By Bradley Harrington
“Money is MADE — before it can be looted or mooched — made by the effort of every honest man, each to the extent of his ability. An honest man is one who knows that he can’t consume more than he has produced.” — Ayn Rand, “Atlas Shrugged,” 1957 —
Back in the Good Ole Days, if you wanted to get your hands on millions of dollars for something you thought society needed, you first produced it yourself — and then placed it out on the free market for others to decide on whether they wanted it or not for themselves.
And in those days the United States could, with more freedom to produce than any other society had ever had before, field producers like nobody’s business.
■ John D. Rockefeller, co-founder of Standard Oil, the man who revolutionized every aspect of petroleum production and introduced thousands of petroleum-based products that had never existed before;
■ Andrew Carnegie, founder of Carnegie Steel and U.S. Steel, another productive powerhouse who totally transformed steel production through the introduction of the Bessemer converter;
■ J.J. Hill, railroad tycoon, who singlehandedly paved the way to success from St. Paul to Seattle with his Great Northern line, built profitably at a time when all other government-subsidized railroads were busy going bankrupt.
All three of these men, it bears noting, had three key elements in common:
(1) None of them ever took a penny of money from anyone at the point of a gun; (2) All of them succeeded in amassing large market shares by providing better products at a cheaper price; and (3) All of them were directly responsible, therefore, for the creation of both tens of thousands of jobs and tens of billions of dollars of new wealth that had not existed prior to the onset of their productive actions.
But “that was then and this is now” … These days, our American History classes call this type of man a “Robber Baron.”
No, today’s “modern” methods of wealth-acquisition rarely involve the actual production of wealth. Instead, they usually involve the forcible transfer of wealth from the pockets of those who produced it to those of those who didn’t.
Like this, for example: “Leaders of the proposed Children’s Museum of Cheyenne … want Laramie County voters to pass a portion of a ‘seventh penny’ economic development tax to help pay for the future museum.” (“Kids’ museum works to get on Nov. ballot,” WTE, July 3.)
Unable to raise more than $3 million out of a needed $20 million, Children’s Museum President and Vice-President Amy Surdam and Caroline Veit have a bit of a problem on their hands: Lack of funds. (And especially when one considers that a significant fraction of that $3 million already on hand is, itself, the product of “grants,” i.e., further taxpayer funding.)
So, what’s the obvious solution to this dilemma? Supporters of the Children’s Museum boondoggle are about to reach out and try raiding the taxpayer even more for what they think society needs.
So — it bears asking — who are the real “Robber Barons” here? Producers of wealth like Rockefeller, Carnegie or Hill? Or plunderers of wealth like Ms. Surdam, Ms. Veit and the rest of this white-elephant crew of wanna-be thieves?
Forget, as you evaluate that last paragraph, whatever social/political bilge you’ve had your head pumped full of in the “educational” propaganda camps. Consider instead the actual definition of a “robbery”: “Theft of something from a person by use of violence or threat.” (“Merriam-Webster Dictionary.”)
Then, after absorbing that definition, ask yourself which better serves as an example of such behavior: A price or user fee willingly paid by customers in exchange for productive products they desire — or a tax dollar forcibly extracted from those who most likely have better uses for the money they created through their productive effort?
It goes without saying, however, that folks like Ms. Surdam and Ms. Veit won’t ever come out and tell you they think your vision of how your wealth should be spent is flawed. But isn’t that what they’re really saying, in between the lines? Otherwise, why reach for the gun? These “visionaries” have got a plan — and they intend to coerce you into it whether you support it or not.
And all the while, they’ll trumpet the claim that this entire fraud somehow represents some kind of social good. This is the fiction of modern “economic development,” where no true goods or services are actually being produced — just hot air, broken promises and political plundering on an ever-wider scale.
Ah, the Good Ole Days …
Bradley Harrington is a computer technician and a writer who lives in Cheyenne. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOTE: This column was originally published in the “Wyoming Tribune Eagle” on July 8, 2016. Here is this column’s original downloadable PDF file.