Wednesday, July 09, 2008

My letter in Wall Street Journal on "can't-do" politics

Daniel Henninger’s column on the “can’t-possibly-do” mentality expresses the frustration that many of us have with governments’ having a hand in anything productive in America. When one recalls that the Empire State Building was built with private money in just 11 months during the Depression, one can only marvel at the infighting and politicking that has created the Trade Center quagmire.
Henninger, however, suggests that Obama believers think of him as can do. But his “can do” is directly related to the government doing, not private people. Obama is the candidate of can’t-do: Americans can’t make a lot of money. American’s can’t administrate their own health care. American’s can’t choose to remain aloof to unions. Americans can’t freely plan their own retirement. American’s can’t demand liberty through war instead of anxiety through appeasement.
If New York wishes a speedily built and beautiful World Trade Center, I suggest the Port Authority immediately sell the precious 16-acre site and let American businessmen do what they are best at: doing.

3 comments:

wandering the world said...

Actually, John Jakob Raskob, the man who funded the building of The Empire State Building, was an executive for DuPont and General Motors, both of which are government contractors. The construction took 16 months, was built largely by immigrant workers of which 5 were killed during the construction process (chosen of course as cheap labor)
The building's opening coincided with the Great Depression and largely went empty during this time. In fact New Yorkers called it the "Empty" State Building. It was not even profitable until 1950. All this from the "genius" businessman who a few years before wrote that every American could become wealthy by investing $15 a week in common stocks (At a time when average American weekly salary was $17 to $22). Of course, this was also just before the stock market crashed.

I don't think that businessmen are the best indicators of getting things done.

Jeff Perren said...

"one can only marvel at the infighting and politicking that has created the Trade Center quagmire"

One of the more shameful recent episodes, to be sure.

David Elmore said...

Wanda, the construction of the floors took 11 months, besides two months of excavation and then accoutrements of a month and a half. Private money is private money. General Motors and DuPont were private businesses who also did some government contract work, which does not make them government businesses. It is a great thing about America that its immigrants took a hand in building the greatest structure in America, so what's your point with that? Also, what's your point with the five men who died. Every man knew it was a risky job. That was a time in American history in which safety was not as much of a focus as it is today. More than give died building the Golden Gate Bridge, but that doesn't take away from its beauty or the extraordinary feat of its construction. The building was planned before the Depression got real bad. It was a questionable business decision, perhaps, but with all things done privately, if it was a bad business decision, then the only people who get hurt by that are the ones who invest without thinking things through carefully. That, also, does not take away from the great achievement. Also, the stock market crashed because of government interference in business via the Fed and money-tinkering by the government.