Words by Woods

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Quick Hits 3/7/2010

In a recent post, Seth Godin repeats a quote attributed, perhaps erroneously, to Andrew Carnegie, “Take away my people, but leave my factories and soon grass will grow on the factory floors……Take away my factories, but leave my people and soon we will have a new and better factory.”  Focus on “my people” for a moment.  It isn’t all people or any people, but in fact, some people are better because of their thinking and ideas, not their muscles, and those people should be chosen.

In the Christian Science Monitor, Don Watkins and Yaron Brook make an important distinction between two types of businessmen:  the producer and the looter.  The producer creates value and trades for mutual advantage.  The looter seeks to use political favors to take values not freely given.  In the argument about the morality of businessman in general, this distinction is critical as not all businessman are the same, and the looter live like parasites upon the producers.  This last point is implemented by congressional and Administration proposals to tax successful businesses to pay for the bailouts of unsuccessful ones.

WSJ deputy editor Daniel Henninger has called for a return to the age of the robber barons wth reference to Burton W. Folsom’s book The Myth of the Robber Barons: A New Look at the Rise of Big Business in America.  Folsom segments the businessmen of that historical age into two type:  market entrepreneurs and political entrepreneurs.  Of which, the market entrepreneurs were the creators of jobs and wealth.  In contrast, our current political policies reward the political entrepreneurs who produce inferior results and depend upon political patronage.  Henniger observes, “If the price of rediscovering the American job machine is some people across the land getting really rich, it’s a small price.”

Sen. Lamar Alexander recounts some of the negative impacts upon customers from the proposed nationalization of what remains of the private student loan industry.  Omitted are the consequences for shareholders when corporate managers partner with government to solve public problems, which is the public theft of private capital.   Just ask the impoverished shareholders of GM, Sallie Mae, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Jennifer Merritt reports on interesting developments in economic forcasting using internet search and twitter data to track trends in job search activity, the housing market, and consumer purchases with supporting geographic segmentation.  In one case, MIT was able to predict home-sale volumes more accurately than the National Association of Realtors.

Soomo Publishing attempts to create innovative learning tools using web resources.  In the video “Too Late to Apologize:  A Declaration,” the lyrics reflect some specific causes for the American Revolution.  While it is no Sparrowhawk, this presentation does make an emotional connection missing from a class reader.  [HT:  Rational Jenn]


The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has launched the “I am Free Enterprise” video contest with a $50k prize.  [HT:  Diana Hsieh]

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  1. How often do you write your blogs? I enjoy them a lot 2 1 6

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    • Jim

      March 9, 2010 at 12:56 am

      I am trying to write more frequently again. I figure five days a week would demonstrate some progress.

      My Quick Hits are simply brief observations upon some of what I read that day; however, I am surprised to see how daily themes seem to hold the items together.

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