That was then.
In Ida Tarbell’s tome “The History of the Standard Oil Company” written in 1902-1904, she claimed her admiration of John D. Rockefeller, Henry M. Flagler, et al, the leaders of Standard Oil, for their business acumen. You remember Ida Tarbell, the young woman graduate-researcher-journalist of Allegheny College in 1890 in fact the only female graduate that year? She came from a simple family from Titusville whose father, a successful oil driller, had his small business swept out from under his muddy feet by the giant Standard Oil firm of Cleveland, Ohio. Rockefeller and Flagler played the Oil Region game real hard. Our way or else!
Reflecting upon socialism, Ida wrote “Was not this conclusive proof that capitalism was necessarily inconsistent with fair and just economic life?” Continuing she added “As I saw it, it was not capitalism but an open disregard of decent ethical business practices by capitalists which lay at the bottom of tahe story…..”
Now is now.
Here we are 110 years later, claiming the same corporate tactics, bemoaning the same inequality, i.e., the rich are getting richer and the poor are…well, you have heard the outcry. Without these giants of industry where would we be? We need these men of vision and courage and, lest we forget, religion. Count the number of people that were employed in Andrew Carnegie’s steel industry and Henry Ford’s automotive industry, and presently in Bill Gates’ and the late Steven Jobs’ high tech industries.
Muckraker Ida surely would have praised Gravity Payments business owner Dan Price of Seattle who earlier this month in April 2015 gave his credit card company employees whopping wage boosts. Mr. Price surprised his 120-person staff by announcing that he planned over the next three years to raise the salary of even the lowest-paid clerk, customer service representative and salesman to a minimum of $70,000. The money will come out of this capitalist’s pocket.
If only Ms. Tarbell could write “The History of the Gravity Payments Company.”