Americans to insist “on a new deal.” Under her Accountable Capitalism Act,

Corporations with more than $1 billion in annual revenue would be required to get a federal corporate charter. The new charter requires corporate directors to consider the interests of all major corporate stakeholders—not only shareholders—in company decisions. Shareholders could sue if they believed directors weren’t fulfilling those obligations.

Click here to read more.

The US federal government still strongly pushes corn- and soy-based ethanol despite the EPA’s new study showing its harmful effects.

FEE – hen the elected officials and bureaucrats who run a government want to stack the deck in favor of a politically connected special interest, they have three main ways that they can go about it:

They can subsidize the special interest, often using taxpayer cash.
They can penalize the competition of the special interest, often through tariffs.
They can mandate that people do business with the special interest.

Each of these actions is economically harmful as government-backed subsidies, penalties, and mandates all impose unnecessary costs on regular people. Worse, they often lead to predictable, if often unintended, consequences that do serious damage beyond what they do to personal finances.

In the case of ethanol in the United States, the federal government has employed all three measures over the years, frequently with bipartisan political support. Its subsidies keep afloat politically connected businesses that wouldn’t otherwise be able to keep themselves in business. Its tariffs have kept consumers from being able to buy cheaper sources of ethanol on the global market. And its mandate to put an increasing amount of corn-based ethanol into fuel makes food more expensive.

As an example of an unintended-yet-predictable consequence, it turns out that those actions by the U.S. government to push ethanol production and use in the United States are doing serious damage to the environment. The Daily Caller‘s Jason Hopkins reports on a new study from the Environmental Protection Agency: Click here to read more.

6 Interviews with Republican Candidates from TeaPartyTV.us/.com – Please, spread far and wide.

Mark Crawford, Republican Candidate for NC Senate 49   https://youtu.be/HrOtDXOdaPY

Glenda Weinert, Republican Candidate for Buncombe County Commission  https://youtu.be/Vs7zZPXpzdo

Amy Evans, Republican Candidate for NC House 115  https://youtu.be/TY5Ati1JvY0

NC State Senator Chuck Edwards  https://youtu.be/N5B60xLYOCo

Marilyn Brown, Republican Candidate for NC House 116  https://youtu.be/ZK0KLyK8NZ4

Shad Higgins, Candidate for Buncombe County NC Sheriff  https://youtu.be/pb93p42_KFk

The Solution to Poverty Is Opportunity, Not Charity

FEE – Treating symptoms is not enough. When we fall ill, our bodies give us symptoms to signal to our brains that trouble is afoot. A fever, for example, lets us know that our body is working in overdrive to fight off some sort of infection. While it may be causing us tremendous discomfort, we know that the fever itself is not the real problem, but rather a symptom of a greater problem that is about to manifest itself.

But if we are in search of lasting relief, we must first discover what is causing the fever in the first place. Sure, we can try to mask the discomfort by using aspirin or ibuprofen, but this relief is conditional and only lasts for so long. Unless the root causes are identified and treated, the symptoms will come back as soon as the medicine wears off.

Many charities and organizations perpetuate this cycle by focusing only on treating the symptoms of poverty, completely ignoring the root causes.

When put in terms of our health, recognizing that symptoms are merely consequences of a bigger problem but not the actual disease seems obvious. But many fail to see how this principle translates into other realms in life. Poverty, for example, is a vicious cycle with many observable symptoms. Starvation, lack of clean drinking water, and insufficient housing are all symptoms of poverty, but they are not the cause.

Click here to read more.

Why Socialism Failed

FEE – Socialism is the Big Lie of the Twentieth century. While it promised prosperity, equality, and security, it delivered poverty, misery, and tyranny. Equality was achieved only in the sense that everyone was equal in his or her misery.

In the same way that a Ponzi scheme or chain letter initially succeeds but eventually collapses, socialism may show early signs of success. But any accomplishments quickly fade as the fundamental deficiencies of central planning emerge. It is the initial illusion of success that gives government intervention its pernicious, seductive appeal. In the long run, socialism has always proven to be a formula for tyranny and misery.

Socialism Ignores Incentives

A pyramid scheme is ultimately unsustainable because it is based on faulty principles. Likewise, collectivism is unsustainable in the long run because it is a flawed theory. Socialism does not work because it is not consistent with fundamental principles of human behavior. The failure of socialism in countries around the world can be traced to one critical defect: it is a system that ignores incentives.

