Thursday, March 4, 2010

Demonizing the Robber Barons

Dan Henninger has an excellent column over at the Wall Street Journal this morning: "Bring Back the Robber Barons."  As a proud graduate of Vanderbilt University, a school endowed by one of the great robber barons, Cornelius "the public be damned" Vanderbilt, I couldn't agree more.  In this strange parallel universe we have morphed into, only government is allowed to be heroic...everyone else, like the hypnotize sequence in Zoolander is BAAAAAAD!!!  Insurance companies? BAAAAD!  Oil companies? BAAAAD!  Aww heck, watch the video:

In our world only the government is GOOOOD.  Create jobs?  Government GOOOOD!  Health care? Government GOOOOD!  The progressive liberal left has been preaching this gospel since the turn of the last century and it needs to stop. Not only have they crowded out the economic space with massive levels of unsustainable debt and the assumption of responsibilities far beyond their capacity or constitutionality, they've crowded out the intellectual space with massive infusions of untruths sustained by a corrupt and creaking public education system.  Combined, they are crowding out the entrepreneurial space that built this nation.  Per Henninger:
 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.

I have been involved with some infrastructure explorations of late and the news is disturbing.  According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, our nation's infrastructure gets a "D" grade.  Just to maintain the "D" we need to spend $2.2 TRILLION...that's so bridges don't fall down, water systems don't crumble etc.  Now since we are already at an unsustainable level of spending at the Federal and state levels - heck, California makes Greece look solvent...does it not make sense to allow the real job creation to begin with privatization?  Great infrastructure projects prior to the Roosevelt administration were done by private enterprise - Eerie Canal, transcontinental railroad, Eads Bridge, the network of pikes and tollroads that dot the land - all done privately.  Couple the current financial condition of state and local governments with declining property values (lower property taxes) and high joblessness (lower income taxes) and the picture is not good.  The government could help with entitlement if necessary, but otherwise, perhaps it should just get out of the way.  For example, there's a lot of talk in some municipalities about "light rail."  If the government gets its way, we will end up with clunker systems that lose Amtrak.  How about cutting some entrepreneurs loose and coming up with a system like this:

Creative, lower cost systems designed by entrepreneurs.  To quote Henninger again:
We live in a world of rising competitors—foreign robber barons—who don't much care about our endless quest for health-care justice. The U.S. on its current path to a stage-managed economy floating in a lake of taxes will keep down the greatest population of intellectual and managerial firepower the world has seen. The rest of the world admits that, with the recent exception of the Chinese, who think we're ready to be taken. We have young people impatient for the chance to do what Carnegie, Rockefeller and Hill did. Let them.
Yes, let them.

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