Showing posts with label regulation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label regulation. Show all posts

Sunday, April 6, 2014

What Is A Robber Baron?

A little etymology is in order.  Fortunately, Timothy Taylor in his blog "The Conversable Economist" saves us the trouble of poring over the archives.

He explains the origin of the term in the Middle Ages here and provides some helpful examples from Nineteenth Century oratory using the term in very descriptive ways.

Where are the orators of our day?

W.C Flagg, president of the Illinois State Farmer's Association, was such an orator in his day. He explains the results of the Robber Barons' in the field of transportation: "There-by you, the citizens of a democratic-republican country, are enabled to know how cruel, relentless, and unscrupulous a thing is arbitrary power in the hands of a few. Regulation by combination means that the railroad managers are feudal lords, and that you are their serfs."

An 1870 article in Atlantic Monthly draws a picture that seems all too familiar today:

"They make money so rapidly, so easily, and in such a splendid sensational way, that they corrupt more persons by their example than they ruin by their knaveries. As compared with common rogues, they appear like Alexander or Caesar as compared with common thieves and cutthroats. As their wealth increases, our moral indignation at their method of acquiring it diminishes, and at last they steal so much that we come to look on their fortunes as conquests rather than burglaries."

The article might have been referring to the practice of high frequency trading, where margins of time in microseconds result in vast stock trading fortunes as described this week in the New York Times. In times past, such people were also described as parasites. 

Friday, February 1, 2013

Public Alcohol: Don't Scare The Horses!

It is revealing to read letters to Town Dock concerning recent proposals to allow consumption of alcoholic beverages on Town property under some circumstances. I'm not sure what it reveals, but I'm sure Commissioner Summers was surprised at the vehement opposition to what he thought was a modest proposal.

I am reminded of a remark by a highly fashionable lady concerning another sort of activity:

"My Dear!" she said, "I don't care what they do so long as they don't do it in the street and frighten the horses!"

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Rules Are Rules

Got carded this evening. I just wanted a 12-pack of beer. Nothing exotic. "What's your birthday," the Dollar General cashier asked.

"April 20," I answered.

Wasn't good enough. I had to give her the year.

Don't think I can pass for 20. I'm old enough to remember Pearl Harbor, but not old enough to remember the Maine.

Not sure I really wanted the beer all that much.