Click here to learn more.

Trump Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh Relies Heavily on Judicial Precedents

The New American – After days of consideration, President Donald Trump on Monday night put to rest all speculation about whom he would nominate to fill retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy’s place on the high court. He named a leading light on the highly influential U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia: Judge Brett Kavanaugh (shown). Constitutionalists were hoping that Trump’s pick would be an originalist — someone who believes that the Constitution should be understood on the basis of what it actually says and the intent of the people who drafted it. But although Kavanaugh has stated that judges should not make law, his judicial record shows that he relies heavily on past judicial precedents that have often been in conflict with the clear language of the Constitution.

The president didn’t make up his mind until the very last minute, carefully considering Judges Hardiman and Barrett, whose credentials made them close seconds.

Kavanaugh, age 53, holds BA and JD degrees from Yale College. He spent his early years in private practice in Washington, D.C. before accepting a position as a law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy in 1993. He became associate counsel to President George W. Bush in 2001. In 2003 he was named assistant to the president and his staff secretary before being nominated to the D.C. Circuit. That nomination was bottled up for nearly three years before clearing the Senate in 2006.

Click here to read more.

Put a stop to Courts making unconstitutional laws

The Constitution of the United States of America, Article 1, Section 9 it states: No tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any state. Export means articles or items shipped over state lines to any other state or country. (See Federalist Papers 42 (11 and 12) Supervision of Interstate Commerce). *Some feel this applies only to the Federal Government and not the states. Q: How do you feel about it after reading the “Federalist Papers 42 (11 and 12) Supervision of Interstate Commerce”? The following is from “Federalist Papers: In Modern Language”: #11 An important objective of this power was to give relief to the states that import and export through other States and are forced to pay improper contributions levied on them. #12 In Switzerland, where the union is very slight, each canton(state) must allow merchandise passage through its jurisdiction into other cantons, without additional tolls. Note: To the best of my knowledge before 1992, States were not allowed to charge sales tax on purchases being shipped over state lines. Why was that if not for unencumbered trade in a UNITED nation? This law is nothing more but a way for the poorly run state governments trying to bail themselves out on the backs of sovereign of citizens of other states.

Article 1, Section 10 states: No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any Imposts or Duties on Imports or exports,…….

In Amendment 14 it is stated: All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States AND the State wherein they reside. (No state you do not physically live in or physically do business in should be able to tax you as you are not a citizen of that State. – Fremont’s opinion)
As, you know: U.S. Constitution – Article 1 Section 1 – All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives. NOT ONE word about the Executive or Judaical Branches having any power to make law.

Please, tell your US Representatives and Senators to use the power of Congress and put a stop to Courts making unconstitutional law.

Muslim Migration May Topple EU — Starting With Angela Merkel’s Government

The New American – The plan to flood Europe with Muslim migrants is increasingly being challenged, with EU states Hungary, Poland, Austria, and Italy taking more and more of a hard line against it. Now opposition to it threatens to topple German chancellor Angela Merkel’s (shown) government; in fact, with many of her coalition’s members of parliament (MPs) coming out against open borders, some observers say she could be ousted as early as the end of the week.

As Politico reports: Click here to read more.

How Progress Turns Scarcity into Abundance

FEE – Since he published his bestselling book, Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress, Steven Pinker has been criticized for excessive optimism.

Writing for Open Democracy, Jeremy Lent argues that Pinker is insufficiently concerned about depletion of the planet’s natural resources, including freshwater reserves. He faults the Harvard University psychologist for embracing a “neoliberal, technocratic belief that a combination of market-based solutions and technological fixes will magically resolve all ecological problems.”

The problem with Lent’s argument is that technological fixes and market-based solutions really are an important part of humanity’s efforts to overcome environmental challenges. If you’re unconvinced, just look at Israel’s desalination efforts.
Progress Isn’t Magic, but It’s Close

Lent notes some worrying environmental trends, including “the rise in CO2 emissions; the decline in available freshwater; and the increase in the number of ocean dead zones from artificial fertilizer runoff.”

Pinker does not deny the existence of these challenges. “Progress,” he writes, Click here to read more.

