- Apr 12, 2008
- Reaction score
- real world
While President Obama recently said, “If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” Well, air conditioning just turned 110 years old this year. Imagine even a day without it here in sweltering Alabama.
As The New York Times chronicles, in 1902 the company that printed the humor magazine Judge had to run each page through the printing process for each color on a page. But the pages would expand in Brooklyn’s summer heat, causing the colors to not line up properly. Also, the ink would not dry fast enough to accommodate the magazine’s publication schedule of an issue each week.
Junior engineer Willis Carrier tackled the problem, devising a solution involving fans, ducts, heaters and perforated pipes. His plan was to force air across pipes filled with cool water from a well located between two buildings. Later, he added a refrigerating machine to cool the pipes faster.
Carrier’s work made working in hot, humid weather tolerable, leading American Heritage magazine to call Carrier “a Johnny Icicle planting the seeds of climate control all across America.”
Carrier continued to improve the cooling process over time, and in 1915, he and six other engineers formed the Carrier Engineering Corporation with starting capital of $32,600. Today Carrier is a $12.5 billion company, employing 43,000 employees and serves customers in 170 countries.
In 1924, Carrier installed a cooling system in the J.L. Hudson Department Store in Detroit. Shoppers flocked to the store. The boom in cooling spread to theaters, restaurants and shopping malls. Four years later, Carrier developed the first residential air conditioner.
Mr. Carrier made a huge difference in many peoples’ lives, people that have never heard of him, allowing millions of people to live in the South and southwest.
That’s what great entrepreneurs do: Make people’s lives better. And most of the time they receive little or no credit.
The public’s image of entrepreneurs and businessmen as mean, conniving, miserly, greedy crooks has been shaped from the time of Charles Dickens’s Ebenezer Scrooge, putting a face to the Marxist class-struggle theory. According to the theory, the ruling class expropriates part of the productive output of the exploited or, as Marxists say, “it appropriates a social surplus product and uses it for its own consumptive purposes.”
The president struck a Marxist chord in Roanoke, Va. People who have done well got there using the labor of others, said the president. “Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there,” said Obama to big applause.
Of course, the negative stereotype of businessmen is as false as Marxist theory itself. While millions have, and continue to, suffer under Marxist or socialist economic regimes, entrepreneurs at work in the capitalist world invest capital, organize resources, develop new products, create jobs and make the world a better place for the millions that are affected by their energy and vision.
If you’re enjoying the cool air today, thank Mr. Carrier. Not government.