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  • Posted by Eudaimonia 4 years, 6 months ago
    My opinion?
    The website is Geroge Soros' megaphone - "Think Progress".
    Therefore, the piece will be a real life analog to Bertram Scudder's hit piece on Hank Rearden - "The Octopus".
    Therefore, why the hell should I read it in the first place?
    I have real things to spend my time on.

    Oooo!
    Prava AND Izvestia wrote a piece denouncing American Capitalism!!!
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    • Posted by  $  MikeMarotta 4 years, 6 months ago
      Izvestia and Pravda no longer denounce American _capitalism_ but are, in fact, highly touted by many conservatives who cite Russian TV dot com as an alternative news source because they both hate President Obama. (I am not one of those, but I do note the phenomenon.)

      Do you condemn John D. Rockefeller's oil because he attended Baptist services every Sunday?
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  • Posted by  $  PhilValentine 4 years, 6 months ago
    I have to chuckle at pieces like this. Like someone was holding a gun to the head of every employee making them work for Pullman. If you're not happy, go find another job. 'Twas true back then and 'tis true today. If you stay in a dead-end job and complain you have no one to blame but yourself.
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    • Posted by IndianaGary 4 years, 6 months ago
      Bravo! Exactly what I was thinking when I got about two paragraphs into the article. Anyone who felt "oppressed" by Pullman was always perfectly free to go find other employment.
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  • Posted by Omnigeek 4 years, 6 months ago
    Wow, what a load of Socialist garbage. This so-called article takes every opportunity to demonize Pullman's actions and sanctify those of the union and Debs. It admits Pullman charged less than the rate for an equivalent accommodation in Chicago but hits him for ensuring he didn't lose money in the process.

    Heavens to Betsy! The evil Pullman didn't put things in his town that he thought distracted or degraded his workers. How diabolical!
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    • Posted by Eudaimonia 4 years, 6 months ago
      Omnigeek, do yourself a favor keep a running tab of how many objective articles you read on Think Progress vs. how many are intentionally slanted to the absurd.

      Soon, you'll realize that you can save yourself a lot of time.

      Just sayin'.
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  • Posted by Storo 4 years, 6 months ago
    This story is worthy of Howard Zinn, the communist author of "A Peoples History of the United States".
    Man owns railroads, workers strike, man wins, workers strike, business shut down by strikers, troops called to protect business from worker violence....Bla Bla Bla.
    Workers are always complaining and striking. Like those trying to strike McDonalds for double wages. Just because workers strike does not mean they are right. If workers don't like their situation, move on and find something else.
    This story is anecdotal. There may have been more situations like this, but it is ancient history.
    Today workers claim they are entitled to the profits made by a business just because they work there. Bolshevism at its finest.
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  • Posted by  $  arthuroslund 4 years, 6 months ago
    The key word here is "fair". What is the definition? I notice that thousands of people were working for the railroads at the current rates.
    Labor unions are just a clever way for community organizers to exploit the workers for money to give to politicians
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    • Posted by  $  arthuroslund 4 years, 6 months ago
      Sorry, I don't agree with that. The unions have always been a political tool. Review the real history not the political propaganda. Get eyewitness independent accounts especially from workers.
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    • Posted by Timelord 4 years, 6 months ago
      "... just a clever way ..." You're right, of course, but that's really a function of what the unions morphed into rather than what their original intent was. I'm making a big leap of faith in thinking that the first group of employees that banded together to "force" a company to do something did not have in mind the grand corruption that we see today.
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  • Posted by  $  MikeMarotta 4 years, 6 months ago
    +1 This is a great story! It deserves to be endorsed for all the right reasons! In _The Invention of Enterprise_ (PDF review here: http://libertarianpapers.org/wp-content/...) the editors point out that in every time and place, successful people will be those who make the best use of the resources available to them. In Rome, conquest was honored; business was not. But hardly any societies or cultures actually honored merchants. Perhaps (perhaps) finally, the Northern Renaissance opened the door to tolerance... which maybe (maybe) led to Adam Smith...

