Our latest Forbes column tells the story of Andrew Carnegie’s rise. Personally, I think it’s one of the best pieces we’ve written:
Long after he had established himself as one of America’s leading businessmen, as well as history’s greatest steelmaker, Andrew Carnegie reflected that “We all live in the richest and freest country in the world, where no man is limited except by his own mental attitude and his own desires.”
At the time—a decade or so before the First World War—Carnegie’s attitude was nearly universal. In America, anyone could carve out a better life for himself if he worked hard. Today, Carnegie’s attitude is considered almost quaint.
Opportunity? Why, opportunity is a rare thing, and those Americans not lucky enough to be born with it should be given it at other people’s expense. Whether it’s an education, a job, a house, or a grant, opportunity is seen as something that others have to provideyou with. If you don’t succeed, it’s not because you failed to capitalize on plentiful opportunities. It’s because you just weren’t one of the fortunate few.
I have a new column up at Forbes.com, this one on the minimum wage:
A few years ago, I was in need of some extra cash so I decided to sell my laptop on eBay. A few days later, I got an offer. It wasn’t great, but then neither was my laptop. But before the payment went through, I got a call from the government.
“We have decided that the offer you got was too low. We’re not going to let you sell your laptop for anything less than three hundred dollars.”
“But no one is willing to pay me three hundred dollars,” I said. “I’d rather have two hundred bucks than nothing.”
“Oh, no, you can’t do that,” I was told. “That would be unfair to you.”
Far fetched? Maybe—it didn’t actually happen to me. But the fact is it happens to defenseless victims every single day, albeit in a somewhat different form: through enforcement of the minimum wage.
You can read the whole thing and leave a comment here.
Our latest Forbes column is up. This one looks at philanthropy and the profit motive.
“Give back.” That’s the message sent to successful businessmen. You built a company? You made a lot of money? Fine. Now it’s time for you to use the money you’ve made to do some real good in the world.
Apparently, creating our modern standard of living and our modern lifespan doesn’t count.
Think of the history of America. America’s transformation into the world’s leading economy took place during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Virtually every step forward, and every giant leap, was the product, not of philanthropic giving, but of profit-seeking.
So far as we can tell, Americans haven’t exactly been taking to the streets demanding that people trade Christmas ornaments for welfare programs, but Peck’s article is interesting for what it reveals about those who are fighting to expand America’s welfare state.
Today is the anniversary of the partial repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, which the left often blames for causing the financial crisis.
The growth of government intervention over the last century was built on the back of a handful of myths. A generation ago, the dominant myth was that free markets had caused the Great Depression, a falsehood ultimately debunked by economists like Milton Friedman. Today, the key myth is that financial deregulation caused the 2008 financial crisis.
What deregulation? There aren’t many possibilities. Despite what we hear, regulation of the financial industry substantially increased over the last thirty years. Government spending on financial regulations, to take one measure, ballooned from $725 million in 1980 to $2.07 billion in 2007 (in 2000 dollars). Anyone looking to blame deregulation for the crisis faces slim pickings.
By far, the single most cited example of this financial “deregulation” is the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLB), which partially repealed the Glass-Steagall Act thirteen years ago today. Regulatory evangelists including Nobel Prize economist Joseph Stiglitz and recent senatorial candidate Elizabeth Warren, not to mention the Occupy Wall Street protesters, have named the overthrow of Glass-Steagall as public enemy number one.
Whole thing here. Please do us a favor and share on social media and leave a comment on the Forbes site.
Also, here’s Yaron’s earlier video on Glass-Steagall: