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The malefactors of great wealth

By Bruce Walker
web posted January 17, 2005

Almost one century ago, in August 1907, a political leader accepted as their own by every major branch of American politics -- Theodore Roosevelt -- spoke out against what he called the "malefactors of great wealth." Huge corporations and vast fortunes insulated some Americans from the rest of America.

The rap was not entirely deserved. Consider, for example, Andrew Carnegie. He did not invent the making of steel, but he did invent the mass production of good steel. Carnegie came over from Scotland as a poor, but ambitious, immigrant. He did his adopted country much good.

Andrew Carnegie

His counter-cyclical investment in steel mills -- plopping down the huge capital investment required to build the mills in times of recession, when labor and materials were cheap -- enabled U.S. Steel to profitably sell good steel cheaply later and also helped pull the nation out of recession by providing employment and a good customer for companies selling the goods and services needed to build the mills.

Carnegie also introduced genuinely efficient cost-accounting, which revolutionized practical economics and allowed large corporations to grow even larger before running into the dis-economies of scale which are as inevitable to mass production as the economies of scale.

Beyond that, Carnegie built libraries all over the English-speaking world, particularly in rural areas, opening up vistas of self-education to hundreds of millions of people who otherwise could never have afforded the huge arsenal of knowledge which any average library provides the common man.

Yet, despite all his good works and despite the good works of Ford and of Rockefeller and of the other men who created wealth where none had existed before, Roosevelt, whose wealth was inherited, old money from the New York Dutch, had a point. Money at some point becomes a sort of lust. Carnegie, who gave away nearly all his wealth, understood that. Other men of modest means who became great understood that too.

So Teddy Roosevelt, the fourth president on Mount Rushmore, was overly concerned about those gamblers and innovators whose roots were planted firmly in the fertile soil of American liberty. His speech about the dangers of great wealth was a century too early. The danger is today, when the great wealth is not created so much as administered by corporate bureaucrats and mutual fund administrators. Almost nameless, almost faceless, almost imperceptible, these unelected and unaccountable operatives are the villains in the saga of CBS.

How blase the Left is about the crime of CBS! Consider: a huge corporation with a monopoly license to serve the public interest -- something which not every corporation promises to do -- uses forged government documents to try to hijack a presidential election, and then engages in a blatant cover up.

Then consider that "competitors" -- also with a special legal duty to serve the "public interest" -- in the broadcast industry not only fail to point out the defects in the product of their "competitor," but actually flack for that "rival," whose notional "competition" is simply a fiction. The other "competitors" whose wealth alone gives them legitimacy, likewise shamelessly prostitute their conspiracy of silence about the manifest Leftist bigotry and duplicity of CBS.

Then consider who undid great wealth (for that is all the Left is anymore: administered old and great wealth) and how the heroes of the common man are treated: small "businesses" in the information market, volunteers in the crusade for truth, ordinary men and women who do not go to work, like Dan Rather, in a limousine with tinted windows. These "bloggers," who were not in the Blue Book of the Leftist elites, had the audacity to act like free citizens of a republic!

The true malefactors of great wealth, the landed gentry and their lackeys, are anything but the rugged individualists that Teddy Roosevelt lambasted. These modern Leftists create nothing, assist nothing, offer nothing. They resemble nothing America has seen before, but they are the essence of what Americans hoped our republic would never become.

These Leftists are a throwback to the time before America, when the rights of men were formally unequal and when aristocrats -- those who had a privileged right to order the affairs of commoners -- ruled without any accounting for their use or misuse of power.

What can be done? Dramatically reducing the tax burden on the middle class, so that average Americans can become independent, is a good start. Ending the artificial distinction between corporations and institutions putatively looking out for us and, say, tobacco companies would also be a good start (how much compensatory damages do Americans deserve from CBS for its defamation of a president?)

Foremost, however, we must simply point out the obvious: the only difference between CBS, MSNBC, ABC, Hollywood studios, and other over arrogant Leftists is that they are malefactors of great wealth who take the blessings of America and spit those blessings, paid for by the blood of our fathers, sons and brothers, back into our faces.

Bruce Walker is a contributing editor with Enter Stage Right. He is also a frequent contributor to The Pragmatist and The Common Conservative.


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