The truth is always so much more interesting than the crap I learned in school

The Truth About the “Robber Barons”
Mises Daily: Saturday, September 23, 2006 by Thomas J. DiLorenzo
It’s long but interesting, after reading it think about what has been going on around us for decades, longer really, since what is discussed in this fascinating piece has only gotten worse since the long dead protagonists passed from the stage:

The American economy has always included a mix of market and political entrepreneurs — self-made men and women as well as political connivers and manipulators. And sometimes, people who have achieved success as market entrepreneurs in one period of their lives later become political entrepreneurs. But the distinction between the two is critical to make, for market entrepreneurship is a hallmark of genuine capitalism, whereas political entrepreneurship is not — it is neomercantilism.

In some cases, of course, the entrepreneurs commonly labeled “robber barons” did indeed profit by exploiting American customers, but these were not market entrepreneurs. For example, Leland Stanford, a former governor and US senator from California, used his political connections to have the state pass laws prohibiting competition for his Central Pacific railroad,[1] and he and his business partners profited from this monopoly scheme. Unfortunately, the resentment that this naturally generated among the public was unfairly directed at other entrepreneurs who succeeded in the railroad industry without political interference that tilted the playing field in their direction. Thanks to historians who fail to (or refuse to) make this crucial distinction, many Americans have an inaccurate view of American capitalism.

As a header for the article, DiLorenzo has this quote:

Free-market capitalism is a network of free and voluntary exchanges in which producers work, produce, and exchange their products for the products of others through prices voluntarily arrived at. State capitalism consists of one or more groups making use of the coercive apparatus of the government… for themselves by expropriating the production of others by force and violence.
— Murray N. Rothbard, The Logic of Action (1997)

So the taxonomy here is:

  1. Free market capitalism
  2. Political ( crony) capitalism
  3. State capitalism

But the whole story is much more complex than this article outlines, since all of the actors in the dance, (‘good’ guys and ‘bad’) were acting out of self interest, enlightened self interest, altruistic self interest and more darkly unconscious self interest, based on very, ( by today’s standards, very, very) poor information and worse theories of cause and effect. It is all but certain they were trying to do the best they could for the audience they cared about (sometimes but rarely, just themselves.) Even monsters think they are doing the right thing (sometimes via massive self delusion admittedly) whatever outside observers perceive.

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Lies, filthy lies, statistics and spin…the Roman’s started this as well

From StrategyPage: The Golden Age Of Artful Dodging

August 26, 2013: Over the last few decades there has been an explosion in the number of news media outlets. With this has come fierce competition and more interest in gaining an audience than in reporting the news accurately. That has led to there being more propaganda than news out there. That wasn’t a difficult leap to make because in the last century some powerful propaganda methods and techniques for controlling public opinion were developed. Many of these techniques are actually ancient, but never before have they been used so intensively, persistently and in greater variety.

But this sort of thing goes back a long way. Two thousand years ago the ancient Romans saw schools of rhetoric as the best place to send bright young men with potential to be leaders. There schools of rhetoric taught how to use logic and persuasion to make a point and convince people. Some of books those students used are still studied and many of these ancient techniques evolved and mutated into modern propaganda and media spin. The schools at Rhodes were, for well-off ancient Romans, sort of a university education.

Has a good(horrifying) list of techniques, many in use by the media outlets we all listen to…even bloggers and the like, who may use the techniques without knowing they’re techniques.

Trust is the core of America’s strength, to generalize, the wider the circle of trust the richer the society

At Civil Horizon: Trust

Trust is far more important than law.

Think of it: how many times have you sued somebody, or been sued? Have you ever been arrested? Each of us interacts with many others in numerous ways every day, and recourse to the law is exceptionally rare. Our actions may be constrained by certain laws; but usually they are far more limited by the expectations of those with whom we are dealing.

Great piece! (Edited for clean up)

There’s a reason this bull is smirking

20130814-140218.jpg
Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg
You Can’t Afford Your Broker, at Any Price By Megan McArdle Bloomberg Aug 13, 2013 11:49 AM ET
Your broker does not have a fiduciary responsibility to you! She makes her money off of you!

This is why talking to the neatly turned out young things at any financial shop gives me the heaves. But they wangle it so it’s difficult not to, once in a while.

Best advice for the small investor, put the money in, keep an eye on the economy and your situation and try to forget about it….uhh, while, you know, keeping an eye on the …..etc…