    We too easily impose our modernist views on the past. We insist that no moral capitalist ever took a government subsidy. But it ain't necessarily so... Robert Fulton sought and got a monopoly to ply steamboats on the Hudson. Too bad that Ayn Rand was 100 years in his future... He might have been moral.

    James J. Hill is touted by Rand for never _seeking_ a government subsidy. True enough. But he bought other railroads that had received them; and certainly never gave back the lands that had been granted. (See about Kennedy the financier for Hill here: http://rebirthofreason.com/Spirit/Books/... and see here about Hill qua Hill; "Martin, Albro. _James J. Hill and the opening of the Northwest_ New York : Oxford University Press, 1976."

    Remember that in _Atlas Shrugged_ Wesley Mouch betrayed Hank Rearden. He only could have done that because was in Rearden's employ in the first place. Indeed, Rearden wonders why lobbyists are such a crummy lot, i.e., why no person of his stature and commitment exists among them. It is a deeper question, never explored in _Atlas Shrugged_.

    A thousand years ago, I interviewed for publication a local office manager for IBM in Lansing, Michigan. He told me that if the first he found out about an open bid was seeing it on the state website, he would have fired the sales person for the account. It is the responsibility of the sales person to help the buyer understand the parameters of the purchase. It is called consultative selling. Other people call it "crony capitalism." However, I assure you that the most strictly limited government you can imagine can be expanded beyond your fears:
    See here "Unlimited Constitutional Government" here:
    http://necessaryfacts.blogspot.com/2011/...
    and Part 2 here:
    http://necessaryfacts.blogspot.com/2011/...

    It is too easy a fallacy to condemn capitalists and industrialists and entrepreneurs of the past for not having our knowledge, wisdom, and insight... courtesy of Ayn Rand.
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  • Posted by PaxInSky 4 years, 6 months ago
    In 1894 railroads were subsidized. Pullman was a government granted monopoly. If there were a competitor sleeper service with more reasoned business practices could not have pulled off that trick. As always, the solution to government failure is more laws to make the failure illegal.
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  • Posted by msmithp2 4 years, 6 months ago
    The key issue here was the Managers' Association which created a defacto railroad cartel.

    "The Managers’ Association included all 24 of the railroads centering in or terminating at Chicago. In the previous year, this Association had enabled the executives of each of these 24 companies to work together in implementing system-wide wage cuts to their workers — thus giving the lie to Wickes’ claim that 'it is a man’s privilege,' who does not like the wages paid by one employer 'to go to work somewhere else.'"

    Without the Association, the strike would have been effective in bringing Pullman to the bargaining table. By preventing workers the ability to find work at one of the other railroads, the free market system was disrupted. As always, when the free market is disrupted people do not receive full value for their effort. If the government had enforced the free market system, instead of siding with the companies, the market would have had the chance to force an equitable solution.
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    • Posted by Timelord 4 years, 6 months ago
      First, I didn't read the article in question, I'm only replying to msmithp2's comments.

      This post brought to mind a philosophical question that had never occurred to me before. I've always thought that unions were more destructive than they were productive, but I understand that people should be able to form them if they do so voluntarily. I live in a state where, if there's a union, every employee must join. Forced unionism may be immoral but it's alive and well in many states. (I don't technically have to join my union but the "agency fee" is so close to the union dues that it's crazy to lose potentially beneficial union representation for a few cents. Literally a few cents.)

      In contrast, most people agree fully with anti-price fixing laws and other laws and regulations that ban collusion between companies - collusion like existed with the Managers' Association. I'd say that prior to thinking about it carefully I'd support those regulations myself.

      So to my surprise I suddenly asked myself, "If employees can form unions to bargain collectively then why can't the companies they work for cooperate to keep wages low or consumer prices high?"

      msmithp2 writes that the Association disrupted the free market and kept workers from finding better employment terms at competing railroads. If that's true then why aren't unionized employees guilty of the same free-market disruption? Remember, often if one company's employees go out on strike their "union brothers" in other companies will join them. (And, secondarily, working at a different railroad is not the only alternative open to those employees.)