NC’s Stealth Voting Machine Monopoly

[Update June 5, 2018–SB 486 passed a second and third reading in Monday night’s legislative session. No lawmakers offered to amend the portion of the law addressed in this article. ~ jd]

Jun 4, 2018 (Raleigh) — Tonight at the Legislature, North Carolina’s lower chamber will conduct a third vote on an election reform bill that’s full of surprises, but one quiet little $10 million nugget will effectively mandate a single source for our state’s election machines, forcing all 100 counties to buy the same brand of equipment at non-competitive prices.

Peeling back the bill’s hidden meaning.

While common sense says that companies selling election equipment should warranty their work, up to the cost of a new election. The bone of contention involves how big an election.

For decades, North Carolina has required competing companies to post a bond covering the cost of a “statewide” election, specifically $10 million. While that all seems fair at first blush, it’s a red herring designed to drive out all competition. The failure of a voting machine in any given county would never require a new statewide election. Such a failure usually results in a manual recount. At worst, it forces a new county-wide election.

Vendors [must post a] bond or letter of credit …in the amount determined by the State Board as sufficient for the cost of a new statewide election or in the amount of ten million dollars ($10,000,000),
whichever is greater.” (SECTION 3.6A. G.S. 163A-1115(a)(1))

Click here to read more.

Supreme Court to Police: Get Off the People’s Lawn

The Daily Signal – This week, the Supreme Court held that the Fourth Amendment does not permit a police officer to enter uninvited onto someone’s driveway to search a parked vehicle, without first obtaining a warrant.

That’s an important ruling, since no one wants police officers roaming across their private property searching for evidence of a crime. But Justice Clarence Thomas raised another important issue in a concurring opinion: In that scenario, what remedy should there be against the officer’s unlawful behavior?

Thomas proposed an answer that bucks Supreme Court precedent, but holds true to the original meaning of the Constitution.

The Fourth Amendment protects against unreasonable searches and seizures, and generally requires police to obtain a warrant before searching or seizing someone’s property. The Supreme Court has recognized several exceptions to the warrant requirement, however, including for automobiles—since they can be driven off at a moment’s notice, and are subject to manifold regulations, courts will allow police to search vehicles based on probable cause that a crime has occurred without first obtaining a warrant.

Click here to read more.

The Reason Liberal Lawmakers Are to Blame for High Gas Prices

The Daily Signal – With consumer confidence at a 17-year high and economic prospects looking relatively strong, congressional Democrats have taken to grousing about the gas pump as a midterm strategy.

“These higher oil prices are translating directly to soaring gas prices,” declared Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, “something we know disproportionately hurts middle- and lower-income people.”

If this is true, then why have Democrats spent the past two decades advocating policies that artificially spike fossil fuel prices? If higher energy costs hurt Americans—and thank you, senator, for conceding this point—why have liberals favored increasing gas taxes, inhibiting exploration for fossil fuels (including a ban on fracking for less environmentally damaging gas in a number of places), and capping imports?

If higher gas prices disproportionately impact the working class and poor, then why do Democrats push for national schemes designed to create false demand through a fabricated marketplace?

Click here to read more.

Middle-of-the-Road Policy Leads to Socialism

The fundamental dogma of all brands of socialism and communism is that the market economy or capitalism is a system that hurts the vital interests of the immense majority of people for the sole benefit of a small minority of rugged individualists. It condemns the masses to progressing impoverishment. It brings about misery, slavery, oppression, degradation, and exploitation of the working men, while it enriches a class of idle and useless parasites.
But, of course, the practical political conclusions which people drew from this dogma were not uniform. This doctrine was not the work of Karl Marx. It had been developed long before Marx entered the scene. Its most successful propagators were not the Marxian authors, but such men as Carlyle and Ruskin, the British Fabians, the German professors and the American Institutionalists. And it is a very significant fact that the correctness of this dogma was contested only by few economists who were very soon silenced and barred from access to the universities, the press, the leadership of political parties and, first of all, public office. Public opinion by and large accepted the condemnation of capitalism without any reservation.
Click here to read more.

Free Online Course “American Heritage”

Fellow American,

Journalists, professors, and politicians on the Left want you to feel guilty about our nation’s heritage. They would rather erase the liberty that so many brave men and women fought and died to preserve—and even apologize for it!

