Internet Appendices to Book 1
Book Reviews
Summary of Book 1
Capitalism at Work: Business, Government, and Energy
M & M Scrivener Press (2009)

Book 1 presents a worldview of capitalism and business that illuminates modern corporate controversies in the post-Enron world.

It uniquely integrates the best thinking of a select group of top social thinkers from Adam Smith to Ayn Rand to present a logical, holistic view of sustainable business and a proper capitalist order. The book is multidisciplinary, covering philosophy, economics, political economy, history, and psychology, but all with one aim: to understand business, the motivations of business leaders, and the environment in which they operate.

The opening three chapters on philosophy offer insights on best business practices in light of the rise and fall of Enron Corporation. The middle chapters explain business economics and the actual intersection of business and government in the U.S. economy, or political capitalism, a major driver of today’s mixed economy.

The next five chapters focus on energy, the master resource and the world largest and most regulated business. This emphasis is necessary to provide the background for the case studies to follow in Book 2 and Book 3 of the trilogy, which are all in the field of energy. It is not surprising that some of the most important business episodes in U.S. history prominently include energy companies, such as Standard Oil (which is not covered in the trilogy), Insull’s utility-company empire, and Enron.

Special Significance

Book 1 challenges the mainstream view of Enron as “capitalism’s worst nightmare.” In The New York Times, Paul Krugman predicted that Enron would prove to be a greater societal turning point than 9/11 by forcing a reconstruction of capitalism. Many articles and books from a new generation of muckrakers have looked at the missteps of Enron and its “gatekeepers” (lawyers, accountants, analysts, regulators, etc.) as a failure of regulation and business ethics. Thus the mainstream has welcomed expanded regulation (as was done by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002), and business schools have redoubled their efforts to teach “social responsibility” for a “sustainable” business future.

The findings of the book question this diagnosis and policy prognosis. Character matters, but incentives created by the socio-economic system matter too. Enron was the result of political capitalism, not free-market capitalism. Enron’s business model was dependent on regulation-driven expansion, sometimes to stifle markets and sometimes to mandate “markets.” Political capitalism fostered many of the most infamous examples of Enron’s “greed,” such as gaming regulation to maximize profit under regulatory constraints. Enron lobbied hard to create the regulations that ultimately contributed to its own demise—an irony unrecognized in the mainstream literature.

The Epilogue, “Surreal Enron, Real Capitalism,” revisits the post-Enron formulation of classroom business ethics to conclude that “heroic” capitalism is more sustainable as a model for business and society than “corporate social responsibility.” In particular, entrepreneur/intellectual Charles Koch has advanced the ideal of Principled Entrepreneurship™, defined as “maximizing long-term profitability for the business by creating real value in society while always acting lawfully and with integrity.” Such principled behavior is predicated on the economic means, or consumer service in a free market, and not the political means of special government favor.

Book 1’s reconstructed capitalist worldview (which comes into play with the case studies of Book 2 and Book 3), gives the book the potential of being a social science classic with a long shelf life.

Audience

This book is written to appeal to a business and energy-industry audience but also to academics who deal with major business issues in the classroom. The text is meticulously documented for those who want the detail, but it is presented in a style that is accessible to nonacademics. The chapter appendices (both those in the book and many posted at www.politicalcapitalism.org) are geared toward academics who desire an additional level of analysis.

The book will appeal to several audiences:

  • Free market, conservative, and libertarian readers interested in seeing their worldview presented and applied in an important area
  • Intellectuals interested in best-business-practice and sweep-of-history books
  • Business ethicists interested in a sophisticated capitalistic viewpoint
  • Enron aficionados (including former employees) who want to get the story behind the story—the primary causes of the bad habits that engulfed Enron’s leaders, as well as the socio-economic environment that made it possible
  • Energy aficionados who want to understand the big picture of energy in theory and practice—and how arrogance in energy debates has spawned similar outcomes as that experienced at Enron.

Of particular note, chapter 3 on the ideas of Ayn Rand (and the discussion and appendix on “The Ayn Rand Problem”) should interest a significant incremental audience. Readers that are influenced by Rand’s philosophy, including those associated with either The Atlas Society or the Ayn Rand Institute, will be interested in how Objectivism illuminates the fall of Ken Lay and Enron. The book also explains how the Objectivist movement in the 1960s, thousands strong, suffered its own “Enron,” or massive organizational failure, because of the troubled personal life of Ayn Rand herself.

