Rockefeller, a good robber baron

Discussion in 'History' started by Dinosaur, Nov 27, 2013.

  1. Dinosaur Rational Skeptic Valued Senior Member

    Standard Oil began in 1870, when kerosene cost 30 cents a gallon. By 1897, Rockefeller's scientists and managers had driven the price to under 6 cents per gallon, and many of his less-efficient competitors were out of business.

    It is interesting to note that the so called robber barons hurt their competitors, but seldom (if ever) hurt their customers. Is there something unethical or illegal about hurting a competitor by being efficient?

    It is also interesting to note that the oil industry in Rockefeller's era had circa 40% of the heating/lighting industry. Wood, coal, & candles had the rest. In the grand scheme of providing heat, Rockefeller did not have a monopoly.

    BTW: Many are familiar with a line from a song: " . . . . . I owe my soul to the company store . . . . . " How many know that company stores were almost always decent to the customer-worker? The song lyrics are about the only bad press from the era of the company town/store.

    Most (perhaps all) company towns & stores were started due to mining & other commercial enterprises which had to attract employees to remote areas. They were almost always decent to the workers/customers. They could not afford to gouge/mistreat the customer/worker.
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  3. Pete It's not rocket surgery Registered Senior Member

    Why are you posting historical propaganda in General Science and Technology?
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  5. billvon Valued Senior Member

    My gut is wrenched out it is crunched up and broken
    My life that is lived is no more than a token
    Who'll strike the flint upon the stone and tell me why?

    . . .
    But if I work all day on the blue sky mine
    (There'll be food on the table tonight)
    Still I walk up and down on the blue sky mine
    (There'll be pay in your pocket tonight)

    The candy store paupers lie to the shareholders
    They're crossing their fingers they pay the truth makers
    The balance sheet is breaking up the sky

    So I'm caught at the junction still waiting for medicine
    The sweat of my brow keeps on feeding the engine
    Hope the crumbs in my pocket can keep me for another night . . .

    From the song "blue sky mine" a Midnight Oil song about the Blue Sky Mine fiasco (an asbestos mine.)
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  7. Dinosaur Rational Skeptic Valued Senior Member

    Pete: The term Propaganda strongly suggests false statements.
    I think most of what I posted is valid.

    I Posted in General Science & Technology mainly because it is the first forum & usually has a large number of active viewers/Posters. While some other forums might be more a pro pos, it seems like a reasonable fit to the topic.
  8. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Midnight Oil is an Aussie band. Their songs are about Australia. There's no reason to assume that the issues they sing about are the same in the USA. (Although "Beds are Burning" does apply equally well to America, which probably explains why it was a hit here.)
  9. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    It's viewers do not expect to find stuff like this, because it doesn't belong here.
  10. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

    Moderator note:

    I debated moving this thread to the Cesspool, but no, B&E seems as good a place as any.
  11. Dinosaur Rational Skeptic Valued Senior Member

    Iceaura: In Post #1:
    In Post #4
    In Post #6 you replied
    referring to my claim that Post #1 was valid.

    Can you state which statements I made were invalid?
  12. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    No as Pete noted in 2nd post it mainly concerns some history and or ethics, not modern B&E. So after getting the OK from history's mod, I moved it there. Before moving anything here, please ask if OK to do so, a common courtesy, before moving threads. I don't have time or desire to sent threads elsewhere, after finding a home to pre-accept a thread.

    I have twice moved threads before; once was to Fraggles' language forum, and don't remember details of an earlier move but am certain I asked if it was OK before moving in both cases. Check with Fraggle if you doubt that.
  13. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    There's nothing wrong with moving a post to someone else's subforum. If we don't like it, we can move it somewhere else! There's no need to go to a lot of trouble beforehand. Just do it.

    This is not the U.N. The results of a mistake are too trivial to worry about. Do what you think is right and move on!
  14. Syzygys As a mother, I am telling you Valued Senior Member

    > but seldom (if ever) hurt their customers.