You know this is wrong. America has an incredible history—one that we can and should take great pride in. Our Founders had a unique opportunity to start government anew—while drawing on the best knowledge and history of Western Civilization, from ancient Greece and Rome to the English constitutional tradition.

For the first time in history, they established a country founded of the people, by the people, and for the people—a country that rests on the bedrock principles of liberty set forth in the Declaration of independence and secured by the Constitution.

I write to invite you to join me in studying our nation’s fascinating, true history in our free online course, “American Heritage.”

We recently updated the course with new lectures, Q&As, and more. I encourage you to take this course yourself, and to share it with your friends and family.

Please enjoy this completely free course and learn about America’s magnificent heritage of liberty. You can start your course here >>

Warm Regards,

Larry P. Arnn

President, Hillsdale College

Pursuing Truth—Defending Liberty since 1844

Hillsdale College    33 East College Street    Hillsdale, MI 49242    USA

Socialism is Slavery

Socialism is Slavery

By Marion Smith

This op-ed originally appeared in the New Hampshire Union Leader on May 1, 2018.

One year ago today, an activist named Daniel Llorente interrupted the Workers’ Day march in Havana, Cuba. Wearing the Cuban flag T-shirt, Daniel unfurled an American flag over his head and ran in front of the procession replete with photos of Fidel Castro. He was tackled by undercover agents of the state.

The Cuban regime tries to take credit for the improvement of their people’s lives. It staked its legitimacy on the supposed emancipation and well-being of the working class. But the Cuban regime showed its colors by silencing Llorente and thousands of Cuban dissidents. Socialist regimes denigrate the very workers they claim to represent.

When the International Socialist Conference declared May 1 International Worker’s Day in 1898, it advocated for child labor laws, improvements in pay and safety regulations, and for the rights of workers to form independent organizations to advocate on their behalf. But by embracing Karl Marx’s theories of human nature and violent action, the early Socialists undermined their own aspirations.

Far from ushering in a more equitable society, socialist movements that subscribed to Marxist ideology engendered a new form of slavery in the modern world. In the USSR, unenthusiastic work was considered a treasonous offense, “counter-revolutionary sabotage” that resulted in prison or death. Whenever a factory or harvest underperformed arbitrary regime quotas, the laborers were blamed for sabotaging the revolution. When the 1932 Ukrainian harvest underperformed after Stalin collectivized farms, he blamed the farmers and workers and forced them to starve en masse. Millions perished.

Marxist ideology is still being used to hold more than a billion people captive around the globe. China, where Xi Jinping just proclaimed the Communist Manifesto’s continued relevance, continues to use a system of Laogai, or forced labor camps, and dictates where the working class can live and work based on a “social credit” system. Venezuela’s socialist regime seized the means of production. Venezuela’s military runs the grocery stores while Nicolas Maduro denies humanitarian food aid to his political opponents. The average Venezuelan has lost more than 20 pounds in the last year.

Millennial Americans who rightly take offense at the greed and inhumanity sometimes exhibited by global corporations must remember that workers’ rights have not improved thanks to international socialism. Workers are only truly empowered in a free society because employers and employees are able to negotiate with each other equally under the law. In a socialist system where the regime owns the means of production, the owner, manager, employer party apparatchik is the law. Workers who would demand better treatment face repression, imprisonment, or worse.

Although Cuba has ratified all of the international labor conventions against forced, demeaning, and dangerous labor conditions, “it willfully fails to comply with them,” writes the AFL-CIO. The Cuban regime recently banned all independent labor unions.

The superiority of independent labor over Communism was known to the shipyard workers of Gdansk, Poland when they founded the Solidarity trade union. With the support of the United States, Solidarity helped bring down Communism in Eastern Europe.

If May 1 really is about workers, then don’t celebrate socialism. Celebrate free enterprise that allows workers to thrive. Let’s celebrate a free society in which individuals are able to pursue their dreams, provide for their families, and bargain collectively.

For dissidents like Daniel Llorente who want freedom and prosperity, the American flag symbolizes hope. America manifests the noblest Western traditions of free and honest enterprise. On this May 1, Americans would do well to remember that Socialism is not the best hope of workers, it is their ultimate enslavement.

Marion Smith is executive director of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation in Washington, D.C.

This op-ed originally appeared in the New Hampshire Union Leader on May 1, 2018.