Outline
Capitalism at Work: Business, Government, and Energy

Preface
Introduction
Contents

Part 1: Heroic Capitalism

Chapter 1: The Soul of Commerce: Adam Smith

Sympathy: The Moral Invisible Hand
Prudence
“Self Deceit”
Laws of Justice
Bankruptcy
Owners vs. Managers in Commerce
Mercantilism: The Root of “Political Capitalism”
Crony Capitalism
Natural Self-Interest
The Soul of Capitalism
 

Chapter 2: Character and Success: Samuel Smiles

The Age of Improvement
A Handbook for Capitalism
Economic Liberalism
Aristocratic Government (Political Capitalism)
The Discipline of Commerce
Perseverance, not Genius or Luck
Stopping the Buck
The Anatomy of Failure
Humanism, not Darwinism
Virtue and the Good Life
Eclipse and Resurrection
 

Chapter 3. Supply-Side Ethics: Ayn Rand

A New Capitalist Philosopher
Objectivism in Business
Subjectivism
Subjectivism in Business
From Objectivism to Capitalism
Business on Trial
The Moral Obligations of Capitalists
“Atlas Shrugged”
Self-interest (The Perils of Altruism)
Implicit Objectivism
  1. Social-Science Realism
  2. Best Business Practices
  3. Religion and Reason
New Relevance—and Old Baggage

Part II: Business Opportunity, Political Opportunism

Chapter 4: Business Opportunity

Entrepreneurship: Joseph Schumpeter
Risk versus Uncertainty: Frank Knight
Economic Calculation: Ludwig von Mises
The Theory of the Firm: Ronald Coase

Chapter 5: The Business of Politics

Political Capitalism
Capitalists vs. Capitalism
The Primacy of the Economic
Capitalist Reality
The Self-Interest Theory of Government
  1. Early Political Economists
  2. Arthur Bentley
  3. Public Choice School
Conclusion
 

Chapter 6: U.S. Political Capitalism

Intellectuals as Reformers
Public-Interest History: Inadvertent Misdirection
Arthur Schlesinger Jr.
Richard Hofstadter
Clair Wilcox/Bayard Wheeler
From Muckraking to Business History
Muckraking
Matthew Josephson vs. Allan Nevins
Harvard Business School
Alfred Chandler
Jeff Skilling at HBS
The Decline of Laissez-Faire
Gabriel Kolko: “Political Capitalism”
The Triumph of Conservatism (1963)
Railroads and Regulation (1965)
Political Energy
Business in Political Action
The Business of Business —and Politics Too
Revisionism for Deregulation: Kolko’s Legacy
Conclusion

Part III: Energy and Sustainability

Chapter 7: Malthusianism

From “Misery or Vice” to “Moral Restraint” [T. R. Malthus]
“The Coal Panic” [W. S. Jevons]
Energy Sustainability: First Views
Anatomy of a False Alarm
Second-Generation Alarm [Herbert Stanley Jevons]
U.S. Coal: From Plenty to Problems

Chapter 8: A Joined Debate

“Resources are Not, They Become”: Erich Zimmermann
The Calculus of Depletion: Harold Hotelling
Zimmermann Stalls Out
Hayek on Conservation
Paley Commission
Resources for the Future
An Eye Trained on Scarcity: M. A. Adelman

Chapter 9: Neo-Malthusianism

Dismal Geology: M. King Hubbert
Small as Beautiful: E. F. Schumacher
Doomsday! Paul Ehrlich & John Holdren
Earth Day, 1970
The Limits to Growth: Club of Rome
Changing Times

Chapter 10: The Dark 1970s

Fathering a Crisis: Richard Nixon
Ford Foundation Energy Policy Project
“Soft Energy” Paths: Amory Lovins
Presidential Alarmism
The Great Turn: Hotelling’s Hour
Daniel Yergin
Daisy Chaining: The Great Oil Trading Boom
Media Alarmism
International Alarmism
Industry Alarmism
Voice of the Market
Trinity of Dissent: Adelman, Simon and Robinson

Chapter 11: New Light in the 1980s

Doomslayer: Julian Simon’s Paradigm of Expansionism
A Slow Retreat
The Creed of Conservationism: Amory Lovins
A Cul-de-Sac: Harold Hotelling Rejected
Two Revolutions: Reagan and Thatcher
A Nuanced “Energy Problem”

Epilogue: Surreal Enron, Real Capitalism

Misinterpreting Enron: Capitalism as Whipping Boy
Reinterpreting Enron: The Perils of the Mixed Economy
Reorienting “Business Ethics”
Enron Lives! Political Energy Today
Towards Heroic Capitalism

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Appendix A: The Ayn Rand Problem

Appendix B: A Typology of Interventionism

Appendix C: Gabriel Kolko’s Revisionism Reconsidered

Appendix D: Resources for the Future: Away from Optimism

Notes

Bibliography

Index

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Chapter Reviews
Capitalism at Work: Business, Government, and Energy

 

Part I: Heroic Capitalism

Chapter 1: The Soul of Commerce (Adam Smith)

“ … a marvelous job providing an understanding of what Adam Smith was trying to get across, why he would not be surprised, though saddened, by the recent corporate scandals, and why he was in no way a mercenary, unconscious, or otherwise, who ‘gave a new dignity to greed and a new sanctification of the predatory impulses.’  Well done.”

