Weekend Review, May 19-20, 2018

Saturday was a cold, wet misery. Sunday was partly sunny and Summery. But I mostly stayed inside, determined to finish two books (I did). So all I saw was an unidentified electric skateboard, one Boosted, and two(!) people on one(!) unidentified electric scooter.

Weekend reading was:

The Robber Barons: The Great American Capitalists, 1861-1901 by Matthew Josephson. Josephson was a Socialist when he wrote it, which explains the pro-collectivist slant in it. But far worse, his scholarship is suspect. Most of his source material can be examined firsthand these days via Google Books (I’ve grabbed most of them from his Bibliography). And that source material is suspect to begin with. It’s filled with outright falsehoods as well as self-aggrandizement (when autobiography). None of the capitalists (and they were mostly that; not founders) of that time were personalities to be admired or emulated or held up as heroes. They were all bastards, mostly with one-dimensional minds. They manipulated stocks, the stock market, spread false rumors about themselves and others, bribed politicians at all levels, ruined thousands of honest investors, plunged the entire nation into periodic economic depressions that put millions into misery, conspired with and against each other, and most of them didn’t care about the companies they headed other than the profit they could wring from them. When the 1970s arrived with the advent of the corporate raider, we were so damned ignorant of history that we couldn’t see the bastards of the Gilded Age were returning. And they’re still here.

Dark Genius of Wall Street: The Misunderstood Life of Jay Gould, King of the Robber Barons by Edward J. Renehan Jr. This books tries to rehabilitate the reputation of Gould, who perhaps has the reputation of being the biggest bastard of that time. It doesn’t entirely succeed. While stating Gould was involved in the actual management of the Union Pacific railroad, it’s an assertion, without any quotes from the source material to prove it. Gould treated the Erie railroad — his first coup — like shit and as his personal bank account for speculative investing, so why would he treat anything else differently? That Gould read books, was devoted to his family, and cultivated a garden is just so much so what? Hitler loved his pet dog too. What matters is how Gould — and the rest of them — treated their companies, their employees, and their customers. The record is not good.

Previously here:

Weekend Review posts

This entry was posted in Other Stuff. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.