Capitalist Heroes

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Only after ways were developed to cut their costs drastically were such things brought within the reach of ordinary Americans.

Henry Ford’s mass production methods cut in half the cost of producing the famous Model T Ford in just five years. People who had once lived their entire lives within a narrow radius of a relatively few miles could now go see places they never knew about before. The automobile expanded their horizons.

People today who complain about the automobile’s pollution have no idea how much more pollution there was before the automobile came along. In New York City, for example, the 40,000 horses that were the backbone of the city’s transportation, before the automobile, produced 400 tons of manure per working day, along with 20,000 gallons of urine.

At one time, people like Rockefeller, Edison, Ford and the Wright brothers were regarded as heroes, for having opened vast new possibilities for other human beings. The fact that they got rich doing it was an incidental part of the story.

We still have people revolutionizing our lives. Just think of the computer and the pharmaceutical drugs that have not only lengthened our lives but made them more healthful, so that being 80 years old today is like being 60 years old in times past.

But today we seldom even know the names of those who have made these monumental contributions to human well-being. All we know is that some people have gotten “rich” and that this is to be regarded as some sort of grievance.

Many of the people we honor today are people who are skilled in the rhetoric of grievances and promises of new “rights” at someone else’s expense. But is that what is going to make a better America?

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  • USMCSniper

    Government regulation, by contrast, operates by thwarting the businessman's thinking, subordinating his judgment to the decrees of government officials. These officials do not have to consider the long-term results—only what is politically expedient. They do not have to back their decisions with their own money or effort—they dispose of the lives and property of others. And most important, they do not have to persuade their victims—they impose their will, not by reason, but by physical force. The government regulator does not merely show contempt for the minds of his victims; he also shows contempt for their personal goals and values. In a free-market economy, everyone is driven by his own ambitions for wealth and success. That's what "free trade" means: that no one may demand the work, effort, or money of another without offering to trade something of value in return. If both partners to the trade don't expect to gain, they are free to go elsewhere. In Adam Smith's famous formulation, the rule of capitalism is that every trade occurs "by mutual consent and to mutual advantage

  • Alex Kovnat

    As soon as Mr. Sowell's book about economics appears in my local library, I'm going to read it. Let's here more from this great man. Last year btw Mr. S. turned 80. SIr, if you can read this: I hope you're feeling no older than 60! :)

  • http://wwwtwosetsofbooks.blogspot.com/ patti

    The problem is it is the captains of industry — with a few exceptions — who fund our enemies and are on the wrong side of many important issues. The Rockefellers make it their business to oppress small business!
    http://wwwtwosetsofbooks.blogspot.com/2011/01/dav

  • Questions

    Professor Sowell is still doing a lot of heavy lifting, even though he turns 81 this year. He needs more reinforcements before going into the sweet hereafter.

  • clay northwood

    I have read Thomas Sowell's "Basic Economics". It should be required reading for every
    university student. His is the greatest black or negro mind ever.