(p. A19) In a free-market system, society’s most productive members tend to facilitate upward mobility for all of us, not just for themselves. And not only through their philanthropy.
Oil refining made the Rockefellers rich, but in the process, they made oil products much cheaper and thus more widely available to the poor. Prior to Standard Oil, whale oil and candles were a luxury that only the wealthy could afford. The rest had to go to bed early to save money, explains Burton Folsom, a professor of history at Hillsdale College. “By the 1870s, with the drop in the price of kerosene, middle- and working-class people all over the nation could afford the one cent an hour that it cost to light their homes at night. Working and reading became after-dark activities new to most Americans.”
Rockefeller got rich and America got more productive. Henry Ford did something similar in auto manufacturing, as did Sam Walton of Walmart fame with respect to big-box discount stores. Bill Gates has done more for humanity creating his computer-software fortune than he will ever do giving it away through his foundation. Wealth creation plays a far bigger role than philanthropy or government transfer programs in improving our standard of living, something that those forever trying to “stick it to the rich” either don’t understand or choose to ignore out of political expedience.
For the full commentary, see:
Jason L. Riley. “UPWARD MOBILITY; How a Billionaire Spends His Money Is His Own Business; Progressives are more interested in scapegoating the wealthy than they are in relieving poverty.” The Wall Street Journal (Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019): A19.
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Jan. 29, 2019.)