Sunday, April 29, 2012

Show Me the Money

Of course, there were more than just Rockefeller and Carnegie, but J.P. Morgan who bought Carnegie Steel, Cornelius Vanderbilt, another railroad guy, George Pullman, the Chicago king of train cars, and countless others, but as usual, not everyone was rich.

How did you become a Rockefeller or Carnegie? How do you dive into a pit of money Scrooge McDuck style? This was a question that plenty of people had.

There of course was inheritance, you just sort of wait around and wait for your rich relative to die.

There was also the idea of 'Social Darwinism', or survival of the fittest.

Charles Darwin was a scientist who did a lot of work with the origin of species and evolution.

His theory is that certain species survive because they are the best suited, they were the strong ones so they could thrive and live.

Since Darwin also believes that humans were descended from apes then natural selection would apply to humans as well. Some people believed that the people who were the most successful had the necessary traits, education, talent, determination, and jazziness to rise to the top.

Social Darwinists also believed that like animals, the weaker members of society would die out, only leaving the supreme genes and thus, monster truck rallies would never come to be....

Social Darwinists didn't believe in government hand outs, safety regulations, or restricting child labor. If you helped the weak, they would survive and that's gross.

 There was also the Carnegie and Rockefeller's way of thinking, it is up to the rich to help out the poor.

They did agree that people who were successful would of course have money, but it wasn't the fault of the poor, because if they were supposed to be rich and successful, God would have made it that way.

God only gave a select few people the ability to be successful, sort of like a lottery.

This is why Carnegie and Rockefeller gave a ton of money to charity, it was their duty and responsibility to help out the less fortunate.

Then....there was a 3rd idea, the American Dream.

American Dreams was a wonderful show on NBC about an Irish Catholic family facing the changes and challenges of the 1960s, but NBC cancelled it, AND I HAVE SO MANY UNRESOLVED QUESTIONS!!!

Anyway, umm...ok..the American Dream, a guy named Horatio Alger was the biggest fan of the American Dream.

Alger wrote novels geared towards immigrants. In these novels he told the new Americans the secret to success: hard work and luck.

With a little luck and a lot of hard work, anyone could become rich and successful and achieve their dreams!!!

So, what was the way to become rich and successful?

Was it only a few select people who were chosen? Was it hard work? Was it sheer luck?

I suppose if I knew this answer, I wouldn't be living with my parents and driving a car that was brand new when Clinton was president...

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Industrial Giants Part 2!

Wow, updating and I got into a fight, I apologize.

Rockefeller wasn't the only titan of industry, there were many others.

While most people consider Superman to be the man of steel, the original owner of this title was Mr. Andrew Carnegie.

Carnegie, like Rockefeller had a rags to riches story. Born in Scotland in the 1830's, young Andrew was taught the importance of learning and hard work through his parents.

Eventually, the Carnegie clan would set sail for American, when one stormy night at sea, mischevious Andrew was swept away on the back of a bar of soap...

Ok, no, that was Fivel Mouskowitz from An American Tale...anyway, the Carnegies settled in Pennsylvania and Andrew went to work in a factory where he was paid $1.20 a week. (And you think your salary is bad...)

From there he became interested in the art of dots and dashes, the world of telegraphs. He became an assistant telegrapher for the Pennsylvania Railroad...

 At this position, he started learning all about the railroad.

During this time the rail road was super neat-o. Carnegie knew that in England they were building their rails out of steel while in America they were still using iron. This gave Carnegie a golden idea.

Steel is stronger than iron, therefore it would be smarter to build the railroad out of steel, from there he started investing and using different new technologies and watched as his steel company because a beast of industry.

Competition was not really a big deal for Carnegie because he was a clever guy and understood the concept of vertical integration.

Now, if you eyes just glazed over and rolled into the back of your head after reading 'vertical integration' I cannot blame you, but it really was one of Carnegie's secrets to success. In order to make steel you needed to first have iron, so Carnegie didn't just focus all his energy and money on the steel industry, but also on iron. If he didn't have to strike up any deals with anyone to get iron then he could make more money, after all, I doubt if he was out to negotiate himself into a bad deal. 

Carnegie Steel was a giant and eventually he sold his business to J.P. Morgan who then named it US Steel, and if you are familiar with the steel industry you may know that this was all in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, and if you are familiar with the NFL at all, you probably know their team are the Pittsburgh Steelers....THERE'S A REASON FOR EVERYTHING!!!!!

Anyway, just like a lot of industry giants of the time and a lot like Rockefeller, Carnegie was not fond of unionizing or workers going on strike. People accuse him of getting rich off the backs of his employees. 

Also, like Rockefeller, Carnegie gave a boat load of money to charity.

Carnegie believed it was the duty of the wealthy to use their money to help benefit society, this is why Carnegie is responsible for opening up numerous schools and libraries. All over the country you can find Carnegie Library's in all there are 2,800 Carnegie Libraries.

Carnegie was your typical American Dream story. He came to America with nothing and through hard work and determination he made his way to be one of the most wealthy men in the world during his time. 

I would also like to add, that even though these aren't stick figures, it creeps me out how much Carnegie looks like the Gorton's Fisherman....weird...