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Off the Editor’s Desk – 11-28-2012


It was a few great men that made America great. A few great men made Wisconsin what it is today. These men were not politicians, but they were inventors, entrepreneurs, created industries, made and sold things.

They put people to work. Moved them off the farm and into jobs and created an Industrial Giant that we call the United States.

They did not ask the government for help; they made it on their own.

 I watched the History channel series, “The Men Who Built America”. They changed America and the world, from the horse and wagon society into an industrial nation that leads the world in production. They shaped the nation into what it is today. These men put people to work, but I will admit they probably did not have a very good working relationship with their employees. Some of these men are now seen as only interested in how much money they could make and accumulate.

John D. Rockefeller (1839-1937) was one of these people highlighted on the series. He was not afraid of work and by the age of 31, built his first oil refinery and by 1870 Incorporated Standard Oil. By 1882 he had a near monopoly of the oil business. That monopoly is what leads to the creation of antimonopoly laws, championed by President “Teddy Roosevelt” that broke up Standard Oil. But Rockefeller became the richest person in America.

Could anyone do that today? With all the rules and regulations and permits needed to do anything, I think maybe, but it would be difficult. As I was watching the series focusing on Rockefeller and how the law affected him I wondered what was worse: paying a higher price for Kerosene coming from Standard Oil monopoly, or paying high taxes to have the government control the cost. Did I save any money?