Wall Street Journal reviews *Big Business*

By George Melloan, here is one bit:

So Mr. Cowen’s book is timely, and his writing style is a refreshing contrast to the strident left-wing declamations that are so common today. He is calm and conversational, splashing cool water on the firebrands. He writes: “All of the criticisms one might mount against the corporate form—some of which are valid—pale in contrast to two straightforward and indeed essential virtues. First, business makes most of the stuff we enjoy and consume. Second, business is what gives most of us jobs. The two words that follow most immediately from the world of business are ‘prosperity’ and ‘opportunity.’”

Here is the full review, very well done in my admittedly biased view.

Comments

"First, big business makes most of the stuff we enjoy and consume. Second, big business is what gives most of us jobs. The two words that follow most immediately from the world of big business are ‘prosperity’ and ‘opportunity.’"

I modified it a bit to match the subject of the book.

Oddly, the two words that follow most immediately from the world of big business would seem to be 'wage slave,' but that is merely from the perspective of the millions of employees, not the one from hundreds of CEO, and their well compensated flunkies, toadies, and lickspittles.

Melloan hedged his words. The book is about big business but small business is still the number one jobs creator, not big business.

the obsequiousness of your pandering can hardly be expressed in words, but i found two

An occasional MR reader, I'm confused:

is this a "pro-capitalism" tome (Melloan's WSJ subtitle is "What Socialism Gets Wrong"), OR is this a defense of "corporations/big business"?

With TC the book likely crosses both lines to attain dual ends. Bully for the first part, esp. if it helps counter pernicious effects coming our way from post-secondary institutions of "higher learning". --but what of the second part?

Does TC give us a working definition of "corporation"? one that covers the ground that corporations cover: how different is GM from Penguin? how different is Google from Amazon? how different is Facebook from GE? how similar to or different from a bank is a pharma conglomerate? Et cetera.

I wonder, too, since we're discussing a book here, just how "corporate publishing" fares and why it fares as it does: I cannot believe somehow that a discussion of generic "business practices" is going to shed much light on particular businesses and industries without requisite specificity. --or does TC indeed account for the COLLUSION between academia and the publishing industry, the crying need for academics to get their studies published by non-university presses, the dire need of Americans for MFA degrees, graduates, and programs to degrade their fiction and their literature, et cetera?

is this a "pro-capitalism" tome (Melloan's WSJ subtitle is "What Socialism Gets Wrong"), OR is this a defense of "corporations/big business"?

That's a good question, especially since from the Progressive Era to John Kenneth Galbraith and works like Galbraith's The New Industrial State, big biz/corps were promoted precisely because they were anti-capitalist and mitigated the competition and entrepreneurial dynamism of capitalism and introduced a degree of planning and vertical integration.

The anti-competitive, anti-capitalist tendencies of big biz persist, but what's different now is that their rent-seeking is unchecked. Cowen's book is really a defense of the rent-seeking status quo, which he depends on financially, under the guise of defending "capitalism".

Okay, who is Cowen trying to convince? George Melloan? He is already convinced. Millennials who are disillusioned by big business, disillusioned even by capitalism? This book doesn't speak their language. Himself?

Why are they disillusioned Ray? They are the wealthiest generation. They have been given gifts beyond the imagination of the greatest thinkers of the past.

They are disillusioned not to the reality of their situation, but rather due to the domination of our post secondary education by those who wish to destroy the world that has given such plenty. Tyler, in his own rather weak manner is attempting to fight back.

Post secondary ed is part of it, but not in the way you imagine. It's the debt burden, not reading Marx or postmodernism, which is beyond most students. The most popular undergrad major is, coincidentally, "Business", and has been for a long time. Followed by things like "Health Science". The percentage of students who actually read Marxist and postmodern lit is small, and among them, it's mostly skimming a page or two in a giant survey class.

https://www.uh.edu/engines/epi177.htm

Sara was the first to bed, though she spent a while with Ella discussing the poetic device of Highway 61 Revisited and the bourgeois elements of Nelson Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie.

The fact that bug business makes the stuff we consume is not a virtue as they make sure that we pay for our consumption.

The same applies for providing jobs: They aren't money for nothing.

Whereas socialism does provide something for nothing?

Socialism usually doesn't provide very much. It's one thing to be a fan of capitalism, and another to lick the boots of big business.

Communist China makes most of the electronics that make this website possible and for you to communicate to it. Who will sing the praises of the real anti-hero Red China?

I look forward to reading it.

One thing I think so many 'anti-corporatists' get wrong is they view the extreme end of the capitalist and enterprise bell-curve as ultimately representative of the entire thing. Global Oligopolies are an extreme - super extreme - representation of the natural tendency and desire for growth all firms have, most of which seldom grow beyond 500 employees or ever hit $1 billion in revenue, if they become profit engines at all. The solution to global oligopolies is competition - always has been - not redistribution.

We hold these truths to be self-evident

1) Human beings want to 'own' things

2) Human beings that are not allowed to 'own' things or feel secure in their private property will gravitate to places or methods that will

3) Human beings have a right not only to undertake labor, but to profit from their labor

4) Human beings have a right to profit from risks they take that 'pan-out' and investments they make that are successful

5) Human beings have - throughout all of human history - benefited more from their personal initiative and private application of resources than was ever 'provided' them from an outside entity or polity

Capitalism isn't some dark conspiratorial exo-system imposed on the world's people. Capitalism is human-nature itself. Keep fighting it. I have examples galore throughout history of how you'll keep losing.

1)" Human beings want to 'own' things": very common.

2) "Human beings that are not allowed to 'own' things or feel secure in their private property will gravitate to places or methods that will": also common.

3) "Human beings have a right not only to undertake labor, but to profit from their labor." That depends entirely on which society they are part of. Thus in the pre-1860 USA some people did not have that right.

4) "Human beings have a right to profit from risks they take that 'pan-out' and investments they make that are successful." Again, that depends entirely on which society they are part of.

5) "Human beings have - throughout all of human history - benefited more from their personal initiative and private application of resources than was ever 'provided' them from an outside entity or polity." An absurd claim - how the devil can you be familiar with all of human history? And how can you place that interpretation on every episode of human history?

#3 yeah my wife’s black boyfriend broke my jaw last time I brough this up but I stand by it. I’m not going to let him have everything you know?
#5 oh I’m cuck enough to consider reading this blog enough to know everything I need to know

If you forced me to defend big corporations, my argument would be that corporations are often perfectly nice, but are forced to do mean things like cut benefits, layoff staff, or raise prices by shareholders seeking increased profits. My guess is Tyler does not engage in this "blame the shareholders" defense.

That was good. I liked the excerpt on non-profits especially.

Wow. I've never seen Tyler so wrecked on his own blog. The comments section on MR can be brutal, but this book is going to set a new bar.

Well, I bet it will be a good book. He should have Stephen King read for the audio version.

+1

First, business makes most of the stuff we enjoy and consume. Second, business is what gives most of us jobs.

Says it all really. Book should've been titled Bug Business: A Love Letter to an American Ant-Hero. "A New Bugman Manifesto"

'very well done in my admittedly biased view'

Verily, self-recommending.

Hi Tyler, great comment but you might be wasting your breath talking about "prosperity" in modern America. Nobody wants it. Democrats want to save the whales and stop climate change. They're willing to give the people a raise in the min wage in lieu of prosperity, but nothing more. Neither party seems to want to build beneficial economic infrastructure like transportation systems: Republicans hate transit and Democrats hate highways. Our transportation system is crumbling, but our president wants to spend $5B on a wall that has no economic benefits at all.

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