      My last thought is that I don't think it's possible for anyone other than government to disrupt the free-market. Government is the sole entity that can lawfully enforce rules with a gun. They have a monopoly on legalized violence. Therefore, absent breaking the law, neither groups of people nor groups of companies can disrupt the free market or thwart Capitalism; it requires government's participation.. An industry may have a very high barrier to entry, like a railroad that must acquire land and spend millions to create a rail bed, lay track and buy locomotives, but at some point either the barrier will be breached or one or more of the Big Evil Companies will break ranks if they see more profit in doing so.
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      • Posted by msmithp2 4 years, 6 months ago
        I have the same concerns about union's that you raise. While I believe in free association and think that a group of employees should have the ability to work together to improve their working conditions, I do not think mandatory union membership is right either. I agree that at some point the union becomes a free market disruptor as well.

        I not sure that I agree the government is the only one who can disrupt the free market. The problem is your statement, "absent breaking laws." If there are no laws then anyone can disrupt the market through theft, extortion, fraud, or other unethical mechanisms. If the government makes exactly the right laws, then you can have a free market. If they do not make the "right" laws then either the government laws can disrupt the market or leave it up to disruption by others. This is what I see as the key issue. What exactly is government's role? What exact laws should exist to allow the free market to thrive?
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        • Posted by Timelord 4 years, 6 months ago
          " If the government makes exactly the right laws, then you can have a free market." Won't happen because it can't happen.

          "What exact laws should exist to allow the free market to thrive?" Only those that protect private property rights. Everything flows from "I own myself." A sound currency backed by an actual, valuable commodity, gold is one example, is also necessary. I'd bet that a sound currency can also be arrived at from "I own myself",
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          • Posted by msmithp2 4 years, 6 months ago
            I agree, no government has ever or will ever make the exact right laws. I think the principle of individual rights flowing from the the idea of "I own myself" is a strong basis for shaping the role of government. Even Ayn Rand, I believe, saw a role for government.
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        • Posted by IndianaGary 4 years, 6 months ago
          In a sense you've answered your own question. Theft, extortion, fraud, etc are ALL attempts of one party to initiate force against another and, under a government limited to protecting individual rights, these would be illegal and prosecutable. At the very least, the injured party could sue the pants off of the force initiator.
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          • Posted by msmithp2 4 years, 6 months ago
            Agreed. So we suppose a government limited to protecting individual rights. Now what laws accomplish that aim. Let's take the example of unions. Clearly individuals should have the right of association, therefore two employees should be act in concert if they like. They should be able to say give us a raise or we both stop working and maybe get fired. That is their individual right.

            What about three? What about all employees of the company? What about all employees of an industry? Is it extortion when all employees of an industry shut the industry down unless a company pays a wage they dictate? If you believe it is extortion then when was the line crossed? What should the law be that would prevent that extortion?

            I totally agree in a government limited to protecting individual rights, but the devil is in the details and legal laws are subject to the law of unintended consequences. Many interactions between individuals can result in putting their individual rights in opposition. When both parties operate ethically, they can both will gain from interaction and walk away net positive in value. Thus an employer who pays a fair wage receives more value from the employee than he pays out, while the employee gets more value for his effort than he could find elsewhere.

            But what if one or both parties does not operate ethically? Then the government laws should protect the rights of one individual from abuse by the other. Given a specific situation of abuse, it is easy to say well if this law existed then that abuse would be prevented. But often the proposed law has unintended consequences when applied in a different situation. Creating static laws that protect individual rights in all situations is incredible difficult, which is why I don't believe you can point to a single society that has ever accomplished that goal.
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            • Posted by Timelord 4 years, 6 months ago
              What about three, or all the employees of a company or in an entire industry? It's never extortion. The failure in your thought process is when you said that employees can ever have the power to, for example, dictate a wage. Only government can dictate because they're the only ones authorized to point a gun at you if you fail to comply.

