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Yes. Yes I Truly Do Admire J.D. Rockefeller, Sr.

Here’s a letter to someone who was directed by a friend to this Facebook post of mine.

Mr. Çubiry:

“Shocked and speechless” at my “scary” admission of admiration for John D. Rockefeller, Sr., you ask if I’m “unmoved by the tremendous suffering and economic damage he spread through society with his monopoly.”

Simple answer: the Rockefeller in your mind is a myth.

The real Rockefeller was no monopolist, and his Standard Oil Company was no monopoly. Rockefeller was a creative and driven entrepreneur who, through Standard Oil, made fuel much more widely abundant, inexpensive, and safe. (Among many other innovations, Rockefeller standardized his fuels so that consumers knew better what they were buying.) Consumers and his workers admired him. The only people who despised Rockefeller – because he consistently succeeded at offering to consumers increasingly attractive deals – were his competitors, one of whom, by the way, had a daughter named Ida Tarbell.

If you’re interested, Burt Folsom and I wrote 20 years ago about the Rockefeller myth. And we cite there other sources that bust this myth.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030