    This is not true. Once the competitors removed the price increases. Having competition is considered generally to be healthy for business because it results in better service, cheaper prices better costumer service, etc. Good counter example is the American cabel providers, where there is very little competition. Once Google started to roll out cheap and very fast internet service, the existing provider was going door to door offering similar service...
  15. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

    Ok, that is a very serious rewrite of history. So where is your proof? Oh that is right; you don't have any, because your claims are 99% fiction. I suggest you educate yourself. If they were so loved, why were they commonly referred to as robbers?

    You know those robber barons were so nice they used their guards and National Guard troops to massacre the minors, their wives and children. Those robber barons were so nice they used the Pinkerton’s to rough up and kill their workers. That is how much those wonderful robber barons loved and respected their workers.

    And the company town/store system was just so loved it resulted in the largest rebellion since The Civil War. Oh yeah, those workers loved the company town system so much they took to armed rebellion.

    A company store is a retail store selling a limited range of food, clothing and daily necessities to employees of a company. It is typical of a company town in a remote area where virtually everyone is employed by one firm, such as a coal mine. In a company town, the housing is owned by the company but there may be independent stores there or nearby. Company stores face little or no competition and prices are therefore not competitive. The store typically accepts "scrip" or non-cash vouchers issued by the company in advance of weekly cash paychecks, and gives credit to employees before payday. Except in very remote areas, company stores became scarcer after the miners bought automobiles and could travel to a range of stores. Even so the stores could survive because they provided convenience and easy credit.

    Fishback finds that:
    "The company store is one of the most reviled and misunderstood of economic institutions. In song, folktale, and union rhetoric the company store was often cast as a villain, a collector of souls through perpetual debt peonage. Nicknames, like the "pluck me" and more obscene versions that cannot appear in a family newspaper, seem to point to exploitation. The attitudes carry over into the scholarly literature, which emphasizes that the company store was a monopoly."[1]
    The stores served numerous functions, such as a locus for the government post office, and as the cultural, and community center where people could freely gather.[2]

    Yeah those workers really loved perpetual indebtedness to the company. Indentured service was great for the robber baron, but not so much for the indentured servant.

    With respect to Rockefeller, you are telling only a portion of the Rockefeller story. Rockefeller was a ruthless monopolist. He colluded and fixed prices to drive out competitors. That is how he became a monopolist.
  16. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    All of them. There is no valid statement in your post there.
  17. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

    Like most successful capitalists, he's a work of art. He surely should have been stood up against a wall.
  18. Gage Registered Senior Member

    "A good robber baron" That made me laugh
  19. Peregrine Registered Member

    Your statements are from the perspective of the workers. They could have worked somewhere else. No one forced them to keep thier job.

    Regarding your last statement about price fixing, regardless of the ethics of the practice, the OP is asking about Rockefellers actions from the perspective of the consumer. Specifically:

    You fail to address the question at hand.
  20. Peregrine Registered Member


    As is represented in the previous posts, much of this has to do with perspective.

    First of all, history does have bias. So, theres that...

    An objective analysis of large industry is difficult.

    I think that the real question is: "is it worth it?"

    Let's shift examples. Because of low prices, the consumer has expendable cash. So the example of China and Walmart naturally is applicable.

    (Sadly, cheap goods cannot be made in the USA because of regulation. Basically, we've regulated ourselves into slaves outside US borders.)

    I can buy cheap wares at Walmart and have money left over for whatever I would like to buy. Is it worth it for China? Well, that depends on perspective as well.

    I would think it has to do with the objectives of the society as a whole. China will have to slave through many generations. They are actively seeking acquisitions in Africa and other places around the world. So, yes they suffer in the short term (relative, debatable), but they will prosper in the long run as a nation. China now is a major exporter to Europe.

    If your perspective as a worker is that you deserve high wages for working on an assembly line, you are delusional.

    The cheap goods the worker manufactures on the assembly line lower the cost of that item and allows for purchasing other cheap goods because cheap goods are available.

    Though, yes, the reality is that low wage workers make low wages.

    The counter-arguement is that the workers can't quit thier jobs because 'there aren't any other jobs.' = non-arguement.

    While Rockefeller was standardizing oil, why didn't one of these disgruntled workers invent the personal computer? The objective truth is that society progresses when large ideas are implemented and make the system able to handle more.