              In the case of 2 to infinity employees banding together to demand a higher wage, they can demand all they like but they cannot dictate. Every proposed transaction, monetary or otherwise, is guided by a hierarchy of values, and one aspect of that is "at what price?"

              When employees form a collective to demand change their price is the possibility of the loss of their jobs, whether they are fired and replaced or whether the company is driven to bankruptcy trying to meet the demands.

              On the employer side the decision includes the cost of agreeing to the demand vs the cost of hiring and training new employees. Or maybe the cost of relocating to another town, state or country.

              "... it is easy to say well if this law existed then that abuse would be prevented." In what universe? Laws, like locked doors, are for honest people, not dishonest. How many laws do we have against murder and other violent acts? Hundreds? Thousands? Have the murders stopped?
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        • Posted by Timelord 4 years, 6 months ago
          "... If there are no laws then ..."

          I most certainly never said "in the absence of laws", I said "absent breaking the law." That means "unless they break the law." My statement specifically ruled out thuggery on the part of unions OR companies because you can't discuss philosophy or pretty much anything else if you have chaos as your reference point. There must be a stable frame of reference, otherwise you and I would have no way to determine what the other guy was saying.
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          • Posted by msmithp2 4 years, 6 months ago
            Didn't mean to imply you had said, "in the absence of laws," Just trying to point out the trick is what laws. Not enough laws or the wrong laws and thuggery is possible. To many laws or the wrong laws and government becomes the disruptor.

            I really don't think we are in disagreement.
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            • Posted by Timelord 4 years, 6 months ago
              We are in disagreement in at least one area, that elected officials or appointed bureaucrats are even capable of passing the right laws. There is no utopia, not under Objectivism and not under Capitalism. The best we can hope for, in theory or practice, is that there be as few laws as possible.

              Thuggery is always possible. There is no law that can stop it. But there are laws that can force restitution by the offender and/or punish him in other ways.
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              • Posted by msmithp2 4 years, 6 months ago
                Actually, I agree with you. I have no belief that government or laws can solve all the problems. I personally would err on the side of too few laws rather than too many.
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    • Posted by khalling 4 years, 6 months ago
      there is nothing under free market rules that says you cannot go together with other companies in your industry and agree to what you will charge of pay. It almost never lasts (if the govt is involved). OR get together with other workers to have a stronger say in wages and benefits and hours.You own yourself, the shareholders own the company you can do what you will. It's when the government involves itself, free market is not allowed to work.Whenever the govt does the EXACT same thing (Interstate Commerce Commission) ICC, telling the industry they all had to charge the same-how is that free market? Reminds me of the NY subway system-the city complained up a storm about what they charged-forcing them into bankruptcy. So the city buys them out and what do you know- the prices continue to go up and the service goes down.
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      • Posted by msmithp2 4 years, 6 months ago
        I agree that almost every instance of the government involving itself in the free market results in a disruption. Your examples of the ICC and the NY subway system are great cases in point. Having said that, there is a role for government.

        Government role should be limited to ensuring a fair playing field. Enforcing property rights, preventing/punishing fraud (a form of theft), ensuring competition and preventing artificial monopolies. Monopolies disrupt the free market because they competition the grease that makes the free market operate. An artificial monopoly is one where collusion and force prevent competition. I do believe that there is a place for a natural monopolies in those services and industries where scale can result in delivering the most efficient service, although even these are eventually face competition, typically when technology introduces a paradigm shift.

