A Free-Market Energy Blog

Archive

Posts from August 2011

Vindicating Capitalism: The Real History of the Standard Oil Company (Part III: The Missing Context of Standard’s Rise to Supremacy)

By <a class="post-author" href="/about#aepstein">Alex Epstein</a> -- August 31, 2011

[Editor Note: This five-part series by Mr. Epstein, originally published in The Objective Standard, revisits the Standard Oil Trust controversy on this the 100th anniversary of the breakup of the Trust. Part I reviewed the flawed textbook interpretation of Rockefeller’s accomplishment; Part II sketched the rise of Standard Oil and defended the free-market practice of rebating.

The 1870s was a decade of gigantic growth for the Standard Oil Company. In 1870, it was refining fifteen hundred barrels per day—a huge amount for the time. By January 1871, it had achieved a 10 percent market share, making it the largest player in the industry. By 1873, it had one-third of the market share, was refining ten thousand barrels a day and had acquired twenty-one of the twenty-six other firms in Cleveland.

The Real History of the Standard Oil Company (Part II: The Phenom)

By <a class="post-author" href="/about#aepstein">Alex Epstein</a> -- August 30, 2011

[Editor Note: This five-part series by Mr. Epstein, originally published in The Objective Standard, revisits the Standard Oil Trust controversy in this the 100th anniversary of the breakup of the Trust. Part I yesterday reviewed the flawed textbook interpretation of Rockefeller’s accomplishment.

The Standard story begins during the U.S. Civil War. In 1863, the first railroad line was built connecting the city of Cleveland to the Oil Regions in Pennsylvania, where virtually all American oil came from. Clevelanders quickly took the opportunity to refine oil—as had the residents of the Oil Regions, Pittsburgh, New York, and Baltimore. Cleveland had the disadvantage of being one hundred miles22 from the oil fields but the advantage of having far cheaper prices for materials and land (Oil Regions real estate had become extremely expensive), plus proximity to the Erie Canal for shipping.

Vindicating Capitalism: The Real History of the Standard Oil Company (Part I: The Fallacious Textbook Story)

By <a class="post-author" href="/about#aepstein">Alex Epstein</a> -- August 29, 2011

[Author’s Note: This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling that found Standard Oil guilty of violating the Sherman Antitrust Act. As punishment, the world’s largest and most successful oil company was broken into 34 pieces.

Ever since, Standard Oil has served as the textbook example of why we need antitrust law–in the business world in general and in the energy business in particular. The Court’s decision affirmed a popular account of Standard Oil’s success, first made famous by journalists Henry Demarest Lloyd and Ida Tarbell. In the absence of antitrust laws, the story goes, Standard attained a 90% share of the oil-refining market through unfair and destructive practices such as preferential railroad rebates and “predatory pricing”; Standard then leveraged its unfair advantages to eliminate competition, control the market, and dictate prices.

Rick Perry's $7 Billion Problem (Texas wind transmission project 38% over budget–$270+ for every citizen in the state)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- August 26, 2011

The U.S. Southeast: Renewable Energy Mandates Not (ratepayer blessing; industrial advantage)

By Robert Ross -- August 25, 2011

Sustainability Lessons from Evergreen Solar's Bankruptcy (Part II)

By Gary Hunt -- August 24, 2011

Evergreen Solar Inc.: Anatomy of a 'Green' Bankruptcy (Part I)

By Gary Hunt -- August 23, 2011

James Hansen Smacks Renewable Energy ("The Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy"–and Lovins as dreamer)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- August 22, 2011

Introducing Murray Rothbard to an Energy Audience (Part II: Roger Garrison Tribute)

By Roger Garrison -- August 20, 2011

Introducing Murray Rothbard to an Energy Audience (Part I: Keynesian economics down, Austrian economics up)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- August 19, 2011