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Barack Obama’s shows his ignorance of history as well as his class hatred as he continues his months of campaign railing against millionaires and billionaires.
He seems not to know how American entrepreneurialism took root and how famed capitalists of the past launched the country on the road to economic growth as well as providing prosperity for many in the “middle class.” It was a time of small federal government and little stifling regulation.
The first American billionaire was John D. Rockefeller, creator of Standard Oil. Rockefeller turned his attention and riches increasingly to charities and benevolence. He made possible the founding of the University of Chicago, and by the time of his death he had given it more than $80 million. In association with his son, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., he created major philanthropic institutions, including the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research and the Rockefeller Foundation. Rockefeller’s benefactions during his lifetime totaled more than $500 million.
In 1889, steel mogul Andrew Carnegie published a short essay entitled Wealth, in which he discussed how the wealthy should use their personal fortunes. The essay was republished under the title The Gospel of Wealth. Carnegie went on to write additional essays, published in book form in 1900. He used much of his fortune establishing over 2,500 public libraries as well as supporting institutions of higher learning. By the time he was aged, he had given away 350 million dollars.
John Pierpont (J.P.) Morgan, though not as wealthy as Rockefeller or Carnegie, made a unique contribution to the nation. During the panic of 1893, Morgan, the country’s most powerful banker, essentially bailed out the federal government. He loaned 3.5 million ounces of gold to the U.S. Treasury to ward off national bankruptcy. Then during the panic of 1907, Morgan and his network of investment bankers saved the banking industry from destruction.
The entrepreneurial explosion accelerated after the Civil War. An army of inventors and founders of corporate capitalism grew. They far surpassed Britain and France in innovation, productivity, and profitability.
“Invisible Hand: The Managerial Revolution in America” described the role of enterprise–big business and its managers–during the formative years of modern capitalism (from the 1850s until the 1920s). The book was written by Alfred Chandler, Jr., the business historian. It sets forth reasons for the dominance of big business in American transportation, communications, production, and distribution.
Chandler showed that the fundamental shift toward managers running large enterprises exerted a greater influence in determining size and concentration in American industry than did public policy.
Charles Pillsbury, a breadmaker who invented the way to make bread flour uniform in quality, Joseph Campbell’s soup, and Gustave Swift’s meat-packing plants, all used mass-processing techniques, combined with innovative packaging and advertising. William Procter and James Gamble made their millions with candles, then Ivory soap, products Americans needed and used.
Today, the country has about 400 billionaires. And where would we be without the likes of Bill Gates, the Koch Brothers, the inventions of Steve Jobs, and thousands of American millionaires, who have been more than community organizers or politicians. Gates and Warren Buffett in 2010 launched the “Giving Pledge” to unlock billions for philanthropy. So Far 69 billionaires have signed up to give away at least half of their money.
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