The Man who saved the Whales

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An interesting look at history from Warren Meyer at Forbes Magazine:
The Man Who Saved the Whales
In the last half of the 19th century, whales were facing extinction. They were hunted in large part because their oil was the best, most affordable illuminant available to growing western nations. One man more than any other headed off their extinction, a man whose picture should be in on the wall of every Greenpeace office: John D. Rockefeller, founder of the Standard Oil Company.

It is an understatement to say that the entrepreneurs of the 19th century like Rockefeller have a bad reputation. As a group, they are called �robber barons,� a term that implies their wealth came purely from theft rather than from any value creation. While it is said that �history is written by the victors�, I would observe that despite the fact that socialism and communism have been given a pretty good drubbing over the last 30 years, these statists still seem to be writing history. How else to explain the fact that men who made fortunes through free, voluntary exchange of products can be called �robber barons,� while politicians who expropriate billions by government force from the most productive in society are called �progressive.�

While capitalists of the 19th century sometimes played by rules very different from ours today, in most cases these were the rules of the day and most of what they did was entirely legal. Also, to be sure, there were a number of men who were fat ticks on society, making money through fraud and manipulation rather than real wealth creation (Daniel Drew comes to mind). However, most of the great industrialists of the 19th century made money by providing customers with a better, cheaper product.
A wonderful observation re the Statists and Capitalism.

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