  • Dwight Lee, professor of economics, Ramsey Chair of Private Enterprise, The University of Georgia;

http://www.terry.uga.edu/~dlee/

Chapter 2: Character and Capitalism (Samuel Smiles)

“ Samuel Smiles was an important figure in Victorian England who wrote a best-seller, Self-Help, which pointed out the virtues of self-help and the problems that arise from government interference in people’s lives. The writings of Smiles contain significant lessons about corporate culture and the capitalist system that are brought out very well in this chapter.”

  • Colin Robinson, former editorial director, Institute of Economic Affairs (London); Emeritus Professor of Economics, University of Surrey (UK); author, 23 books and 150 papers on free market economics, energy, and managerial economics

http://www.euro-know.org/c-robinson.html

"In his day, Samuel Smiles was a celebrity of mythic proportions, loved around the world for his books on the prerequisite virtues for success. Bradley's chapter brings his timeless teachings back to life in regard to today's corporate controversies."

  • Lawrence W. Reed, president, Mackinac Center for Public Policy ( Midland, Michigan)

Chapter 3: Supply-Side Ethics (Ayn Rand)

“I like this chapter a lot. Good integration of theory issues from postmodernism and Objectivism with business practice in the Enron case. You cover a lot of ground smoothly and clearly. And very informative.”

  • Stephen Hicks, author, Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault ; professor of philosophy, Rockford College (http://www.stephenhicks.org/)

"The thing that impressed me most [about ‘The Ayn Rand Problem’ appendix] was his discussion of the psychology of co-dependence applied to Ayn and me. Bottom line, a very fine job."

  • Nathaniel Branden, psychologist and former Rand intimate

“I am very much impressed with the sensitivity and intelligence of your comments [in ‘The Ayn Rand Problem’ appendix]. And I thank you for them.”

  • Barbara Branden, author and former Rand intimate

Part II: Business Opportunity, Political Opportunism

Chapter 4: Business Opportunity

". . . remarkably well done, and very relevant to my Enron interests."

  • Malcolm S. Salter, professor emeritus, Harvard Business School

“… a surprisingly readable sketch of the development of the theory of entrepreneurship that goes beyond such buzzwords as ‘creative destruction’ and ‘transactions costs’. Best of all, the reader is constantly reminded of the material's relevance through applications to corporate controversies in our own time.

  • Robert Murphy, Ph.D. economist and author of A Politically Incorrect Guide to Capitalism (Regnery, 2006)

Chapter 5: The Business of Politics

“This chapter is well-researched and written so that the ideas flow logically…. [Your book] is an ambitious and impressive undertaking and deserves a wide hearing.”

  • Dr. Jack High, Professor of Economics and Public Policy, George Mason University

“The explicit idea of political capitalism, or political entrepreneurship, has been around for about 40 years, yet it is still largely unappreciated as the driving force in the American political system. This chapter does much to dispel the naiveté that still infects so much writing about government and the ‘public interest’.”

  • Sheldon Richman, editor, The Freeman (Foundation for Economic Education)

Chapter 6: U.S. Political Capitalism

"A fascinating, comprehensive treatise, far surpassing my own history of political capitalism done in the 1960s."

  • Gabriel Kolko, historian and author, The Triumph of Conservatism (1963), other books

“American historiography has never fully abandoned the theme that the U.S. ‘democratic’ political system ultimately embodies the general will of the American people. This chapter’s valuable discussion of the historical revisionists inspired by Gabriel Kolko sets the record straight: Government by nature is the tool of special interests, whether they represent Big Business, Labor, or self-styled Environmentalists or Consumers. Rarely does the actual general interest have much to do with it.

  • Sheldon Richman, editor, The Freeman (Foundation for Economic Education)

Part III: Energy and Sustainability

Chapter 7: Malthusianism

Chapter 8: A Joined Debate

Chapter 9: Neo-Malthusianism

Chapter 10: The Dark 1970s

Chapter 11: New Light in the 1980s

“In this five-chapter section on the history and analysis of energy resources, Bradley exposes the enduring errors regarding ‘sustainable energy’ that befuddled Ken Lay's Enron, as they have other participants in and observers of energy. The result is a valuable overview, whether read in isolation or in conjunction with the rest of the book."

  • Dr. Richard Gordon, Penn State University and book editor, The Energy Journal

Epilogue