        I am arguing here for what the role of government should be, not what it historically has been.
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        • Posted by khalling 4 years, 6 months ago
          The free market is not about perfect competition, thus your advocacy for "fair markets, ensuring competition, and preventing artificial monopolies." None of those concepts are free market concepts. In fact anti-trust laws are the biggest violators of free markets and of property rights. All concepts cited above are an excuse to violate people's property rights. Perfect competition is slavery and altruism masquerading as science.
          "I do believe that there is a place for a natural monopolies in those services and industries where scale can result in delivering the most efficient service, although even these are eventually face competition, typically when technology introduces a paradigm shift." This statement is anti-free market. You do know you are on an Ayn Rand site, right?
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          • Posted by Non_mooching_artist 4 years, 6 months ago
            Mayhaps they lost their way?
            Competition is the force behind a vibrant free market economy. Without it, all things stagnate. And fair is such a wimpy, subjective word. Fair should only be used to describe a popular summer event where one can gorge on funnel cakes and watch tractor pulls.
            Without competition, what is the motivation to be the better shoe manufacturer or microprocessor innovator? It does defy logic to think a government mandate can guarantee a "fair" market! Gag
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            • Posted by Technocracy 4 years, 6 months ago
              The problem is with the entire concept of "fair"

              Fair is a relative, not an absolute, and as such is impossible to legislate properly.

              Not that this will stop the politicians from passing whatever pushes their agenda or gets them contributions. Neither of which have anything to do with "fair" but at least is something they are able to actually work for and ultimately achieve.
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          • Posted by Timelord 4 years, 6 months ago
            Thanks, I thought I was going to have to write that reply. You saved me some time!

            I think msmithp2 only lacks understanding of capitalism and objectivism. I can remember when I believed what he believes. It's been 18 years since I heard Harry Browne on C-SPAN and realized I was a libertarian and began to learn how libertarianism addressed issues that a lot of people worry about, like "fairness.".

            It was years after that when I finally read AS and realized I probably was an objectivist. Then I bought and read several of A. R.'s objectivist philosophy books and found that a rational philosophy based on objective criteria is the best guide on how to live life. I believe (based on concrete evidence) that I have a very firm grasp on objectivism but I have a long way to go before I'd call myself an expert.

            My advice to msmithp2 is to read AS if he hasn't and to read it again if he has - and concentrate on what it says. Why do the heroes say and do the things they do? And notice that Rand exalts not only the successful and powerful but also those of meager means who lead a rational life, who value themselves and live their lives for their own benefit.

            That way you will learn why objectivism is the best way to achieve peace and equality and why capitalism is the only ethical economic system. After AS and The Fountainhead read The Virtue of Selfishness and then Capitalism: an unknown ideal.
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  • Posted by  $  winterwind 4 years, 6 months ago
    Actually, I'd like to know your own thoughts on this.
    it's interesting, but I tend to find aricles on historical socio-economics somewhat empty witout background. Extension, please.
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    • Posted by Eudaimonia 4 years, 6 months ago
      I'd first have to find an article on it from an objective source.
      And then I'd have to make the time to read it.
      I just started a fairly interesting new project, so I'm going to be busy for a while.
      Not too busy to make the occasional post, but too busy to read anything else than what I already am reading, and certainly too busy to be bothered with whatever Think Progress is spinning today.
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  • Posted by term2 4 years, 6 months ago
    The lesson to be learned is that if you are rich, you need to hide that wealth from the workers you hire. Otherwise, the workers who want your riches, but dont want to work to actually earn them, will seek to take them from you. This is a good argument for automation and the realization that taking the easy way out, by hiring employees, will bite you in the hind end at some point. The purpose of Pullman's business was to please HIM and make money for HIM, and he needed to keep that as the most important thing on his agenda.
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  • Posted by woodlema 4 years, 6 months ago
    Seems to me the "PEOPLE" who shutdown the country were the greedy employees who overvalued their specific contribution.

    Why didn't these employees if they were so smart and valuable, pool their resources and start their own railroad. I will tell you, because they did not want to risk THEIR money.

    When people strike, it is THEIR greed and envy that are the problem. Nobody stopped these people from quitting and going to work elsewhere. Nobody FORCED them to stay in the job they apparently did not like or feel they were not paid enough.

    I see this guy as a HERO not to buckle under the pressure of the greedy.
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