    Basically, there is a limited amount of cash to go around. Lets just say that there is $1 billion dollars. If 15% is tied up in oil industry and then efficiency reduces it to 5%, there is opportunity for other industries, ideas, whatever to move forward.

    I could go on. Basically its macro/micro economics.

    To answer the question:
    Illegal: Theft of secrets. Patent violations. Espionage. Insider trading

    Unethical: I am positive Rockefeller was unethical... However, using gov't regulations to squash your competition is unethical
  21. Dinosaur Rational Skeptic Valued Senior Member

    I deny the allegations made by IceAura/JoePistole & defy the allegators.

    IceAura: You should do some reading or take a course in history. The following are from previous posts, relating to my views of Rockefeller & Robber Barons.

    By me:
    By you:
    JoePistole: You could also learn from reading some history.
    It is my guess that many in the academic establishment are jealous of successful entrepreneurs, motivated by the thoughts like the following.

    I am smarter than them, why are they much richer than I?​

    BTW: I have encountered many from both camps. I do not think that teachers/professors are smarter than entrepreneurs & would give the nod to the entrepreneurs for intelligence.

    Both of you should consider the following.

    By 1900, the USA had the basis of an economic engine which had increased the standard of living for most of its citizens: Check a reprint of an 1897 or 1909 Sears & Roebuck Catalog to learn what could be afforded by farm & factory workers. That engine continued to increase the standard of living for circa 60-90 years.​

    That economic engine was built by the so called Robber Barons

    As for my views relating to Rockefeller, consider the following.

    Standard's actions and secret transport deals helped its kerosene price to drop from 58 to 26 cents from 1865 to 1870. Competitors disliked the company's business practices, but consumers liked the lower prices. Can a company be faulted for being efficient resuting in hurting competitors & doing well for cuatomers?

    Standard Oil gradually gained almost complete control of oil refining and marketing in the United States through horizontal integration. In the kerosene industry, Standard Oil replaced the old distribution system with its own vertical system. It supplied kerosene by tank cars that brought the fuel to local markets, and tank wagons then delivered to retail customers, thus bypassing the existing network of wholesale jobbers. Despite improving the quality and availability of kerosene products while greatly reducing their cost to the public (the price of kerosene dropped by nearly 80% over the life of the company), Standard Oil's business practices created intense controversy.

    John D Rockefeller was one of the greatest men in American commercial history.
    He was a strict Baptist, abstemious, a non-smoker and very careful with his money. He not only created the greatest enduring global oil company, from an early partnership, he also was the true visionary of American universities and university-based research. ( University of Chicago and Rockefeller University.)

    This great American was vilified with bile, lies and ideological venom by the perpetually hate-filled-Lefty world of his time and since. American history is taught in our third-rate public schools in a way that elevates the hatemongers of Rockefeller�s era, the muckrakers, above the great man himself.

    There are several things that Rockefeller did in commerce that are important. He developed the catalytic cracking method that produced pure kerosene and gasoline. He developed long pipelines and mass storage tanks that made commercialization possible. He dramatically reduced the price of oil and kerosene in the market. Making whale oil irrelevant for lighting and automobiles possible on a mass scale.

    With his technical advantages in oil and kerosene production he was able to buy other less efficient producers in the industry. Whenever these men were exceptionally good at business he put them on his board of directors and used their skills.

    The man was a master of modern commerce and deserves a monument in Washington DC. The muckrakers deserve a special room in hell.

    Posted by Michael Phillips on Aug 21, 2011 at 04:20 AM | Permalink
  22. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

    Ah, no. Facts are facts. Facts do not have a perspective.

    I suggest you reread the OP. Americans (consumers and workers) didn’t make most monopolies illegal because they liked them…think about it. I take by your comments you are not the brightest bulb on the shelf.
  23. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

    This is a great example; you and those like you dismiss facts/reality as biased in order to cling to your ideological beliefs. You remind me of the Flat World folks. As long as you can dismiss reality you can continue to live in your fantasy world.

    Basically your post here amounts to a dump of incoherent gobbledygook. Basically its not macro on microeconomics, it’s nonsense.

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