Colleges, Public Schools Lie When They Say Unions Brought Prosperity to America
Two weeks ago I wrote about how men like Abraham Lincoln formed the Republican Party to end slavery in America and bring back the idea that we are each created equal and endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights. Last week, some editions of this paper published a letter complaining that my column was an incomplete sketch because I did not write that the party ushered in the age of unfettered capitalism, also known as the robber barons, which included child labor and sweatshops. This period in history is known as the Gilded Age, yet it was a time when working people were born, lived, and died in poverty with no chance of escape from their predicament. They had no rights. Only business interests controlled the workplace.
I did not write these things because they are untrue. But since these lies have been taught in our elite colleges since the 1890s and in every public high school since the 1960s, I can’t blame the reader for believing them.
“Capitalism” is a word that wasnt used in America. Communists and progressives invented that word to avoid calling our system what it really is a system of liberty where every citizen is free to make his or her own choices on what to buy, where to work, how much to pay, etc.
These ideas of freedom did not start with Republicans. In 1830, French scholar Alexis DeTocqueville wrote in “Democracy in America” that Americans “have always enjoyed more internal freedom and political freedom” than people in other nations, and that this was one of the main reasons for their prosperity.”
The term robber barons wasnt used until it was the title of a book by Matthew Josephson in 1934. Josephson was one of many young American intellectuals who went to Europe in the 1920s, fell in love with communists and fascists like Lenin, Trotsky and Mussolini and then returned to change America as New Deal Democrats in the 1930s.
Josephson falsely claimed that the unrestricted greed of roughly two dozen billionaires had made working people poor between 1870 and 1910. He said big government and big unions were needed to redistribute their wealth. Most of those robber barons started out poor, earned every penny and greatly improved the lives of most Americans.
Andrew Carnegie’s factories produced the cheap, high-quality steel that built our new skyscrapers, railroads and bridges. James J. Hill built and ran the Northern Pacific as the fastest, most efficient, and lowest-cost railroad in the world and created prosperity from Minnesota to Oregon.
John Rockefeller’s Standard Oil (S.O. or Esso) company was so efficient that he brought the cost of kerosene down from 30 cents a gallon in 1869 to 8 cents a gallon in 1885. Henry Ford’s new “assembly-line” factory in Detroit made cars so cheap that almost every American family could afford one by the 1920s. His nonunion workers were the highest paid in the world.
None of these businessmen asked for or got public-private partnerships or bailouts from the government. Most gave heavily to charities that built schools, hospitals and libraries around the country, including the Carnegie Library on Pacific Avenue in Atlantic City.
Yes, at this time, there were sweatshops and child labor. During the 1860s, one American farmer fed only five people. By 1900, one American farmer fed 10 people, so millions of unnecessary farmers looked for work in the cities. Meanwhile, millions of immigrants were coming from Europe. There were hardships because no economic system could instantly create high-paying jobs for all these people.
But things soon got better when Americans restricted immigration, and fewer people left their farms in the early 1920s. The Roaring 20s gave America the greatest increase in production and wealth in all human history without unions and without big government.
Harry Schultz left Russia with no money and came to Philadelphia in 1898 at age 14. He found work in a candy factory for $3 per week. But six months later he quit and started selling kitchenware door to door until he found a job in a clothing store. In 1909, he opened his own store in Philadelphia. In 1916, he opened Atlantic City’s most exclusive and successful men’s clothing store.
If Harry Schultz depended on the government and a union for a better life, he would have stayed in the candy factory demanding $10 per week from the company and “affordable housing” from the government.