Recently, I overheard a discussion from a pair of Bernie Sanders fans about how horrible capitalism is because America allowed child labor in the 19th century, during our Industrial Revolution. These people complained that the “Robber Barons” only achieved their great fortunes because they exploited workers, created monopolies and jacked up prices on goods. Thank God, the government intervened in the market and set things right!
Where do we begin? There was so much bovine scatology flying around, one had to make sure their tetanus shots were up to date. First and foremost, when someone uses the term “Robber Baron” they are telegraphing to the recipient that they have a prejudice against someone having more wealth than they do. Those early entrepreneurs didn’t steal anything from anyone and America doesn’t have “barons” for there is no aristocracy. Evidently, someone lost at Monopoly too many times. The record shows that the prices of goods produced during the latter 19th century were actually decreasing at a steady pace, the same time wages were increasing, I might add. Nowhere does the actual history record show a monopolistic increase in prices. Nowhere. The era from the 1870s to about the early 1920s was the greatest increase of wealth this country had ever experienced. Standards of living rose to unimaginable levels in two generations.
Being no fan of the Rockefeller dynasty, I have to remain true to the facts that J.D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company did more for saving the whale than any endangered species protection act ever could. Up to that time, whale oil was used to light people’s homes and the plight of the whale population was at serious levels. Rockefeller’s innovation in marketing kerosene staved off the extermination of the whale. He was actually able to sell kerosene at a much cheaper price than whale oil and allowed even more people to escape the dark of night. Mind you, his intention was to extend the work day for his workers by allowing them to work at night. The positive side effect of his “corporate greed” was more families being able to afford to light their homes. Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” strikes again!
Secondly, ask yourself, Why were all of those immigrants practically killing themselves to come to America only to be exploited in a sweatshop? The US had no welfare state at that time. No subsidized housing. No labor laws and very few regulations. If it was so god-awful during the 19th century in America, why did the US experience immigration at such gargantuan levels? Where capitalism channels self-interest into a net benefit, as with Rockefeller, so too with people wanting to be left better off. The standards of living on the farms and in poor European countries like Ireland were low enough that a job in a dark dank factory was a step up. The wages alone outstripped those found in the agrarian regions. If it wasn’t for that Robber Baron, John Deere, America might have starved due to the lack of sufficient farm labor. Mechanized farming produced more food for the country than ever before, plus at lower prices. Capitalism 2, Socialism 0.
Now on to child labor. Yes, children worked in factories. They worked in coal mines. They worked in the farm fields. Children have always worked throughout human history. That is nothing new or unusual. It was either work or starve to death. That has been the normal state of affairs for human beings up to the advent of capitalism. As all developing countries experience, it takes a certain amount of time to amass enough capital through the free market system to relieve children from having to work. Once production increases, so too the standards of living. After the production from labor increased to the level that only the adults had to work, the children went to school for the day and received an education. They later were able to do something only the aristocracy of Europe could afford to do, namely, get a college education. Average people were able to get degrees and move on to professional occupations for the first time. Yes, capitalism did that. Another goose egg for the socialists.
Most importantly, before Sanders supporters try to convince America that more socialism is the answer, they first have to step over 100 million dead bodies. That’s right. Since the Bolshevik “Red October” Revolution in 1917, there have amassed over 100 million deaths due to socialism and its twin brother communism. Socialists still have to give an account for the likes of Lenin, Stalin, the Khmer Rouge, Pol Pot, Mao Zedong, Fidel Castro, Kim Jong-il, Ceausescu, Che Guevara, Idi Amin Dada, East German Chancellor Ulbricht and his Berlin Wall and so many more atrocities done in the name of the new socialist man. So far only platitudes, denials and the typical, “If only the right people get in charge, then socialism can work.” Please, spare me. This fact alone leaves socialism morally bankrupt. Anyone denying the amount of totalitarian hardship and bloodshed that mankind had endured during the 20th century at the hand of State run socialism would have to be a liar or simply stupid. Over 100 million dead voices demand an answer.
Finally, according to the socialist gospel Das Capital, capitalism should have, by now, run America down the road of abject poverty for the worker, mass degradation of the infrastructure and extreme civil unrest of the masses. The workers were supposed to have united and overthrown their exploiters and took over the means of production. Well, still waiting. Of course, only the opposite is true. Average people today live better than the wealthiest monarchs of old. Our scarce resources produce even more goods than was ever conceived. Maybe with enough State injected socialism and intervention into the market they can finally achieve their goals. They can continue to put more people on the government’s dole, run down the purchasing power of the worker’s wages through monetary inflation, invent more giveaways and run up even more national debt. A presidential win for Bernie should do the trick. I feel better now that I got that off my chest.
Thank you for listening.