Books

Death on Hold

In January 1983 Burt Folsom read a story in Time about Mitch Rutledge, a man on death row with an IQ of 84 who said he was sorry for what he did. “Forget him,” the last line of the story read. But Burt wrote Mitch a letter and discovered a man more interesting and intelligent than the article revealed.

Burt and his wife, Anita, began a  friendship with Mitch and saw him become a leader and role model for others in prison, teaching himself to read and write (starting with copying down the spelling of items he knew from TV commercials) and becoming a national spokesman on prison life.

Death on Hold is the amazing story of their friendship, and of grace, reconciliation, and redemption for a man without hope who was given a future.

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Uncle Sam Can’t Count

Drawing on examples from the nation’s past and present—the fur trade to railroads, cars and chemicals, aviation to Solyndra—Uncle Sam Can’t Count a sweeping work of conservative economic history that explains why the federal government cannot and should not pick winners and losers in the private sector, including the Obama administration.

From the days of George Washington through World War II to today, government subsidies have failed dismally argue Burt and Anita Folsom. Draining the Treasury of cash, they impede economic growth, and hurt the very companies receiving aid.

Why does federal aid seem to have a reverse Midas touch? As the Folsoms reveal, federal officials don’t have the same abilities or incentives as entrepreneurs. In addition, federal control always equals political control of some kind. What is best for politicians is not often what works in the marketplace. Politicians want to win votes, and they can do so by giving targeted CEOs benefits while dispersing costs to others.

Filled with examples of government failures and free market triumphs, from John Jacob Astor to the Wright Brothers, World War II amphibious landing craft to Detroit, Uncle Sam Can’t Count is a hard-hitting critique of government investment that demonstrates why business should be left exclusively to private entrepreneurs.

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FDR Goes to War


Did World War II really end the Great Depression—or did President Franklin Roosevelt’s poor judgment and confused management leave Congress with a devastating fiscal mess after the final bomb was dropped? This book is the sequel to New Deal or Raw Deal, picking up the story of FDR in 1940: Did FDR maneuver the United States into World War II? Did he know that the Japanese would attack Hawaii? The authors, Burton and Anita Folsom, answer those questions and pull back the curtain on the wartime presidency of Franklin Roosevelt, even as they examine the heroic efforts of American troops, entrepreneurs, and workers who won the war.

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New Deal or Raw Deal?

In this groundbreaking text, economic historian Burton W. Folsom exposes the truth behind the legend of Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal. With FDR’s questionable moral character and a vendetta against the business elite, his economic programs fostered inconsistent planning, wasteful spending, and opportunity for political gain, at a time when America needed an economic uplift. FDR used federal programs to win elections in swing districts, while manipulating public opinion of his administration. Folsom takes a critical, revisionist look at Roosevelt’s presidency, his economic policies, and his personal life.

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The Myth of the Robber Barons

This book describes the role of key entrepreneurs in the economic growth of the United States from 1850 to 1910: Cornelius Vanderbilt, John D. Rockefeller, James J. Hill, Andrew Mellon, Charles Schwab, and the Scranton family. Most historians argue that these men, and others like them, were Robber Barons. The story, however, is more complicated. The author, Burton Folsom, divides the entrepreneurs into two groups: market entrepreneurs and political entrepreneurs. The market entrepreneurs succeeded by producing a quality product at a competitive price. The political entrepreneurs were men who used the power of government to succeed, and they tried to gain subsidies or in some way use government to stop competitors. This text discusses why the United States became an industrial giant between 1850 and 1910, when free markets allowed entrepreneurs to invent and market their ideas for the benefit of all citizens.

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