“Republics they say are ungrateful. . . . The people that create or build to make victory possible . . . are war profiteers to be subjected to suspicion, to be investigated, to be harassed.” Thus spoke Andrew Higgins, the inventor of the Higgins boats that were so essential to the U. S. D-Day landings in WWII. Eisenhower called Higgins “the man who won the war for us.” But when the war was won, Higgins was socked with an IRS investigation and then was largely forgotten. I grew up in Nebraska, where Higgins was born and raised, but I never heard about Higgins in history class. Instead we studied William Jennings Bryan, the Nebraska politician who wanted government to set the prices of gold and silver. Oddly our American republic seems to honor manipulative politicians more than creative entrepreneurs.
The first billionaire in U. S. history was John D. Rockefeller. He dominated oil refining so strongly that his Standard Oil company alone held a 65 percent world market share of oil refining in the late 1800s. In other words, just Rockefeller alone sold about two-thirds of all the oil used in the entire world. No OPEC or Middle Eastern cartels squeezed the U. S. while that man lived. Yet in Cleveland, Ohio, where Rockefeller achieved his success, we find no memorial to his creative brilliance. In Kentucky we have major roads dedicated to Rep. Gene Snyder and Senator Wendell Ford, but no monument to Col. Harlan Sanders, the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken. Those who have created the jobs that helped make the U. S. a world economic power seem less important than the politicians, who have redistributed much of their wealth to the nation’s non-producers.
Why does the U. S. economy in 2010 continue to stagnate? Maybe we are looking at the wrong role models. When we honor politicians, who bring home pork to build roads, and neglect our nation’s entrepreneurs–our real job creators–we send our children the wrong message about how to preserve and sustain a free society.