Robber Barons Essay

This essay has a total of 1313 words and 9 pages.

Robber Barons








Robert Allen
92845


Robber Barons
Then and Now

Robber Barons, a term used in the late 1800s and early 1900s to describe a businessman who
made an enormous amount of money, today we would call them billionaires. It was not really
the fact they made an extreme amount of wealth, it was more the way they made it. In all
the cases the acquiring of wealth was done in what was considered a ruthless manor and
unscrupulous ways. A robber baron was more interested in acquiring wealth than the safety
of his employees, the amount of work hours performed in a week, or the amount of wage
being paid for a days work.

For example Andrew Carnegie(the robber baron of the steel industry), he was instrumental
in starting the 72 hour work week, paying out less than fair wages and having dangerous
working conditions.

The robber barons were known for their business tactics that would enable them to amass a
wealth by monopolies. They would corner the market on a product or service and make it
almost impossible to get, accept through them.

One such person was James B. Duke (robber baron of the tobacco market).James Duke started
marketing tobacco from his fathers tobacco farm at an early age. He developed a market for
tobacco though advertising. When the market he developed, started growing he started
buying up other tobacco companies in order to be the only supplier of the product. James
Duke eventually formed The Great American Tobacco Co. which became the biggest supplier of
cigarettes in the world.

One thing the Robber Barons of today and yesterday have in common is monopolies. If it at
all possible, the Robber Baron or billionaires as we call them today, would try to corner
the entire market on their product or service, making it difficult for competition in
their particular industry.

James Duke did it by making a market for cigarettes and cigars and buying up his
competition so he was the biggest company to supply the product.

Andrew Carnegie cornered the market on the steel industry and made the first high rise
building. He was the only business in his field therefore he could set his prices and up
his profits.

Other Robber Barons in various markets were William Vanderbilt, he monopolized the
railroad business allowing him to set his own prices for freight and passage. John D.
Rockefeller monopolized the oil industry with Standard Oil company.

Today AT&T, the phone company, before deregulation controlled the vast majority of the
phone services, thereby monopolizing the phone services.

American Airlines, there unscrupulous business tactics would drive out competitors from
areas they wished to control by having price wars until the opposition could no longer
compete and would have to close their doors for business.

But the biggest and wealthiest of them all, Bill Gates owner of Microsoft Corporation
created an operating system for computers to work with and the market to sell that system.
Before Bill Gates came along computers were only an informational source. What ever was
programed into them was retrievable but you could not add information to them. Basically
they were just a big file cabinet. Bill Gates made it to where you can talk to the
computer and add information to them. This made them more user friendly and a very usable
tool for personal and business use. But just like the Robber Barons of yesterday Gates
cornered the market for his software by orchestrating a marketing plan that would require
computer companies to pay him X amount of dollars for every computer they sold, whether or
not the computer had his software on it or not. Now if you think about it, the computer
companies had no choice but to put his software on the computers they sold. Kind of sounds
like a monopoly to me.




Philanthropy


The other side to the Robber Baron coin. For some unknown reason the Robber Barons felt it
necessary to give back enormous amounts of their wealth to the society they took if from,
or maybe a better way to put it is earned it from? It was done in a manner that for the
most part immortalized the giver. For instance James Duke or the Duke Endowment gave money
to several Universities. This in turn eventually got his name on one, Duke University in
Washington, DC. Duke also gave money to hospitals, childcare institutions for blacks and
whites and the Methodist church.

Continues for 5 more pages >>




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